iOS, Android • If you’re one of those weirdos people that usually find gamebooks or interactive fiction to be a bit too dry, you need to give Cubus Games‘ stuff a go. I kind of fell in love with them after reading Heavy Metal Thunder which somehow managed to be more badass than the title required it to be. It took the usual gamebook conventions and mashed them up with beautiful 80’s-90’s-style action-schlock. You weren’t just an antihero, you were an antihero who makes Max Rockatansky look like a measly War Boy. You kill while spouting one liners and pretty much do whatever the hell you want, and it’s pretty great. That’s not the only great gamebook they’ve churned out, however. HMT had great sequels and they even had a book set in the Mayan civilization. Their latest book is coming in June and it, too, looks like a doozy.
Windows, Mac • You ever get an email from someone that triggers a memory of a long-ago email that you were supposed to reply to, but forgot and now you feel like an ass? It happens to me at least three times a week, with the latest being an incoming missive from Jo Bader, the developer who brought the digital version of Tank on Tank to life. We reported on our ignorance of Tank on Tank’s existence back in February which prompted a discussion between us and the fine folks at Lock ‘n Load that we let die an inglorious death in our inbox. This is why I yell at my kids to be more organized, so they don’t grow up to be major screw ups like their old man (that, and I’m sick of always picking up their crap). Anyway, back to Mr. Bader’s email. If, for some reason, you’ve been putting off getting Tank on Tank directly from the LnL website and really wanted it in your Steam library instead, today’s your lucky day.
iOS, Android, PC/Mac • One of our favorite gamebook creators back in our Pocket Tactics days were the fine folks over at Choice of Games. Their gamebooks appear spartan, lacking any illustrations, but are actually deeper than just about every other piece of interactive fiction out there. This comes from their spreadsheet-like approach to tracking your choices and adjusting your character as you proceed through the story. It also comes from the fact that many of their gamebooks tell epic, sweeping stories rather than focusing on a single quest or adventure. Their latest isn’t any different.
iOS, Android, PC/Mac, Console • While it’s sad to think that we won’t be getting any more Sorcery! titles from the mad geniuses at inkle Studios, it’s comforting to know that we’re getting something. Heaven’s Vault is their upcoming title and I say “something” because we really don’t know much about what the hell Heaven’s Vault actually is. A few screens of a woman and her robot looking over a desolate landscape is all we have to go on. That and the fact that Raymond Chandler and Gene Wolfe were mentioned as inspiration. That’s all they really had to say, but they keep throwing more info at us anyway.
iOS Universal, Android • When 2017 started I had already been girding my loins in preparation for a certain card game that was originally released in cardboard form back in 2007. Yes, 2017 was to be the year that I finally left my family behind and started the cult of Vlaada, continuously playing the digital version of Through the Ages. Things have changed. While I’m still planning on abandoning my family for a 2007 card game, it looks like it might be Race for the Galaxy instead of the aforementioned civ builder. RftG is out and, yes, it’s that good.
PC, Mac, Linux • I remember talking with Owen back in the day and listening to him gush over Empire: A Deck Building Strategy Game as if it were the second coming of XCOM. Was his love for Empire a tad overzealous? Perhaps, but just a tad. Designed by Keith Burgun, Empire and his other titles, 100 Rogues and Auro, have all been the cream of the App Store crop since their release. Thus, you’ll be happy to hear that Mr. Burgun is working on another title and he’s currently funding it via Kickstarter. You’ll be less happy to hear that there’s no plan to bring it to mobile.
iOS, Android, Windows Phone • If someone pinned me down, held a gun to my head and asked me to name the best mobile board game port ever created, I would have to say Galaxy Trucker (unless the person holding the gun to my head was Strangiato, in which case the answer is definitely Twilight Struggle). It manages to bring the feel of the tabletop version to the touchscreen while adding great single player and multiplayer extras that you just couldn’t do with a cardboard version. One of those tweaks is happening this weekend in celebration of International Tabletop Day. Czech Games Edition has added a new mission in which you can win real, cardboard copies of their games as well as putting the app on sale through Monday.
Tabletop • As a sad and lonely man, it’s only natural that I would gravitate toward games I can play by myself. This used to mean playing a game meant for 2+ players alone by taking control of all sides. Over the past year or two, however, I’ve discovered that there are great solo games out there, you just have to look. GMT is one company that regularly puts out games that play great when you’re all by your lonesome, and Victory Point Games is another. To be honest, before HexWar brought Infection: Humanity’s Last Gasp to digital, I wasn’t familiar with VPG’s offerings. Since then, I’ve fallen in love with several of their designs, and have Kickstarted several others (including their latest Kickstarter for Chariots of Rome). The latest to draw my attention is one with a unique board game theme, Healthy Heart Hospital.
I’m sure a lot of you think I’m making it up, or at least exaggerating, when I talk about how terrible I am at games. Here’s another example. I’m currently winless in the Through the Ages beta and TtA is a game that I’ve played more than any other. Hundreds of games. I was the jamoke who created the official TtA Vassal module back before anyone had conceived of an online version. Just playtesting that involved playing, literally, hundreds of games. You’d think I’d have this game down to a science; a civilization building savant. Instead, I can’t stop tripping over my own feet. Oh, and James Cook is still a butthead.
PC, Mac • So, I was over at the Paradox Interactive website this morning, looking up details for Prison Architect’s soft launch, and it was a little like coming downstairs on Christmas morning when I was seven. Toys as far as the eye could see, so many that I didn’t know where to begin. With such a cornucopia I’ve decided that, instead of separate posts, I’m going to lump all of the Paradox news into one juicy tidbit. Some of this might be old news to you but it’s all new to me and I run the joint [says who? -Kelsey], so deal with it.