iPad, PC/Mac/Linux • Yesterday saw one of the biggest surprise releases to ever land on the App Store, Civilization VI. Yes, THAT Civilization VI. The one with Sid Meier in the title and Boromir doing the voice-overs. The one that takes days to finish a game, with full tech trees, barbarians, city states, and enough different Civs to fill a tiny UN. It’s the real deal, with a real price, and it’s on the App Store.
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.
iPad, PC/Mac/Linux • How good has 2017 been? I haven’t played Darkest Dungeon in a few weeks and it’s easily one of my favorite iPad titles released this year. With Through the Ages, Halcyon 6, and Warhammer Quest 2 all coming since Darkest Dungeon’s release back in August, becoming distracted wasn’t exactly a difficult thing to do. Any other year, however, and an app of Darkest Dungeon’s quality would already be waiting in the green room practicing it’s GOTY speech. Red Hook‘s not content to let DD slide into oblivion, however. We already know that The Crimson Court DLC should be coming to the iPad version later this year and today we learned that a new class, The Shieldbreaker, would be making their appearance in the PC/Mac/Linux version this week.
iOS Universal, Android • If Through the Ages is a little too much, or you just need your 4X fix without burning your gray matter, Battle of Polytopia is there. Yes, this little, free game is everything you want in a 4X civ-builder, distilled down to a 10 minute playtime. It also keeps getting bigger with more and more civilizations added to the mix. Last night a new civilization arrived, the Quetzali tribe.
iOS Universal • Loaded up with Ny-Quil and Ambien, I attempted to go to bed well before my normal sleepy time last night in an effort to kill the virus currently treating my lungs as a waterpark. Twenty minutes later a tweet popped up on my phone announcing that Warhammer Quest 2 had arrived on the App Store. I tried–I swear I tried–to stay awake and play the hell out of it, but the drugs won and I managed to almost complete the intro/tutorial dungeon before blacking out. I know, this is probably the saddest story you’ve heard all week. Sorry to bring the room down. On a positive note, Warhammer Quest 2 is out and you should be playing it.
Back in Pocket Tactics‘ glory days, one of my favorite writers over there was Clancy. He was a lot like Owen, but without the snark. Or, I should say, a different type of snark, but he knew what the hell he was talking about and shared that info with aplomb. His reviews were delights, with one of my faves being for the roguelike-puzzle gem, Hoplite. Not only did Clancy give it 5-stars but, behind the scenes, he nearly convinced Owen that it was GOTY material. This in a year that saw both FTL and XCOM: Enemy Unknown land on the App Store. Even with that competition he wasn’t too far off. 2014 was a fantastic year for gaming, and all three of those titles remain on my iPad. Hoplite took a little vacation from the App Store the past few weeks but, yesterday, rose from the ashes with a brand new 64-bit version ready to conquer iOS 11.
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.
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/Linux • The past couple of weeks have been tough ones for me, but this hardship has been completely of my own devising. Instead of going to sleep at a remotely decent time, I’ve been staying up well past 2am nearly every night playing War of the Chosen, the new expansion for XCOM 2. While we’re unlikely to ever see the XCOM sequel on our tablets, there is good news in mobile-land for XCOM fans: XCOM: Enemy Within was just updated to comply with iOS 11’s 64-bit requirement.
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.