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.
iPad, Android, PC/Mac/Linux • Faeria is one of the many games on my “must play” list that I never seem to get around to actually playing. The combined CCG and tactical board game elements would seem to be my chocolate and peanut butter but, alas, Race for the Galaxy came out and pretty much ruined me for card games until some time in 2019 when I might get a little bored with it. Still, Abrakam, is trying to get me to put RftG aside early by unleashing new expansion content for Faeria. Looking at what’s in the expansion, they might just succeed.
PC, Mac, iOS, Android • I’ve never played Pixel Tactics from Level 99 Games due to the fact that the tabletop card-battler is two-player only. Two player games became an endangered species at my house the minute we decided to have more than one kid. Lucky for me, Level 99 is bringing the game to both laptops and mobile later this year, so I’ll be able to finally give it a go without ignoring one of my kids. Instead, I can now ignore them all.
iOS, Android • When I first saw the news about Mordheim: Warband Skirmish this morning over at Pocket Gamer, I was excited. Other than Talisman, has Games Workshop done a mobile title not set in the Warhammer universe? Then I read the article and saw words like Skaven and realized my Warhammer ignorance was showing. Mordheim is set firmly within the Warhammer universe, just not the 40K one.
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!
Windows • If I whisper the words ‘solid’ and ‘snake’, you’ve got a fifty-fifty chance you’re not being charged four dollars ninety-nine a minute. ‘Sam Fisher’, you know you’re dealing with a shadowy Michael Ironside and his counter-productive tri-bulb NV goggles. But if I say ‘David Llewellyn Jones’, you just might be stumped. UK politican? Author? Welsh choralist? How about the stony protagonist in Innerloop’s tactical FPS Project I.G.I.? Because what we’ve got in Polygon Art‘s Beyond Enemy Lines is the distant fan-made descendant of that fabulous forgotten franchise.
iOS Universal, Android • One of the best games to land on our PCs in the last ten years became one of the best games ever ported over to an iPad back in 2013 when XCOM: Enemy Unknown arrived on the App Store in all its tense, heart-breaking glory. In 2014 it was superseded by XCOM: Enemy Within which added more stuff and a new way to ratchet up the tension by placing a pseudo-timer on each mission in the form of Meld. If you haven’t picked up XCOM: Enemy Within for mobile, first of all, shame on you. Secondly, go pick it up now; it’s only three frickin’ bucks.
PS4, Vita • Mention the title ‘Dynasty Warriors’ and some folk blanch at the prospect of once again scything to hair-metal through hordes of hesitant Han. Truth is, the Dynasty Warriors games are actually pretty damn good, and they’re one of the last bastions of the moribund beat ’em up genre. I’m here to talk about one specific spin-off for PS4 and Vita in Dynasty Warriors: Godseekers, a fresh turn-based twist on the long-running series. The Omega Force gang were said to have been jonesing to create something like Godseekers for a while, give the series hasn’t seen a tactics game since the PS2, largely honing their Han-themed crowd control simulators. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and time in the wilderness has justified the return to cogitative griddery. Cutting to the chase, Godseekers is absolutely terrific and the rest of year ought to get its tactical act together, because this is 2017’s turn-based strategy to beat.
The previous two editions of Banner Saga by Stoic were rather large hits, so it only makes sense that part 3 would be in the works. It is and, if you were a fan of the previous two installments, you can help make it happen via Kickstarter.