Posts Categorised: Features

Out There’s away team: A Galactic Keep Dice Battles hands-on preview

It bleeds. You can kill it.

It bleeds. You can kill it.

Something moves in the darkness at the end of this tunnel. It is too far away to see what, exactly. But you know that it is not Balkyn Gray, because Balkyn Gray’s corpse is what you have been sent here to retrieve.

More likely it’s the thing that killed him, a tonelit fox. The poison rounds from Balkyn’s reouge rifle will have weakened the monster, but it sure won’t be any friendlier, and the knife-sharp bone crests protruding from its arms won’t be any softer.

Check your inventory. Your bio-stun rod, good for getting the drop on organics. An ancient but still-effective sabre you found in a nest of feral war shadows. Some local plants with observed medicinal properties — less than useful for you, a robot, but some of your comrades may find them valuable later. Balkyn’s Huntmaster Handbook, the constant companion of every pakall hunter. The Coalition-issued temporal relay that you’ll affix to Balkyn’s body if and when you find it, which will pull him out of this reality and reassemble him… somewhere else.

There’s a passage off to the right, one that looks like it was shored up for use by sentients. Maybe there’s something in there you could scrounge to help you fight the tonelit. Of course, if there’s no other way out of that passage and the tonelit decides to wander over this way, you’ll be trapped in there with it. And maybe someone else will have to come down here to slap a relay onto your unmoving shell.

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Racing slick: Our warm-up lap with Motorsport Manager (which is in App Store approvals right now)

Right on the Button.

Right on the Button.

I was floored back in June by the trailer for Motorsport Manager, an iOS open-wheel racing sim that former Hello Games dev Christian West has been building by himself for the past year. It was just beautiful to look at, which isn’t something a rational person ever expects from a game of this variety.

Sports management games are such rarities that those of us who enjoy them are more than happy to accept them as cantilevered spreadsheets with a bare minimum of video game tinsel. I still remember when the big feature in a new Out of the Park Baseball game was sound effects. This was in like 2007, by the way, not during the Reagan administration.

I’ve been playing a preview build of Motorsport Manager over the weekend, and I can tell you first-hand that, yup, there’s sound effects. Generally speaking, the high-gloss presentation completely lives up to the expectations set by the trailer. But let’s see what else is in there.

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Field Marshal Owen’s Guide to Commander: The Great War (for Noobs)

Home by Christmas, they said.

Home by Christmas, they said.

So you’ve decided that you’re not waiting for my review, and now you’re embedded into the couch, a cold drink within arm’s reach, and the recently released iPad edition Commander: The Great War loaded up. Good choice. I’m terribly fond of this game, and non-wargamers need not be intimidated by it.

Commander is a turn-based, grand strategy-level wargame based on the First World War. It is an admirable attempt to do justice to an enormously complex, globe-spanning war — so while not a terribly complex game, it still has a number of different levers one must learn to operate to get the most from it. Your experience might also suffer from the fact that World War I has been completely eclipsed as a topic of popular understanding (and as a subject of wargames!) by its successor. Going into Commander without a working knowledge of the historical context is a handicap you don’t need to suffer. Owen’s got your back, baby.

So with this guide, I’m going to attempt to give you a quick grounding in how to get started with Commander. I’ll also try to color in enough of the history so that you feel the weight of what you’re trying to do.

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Missing in action: Where are Blood Bowl and Star Realms?

It's a punt.

It’s a punt.

It’s come to my attention that some of you are performing a dark cabalistic ritual to summon the mysteriously delayed mobile edition of Blood Bowl. STOP. You are performing the wrong dark cabalistic ritual. I know you meant well, but you appear to have summoned this Kim Kardashian game into existence instead. Also the Jonas Brothers have been crashing on my couch for the last three days. You’re not allowed to watch E! while invoking the occult anymore.

Instead of beseeching the dark powers for aid, I sent around inquiries to see what the holdup is on high-fantasy football game Blood Bowl (announced for “early July” a few weeks ago) and on the iOS version of sci-fi deck-building card game Star Realms (which was meant to be here around July 4th).

Details of what I uncovered after the jump. But fair warning: none of it is particularly good news.

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“Ownership is becoming obsolete”: LEX goes free for a day, open sources code forever

"Ownership is dying, as it should since it's a dinosaur."

“Ownership is dying, as it should since it’s a dinosaur.”

Mere days after Asher Vollmer and Greg Wohlwend’s compulsively playable puzzler Threes came out earlier this year, clones of the game started to appear. Games like 2048 were unabashedly riding the coattails of Threes’ rush of popularity, and themselves spawned a secondary wave of clone clones. Here at PT we made a conscious decision at the time not to cover 2048 and the imitators that joined it in mimicking Threes’ design.

Wohlwend and Vollmer (who had had their games cloned before), bemused by 2048, reacted by posting an open letter that showed the year of work that had gone into Threes and decried the ease with which the clones earned a profit off of their sweat. Reactions online ranged from full-throated support for Wohlwend and Vollmer to dismissive “that’s capitalism” defences of the clones.

Kurt Bieg of Simple Machine has decided to wade into this debate. Actually, he’s not wading — he’s diving in head-first, and throwing his co-workers in, too. Bieg is open-sourcing all of his studio’s games, starting with word game LEX. “We believe ownership is becoming obsolete,” Bieg told me. And if you’re surprised by that sentiment, he was just getting warmed up.

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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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