In short: Neuroshima Hex is an incredibly addictive game with a lot of replay value and decent AI opponents for single player games. I gave it 10 stars, and may buy the full real life game because of it. The war theme might not suit everyone though.
From designer Michal Oracz and digitized by Big Daddy Creations, Neuroshima Hex is currently ranked 101 at BoardGameGeek, but it’s going to be hovering around the top 3 on the iPad and iPhones for a long time to come, in my opinion at least.
For up to 3 human or computer players, the game centres around a hexagonal battlefield. After placing your faction HQs, each player takes it in turn to draw tiles and either place them on the board ready to fight, discard them, or play the action tiles immediately. Battle occurs only when someone plays a battle action card, which may not be for a number of turns. A battle is also forced if all board spaces have been filled. Battle is a simple system of initiative scores (with faster units attacking first) and simple hand to hand or ranged combats. There is no dice rolling, in case you were worried – units that can attack always attack and injure, and any units injured in that initiative round are taken off the board. The ultimate goal is to defend your own HQ – if it is eliminated you are out of the game. If the end of the game is reached with more than one player left, the player with the healthiest HQ wins.
It’s a simple battle system and easy to get the hang of, especially with the fantastic tutorial video that automatically launches the first time you play the game. The only difficultly lies in understanding what a new unit or special action card does, as each faction has unique units and special abilities – so sometimes you need to pause the game and read the factions’ codex, then get back into the game. For instance, I wasn’t sure how to use the grenade action card the first time it came up, despite the tutorial video showing it being used to blow up any single opponent. I looked it up in the codex though, and it seems you can only throw the grenade immediately around the HQ. It isn’t a big deal, and the sheer variety of different units adds greatly to the replay value, but I can see how some may be frustrated.
Luckily the game automatically saves your progress, and after one game with each faction you should be fine.
A single game will last 10-30 minute depending on the number of players, and if you skip battle scenes. The first couple of games you’ll want to want exactly how the battles go down so you can learn how various units and cards interact, but after that it’s nice to have the option to just skip forward and see which units died. I imagine the real board game can take a lot longer with having to work out each individual attack, which is why this is such a good match for the iPad.