iOS Universal • Some games just aren’t ready for release. Lets keep that in mind while we talk about the recently released Eminence: Xander’s Tales. Eminence was originally billed as a CCG/MMORPG when it was Kickstarted by Aeterna Studios in 2014. Now it’s 2017 and Aeterna Studios has finally released an iOS version of Eminence, without the MMORPG elements, leaving a odd card game that combines deck-building and random card packs but none of the other traditional elements of a CCG. It’s about as much fun as finding out your ice-cream sundae was made with hot fudge and cottage cheese.
iOS, Android, PC/Mac • Oh, Age of Rivals. You were our Through the Ages before we had digital Through the Ages. You were our 7 Wonders before…well, you’re still our 7 Wonders and will likely always be. You were the surprise card game of our summer, only falling behind other releases because we learned everything you had to share. That is, we ran out of new cards to unlock. Roboto Games is set to reignite our addiction, however, with the Conflict of Fate update which should be landing on the App Store very soon.
Stormbound is an interesting take on CCG and lane defence titles and poses interesting tactical questions for players both during play and in deck-building. Like many games, there are some facets of play in Stormbound that aren’t immediately apparent. The purpose of this article is to shine a light on these aspects and get you up to speed as quickly as possible.
Back in Pocket Tactics‘ glory days, one of my favorite writers over there was Clancy. He was a lot like Owen, but without the snark. Or, I should say, a different type of snark, but he knew what the hell he was talking about and shared that info with aplomb. His reviews were delights, with one of my faves being for the roguelike-puzzle gem, Hoplite. Not only did Clancy give it 5-stars but, behind the scenes, he nearly convinced Owen that it was GOTY material. This in a year that saw both FTL and XCOM: Enemy Unknown land on the App Store. Even with that competition he wasn’t too far off. 2014 was a fantastic year for gaming, and all three of those titles remain on my iPad. Hoplite took a little vacation from the App Store the past few weeks but, yesterday, rose from the ashes with a brand new 64-bit version ready to conquer iOS 11.
Tabletop • While board gaming is still a fairly small niche of the hobby world, it’s made up of many smaller niches. Many of those I’ve dabbled in: war games, miniatures, 18xx, smelling like you haven’t showered in three weeks. One group I’ve never participated deals with something called Print-and-Play. These are the crazy people [I only say this because a good friend is one of these people and he’s only slightly not crazy -ed.] who spend a lot of time to handcraft beautiful copies of games released for free and posted on sites like BGG. I haven’t even been one of the lazy ones who just print everything on regular paper and tape it together with Scotch tape. Nothing in this process interested me in until I helped design a Print-and-Play game of my own, and now I think they’re the greatest thing ever. Well, this game is, at least.
iOS, Android, Steam • It wouldn’t be a complete week without at least a little bit of news out of the Asmodee Digital camp. Last week they released two games, Ticket to Ride: First Journey and Harald. This week is a bit more subdued. This week they’re merely announcing a huge release coming next week. It’s Smash Up, the wacky card game of amazing mix-ups, which is totally not the actual tagline for the game; I just came up with it on my own. That said, it’s pretty great, so if you need any PR guys, AEG, give me a call.
PC • The original Ogre was designed by Steve Jackson way back in 1977, nearly 25 years before his own publishing company would become synonymous with a little card game called Munchkin. It’s had several editions since it’s days with long lost publisher, Metagaming Concepts, culminating in a ridiculously gigantic new edition (seriously, this thing weighs in at over 30 pounds) funded a few years ago, with the sixth edition hitting shelves in 2016. Part of the Ogre revival includes a digital version which was just released for PC.
Tabletop • You may not of heard of Restoration Games–they’re relatively new–but I don’t think that will last for long. For one, you’re reading this, and I’m about to talk about them as if they’re my first middle school crush. Secondly, they’re taking older games from the 80s and 90s and updating them for modern gamers which is a really cool thing to be doing. What games, I hear you ask? Well, let’s take a look at their racing/gambling hybrid, Downforce.
iOS Universal, PC/Mac/Linux • Warbands: Bushido is a digital miniatures skirmish game from Russian developers Red Unit Studios aiming to bring the experience of tabletop minis gaming to digital. All the cards, dice, and miniatures without all the messy assembly and painting. The game is set in the later Warring States, or Sengoku, period of Japan’s 16th century and allows you to build warbands of varying sizes taking on all comers in PvP gameplay. Warbands had a rather difficult Early Access release on Steam which I, thankfully, missed. They appear to have weathered those initial difficulties, however, and have added a Mac and mobile release to the Warbands: Bushido stable. Make no mistake though, this is still an unfinished product. Playable and very fun but still not a done deal.
Switch • I like to imagine that Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle was pitched by the most dependable, sober person at Ubisoft. You may have heard that it’s mostly XCOM, but with much less uncertainty and with some light puzzling elements replacing base management. Add a manic, child-friendly theme and remove permadeath, and that’s pretty accurate, which makes me think that pitch involved a virtuoso in the projection of normalcy. The characters are pre-made (so I can’t do what I’ve long done with XCOM and learn my kids’ classmates names by assigning them to my soldiers*) [I, on the other hand, change all my soldiers to British redheads named Amy Pond. It’s a bit weird. -ed.] but they have distinct skills trees which allow them to specialize in quite varied ways. Consequently, you have a lot of freedom to build the tools you want, but the game is correspondingly free to offer rather off-the-wall challenges.