Free-to-pray (to the Emperor): Horus Heresy Drop Assault will be an F2P 40K game

The emperor protects?

The emperor protects?

Long-time readers will know that — due to a brain parasite I contracted from an Eldar Farseer during a lurid college spring break on Craftworld Ulthwé — I am pathologically unable to stop myself from posting about Warhammer 40K games, no matter how far outside this blog’s editorial sweet spot.

Horus Heresy: Drop Assault sports a moniker that will quicken the pulse of any 40K nerd, but let me just break your heart right now and get it over with. The game is free-to-play and to my eye, appears to be a Space Marine’d-up Clash of Clans, that most odious F2P skinner box. I could be (and very occasionally am) wrong. Somebody explain to me how I’m wrong and I’ll be much obliged to you.

Canadian devs Complex Games have a resume that includes such titles as TMNT Rooftop Run and Ducktales: Scrooge’s Loot, so big licenses appear to be something of a specialty for them. This is first game set in 40K’s Horus Heresy epoch.

For those readers who have spent their precious time on this mortal coil more wisely than I have, the Horus Heresy is a landmark event in Warhammer 40K fluff: it’s the civil war within the Imperium of Man that led to the status quo in the game’s universe where the diminished Imperium (fascist neo-Roman theocrats) stands off against the corrupt forces of Chaos (punk rock Frankensteins). There’s currently a series of tie-in novels (of wildly varying quality) that digs deeper into the lore.

Horus Heresy: Drop Assault will come to iOS & Android this fall. Watch the trailer after the jump and see if you concur with my diagnosis.

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Landing site selected: Space Program Manager touches down October 31st

We will come in peace for all mankind.

This October, we will come in peace for all mankind.

Coinciding with the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landings over the weekend, Slitherine have announced a final release date for the long-in-development Buzz Aldrin’s Space Program Manager: October 31st, 2014. This gives you plenty of time to get a good-fitting waistcoat for your Gene Kranz Halloween costume.

Space Program Manager puts you in the driver’s seat of the American or Soviet spaceflight program in the 1950s, and challenges you to beat the other side to a manned Moon landing. Publishers Slitherine and developers Polar Motion are planning expansion packs that will extend the game into the 1980s and into near-future manned explorations of Mars. I gave SPM a thorough going-over in my preview in May, and I expect that the finished product will be pretty popular around here.

SPM will be released on iPad, Android tablets, and desktops. If you want to get in on the desktop version early, Slitherine are selling early access to the development builds until August.

Slitherine have sent along a trailer that marks the lunar landing anniversary. Now, this trailer doesn’t have any gameplay per se, but it does have Jack Kennedy saying “We choose to go to the Moon,” which gives me goosebumps the size of Skittles every time I hear it. Watch it after the break.

UPDATE: Hawk-eyed PT reader Matthew Tate sends us a correction, that I have since verified with Slitherine. That 31 October release date is for the PC version of Space Program Manager — the tablet versions will follow but there’s no nailed down date for those.

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Lucky Frame’s The Nightmare Cooperative to haunt iOS & Android this autumn

When I dip you dip we dip.

When I dip you dip we dip.

Scottish artificers Lucky Frame released a new game on PC & Mac last week — a unique roguelike called The Nightmare Cooperative. Along with the basic roguelike conventions of randomly-generated levels and permadeath, your entire party of adventures moves as a group with a single set of controls, multiplying the danger from every movement decision. It sounds a bit like Threes with elves. It’s also got some appealingly chunky graphics and music that sounds like a lullaby composed by an opiated Tom Waits.

I talked to Lucky Frame’s Yann Seznec last week and he told me that Nightmare Cooperative is definitely coming to iOS & Android. There’s no firm date yet, but it could optimistically show up in September, Seznec said.

I was a late convert to Lucky Frame’s delightfully unusual music-generating tower defense game Bad Hotel but I was enthralled by it for a good week. Nightmare Cooperative looks to be at least as weird its predecessor, which bodes well. I’ll let you know when I hear about a solid release date.

Watch the Nightmare Cooperative trailer below.

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Weekend Price Drops: Once in a Lifetime Edition

And you may ask yourself, "Well... how did I get here?"

And you may ask yourself, “Well… how did I get here?”

This weekend is associated with no particular holiday or milestone and yet — thanks to the munificence of Space Emperor Xerxes XIV, whose every howl is like music to his subjects — it is quite possibly the biggest discount weekend of the year so far.

We’ve got the first-ever discount on out-sized WWII wargame Panzer Corps, a big sale on squad tactical game Frozen Synapse (our runner-up Multiplayer Game of the Year last year), and more besides. Trailers and discounts await your attention below.

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Mighty Litigious Power Rangers: Chroma Squad runs afoul of Saban’s lawyers

Mighty tortin'.

Mighty tortin’.

Some slightly worrying news about Chroma Squad, one of our most anticipated games of the year. Turns out that Brazilian studio Behold’s parody of the Japanese super sentai TV shows of the 1980s and 90s was a bit too on-the-nose for entertainment behemoth Saban, who hold the intellectual property rights to Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.

In a backers-only update (entitled “A small hiccup”) to Chroma Squad’s Kickstarter page today, Behold said that Saban’s attorneys had “been in contact with [them] for a while now”. Saban has apparently played a development build of Chroma Squad provided by Behold and found that the game infringes on their IP.

Behold say that Saban have offered them a deal where the rights-holders would be cut in on Chroma Squad’s royalties. I talked today to Behold’s Saulo Camarotti and asked him if this meant the game was going to be held up. “No at all,” he told me. “We’re [about to release] a new version for the backers and early-access players. And everything is on its way.”

Camarotti told me that he’s hoping that this doesn’t end up in court. “I really want to make a win-win negotiation with them,” he told me.

After the jump I’ve got the latest Chroma Squad trailer alongside some video of Saban’s Power Rangers — decide for yourself (in your esteemed legal opinion) if Behold are infringing.

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Deck Space 9: Rocco Bowling reveals Starbase Annex, a 4X card game

Less than one hour away from a battle simulation and I have to go hand-hold an android.

Less than one hour away from a battle simulation and I have to go hand-hold an android.

The tireless Rocco Bowling dropped me a note today to tell me about a major update that just went live for Starbase Orion, his peerless sci-fi empire-builder, and about another update that’s in the works for Naval Tactics: Captains of the Spanish Main.

And oh yeah, he casually mentioned, there’s a brand-new game in the works, too: Starbase Annex, a single-player card game set in the Starbase Orion universe. It’s currently in beta and will be out for iOS in the next couple of months.

Bowling, whose inhuman work ethic reveals him to be a robot cleverly disguised as a man, describes Starbase Annex as a hybrid card/board/puzzle game with 4X elements. “Sounds like a lot when you write it all down, but it plays so naturally its like a match made in heaven.” The game is single-player focused and Bowling intends to ship it with 18 different AIs to play against. Because it’s Chimera Software’s first Unity-based game, it will be relatively simple to port to Android if it does well on iOS, Bowling tells me.

By the way, hardcore Starbase Orion players will want to check the Starbase Orion League that runs on Chimera Software’s forums — it’s currently in season 3 and sign-ups are on right now. You can find a changelog for the new update there as well.

Two more screenshots of Starbase Annex after the jump.

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Watch the throne: Playdek prepares to release Rise of Vigil expansion for Ascension

Let these Askaras know who I am

Let these Askaras know who I am

If there’s one thing you can rely on from post-2013 Playdek, it’s that they don’t make any announcements until they’re about to drop the thing being announced. Each time that the mobile board game specialists have talked about an expansion for Lords of Waterdeep, for example, that expansion has materialised within days.

Playdek posted on their Facebook page that the promised Rise of Vigil expansion for Ascension is coming “soon”, which in Playdek-speak almost certainly means next week. Heck, maybe even tonight. This will be the first digital expansion for everyone’s favorite deck-building card game since Immortal Heroes came out last June. It’ll also be the first expansion since Ascension designers Stone Blade shelved their plans to make their own app and committed to supporting Playdek’s Ascension app for the foreseeable future.

Rise of Vigil adds a couple of new mechanics to Ascension: energy shards (essentially a new resource) and treasure cards which grant additional rewards for defeating center row enemies. If you want to bone up on the rules from the new expansion before it hits the app, Stone Blade have made the rules available as a PDF on their site.

We’ll keep our eyes peeled over here and let you know as soon as Rise of Vigil drops.

Boys, look who it is: Curse of Naxxramas coming July 22

Heigan living up to his moniker

Heigan living up to his moniker

Blizzard Entertainment knows how to do a couple things really well: make great games and hype the hell out of every one of them. The latest example of this is the upcoming expansion for Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, Curse of Naxxramas. The hype started with the expansion’s announcement, which occurred just days before the eagerly anticipated release of Hearthstone for iPad. Yes, many of us knew an expansion was coming for a game we had yet to play.

After that, it was the usual Blizzard frontal assault. Weekly card leaks, pricing leaks and confirmations and the entire time never committing to a release date.

Until today.

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