Posts Tagged: Multiplayer

Editors’ Choice Game of the Year 2014 Runner-up: Hearthstone

Your high school cafeteria lunch table Magic game was never this attractive.

Your high school cafeteria lunch table Magic game was never this attractive.

When Blizzard first announced Hearthstone back in March of 2013 my heart sank. I didn’t want another collectible card game—aka: money pit—released for iPad? Why weren’t they bringing games like Diablo or World of Warcraft to the mobile space? Then they released Hearthstone and it wasn’t just a great card game, it also became a sensation boasting 20 million users and so many gamers streaming it on Twitch that it is now the 2nd most-watched game only losing out to League of Legends.

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Ask the Askaras: Here’s Justin Gary’s favorite set to play Ascension: Realms Unraveled with

So many cards it's like Justin Bieber's in the hospital.

So many cards it’s like Justin Bieber’s in the hospital.

Now that Realms Unraveled is out for Ascension, there’s different seven core sets you can choose to play with, plus a mess of promo packs. I did the math, and there’s now three digital Ascension cards for every man, woman, and dog on the planet. If we actually printed all of these cards out, the Earth would collapse under its weight and become a black hole, which would be pretty cool for Interstellar cosplay, I guess.

Clearly, playing with every single set is only good for the occasional lark or if you want to drive an OCD friend to insanity, but which sets should you be playing with? I decided to take this question straight to the source: Ascension designer Justin Gary.

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Creator of the Year 2014 Runner-up: Czech Games Edition

Make something great out of all these random parts.

Make something great out of all these random parts.

Making a good board game port is hard — just ask the developers of Manhattan Project, Quarriors, or Mr. Ludo. It might seem as though translating a board game to digital saves you a lot of work. After all, the game design portion of the job is done, and in many cases you’ve got your art sorted as well.

But board gamers are a picky clique, and the increased expectations that come with developing a popular existing property might just wipe out the cost savings. When Czech Games Edition told us that they were developing Galaxy Trucker as a digital app in-house, with no institutional experience of video game development to aid them, we gave them our most sincere smile of encouragement and then started cracking jokes as soon as they were out of earshot.

First-time dev? Famously intricate game with tricky real-time elements? It was never gonna work. And then it did.

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Things fall apart: Ascension’s Realms Unraveled arrives on iOS & Android

The Canon Templar does not approve of your Lifebound-Mechana shipping.

The Canon Templar does not approve of your Lifebound-Mechana shipping.

In the wee small hours of the morning, Playdek dropped another expansion on us. Realms Unraveled is a highly respected box for Ascension, the durable deck-building card game that would almost certainly be elected the official pastime of Pocket Tactics if we ever put that to a vote. The expansion is available as a single $2.99 purchase within the Ascension app, and it’s on both iOS and on the recently-launched Android port.

With the release of Realms Unraveled, digital Ascension has now achieved parity with the tabletop version. Ever since Playdek and game designers Stone Blade put aside their differences earlier this year the duo have been cranking out card sets; after Rise of Vigil and Darkness Unleashed, RU is the third expansion to get digitised this year.

For those somehow still unfamiliar with Ascension, stop reading this and go play the tutorial already. There simply aren’t any hobby card games that are easier to get into, and certainly none whatsoever that are so well-supported by mobile apps.

For Void-weathered Ascension heads, this expansion introduces multi-faction heroes that play with the Unite and Transform mechanics from earlier boxes. I’m still wrapping my head around it but I’ve enjoyed my couple of online matches already. Ascension artist Eric Sabee is also at the very top of his game with this set. Make sure you read my interview with him from earlier this year if you want to understand how Ascension’s one-of-kind card art comes into being.

Board/Card Game of the Year 2014

Supermassive.

Supermassive.

Making a quality board game port is a tall order. Especially when you’re a rookie developer. Especially when your game relies so heavily on its tactility and frantic pace. Czech Games Edition’s announcement that the company would venture from the realm of cardboard into the murky waters of iOS would have rightly raised a few skeptical eyebrows. It should have brought out the doomsayers. Instead, it resulted in one of the best adaptions of all time.

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Out Tonight: Pre-Civilization Marble Age (??), Pentaction, Galcon 2, and more

What's all this then?

Ah, yes: the Marble Age. The swords were terrible, let me tell you.

Owen here, temporarily taking back the Out Tonight reins from Neumann. Oh man. I’d forgotten what it was like here in the Pocket Tactics New Release Observatory high atop Mount Hexmap. Cold and airy. A light breeze smelling faintly of freshly rezzed cyberspace. The whole infinite sweep of the App Store stretching out before you for miles and miles. It’s bracing. Stimulating! I notice that the web browsing history has a strangely significant number of searches for sexy pin-up pictures of Vlaada Chvatil. I should probably talk to Neumann about that.

Anyway, let’s have a look at the new releases tonight, shall we? This is the penultimate batch of new games we’ll see in 2014, as the App Store’s game-extruding orifices will all shut next week for Christmas. We’ll have a slew of games coming in at the very last minute on Friday, but let’s look at the ones landing tonight for right now.

Trailers and chat after the jump.

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Tell your friends, Tel Aviv: Wars & Battles October War exclusive first look

(Proxy) wars & battles.

(Proxy) wars & battles.

Longtime readers will know that under-explored wargame themes are the surest way to float my particular boat, and Kermorio have just sent me some screenshots that have my boat buoyancy set to “hovercraft”.

When iPad operational wargame Wars & Battles materialised on the App Store last month, it came with a stack of Normandy-based WWII scenarios that I found to be exceedingly good. French devs Kermorio have promised that the Wars & Battles app will be more than just one wargame, it’ll be a never-ending dispenser of wargames featuring everything  from ancient Greek phalanx hoplites to No-Doz snorting, Maxim-reading F-16 fighter jocks.

In my review of the game I was wholly positive about everything but this promise, which seems entirely too ambitious to me. But I would love nothing more than to be proved wrong on that front, and Kermorio will take the first stab at that with October War, a new batch of DLC scenarios for Wars & Battles that’s coming soon.

Set during the Arab-Israeli war of 1973 (and commonly known as the Yom Kippur War), this scenario is probably a good first experiment with which to flex Kermorio’s WWII combat model: warfare in 1973 is obviously distinct from warfare in 1944, but it’s trivially different compared to some of the eras Kermorio plans to support. I’ll be very curious to see how Kermorio balances some of the obvious changes: line-of-sight increases, over-the-horizon weapons, and a much more evenly-matched air war. October War is due out “in a couple of months”, and the Android release of the game is set for February of 2015.

In the meantime, Kermorio have sent us a deluge of screenshots to pore over. After the jump ten (10!) images from the forthcoming expansion, which Kermorio took pains to remind me is still very much a work in progress, so reserve judgement on the accuracy of the BMP camouflage schemes. Read my review from November, too.

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