Posts by: Dave Neumann

Review: Star Realms

The final frontier

The final frontier

Deckbuilding has long been the one board game mechanic that never quite lived up to its promise. It was born from the out-of-game experience every Magic player had of building a killer deck but, in practice, never really felt like that. Instead, games like Dominion and Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer use deckbuilding as a means to create a euro-style victory-point generating engine. Compare the feeling you get when your newly crafted Paladin deck in Hearthstone wipes out some poor hunter in ranked play versus the lack of a rush you get as you use a newly crafted Dominion deck to purchase another province. Somehow deckbuilding, an activity closely associated with the most Ameritrashy of genres, had been turned into a euro-styled efficiency engine.

Star Realms changes that. Here is a deckbuilder that actually feels like you’re building a weapon to smash someone in the face with. It feels like Hearthstone, only the deckbuilding takes place while you’re playing instead of outside the game. It’s incredibly simple, and yet layered enough that you can build satisfying combos that are guaranteed to make you grin as you put them together in your hand.

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Dungeon master: Boss Monster for mobile currently Kickstarting

Dungeon Envy

Dungeon Envy [Image by Dylan Wolf]

Boss Monster is already a Kickstarter success story, having successfully Kickstarted a cardboard version of the game back in 2012. Actually, Brotherwise Games didn’t just succeed at that Kickstarter, they slaughtered it, raking in $200K more than their initial funding goal. Well, Brotherwise is back on Kickstarter to bring the now published cardboard version to iOS and Android.

If you’re familiar with games like Dungeon Keeper you’ll have an idea of how Boss Monster plays. You and your opponents each play a boss monster in a video game and need to construct a dungeon to lure in annoying do-gooders and destroy them. Everything in the game is done with a fantastic 8-bit art style, and everything about the game is reminiscent of old NES platformers from the 80′s.

The intention of Brotherwise is to include both single player against 3 levels of AI as well as online multiplayer. The Kickstarter is already more than 50% funded, and they still have 24 days to go. There are pledge levels that will get you the app and the cardboard version, if what you see looks interesting.

Video of the Boss Monster digital prototype after the break.

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Dealer’s choice: LackeyCCG for iPad will let you play any CCG you’d like

Deal me in

Deal me in

Are you frustrated that Fantasy Flight didn’t announce Android: Netrunner for iPad at this year’s GenCon? Sad that you can’t play Lord of the Rings Card Game digitally? Well, dry those tears, because LackeyCCG was released for iPad last week and, with a little work, you can play virtually any CCG on your iPad.

LackeyCCG has been around on PC, Mac, and Linux for some time now, and if you scour their forums you’ll find people playing all the FFG living card games, Legend of the Five Rings, Magic: The Gathering and everything in between. It’s not just a card database, either. LackeyCCG offers online head-to-head play as well as a solitaire mode to test out decks or build/test your own CCG. I’m guessing solitaire mode would work great for games like Pathfinder Adventure Card Game or the LOTR living card game as well.

What’s the catch? Find out after the break.

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Love in no man’s land: Valiant Hearts coming to iOS

Oh, the humanity

Oh, the humanity

After the recent release of Commander: The Great War on iPad, we celebrated the fact that a war game focusing on something other than World War Two or the Civil War found life on the App Store. A few weeks later and Ubisoft announces the upcoming iOS release of Valiant Hearts: the Great War and we begin to have hope that World War 1 is finally getting its due. Before you get too excited, however, you need to realize that Valiant Hearts, while being set in WW1, is most definitely not a war game but a puzzle-adventure game.

Valiant Hearts puts you in the shoes of Karl who is a German living in France when Franz Ferdinand meets young Gavrilo Princip and the world changes. Karl is deported to Germany, while his French wife and child remain in France. I hope you can see where this is going. Drafted into the German army, while his in-laws are drafted by the French, Valiant Hearts tells the story of Karl’s trials to reunite with his wife and child and the interaction he has with his, now enemy, in-laws during the war.

Originally released for PlayStation and Windows, Ubisoft promises that the game has been rebuilt with touch controls in mind for the iOS Universal release on September 4th. Until then, have a look at the trailer after the break. This one looks pretty special.

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You’re in the army now: Naxxramas opens the Military Quarter

Uncle Heigan Wants You!

Uncle Heigan Wants You!

It’s no secret that I am in love with Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. If Hearthstone was human, we’d own a cozy little bungalow together and be raising 3 unruly children. I’m trying to wean myself off the drug, but the weekly releases of new Naxxramas material isn’t helping. I’m the Michael Corleone of the Warcraft world, getting pulled back in every time I think I’m out [that movie didn't exist -ed.].

This week we get the Military Quarter with three new bosses and 6 new cards to unlock. Are you as  excited as I am? Of course you are. Boss discussions after the break.

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The atomic drop: Manhattan Project explodes onto Android (and iOS)

What it's all about

What it’s all about. [Image by Chris Norwood]

Last year the folks at Minion Games ran a Kickstarter to get the criminally underrated worker placement game, The Manhattan Project, to PC and mobile. It ended up not funding, and it seemed that a digital version of Manhattan Project was dead before it had even begun. That was until this weekend when developer Mark Domowicz dropped a bomb (ho-ho!) by releasing The Manhattan Project on Google Play for Android devices.

In Manhattan Project players take the roles of anonymous nations tasked with the joyous endeavor of building the best nuclear weapons. It’s a worker placement game, so you’ll use your engineers, scientists and laborers to get you the Uranium and Plutonium you need, the labs to refine it, and the factories to build the bombs that gain you points. Oh, I forgot to mention that you can also use bombers to take out your opponents’ buildings and espionage to steal your opponents’ technologies. It’s kind of like Le Havre, if that game were designed by Dr. Evil.

So, will we see Manhattan Project on the App Store any time soon? Absolutely. I spoke with Mark about it and the app is currently in review at Apple, so we’re just waiting for the folks in Cupertino to turn their keys and enter the launch codes at this point.

A whole new world: Talisman Digital Edition now on Android

He comes with a +3 raspberry beret

He comes with a +3 raspberry beret

Talisman is one of those “love it or hate it” board games. Proponents praise the game’s sense of adventure and seemingly endless variety whereas the haters point out that it’s one big random luckfest. Strangely, both groups are right. Finding that Runesword while simultaneously riding a unicorn is pretty sweet, until you roll a 1 at the witch and are transformed into a toad, losing everything. Still, the game has been around since 1983, so I guess that shows who’s been winning these arguments for the last 30 years.

Talisman Digital Edition has been available on iOS now since early May [we're still waiting for your review, slacker -ed.] and today it battled the Sentinel to cross the river to Android-land. That’s right, you can now curse your poor dice-rolling misfortune on your Android device.

The release is up to date with the iOS version, meaning that the Reaper and Frostmarch expansions are both available as IAP, with the Dungeon expansion expected next month. The multiplayer is either via pass-and-play or online and, like iOS, the online multiplayer is real time (not asynchronous) and it is for Android only. That is, the iOS and Android versions do not play nicely together.

You can pick up Talisman Digital Edition for under $7 on Google Play, or for $7 on the App Store. Trailer after the break.

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Jurassic Peek: Sneak peek at 3D envirionment in Sentinels of the Multiverse

Waiting is the hardest part

Waiting is the hardest part

Of all the board/card game conversions that I’m anticipating, Handelabra‘s port of superhero card game Sentinels of the Multiverse is at the top. Not only is the card game a fantastic co-op (that plays great solo), but the user interface that Handelabra is working on is making Sentinels of the Multiverse look like one of the most polished board game ports out there.

Yesterday, they raised expectations yet again when they released a video showing off Insula Primalis, a dinosaur-filled volcanic rock that acts as one of the environments in which your gaming adventures can take place. Keep in mind that these images have no impact on gameplay, they’re just going to be in the background to give the game some extra flavor. Excellent.

Consider that Insula Primalis is only one of four environments to come with the base Sentinels game, and you can see the amount of work that Handelabra is pouring into this project. They’ve also announced they’ll be showing off actual gameplay at GenCon this year, and I’ll be sure to give you my firsthand impressions in a couple weeks. Until then, enjoy Insula Primalis after the break.

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