iBoardgaming – Summer 2012

I have just a few weeks left of my stay-at-home dad summer duties. It will be a nice change of pace to only have to deal with a 100 or so high school students rather than my (fun but challenging) pair of preschool boys. However, we’ve done a bit of traveling so I’ve had a chance to scope out quite a few iOS implementations of boardgames in the past few months. Trend-wise, games continue to get better and better with most Game Center support including achievements and online play.

My standard disclaimers apply. I’m much more interested in direct human interaction when I play boardgames. While I appreciate it when developers include online play, I rely on my iPad (and iPod/iPhone) primarily for game play vs a computer AI or for pass-and-play style face to face games. I also use my iPad/iPhone as pick-up-and-play type devices and most online play requires a specific time commitment. I want to be able to put the game down with no remorse if a boy gets a skinned knee or I might need to make a son “intervention”. Thus I can’t attest to the overall quality of the online play for most of the games below, just whether it is present or not. Also, I will list games as iPad (iPad only), iPhone (playable on an iPad but in reduced resolution), and Universal (which means the same app runs natively on both platforms). Local play typically means a pass and play mode (using the same iPad/iPhone) and I will try to point out when online modes do NOT use Game Center as an interface. Assume most iPhone implementations really aren’t all that great for local (pass & play) modes unless otherwise mentioned. Prices and links are current as of late July 2012 but are always subject to change…

Ticket to Ride Europe Pocket  ($2, iPhone, 1-5p in local pass & play as well as local WiFi/Bluetooth, and online modes)
In somewhat of a surprise announcement (for me), Days of Wonder has just released another Ticket to Ride app for the iPhone. Following on the successful TTR Pocket, the new release contains the rules and map for TTR: Europe as well as the Swiss map as an additional $1 in-app purchase. Not entirely sure why they didn’t just update the original TTR Pocket with in-app purchases, but I’m not complaining since this works just as well as the previous title. A very worthy download. I have a friend who plays Ticket to Ride most often with his kids using his iPhone and iPad. They can play 2 player with his iPad and iPhone and not have to mess around with setup or cleanup. At $2, it is a great price. Unfortunately, local multiplayer doesn’t work with the standard iPad TTR app (everyone needs a copy of the “pocket” version) but the price is still very value-minded. As always, the AI doesn’t stand up to a good player, but it is enough of a challenge to keep me interested in the game if I want a quick solo play.

Le Havre  ($5, Universal, 1-5p local and online play, 4 levels of AI)
I was immensely pleased to see this finally come out a few months back. I was out of the country when Le Havre made a splash in my local game group so never got a chance to play it until last winter. Having it on my iPad has allowed me to learn the game against the AI and enjoy exploring various strategies. As one expects from Codito (the developer), the interface is very nice and there’s even a tutorial to help teach you the game. I give the game an unreserved recommendation. Props to Codito for including a player position in the options for local play. As a human, you can choose the side of the iPad on which you’re sitting and the interface and menus flip around for you for ease of reading when it is your turn. The one minor complaint I have for the game is how the interface deals with computer player turns. Rather than keeping each player’s stats in a single position on the board, players’ stats rotate past from right to left as players take their turns. This makes it far more difficult than it should be to keep track of what each player is doing. On the faster display settings (which are nice to keep the game going along at a quick pace) it is more challenging than it needs to be to keep track of which player (color) is performing which action. If they had simply left each color in their own location on the board it would have been much better – at least for those of us who are good at retaining spatial information. Aside from that quibble, it’s a very good game and implementation.

Nightfall ($1, Universal, 2-5p local and online play, 3 levels of AI)
Not everyone has been drawn to this deckbuilding game, it was a huge hit at my local high school. I believe the direct player conflict (and subsequent kingmaking) may hurt its reputation in some circles but is an overall plus for the typical pro-conflict teenager. We nearly wore the cards out of the original game, so it was nice to give it a try in a virtual arena. The computer AI gives you a nice run for your money as it is far harder to convince computer player you are no threat (high school students are surprisingly cowed by authority…) For the price, I think it is a great deal. $1 gives you an opportunity to try out a deckbuilding game with a number of somewhat unique twists. I think it loses a lot when not played against other humans (there are online modes, of course). It should give a gamer a few days worth of interest while they learn the game and try out strategies. More than that would require an interest in playing in the online arena.

Scotland Yard  ($5, Universal, 1-6p local, WiFi/Bluetooth, and online, 3 levels AI)
There’s been a Scotland Yard-type app out for quite a while now, currently renamed Detectives’ Chase. (It bounces around between $1 and free.) However, this official release is not only morally in the clear, it is a much more polished production. The graphics, etc… are all nice and fairly intuitive – although there’s a slight learning curve that needs to be experienced to train oneself to be sure to examine all the player (& Mr. X) markers before planning a move. I think where this game might shine the best (other than solo play), is using the local mode similar to Ticket to Ride Pocket, where each player has their own screen and information is more easily hidden. The price of $5 is sometimes seen to be on the higher end for apps, but Scotland Yard’s polished nature keeps it competitive with other apps at that level.

Antoine Bauza’s Monster Chase ($1 – free “lite” version available, Universal, 1-4p cooperative, five “modes” or difficulty levels)
I have a soft spot for this memory-based app, as I purchased the original release for my eldest when we spent half a year in France. It is a perfect game to adapt to the iOS platform. Monsters appear in a child’s room and they must be chased away. Each monster is afraid of a different toy, and the toys are hidden around the room. Rather than 10 overturned cards, a screen representing the room is shown and 10 different objects in the room can be tapped to reveal what they contain. Reveal the toy for which a particular monster is afraid, and it runs away. Every 3 taps of a container, a new monster shows up. If too many monsters arrive before being sent back, the game is over. It is another twist on Memory games, and I think a very fun and engaging one. There is a hardcore mode if you really want to try it out, but this is a fun little coop memory game for the younger set. Try it out for free to see if you or your kid like it, then go ahead and drop the entire $1 to add it to your collection!

TimeLine for iPad  ($3 +$1 per expansion, iPad, 1-4p and no AI available)
TimeLine is a simple card game where players attempt to place a card from their hand into the appropriate place on a timeline of cards. This is often simple at first but becomes much more difficult as the timeline fills up with dates. Was the crossbow invented before or after paper? Wrong answers force a player to redraw a card. Be the first to empty your hand of cards and win. The boardgame comes in several versions, and this app starts with the collection of Invention cards. A set of Event cards and Discovery cards are available as an in-app purchase for another $1 each. The card game has Music, Monuments, and Arts & Literature categories as well, so they may presumably make an appearance. To whet your appetite, most categories have a few cards included in the base game to try to convince you to make a purchase. The game can be set up to include all or no cards in each themed category. In multiplayer mode, players sit around the iPad in a set order although two players can be set up either side by side or across from each other. There are two solo play options that are more like puzzle games. I have enjoyed them as it is a fun challenge. Given a replenishing hand of cards you attempt to make the longest timeline you can without making mistakes. After a set number of mistakes, the game is over and you’re presented with a score. In the classic game you are informed of the correct date and placement while the challenge mode only tells you when you’re wrong. Presumably if you played them entirely too much you might learn something about history and the game would become less of a challenge, but that’s what some of the expansions are for… At $3, it is a reasonable price. It isn’t going to provide the longevity of a higher priced boardgame app, but the quality of the implementation is very good and I appreciate the chance to take this game on the go for only $3. (Oh, and crossbows came first… ;)

Reiner Knizia’s Tigris & Euphrates  ($5, Universal, 1-4p local and online modes with 4 levels of AI)
Yes, it is a Reiner Knizia app, but this one is actually a boardgame! I’ve got a love-hate relationship with Tigris & Euprates, and even once wrote an article (back in the game’s heyday) on how I love to hate it! It isn’t a game for pessimists – I was nearly always convinced everyone had all the defensive tiles they needed and were clearly always ahead of me in their fewest colored cube category. Well, I must admit that Codito has delivered (yes, a long time ago) an app that has cured me of my T&E phobia. After a nice refresher tutorial, I worked my way through a few levels of the AI until I felt pretty confident in my abilities. A nice hint feature is available to give beginners advice for any specific play during a game. T&E is particularly well suited to the iPad platform as it makes a pretty decent 2 player game without having to haul around the physical game board. There are some issues with keeping tiles secret, but putting one’s hand in the way helps out a bit. I’d even go as far to play this 4 player in a pinch, if a physical board wasn’t available. The game keeps track of your ELO rating and win/loss ratios so compulsive players can play until the more advanced AI provided is thoroughly whipped.

Ubongo  ($3 – free Lite version available, iPad, 1-4 players local play in normal and time attack modes)
Ubongo Puzzle Adventure ($2 available for iPod/iPhone. Not reviewed here, but has 1p solo and online modes)
Ubongo seemed to me to be a strange choice for an iOS app, as the game is based so much around spatially handling and playing with little puzzle pieces. However, I was pleasantly surprised at what I found in the app. The game initially had frustrating controls, but after I came back to the game later the game seemed much more controllable. My wife would like to protest she’s not fond of the controls, but I think she experienced the same steep learning curve. I have to admit it is not the same as playing with physical pieces, but it is far better than I expected. With the multi-touch capabilities of the iPad, a 4 player game is doable since the controls are primarily just single tapping gestures. This could be reason enough to own the game, as decent 4 player games are somewhat rare on the iPad. Since everyone is engaged, the small screen isn’t as prone for one person to hog and others’ attentions to wander. There is even a story mode that’s a bit strange but gives an excuse to play through increasing AI challenges. Fans of the game should download the Lite version to give it a try, just be a little patient with the controls at first as they do improve some with time.

Imperial  ($9, iPad, 1-6p pass and play with AI)
I’ve had a copy of this for some time, but it sat on the back burner. I’m somewhat abivalent about this line of rondel games, but I suspect it was due to being trounced in my first outing. I’ve lately given this a few tries against the computer and found it a very pleasant game. A bit of warfare, a bit of stock management, with room for some negotiation. Granted, there’s no real way to negotiate with the computer AIs and they aren’t exactly stellar players but I enjoyed the title. It’s clear this game is a labor of love by a developer rather than a high-end translation by a large team. The graphics are very serviceable but not flashy, the AI is passable but not strong, and there isn’t a tutorial, just a link to rules online. With that said, there are some nice options available including a few ways to “jump” into the game faster (with easier and advance starting schemes). What would really make this game shine for many, I believe, will be an upcoming promised asynchronous online play mode. For now, this doesn’t measure up to other $9 apps around. However, the implementation of the game is solid so fans of the game could do far worse for $9. If/when the online mode comes into play I could see this taking off.

BattleCon  (Free + $1 per additional character, Universal, 1-2p local and online with AI)
I was introduced to this game in both its card and iOS form at the same time. It is one of those games where two players maneuver on a straight line while trying to inflict damage on each other. Each player takes a character card and a base card from their hand and combines their stats to create an attack consisting of a range, a power, and a priority. Highest priority attack goes first and applies its power in damage to the opponent if they’re within the range. Importantly, if a character takes damage at all, they are stunned and cannot counterattack. However, many cards have some bit of stun guard which ignores smaller hits. All characters have nearly the same base cards but character cards are unique to each fighter. The interesting part of the game comes in using each character’s very unique abilities. Some may have tokens to use within the game (to ignore stun at any time, for example) while others may mess with the play area itself (like the character who puts down a “gate” which inhibits his opponent’s moves and priority.) Figuring out how to best play each character against a specific opponent is much of the fun for casual players and worth the free download to mess around with the game. The interface is pretty good and the tutorial does a very good job of explaining what otherwise might be a bit much to grasp simply from reading some rules. The images come straight from the card game and work well with the high energy/spashy theme. One minor quibble – the menus seem to be a bit laggy, but that isn’t a problem during the game itself. There were some issues with possible game-crashes back when it came out in May, but I haven’t seen much lately (other than some exceptionally slow menu transitions…) The game includes 4 free characters to play with and 8 other characters to play against. To use them yourself you need to purchase each one for an in-app purchase of $1 each.

Blue Lion  ($2, Universal, 1-2p local with AI)
Blue Lion is a very pretty card game that uses six double sided cards representing two thieves (male and female), a detective, and diamond. There is one of each possible card (for example a diamond/male, diamond/female, and diamond/detective card.) Players take turns placing the cards into a line, then take turns flipping over or moving cards around. Each player is trying to score points by surrounding a diamond card with two of their thief pictures, surrounding their opponent’s picture by two detectives, or making a string of three diamonds (for a particularly big score). The app itself is very well done. It is responsive, colorful (as is the card game) with a very clear rules explanation. The game is even rotated in orientation properly for each player. My main problem with the app is I’m simply not all that fond of the game. The theme is there but it is quite an abstract game and I’m not that hugely into abstracts. Games are short enough but I’d rather have a little more fluff or something in my games than the maneuvering found here. I also think the game loses a little bit in the virtual setting. Keeping track of which detective tile is backed by the diamond and which backed by my own character is work in the virtual world whereas I suspect my brain might have an easier time of tracking fully physical objects. All that said, if a quick, colorful somewhat abstract 2-player game is what you’re looking for, by all means you should check it out. For $2, you may find a new favorite 2 player card game, and the simplicity of the game bits allows a refreshing large play area to use making it one of the most accessible 2-player games I’ve seen on the iPad. I wager you could even pull off a decent pass and play off of the small screen of an iPhone.

Michael Schacht’s Web of Power Card Game: The Duel ($3, Universal, 1p local with 3 levels of AI)
I consider this a classic Skotos Tech iOS game translation (Money, Modern Art, High Society, etc…) of the tabletop game Richelieu, The Duel. The graphics are not flashy, but are clean and very readable. Playing records are tracked for both the human and the four AI players (each can play at different levels of AI ability). Granted, it is a tile based game rather than cards, but anyone familiar with previous titles by this company will feel quite at home. The game itself consists of taking tiles off a board mahjong style in order to obtain majorities in multiple different categories all at the same time. Scoring a majority in a category earns points at the end of the game. There are frills and such that make it a bit more interesting, but that’s the general idea. As is typical of games from this developer, the controls are easy to use and the interface is quite straightforward. However, when compared to bells and whistles on other boardgame titles there are a few missing elements. Currently, there is no way to play a 2 player game, which seems to me to be a missed opportunity as it takes almost no extra real estate (other than having to try to deal with hidden information issues). Online gameplay is coming for previous Skotos Tech titles but is not included here as yet. As things stand, if I could play this two player I would keep it on my short list of very playable iOS games good for 2 players, but since I’m not a huge abstract fan I find the solo game against the computer a bit dry. $3 is a reasonable price point for what you get (I still can’t believe it when I say things like that… that would have sounded so cheap just a few years ago…) but the game just doesn’t excite me. That said, any fan of the game Richelieu or designer Michael Schactht will get their money’s worth from the fairly robust computer AI in this app.

Summoner Wars (Free to try – $8 for everything, Universal, 1p local vs AI or 2p online)
Tom Rosen has already reviewed this card-placement wargame in a past post here at Opinionated Gamers, so I won’t go into details. It is a fine recreation of the board game, and while the board is so much smaller on the iPad, one can’t argue with its price. It’s free to try out (with just one army deck) and any purchase (of more cards/army decks in packs of $1 each) unlocks the online game play modes. With 16 or so decks available to buy, $8 for the complete set is a pretty good price. And it is a far cry from the cost of buying the physical decks! While I haven’t done online play nor got around to unlocking any decks (I’m a cheapskate and am waiting to commit to the full unlock – or not) what I do see as a huge hole is the lack of any sort of pass and play mode. This sort of game seems to be a natural for it, although I admit there’s a bit of hidden information to worry about. Give me the ability for a pass and play (or even some sort of Ticket to Ride Pocket type WiFi/bluetooth play to boot) and I’d be singing this game’s praises almost as much as Tom. As things stand, it’s easy to recommend a free download to anyone even casually interested (the tutorial is good), but I’m not expecting everyone to end up going down the in-app purchase road.

It’s Alive! – The Monster Building Game  ($1, Universal, 1-5p local vs several AI strategies)
I must admit I didn’t have high expectations for this card game, thinking it was yet another spin on set collection with a (currently popular) zombie/frankenstein theme. However, I was so impressed at the auction-based card game that I found, that I have decided to look into getting a copy to play with students at school. Players try to collect a set of eight body parts, valued 2-8 points each. On one’s turn, a body part is drawn from the stack and the active player my buy it outright for its price (from the bank), put it up for auction (and keep the proceeds), or sell it to their own graveyard for half the cost. In the basic game it is simply a race to be the first to complete a set of 8 body parts. In the advance game, players score the value of their set with the first person to complete a set ending the game and scoring a bonus 5 points. (Players also can add in some of their cash on hand for points.) The fine balance between managing one’s money and trying to gain cards below face value contrast with the endgame where it may be more important to try to complete one’s set. To add additional flavor and interest to the game, players may forgo drawing from the deck and “ransom” the top card of another player’s graveyard stack. Buy paying that card’s price (in cash or previously bought body parts), the active player may use that card and either sell it (bad idea), buy it outright (most common), or auction it off. In this way, you may get a discarded card but you end up paying double. Finally, there are two special types of cards in the deck. There are coffin cards worth a whopping 9-10 points that serve as wildcards and can be used in place of any body part, and Village Uprising cards which force players to pay a penalty of 4 or 6 gold (you do get to keep the card which can be then used in a ransom transaction). The app itself is clean and works very well. It has a nice cartoony monster theme without becoming too morbid (or emo, thank goodness). At $1, this is an aggressively priced app. It isn’t a deep game, but the auctions (or decisions of whether to auction) give it surprising depth of play that is unusual for a game of this length. I know of no higher praise than to place it up there with No Thanks! for a possible game to introduce to non-gamers. It is perhaps just a tad more complicated, but has a much stronger theme with which to draw in new players. The iPad version is large enough to accommodate a few players around the screen, although due to the hidden nature of previously purchased set cards, it essentially ends up being a pass and play mode.

Quoridor *($3, Universal, 2 or 4p vs AI, or 2p pass & play)
Yes, I have abstract title bias, but this app is not quite as high quality as some others. In Quoridor either two or four players attempt to move their pawns across a 9×9 grid, using small walls to block each other’s way. Either move or place a wall, with a few constraints on wall locations. It turns into a race to try to force your opponent to backtrack or go out of their way without them doing the same to you. The graphics for the game are 3D and look great, however the interface (especially on iPod/iPhones) is extremely touchy and difficult to use. I use the overhead viewpoint (out of 3 choices) almost exclusively and it is still somewhat frustrating to place walls (pawn moving is, thankfully, fairly simple.) Other little things continue to annoy – while you can continue games in play, I haven’t found a way to exit out to the main menu in the middle of the game beyond just using the home button to go to the main iOS app screen. Finally, I swear I saw the computer cheat… it walked right through my just-placed wall and then proceeded to win the game. I’ve looked through the rules several times to confirm that isn’t supposed to happen. Ah, well. I’m secure in my knowledge that I’m still the better man – since the computer isn’t a man at all! Take that, Mr. AI! If you are a fan of the game, Quoridor, you probably are going to be willing to spend the $3 to get the game. It would be perfect for a 2 player game on an iPad. There will probably be a bit of an annoyance with the interface, but not enough to make anyone give up entirely on playing.
(*No link as I can’t currently find the game on the US app store.)

Kahmate  ($4, Universal, 1-2p local with basic AI)
While not quite an abstract, this game didn’t draw me in all that much. Lacking online play, and only moderate computer AI (I think – I’m not all that great at the game), I’m not sure how attractive this title is to non-fans of the boardgame. This is a simulated Rugby game where two players place pieces onto the board and then alternate moving them around (with the option to pass backwards) in order to try to get the ball in the goal. The pieces are of varying abilities with little guys as fast runners and big slow brutes as very powerful in altercations. To try to “bull” through an opponent or to try to tackle the player with the ball, both players secretly choose and reveal a card from their six starting cards and then reveal them. Cards add to the players’ abilities with high scores winning the interaction. On a successful tackle, the ball is stolen, while on a failed bull rush the carrier drops the ball behind them. Get the ball to the far side to win a point (and the game.) While I’m not a huge fan of the game, the implementation is very good. The game is played not just with little tokens on the screen, but the players come to life as you select them. Lots of fun little animations throughout make is a very impressive implementation of the game. As I mentioned, there is only the basic AI allowed, but I could see this as a great way to take the game portable as a 2 player game – since the animations themselves are entertaining. No online play or other WiFi/Bluetooth play, but beyond that issue it is a very well done implementation.

KHET 2X  ($8 Universal / $4 iPhone, 1-2p local or asynchronous online with 5 levels of AI)
As a Physics teacher, I love to have Khet on hand in the classroom. A form of laser chess, each player has mirrored pieces and a home laser. The goal is to maneuver your own (and take advantage of your opponent’s) pieces into position so that their Pharoah piece is hit by the laser. Pieces struck by the laser on sides without mirrors are eliminated from the game. This is a slick implementation of the game, with supposedly a slick AI by a famous designer. I’m not good enough to judge, but the lowest level AI is easily beaten and higher levels present a challenge to a neophyte such as myself. Three game setups are available (classic, dynasty, and Imhotep) and games can be played via GameCenter or a custom “friend” link code feature. As befitting the “laser” theme, the game looks slick although I do miss the actual lasers in the physical game. Moving pieces around is easy, but I don’t see why there isn’t an option to have the laser beam be “always on”. I wouldn’t have minded being able to instantly see where each laser is going to go while I examined the board rather than have to trace it each time. It seems a simple addition and it would be great to help new players get a feel for how things can change. It could show both lasers or only one’s own as an option. There is an “undo” button but it only lets you undo your current move before you press the laser button. Having multiple layers of undo again seems quite reasonable when playing against the AI (or a friendly game for that matter.) There isn’t a tutorial, but the rules are decent with nice example pictures and the lowest level AI serves as a nice way for beginners to ease into the game with a bit of success. These are all somewhat minor quibbles, and I have to admit its a nice version of KHET. At $8, the price is comparable to some of the “big name” games that might have campaign modes, achievements, and so on… It is a bit steep for anyone to “just try it out” but since the game is a straightforward implementation of an abstract I think the target audience would know whether it is worth their money. Would you pay $8 to play KHET against a pretty strong AI or online vs your friends? Then you’re the target audience.

Set Pro HD  ($5, iPad, 1-4p local play)
One of the most impressive implementations of a card game that I’ve seen in awhile, this is a great addition to my multiplayer iOS game library. Players simultaneously look to find “sets” of three cards with various features that must all be the same or all different. (ie. three cards could all have different colors, the same shape, and different numbers of objects displayed). The game can be played with a basic deck of the three features mentioned or a larger, advanced deck that also includes shading (solid/striped/open). In addition to the various decks, there are six modes of solo play. Classic is the game most know where one goes through the entire deck and tries to find all the sets in the shortest period of time. Puzzle set uses a fixed number of cards (none are replaced) and one must find all the sets present in the shortest amount of time. Sprint Set gives players 60 seconds (90 for the advanced deck) to find as many sets as possible. Arcade Set starts with a time limit, but the limit is increased after a specific number of sets are found. As play progresses, more sets are needed to get extra time and the extra time gains becomes less and less. Rediscovery Set has players find 25 sets as quickly as possible but if a player doesn’t find any in a short time frame all the cards on the table are rearranged. Finally, Marathon Set is the same as Sprint Set but players are given more time (90 seconds and 300 seconds) to find them all. This can be challenging as one’s mind can start to wander in the longer games. Multiplayer Set is straightforward and works very well on the iPad as long as everyone can see the screen. To find a set, a player tags their scorecard to take control of the board and then must type in their match within 7 seconds or be penalized. To add to all the many options, there are achievements available and personal bests recorded for most of the game modes. Games involving speed, such as this one, will live or die according to their responsive interface and Set Pro HD has a very slick, fast feel. At $5, it is a very good value for your money if you are a fan of card games involving speed and/or pattern recognition.

In other news – NonBoardgame Apps
I plan to put out another post “soon” on non-boardgame apps that might be of interest, but for the moment, here are a few titles that have gotten some good use lately…

I’ve done away with my regular Words with Friends games and have gotten slightly addicted to Draw Something (free) – a sort of “Charades with Friends” type game where each player takes turns drawing a word and then guessing it. Guess correctly to earn coins which can be redeemed for extra hints or used to unlock new colors to use.

Anyone with a preschool or early elementary kid should check out DragonBox ($3) – it is a puzzle game that actually teaches kids how to do basic algebra. The screen is divided in two and the goal is to get the wooden box to be alone on one side of the equation – I mean screen. This is done by adding things (to both sides obviously) or “subtracting” by combining two opposite things. Kids are rewarded by cute little pictures of dragons slowly maturing as they solve levels.

Silversword ($5) is a classic party-based RPG adventure from the old Apple II/IBM PC days of yore complete with rolling up your characters’ stats to start the game. No hint of Japanese-influence on this RPG…

Great Big War Game ($3) is the sequel to Great Little War Game (comes in HD and not HD flavors with free Lite versions available). An extremely cartoon-y style of strategy game the is VERY reminiscent of the Advance Wars games on the Nintendo Gameboy series. Take control of refineries to earn money, control of factories to use money to buy troops, and control or destroy your opponents’ HQ to win the scenario. With a 50-mission campaign (with very silly cut scenes mocking officers) it is a nice little strategy game. The computer AI isn’t that bright but has quite an advantage in later scenarios. Pass and play as well as (in the new sequel) online play are available.

With that, I leave you to the rest of your summer. Be sure to comment below if you have particular titles you think the rest of us should be checking out…


Comments from other Opinionated Gamers:

Fraser: It’s the depths of winter here, but I have still been playing some iOS stuff anyway.  (Apologies to those hemispherically challenged – Matt ;)

With friends via GameCentre. Ascension, Le Havre and Starbase Orion. I probably should play Tigris & Euphrates this way too, but I usually have a game or five on the boil at BGG anyway. GameCentre’s notifications seem to be less and less reliable these days, so periodically I just check my games anyway to see if it is my turn in any of them.

Solo: All of the above. Occasionally Ticket to Ride and Puerto Rico. I tried Caylus once and didn’t really like the interface or what I couldn’t find in the interface, e.g. I went to build a wooden building and couldn’t find the list of possible buildings to buy before making my purchase decision. Puerto Rico got it right.

I hear Summoner Wars needs a Facebook login to play, so I won’t ever be playing that. If you ever played Masters of Orion II on the PC in days gone past, do yourself a favour and check out Starbase Orion, it is very close to MOO II.

About Matt J Carlson

Dad, Gamer, Science Teacher, Youth Pastor... oh and I have green hair. To see me "in action" check out Dr. Carlson's Science Theater up on Youtube...
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8 Responses to iBoardgaming – Summer 2012

  1. Tom says:

    Matt – mini news flash…you can play pass and play in summoner wars

  2. Matt J Carlson says:

    Well, as I mentioned, I haven’t unlocked any decks so I assume it’s a feature that comes in when the online play is unlocked as I don’t see it as an option right now. I also didn’t see it mentioned in any of the documentation only the mention of online play unlocked. (it could be there, I just didn’t see it…)

  3. sodaklady says:

    Summoner Wars does NOT need a Facebook login to play. Good thing, or I would have bypassed this great game.

    • Fraser says:

      Hmm, does that mean I need another excuse not to play it other than the truth that I am spending too much time playing the games I am already playing? ;-)

    • Matt J Carlson says:

      I will have to check it (Cafe International) out… (I see you’re from the developer’s company so expect an email soon… ;)

  4. benjamin.mewes@application-systems.de says:

    You’re welcome :D

  5. Titan is decent. The commitment required to play face-to-face is pretty huge. But the iOS app is fairly approachable. The tutorial is not complete and you still need to read the rules, but you can do it after fuzting around with it a bit. Which makes for easier reading.

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