Let’s get one thing out the way before we begin. Contrary to what many might have surmised, Assassin’s Creed: Pirates and Sid Meier’s Pirates! have nothing in common. There is no swordplay, no boarding parties, no wooing governor’s daughters [pity. --ed.], no fleet management, no land battles, no sneaking into enemy ports. Assassin’s Creed: Pirates puts you on a boat before the game begins, and you’re going to stay there.
But do you remember the part in Sid Meier’s Pirates! Where you sank ships? Yeah, AC: Pirates has got that. Oh, how you’ll sink ships. Lots and lots of ships.
The arrows are pointing to the most interesting choice. Do I roll the dice or go play Lords of Waterdeep?
When Owen gave me the chance to review Mr. Ludo, I accepted without any hesitation. Of course, at the time, I assumed it was a new digital board game based on workday drudgery and office politics, which is how it’s billed. A game that David Brent might play, but not actually get the joke. Sure, sign me up.
It became apparent after installing the app how very wrong I was. Unbeknownst to me, Ludo is another name for dreaded children’s game, Trouble. You know, the one with the Pop-o-matic? Yes, I had just signed up for a week of Trouble.
The chaser gets the quaffle past the keeper! Score 10 for Hufflepuff.
Being American and old enough to remember the 70’s, my knowledge of soccer is, well, lacking. I know that if you you want Sylvester Stallone to be your goalie, you need to break the British goalie’s arm. I’m familiar with the concept of capturing the Golden Snitch for 150 points. Oh, I’m also aware that soccer is the reason I have to drive all over God’s earth nearly every damned Saturday to watch a bunch of kids suck at it. You know what, screw soccer.
So, like any reviewer worth his salt, I brought all my ignorance, resentment, and anti-soccer bias with me as I started playing StreetSoccer, and was fully ready to hate it.
I didn’t hate it. In fact, I ended up liking StreetSoccer more than I ever thought I would.
Unlike Sorcery! I am not at all familiar with the Lone Wolf series. In fact, I hadn’t even heard of the series until news of this app surfaced about 3 months ago. So, going in, I was expecting more of the same: read text, make a choice, read text, fight something, read text, etc. This was the standard model started by the original gamebooks, and recaptured so well by Tin Man Games. Sorcery! changed things up a bit by removing the “book” and leaving you with a lot of “game”. Instead of making page number choices, you moved a pawn on a map. Instead of rolling dice, you played a rope-a-dope minigame with paper dolls.
Lone Wolf is something completely different. Sure, there’s a lot of text to read and choices to be made. It’s all the stuff you can do outside those gamebook tropes that makes Lone Wolf more a fully-fledged RPG than merely a gamebook.
In fact, if it weren’t for a few major issues, Lone Wolf wouldn’t just be the best gamebook on my iPad, it would be one of the greatest games on my iPad, period.
Kharé. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.
Kharé is the Lankhmar of the Fighting Fantasy world. It’s Marlowe’s Los Angeles or Batman’s Gotham. It’s a place rife with ruthless slavers, corrupt noblemen, dishonest merchants, murderous thieves, and some rather unusual undead for good measure. All that happens even before you head into the sewers, and I won’t try to describe what you meet down there.
Unfortunately, Kharé is the only crossing of the mighty Jabaji River so you don’t have much of a choice if you want to recover the Crown of Kings in faraway Mampang Fortress. And you do. So enter Kharé you must.
He looks scary, but he’s just trying to tell you one weird old trick to having great abs.
Your adventure begins with the death of your best friend. A character you’ve never met, but I need you to feel sympathy for. You’re really mad that he’s dead, okay? Trust me, you really liked this guy. You grew up together, and formed an adventuring party together, so you must be tight. Like brothers. Except you haven’t seen him for a long time now, and you just happened to stumble across his funeral procession. Which you weren’t invited to. Did I mention you really liked him and you should probably figure out how he died? You totally should, because you’re really sad about your BFF dying and stuff.
If you want to know how your so-close-he-was-nearly-a-brother-but-you-never-meet-him-in-the-book friend died, turn to page 262 ->
Hey pal, you try coming up with funny captions for abstract games.
Finishing a game of Eclipse this weekend, it dawned on me why I’ve been having such a hard time with this review for Epigo. As our game wrapped up, and I finished in my standard position of dead last, my friends and I were texting and calling each other about what we should have researched, or why my starbases weren’t enough to hold off their plasma missles, or any of the other myriad reasons why I suck. The game told a story that we, as players, all felt a part of. It was more than a game.
In every game of Epigo, I move some tiles. Sigh.
That’s what’s made this review so difficult. Epigo is a game that should bore me to tears and should have been deleted within a couple days after install but, after a few weeks, I still find myself enjoying the hell out of this game. What’s wrong with me?
Is that our crack Emergency team, or are they holding auditions for next season’s The Bachelor?
2008 was an amazing year for board games. I’m not just talking about some great games being released that year. It’s way bigger than that. 2008 saw three games release that literally changed the hobby by either creating new mechanisms completely, or re-imagining little-used mechanisms and bringing them into the spotlight. Many new releases today can trace their ludological pedigree to these three titles.
Dominion created the new mechanic of deckbuilding, which is now legally required to be used in at least 30% of all games released. Battlestar Galactica took the “hidden role” mechanic found in games like Bang! and Shadows Over Camelot and turned it up to eleven. The third title to hit that year was a little game called Pandemic. Its claim to fame? Players would work together to win, playing against the game itself rather than each other. It had been done before by Knizia and, more recently, by Fantasy Flight Games with Arkham Horror. Pandemic, however, brought the cooperative mechanism to the mainstream. How? It had the simplicity of a Euro, but the heart and soul of the most theme-heavy American games. Here was a summer blockbuster in a box, and yet so simple to grasp that the entire family could play.
Pandemic was gaming gold, and I have yet to introduce it to anyone, gamer or not, who doesn’t immediately want to set it up and play another game. Hell, this is one of the only games my wife will play with me. We even played it one year at a bed & breakfast…on our anniversary. As good as the board game is, however, the iPad app is better in just about every way imaginable.