The other day when I went into my Friendly Local Neighborhood Game Store, one of the owners asked me how I liked my iPad. I had shown him Small World on the iPad a few weeks ago and he seemed impressed. The other hangers-on in the store, the group of guys who always seem to be there had bad-mouthed me about my Mac toy a while ago. No bother, a lot of irrational Mac haters still live in 1996.
Fortunately, the genial owner saw the benefit of the iPad for RPG’s and as translations for board games and would ask me about it when the others were gone. I think the iPad is such a great boon to board games and paper RPG’s, Shells almost convinced me to run a panel at the upcoming NukeCon in Omaha. I got lazy, but I do plan on holding a few impromptu panels or at least meet up with other iPad fanatics.
I said to the FLNGS (I think I got the letters wrong) guy that Neuroshima Hex was coming out soon for the iPhone and iPad.
And he said, in words guaranteed to turn Shells off, “Oh, I call that Magic the Gathering the Board Game.” Shells isn’t a fan of Magic because of the time-consuming deck building aspect of most CCG’s.
Oh great, I thought, the one person I’ll play the most games with will hate it.
When I saw the original 2006 Neuroshima Hex board game in the stores a few years ago, it looked like a 70 dollar monstrosity. A million pieces, strange weird symbols and something that looked needlessly complex. Even discounted to 30 bucks, I was hesitant.
When I heard about it for the iPad, I was actually excited. This is why I have an iPad—to take something with a jillion pieces, lots of moving parts rules wise and have the iPad do all the mathematical heavy-lifting. And for four bucks, I’m sold.
After playing roughly five 15 minute games in the last day, I can say while I’m not a master and while I may not even understand the rules and strategies very well, I am hooked. And it isn’t Magic the Gathering the Board Game. It’s a light war-game in the vein of a Battlelore. (I will buy Battlelore if it ever comes out for iPad and I will also buy every expansion. Get on it Days of Wonder or whoever now owns Battlelore!) I think the iPad is perfect for light to medium war-games and miniatures games. I also plan to eventually pick up Ex-Illis which looks to combine the real world tactical miniature genre with an iPhone to do all the math.
Okay the rules as I understand them. (BTW, the game does have the full rules built in with a tutorial and breakdown of every unit in the game, very helpful as I learn) 2-4 players play one of 4 factions battling to destroy the other players headquarters, a sort of health meter in building form. Each faction has their own focus, a la Magic, and has their own special units. I haven’t played enough to see if I have a favorite or if one is more overpowered than the others. Each turn you draw three tiles out of your set of 35 tiles. There are three types of tiles—units, special buildings and instant actions. The units are the fighters trying to take out other units and destroy the headquarters. The special buildings give bonuses to the units adjacent to them and the instant actions let you do a one time action like move a unit or start a battle. The battles are a multi-layered affair happening both simultaneously and in phases. It’s like the speed attribute in CCG’s. I like it because it makes the game very strategic. You gotta think out whether or not you want to battle. And like many computer real time strategy games, the units can only fight in one or two of the six directions of the hex. Some units can rotate and move, some can’t. For every ability that a unit can’t do, there’s usually a special action tile or building to add that function. There’s also ranged and melée attacks and lots of other little goodies.the board game also has a few expansions, so the iPhone developers can get some more money and add in-game expansions down the line. My only complaint as a beginning player is that some of the icons aren’t easily intuitive and I had to go back to the unit descriptions to figure out some of the tiles.
I know that I am just beginning to scratch the surface of how to play the game well, especially moving the units and using the special building. I have beaten the game’s AI on easy twice, so that’s good.
One other interesting mechanic, after drawing up to three tiles for your turn (which the others can see), you have to discard one tile every turn. So, you’re forced to chuck about a third of your force in a game. The game ends either when you’re the last headquarters standing or one player is out of tiles and everyone else gets one more turn. The player with the strongest headquarters win. The battles are where the program shines as it looks like slogging through the process in a board game would just be time consuming and boring. Once again, an hour-plus game can be played in fifteen minutes.
This really isn’t an in-depth review, just a heads-up for iPhone users that there’s a new board game to support. Check it out.
– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad
You seem to like the computerized versions of games. My question for you is why? I know this is a wider debate, but just wondering about your opinion.
Hi, no that’s a valid question. Shells and I have over 300 board games in our collection, many many nerdy ones. We play at least two board game days a month, plus other pick-up games. Out of our 300 games, I’d say there’s about 25 percent we haven’t even played and another 40 percent we’ve only played under 5 times.
The enemy in the modern age is time. I suffer (real first world problem here) from the cult of the new. I like playing new games, fiddling with the bits, pouring over the rules, but there isn’t time.
The iPad versions of games help solve two problems, the time crunch and getting that new game with the new mechanic. Plus, I sometimes get an AI to practice against and I can take the game anywhere. It’s also generally cheaper.
Is it better than the actual board game? No, given the time and opportunity, I’d rather play the board game and interact with real people, but the iPhone versions let me play now at half the time. Shells and I will lay on the bed and play iPad games sometimes because our gaming table is busy.
Also, review writing is a little easier with iPad games ’cause I can close out the program, play a bit and go back to the review.
Oh, the subversive reason. Everyone plays video games, women play most of the casual games (and I get older, so do I) and men are born with a controller in their hands. It’s easier to get the outside world to play the electronic version of a board game than the real thing. And hopefully, the electronic versions encourages them to pick up the real box of goodies.
That makes sense. And if you would rather play the physical game if given the chance, then we are on common ground. Yeah, the computer makes it slightly more convenient, yet it just cannot replace a good sit-down board game.
This design is steller! You certainly know how to keep a reader entertained.
Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost.
..HaHa!) Fantastic job. I really loved what you had to
say, and more than that, how you presented it. Too cool!