Crack of dawn: Ascension gets Dawn of Champions expansion

And yet, she still loves a good cheeseburger every now and then.

And yet, she still loves a good cheeseburger every now and then.

I’ve been hiding this for years, but it’s time my shocking lack of knowledge about Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer becomes public knowledge. Today Playdek released the latest expansion for Ascension, Dawn of Champions, and I have no idea what’s going on anymore.

Dawn of Champions introduces the concept of, um, Champions. These are faction leaders that give you special cards and powers or something. See what I mean, I’m totally out of my comfort zone here. I loaded up Ascension today after not playing in a great many months, and was utterly clueless. You do get a Champion who gives you powers–I had the Lifebound Champion, Nairi–which completely changes the game from what I was used to. If you’ve played Ascension in the past, it won’t surprise you to learn that my little experiment turned into an entire afternoon of “figuring it out”, or at least that’s what I told my kids. Daddy’s not playing video games in the afternoon, kids, he’s working!

In other Ascension news, iOS backers of the Ascension Online Kickstarter will be happy to know that Stone Blade and Playdek have announced that all backer rewards are now unlocked. If you were an iOS backer of their Kickstarter, you should be able to unlock all the expansions you’re eligible for, depending on your pledge level.

If you’re an old hand at Ascension, go check out the IAP and download this now. If you’ve not played with Ascension before, go and pick it up for free for either iOS Universal or Android. It’s still one of the better card games out there on the App Store.

After the break, the inimitable W. Eric Martin from Board Game Geek breaks down the cardboard version of Dawn of Champions.

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Review: Don’t Starve

Been playing two weeks and still don't know what Evil Flowers do.

Been playing two weeks and still don’t know what Evil Flowers do.

After playing Don’t Starve for over a week now, I can definitely say that its title is something of a misnomer. If Klei Entertainment had wanted to be honest, they should have named it Don’t Get Stampeded By a Beefalo or Eaten by Spiders or Hang Out With Pigs During a Full Moon or Forget to Light a Fire at Night or Piss Off Bees or Chop Too Many Trees or Fight With Hounds or Build Things Close Together Without a Lightning Rod oh, and Remember to Eat. I can see where marketing might have put up a fuss, but in the end Don’t Starve as a title doesn’t capture everything. In fact, learning how to not starve is one of the earliest tricks you’ll figure out.

And there are a lot of tricks to figure out. That’s what Don’t Starve really is, a sandbox with toys that you’ve never seen before and need to piece together. Into what? You don’t know. Just see what works. It’s a game of trial and error and death–lots and lots of death–that makes you want to start all over again with the new knowledge you just gained. It’s all kinds of brilliant.

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In space, no one can hear you steam: Space Food Truck coming to mobile

Can we all just be thankful that the chef isn't Neelix.

Can we all just be thankful that the chef isn’t Neelix.

We received the press release for Space Food Truck a few weeks ago and were instantly smitten. First of all, it’s from One Man Left, creators of the magnificent, yet unloved, Outwitters. The fact that it is an original board game and deals with two of my favorite things, food and space, were just icing on the cake, so to speak. Then, we really read the press release and noticed that Space Food Truck was only being developed for PC and Mac. Many tears were shed, but we forged ahead and put SFT behind us.

Yesterday, One Man Left announced via a Kickstarter update that both iOS and Android are now on the agenda which is awesome. The only problem is, the Kickstarter is nearly $30K short with only 15 days to go.

Space Food Truck is a cooperative game in which up to four players will each control a different member of the SFT’s crew. There’s Captain, Chef, Scientist, and Engineer and each have their own deck of cards which you’ll build up with new cards as the game progresses. Your goal is to search for ingredients from over 100 different planets, create a dish, and deliver it to the planet that demands it, all before your ship blows up. It’s all done tongue-in-cheek, and it looks much, much cooler than I just made it sound.

The game can be played solo, with you controlling multiple characters, or can be played via pass-and-play or online with up to three other players, each controlling one of the roles. They’re expecting to have the game out for PC/Mac later this year, with the iOS and Android version shortly thereafter.

Head on over to the Kickstarter and check out the campaign. After the break is an alpha gameplay trailer that will give you a good overview of how the game will play.

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Steel away the night: Legions of Steel arrives on tablets

Not shown: how to use cover

Not shown: how to use cover

Slitherine has released a digital version of Legions of Steel today for iPad. It’s hard to not compare miniature-based, tactical sci-fi games to the Games Workshop classic, Space Hulk, and Legions of Steel isn’t helping any. On the surface, the similarities are striking: small group of elite soldiers enter a labyrinthine base and wipe out a threat to humanity. If this had Space Marines and genestealers instead of Commandos and killer robots, you might think Slitherine has produced a new game in the Space Hulk universe. Slitherine assures us, however, that the similarities are only on the surface.

Legions of Steel pits two teams against each other. One controls the human Commando units and the other controls the Empire of Machines. Unlike Space Hulk, however, there’s a one shot = one kill system which makes the games faster and more tactical. Also, most units are ranged and you can shoot over units or use the game’s unique cover system. There are two single player campaigns in the game (so, I assume, you can play through the campaign as either side) as well as online multiplayer. The game is fully turn-based, so online multiplayer is done asynchronously via Slitherine’s PBEM system. You can play the game normally, or with the Electronic Warfare System turned on. This mode features real lighting so you can only see what your soldiers or radar sees.

Legions of Steel is available now for iPad and should be hitting Android tablets soon. You can nab it for $10 on the App Store. Check out the release trailer after the break. You’ll notice that your soldiers move a hell of a lot faster than the Marines in Space Hulk, so that’s a plus.

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Sunday Almanac: Deathwatch Talking Points Edition

A modern-day warrior, mean mean stride

A modern-day warrior, mean mean stride

I’ve been playing a lot of Deathwatch: Tyranid Invasion. My iPad has grown accustomed to fairly light duty over the past couple of months, running catch-up episodes of True Detective plus the occasional bout of You Must Build A Boat. Deathwatch’s fancy 3D environments push the device a lot harder — I’ve started hearing a tiny sigh of resignation coming from the speaker when I pick it up.

So yes — lots of Deathwatch around here. Enough that the original draft of Friday’s review was about twice as long as the published product. After the jump, eight more collected thoughts about Rodeo’s latest opus: four more things that I love and four things that I don’t love about the year’s best game so far.

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Review: Deathwatch: Tyranid Invasion

Brothers til the end. Unless I get dealt a rarer model.

Brothers til the end. Unless I get dealt a rarer model.

The term “old-school” must be exhausted. It’s dragged onto App Store and Steam listings to describe such a vast spectrum of games that it’s all but meaningless now, like “terrorism” and “literally”. So I’m going to do something foolish and attempt to make old-school useful again.

Let’s suppose that the defining characteristic of the current “school” of gaming is procedural generation — the random algorithmic assembly of limitless worlds that makes Minecraft Minecraft and what causes that sharp intake of breath when you see infinity in the trailer for No Man’s Sky.

Deathwatch: Tyranid Invasion might be the most cutting edge game on mobile (it’s one of the first to make use of Unreal Engine 4) but it rejects that new-school thinking completely. There’s no trace of algorithms here. It drops you into a world full of stuff (over 150 different pieces of loot, 40 unique Space Marines, and 40 levels) where every individual element has been made by hand. This game is old-school the way Swiss watches and sand mandalas are — thoughtful, intricate and head-shakingly beautiful.

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Sign-up and deliver: Martin Wallace’s Steam enters beta

She'll be coming round the mountain--unless she wants to go over them instead and pay a lot of money--when she comes.

She’ll be coming round the mountain–unless she wants to go over them instead and pay a lot of money–when she comes.

While 2015 has, so far, been largely bereft of major digital board game releases–Splendor being the exception–it still has the potential of being one of the best years ever. What we’re lacking in volume, we’re more than making up for with heavy, well-regarded euros. Not only is the #1 game on BGG, Twilight Struggle, coming this year. But other top twenty games like Through the Ages and Brass are coming as well. While Martin Wallace’s pick-up and deliver masterpiece, Steam, doesn’t hold that lofty of a position–it’s currently at 51–it should. It’s an absolute classic and the fact that it’s coming to iOS and Android later this year has me just as excited as any other title.

We’re a step closer to seeing Steam on our tablets, as the closed beta test is just getting underway. If you’re feeling helpful, you can head over to the developer’s beta page and sign up. There’s no word on when the closed beta will actually begin, but we have been told that Steam is still on course for a Q3 release.

We still don’t have any videos of Steam in motion, so after the break you can watch Tom Vasel tell you why Steam is so great.

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Dark wings, dark words: Telltale’s Game of Thrones episode 5 incoming

It's the pits

It’s the pits

If you’re at all familiar with the HBO series based on Game of Thrones, you’ll know that the penultimate episode is generally when the proverbial poop hits the proverbial fan. Not to spoil anything, but it’s always been the second to last episode of each season–except this latest season, strangely–in which the body count rises and actors whose names are in the opening credits leave the show. Telltale Games has just reached the same point with their adventure series based on Game of Thrones, so I’m guessing this is where everything goes pear shaped.

Yesterday, Telltale games announced that Episode 5, A Nest of Vipers, would be coming to iOS/Android next Thursday. As is their wont, they also released a trailer and spit out some new screens. As usual, these trailers can spoil quite a bit, so be warned if you aren’t fully caught up on what’s going on.

You can pick up episode one for iOS Universal or Android for $5, with each additional episode popping up as $5 IAP. Check out the new trailer after the break.

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