So runs Bartertown: This Is Not a Test patching iPad play, going freemium

Wow, an analog watch? This must be the end of the world.

Wow, an analog watch? This must be the end of the world.

Owen first mentioned doomsday gamebook This Is Not a Test just over a year ago, making special note of its zombie-free end of the world, Sorcery!-like blend of RPG elements with branching story paths, and its trailer’s, hmmm, questionable music. The thing looks–and plays, possibly–like it was pulled straight out of an old EC Comics horror title, enough that I’m close to breaking a self-imposed ban on Crypt Keeper puns.

Now, in the harsh light of the new world’s brutal economy of blood–wait, sorry, it’s just the App Store–developer Robot Monster Productions are changing This Is Not a Test’s pricing from upfront payments to free, with an in-app purchase to unlock the “premium” upgrade.

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Recreate the magic : Magic 2015 getting new pricing scheme

Not to mention, awe.

Not to mention, awe.

Magic 2015 launched earlier this year for iPad and Android and was hailed as pretty much just like last year’s version. Pretty much. One thing that changed was the ability to finally build open decks as well as a new pricing scheme that turned out wasn’t very user friendly. Turns out that not only did you need to pay to unlock the full game, but then you couldn’t get all the cards without shelling out more money. Turns out some of the best cards were locked in premium booster packs that could only be gotten through IAP.

On November 5th that should change. Wizards of the Coast is pushing through a new update to the game that will make it possible to get every card in the game without having to spend extra money on those boosters. I doubt they’ll be easy to get, but if you want to save your $2 a crack, grinding might be a better option. What if you’ve already dropped a ton of cash into the game to get those fancy cards? Wizards will make it up to you, somehow.

That’s not all. Also releasing on November 5th is an expansion called Garruk’s Revenge which add a new campaign as well as a new set of cards.

Trailer after the break.

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1.13, the number of the beasts: Major patch for monster-bumping Auro

Story of my life, kid.

Story of my life, kid.

You’d think with all the digital ink we spilled over action-puzzle darling Hoplite, we’d have weighed in more definitively on Auro, Keith Burgun’s latest. Like Hoplite, Auro looks to be similarly focused on movement as the primary means of engaging enemies, with an aesthetic that’s equal parts weird fantasy and board game. Again, though, without an official spin through the Pocket Tactics Review and Candyfloss Centrifuge we’re not necessarily the ones to say.

You can lay part of the blame for that missing verdict on the fact that Auro still isn’t available on iOS, and part on the fact that, perhaps, a definitive version of the game hasn’t existed until recently. The version 1.13 patch is one of those great, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink patches which hazards to completely tear down a game in attempt to better highlight some core experience. Replacement of main abilities, matchmaking tweaks, all the way down to modification of AI movement code to remove randomness.

Regardless of whether or not you’re already playing Auro, or plan on it, you should check out Burgun’s detailed explanation for these recent changes on the Dinofarm Games blog. His breakdown is equal parts patch notes and design philosophy, and in describing not just what changes were made, but how those changes serve to make Auro more coherent, Burgun does an excellent job of communicating just what the game’s, like, about, man.

Here’s hoping Auro will make the jump to iOS soon. In the meantime: video after the jump.

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Winter (war) is coming: Battle Academy 2 storms the iPad

Stukas and stones...

Stukas and stones…

Remember Battle Academy? It was released so long ago that Owen’s 5-star review had a blurry front page photo and didn’t actually include any stars. It was, truly, the first great war game ever ported to the iPad and proved the medium could function as more than a platform for slightly larger and angrier birds. Times are different. We have loads of great wargames on our iPads nowadays but, more importantly, Owen would, quite literally, kill us if we posted an article with a blurry, low-res photo like the olden days. Just thinking about his reaction to such a thing gives me shivers.

This Thursday we’ll get to see if Slitherine can match the greatness of Battle Academy when the aptly named Battle Academy 2 rolls out onto iPad. Battle Academy 2 contains more than 30 missions and 4 single player campaigns all along the Eastern Front. The game features more than 130 different units and offers multiplayer both in a head-to-head as well as a new cooperative mode.

Battle Academy 2 has been available on Steam for about a month and it rocking it in the review category. Considering that the iPad verison of BA1 was a direct port, we can expect the same for BA2, which means we’ll be getting the same great gameplay the PC users are already getting.

Trailer after the break.

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Natural election: Election Manager 2016 coming to iOS

It looks like WOPR is hitting New England again.

It looks like WOPR is hitting New England again.

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.

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And so it grues : Zork-like interactive fiction, Hadean Lands due on iOS

Where is the small mailbox?

Where is the small mailbox?

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.

Kickstarter video after the break.

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Better than a jazz odyssey? : Outcast Odyssey is new, different CCG

I don't know who or what a Bovak is, but it's getting its ass kicked

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.

Outcast Odyssey is available for both iOS Universal and Android. Trailer after the break.

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Of course you realize… : War and Battles coming in November

You magnificent bastard, I read your book!

You magnificent bastard, I read your book!

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.

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