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Cracked LCD- Hearthstone (IOS) in Review

hearthstone-game-sshot-1

After a lengthy public beta, a general release on PC and Mac and then an agonizingly long one week delay following a “soft launch”, Blizzard’s much-ballyhooed Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft has finally hit the platform that could potentially make this free-to-play collectible card game a phenomenon. Hearthstone on iPad is a masterful implementation of a masterfully designed game rich with the kind of polish, refinement and attention to detail that has qualified Blizzard’s best work reaching back to the very first Warcraft. Bar none, Hearthstone is the best card game available on IOS and it may just be one of the most significant examples of video games finally repaying all of that debt they’ve had to tabletop games for all of these years. Continue Reading…

FTL Tips and Strategies

Note: I originally published this article in September of 2012. I haven’t updated it for the Advanced Edition, but with Advanced Edition and the iOS port out today, I thought it worth a bump back up to the front page. Most of the advice herein remains accurate. I’ve only just begun to mess with the AE on iOS, but hopefully (maybe, maybe, maybe) I’ll have some new thoughts to post on it next week. Possibly. I think.  

I am, very likely, the last person on Earth who should be writing tips guides for gamers. Nonetheless, I’ve put in enough time and spectacularly destroyed enough starships (along with going 2 for 2 in victories on Easy) that I feel I can offer you, dear reader, the chance to learn from my mistakes. Without further adu, I present to you 15 tips for surviving to the final boss in FTL:

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The Great Flappy Bird Flap of 2014 (A Memorial)

flappy bird

My son River (four) has this thing that he does where he will sneak into our bedroom in the morning and steal my iPhone. Usually he’ll play Lego Star Wars or one of the awesome Rayman runners I keep on it- he has good taste in games. Last week, I woke up and I heard him in his room laughing and his sister, Scarlett (two) was in there giggling as well. I had no idea what was going on. So I crept down the hall to spy on them and they were both watching the phone, River tapping it furiously. Then I heard a familiar punching sound and I knew what was up.

They were playing Flappy Bird.

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Card Hunter First Impressions

card hunter

I don’t like grinding. Okay, so when it’s combined with epic detail and rich narrative, like in Skyrim, or with ball-breaking skill, like in Dark Souls, it can add a fantastically fun and addictive element to a game. What I hate are games based around grinding for it’s own sake, the endless repetition of kill monster, upgrade gear, kill tougher monster in the service of nothing more than pressing psychological buttons. The Diablo series is probably the worst offender, but so are endless cheap and free-to-play role playing games.

Card Hunter falls into that category. A free-to-play browser based flash game, with inevitable in-app purchases, it challenges you to assemble a team of three characters from the classic warrior, wizard, cleric archetype and send them into various brief encounters with enemies in search of loot. So I should hate it. I want to hate it. But I can’t. In fact it’s one of the most horribly addictive games I’ve played in ages.

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Free to Die – Time with Ravenmark: Mercenaries

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When it comes to turn based strategy games, I pretty much suck at them. There’s nothing new to report there. I’ve been sucking at strategy games ever since I first sidled up to a keyboard. Sure, I managed to get through all of Fire Emblem: Awakening but I played that on casual and turned permadeath off. Had I played that game on the default settings I’d still be at the first mission.

Despite my ineptitude at strategy games I gave Ravenmark: Mercenaries a spin. It’s free to play so all it cost me was some bandwidth and storage space and my thinking was that maybe it would be lenient enough for a strategy lightweight like me to master.

Yeah, not so. This game is a Strategy game with a capital S and while the monetization schemes may irk some, if you’re into turn based strategy, you really should check it out.

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The Forest of Doom Review

Forest of Doom cover

It’s one of the great ironies of modern gaming that the venerable format of paper gamebooks has made such a huge comeback on mobile devices. And riding the crest of this coolingly nostalgic wave is Tin Man Games. Authors may come and go, designers may build peculiar experimental magic systems into their apps, but the steady Tin Hand ensures a pleasing experience no matter what the content.

Their gamebook adventures engine improves with every release, making combat faster and the interface smoother. And I’ve always loved the eye for detail that goes in to their wonderful collections of achievements and book art, always with knowing winks to consumers of nerd minutiae hidden amongst the titles and the pictures.

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Cracked LCD- IOS Review Rodeo- Agricola, Immortal Heroes, Magic ’14, Rivals for Catan

Agricola board game on iPad tablet and iPhone mobileThere’s been a couple of high profile IOS board games not called Warhammer Quest released recently and I thought it would be a good time to resurrect the ol’ Review Rodeo for another roundup.

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Ascension: Immortal Heroes iOS Released

ascension immortal heroes

I still play Ascension every night. I am constantly in a game (getting my butt kicked) with momongi, inthenetsc, buckeyefitzy and rainynight65. When I say always, I mean always. I look at the results screen, shed a tear of disappointment over losing and hit the rematch button.  When you consider that I have played this game every day since I purchased it for my iPad back when it came out, that’s one hell of a nod to the folks at Playdek and Gary Games.

I just found out that the latest expansion, Immortal Heroes, has been released for iOS and now I wish I were home to download it. It looks like you’ll now need a Playdek account to play online once you download the expansion, and you are downloading the expansion, right?  Playdek is suggesting that you download the the free update to Ascension, start Ascension and log in with the same GameCenter id as usual, create your Playdek account if you haven’t already for Agricola, check to see that all your player stats carry over and then do the in-app purchase for Immortal Heroes. The expansion will run you $2.99 which is a small price to pay to beat me at Ascension well into next year.

Cracked LCD- Warhammer Quest IOS in Review

Warhammer Quest shot 1I’m not the one to ask if Rodeo Games’ Warhammer Quest adequately simulates or replicates the out-of-print and outrageously expensive board game upon which the app is based. Confessional, I never got a chance to play it. By the time I had caught up with wanting to play the widely beloved and venerated dungeoncrawl- regarded by many to be the best of the genre- it was already priced out of my willing-to-spend range and most of my owning friends had moved on to other games. But I also wouldn’t be able to tell you because Rodeo Games willfully back-ended all of the board gamey stuff and turned out a video game based on a board game, most definitely not a “port”. Thankfully, that means there are no silly animations of clattering dice or digital card decks flippity-flapping around. But that also means that the game is often maddeningly opaque and mechanically obscure. Continue Reading…

Star Command in Review

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Star Command, the twice Kickstarted combination of Star Trek and Game Dev Story is finally here. Is this the game what was originally promised those that backed it? Not really, although there’s nothing keeping it from getting there. Is it still worth playing? That’s another matter entirely, and unfortunately, the things that hold the game back feel entrenched. In other words, the stuff that bugs me probably isn’t going anywhere.

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