Posts Categorised: Features

The new Bohemians: A hands-on preview of Pike & Shot

There's Popery in them there woods.

There’s Popery in them there woods.

When Slitherine first introduced me to Pike & Shot at the beginning of the summer, I didn’t think much of it. This iPad-bound wargame models 16th- and 17th-century battles on a very big scale — but it started life as a mod of Battle Academy, a WWII game that zooms things in to a company-level scale. How well could a game engine designed to simulate 20th-century armoured manoeuvre warfare possibly replicate giant clashes between musketeers and cuirassiers?

Pretty damn well, as it turns out.

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The re-name game: Card Hunter for tablets becomes Loot & Legends

Death isn't even excited that he won. He's just chilling. Levitating some dice.

Death isn’t even excited that he won. He’s just chilling. Levitating some dice.

PC and Mac gamers have been hunting cards in Blue Manchu’s tongue-in-cheek online CCG Card Hunter for about a year now, and the game has earned universal rave reviews. Despite being browser-based like those Ask.com toolbars your mom keeps installing on her computer by accident, Card Hunter is a legit tactical tabletop RPG experience. RPS‘s Adam Smith called it “as good a turn-based skirmish game as I can remember any studio releasing in a good while”.

But what about us mobile types? Card Hunter’s been on our radars for a long time now, with an expected release on iOS this year with Android to follow. Mobile developers DropForge Games recently announced that the game was changing its name to Loot & Legends. Why ditch a perfectly good name that your fans already know?

I recently bugged developer Joe McDonagh about this question and others and he sent us these never-before-seen screenshots along with his answers, which I’ll show you after the jump.

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Moscow calling: Slitherine has 5 Battle Academy 2 beta slots for PT readers

How we do things back East.

How we do things back East.

Venerable wargaming imprint Slitherine are getting ready to ship Battle Academy 2 for PC this Friday, but the iPad version is  just entering closed beta. Closed. It’s only available to a shadowy cabal of Slitherine’s mandarins — and to you. Well… some of you.

Slitherine reached out and offered to give 5 closed slots to Pocket Tactics readers, giving you early access to the sequel to one of the very best wargames on iOS. To win, just drop a line here in the comments of this post and tell us what your favourite tank from World War II is. We’ll give away those those beta slots at 9pm London time tonight, picking 4 at random and I’ll pick one answer that I liked the most.

If you don’t already have a Pocket Tactics Forum account, read this on how to register one. It’s a slightly more daunting process than signing up for most forums, but it’s that high barrier to entry that makes PT‘s forum community the most electrifying discussion group in sports entertainment today.

Battle Academy 2 takes the company-level turn-based tactical gameplay of the original Battle Academy and ships across Europe to the Eastern front. There’s new features like smoke effects, trenches and other fortifications, and a reworked air cover system. There’s four campaigns (two Soviet, two Axis) and 130 different units. There’s no set-in-stone iOS release date yet but you can fire it up on your PC this weekend.

Watch the trailer below, and good luck getting the PT Magic 8-Ball to choose you.

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Game, set, Watch: iOS game developers weigh in on iPhone 6 and Apple Watch

Size matters, apparently.

Size matters, apparently.

After watching yesterday’s Apple Event, I immediately cinched up my Robe of Maximum Focus and settled into the Thinking Chair to come up with a clever, funny, and insightful take on yesterday’s reveal of the iPhone 6 and Apple Watch. After several hours of reading Wikipedia articles about Batman and watching videos of plane crashes on YouTube, I decided to just steal somebody else’s take instead.

I got in touch with some of Pocket Tactics‘ favourite game developers to ask them what they thought about Apple’s showcase yesterday. Tech pundits and games writers are all well and fine, but I thought you would appreciate hearing from the folks who are actually going to be making (or not) the games you’ll be playing on these new devices.

After the jump, a recap of what Apple showed off yesterday, and reactions from some of the top developers working in mobile: chief Coding Monkey Martin Pittenauer, Rebuild creator Sarah Northway, Canabalt maker Adam Saltsman, Inkle‘s Joseph Humfrey, and many more.

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Ready for some football: PSF 2014 screenshot preview

Less blood, more bowl.

Less blood, more bowl.

Coach Kerry Batts has spent the last year in his astro-turfed football laboratory making modifications to Pro Strategy Football, the iOS gridiron sim that we anointed the second-best sports game of 2013, and I like what I’m seeing.

PSF 2013 was all about tactical play-calling, with none of the off-the-field shenanigans that occupy other sports management sims. This made PSF quite limited in some ways, but it was a finely-honed scalpel for the few things it chose to do — there’s no other American football sim that models plays as intricately and realistically. In my review, I called PSF 2013 the Dwarf Fortress of football sims, and I meant it.

Batts is planning on broadening the game’s scope in 2014 — but just a little. There’s going to be a career mode that lets you manage a team from season to season. He’s still actively developing that feature and the game will ship with a demo of it; he’s hoping that feedback from PT readers and other fans will help him shape it.

The big changes for PSF 2014 are a completely redesigned menu system (one that Batts hopes will make the game more friendly to non-football obsessives), a “Casual Mode” that streamlines play-calling and speeds up games, and an Android port that will open the game up to a whole new audience. I’ve got lots of screenshots and more details after the jump.

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Carving out the light: Eric Sabee, the artist of Ascension’s weird, wonderful world

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"I think my favorite card so far is the Hectic Scribe. I think I see myself when I look at him."

“I think my favorite card so far is the Hectic Scribe. I think I see myself when I look at him.”

On a couch in a cramped Boston apartment — one of those glorified cubicles for recent grads where you can just about reach the kitchen sink from your bed — Eric Sabee and Justin Gary are playing Tekken 4. (Justin prefers Panda, for the record.) It’s 2002. Sabee, who works in a picture framing shop, and Gary, a law student, live down the hall from one another and spend a lot of free time pushing thumbsticks in front of Sabee’s Playstation.

Gary made a living playing Magic: The Gathering, a whimsical-sounding trade that amazed Sabee. Gary had played in the professional Magic circuit for years, capping his career with a victory in the 2002 Pro Tour. Gary won’t last much longer in law school. In a little while, he’s going to drop out, move to California, and start his own game company with other folks from the Magic scene.

Sabee graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design with a degree in illustration, and like young artists since time immemorial, was struggling to catch a break. It would be a long time in coming. On the walls of that Boston apartment are oil paintings that Sabee has been making over the past few months.

“I was frustrated with trying to break into illustration and getting nowhere,” Sabee told me a couple of weeks ago. “Someone convinced me to start painting scenes of Boston. People liked them a lot. I wanted to emulate Van Gogh so there was a lot of big expressive marks, bright colors.”

One of the people that liked those paintings a lot was Justin Gary. “The first piece Justin ever bought from me was a scene of a restaurant on Brighton Avenue that was familiar to us both,” says Sabee. “He gave me his old big-screen TV for it.”

Gary took a few more paintings with him when he left for California. And a few years later, when he started designing the game that would become Ascension, he knew which artist he wanted working on it.

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Pocket Tactics’ Games of the Month: August 2014

They're big-boned.

They’re big-boned.

Once a month, the PT staff gather around the Official Pocket Tactics Ouija Board and Comcast Customer Service Help Line and (after making the traditional offerings of ASL chits and Vimto) commune with the animistic spirits of the App Store to divine their favourite games of that lunar cycle.This past August, the rituals were particularly draining: not only were there a slew of important releases to choose from, but the App Store spirits kept erroneously rejecting our submission.

After the jump, Pocket Tactics‘ favourite games of August.

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Holiday re-run: Winning Blimp tell us about Stratolith their unabashedly analog RTS

PT‘s off today for the summer bank holiday in the UK. This feature, which reveals the inner workings of Winning Blimp’s still-forthcoming iPad RTS Stratolith originally ran on March 24th of this year.
The time has come to push the button.

The time has come to push the button.

A couple of weeks ago we saw the trailer for Stratolith for the first time. What grabbed me right away about Winning Blimp’s forthcoming iOS & desktop game was how much effort had obviously gone into the game’s presentation. A third of the screen is taken up by a big skeuomorphic control panel that would feel right at home in the worn-in blue collar sci-fi universe of Alien. You can’t ask for nicer window dressing for a game.

“Actually,” developer Bear Trickey told me, “everything you see there is functional. Every control you see in the screenshots and in the trailer has meaning and utility.” Oh. Oh, wow.

Stratolith is an analog game.

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