iOS Board Games

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Catchup - Abstract Strategy: iOS Review

Brad Cummings
United States
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The Stats:
Compatibility: iOS Universal
Reviewed On: iPad Air, iPhone 5
Current Price: $2.99
Version: 0.8.1
App Size: 4.5 MB
Developer/Publisher: Martin Grider
Multiplayer: Yes
AI: Yes
Itunes link: Catchup - Abstract Strategy

One of my favorite parts about digital board games is it gives me an opportunity to play things I would never be able to get to the table for whatever reason. Maybe it’s because the game is to complex, or perhaps hard to find, or maybe I am just to busy (read lazy) to print and construct one of the great PnP offerings on BGG. Catchup falls firmly into this category. It is quite a fun abstract game that would be right up my alley, but I missed initially.

Catchup is an abstract game, meaning there is really now theme to speak of. The game is played on a hexagonal grid board and players take turns laying down pieces of their color. The goal of the game is to have the largest group of your pieces at the end of the game. You have two pieces to place each turn and placement is possible on any open space, but there is one catch. If, by placing a piece you increase the size of your largest group, your opponent gets to place three pieces on the following turn. This “catchup mechanic” is the main crux of the game and winning or losing relies on knowing when to start connecting pieces.

Like many abstract games, it is easy to learn and the provided tutorial is a nice start on the path. After you finish the tutorial there is a variable AI to play against. If you leave the setting on auto, the AI will increase and decrease in difficulty based on your win record. This is a fun way to play and gives the feeling of being on a streak or leveling up. You can of course set the difficulty manually if you like, but where is the fun in that?

Aside from single players there is pass and play and online multiplayer. Pass and play is great in this game if you have an iPad. Because there is no hidden information you can lay out the tablet between you, just as if you had printed out the game. Online multiplayer uses Game Center asynchronous which seems to work really well. It is not a feature rich system but great for quick games back and forth.

Visually, the game is pretty basic. Of course, this is to be expected with an abstract game. The UI is pretty clear and carries the hex theme throughout. There are also surprising amount of options, including the ability to change the colors of the game pieces. There really is a lot you can adjust here. Don’t be put off by the basic look, there is a great abstract game in here.

Catchup is not a game that is going to be a staple of any collection but it is an excellent digital version of a great game. There many ways to play, with a special focus on a great singe player experience. Abstract games are not really a main event and are more about mastering a system through repeated play than a game of constant variance. It is not a game for everyone, but it is an excellent abstract strategy game on the system.

A unique opportunity to play this PNP game.
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