Posts Categorised: Features

Pocket Tactics’ Games of the Month: August 2015

Pardon our dust.

Pardon our dust.

It has been a very long while indeed since we had Pocket Tactics Games of the Month. Picking favourite games from arbitrary calendar periods is always a bit contentious but when Neumann briefly converted to TimeCubism over the summer we couldn’t even agree on the definition of “month”, much less decide what the good games from one were.

Anyway. Things have calmed down enough that we can resume regular service on Games of the Month. Let’s see what the PT writers’ dungeon thinks of the games from the last lunar cycle (or so).

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The Huntmaster’s Handbook: Rob Lemon’s Galactic Keep strategy guide

For cryin' out loud, people STOP DYING

For cryin’ out loud, people STOP DYING

The wonderfully original Galactic Keep is more than just a pretty, multi-mandibled face — it’s also an RPG whose combat requires a little more nous than might be apparent at first. In the interest of preserving the temporal integrity of this timeline, I asked Galactic Keep creator Rob Lemon to write us some tips on keeping your Coalition agents alive. There’s a heck of a lot going on under the hood of this game, and Rob lays a lot of it bare for us. –O.F.

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A Song for Galactic Keep

"Schematic" means "utterly devoid of artistic merit". In case that wasn't clear.

My maps for D&D were rather more… schematic.

I always preferred folders in school. Three-ring binders seemed needlessly baroque, loud, and treacherous (I must have been pinched by one once, and have ever after been prejudiced against the entire race, like my grandfather who would never buy a Japanese car after being wounded on Guadalcanal). But there was one product I was ashamed to find utterly alluring: the Trapper Keeper.

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“Sims are back”: Frontier talks RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 and the triumphant return of simulation games

For the habitual voyeur of what is known as parklife.

For the habitual voyeur of what is known as parklife.

We’ve burned a few thousand words lighting effigies of formerly respectable game franchises that went free-to-play — we should be giving equal time to devs who are still fighting for the good guys.

When Frontier brought 2004’s RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 to iOS earlier this week, the biggest surprise was that they brought the pricing philosophy back from 2004, too. The Universal app is five dollars with no in-app purchases at all.

Frontier seem to be on a mission to selectively bring back the best aspects of the 1990s: no to C&C Music Factory and bucket hats, but yes to pay-once game pricing, tycoon games, and spaceflight sims. They’ve got a hit on their hands with Elite Dangerous on PC and have planned a new theme park tycoon franchise for 2016.

I had five questions for Frontier producer Ben Dowie yesterday, and here’s what he told us.

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Luca Redwood reveals: Dark Secrets of YMBAB’s Hammerhorn

Oh my god, if I die I'm a legend

Oh my god, if I die I’m a legend

Anyone who’s played Luca Redwood‘s peerless match-3 puzzle adventure You Must Build A Boat has surely noticed hints of D&D complexity lurking around the edges of the game. Every object in the world has a slew of RPG attributes, from the swords and staves to the monsters and the dungeons themselves, but the game mostly obscures all of that cruft so you can focus on the tile-matching.

One mystery of the game is the Hammerhorn, a macguffin your character picks a quarter of the way into YMBAB. Every once in a while, when your character is just about to slump over in defeat, the Hammerhorn blows and summons your boatload of allies onto the screen, where they blast every visible enemy and give you a final desperate chance to prolong your run.

The Hammerhorn is a great example of YMBAB’s playful deeper complexity: you can intuit some of its mechanics, but why and when the Hammerhorn blows is hidden away from you. This philosophy is one of my favourite things about Redwood’s games: you can’t ever fall into analysis paralysis. Redwood invites you to just play his games by feel and gut instinct. The uncertain universe you find yourself in casts you back to playing as a kid, where the world of a video game felt boundless.

I’ve coerced Luca Redwood into revealing a little bit of how the Hammerhorn actually works — a rare peek behind the curtain of You Must Build a Boat, which Redwood tells me still contains secrets and collectibles that no player has found. –Owen

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Off the Grid: Martin Wallace’s Brass

After a few plays this will all make sense.

After a few plays this will all make sense.

There are few who can match the string of incredible board game designs put together by Martin Wallace over the years. From his pick-up-and-deliver gem, Age of Steam, to wacky, off-the-wall games like A Study in Emerald, he’s managed to create some of the greatest games ever designed. In my eyes, however, one game stands above the others, 2007’s Brass.

Brass is due to hit tablets some time in 2015 from Polish developer, Cublo Games, but it’s playable right now on your tablet (or phone) via browser. You can find it on the awesomely titled site, The Order of the Hammer, where you can play it for nothing.

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Off the grid: Playing Through the Ages on your iPad today

Not that great, really.

Not that great, really.

A couple days ago I was hit up with a press release for a new site called Tabletopia, a website that acts as a portal for playing board games online. It’s not the first of its kind, in fact there are more board gaming sites out there than I even care to investigate. Tabletopia is only in alpha now, so I went over to check it out and was stuck by a dire message stating that my OS isn’t supported, which means that Tabletopia will be a PC/Mac-only site for gaming. Not a big deal, but the more I thought about this the more I began to wonder why we aren’t talking about some of those board game sites out there that do support the iPad, allowing you to play all sorts of board games without ever having to visit the App Store.

The game I want to cover today–and I’d love to cover more, if you guys think its a good idea–is Vlaada Chvátil’s masterpiece, Through the Ages, which is getting its own native app later this year from the big brains at Czech Games Edition. Don’t think you have to wait until late 2015 to build your civilization, however. If you don’t mind going against human opponents instead of an AI, you can play Through the Ages right in iOS Safari for the cost of $0.

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Bring out your dead: First look at Infection: Humanity’s Last Gasp

Red is good, right?

Red is good, right?

When we think of HexWar, we don’t usually think of board games. Sure, they’ve ported some war games from their cardboard origins to the digital realm, but war games are in their wheelhouse. This June, they’re spreading their wings a bit and heading into unfamiliar waters, porting a traditional board game to the digital realm. The game in question is Infection: Humanity’s Last Gasp from Victory Point Games.

Infection: Humanity’s Last Gasp’s plot is similar to the excellent Pandemic: save humanity from a modern plague. Unlike Pandemic, which has you traversing the globe and fighting disease in the trenches, Infection puts you in the lab, fighting the disease on the molecular level. I’ve gotten my latex covered hand on a preview build of Infection and, from what I’ve seen thus far, we’re all in for a treat.

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