Things of No Interest: 50 iOS Boardgames - 5 at a Time (30-26)
There are a lot of app conversions of boardgames out there - believe me, that was the sole reason I got an iPad back in the day and why I upgraded to a new iPad last year. While I do more than just play boardgame apps on my iPad, playing boardgame conversions was the main reason for my getting one. This series will do a countdown of my top 50 boardgame apps - five at a time. I took 50 of the best and dropped them into Pub Meeple's Ranking Engine so I could sort them and here is what I got...
** Note: There are a ton of boardgame apps I never purchased, and a huge number that I have, but that are currently not playable on iOS 11 - I'm only covering those that I can play and still have installed on my iPad.
Numbers 30-26 (finally! Top 30!)
If you aren't familiar with the original tabletop game, essentially it is a puzzle game that looks and feels a little like Tangram, but with Tetris shapes. The object being, given a couple of the shapes and an outline, who can solve the puzzle first. That is the gist of the game. Oh sure, there is some weird scoring, but all that matters is the puzzle race.
The app does a decent enough job of translating this to an electronic form, however the online servers have been offline for quite a while, meaning there is no way to go head to head against opponents, even on the same tablet. My daughter loves the game, which is why I got it in the first place. That being said, the single player puzzle mode is about like trying to get through levels of Angry Birds or Candy Crush - just a puzzle to solve and then on to the next one. Except this game has you racing against the clock. Since I enjoy spatial puzzles like this, this breaks into my top 30, but just barely.
I struggle to describe this game. It is a strategy / war-game with hex tiles that represent your armies. The forces are all asymmetrical and there is a little bit of randomness (draw your armies from the stack) and a lot of tactical choices. The goal is kill the enemy's base before yours is destroyed.
The app version of the game is well done and I pull this out from time to time because the app is well done. I don't have to remember the (not so complex) rules - the app keeps me from doing something wrong. Which is to say that I never played nor fell in love with the tabletop game. Honestly, the graphics/art presentation didn't appeal to me (having played, I understand it, but that didn't make it more appealing). At least for me, this is one of those games that is BETTER as an app implementation then a tabletop game. I don't have to figure out if I can attack and when - the game lets me know. It is all easy enough to figure out I guess, but this is a game that I just play once in a while. I usually have a good time, but don't go out of my way or have longing to play it all the time, but the app is really well done, so also found its way into the top 30.
Tikal was one of the first games I learned when I got into this hobby and what a fantastic game it is. One of the best from Kramer and Kiesling's Mask Trilogy of action point games. When I heard there was an app version of the game, it was a no-brainer for me to get. You see, the only real problem with the tabletop game is that there is NOTHING to do when the other players are going. Downtime is bad. Unless you are playing an asynchronous game electronically!
The app version of the game is a little flawed, but mostly delivers on that electronic Tikal experience you'd hope for. Sadly, the app is HORRIBLE about notifying you when it is your turn, which is a huge pain when playing with a couple of other people since nobody knows when it is their turn. If everyone is paying attention and checking, then it works decently. We had some other weird issues last time I tried a multi-player online game as well, which is too bad - not sure if the age of the game is at fault or if the online code just wasn't stellar. The solo game isn't bad, but this is one where the AI is hard to make tough. It'd have been nice to have the bid for tiles variant as well, but c'est la vie. My love of the game and the fact that they have at least kept this playable on iOS 11 keeps this in the realm of apps to play occasionally.
I had heard a lot of good things about the Manhattan Project as a worker placement / engine game, but never had a chance to play it. When I heard there was an app released for the game, I jumped and bought it, but there was no walk through or tutorial, so it sat on my iPad, unplayed, for a long time. Then about a year or more ago, I acquired the Manhattan Project:Chain Reaction game, which was pretty straight forward and quick fun. I vowed I would pick up the app and learn it. But that still didn't happen. Fast forward to about two weeks ago. While going through my apps I saw this one app glaring at me and I sat down and read through the rules. I realized that I had the gist of it already from the card game, and started playing the app.
Other than a lack of tutorial, the app does a pretty good job of presenting the game in almost a virtual table style, which is great and quirky (there are some scrolling and zooming that bother me a little, but only a little). Really, the app is well done enough that I don't understand how it has been so overlooked - honestly, I had to add it to the BGG links and add a screenshot. For a tabletop game that has done well and has a fair number of fans, you'd have thought that a well done game like this would have received a little more attention. Having really just started playing and not knowing anyone else that has the game, I have not yet played an online game, so I'm not sure if there is async play or not (there should be, but you never know). I'm sure the newness factor is the primary reason this is in my top 30 at the moment, but I am still enjoying the puzzle factor of the game against AI.
Rounding out the games today is a game that is overlooked or not all that well known in general. A Brief History of the World is a modified/revised version based on the Avalon Hill/Hasbro game History of the World, which is a slightly Ameritrashy civ game. The game is played over epochs during which players bring in new civilizations in different areas of the board and sunset their old ones (and not entirely unlike Small World or Vinci, you get to keep those old ones around to score points and get in the way of other emerging civs). So basically, an expand and conquer game.
The app version makes what is a little bit of a long game (despite the title) into a reasonable experience and it is well done. The app was developed by Sage Boardgames (which was on a roll for a while with really well done conversions) and is well done. It is missing async online play, but does support pass and play, which is ok for this game. The AI isn't horrible either, so when you need a civ game fix, you can get a reasonable experience with this game in a reasonable amount of time. If you like Small World, you should check this out.
Next time, we finish out the top 30 with numbers 21-25 where the games are starting to get really good.