Tag Archives: Board Game

Neuroshima Hex! Review

The original Neuroshima Hex! is a Polish tactical board game based on the Neuroshima role-playing game, which draws inspiration from post-apocalyptic titles such as Mad Max, Fallout and Terminator. The role-playing game is available only in Polish, so unless you’re a Polish-speaking, tabletop RPG buff, you will be forgiven if Neuroshima Hex! for iPhone is the first you’ve heard of the franchise.

Neuroshima Hex is played on a hexagonal board. Each player periodically draws from a deck of hexagonal cards called “tiles.” Tiles symbolize different types of military units, or special actions that may be played on the board. Annotations on the tiles denote the combat strength and initiative of each unit. Each player has one special tile called HQ (headquarters), which is placed on the board at the beginning of play. Each round the player chooses which tile(s) to play from their hand, where to place the tile on the board, and which orientation the tile should have, as most units may act upon adjacent tiles in a limited number of directions.

With several exceptions for special action cards, units do not act when placed on the board. Periodically a tile is played that initiates combat. At that time, military units act in sequence according to their initiative rating; cards are removed from the bored according to the outcome of combat between pairs of nearby opposing cards, and each player’s HQ takes damage from attacking units. The game is concluded either when all tiles from the deck have been exhausted, or when a player’s HQ has been completely destroyed. If all headquarters remain intact, then winner is the player whose HQ has suffered the least amount of damage.

And that is a very lite summary of a very complicated game. Luckily, the game provides a full orientation via video tutorial and a comprehensive reference section, without which players would surely be lost. There is definitely a learning curve to Neuroshima Hex, and it’s not a game most players will be able to come to terms with on their first play, or even their second. But the curve is not insurmountable, and given time Neuroshima Hex can be very rewarding. Just don’t go into the game expecting a casual game of Monopoly or UNO; Neuroshima Hex is more in the neighborhood of Settlers of Catan, and maybe still a bit more complex than that.

In which the scene is set:

The world Neuroshima Hex is that of a post-apocalypse world torn apart by a war between humans and machines. The remains of humanity took shelter in the ruines of cities and organized in small communities, gangs and armies. Conflicts between such groups are not uncommon and the reasons of such are numerous: territory, food or equipment.

What is more, the ruined cities are constantly patrolled by machines sent from the north, where a vast cybernetic entity, call MOLOCH, appeared. Great wastelands that surround what was left of the greatest cities are home to another enemy — BORGO — a charismatic leader who controls an army of gruesome mutants. One of the last hopes of humanity is the OUTPOST, a perfectly organized army which wages a guerilla war against MOLOCH. Nevertheless, most human settlements, including the HEGEMONY, are not concerned with war until it comes banging at their door. Such is the world of Neuroshima.

Players choose to take on the role of one of four factions — the MOLOCH, the BORGO, the OUTPOST or the HEGEMONY — each of which has its own unique tile-set, or army. Also, the HQ of each faction confers different benefits upon adjacent allied units, making the player’s choice of faction a strategic decision, and not simply one of aesthetics.

Likes:

Presentation: As board games go, Neuroshima Hex! has great atmosphere. Everything — including the tiles, the game board, the interface windows and buttons — feels post-apocalyptic. Even the music and sound effects are suitably moody. The game goes for the gritty wasteland aesthetic and pretty well nails it. The only aspect of the presentation that I find questionable is the use of the Indiana Jones font for the game’s text.

Strategy: Benefiting from its roots in tabletop role-playing games, Neuroshima Hex is a very strategic title that should appeal more to hardcore board game players, and less to casual players who favor games like Scrabble or Monopoly.

Diversity: Four unique armies with headquarters granting different strategic benefits help to keep the game interesting.

Dislikes:

No Achievements or Scoreboards: Sadly, Neuroshima Hex keeps no record of your previous games. There are no scoreboards and no achievements, leaving the game short on goals and with little single-player replay value. Your only goal is to defeat the AI, and once you’ve done that there is little reason to return to the game’s single-player mode. The value of the single-player mode could be easily extended with the inclusion of achievements.

Neuroshima Hex! should appeal to fans of tabletop role-playing games, or those looking for a board game experience heavy on strategy and apart from the norm. It’s a great game that may not appeal to all players, but will definitely strike a chord with plenty.

Neuroshima Hex! is developed by Big Daddy’s Creations; reviewed at version 1.01 on an iPhone 4. App Store Link: $2.99.



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‘Risk’ Out now for iPhone and iPod touch

Risk, the popular board game made video game, has been released into the App Store.  While I’ve been a huge fan of Risk, a lot of copy-cats in the App Store have been able to satisfy my hunger for it.  We’ll have to see how Risk: The Official Game goes up against the others, but from the looks and sounds of it, it seems to be lacking.

Risk by EA Mobile does include multiplayer via WiFi, Bluetooth, and Pass-and-play.  Along with that, you can play up to 6 opponents at the same time.  A downside seems to be the fact that it only includes one map and excludes online multiplayer, a feature present in many board games on the App Store.

But all that aside, Risk is available on the App Store now for $4.99.

Carcassonne Review: A Minute to Learn, A Lifetime to Master

Let’s call a spade a spade. I come from a family of gamers. It can be any kind of game honestly – card, board, video, you name it we have probably played it. This started from as far back as I can remember. Card games with my grandmother, board games with my parents, backgammon with my father, video games with my brother – the list goes on. Family get-togethers consisted of the obligatory meal and then straight to the game playing. In fact I can outline my childhood based on gaming milestones – the first time I beat my father in backgammon, reached a high score of Tank, etc. My family is so animated in our game-playing that many of our neighbors can probably remember what Scrabble dictionary we were using on a certain date or whether a certain item was finally (after much boisterous debate) acceptable for a “Facts in Five” category. Why the need for Hope’s Memoir you ask? Well it is all a lead up for the release of the board game Carcassonne by TheCodingMonkeys & Hans im Glück Verlag in the App Store this past week.

When I heard that Carcassonne was coming to the App Store I was elated. I must admit though that through my elation I learned that not too many people here in the US even knew what I was talking about. Lucky for me I own the original game, brought to me straight from Germany, its country of origin. For years I begged people to learn the intricacies of the game with me. Soon it was clear that I wasn’t ever going to have as many human players as I would need for a true game so I developed my own “solitaire” rules and played however I could. I broke out the game at family gatherings and I got to play a game or two. But much to my dismay it never quite caught on like some of our other family favorites and I was back to making my own fun with the 71 tiles and the ever simplistic Meeple.

For those new to the Carcassonne community, play is with those 71 tiles I mentioned, each with a drawing of fields, roads, buildings, cloisters and more of a settlement. Players alternate turns by drawing a tile and placing it next to another already in player (almost domino style) so that it continues the structures. Points are gained by strategically placing one of your Meeples on one of the elements of the tile you just played – road, structure, or farm. Strategies emerge, blocks and defense begins, making roads or farms larger continues until points are tallied at the end of the game.

Likes:

Tutorial and Manual: For the rookie or the seasoned veteran, the tutorial is a fun and informative experience. Complete with voice-overs, polish and knowledge, the walkthrough will get you straight on your way to your first game. Though the game has very few rules to play with, it has a very complex point system and the game manual does a wonderful job explaining all the ins and outs of what is and what isn’t included. Learning the scoring system and developing your own strategy is key to success, otherwise you can be at the mercy of the luck of the order of the stack of tiles.

AI opponents: Just as in real life there are different styles of play, the AI opponents have unique styles. There are the aggressive blockers, there are the silent road hoarders, there are the jump at the start on a farmer amongst many other combinations. Should you want to play against the AI, there are many to choose from, all of which will provide a challenge. The more varied the opponent I find, the more you can learn new strategies. Quite quickly I found that the first to farm is not always the big point gainer when playing against an aggressive player who might try to horn in on your territory. The best way to learn the game is to play against the various opponents.

Multi-player: Carcassonne allows multiplayer capability in many ways. Several modes will also be available when the free universal iPad upgrade is available later this month. Some of these modes include pass and play, wifi and bluetooth. But by far the most popular at the moment are the internet match ups. Connected over the 3G network or wifi, “quick play” matches can be arranged between any players awaiting a match up. A very strict system is in place to prevent abandoning of games so be on your toes in these games.

Creating multiplayer match ups with friends is as simple as emailing your friends the link to your match and when accepted the game begins. The timer is not present in these familiar match ups and asynchronous play can commence. It is not unheard of for one match to take days to complete depending on schedules, time zones, conflicts, etc.

ELO Ranking: Purely for bragging rights as far as I can tell, ELO rankings have been included to compile your rating as a player. Simply put, beating a higher level opponent increases your rating points and losing to a lesser level player lowers your rating points. Of course there is more of a mathematical formula used to calculate these numbers but if you have never heard of an ELO rating (popular in chess and much like a handicap in golf) that is what it is in a nutshell.

Also included in the stats of your play are win loss records, not only of total games played but against particular opponents. Your arch nemesis is calculated based on who you have lost to the most and much more!

Solitaire Mode: Ok so I was ahead of my time I guess when I began to play solitaire games when I couldn’t find an opponent. Well, this isn’t exactly the game play that is featured but a great solitaire mode is indeed included. There are several cities that each represent a tile set. The goal is to complete a board with as few tiles as possible. Starting with 1,000 points, points are added or subtracted depending on the roads, structures, etc that you complete per move. Using the city name, you can then challenge your friends to top your score. A unique twist on the solitaire concept.

Carcassonne by TheCodingMonkeys & Hans im Glück Verlag arrived on the App Store at a time when board games are gaining in popularity due to their playability on the iPad. iPod Touch users benefit from this as a myriad of board games are now available for them as well. With no tiles to lose, no Meeples to misplace and certainly no confusing territories to add up for your final score because the game does it for you, Carcassone for both the iPod Touch and the iPad is a board game done right. New and seasoned players will enjoy the easy rules and the strategic game play. As players quickly discover, no two games will ever be alike.

A universal iPad update has been promised and In-App DLC will be forthcoming. This DLC presumably will be for some of the 20 or so expansion packs available for the board game. Carcassonne is a game everyone will come to love with its easy to learn, a lifetime to master complexity.

Carcassonne by TheCodingMonkeys & Hans im Glück Verlag is available for an introductory price of $4.99. It was reviewed on a 2g iPod Touch running 3.1.3 OS.


Monopoly Review: Board Games On the Go

It’s a long and rainy day, and there’s really nothing to do outside.  That’s the time when you kick it old school and plop down a Monopoly board and play with your siblings, and maybe even your mother and father.  Of course, there are many different occasions for Monopoly including Thanksgiving get-togethers and Christmas parties.

Monopoly is a classic board game, arguably one of the most successful of all time.  It only makes sense to bring the original to the iPhone after releasing their Here & Now: World Edition.  Many people have been begging for the Park Place they remember, and the classic board game experience they absolutely loved.

Likes

Multiplayer: 3 player WiFi and pass-and-play multiplayer along with 2 player Bluetooth is exactly what everyone needs, and with a game such as Monopoly, multiplayer is a must.  I was very satisfied with the multiplayer experience, and the time I played with my brother was an enjoyable one.  We started to get competitive, just like the real Monopoly, and once you start becoming competitive you know that that is multiplayer done right.

Classic: I almost feel like I’m sitting down to a real, classic game of Monopoly.  Except, of course, this is on a phone instead of the real deal.  Either way, I thought EA did a good job of creating the classic experience and feel onto the iPhone.  The place names were accurate, and the game was overall very well made.  Fans and nostalgics of Monopoly will definitely feel at home with this new version of Monopoly.

Dislikes

AI Imbalances: The level 2 difficulty would be somewhat random at times, sometimes being difficult and other times being a breeze.  The level 1 difficulty also seemed to be like this, and while Monopoly is more of a random game, the AI was a little inaccurate.  There are some improvements needed to be made in this department, but most users may not notice the subtle balancing issues.

Nothing New: Everything you saw in the Here & Now Edition is back here in the Classic Edition.  There’s nothing really new except for maybe some few design changes here and there and the 2-player bluetooth multiplayer.  For more casual fans, the different place names may not be worth the $2.99 paid, and I would definitely have to agree.  There’s nothing really new brought to the table, and owners of the previous Monopoly won’t find anything new in this version.

Monopoly has always been one of my favorite board games, and the iPhone version has become my favorite iPhone board game.  There are some minor flaws that hold it back from being the greatest board game ever made, but with a few tweaks here and there, I can see this version going very far.  I just thought that casual players won’t find much difference between the Here & Now Edition and the Classic Edition, but otherwise it was a solid release by Electronic Arts.  If you’re dying for classic Monopoly experience, this is definitely the way to go.

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Monopoly was developed by EA Mobile, and I played through version 1.1.13 on my iPhone 3GS.  The price is $2.99.

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Catan Released for iPhone

Some of you may have been waiting for this board game wonder from USM, and it has finally been released on the iPhone.  The game is under the name “Catan – The First Island”, and it seems like fans of the original will absolutely love this version of the game.

The game can be described as follows:

The goal of the game is to possess ten victory points on one’s turn. Players possess one point for each settlement built, and a second for each settlement upgraded to a city. Various other achievements, such as establishing the longest road, grant a player additional victory points.

Catan for iPhone has been compared very closely to Kolonists, a game which also seems to be a Catan clone.  For Catan fans though, the original seems to be the real deal.  It’ll cost you though as it is available for $4.99.

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