Posts Categorised: Features

Twilight Struggle Kickstarter: The final hours interview

Failsafe.

Failsafe.

It was just about exactly a month ago that we learned that Agricola and Lords of Waterdeep makers Playdek had rescued the rights to Twilight Struggle, the revered Cold War geopolitical board game whose digital translation had been languishing in a development quagmire for years and years.

For me, this could scarcely be better news. Twilight Struggle is my favorite board game of all time, and Playdek has very few peers when it comes to making kickass digital adaptations of board games. This is a dream come true for me — the gaming equivalent of having Anthony Bourdain show up at your house to cook breakfast.

Playdek’s Twilight Struggle: Digital Edition Kickstarter was funded within hours of going live, so the remaining 10 hours are just about hitting stretch goals and claiming backer rewards if you haven’t pledged yet. I sat down with Playdek CEO Joel Goodman, CTO Gary Weis, and community manager Shyla Bragg to talk over their vision for a digital edition of one of the most celebrated board games of all time.

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Field Marshal Owen’s Guide to World of Tanks Blitz

I love the smell of zimmerit in the morning.

I love the smell of zimmerit in the morning.

This week marked the arrival of World of Tanks Blitz, the mobile cousin of the PC gaming phenomenon, onto the App Store. If you never played WoT on PC, you’re probably wondering why I’m so excited about a game that violates two of the most important dicta of the Codex PocketTactica: not only is WoT Blitz a touchscreen shooter, but it’s a free-to-play game to boot. Surely we are preparing an effigy burning/pig roast here on Mount Hexmap?

Nay, citizen — there will be no burning of effigies tonight. But come on up for the pig roast anyway, because World of Tanks Blitz is damned good, and it isn’t a game that the shooter-averse need fear. I would dare to suggest that there’s never been a better touchscreen action game than this.

After the jump, I’m going to tell you why I think you should give it a shot — and how to get through your first few matches once I’ve sold you on it.

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Pocket Tactics exclusive: Dominion is coming to mobile this year, and it’s a native app

Noblesse oblige?

Noblesse oblige?

Fans of the tabletop card game Dominion have been waiting for a couple of years now for the legendary deck-builder to make its way to mobile, and after several false starts it looks like this year might just be the year. This week I learned that Goko, the company who holds the rights to making a digital version of Dominion, has partnered with developer Making Fun to build a Unity-based Dominion app that will be coming to tablets and phones “this year for sure”.

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Taz’Dingo! Curse of Naxxramas Class Cards Revealed

Welcome to the party, pal.

Welcome to the party, pal.

I love Hearthstone. I would think that would be apparent as it’s my choice every time Owen asks us what we’re currently playing. I play it a lot. I listen to podcasts about it, I frequent websites about it. Worst of all, I even follow Blizzard’s Hearthstone Twitter feed. I fear I may be becoming a, dare I say, fanboy. [may be? -ed.]

The twitter feed from Blizzard has been active in teasing new cards for the upcoming Curse of Naxxramas expansion that should be unleashed sometime this summer. Announced were 30 new cards in total, with 21 neutrals and 9 class specific cards. When they announced the expansion, 5 of the neutral cards were revealed and they indicated that the Deathrattle mechanism would play a prominent role.

Finally, all 9 class cards have been revealed. Take a look after the break.

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Planet-killer: A hands-on preview of Star Realms, the card game that out-plays Ascension

I've drunk the Kool-Aid.

I’ve drunk the Kool-Aid.

Ascension might be one of the most acclaimed card games in recent history, but co-creator Rob Dougherty clearly wasn’t ready to put his tools away when the game shipped. Three years after Ascension enraptured the tabletop world with its refined and accessible deck-building mechanics (and two years after Playdek’s iOS version set the standard for touchscreen card games), Dougherty successfully Kickstarted a new game: Star Realms. Though broadly similar to Ascension, Star Realms messed with the formula to crank up the game’s pace and make it a more direct mano-a-mano brawl.

Last month we found out that a digital version of Star Realms was in the works. This week, I played a pre-release build of it, and my eyes have been opened. Look at my cup: it’s full of Star Realms Kool-Aid. I am completely sold.

Presuming that you can improve upon a new classic is Kanye-level arrogance — and Star Realms does. But the greatness of Ascension is a two-headed beast: one part is the game itself, and the other part is the peerless quality of Playdek’s app. So imagine my surprise when I discovered that Playdek might just have a new peer.

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Our 5 favourite iOS games of 2014 (so far)

Failure never felt so good.

Failure never felt so good.

As we approach the half-way mark of 2014, the PT staff took some time this week to contemplate the year’s releases. Just as with last year’s mid-year list, these picks aren’t as thoroughly agonised over and discussed as our end-of-year awards — just a from-the-hip roundup of the games that have made the biggest impression on us so far.

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To Jaipur by Hover-car: A hands-on preview of 80 Days

All aboard.

All aboard.

After raising the bar for interactive fiction games with last year’s truly remarkable Sorcery!, it would have been a reasonably clever bet to expect Cambridge-based Inkle to take down the pace a little and churn out a few safe, low-effort punts that tread the path blazed by their last game.

That bet would have been lost to the rake. There is nothing safe or timid about Inkle’s next game 80 Days, coming to iOS this summer. It’s not even content to pick up the bar from Sorcery! and raise it a little further — it stuffs the bar into a cannon and shoots it at the moon.

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No running in The Library: Ryan Payton talks about Republique Episode 2

Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.

Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.

April’s release of Republique Episode 2 completely turned me around on an innovative stealth adventure that I felt had initially under-delivered on its great promise. The setting was fresh: a dystopian underground near-future city run by an omniscient junta with a latitude for eavesdropping that the NSA could only dream of. And the game was a visual marvel with production values and voice acting that compared favourably with any console title. But in spite of all that, Episode 1 was a thoroughly unexciting affair with little sense of danger.

And then Episode 2 of Republique put me back on my heels. The new chapter centered around The Library, a memorably clever bit of level design, and featured challenging new enemies who injected a real tension into the stealthing around. It was an impressive about-face.

Republique producer Ryan Payton has always impressed me with his refreshingly unmoderated approach to media relations. My interview with him last December was attended by no PR minders and his heart-on-sleeve post-mortem of Episode 1 this past March was one of the most honest vein-openings I’ve ever seen in the games industry. So when I sat down with him two weeks ago to talk about Episode 2, I didn’t expect him to hold back. He definitely didn’t.

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