Twelve Games of Christmas

By Joe Robinson 03 Jan 2019 6

Ok, I’m going to level with you right away… there’s only three apps. Maybe four. I’m a sucker for a catchy title and I had made an endeavour to play more mobile games over the holiday period. It turns out I only managed to really dabble in a handful. I blame my wife.

Fun fact: The twelfth day of Christmas is January 6th, also known as the Feast of the Epiphany, Three Kings' Day or, in very ancient texts, Joe’s Birthday.

Anyway, here’s a quick summary of the mobile games that kept me entertained over the holiday period.

Plague Inc. (iOS Universal and Android)

Probably the game I spent the most time with, I actually wasn’t planning on playing this at all except a friend of mine happened to be playing it when he came to visit between Christmas and New Year. He’d downloaded the free version and convinced two of my other friends to get it, which then prompted me to bust out my game that I’d bought a couple of years ago but hadn’t played in a while.

plague inc xmas 

I seemed to have lost what little progress I had made last time I played the game seriously, so I was back to starting from scratch with me friends. We had a good time going through the various plagues, swapping strategies and knowledge… I remembered more than I thought I would, so I raced through the early plagues, getting slowed and slightly stuck only on Nano Virus and Bio Weapon. To my shame, I had to look up a guide for Bio Weapon as I just couldn’t figure out where I was going wrong. It taught me some more secrets about infection strategies that I’ll try and use on my Brutal playthroughs.

It just shows how robust Plague Inc. is, to still be interesting and playable after all these years, but I think the flaws are starting to come through. They’ve done well with their more creative or special edition plagues, but a lot of the base plagues require the same patient strategy, which detracts from the experience over-all. Still, it was a good blast from the past, and despite our significant others getting extremely annoyed at us all sitting on our phones, it was an oddly social experience.

Ticket to Ride (iOS Universal and Android) (Review)

My wife plays a lot of mobile games. A lot more than me… the problem is, she’s cheap. Like, VERY cheap, so to my shame the only games she actually ends up playing are the F2P trash that remains a blight on this industry. 

offline strategy games head 3

She has an actual process – she will binge a free game as far as she can, conserving what free premium currency she has and spending it on the most optimum things, before the game finally overtakes her with its freemium nonsense, and then she moves on. She’s played everything form Farmville, to some game about Cats and Towns. Her most recent beau is some kind of Café running game.

I’ve finally, FINALLY managed to convince her to buy an actual, bona-fide mobile game. We play a lot of physical boardgames together as a couple. Since Asmodee Digital was recently running a winter sale, she ended up picking up Ticket to Ride. We have the Nordic physical game which she enjoys, but we’ve stuck with the base USA map that the main app comes with.

It’s been great and proved a great app to bust out when there’s nothing else to do – we’ve played it in the car as we were being taken to the sea-side, we did a big five-player pass-and-play session with our friends before the left, and we even played it together in our hotel room over Christmas, both huddled in the dark and whispering as our baby daughter slept in her cot nearby.

The potential of digital board games has always been a theoretical concept for me before now, but I think Ticket to Ride has us both hooked. We’re looking for more games with pass-and-play, and I’m personally keen to avoid any we’re already got the physical version of – perhaps games we’re interested in playing but not interesting in buying for real.

Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions (iPhone|iPad & Android)

I was really excited when I saw this had gone on sale - £2.99 for a fully fledged Final Fantasy Tactics game on mobile seemed like a steal and a great game to draw out my latent mobile gamer potential. I had found memories of playing Final Fantasy Tactics Advance on my GBA, and I was very much looking forward to discovering that game again… 

Final Fantasty Tactics

… what I somehow failed to realise (do your research, folks) is that Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions is not, in fact, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. It’s a re-release of Final Fantasy Tactics, which is also not Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. Oops.

I tried not to be perturbed by this fact, but so far, I’m finding the game to be extremely clunky compared to the Advance version, so I haven’t played as much as I was planning too. Besides the basics of combat, the game doesn’t actually explain itself that well at all – I don’t know what all the choices and character options are in terms of customisations, jobs etc… I don’t know what the special abilities do half the time and rotating the map around is a real chore.

I’ve also found it’s not as friendly for drop in/drop out play as I can’t seem to save in the middle of a match, and also, an undo button would be super, super helpful, especially for movement. I’ll stick with it, but It’s not the game I’d hoped it would be so far.

Cat Lady (iOS Universal & Android)

Before my wife discovered Ticket to Ride, I tried introducing her to Cat Lady as I had it on my phone still from a previous Weekender update. She didn’t really take to it but it did lead to a conversation about other mobile board game conversions, and it wasn’t long after that she decided to dive into Ticket to Ride.

We’ve said this before – it’s a neat little card game with some tactically meaningful mechanics, but you have to really like cats for it to truly win you over. I’ll probably delete it the next time I think about it.

What games did you end up playing over the holiday period? Let us know in the comments!

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