I’m sure I’m not completely alone when I lay out my distaste for politics. Or, I guess I should qualify that as distaste for politicians. Politics, and elections in general, can be full of strategy and nuance that isn’t apparent when you’re watching TV and some jackanapes is trying to convince you their opponent is an incompetent clown. It’s not surprising that there have been many games focusing on the election process from the epic German election board game, Die Macher, to lighter iOS fare like Campaign Manager.
Continuing in this vein is Election Manager 2016 from Lensflare, the same team behind Tactical Space Command. Unlike most campaign games that hit the market every 4 years, EM2016 doesn’t focus on a single, historical campaign. Instead EM2016 is a sandbox that will let you run any 2-4 candidate election for President of the US. You can run with Democrats and Republicans or mix it up and include only independent tickets.
EM2016 will allow control over many core aspects of the campaign: advertising, fundraising, polling and more. It will have a single player mode, or you can play the game multiplayer via pass-and-play.
EM2016 should be arriving by the first Tuesday of November for iOS Universal and Mac but, even if they miss that date, November is a lock.
Check out more screens of Election Manager 2016 after the break.
I’ve reviewed a lot of interactive fiction here at Pocket Tactics. We’re talking tons. Maybe more than I should have? Maybe not enough? At the end of the day, however, I’ve never played interactive fiction like Hadean Lands before. That’s not totally true. I remember playing games much like Hadean Lands between cutting notches in my floppy disks, but I haven’t played games like this on an iOS device.
Hadean Lands tells the story of a lone survivor of a crashed starship who also happens to be an alchemist. It’s like peanut butter and chocolate from where I’m sitting. Instead of the choose-your-own-adventure style of IF you may be used to, Hadean Lands goes the route of games like Zork and other Infocom classics of yesteryear. You are given an environment usually littered with tools and items you can interact with and then you tell the game what you want to do. We used to call these “text adventures” and solving puzzles while “talking” to your PC was as close to solo D&D as a pimply 13 year-old could have hoped for.
The man behind Hadean Lands is Andrew Plotkin who’s no stranger to this type of thing. He’s written several other award-winning interactive text adventures such as Shade and The Dreamhold, as well as being a major force in keeping interactive fiction relevant today. Oh, and he’s also the guy responsible for creating an entire genre of game with Werewolf.
Hadean Lands successfully Kickstarted nearly 4 years ago, but was just submitted to the App Store and should be arriving on October 30.
I don’t know who or what a Bovak is, but it’s getting its ass kicked
Yes, I still play Hearthstone. No, I don’t expect to start playing another CCG on my iPad anytime soon. That said, Outcast Odyssey from Bandai Namco was just released and it looks to offer something a little different than your average CCG. It looks like a role-playing game.
On the outside, it looks like your standard digital CCG: free to play with IAP to buy more cards, but when you watch the video it looks bonkers. You explore dungeons and other maps and conflict is handled with card play. Not like Naxxramas where you’re facing creatures with their own decks, this looks like you’re actually attacking the monsters with your cards. Or something. I don’t know what I’m looking at. My eyes!
It’s not just the gameplay that looks different, though. There’s a lengthy single-player campaign as well as competitive online multiplayer, but there is also the ability to form guilds and trade cards with your friends which is nice considering that there are over 600 cards in this initial set.
When we last talked about the ambitious war game, War and Battles, we were discussing the failure of their Kickstarter campaign. At that point in time, War and Battles looked dead and buried, but somehow, it managed to survive and will be submitted to the App Store next month.
War and Battles itself is merely a portal, a means to get wargames to you. It will release with the Battle of Normandy, but is flexible enough that other battles from other eras can be plugged into it. It’s like a war game console for your iPad. For example, in 2015 they plan to release the 1973 October War as well as the 1805 Battle of Austerlitz, Gettysburg, the Korean War, and more. Pricing isn’t completely set but you will be able to buy the War and Battles portal for a fixed price. This will allow you to launch any future modules they release and play about 1/3 of them and, if you want more, unlock the full campaign via IAP.
The first battle, Normandy, runs from D-Day to the Falaise Pocket and consists of over 300 different units, 9 types of terrain, and over 30 scenarios. They aren’t messing around, it seems. The game will include a single player mode vs. AI as well as online asynchronous multiplayer which will be cross-platform with the PC/Mac and Android version that’s planned for release in the future.
Check after the break for exclusive videos of War and Battles in action.
It was just over one year ago that Harebrained Schemes successfully reached and surpassed a $500,000 funding target for their ambitious, app-driven miniatures game Golem Arcana. While normally this wouldn’t be cause for any special alarm, Arcana stands out because A) it’s actually playable, now, with a box and everything, unlike far too many other ostensible KS successes, and B) the game is set for further scenario expansions which promise to deliver on the much-touted notion of a “living” Golem Arcana world.
Owen gave us a breakdown of how Arcana’s meant to work back when the Kickstarter went live. To recap: it’s an army-building game about big ol’ magic war machines (real figurines on a physical battle map) piloted by mages with special buffs (that exist only on the companion app), which aims to cut down on laborious in-game math-crunching and rules checks while still preserving what makes tabletop gaming special–pained expressions and an eventual attempt to flip the gaming table, basically.
In a recent blog post the team discuss rolling out new scenarios based on the outcomes of games played at GenCon. The goal, it seems, is to offer players choices during battles which can affect Arcana lore, not just the results of any one battle–though you’re right to be skeptical if hand-crafted scenarios based on a few specific matches isn’t quite as dynamic as the “Living World” pitch suggests. (Harebrained admits these scenarios are an “Alpha” for what one hopes is a greatly expanded system.) Still, even thinking about this sort of player-generated expansion–for a tabletop game–is tenable only because of the heavy-lifting that app is doing. For more on mixed-media board games, check out Neumann’s thoughts on the upcoming XCOM and Alchemists.
The Golem Arcana app is free on iOS and Android, naturally, with the base game running for $80 via the Harebrained Schemes store. Video after the break about 60/40 on “complicated story setup” vs. “how the game actually looks and plays”.
Cosmic Encounter is a board game from 1977 that has been republished and recreated many times in the past 35 years. It’s truly one of the most influential board games ever made, introducing mechanisms like individual player powers, free-form negotiation and the concept of expansions. Lots and lots of expansions. Of all the games I wouldn’t think would transfer well to a digital version, Cosmic Encounter is near the top due to the fact that the entire game involves talking, bluffing, and the making and breaking of deals. It just wouldn’t work without the face-to-face element.
Apparently the designers agree, but they’ve come up with a clever way to still get Cosmic onto an iPad. It’s called Cosmic Encounter Connector and consists of apps that will allow you to use real-time voice chat with the other players as well as all the bits you’ll find inside the current Fantasy Flight Games version of Cosmic Encounter. From what I can tell, it appears to be more of a sandbox that will allow you to play Cosmic Encounter with all the pieces you’d normally play with. It’s like VASSAL for iPad, only with voice chat and focusing on one title.
While the app isn’t backed by Fantasy Flight at all, it appears that they will allow all the art and bits from their version to be used in the app and they’re even talking about using the Connector system to port other Fantasy Flight titles to the system.
Cosmic Encounter Connector is currently on Kickstarter. They’re looking for $128K and are only at about $2.5K now, but they still have 29 days to fund. The initial goal of $128K includes iPad support, but there are stretch goals for other platforms as well as including different expansions and player-created content.
If you’re a Cosmic Encounter fan, you need to check the Kickstarter out. If you’ve never played before, check it out and realize what this could mean for board gaming in the future.
Houses and hotels totally not copied from Monopoly
If you follow board games at all, you’ll know that this week is Spiel’14 which is an annual convention that takes place in Essen, Germany. It’s the largest board game event in the world, and every year thousands of new games are released there. One of the publishers there, Aporta Games, just released a board game called Doodle City. How do I know this? Because they also released a digital version of the game and the app has no qualms about constantly reminding you of its cardboard cousin’s release. It’s a bit obnoxious, but doesn’t ruin what ends up being a pretty decent board game conversion.
Doddle City gives each player a grid that has symbols for hotels, shops, taxi stand and houses on it. Your job is connect these icons by drawing roads on the grid, but you’re limited to where you can draw based on dice rolls. As you connect icons, you will gain points based on what your roads connect. It’s actually quite a fun little puzzle game, but it’s also what we would call “multiplayer solitaire”. There’s no real interaction between players at all. None. Sure, everyone works off the same die roll, but that’s about it. As such, the game has no AI. You can play solo or multiplayer via pass-and-play or online asynchronous. Normally, I’d crush a non-cooperative game that didn’t have AI, but Doodle City doesn’t suffer from it. It works great as a solo puzzle game. Maybe even better than multiplayer, to be honest.
Doodle City is a fun little game and you can pick it up for free through October 20th. Trailer after the break.
One of the most anticipated titles announced at Gen Con was Obsidian Entertainment porting over Paizo‘s card-based RPG, Pathfinder Adventure Card Game. Since the announcement, however, things have been dark on the Pathfinder front. In fact, we didn’t even have any official screenshots, just some pictures of the game on a monitor. Yesterday the darkness began to fade away when I spoke with Shane DeFreest and Nathan Davis of Obsidian Entertainment.