Beowulf in first round, to Vikings: Epic Manager launches Kickstarter drive

We live in a cynical world. And we work in a business of tough, often magical, competitors.

We live in a cynical world. And we work in a business of tough, often magical, competitors.

So, here’s the thing: nobody actually likes heroes. I don’t mean the real sort who extinguish fires and provide stable infrastructure for a community–I’m talking about sword-slinging, spell-blasting a-holes that occupy much of fantasy gaming. “Hey, dude, thanks and all for killing that ghoul in the crypt, but… did you really need to crack open each and every coffin to check for spare change? And, like, you’re just sort of going around asking every person you meet if they have a quest. Is this a moral obligation thing for you or- oh he’s left for the next dungeon.”

Epic Manager, from developers ManaVoid Entertainment, looks to be the next in an increasingly long line of management sims which take a wider look at the high-fantasy adventuring lifestyle. Unlike obvious contemporary Adventurer Manager, Epic Manager casts you as more of a sports agent looking for prime talent, rather than a bureaucrat contracting out to some heroes in order to focus on balancing your hamlet’s budget. Scouts find warriors, thieves, and mages you can bring onto your team, and who can then in turn raid dungeons and add to the agency’s coffers. The developers promise a fairly dynamic world, and combat affected by the composition and temperament of your line-up (though if the battles end up not quite as engaging as your managerial tasks, well, that’s the point).

The Epic Manager Kickstarter goes live on October 27th. Take heed, this one is still early on, and iOS and Android versions are stretch goals, which means they may as well be written in invisible ink on a ghost’s skin.

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Alea iacta est: Rubicon Development breaks free

Things not going well for blue

Things not going well for blue

It’s not uncommon for an established developer to put their digital catalog on sale, in fact it happens all the time. What I can’t remember happening, however, is what Rubicon Development is doing this weekend: free. You heard me right, everything they have on the App Store is completely and unequivocally free.

If you’re unfamiliar with Rubicon, you might be thinking that this isn’t a big deal. Let me tell you just how badly you’re embarrassing yourself. Rubicon is the developer of some of the best turn-based, strategy war games ever made for the iDevice: Great Little War Game, Great Big War Game, and Great Little War Game 2. Okay, so they can’t name games worth a damn, but I guarantee that if you are remotely interested in turn-based strategy, any of these will fit the bill and keep you happy for a long, long time. Getting them for free is, cliché be damned, a steal.

Much of their other content, like the excellent card battler Combat Monsters, has always been free.

The sale will only last through the weekend, so if you haven’t picked up the Rubicon apps, now your chance to do it on Rubicon’s dime.

Need to see what you’re missing? Little War Game 2 trailer after the break.

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To Northrend! : Hearthstone for Android and iPhone update

Even a blind squirrel...

Even a blind squirrel…

Did you know that Blizzard recently announced that they have 20 million players just for Hearthstone? The crazy part about that number is that I’m pretty sure I’ve lost a match to every single one of them. Blizzard has always seemed intent on increasing the pool of potential victors, claiming from the beginning that Hearthstone would be coming to iPad and Android tablets. Since Hearthstone’s release in April, however, they’ve been pretty mum about other platforms.

This week they shed some light on their plans for those platforms, namely Android tablets and both iPhone and Android phones. Good news first: an Android tablet version should be released by the end of 2014. As for a pocket version of Hearthstone, however, we’re going to have to wait until early 2015. Turns out they’re having some issues getting everything to work on a smaller screen, so the iPhone and Android phone version is a little behind.

While all this platform talk is interesting, what we really need is information on the next expansion. Currently, all we know is that it will be 100+ cards and not have a single-player delivery system like Naxxramas. Other than that, we’re not sure when the expansion is coming or how we’ll be able to get new cards. Luckily, BlizzCon is only two weeks away, so there’s a good chance that all our questions will be answered there.

Cool infographic about Hearthstone details after the break. Shaman? Really?

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Of beanstalks, frost, and lanterns: Junk Jack X goes full Halloween

Well, at least this neighborhood is well lit.

Well, at least this neighborhood is well lit.

The Terraria-inspired mine-a-lot Junk Jack X was one of our runners-up for Action Game of the Year 2013 (losing out to Tilt to Live 2), and it looks like the game’s still going relatively strong with the recent version 2.2.3 update. It’s all Halloween-y, naturally.

Though they’ve clearly a missed opportunity in not calling this the “Jack-O’-Lantern X” update (or at least the “Junk-O-Ween” update), developer Pixbits have put together all the requisite spooky bits of digital bric-a-brac which are basically expected from games of Junk Jack’s stripe this time of year (and some bug fixes, too). Sure, witches and zombies are overused fantasy tropes, but now Junk Jack X has “Witch Zombies,” which one assumes are less Sabrina, more Henrietta. Acid pits are in too, so you can get your House on Haunted Hill… on. And–direct pull from the announcement–a “new rare placeable hanging skull,” which for some reason is a felony when I advertise on Craigslist but a plus here, so go figure.

Even having not played the game, holiday theming like this makes me grin. It’s extra work for, what, about a week or so of relevance? That’s some festive dedication right there. At the same time, I can’t imagine many jumping into the game for the first time on the strength of a holiday update alone–rather, this sort of decoration seems primarily a bonus for the faithful.

Junk Jack X is $4.99 on the App Store. Wholly unseasonal video after the jump.

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Hit me: Hitman GO gets new levels and new price

If this were real, I would totally be one of those dads who wouldn't let their kids play with it.

If this were real, I would totally be one of those dads who wouldn’t let their kids play with it.

It’s not often that a game will make me pause with just a screenshot. Personally, graphics aren’t everything. In the case of Hitman GO, however, it’s not that it has realistic or cutting edge graphics, it’s just that the screenshots look so damn cool. Seriously, every picture of the game looks like a toy, and not just any toy, but one that you want to get in there and explore every nook and cranny. It’s the Castle Grayskull of apps.

Since its release in April, Hitman GO has already spawned one expansion, dropping you into an immaculately rendered airport, and now they’ve released another. This time it’s frosty St. Petersburg with 8 new levels based on some chapters from Hitman 2. In a cool twist, you can access the new levels via two methods: pay for the damn thing ($1) or unlock the new levels by completing mission objectives.

If that’s not enough, Square Enix has also put the game on sale for a limited time. You can grab it for iOS or Android now for only $2.

Trailer after the break.

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Keep on keeping on: Galactic Keep looking for testers

Wait. Viral Enhancers are a good thing?

Wait. Viral Enhancers are a good thing?

Gilded Skull Games first update on the Galactic Keep Dice Battles website was back in September of 2012, but it’s been floating around since before Pocket Tactics was a glint in Owen’s eye. Many years later and we’re mostly still in the dark. Oh, sure, we’ve had preview builds played and other updates, but the official webpage hasn’t been updated since February.

Turns out I’ve been looking in the wrong place. Gilded Skull has been posting updates in the forums over at TouchArcade, the latest update popping up just yesterday. From the sound of it, Galactic Keep Dice Battles is nearing completion. All the maps and scripted events are finished with the only apparent issue being that the game doesn’t care for closing during a scripted event. They also need to tweak some of the graphical elements, but are expecting to head into the bug squashing and play balance phase soon.

After reading Owen’s thoughts about his time with the alpha version, I can’t wait to get my hands on this one as well. Trailer after the break.

Hat tip: Zebracadabra

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Out Tonight: More Tilt to Live, Peninsular Battles, Heavy Metal On Android and Battle Academy 2 (maybe?)

That should keep the crows away

That should keep the crows away

The big release this week is from Slitherine and the sequel to the fantastic Battle Academy, Battle Academy 2: Eastern Front. The only problem is that we’re not entirely sure if it’s coming tonight or tomorrow. I’ve been searching all over and can’t find a definitive answer. Time to make that New Zealand App Store account, I guess.

If Battle Academy 2 doesn’t hit tonight, we have plenty of other options to keep you occupied. Check out the full list after the break.

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No one can hear you think: Sci-fi puzzler, Nexionode, out for mobile

Seriously? I'm getting stuck on 4 and 5 node puzzles.

Seriously? I’m getting stuck on 4 and 5 node puzzles.

As a puzzler, Nexionode has more going for it than a name which I’ll misspell at least 4 times in the next hundred words, it also has a plot. You can’t say that about most puzzle games, which are simply high-score or 3-star affairs. Nexionode tells the story of a starship facing destruction with the puzzles being the knitting that holds the story together.

Puzzles consist of nodes, each with a certain number of markings on them. You need to connect all the nodes together, ensuring that each node has as many connections as indicated by the markings. The trick is that you have to do them in a continuous path which bumps up the difficulty. It’s complex enough to become very difficult, but simple enough to have that “one more try” feel. As you complete puzzles, you select different sections of the ship to repair you’re rewarded with story segments allowing you to piece together what’s happening upon the Nexio Colony Spaceship.

On top of being a solid puzzler, there’s also no IAP or ads to deal with. Nexionode is available for iOS Universal, Android, as well as PC and Mac.

Trailer after the break.

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