Dark matters: Darkness Unleashed expansion arrives for Ascension

Hello, old friend.

Hello, old friend.

Last night, under cover of darkness (zing!), Playdek released yet another full expansion for Ascension, this one called Darkness Unleashed. Much how Rise of Vigil introduced Energy Shards and treasures to the game, this one introduces Dark Energy Shards which, apart from the effect an Energy Shard would have, also allow you to banish cards from your discard pile. It also introduces the Transform mechanism, which allows Heroes and Constructs to evolve into a different, more powerful card. It’s a similar effect to your first coffee in the morning.

It was just over 2 months ago when we discovered that Playdek and Stone Blade Entertainment had decided to not part ways, but instead keep Playdek in the developer’s driver seat regarding Ascension. Since then, they released the well-received expansion Rise of Vigil and manged to release Ascension for Android devices. Not bad for an app that, just a couple of months ago, we weren’t sure would still exist after 2014.

Like all of Ascension’s expansions, this one can be played standalone or mixed and matched with the other sets. On top of all that, it also features a bunch of great new artwork by Eric Sabee, whom Owen talked to at length a couple of weeks ago. At this point, Playdek’s digital Ascension has almost caught up to the tabletop version: there’s only one expansion set available in cardboard that isn’t in the app yet.

The expansion pack is available as IAP for $3 right now on both iOS Universal and Android devices. More screenshots after the break. Continue reading…

Block party: Noodlecake puzzler Joinz hits the App Store

Even E.T. plays it!

Even E.T. plays it!

If there’s one thing the App Store is lacking, it’s solid single-player puzzle games. Seriously, sit back and think about it. Are there any out there? I know I can’t think of one.

Noodlecake Games, makers of PT-favorite time-waster Super Stickman Golf, is putting a stop to this travesty today with the release of new endless puzzler, Joinz. In Joinz players have to form Tetris-style shapes from blocks on a grid. Blocks can be slid in a line to form shapes, which removes those blocks from the board. Every time you move a block and don’t create one of the shapes, however, new blocks enter the puzzle. Eventually, new colors are added, shapes get more complicated and the difficulty skyrockets.

Even if that description doesn’t trip your trigger, try this on for size: it’s $2 with no IAP or ads. That should be worthy of your attention at the very least.

Check out the trailer after the break.

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Robo-stop: Android Netrunner online tools going offline — is the mobile version imminent?

Break the ice.

Break the ice.

PT reader Grzegorz writes:

FFG has been lately issuing cease and desist letters to a number of Android: Netrunner sites. Maybe an online version is being made by FFG after all?

Hmmm. Online tools for setting up and playing games of Android Netrunner like NetrunnerDB have been allowed to exist in an intellectual property grey zone for years now, but as Grzegorz tells us, they’ve been getting letters from board game publisher Fantasy Flight’s legal department requesting that they de-rez.

We’d heard some buzz that FFG was working on a mobile version of the hugely popular cyberpunk head-to-head card game back in January when I inventoried the prospects for digital editions of Board Game Geek‘s top 10 games, and Fantasy Flight have sent out clear signals that they’re getting back into iOS gaming this year with announcements of the Witcher Adventure Board Game and BattleLore.

That’s not exactly an airtight case for it, but I’ve got a tingly feeling that mobile Netrunner can’t be far off. Maybe this is just down to Fantasy Flight’s legal droids having some extra time on their hands, but the last time we saw a clear-out of unofficial online ports of games, it was in advance of Goko’s launch of the ill-fated HTML 5 Dominion back in 2012.

I’ll ping a note over to FFG, but their PR department is quieter than a Scientology silent birth, so don’t bet on me hearing back.

Watch Fantasy Flight’s video introduction for the Netrunner board game after the jump.

UPDATE: Pocket Tactics amigo Austin Walker offers a more conservative take on these developments. Poop.

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Looks like we’ve got us a convoy: Galaxy Trucker coming to iPad this month — and it’s awesome

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It's not uncharted. You lost the chart.

It’s not uncharted. You lost the chart.

Dave was right, everybody. I shan’t ever doubt him again.

Neumann has been raving to me about Galaxy Trucker for almost as long as I’ve known him. When he speaks of the forthcoming Galaxy Trucker iPad game, his voice gets all whispery, like a little kid trying to talk about Santa without the Saint of Surveillance overhearing.

Dave’s enthusiasm is moderately infectious, but I’ll admit that (maybe because I haven’t played the board game) I wasn’t totally sold. Until last night. That’s when Dave and I got our press preview builds of Galaxy Trucker, and wow — this game is tip-top.

Galaxy Trucker for has been in the works in-house at board game publisher Czech Games Edition since at least early 2013, and the protracted development cycle mixed with a studio that had never shipped an iOS game before wasn’t exactly a potent grog of confidence. But you can pour that right out. Galaxy Trucker is a great iOS app for a really exciting game and it’s going to go over huge around here.

In Galaxy Trucker, you and your opponents are placed before a random pile of spaceship parts out of which you must assemble a functioning star freighter — in real time. You’re all pulling parts out of the same pile, and there’s a bonus for finishing first. Once the ships are complete, you head out into space dealing with random events that can blast parts off your ship or provide you with a bonus when (if) you reach your destination. It’s a beautiful balance of strategic planning and absolute chaos, and I instantly fell in love with it. For his part, Neumann has wrapped himself and his iPad in a waxy cocoon and from which no sounds have emanated all day — pretty sure he likes it, too.

It’s not just the quality of the game, as that will be no surprise to fans of the board game. The Galaxy Trucker app is great. There’s a significant single-player campaign with a lot of content. There’s a robust online multiplayer suite that sports async and synchronous matches with lots of toggles like chess timer limits and tile selection. The whole thing is steeped in a wonderfully charming sense of humour. This is one hell of a good game.

CGE told me today that the game has been submitted to Apple for approval and release is soon — before the end of September, they expect. I’ll be sure to let you know when it drops. And when Neumann comes out of that cocoon.

More screenshots after the jump.

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Review: Spymaster

Disavow all knowledge.

Disavow all knowledge.

There was a time, I’m sure, early in Spymaster’s development when it was a fun game to play. I can just see the fun down there, buried underneath all the strata of free-to-play crap that’s been layered on top of it. Somewhere in the world there is probably a game reviewer or critic who has the patience to play Spymaster long enough to dust off that fun and excavate a shortcut to it.

That game reviewer is not me. I’ve spent probably three hours in Spymaster babysitting my fragile little punnet of easily-bruised peaches that this game calls WWII spies and I’ve had more than enough, thanks. Spymaster wheedles you for cash a couple of different ways, but its primary means of poking your wallet is to randomly injure your spies mid-mission. They can be healed, it won’t surprise you to learn, with real cash money.

Spymaster is ostensibly a game about espionage in Nazi-occupied Europe like Where Eagles Dare, but in practice it’s a lot closer to Goodfellas. Spymaster gives you a bunch of characters to get attached to, then holds them for ransom. Actual ransom. With real dollars. “Wow, level 3! This spy of yours is pretty great, huh?” Spymaster says in a Joe Pesci voice. “You should give us a donation, because it would be a shame if anything happened to her, am I right?” A lot of free-to-play games are crass, but Spymaster is a bully.

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The trouble with tribulations: Rapture World Conquest is out for iOS

We cannot condone bouncing of the seventh variety.

We cannot condone bouncing of the seventh variety.

Good news and bad news, chums. Bad news: The Rapture is here. Worse news! If you’re reading this, you didn’t get beamed up. The good news, I think, is that the sudden decrease in population means that real estate prices should be falling and we can all move into bigger houses. Let the chosen ones enjoy heaven — I’ll be enjoying my 3-bedroom flat in Clerkenwell.

This fateful event was brought about the release of Rapture World Conquest onto the App Store, a Populous-meets-Galcon RTS we’ve been looking forward to all summer. You’re the patron deity of a band of people on a 3D globe, providing divine air support for their conquests of all the other peoples of the world.

I liked Rapture quite a bit when I played a preview build a couple of weeks ago, though the sight of in-app purchases gave me a moment’s pause, as I noted in that post. Developer Dan Collier wrote in to assuage my worries after I published that. “Just wanted to reassure you that it’s not going to be F2P,” said Dan. “There’s a few non-intrusive IAPs to let people buy extra gold if they wish.” So there’s some of those sigh-inducing plus signs in-game, but the devs consider them entirely optional.

Rapture World Conquest is $3 on the App Store. We’ll have it reviewed in the next week or so. Trailer follows.

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Cut (features) and deal: Crunch Time, a game dev card game

Petra Promises interned with 22 Cans last summer.

Petra Promises interned with 22 Cans last summer.

There is clearly no better way to start the week than with a game about work. Crunch Time is a card game for iPad and desktops (and a light-hearted one at that) from Spanish developer David Teruel Ledesma where your goal is to ship your game before your opponent does. You can deploy cards to sabotage your rival studio, which undercuts Crunch Time’s marketing claim about “discover[ing] how a video game is really developed”, unless there’s a hidden Spy vs Spy aspect to the games industry that’s being criminally under-reported.

It looks like it could be a lot fun — I’m going to put one of our guys on the case to review it. Watch the trailer below and check out Ledesma’s website where the industrious developer is collecting ideas for Crunch Time 2 already. I’m not sure if there’s multiplayer to this one — I’ll find out.

Update: No multiplayer, says Señor Ledesma.

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Sunday Almanac: Reader Survey data reveals shocking truth about PT readers

Here's to you lot.

Here’s to you lot.

Yes, it’s true. Pocket Tactics readers are smarter, more attractive, and uphold higher standards of personal hygiene than the average Joe or Jane. It’s been scientifically proven by the results of this year’s Reader Survey, which over a thousand of you graciously volunteered your time to fill out last week. I thought perhaps you’d enjoy seeing some of the data from it.

Fair warning: this Almanac is all naval-gazing inside-baseball tomfoolery about PT. If you don’t care (who could blame you?) then we’ll see you tomorrow for news and my review of Spymaster.

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