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.
iOS Universal, Android, PC/Mac • We started Monday by learning that Asmodee Digital would be releasing a kid-oriented version of Ticket to Ride on the App Store later in the week. What they didn’t tell us was they’d be releasing another game as well, Harald: A Game of Influence. Not a peep. Not this week, not at Gen Con, not ever. What the hell is Harald and why is Asmodee keeping it under wraps?
iOS Universal, Android • To me, the best parts of any civ-building game are the Wonders. From the moment I built the Pyramids in Civilization II and was presented with a FMV movie showcasing my achievement, I was hooked. In fact, while I’m not a huge fan of FMV, I do wish they still had them in the Civ series. Nothing was cooler than adding that last brick and hearing the CD-ROM drive fire up. Through the Ages doesn’t have any FMV movies celebrating your achievements, either, but Wonders still play an important role in building a competitive civ. They’re also just fun to play around with, so let’s take a look at them Age by Age.
iOS, Android, PC/Mac • Not sure how relevant Asmodee Digital‘s latest title will be for most of the Stately Players out there, but I’m guessing at least a few of you have kids. Little kids. I’m talking preschool, kindergarten, maybe 1st-2nd grade. You know, little kids. Their latest release is a digital version of Ticket to Ride: First Journey and if you’re thinking it’s basically Ticket to Ride for kids you’d be right, especially if you’re thinking it’s for little kids.
iOS Universal, Android • I’ve given up being mad about freemium games. Its akin to fighting the tide, doesn’t really have any impact, and, after all, most freemium titles aren’t games at all but psychological engines devised only to part people from their money. Occasionally, however, a freemium title releases that, deliberately or accidentally, is actually a good game and that old rage begins to brew. Stormbound is a strategy CCG developed for Kongregate by Paladin Studios in the Netherlands. It’s a vibrantly styled, unique take on the CCG with some very interesting gameplay elements. It also has a freemium pay-engine strapped to it, by Kongregate I presume, that will make you weep for what could have been a true gem. It’s not as sad as the ending of Old Yeller, but you will ponder how greed can so often overcome the desire to less egregiously monetize a very good game.