I love a boardgame port that’s unashamed of its roots. Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear — don’t think I don’t hear you snickering at that name — is a World War II tactical tabletop game that isn’t afraid to invoke a touch of Squad Leader’s complexity, but prefers to veer closer to the beer-and-pretzels of a Memoir ’44 match. The port just published by Matrix lets you play with wargaming chits (pictured) instead of the usual 3D low-rent models. Thank you, Matrix! Furthermore, all the rules, stats, and modifiers are at your fingertips with easy tooltips. It even shows you the results of every die roll.
But sometimes that’s not enough. Consider how often disgruntled gamers accuse computers of cheating the die rolls, usually because they remember that time they needed to roll a three or higher on 2D6 and, hey, snake-eyes? What the…? What are the odds? The computer must be cheating!
Conflict of Heroes has an answer to that. If you can angle your webcam in such a way to look down at a pair of rolled dice — actual, real-world, tabletop, analog dice, preferably white with black pips — you can tell the game to determine every die roll by referring to the dice rolled under the webcam. If your reaction to this rather adorable solution is ‘Well, hey, why don’t you just play the tabletop version instead?’, then I’m kicking you out of the boardgaming nerd club.
Ubisoft, the company that hired Frag Dolls and Jenny “vaccinations will make your kids retarded!” McCarthy to promote their games, has hired Ice-T’s wife. She makes observations like the following about Ghost Recon: Future Soldier:
When you’re on this game, and you’re pointing, and you’re shooting, you really feel like you’re at war.
One of the best tower defense games you can play on any platform — let me repeat that, since I want to make it clear I’m putting this side by side with personal favorites like Toy Soldiers: Cold War, Unstoppable Gorg, Dungeon Defenders, and Immortal Defense — one of the best tower defense games you can play on any platform is Defender Chronicles on the iPhone. It balances neatly the moment-to-moment tower defense gameplay with a long gratifying RPG progression. If you sank as much time into Defender Chronicles as I did, leveling up the General and Melwen, you’ll probably recognize them in that goofy panel up there, which the developers at Gimka whipped up by way of announcement. And, to be fair, I mainly recognize Melwen because her face yells at me from the Defender Chronicles icon every time I boot up my iPhone. It’s a little odd to see her serenely washing a cup, or whatever she’s supposed to be doing.
The sequel will include two new heroes alongside the General and Melwen, some new units, and a whole new RPG progression system to unlock unique artifacts, all of which is geared towards beating the harder difficulty levels to progress the RPG stuff farther. It’s a vicious circle. Did I say “vicious”? I meant “delicious”. There are a few details here that will only make sense to hardcore players, but the bottom line is that it looks like Defender Chronicles II is mostly the same tower defense gameplay, but with a lot more RPG tying it all together.
Defenders Chronicles II will be out for the iPhone on May 24.
Like a thief in the night, Storm of Souls has appeared as an in-app purchase for Ascension. This sequel/expansion is a new set of cards for Ascension, the current nonpareil of deck building games. Storm of Souls addresses some balance issues in the basic game, adds some cool new gameplay concepts, and gives Eric Sabee all new canvases for his unique artwork.
Since the iPhone and tabletop versions are functionally identical, you can read my review for more specifics. New rules for events and trophies place greater demands on the screen real estate, but it’s handled as well as can be expected, even on the teensy iPhone’s screen. Ironically, it’s a bit easier to play Storm of Souls on the computer, with usable cards highlighted and a helpful end-of-turn nag reminding you when you’ve missed something. The add-on also adds Gamecenter achievements that recognize feats like defeating Samael with Adayu (called “don’t mind if Adayu”), collecting one of every trophy monster (as if!), and getting both Umbral blades into play (like I need another reason to want to make this happen).
You shouldn’t be in any rush into Storm of Souls if you’re new to Ascension. But once you’re ready to wrap your head around something more complicated, more demanding, and ultimately more satisfying, Storm of Souls is just what Master Dartha ordered.
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