Tabletop • I’ve been on a quest of late to find the best two-player tabletop games the world has to offer. Card games, board games, dice games…it doesn’t matter, I just want fun games to play with my wife around home or with a friend now and then. I may have stumbled onto something with my latest conquest, The Fox in the Forest.
iOS, Android, PC/Mac/Linux • “What game had you up so late last night,” my wife asked. I had been up until 1 AM or so, a rare thing is the age of the barbarian-monkey children, aka our seven-year old twin boys. “Predynastic Egypt,” I replied and was quickly greeted with a look of confusion. I explained it was a game set in Egypt, but well before the pyramids. It was a strategy simulation covering two millennia of ancient Egyptian history where you play as a nomadic tribe and grow that tribe, turn by turn, from humble origins toward the ultimate goal of unifying Egypt under your control within 220 turns. “Oooh, I want to play it,” was her immediate response. [Nick’s wife is cooler than my wife. Mine just elbowed me in the back and called me an idiot. -ed.]
Oskar Stålberg is an artist and game designer and we just realized he’s got some skills when it comes to making cool stuff for your laptop. Consider his Polygonal Planet Project, a browser-based Unity thingamabob where you can build your own planet. You can place continents and islands, raise up mountains, spread forests, and build massive cities. It’s a creative and fun tool with which to play. You can also download it to your computer for faster performance. Oh, there’s more. (Warning: gifs ahead!)
PC, Mac • How often does a game’s catchphrase, a blurb that’s often silly and seldom informative, sell you on playing said game? We’re hoping the answer is, “not often”, but check this out: A Deckbuilding Roguelike Adventure. Sold! That’s the tagline for Monster Slayers, a game by Nerdook Productions, and it’s the exact coupling of words needed to penetrate the inky blackness of my heart and, more importantly, wallet.
Windows, coming soon to iOS • YOU’VE PLAYED 5 hours. Nice of Steam to keep a tally of how much of your life you spend gaming, isn’t it? I don’t really need Steam to explain that crap-I-stayed-up-too-late-gaming-and-now-it-is-2AM feeling, though. I shouldn’t have started playing so late, but then again, I didn’t expect to spend five hours on Missile Cards, a game I had just installed earlier that day. Problem is, I just couldn’t stop.
iOS Universal, Android • It is difficult to call something, anything, unique these days and be confident it is true. No one person can play all the games, listen to all the music, read all the books, and watch all the things to feel sure about such an assessment. Most things are derivative of something, often clearly so. When I play Erin: The Last Aos Sí, however, I am drawn to that description: unique, rare, different.
PC/Mac • RimWorld is a colony building and survival simulation game that has everything you’d expect from the genre. You’ll act as the architect for a new colony and guide its residents to ever greater levels of survivability, self-sufficiency, and success. This includes zoning the settlement area for residential buildings, farming, and storage as well as identifying what structures should be built, how electricity should be generated, and what tools of production, furniture, and artwork should be used. There’s also the usual research function to build out a technology tree and open up new options. What’s cool about RimWorld is not that it hits these hallmarks of base-building and survival games. It certainly does. It’s not that it does it really well or better than most—though this is also true. What really makes RimWorld so good–I had to force myself to stop playing–are two things: a true open-world style and a relatively unique story-infused narrative.
You’ve crash landed on a strange planet and need a plan to survive. There’s a couple different ways you can go. There’s the Mark Watney way—eking out an existence thanks to potatoes fertilized by your own feces. Alternatively, you could build a massive, sprawling, and fully interconnected factory complex using your off-the-charts engineering know how. Which do you choose?
Wartile is an upcoming real-time strategy game that is styled like a tabletop miniature war game. [And looks a hell of a lot like Heroscape. That’s not a bad thing. -ed.] The game is currently in alpha-testing with a planned Windows release sometime in Q1 (and later releases for Mac and tablets) and I recently had a chance to give the whole thing a whirl.
“Captain Drigo, sir, system VXG-0199 is now in view of our long-range sensors.” Drigo turned from yet another review of the ship’s inventory projections to face the helmsman. “Visuals if you please, Mr. Gupta.” A three-dimensional image of a star appeared before Drigo. It was a type-G, a yellow dwarf, as promised. Drigo let out an inaudible sigh of relief. That was one anxiety laid to rest. “There she is, sir. A beauty, is she not?”