Farm livin' is the life for me.

From the “news you already know” file, both Smash Up and Cottage Garden due tomorrow

iOS, Android, PC/Mac •

Although I’ve been diagnosed with chronic depression since I was eight years-old, it still sneaks up on me sometimes. Yesterday was just such a day. It started like any other, but quickly turned into a muddy mess which ended up with me laying in bed and staring at the ceiling instead of plucking away at my keyboard. Sorry about that, everyone. I’ve been working to ensure it doesn’t happen very often (or, hopefully, ever) but things change and I’m not quite there yet. That said, it will not be a regular occurrence.

Of course, big news always seems to pop up when I’m not around. For example, yesterday’s posts should have been announcing two big stories, both of which you’ve, by now, probably heard. If you haven’t, however, tomorrow is going to be a big day for board game ports as both Smash Up and Cottage Garden are set to arrive on the App Store.

Smash Up is a light card game created for tabletop by AEG and developed for digital by Nomad Games. Yes, that Nomad Games. It’s published by Asmodee Digital, but they seem to publish about 98.7% of all apps nowadays, so we’ll forgive you for not acting surprised.

The game involves mixing two of the game’s nine factions into one deck with the sole purpose being blowing up thine enemies to tiny bits [in thy mercy -ed.]. Each faction has a specialty. For example, pirates are adept at moving cards while zombies can bring dead cards back from the discard pile. Fun ensues via these combinations and discovering how each faction can compliment the other.

Smash Up will be released for iOS, Android, and PC/Mac tomorrow. There will be cross-platform multiplayer but, considering it’s Nomad and Asmodee, I wouldn’t expect to see asynchronous play. Who knows, maybe they’ll surprise us. If online play isn’t for you, there’s the obligatory solo play vs. AI as well.

The game will ship with nine factions, but the cardboard version has expanded more than my elastic waistband. Considering Nomad’s experience in cranking out a myriad of expansions for Talisman, I think it’s safe to say that the original nine factions will be supplemented with expansion factions fairly quickly.

The other title is another euro game from Uwe Rosenberg of Agricola and Patchwork fame. It’s called Cottage Garden and is developed AND published by DIGIDICED. Take that, Asmodee!

Cottage Garden is another Rosenberg game with a pastoral bent that would seem to be the most boring theme ever considered. We had bean farming with Bohnanza, farming and raising a family in Agricola, animal husbandry with Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small, and cave farming (seriously) in Caverna. Let’s not forget quilting in Patchwork. These themes make the monastery-buliding theme of Ora et Labora seem like PUBG.

In Cottage Garden, you’re gardening. Competitive gardening, apparently. Up to four players will plant and grow flowers printed on Tetris-shaped pieces, trying to maximize points based on what that current plot scores. If it sounds a little like Patchwork, you’d be correct. I haven’t played Cottage Garden yet, but everything I’ve heard makes it sound like Patchwork-Lite.

Still, it’s a Rosenberg game and DIGIDICED does a heck of a job with their apps, including asynchronous, cross-platform online multiplayer. It also has 3 differnt AIs for lonely shut-ins, the friendless, and editors of middling game blogs that begin with the initials “S” and “P”. It also has playback of previous games so you can sit back and watch exactly how you screwed the pooch in that last game.

Cottage Garden is coming tomorrow for both iOS, Android, as well as PC/Mac.

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Notable Replies

  1. Hardco says:

    I was worried watching the trailer that there wouldn’t be cat avatars. I’m happy to report that my fears were unwarranted…

  2. I was really excited about SmashUp, but the App Store reviews seem pretty terrible so far… I need a thumbs up or down or sideways from this community before buying it…

  3. I’d wait, but it may ultimately be worth getting (as long as async multiplayer is not a deal-killer for you).

    I did a blog post about the terrible card UI and Nomad Games responded on Twitter that they are planning updates and really value the feedback.

    Given their history with Talisman, and considering the backlash, I think they will ultimately get it right.

    But since it’s not on sale right now, there’s no reason not to wait.

  4. So there is no async? It’s live multiplayer?

  5. That seems to be case.

  6. Thanks, @js619!

    I think that guy is pretty good…

  7. js619 says:

    I’m just glad he’s willing to keep “learning” Tash-Kalar!

  8. I don’t know how he does it…

  9. Viewing and selecting cards in Smash-Up is slightly less fun than going in for some oral surgery.

    The UI is bad enough right now that I can heartily recommend passing.

  10. I really don’t get how this happens. I’ll admit that I know absolutely nothing about coding outside of whatever cheats I programmed into my TI-85 before a big Calculus test two decades ago, but when it comes to a digital conversion of a boardgame, isn’t the 99% of the developer’s responsibility to create a usable UI? I mean, the game mechanics are already established and the art assets are already made, so isn’t the process mostly UI? On top of that, there are examples out there of UIs that work great, so why try to reinvent the wheel?

  11. I’m in the same boat, I don’t code.
    But just knowing how the game is supposed to play is different from writing code that actually works the way you intend. Especially with a complicated game like Smash Up where every card messes with the rules of play. I imagine that is what took most of their time. My uneducated guess is that the UI was a relatively minor part of making the game.

    But nonetheless, it seems that sometimes game makers focus on making the game instead of thinking about how players actually interacting with the game through the UI. It could be they know the game so well, the don’t really need to view the card text, they know what it does. They are too close to the game to experience it from a new player perspective.

    In this case, I’ve seen many tweets with pictures of people testing the game on a computer, not a tablet or phone.

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