iOS, Android, PC • As can be seen in our Readers’ Game of the Year nominations, Race for the Galaxy is considered one of the best games of 2017. Temple Gates did a bang up job on it, crafting a wonderful UI, bringing in Keldon’s AI for solo play, and providing a robust multiplayer experience. As great as it is, the thing it’s lacking in comparison to its cardboard ancestor are expansions. It launched with two, Gathering Storm and Rebel vs. Imperium. The third, Brink of War arrived today, just in time to help it get more votes in our end of year polling.
iOS, Android, Kindle, PC/Mac/Linux • Before I begin, a personal note: I’m a big fan of Choice of Games, both because of the sheer range of themes and authorial voices in their library of gamebooks and because of their inclusive ethos – more on that in a bit. Oh, and I’ve known Jason Stevan Hill, Choice of Games’ COO, and Nissa Campbell, author of Heart of the House, for years. Heart of the House is a branching adventure with themes of mystery, horror, and romance, in a Victorian setting that eschews the goggles and cogs of steampunk in favor of the hauntings and seances of Spiritualism. Hold that planchard steady, my spirit guide tells me we’re not alone. Did you hear that? A single knock as upon a great door? Did you feel that? A touch of cold at the back of your neck? Did you see that? A tenebrous shadow, almost a face, then subsiding into a roil of tiny tentacles? They’re here.
iOS, Android, Tabletop • Tabletop games that emulate escape rooms are all the rage these days, with one version even winning this year’s Kennerspiel des Jahres award. These games tend to be $10-15 and are one-time deals. Once you’ve played through the puzzle, the game is useless to you. Some folks have an issue with board games they can’t replay, but spending $10-15 to get a group of your friends together for a fairly authentic escape room experience is way cheaper than paying $25+ per person for the real thing. Escape Team is a new escape room title that uses your phone as its centerpiece while getting rid of that pesky $10-15 bill you had to pay for EXIT or Unlock. Intriguing, isn’t it?
iOS, PC/Mac/Linux (Early Access), Android (coming soon) • My father was born in Austria and came to the US when he was a kid, which means I grew up with a rather inflated view of Austria’s importance to the rest of the world. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized that Austria wasn’t the world power I had envisaged in my head and hadn’t been for nearly 100 years. Still, I’ve been over there to visit a few times and am heading back that way next year to visit once again. It’s a pretty neat place, but the Austria of Wolfgang Lueger’s vampire-themed deck-builder, VEmpire – The Kings of Darkness, seems a lot cooler.
iOS, Android, PC/Mac/Linux • The original Reigns is a game that, to this day, makes me feel like an idiot [to be fair, it’s not hard to do -ed.]. It’s not due to complexity but because I don’t know anyone else who doesn’t enjoy it. It’s universally beloved and yet I can only muster a half-hearted “meh” whenever it loads up. What am I missing? I know there’s something that I’m missing, something that will emerge if I just keep swiping. Today the sequel landed for iOS, Android, and PC/Mac/Linux and, dammit, I’m going to figure this out. Today, I’m going to start playing Reigns: Her Majesty with a clean slate and figure out what all the hoopla is about.
iOS Universal, Android, PC • We’re starting to put together “best of 2017” lists behind the scenes and, to be honest, this year is a tough one. There have just been so many great releases this year that picking 5 or 10 and ranking which are better than others feels like telling one of your kids that you like them the least [it’s the middle kid, by the way -ed.]. There are a couple games, however, that are easy to toss near the top of the list and Race for the Galaxy from Temple Gates is one of them. A simply brilliant digital take on the classic card game, RftG has everything you’d want in a digital port. Well, almost everything. It is lacking the Brink of War expansion, but that’s going to change on December 14th.
iOS, Android, PC/Mac • Back when Tokaido landed on mobile, it might have been the prettiest board game port we’d ever seen which matched the sleepy, zen-like nature of the game itself. It’s a bit slow, but that seems to be how people (and the designer) like it. To each their own, I say, and now people can enjoy Tokaido without their mobile device as it has just been released on Steam for PC/Mac.
iOS Universal, Android, PC • It’s a well known fact that the digital version of Tim Fowers‘ deck-building word game, Paperback, is one of the best word games available on the App Store. What’s less known–because it released at Gen Con and I didn’t have time to write a review that week–is that the digital port of his cooperative heist game, Burgle Bros., is pretty sweet as well. It takes a bit of work to wrap your head around what’s going on, but once you get it, it’s a nice solo puzzle to solve. Yesterday, Tim popped up on Twitter to let us all know that mobile isn’t the only way to enjoy these games, they’re also now on Steam.
iOS Universal, Android • While Civilization Revolution 2 isn’t exactly the highpoint of Sid Meier’s influential Civilization series, it’s the only one we’re likely to ever get on our phones, so it will have to do. If you’ve updated to iOS 11 since its release in September, however, you’ve had to do without. Civ Rev 2 was one of the victims of the App-ocalypse, remaining 32-bit when it needed exactly twice that many bits. It took 2K Games three months to fix the problem, and today they updated Civ Rev 2 to be 64-bit complian,t meaning we can all redownload it at our leisure.
Android, PC • The overall reaction when we heard that our overlords at Asmodee Digital were taking over Carcassonne was one of worry. After all, Carcassonne for iOS was the first “real” digital board game and is still one of the best you’ll find on the App Store. Why mess with a good thing? The worriers must all own Apple products, because once you leave the confusing confines of iTunes there’s not a real good version of Carcassonne for you to play anywhere. Sure, there was an Android version, but it couldn’t hold a candle to Coding Monkey’s magnum opus. Asmodee is hoping to fix that with a new version of Carcassonne releasing today for Android and PC.