Unless you’re a well established Hearthstone player, there will be significant gaps in your collection. There will be decks you want to play because they look powerful, or fun, but you can’t due to you missing critical cards. For new …
- Let’s play Hearthstone! If you’re at all interested in the game, it’s a great time to start. Things are still in flux after the new Kobolds and Catacombs expansion. A new expansion also tends to mean Blizzard gives out more …
- Gamebooks have made a big comeback on mobile devices recently. But for all the nostalgia and entertainment they provide, I can't help but feel most of them are a wasted opportunity. On a multimedia touchscreen device, why limit yourself to static pictures and text? Road of Kings attempts to take the concept to a new level by mixing in elements of rouge-like adventure games. You play a barbarian warrior who has 100 days to amass a fortune of gold big enough to buy yourself a chieftainship.The action takes place on a top-down hex map of a fantasy kingdom. There are towns to visit, ruins to explore, and monsters and other heroes to encounter, which you can either fight or have join your party; if you choose the latter option, you must then feed them by buying food or risking hunting in the wilderness."So far, so ordinary. What's intriguing about Road of Kings is the combination of chance encounters and scripted story. Travellers on the road or the contents of long-forgotten ruins are generated randomly, but many locations on the map provide a richer vein of adventure.Enter one of these and the game map is overlaid by a text window describing your encounters and offering you choices in the vein of a "choose your own adventure" book. The locations of these change occasionally, but once you're in a given adventure the script remains the same. And you'll need to experiment and learn the rewarding choices if you want to succeed in your quest.
- The final paragraphs of the gamebook Island of the Lizard King contain a scene I can still remember clearly today, nearly thirty years after I first read it. It stamped itself on my ten-year old brain because it seemed so hideous at the time. I'm made of sterner stuff today, and was positively anticipating re-living those climatic moments on my iPad.As a digital gamebook, you'll spend most of the time reading paragraphs of text and then being presented with a series of possible choices at the end. In this way, you work your own chosen path through a work of fiction. Occasionally you'll be called on to fight creatures or test one of your three statistics, all mediated by dice rolls with a slick and satisfying system.As the title suggests, the plot of this tale sees you travelling to a tropical island to search for, and hopefully dispatch, a deranged lizardman who's been terrorizing local populations with slave raids.
- Sci-fi tactical combat affair Space Hulk is widely acclaimed as one of the most atmospheric board games ever made. It's also commonly recognized as begging for the video game treatment, and yet in the 25 years since its release, all we had were some live-action titles and fan homages. The latest developer to tackle the licence is Full Control, and after a buggy PC release, the game has come to mobile.The action is set amongst the tight corridors and tiny rooms of a derelict spacecraft, where heavily armed Space Marines square off against limitless hordes of slavering alien horrors called Genestealers. There's a series of missions with varied objectives like retrieving data collection devices or burning strategically important terrain points."Mechanically, it's mostly classic turn-by-turn, action point based tactics: nothing inspirational there. But there are two features that catapult the game into classic status.First, a breathtakingly simple double whammy of hidden information: the Genestealers are never sure how many action points the Marines have, and the Marines are never sure how many Genestealers are on the map.Second is the twisty, claustrophobic nature of the maps. Rather than the open worlds smattered with scenery typical of the genre, Space Hulk takes place in spidery networks of tiny rooms interconnected with one-space wide corridors, dismal with choke points and ambush sites.
- For gamebook fans of a certain age, Gary Chalk is a name to conjure with. He got co-author credits for the illustrations in the early Lone Wolf books, probably the best loved of the many gamebook franchises that thronged bookshelves in the mid-eighties. Times have changed, and digital publishing is all the rage, but Gary's art has not diminished and he's here with a brand new outing, Gun Dogs.This is the latest title in Tin Man Game's Gamebook Adventure series and it shares a lot of mechanical similarities with its predecessors. You'll read through a paragraph of text, often be presented with some choices at the end, and occasionally have to check one of your stats against a dice roll, or fight a monster."Battles are decided by throwing a number of offensive and defensive dice and comparing the highest of each to see if a blow is landed. If so, the difference between the totals is the damage inflicted. I've never liked this system: it's functional but leads to a lot of indecisive rolls followed by colossal sums of damage. But as the Gamebook Adventure series has gone on, Tin Man has found a number of ways to improve the basic mechanics. Here, as the title suggests, you have a gun.But this is a fantasy adventure, so it's a slow hand-loaded pistol. That's used to set up a number of tense and interesting choices in the book where you might - or might not - have had the chance to load your weapon before venturing into danger. Whether you actually hit with your gunpowder weapon or not is, like many other things in the story, decided by a dice-based stat test.
- For the last fifteen years I've sported a military-grade buzz cut, but not today. Today I am resplendent in an enormous shock of pink curls. Yesterday, it was long and green. Tomorrow, I think I might try an orange Mohawk.This is not because I've suddenly become a wig fanatic, but all thanks to the latest app from Toca Boca, Toca Hair Salon Me. As its name suggests, it allows you to put your own face into a digital avatar and then style and colour their hair to your heart's content. You can even add accessories like hats and glasses, change the color of their clothes, and pose them for a photo."Like everything the developer does, it's all perfectly intuitive. Start by browsing the pictures on your device, or taking another in-app so you don't have to pop out and boot the camera. Then fit your chosen image into one of four face shapes and sizes, adjust the apps' estimation of where the mouth and eyes are, and style away.The technology behind this is seriously impressive. So long as your photo is a pretty tight fit for the chosen head and you get the eyes and mouth right, it brings your avatar to life with uncanny accuracy. The first time I saw myself in the chair, closing my eyes against the hairspray, twisting away from the dryer and emitting little 'ooh' and 'aah' noises of appreciation, it actually creeped me out so much I had to put the iPad down and walk away.
- M.U.L.E. occupies a unique and much-cherished niche in gaming history. It was about the first ever game to blend multiplayer and real-time strategy, all way back in the days of 8-bit systems. I never owned one of the platforms it ran on, so had never experience its pleasures, although I knew of its exalted reputation. And that reputation made a modern day remake like MULE Returns all but inevitable.The game is one of those common curiosities that are actually fairly simple but devilishly hard to describe. Each turn you pick a plot of land, and then spend money on buying, equipping, and upgrading MULEs, robotic servitors that work the plot for you. There are three different types of resources: food, which you need to move about; energy, which is needed to power your plots; and smithore, which does nothing but is pretty valuable."After production there's an auction where you can sell goods you have an excess of and buy ones you need. The game has a simple but fascinating economic model that results in oversupply causing prices to drop and scarcity causing prices to rise. To win, you have to play the markets and make money, but beware: beggar your opponents and the whole colony fails, so a level of mutual cooperation is required.