iOS Board Games

Among the best things in life is playing printed games in person with family and close friends. When those are not convenient we like iOS Board Games. News, reviews, previews, and opinions about board gaming on iPhones, iPads, iPods and even Android devices. (iPhone board games, iPad board games, iPod board games, Android board games)

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App News: Mansions of Madness Adventure Game Coming in 2019, Terraforming Mars is Pretty Cool and more...

David Neumann
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In life you have to do a lot of things you don't f*cking want to do. Many times, that's what the f*ck life is... one vile f*cking task after another.
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Mansions of Madness: Mothers' Embrace Announced
Unless you're completely adverse to hearing anything about games emanating from Minnesota, you are probably aware that Mansions of Madness: Second Edition was released in 2016 from Fantasy Flight Games and required an app in order to play it. Since then, the app has had many upgrades and additions but, today, we received some shocking news about digital Mansions of Madness. The most shocking part being that it didn't involve the companion app and, instead, would be a free-standing game set in the MoM universe.



The game is called Mansions of Madness: Mother's Embrace and it's a third-person adventure game in which you'll take a cadre of investigators into a spooky old house (some might even call it a mansion) and experience all sorts of Lovecraftian stuff (some might even call it madness).

In Mansions of Madness: Mother’s Embrace, players will lead a team of investigators through an eerie mansion while uncovering its dark secrets. Everything is not what it seems as the investigators encounter traps, monsters, and other Lovecraftian horrors, and descend deeper into the depths of madness. Will your team solve the mystery and make it out alive?


Mother's Embrace will be coming to PC/Mac in Q1 of 2019. You can still go visit the Steam page now and add it to your wishlist, if that's a thing you do. Otherwise, sit and wait like the rest of us.





I'm Playing Terraforming Mars on My Laptop And It's Swell
As you should be aware, Asmodee has two huge digital releases coming at some point in 2018. The first is Scythe and the second is Terraforming Mars. I haven't yet had the pleasure of playing the digital version of Scythe, but last week Asmodee gave me access to the latter and I've been having a blast.

The current version is still in pre-alpha, so the edges are a bit rough. What's not rough, however, is the display. The graphics are already really cool with a pseudo-3D Mars center stage and Phobos and Jupiter's Ganymede in the wings, ready for action. Even stuff on the planet comes alive. Oceans ebb and flow and cities and forests pop off the surface. The cards are presented as holograms rather than paper and ink, as are the corporations you pick at the beginning of each game.

The game is currently limited to 2-players against the Hard AI which is anything but hard at this point. That's not a knock, as I'm sure the AI will be one of the last things put into the game. It does, however, prevent me from making any statements in regards to how multiplayer will work.

In fact, I don't really have a whole lot to say other than I'm a pretty cool dude. [I and everyone who has ever met Dave would disagree -ed.]

The game is scheduled to release in Q2 of this year, which means it's set to release before the end of June. The version I'm playing still feels far away from being street ready but LUCKYHAMMERS, the developer of Terraforming Mars and the aforementioned Mansions of Madness: Mother's Embrace, are pretty smart guys so I'm sure they're up to the task.

For now, check out the screenshots I pulled from my latest game and wish you were me. [not going to ever happen. Ever. -ed.]





BattleTech Heading to Steam on April 24
If you've heard of Harebrained Schemes it's probably in reference to their app-centric miniatures game, Golem Arcana. What you might not know, however, is that they're also a straight-up video game developer and have been working on a digital version of BattleTech for years.

That work is going to pay off next week when they release their version of BATTLETECH on April 24. This new version is being published by Paradox Interactive (I) so let's go to the blurb:

Paradox wrote:
COMMAND A SQUAD OF `MECHS IN TURN-BASED COMBAT: Deploy over 30 BattleMechs in a wide variety of combinations. Use terrain, positioning, weapon selection and special abilities to outmaneuver and outplay your opponents.

MANAGE YOUR MERCENARY COMPANY: Recruit, customize, and develop unique MechWarriors. Improve and customize your dropship. As a Mercenary, travel a wide stretch of space, taking missions and managing your reputation with a variety of noble houses and local factions.

TAKE PART IN A DESPERATE CIVIL WAR: Immerse yourself in the story of a violently deposed ruler, waging a brutal war to take back her throne with the support of your ragtag mercenary company.

CUSTOMIZE YOUR `MECHS: Use your MechLab to maintain and upgrade your units, replacing damaged weapon systems with battlefield salvage taken from fallen foes.

FIGHT YOUR WAY ACROSS THE PERIPHERY: As a Mercenary, travel a wide stretch of space, taking missions and managing your reputation with a variety of noble houses and local factions.

PVP MULTIPLAYER & SKIRMISH MODE: Customize a Lance of ‘Mechs and MechWarriors to go head-to-head with your friends, compete against opponents online, or jump into single-player skirmish mode to test your strategies against the AI.


So, it's turn-based mech combat either in a solo campaign or online multiplayer. I'm in! You can be in as well as long as you don't mind playing on your PC or Mac, as BattleTech is only coming to PC/Mac and not making it to mobile. Oh well.

You'll be able to find BattleTech next week on Steam at this link or GoG at this link where it will run you $40. You could even pre-order today if you're into that kind of thing (but with a digital download, I'm not sure why you would).


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Tue Apr 17, 2018 7:22 pm
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Designer Diary: The Search for AlphaMystica

Brad Cummings
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Note: Tysen Streib reached out to me with this amazing breakdown of his AI journey with Terra Mystica. I hope you enjoy the read. - Brad


Spoiler alert: This doesn’t have a happy ending. Digidiced has been hard at work for more than a year trying to produce a Hard version of its AI for Terra Mystica using machine learning. Our results have been a lot less impressive than we were hoping for. This article will describe a little bit about what we’ve tried and why it hasn’t worked for us.

If you’ve paid attention to the latest developments in AI, you’ve probably heard of AlphaGo and AlphaZero, developed by Google’s DeepMind. In 2017, AlphaGo defeated Ke Jie, the #1 ranked Go player in the world. AlphaGo was developed by using a massive neural network and feeding it hundreds of thousands of professional games. From those games, it learned to predict what it thought a professional would play. AlphaGo then went on to play millions of games against itself, gradually improving its evaluation function little by little until it became a superhuman monster, better than any human player. The defeat of a human professional was thought to be decades away for a game as complex as Go. But AlphaGo shocked everyone with its quantum leap in playing strength. AlphaGo was able to come up with new strategies, some of which were described as “god-like.”



But it didn’t stop there. In December of 2017, DeepMind introduced AlphaZero – a method that also learned the game of Go, but this time didn’t use any human played games. It learned entirely from self-play being only told the rules of the game. It was not given any suggestions or strategies on how to play. AlphaZero not only able to learn from self-play alone, it was able to get stronger than the original AlphaGo. And on top of that, the same methodologies were used for Chess and Shogi and the DeepMind team showed results that AlphaZero was able to solidly beat the top existing AI players in both of these games (which were already better than humans). Since these results have come out, there has been some criticism around if the testing conditions were really fair to the existing AI programs, so there is a little debate as to whether AlphaZero is actually stronger, but it is an outstanding achievement nonetheless.

It also became quite clear that AlphaZero approached chess differently than Stockfish (the existing AI they competed against). While Stockfish examined 70 million positions per second, AlphaZero only examined 80,000. But AlphaZero was able to pack a lot more positional and strategic evaluation into each of those positions. By examining the games that AlphaZero played against Stockfish it became obvious to a lot of people that AlphaZero was much better at positioning its pieces and relied less on having a material advantage. In many cases AlphaZero would sacrifice material in order to get a better position, which it later used to come back and secure a win. It suggested the possibility that there might be a resurgence in chess programming ideas, which had been stagnating in recent years.


The DeepMind team was able to show that AlphaZero learned many human-discovered opening moves. They showed several examples of how different openings gained and lost popularity as it continued to learn.


As Digidiced’s AI developer, these were exciting developments for me. I’ve had experience with machine learning and neural networks before and have been playing around with them for many years. I once developed a network as a private commission for a professional poker player that could play triple draw low at a professional level. I began to wonder if I could use some of these same techniques for Digidiced’s Terra Mystica app. One of the compelling features of AlphaGo was that it was largely based on something called a convolutional neural network (CNN). A CNN is also used in other deep learning applications like image recognition and is good at identifying positional relationships between objects. AlphaGo was able to use this structure to identify patterns on the Go board and determine the complex relationships that could be formed from the different permutations of stones.

While Terra Mystica takes place on a hex-based map instead of a square grid, a CNN can still be applied to it so that the proximity of players’ buildings can be incorporated, which is a critical part of TM strategy. However, there are several things that make TM a much more complicated game than Go.
· TM can have anywhere from 2 to 5 players, although it is often played with exactly 4. For programming AI, the leap from 2 players to more than 2 is actually a lot more difficult than most people realize. You may have noticed that whenever you hear about an AI reaching superhuman performance, it’s almost always in a 2-player game.
· While a spot on a Go board can only have 3 states (white stone, black stone, or empty), a hex on a TM map can have 55 different states, taking into account the different terrain types and buildings. Add things in like towns and bridges and the complexity goes up from there.
· TM has 20 different factions using the Fire & Ice expansion, and each one of these factions has different special abilities and plays differently.
· TM has numerous elements that occur off the map including the resources and economies of each player, positioning on the cult tracks, and shared power actions.
· Each game is different by adding scoring elements and bonus scrolls that are different with each game. Which elements are present in the particular game can have a massive effect on all of the player’s strategies. Not to diminish the complexity of Go (a game which I’m still in awe of after casually studying it for over a decade), but you’re always playing the same game.

One of the things that makes TM such a great game and causes it to have a very high skill ceiling is the fact that its economies and player interactions are so tightly interwoven. The correct action to take on the map can be highly dependent on not only your own situation, but the economic states of your opponents or the selection of available power actions. All of this makes TM orders of magnitude more complex of a game than Go.


Chaos Magicians, Swarmlings, Darklings, and Dwarves fight it out on the digital version of Terra Mystica. Complexities abound and an AI needs to know how to read the board. Darklings will want to upgrade one of their dwellings to get the town bonus. They should upgrade next to the Dwarves to keep power away from the stronger CM player. The choice of towns could affect the flow of the rest of the game:
· Should they take 7VP & 2 workers so they have enough workers to build a temple and grab a critical favor tile?
· Or 9VP & 1 priest that they can use to terraform a hex or send to the cults?
· Or 8VP & free cult advancements which will gain them power and cult positioning?
· 5VP & 6 coins is sometimes good, but probably not in this situation since the Darklings have other income sources.
The other town choices seem inferior at this point, which the AI needs to recognize. Notice what is needed to plan a good turn – the recognition that a town needs to be created this turn, the optimal location of the upgraded building, the knowledge that a critical favor tile exists and how to get it, the relative value of terraforming compared to other actions, the value of cult positioning (not shown) & power, as well as the value of coins which depend on how many coin-producing bonus scrolls are in the game.[i]


The main idea behind training the network to become stronger is called bootstrapping. I’m simplifying things a bit here, but think of the neural network as an enormously complicated evaluation function. You feed it all the information about the map, the resources of all the players, and other variables that describe the current game state. It crunches the numbers and spits out an estimate of the best action to take (each action is given as a percent chance that it is the best action) and an estimate of the final scores for each player. Let’s say you have a partially trained network that has an okay evaluation function, but not that good. You now use that, and each time you’re going to make a move you think 2 moves ahead, considering all the options and picking what you think is best. You’ll now have a (moderately) more informed estimate of your current state because you’ve searched 2 moves ahead. You now try to tweak that model so that your initial estimate is more similar to your 2-moves-ahead estimate. If you were able to fully incorporate everything from 2 moves ahead into your evaluation function, when you use this function to search 2 moves ahead, it’s equivalent to searching 4 moves ahead with your original function. It’s not that simple, but you can see how repeating this over and over again will keep improving the model as long as it has enough features to handle the complexity. You just have to repeat it billions of times…



In order to train its networks, DeepMind was able to utilize a massive amount of hardware. According to an Inc.com article, the hardware used to develop AlphaZero would cost about $25 million. There is no way that a small company like ours would be able to compete with that. Some people have estimated that if you were to try and replicate the training done on a single machine, it would take 1,700 years! Even after all the training, when AlphaGo is run on a single machine, it still uses very sophisticated hardware, running dozens of processing threads simultaneously. We needed to create an AI that was capable of running on your phone. For each single position that AlphaGo analyzes, its neural network needs to do almost 20 billion operations. We were hoping to have a network with less than 20 million. And instead of analyzing 80,000 positions per second, we would be lucky if we could do 10. We also considered an even smaller network that could look at more positions per second, but it would not have enough complexity to incorporate a lot of the nuances needed for a strong player.

So our goal was to create an AI for a game that was even more complicated than Go, using a network about a thousandth the size. AlphaZero was able to play over 20 million self-play games in order to help its development. Even renting several virtual machines and playing games 24/7 for a few months, Digidiced was only able to collect about 40,000 self-play games. Despite these limitations, we were cautiously optimistic. We didn’t need super-human and god-like play. We wanted something that could be a challenge to the entire player base while not taking too long to think for each move.


[i]A tiny peek into the complexity of Alpha Go (from David Foster’s AlphaGo Zero Cheat Sheet).


But even that turned out to be too much of a challenge with our limited budget. The AlphaZero paper claimed that starting from scratch and completely random play yielded better results than mimicking games played by humans. We decided to try both methods in parallel: one network would start from random play and build up network sophistication over time while another network was trained on games played on the app. Neither was able to create a very strong player; in fact, we were never able to create a version that could outperform our Easy version that used fairly standard Monte Carlo Tree Search. We even tried focusing the development on only 4-player games, but this didn’t help much.

What was really heartbreaking was that we could see the improvement that the network was making. We could see the improvement over time. But the rate of improvement was just too slow for the amount of money we were spending. It was a very difficult decision, but we’ve decided that we’re going to halt development work on this for now. We still see a possibility of spending some time converting the played games from Juho Snellman’s online implementation of TM, but we don’t have the funds for that now. Juho had very kindly given us permission to do that much earlier, but the conversion proved to be very difficult for a number of reasons, mostly due to how the platforms differed in accepting power. So while there is still a chance of further development, we don’t want to promise anything that doesn’t seem likely.
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Fri Apr 13, 2018 3:00 pm
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PAX East Quick News Hits

Brad Cummings
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After several years of missing PAX East, I had the opportunity to attend this year with my day job. Between busy schedules and after hours, I managed to get a raft of digital board game news. Here we go.

Terraforming Mars on Display
Asmodee Digital had a booth this year which is a first for them, I believe. One of the main attractions was Terraforming Mars, which is slated for release this year.

I didn’t get the chance to go hands on, but from what I saw, it seems to be coming along nicely. It’s awesome to see this interesting game presented in such a beautiful digital version.




Scythe Appears
The Asmodee booth was also showing off the digital version of Scythe. I again did not get a chance to go hands on but it looks great.

The game feels pretty true to the tabletop version with a really great look. Check out some early looks:




Hands on with Lord of the Rings LCG
I was so excited to have a minute to try the Lord of the Rings LCG on PC. It is by far one of my most anticipated games.

This digital version takes a slight twist on the tabletop version and I felt a bit disoriented at first. The main decision come in how to deal with the quests and threats presented to you. Rather than having to clear certain enemies before taking on a quest, you have to play game of offense and defense. If an enemy attacks one of your characters, they lose their initiative, thus preventing them from being able to help with other enemies or the quests.

I manage to complete the first Mirkwood quest and I am really looking forward to trying more.




Evolution Update
The team from North Star Games was showing off a new build of Evolution at the show. I had the chance to play a little and it seems to be coming along nicely. I had a chance to take a look at the tutorial and it seems to do a good job. I’m looking forward to seeing more.




Sentinels of Freedom
I actually walked past this booth and had to come back later when I realized it was connected to the board game series.

This is a turn-based strategy video game set in the world of Sentinels comic books. If you are a fan of this series, be sure to be on the lookout




Beasts of Balance Goes Head to Head
Beasts of Balance is, in my opinion, one of the most entertaining hybrid board games. Late one night, I had the opportunity to try the new multiplayer expansion. This expansion introduces a deck of cards that drive play. One player takes control of each of the elements and is aiming to have as many animals and points as possible in their element. It really added a lot of texture to this already fun game.

Be on the lookout for this expansion coming soon and if you have kids, be sure to give this one a try.




Star Trek Adversaries
This seems like a dream come true for me: a Star Trek themed digital card game.

In the game, you start by selecting one of the famous series flagships to act as your hero power. Much like Hearthstone, your goal is to defeat the other flagship by getting their health to zero. You do this by playing ships to the board which you can add crew to. It really seems like a fun take on the Hearthstone model.

The word is, this game will be on steam soon.

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Wed Apr 11, 2018 3:00 pm
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App News: Terraforming Mars Coming Soon to Early Access, Fire & Ice Comes to Terra Mystica, Civ VI Welcomes Australia and more...

David Neumann
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In life you have to do a lot of things you don't f*cking want to do. Many times, that's what the f*ck life is... one vile f*cking task after another.
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Terraforming Mars Coming Soon to Early Access, Then Mobile
It's been at least three hours since we've heard news from Asmodee Digital, so we're overdue. Earlier this week they sent us an update about a little game you might have heard of, Terraforming Mars. Turns out our board game overlords have been working on this title from Stronghold Games and are, finally, ready to spill some much overdue beans.

First of all, the game should be arriving on Steam Early Access for PC next month. That's May for those of you without a calendar. It will be prodded and tweaked over the next month or so with full release for PC, iOS, and Android expected in Q2 of this year. That means it should be out in full release by the end of June.

Asmodee wrote:
Players can compete across several game modes including two unique single-player modes where the player can play solo (just like the board game) or against AI controlled opponents, pass-and-play local multiplayer, and +online multiplayer in intense turn-based strategic gameplay.


Sounds like they have all the bases covered. If you want to see Terraforming Mars in action, check out this Twitch stream where they demo the game (and it looks fabulous).

We'll keep an eye out for the Early Access release and let you know as soon as it goes live (or as soon as I wake up after it goes live).



Fire & Ice Expansion Arrives for Terra Mystica
You might think that Digidiced UG is spending all their resources in the effort to get their port of Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King out the door, but you'd be WRONG! I know this because, this week, Digidiced released the fairly large Terra Mystica: Fire & Ice expansion for Terra Mystica and, somehow, the game just became more complicated.

Terra Mystica is one of those games that I've played on the tabletop a few times and enjoyed it. I understand the rules, but have no idea what to focus on strategically [we can say this about Dave in about 98% of games listed on BGG -ed.] or any way to actually win the game. The digital port doesn't help, as there's so much to take in it can be overwhelming. It starts it's climb up Brain Burn Mountain at the beginning while picking your faction. The original game has 14 to choose from, each with small differences that made big differences when they hit the board. The Fire & Ice expansion adds 6 new ones, just in case you thought you may have started to wrap your head around the initial crew.

That's not all, though. There's also two new terrain tiles to contend with, not to mention two new maps. WITH HEXES! [We know all the maps have hexes. Dave is just easily confused by hexes. -ed.]

The folks at Digidiced have hinted at the long-awaited Hard AI would be coming in an upcoming update as well, but that doesn't seem to be the case with this update, as we still only have the few Easy and one Medium AI to lose repeatedly to. I really, really hope they release that Hard AI soon so I know I don't have a chance of winning a game before it even begins!

The expansion is $5 via IAP on iOS and Android, but comes included for free in the Steam version. Well, kind of. You're already paying $5 more for the game on PC/Mac/Linux, so we're really all equal.

If you're not interested in buying the expansion, you can still update your app and enjoy the lovely(?) new icon.

- Terra Mystica for iOS Universal, $10
- Terra Mystica for Android, $10
- Terra Mystica for PC/Mac/Linux via Steam, $15



Civilization VI for iPad Adds Australian Civ and Scenario Pack
Civilization VI on my iPad is the greatest since the birth of my children. Actually, Civ VI is cheaper and talks back less than my kids, so it's a real toss-up.

One of the downsides of the incredible iPad port was that it lagged behind its big-screen kin by several huge content updates. Considering that the latest major update to Civ brought a full expansion, Civilization VI: Rise and Fall, to the Steam version and the iPad version was still crowing about Vikings felt a bit weak. Would Aspyr Media, Inc. stick with mobile Civ and keep adding content? Will we ever catch up to Civ VI Prime? Will I stop asking questions that only people at Aspyr can answer? I think it's safe to say no one knows the answers to any of those questions. [except the people at Aspyr that you just mentioned? I'm afraid Dave might have fallen and hit his head over the past week and not told me about it. -ed.]

It's starting to appear that Aspyr is fully on-board with supporting the mobile version as, yesterday, a new civ and scenario pack was released in a major update and can be purchased for real money via IAP. That civ is Australia, complete with Sissi, schnitzel, and the statue lined streets of Vienna. [Hold on, I need to take Dave to get a CAT scan. We'll be back in an hour. Why don't you read this wonderful blurb until we get back. -ed.]

John Curtin leads Australia in Sid Meier’s Civilization VI! Australia grows and thrives in territory, where other civs would have difficulty, by getting full Housing from coastal starts. Their districts get improved yields when built in attractive terrain. John Curtin provides bonus production to Australia when they have been the target of a declaration of war, or have liberated a city. This pack also includes the new “Outback Tycoon” scenario: can you accumulate your fortune by striking gold, creating massive herds of livestock, or by preserving this land's natural beauty for future generations?

Includes the Australian civilization with John Curtin, the Digger unique unit, Outback Station unique improvement and a new Natural Wonder:

Civ Unique Ability: Australian coastal cities always receive extra Housing. Pastures also trigger the Culture Bomb effect, grabbing adjacent tiles from other civs and City-States. Yields from Campuses, Commercial Hubs, Holy Sites and Theater Squares are enhanced in attractive terrain.

Leader Unique Ability: John Curtin’s unique ability is called “Citadel of Civilization.” Australia gets bonus production at the start of a Defensive War, and when it liberates a city.

Unique Unit: Australia’s unique unit is the Digger, which gets bonuses to combat on land tiles adjacent to water and when fighting outside their territory.

Unique Infrastructure: The Outback Station is a tile improvement that unlocks with the Guilds civic, and can be upgraded with Steam Power and Rapid Deployment. It provides food and production, with bonus food for adjacent Pastures.

New “Outback Tycoon” Scenario:
This uniquely economic-focused Scenario has you take control of one of four Colony Governments as you compete to explore and develop the natural beauty and wealth of Australia.

Includes unique units and gameplay effects, with no combat between players.

60 turn limit.

New Uluru Natural Wonder:
This desert wonder provides bonus Faith and Culture to adjacent tiles.


The new expansion will run you $5 via IAP, but if you've been holding out because of the steep entry requirements (it normally costs $60 to unlock the full game), you should know that it's currently 50% off, so you can get the base game for only $30, which is a pretty good deal for such a great port.

- Civilization VI for iPad, free (unlocks via $30 IAP)
- Civilization VI for PC/Mac/Linux via Steam, $60





Original Board Game, Sumer, Coming to Nintendo Switch
You might think a game called Sumer would be about laying in the grass under the canopy of a shady oak or, maybe, taking a dip into the local creek, cooling off as the sun climbs high overhead. I'd even take a game about drinking lemonade on the porch or swatting mosquitoes, but the creators of the upcoming digital board game Sumer have instead created a game about building ziggurats. Weird.

Maybe you can only build them in the Summer? Oh, wait, I see what I did. Should I rewrite it? Too lazy, but you knew that already. Okay, lets talk about some ancient homo sapiens namely, the Sumerians.

The board game Sumer is from developer Studio Wumpus and pits you as Sumerian nobles building ziggurats and placing workers in ancient Mesopotamia. Yep, it's a worker placement game, but it also involves...oh, why are we bothering. Here's the blurb:

Studio Wumpus wrote:
Play as Sumerian nobles vying for the affection of the great goddess Inanna. Harvest barley, bid goats at auction, and perform ritual offerings to earn her favor and the right to rule by her side!

In Sumer, you’ll build up a mighty ziggurat and explore a mysterious culture at the dawn of civilization. Beautiful art and atmospheric music bring an ancient Mesopotamian mural to life in this worker placement board game / action game hybrid for up to four players.

A digital board game inspired by M.U.L.E. and the Epic of Gilgamesh. Race across the ziggurat to harvest barley, herd goats, and sacrifice to the great goddess Inanna.

Sumer introduces the elegance of modern European board game design to the world of digital games. Its unique mix of turn-based and real-time gameplay creates a tense, cyclical rhythm where players must plan, execute, and adapt in order to achieve victory.

The game is divided into two phases: the Harvest phase and the Auction phase. During the Harvest phase assign your workers to prepare offerings for the gods. Jump up and down the face of a ziggurat to gather resources, then bring them to the altars and sacrifice them for the gods’ Favor. Collect goats, then offer them in the auction to bid on valuable blessings like extra workers, new buildings, or influence-spreading statues. Outbid, outproduce, and outsmart your way to victory!


Oh, no. It involves outsmarting your way to victory. Another game in which I have very little chance of winning.

Sumer is incoming for the Nintendo Switch, which is a platform whose library has yet to feature a bevy of tabletop-style games. So, let's hope it does well and more tabletop ports make their way to the House That Mario Built.

More blurbage!

Studio Wumpus wrote:
-3 game modes - Intro for learning, Short for a quick fix, and Full for the deepest experience!
-1-4 players - Play local with up to 4 players. Master playing solo or try to beat three of your friends.
-Devious AI - A variety of personalities and skill levels raning from newbie-friendly to utterly devious.
-Infinitely replayable - A randomized board set up and a huge variety of different auction items make each playthrough a unique strategic experience.
-A new type of game - Sumer’s mix of board game strategy and video game action has never been seen before.
-Nuanced strategies - There is no single key to winning. Being quick on your feet and making smart long-term investments are both crucial to victory.
-Sumerian culture - We’ve worked with professional historians to bring you the ancient civilization that invented writing, beer, and board games.
-Ancient sounds - Enhance your trip to ancient Mesopotamia with voice acting in the long-lost Sumerian language and the evocative soundtrack by Neil Quillen.
-Customize your gameplay - Play the way you want by turning on variants like Big Head mode and Hidden Auction Items.
-Support for mouse, keyboard, and controllers - Mouse and keyboard players are separate, so 2 players can play even if you don’t own a controller!


You can play Sumer right now on PC and Mac via Steam Early Access and is available on Switch as of yesterday. Try it and let us know what you think in the comments. This will help us continue our slothful ways by not having to pen a review. Thanks!

- Sumer for PC/Mac via Steam Early Access, $15
- Sumer for Switch, $15


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Fri Apr 6, 2018 1:00 pm
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First Look: Flash Point Fire Rescue

Brad Cummings
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Flash Point Fire Rescue
Availability: Steam
Store Links: Steam


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Wed Apr 4, 2018 3:58 pm
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App News: Warhammer Quest 2 Heading to Android and Through the Ages Is Now Available on Steam

David Neumann
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In life you have to do a lot of things you don't f*cking want to do. Many times, that's what the f*ck life is... one vile f*cking task after another.
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Short news week this week, mainly because I'm on vacation with my family and my wife will kill me if I spend too much time on the laptop. Enjoy, and I'll be back next week with (hopefully) a longer news post!


Warhammer Quest 2 Heading to Android on April 11
The headline really says it all. In fact, that's it.



Just kidding! We all know Warhammer Quest, the Games Workshop Ltd. dungeon crawler from way-back-when. We're all also probably aware of the digital version released for mobile back in 2013. Last year, Perchang released a sequel with prettier graphics and more stuff to do. It's been updated to add random encounters and more content and more fun, but up until now it's only been available for iOS. On April 11th that will change when Perchang unleashes the Skaven on Google Play.

The Android version will have all the same content as the iOS version including the 2 new campaigns, The Lord of Khorne and Shadows Under Reikland, available for $5/each. It will also have six new character classes, each available via IAP for $3.

In other words, it will be exactly like its iOS counterpart in every way.

You can pick up the iOS version right now, if you'd like, and we'll try to remember to post a link to the Android version when it goes live on April 11.

- Warhammer Quest 2 for iOS Universal, $5





Through the Ages Now Available on Steam for PC/Mac/Linux
You might think it would be hard for Czech Games Edition to improve on their digital adaptation of Through the Ages which, to me, is the best darn board game port to ever grace my iPad. Well, you'd be wrong! Dead wrong! Hahahahahaha! You're so wrong!

Ahem. Sorry, I've been on vacation with my three kids and after 19 hours in the car I find that I'm slowly devolving down to their level. I'll do better.

The impressive leap taken by CGE doesn't involve the mobile app at all, but instead the full release of the Steam version of the game, meaning that everyone can play TtA now, regardless of what device you hold closest to your heart (unless it’s Linux). Figuratively, not literally. Please don't hold your desktop up to your chest.

It's available on Steam for PC/Mac and includes some new features that are currently Steam-only, but will be coming to the mobile version down the road:

CGE wrote:
- When building by dragging you can now see prices of different buildings or reason(s) why it is not possible to build.
- Custom game basic Statistics (online game stats will come in the future update)
- New level of AI - Training AI
- New language available - Chinese
- New language available - Spanish
- Nicer background graphics


There are, of course, some features that will remain Steam-only and they all have to do with updating the UI for a keyboard and mouse. CGE didn't rush out some half-assed mobile port onto Steam. Nope, they redid the UI so it works beautifully with a non-touch interface. I like it enough that playing on my laptop might be my favorite way to play...

CGE wrote:
Some features that are Steam only
- Tooltips when you hover mouse over a card or an object
- hot-keys
- play/take cards by double-click
- we will add hotseat as an update later (it needs to be redesigned and we did not want to delay release.)


Of course, all versions of the game are compatible with each other so you can start a game on your Android phone and finish it up on your desktop at home later. This goes for online, asynchronous multiplayer as well. The pool of TtA opponents just grew, get in there and level up. You can get the Steam version on sale right now for the next few days, then it will shoot up to its normal price of $16.

- Through the Ages for iOS Universal, $10
- Through the Ages for Android, $10
- Through the Ages for PC/Mac via Steam, $10 (on sale)


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Thu Mar 29, 2018 5:18 pm
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GDC Preview: Table of Tales

Brad Cummings
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Last week I attended GDC as part of my day job. It was a quick trip and I didn’t have time to see much, but when Neil from Tin Man Games asked me to check something out on a free evening, I couldn’t resist.

Not content to rest on their laurels of their latest combined Fighting Fantasy release, the team announced Table of Tales - a PSVR game that combines many elements from past Tin Man games.



In Table of Tales you control a team of anti-heroes on a quest for adventure. Since this is a PSVR game, you are picking up figures and move them around a virtual tabletop. Everything is presented in perhaps the most graphically ambitious presentation from Tin Man yet. This is all coming Q3 2018.

I got to go hands on in the lobby of a San Francisco hotel. I’ll be honest, I’m not much of a VR aficionado. My bulky glasses make the whole thing a bit of a challenge. But once Neil helped me get the PSVR on, I was in.



I went through some basic menus and looked down to see a magic temple rise out of the table in front of me. A metal bird swooped down and began to share the story I was about to witness. This level was a bit into the game and so the plot was already in motion.

After a brief story beat, my characters disappeared behind a corner. I craned my neck and then I could them heading down a side corridor. This was just the start of the physicality. To move character you actual lift up and drop their figures. To attack, you play cards onto the spot you wish to affect. You even toss dice and watch them clatter around the environment. It is a unique miniatures game experience.



Neil mentioned they’d been inspired by games like Descent, and you can really see that in the back and forth nature of the combat. That being said, it really has it’s own unique style and flavor. The irreverent humor of Tin Man really shine through. At one point I even had to toss a figure into the ocean to progress the story. It really is unique blend of physical action and storytelling.

Talking off the PSVR, I was pretty impressed. I’m not a VR junkie, but this experience really capture an interesting essence of the tabletop space. It wasn’t a port, but a unique tabletop experience that really worked well on this platform. I look forward to seeing more later this year!

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Wed Mar 28, 2018 3:00 pm
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First Look: Armello

Brad Cummings
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Armello
Availability: iOS, Steam
Store Links: iOS, Steam


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Tue Mar 27, 2018 2:39 pm
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App News: Fire & Ice Coming to Terra Mystica in April, Armello Now on iOS, Darkest Dungeon on iPad Expands, Catan Heads to Virtual Reality and more...

David Neumann
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In life you have to do a lot of things you don't f*cking want to do. Many times, that's what the f*ck life is... one vile f*cking task after another.
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Hey everyone, long time no see! Sorry for my lengthy absence [Dave thinks any of you noticed he was gone. He's funny that way -ed.] but I've come to a rather significant conclusion after writing about games for the past seven years: writing about games doesn't pay. Literally. I mean, I'm not making any money for either BGG or Stately Play and, while that's okay because I love doing it, my wife disagrees and has told me that I need to get a real job. Fair enough. Thus, my life has been concerned with tracking down a real job with a real paycheck the past few weeks. To top it off, my kids start Spring Break next week, so I've been trying to figure out what to do with them for the next two weeks (yes, it's two weeks...don't ask).

Anyway, no luck yet on the job front, so my posts will continue to be sparse until I stumble onto an idiot respectable company willing to hire me. Hey, if you know anyone in the gaming universe who needs a hack writer with little to no interpersonal skills but a rather expansive knowledge on gaming and how the App Store works, send them my way. I'd love to keep working in this industry I love rather than jumping back into my engineering past.

Onto the news:


Fire and Ice Expansion Coming to Terra Mystica on April 5
While most of the current board game news surrounds a little company known as Asmodee Digital, they're not the only ones out there making great ports. Case in point, Digidiced UG has a number of excellent 2-player ports under their belt as well as last year's triumphant port of Terra Mystica. It's that latter game we'd like to discuss, because in a couple weeks it will be growing. On April 5 the Terra Mystica: Fire & Ice will be unleashed via IAP.

The Fire & Ice expansion adds 6 new races to Terra Mystica, just in case you thought you'd finally figured out how to play the original 14. It also adds two new terrain types, Ice and Volcanoes, which shouldn't be a surprise considering its moniker.

The expansion isn't the only thing heading our way on April 5th, however. Blurb time!

DIGIDICED wrote:
- hard to master: Enormous depth and interesting decisions without being too complex to understand. The best strategy always wins!
- replayability: always changing and challenging game experience with new combinations. You want to try all 20 fantasy races! An ideal game for hardcore gamers!
- two new maps!
- challenging developments: only strategy and tactics count - not luck!
- game replays: Analyse your best games or learn tricks from the pro dwellers
- multiplayer: Challenge the best players across all platforms (PC, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, WindowsPhone) world wide or play against your family and friends
- five computer opponents
- newest update: This game uses the newest rules edition of the board game (map specific VPs, turn order)
- languages: English, German, French, Spanish, Chinese (simplified), Italian, Russian, Korean and Japanese


The expansion will be coming to all platforms (yes, even Windows Mobile. It's still a thing!), and all platforms will be able to play cross-platform against anyone else with the game installed on the platform of their choice. No word on how much the expansion will cost, but does it really matter? If you're a huge fan of TM, you'll be shelling out the dough.

- Terra Mystica for iOS Universal, $10
- Terra Mystica for Android, $10
- Terra Mystica for Windows Phone, $10
- Terra Mystica for PC/Mac/Linux via Steam, $15



Armello Now Available on iOS
This is one we missed due to our prolonged absence, but the original furry-themed board has finally made its way to the App Store. We're talking about Armello from League of Geeks, of course, and the iOS version is pretty great.

Armello is an adventure-style board game in which each clan of animals is trying to be the one to take over the throne when the current king succumbs to his illness. He's slowly going mad and it's up to you to either take him out, cure him, or just be the most prestigious when he finally shuffles off his digital coil. There are a ton of cards to play, so hand management is a key mechanism, as is dice chucking. You'll be throwing a lot of dice and it's a heck of a lot of fun.

If the game has faults it's that it feels very un-game-like. It's easy to simply play your clan and wander about doing your quests and whatnot while occasionally bumping into the other clans and fighting, dying, and continuing about on your way. You cannot zoom out to take in the whole map, and the up-close-and-personal view makes it hard to strategize. That said, it's closer to games like Runebound (Third Edition) or even Talisman (Revised 4th Edition) than Caylus, so if you're looking for a deep strategy game, you're probably in the wrong place.

Don't let the comparison to Talisman scare you...it's not a roll and move game where you're at the whim of fate. No, there's more to it than that and your fate is usually well within your own furry paws.

League of Geeks wrote:
Armello is a grand swashbuckling adventure combining three styles of play; The deep tactics of card games, the rich strategy of tabletop board games, and the adventure of fantastical RPGs.

As a hero from one of Armello's Great Clans, you'll quest, scheme, hire agents, explore, vanquish monsters, cast spells and face off against other players, with one ultimate goal in mind; becoming King or Queen of Armello! The Kingdom of Armello is as dangerous as it is beautiful. Perils, banes and bandits hide around every corner and a spreading corruption known as the Rot leaves no creature untouched.

• Easy to Play but Hard to Master: Armello is easy to pick up and experience, yet its deep and emergent possibilities emerge as you play. Includes acclaimed story-driven tutorial mode.
• Fast & Thoughtful: Adventuring in Armello is fast-paced fun filled with deadly, tactical and politically complex decisions.
• Multiple Playable Heroes: Each unique Hero possess a special power, stat line, AI personality and can be equipped with an Amulet and Signet Ring to further match your playstyle.
• Dynamic Sandbox: Gorgeous dynamic world which procedurally generates a new map each and every game, complete with a dynamic quest system ensuring no two games of Armello are ever the same.
• Turn-Based Day & Night Cycle: Use Action Points to journey across Armello's hex-based board and use our fuzzy turn-based system to play cards even when it's not your turn.
• True Tabletop Feel: We've spent years cherry-picking the best parts of the tabletop experience, like our physics-based dice.
• Animated Cards: Over 150 beautifully animated in-game Cards from artists all over the world.
• World Class Soundtrack by Michael Allen and internationally acclaimed artist Lisa Gerrard.


If there's one misstep with the iOS launch it may be the way they've structured the IAP. The game is free to download, but there are two different in-game currencies you can earn and one you can outright buy with cash. From a quick look, however, it doesn't seem like anything nefarious is happening. The only thing you can use the currency to buy are the expansion characters and cosmetic stuff, such as shiny new dice. What really makes it confusing is that there's a subscription model as well. From what I can tell, the subscription gets you the additional content, but you can just buy that with cash through one of the currencies. So, subscriptions seem to be completely optional, with the benefit of getting you any future content as well.

When I say the IAP was a misstep, I'm really just discussing how confusing it all is. Just let me buy new content with real money and ditch all the other stuff. I'm too old to figure this out. It's like when they switched to chip readers at the grocery store instead of swiping. I'M OLD AND ADVERSE TO CHANGE!

- Armello for iOS Universal, free
- Armello for PC/Mac/Linux, $10 (on sale)



Darkest Dungeon Adds DLC to iPad Version
Yep, I know Darkest Dungeon isn't a board game but I'm going to talk about it anyway. First of all, it's one of the best iPad games out there and two, I have to fill up space with something.

Darkest Dungeon is the sadistic turn-based game of sending innocent adventurers to their untimely demise at the hands of terrors beyond description. It's also the game with a narrator that talks just like that last sentence and it doesn't get old. Much. Basically, think of a fantasy version of XCOM with the difficulty turned up to 11.

The iPad version is pretty great but was lacking some of the DLC that had been around in the PC, Switch, and console versions namely the Darkest Dungeon: The Crimson Court expansion. Last week, Red Hook Studios and BlitWorks finally figured out how to get the new(er) content into the iPad version as well as some other new content, Darkest Dungeon: The Shieldbreaker.

I haven't delved too deeply into the new content yet, but I have managed to dig graves for two shieldbreakers already, and I'm only in week 7 or 8. Someday I'll figure out how to play them without killing them, but it is not this day!

If you haven't tried Darkest Dungeon yet, it's only $5 on iPad as compared to over $20 on other platforms. If you are feeling masochistic at all, I highly recommend it.

- Darkest Dungeon: The Tablet Edition for iPad, $5
- Darkest Dungeon for PC/Mac/Linux via Steam, $25
- Darkest Dungeon for PC/Mac/Linux via GoG, $25
- Darkest Dungeon for Nintendo Switch, $25
- Darkest Dungeon for Xbox One, $25
- Darkest Dungeon for Playstation 4, $25



Asmodee Digital Releases Catan VR
I know all you young whippersnappers are all about this new VR fad that's going around, but I want to tell you that I recently watched the documentary, The Lawnmower Man, and VR is nothing but trouble waiting to happen!

Asmodee Digital disagrees, obviously, because yesterday they released a VR version of everyone's favorite game featuring a modular hex map and wooden bits shaped like sticks and houses, Catan (2017 / Mobile) Now, they say they did this to bring the game to more people in the most immersive way possible, but I say they're only doing it to make Jeff Fahey really smart and eventually endow him with telekinetic power. IT'S THE ONLY EXPLANATION THAT MAKES SENSE, SHEEPLE!

[We had to give Dave a sedative, but he should be okay. While he's recovering, let's hear what Asmodee had to say about this -ed.]

Asmodee wrote:
...announced the release of Catan VR, a new virtual reality experience which invites you to play a game of Catan on the island of Catan itself. Developed in conjunction with original Catan creators, father and son Klaus and Benjamin Teuber, Catan VR elevates the title with vibrant in-game environments and cross-platform online play that bring the tabletop to life, no matter where you and your friends are.

Catan VR maintains the tactile, social fun of board gaming with expressive in-game avatars, crisp voice communications and two intuitive control schemes: touch controls and gaze controls.
Never again will geographic distance need to break up a gaming group -- with Catan VR, family and friends on opposite sides of the world can gather around the same table for a friendly round of competitive settlement.

Catan VR also features online multiplayer matching with players, cross-platforms, around the globe. Players who would rather hone their settlement strategy alone can test their skills against a variety of unique AI personalities, including Catan’s best known characters like Candamir, Lin, Mary Anne, and Nassir.


[Dave just woke up. We've had a chat, and he should be ready to go -ed.]

CATAN VR LOOK GOOD AND NOT CORPORATE CONSPIRACY TO TAKE OVER WORLD TO GIVE STEPHEN KING ANOTHER "BASED ON" CREDIT. I THINK YOU SHOULD BUY CATAN VR, EVEN IF VR MAKE YOU NAUSEOUS. THIS ME THOUGHTS AND NOT WHAT BRAD TELLS ME TO SAY. HEADACHES...NIGHTMARES...VISIONS...

- Catan VR for Oculus, $15
- Catan VR for Samsung Gear VR, $10





One Deck Dungeon Now Has Two Heroes
I've been playing the snot out of Handelabra Games' take on One Deck Dungeon from Asmadi Games. It's one of the better board game ports I've played and the game itself is so quick and addictive, that I'm pretty sure this thing is going to slay the charts when it goes live, especially on mobile. It has that perfect mobile feel, similar to other card game gems like Card Crawl or Solitairica.

Well, last week the guys at Handelabra made the game even better by allowing you to take charge of one or two heroes on your, inevitable failing, quest. The two player game offers you to pick between any two heroes and offers up both their special abilities and whatnot with a catch. Their multiplayer powers aren't nearly as tasty as their single-player abilities, but you need to figure out a way to make both heroes work together. It's a brilliant way to play and one that I never did on the tabletop because I figured the one hero was more than enough to watch die a horrible death. Now I know that watching two heroes die is way better!

One Deck Dungeon is available for PC/Mac/Linux right now via Steam Early Access. It will be $5 cheaper when it releases for real in a couple months, but if you can't wait that $5 isn't a bad entry fee for admission.

- One Deck Dungeon for PC/Mac/Linux via Steam Early Access, $15
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Thu Mar 22, 2018 8:53 pm
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Preview: One Deck Dungeon

Brad Cummings
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One Deck Dungeon



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Tue Mar 20, 2018 3:00 pm
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