iOS, Android, PC/Mac/Linux • Art is cheap, at least when it comes to mobile games. You know this is true because even the most crap-filled freemium abomination is filled to the bevel with the most precisely crafted artwork. Pretty pixels are the aluminum siding of mobile gaming. Consequently, a good game is often not even particularly about the visuals but about the way the developer creates a tension between the tactical options available to the player and the desired game outcome. That and timers. We must always have timers. The reason this is important is that one of the latest titles to make its way to mobile, Minos Strategos by Brett Lowey of Militia fame, is not a particularly ground-breaking game in terms of visuals and also has some surprisingly poor UI choices. Combined, these make Minos Strategos troublesome at first but are, ultimately, a slight blemish on what is a very good abstract strategy game.
iOS, Android, PC/Mac/Linux • Minos Strategos is an abstract digital board game that traces its roots to a physical board game from none other than Through the Ages designer, Vlaada Chvátil. The game is called Tash-Kalar: Arena of Legends and is one of the very few Vlaada creations I haven’t played. That’s because it’s a two-player, head-to-head battle game which, in my home, are less likely than Monopoly to hit the table. Luckily, Minos Strategos has an AI to play against so I don’t have to rely on my kids and, better yet, it’s now on mobile, so I can play on my phone.
PC • Not only were strategy fans left to solve the quagmire of Afghanistan last week, but the equally brutal Battle Brothers lumbered out of its stint on Steam Early Access on Friday. Because there’s clearly not enough you could be spending doubloons on. To arms!
PC/Mac • Forget Fat Leonard for a moment. Here’s some bigger nautical news. Killerfish Games, the fellows behind the rather well-received Atlantic Fleet, are closing in with their next naval effort, Cold Waters. Rehsink rehbbits yin Reyjavik? Not if you can help it.
PC, iPad (coming soon) • 2017, n. A year. See also: Brimming, overloaded, encumbered, stacked, chockers, totes too many good games, Tom Chick’s wallet threat level gone critical, hocked goods, remortgage, world gone mad. We’ve already seen a terrific payload of games disgorged in the opening few months, and it looks like there’s no stopping this train. But beyond Zeldas and Horizons and whatever else the kids are playing, the true masterpieces have begun hitting. Take, for example, the smartest wargame you’re likely to lock synapses this year in Afghanistan ’11.