iOS Universal, PC/Mac/Linux, PS4, Xbox One • Sorry I was AWOL yesterday, but unbeknownst to me (and for no reason I can ascertain) my two younger kids had off school yesterday. This allowed me to do real-life things with them like fix my attic stairs and teach them a slew of new curse words. Today’s a new day, however. The new attic ladder appears to be functional and I can’t wait to get a call from the school’s office today informing me that my kids decided to share their new vocabulary words. Oh, I also got a chance to play Armello on both my phone and iPad and it’s good. Very, very good.
iOS, Android, Kindle • You don’t need to be Fred Allen to know that mobile Real Time Strategy games are seldom well-done. Sadly a phone or tablet doesn’t have the requisite number of easily accessible input devices to allow for standard RTS play. Not that people haven’t tried to reproduce the Command and Conquer or Starcraft experience, but the results have been less than spectacular. RTS games that have succeeded on mobile–Rymdkapsel, Autumn Dynasty, and Alien Tribe 2 come to mind–do so by either reworking the concept of an RTS or creating new control schemes to simplify what’s possible with a keyboard and mouse. While these are all good games, none manage to create the same tension that desktop RTS titles are famous for. And so, into this peculiar gaming niche comes Iron Marines from Ironhide Game Studio. Is it the grail RTS we’ve been waiting for?
iOS Universal, Android • It’s a pretty big week on the App Store for board game designer Tim Fowers. Earlier this week his fantastic word game, Paperback, was updated with online multiplayer and, today, a brand new board game arrived for iOS Universal and Android. That board game is Burgle Bros., a cooperative (or solo) game in which you’re attempting an Oceans Eleven style heist.
iOS, Android • I’ve heard people mention three web-based boardgaming sites often: Brettspielwelt, Yucata, and, um, Bootyjew (that’s what I’ve always heard it called, and I am proud of myself for finding a link despite that). BSW has always sounded the strongest, but it wasn’t enough for them–now they’re coming for our mobile devices, as well. Their first foray: Friedemann Friese’s Friday, a sterling choice. It’s a well-regarded solo game with complexity just a bit above Onirim‘s, so they avoided the twin bottomless pits of development effort: AI and multiplayer, like Pitfall Harry. I looked it up–that’s actually the name of the character from Pitfall! I’m not excited about it, it just seemed like a waste of punctuation to end a sentence with “Pitfall!.”
Tabletop • As a sad and lonely man, it’s only natural that I would gravitate toward games I can play by myself. This used to mean playing a game meant for 2+ players alone by taking control of all sides. Over the past year or two, however, I’ve discovered that there are great solo games out there, you just have to look. GMT is one company that regularly puts out games that play great when you’re all by your lonesome, and Victory Point Games is another. To be honest, before HexWar brought Infection: Humanity’s Last Gasp to digital, I wasn’t familiar with VPG’s offerings. Since then, I’ve fallen in love with several of their designs, and have Kickstarted several others (including their latest Kickstarter for Chariots of Rome). The latest to draw my attention is one with a unique board game theme, Healthy Heart Hospital.
iOS, Android • Onirim is a highly-regarded, fast-playing solo card game by Shadi Torbey and Z-Man Games, and is now a highly-regarded, even faster-playing ideal phone game by Asmodee Digital. Perhaps the easiest single-sentence summary for Stately Play readers is this: Card Crawl is more like Onirim than Card Thief, and this stands as a strong compliment to all three games. Card Crawl gave about as much satisfaction as a turn-based game could offer in such a brief playing time, and Onirim gives us decisions with a similar tactical feel and memory element. Card Thief has much in common with Card Crawl, but Tinytouchtales innovated with it enough that a third game could be more similar to their first outing without being redundant. In other words, Onirim fills the same niche as Card Crawl while still being sufficiently distinct to justify itself.
Tabletop • In the comments following our review of Arkham Horror: The Card Game, there was short discussion of Fantasy Flight‘s recent decision to split their rulebooks into two separate tomes, a Learn to Play guide and a Rules Reference. Victory Point Games has done FFG one better. Actually, four better. That’s right, when you pull the lid off of the latest edition of Dawn of the Zeds you’ll find no less than six rulebooks staring you in the face. Six. If the tech writer at VPG was writing A Song of Ice and Fire the series would have ended back in 2005. I’ll admit, the six manuals seemed like a whole lot of overkill until I actually got this to the table. Dawn of the Zeds can be a massive, complex game if you want it to be, or it can be a simple struggle against invading hordes. Either way, it’s harder than hell and hell of a lot of fun.