The Cold War is singular in world history for the level of political complexity combined with the possibility for diplomatic failures to bring about a conflict which could engulf the known world in a horrifying level of destruction. But the period of the Avignon Papacy offers similarly high-stakes drama and intricate machinations, and is relatively unfamiliar to most modern audiences. As such, it’s an ideal setting for a heavy-weight successor to Twilight Struggle, or perhaps a highly thematic, negotiation-heavy behemoth (a role which, admittedly, is likely adequately occupied by Here I Stand). Avignon: A Clash of Popes isn’t one of those. It’s a small game which is actually less portable on an iPad than in physical form. It aims to offer a light, quick, but tense two-player contest between Rome and Avignon, in which each tries to recruit the support of influential people. You also occasionally recruit peasants, which probably won’t help much, but you never know.
I’ve not kept my admittedly somewhat disturbing love for Pathfinder Adventures well hidden since its release earlier this year. Despite its bugs and garish, in-your-face pleas to spend money, I simply haven’t found a better game on mobile all year. Despite being a card game that feels awfully themeless on the tabletop, Obsidian managed to create what might be the best RPG experience currently available on an iPad when they ported Pathfinder over. The only thing holding it back was the slow leak of new content. Over the past few months, that slow drip has turned into a steady stream and yesterday we finally reached the end of the road. The sixth and final adventure deck in the Rise of the Runelords campaign has been released.
Season 2 of new content for the super heroic cooperative card game, Sentinels of the Multiverse, is underway in full force with the just released mega-expansion, Vengeance, which is live on iOS, Android, and PC/Mac.
2016 has been a great year for digital board games, so much so that it’s easy to lose track of every great release. Luckily, some of them are aware of this and keep bubbling to the surface of our consciousness by releasing more content. The latest example of this is Peter Kossit’s one-man triumph, Baseball Highlights 2045. It was just updated with the requisite bug fixes, but also includes a new expansion pack that includes my favorite part of baseball, errors.
Over the past few years the French board game publisher Asmodee has played the role of Pac Man with the rest of the tabletop industry being small white dots. Publishers like Days of Wonder, Fantasy Flight, and F2Z Media have all fallen under the Asmodee umbrella. One benefit for us is they seem intent on porting as many of their titles to digital as possible. Colt Express, Potion Explosion, and Mysterium are all planned for release before the New Year and they also just announced that Spot It! will be coming to digital in early 2017.
Everyone hates words games. It’s true. Well, almost everyone. Your grandma still loves Scrabble, and so does that one tool who’s memorized every two-letter word that begins with “Q”. Do we want to game with those people? Hell, no! (Grandma excluded. It’s fun to game with grandma!) What if I were to tell you that there was a word game that didn’t suck? What if we took one of the most popular games of the past 10 years and mixed it with word games? How would that work? Let’s take a look at Paperback.
Much like my patience, Pathfinder Adventures is slowly coming to an end. Not the end, just an end. Last week saw the release of Deck 5 of the Rise of the Runelords campaign meaning that we only have one deck remaining before the adventure path wraps up. Will a new adventure path follow? We can hope, but for now let’s revel in the fact that there’s new stuff to do in one of 2016’s greatest ports.
Red7, a simple but scalable card game now come to iOS, offers a surprisingly strong metaphor for American capitalism and its discontents. Try to think of this claim, not as total BS, but as a helpful mnemonic for the various details the game adds as you activate the three independent optional rule sets. My brain apparently abhors a purely abstract game.
One of the best, and more bug ridden, titles to land on mobile in 2016 is Obsidian Entertainment‘s port of the Paizo RPG on cards, Pathfinder Adventures. The port brings the card game to life and makes it feel more like an actual RPG and less like the rather simple card game that it is. I love it, and it’s probably my most played title of the year.