Blood & Honor Review

Fans of the classic board game Risk were delighted earlier this month when they heard their favourite game of world domination was coming to the iPhone, but why wait for the officially licensed version when you can get your global conquest fix now? Blood & Honor is a new release that joins the legions of Risk­-alikes on the iPhone, and it’s just as much fun as we’d hoped for.

Like the popular board game that inspired it, Blood & Honor is all about trying to dominate a map through smart troop placement and dice-related attacks. Players will be given new troops every turn, determine where to place them, and then invade neighboring countries in the hopes of adding them to their empire. The attacks are based on a dice roll, with each successful attack eliminating one of the troops defending the enemy land.

Blood & Honor

Blood & Honor looks to set itself apart from the pack with the introduction of two new elements to the Risk formula – command centers and bonus cards. Command centers are your seat of power. A country selected by you at the beginning of the game, you’ll need to defend it while invading elsewhere. If you lose it and can’t get it back within one turn, its game over. Bonus cards add yet another level of strategy, giving you the chance to do things like launch an air strike against an opposing country, reinforce your troops, or even force an enemy into not attacking you on their next turn.

The game also has the added advantage of being a universal app, running on both the iPhone and iPad with a single purchase. The iPad version is pretty much identical to the iPhone one, with the exception of button placement and the lack of a zoom (you don’t need it thanks to the bigger screen). No matter which device you own, Blood & Honor does a great job of supporting up to 6 friends on the same device. If you’re looking to recreate family game night without the need to set up all those messy pieces, Blood & Honor has you covered.

Pass’n’play multiplayer is great, but what we really love about modern gaming is how easy it can be to go online and find somebody new to play with. Blood & Honor offers internet multiplayer, but it suffers from the curse of low sales. Without being a runaway it, it’s hard for any game to maintain an active online community. In the case of Blood & Honor though, it’s particularly barren. With frequent attempts over multiple days, we were only able to find someone else online twice – and both times our competitors quit the game after only a few turns. Offering asynchronous multiplayer like we see in Words With Friends would be a great fit here, but developer Jorge Lorenzon went with a more traditional real time multiplayer without yet having the active player base needed to make it work.

Blood & Honor

Presentation here is solid, offering a basic yet satisfying board game experience. The four included maps offer a great deal of variation, colors of held territories really pop, and the art on the bonus cards is top notch. Blood & Honor gets a lot of things right, and presentation is definitely one of them.

If there were no other Risk-style board games on the iPhone, this would be an easy sell. Blood & Honor is competent, challenging, and fun. The problem, of course, is that there are far too many Risk games on the iPhone, many of which offer a better value and more features. Lux DLX is still the champion in a lot of player’s eyes, offering more than 80 different maps for only $4.99. Dominion is a somewhat superior alternative as well, offering asynchronous multiplayer that lets you play against friends at your own pace. Blood & Honor is a terrific little game, but it’s just not as terrific as some of the competition.

Ongoing developer support seems to be in this title’s future, with a new map having been added less than a month from the game’s initial release. This sort of commitment is a shimmering beacon of hope for Blood & Honor‘s future potential. Keep an eye on this one as it grows, but in the mean time, there are simply too many options out there for getting your Risk fix. Blood & Honor is a good choice, but it’s not necessarily the best.