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iOS Review: Keg Bearer

Brad Cummings
United States
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From gallery of thequietpunk
The Stats:
Compatibility: iPad
Current Price: $0.99
Developer/Publisher: Snowpunch/Woodie Dovich
Version: 2.03
Size: 34 MB
Multiplayer: Pass and Play for up to 4.
AI: Yes.
Itunes link:[url] [/url]

The Good:
- Beautiful and funny graphics.
- So many neat feature such as random generated maps and customizable terrain.
- Intuitive touch controls
The Bad:
- Could use online play as well as more AI options.
- Has a steep learning curve in both control and symbology.

From gallery of thequietpunk
The apps I have reviewed in the last few weeks have been in general apps focused on casual play. They take the form of puzzle games that test logic and speed. They can be played by any player and have a few simple rules that can be learned quickly. Keg Bearer may be the antithesis of these games. It is a light chit based war game that is focused on strategic play. It is a game targeted at strategy gamers.

Keg Bearer is highly customizable but I will try to explain the basics of gameplay. Players have an army of made of chits that are positioned on a hex map. Players take turns moving these chits and attacking adjacent units. Some units have special abilities or unique setups that can be activated by tapping the chit. For example defenders can either be set to defend against ranged or melee attacks, or the Keg Bearer can heal adjacent units. Players continue moving their units and attacking until one of the keg bearers are defeated.

As you can see Keg Bearer is a simple tactical war game for the iPad. It offers many levels of customization that I will touch below, but in summary it is a great little war game for fans of the genre.

Keg Bearer is a fairly unique title on iOS. It is not the only hex or tactical war game in the app store but it is unique in its homage to the chit based system. You can tell from the silly premise to the bright art that the developers have a love for the genre.

Keg Bearer is a light fun look at the chit based war game genre and this is witnessed in the games graphic design. The opening splash screen feature cartoony images of the units in the game and is integrated right into the menu system. The shape of the hex is used in all the submenus and even the tutorial. This elements are not necessary but add self-awareness to the app that is humorous. The in game graphics are clear and easy to navigate. Each map only features one type of terrain and it is clearly distinguishable from the map itself. The chits themselves are all brightly colored and stand out from the background. They graphic design seems to be a great combination of abstraction and humor.

From gallery of thequietpunk
The interface design itself is an interesting point for me. On one hand it is sleek and smooth. The opening menu design is clear and the available options are easy to navigate. The in game controls are all done with touches, from reloading a ranged weapon to changing the setting of you Defender unit. On the other hand this sleekness requires a high level of entry. The symbology of the different units and what possibilities that opens up must be memorized. Useful data like the movement range of an enemy unit must also be memorized or gathered from pausing to consult the rulebook. All of this will be learned after a few plays, but it does provide a steep learning curve for new players. A good knowledge of the symbols is important because it is important in the game to be able to change the defensive posture of some of your units during the other players turn, and this must be done in real time. An in game reference akin to something like Neuroshima Hex would be helpful. Another interesting feature that also posses a challenge is the Crossbow unit, the only ranged unit in the game. Players shoot the crossbow unit by pulling back like in Angry Birds and releasing. This is a n interesting way to determine line of site as you must determine the right angle to shoot at. This is a really neat feature and takes advantage of the medium the game is on, however, I do wish there was just a slightly clearer indicator of which direction you are facing. It is does not need to be easy but perhaps just a little clearer.

The game launched with many play modes. There is Hex War mode where one player moves their whole army and then the next player moves their army. In this mode there is a built AI and so it is the only mode for solo play. The AI is usually pretty wise in its moves and I have yet to see it make any major errors. In Hex War mode players have the options to customize the amount of units in their army, but also they can change the AI’s army anyway they like. This allows the players to make things easier or harder on themselves. The app also features Board Game Mode where players take turns moving one unit at a time and Party Blitz mode where all players move their armies at the same time (thank you multitouch). I was not able to try out Party Blitz mode but it looks like a wild time. The game also features a few map backgrounds to choose from as well as defensive barriers (splits the map between players) and terrain that can be placed by the user. It is a cool idea to develop your own maps, though it may be nice to have some sort of map saving option if you have come up with configuration you especially like. All in all I was impressed by the sheer amount of customization available to me in Keg Bearer.

Keg Bearer work excellently in Pass and Play multiplayer as there is no hidden information. It supports up to 4 players and you can even play team games. There is online multiplayer as of yet, but it will be a welcome addition if added in the future. An easier rules access system and a tutorial would also go far in opening this game up to a wider audience. It is a great game but currently a little close minded in its approach.

Keg Bearer is a fun game that fits well in the war game genre. It offers a great deal of customization and play modes. This game should be a must buy for any fans of the genre. It is a great game that is just begging for improved features to take it to the next level.
Rating: 3/4 Good
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