Abalone

abalone arrows
Players:
2
Multiplayer:Yes, pass n play and (unreasonably expensive) network play
AI:Yes, 3 levels
Universal App:Yes (there is a single app which works on both iPhone and iPad in HD)
Purchase for iPhone:Use link below to purchase universal app
Purchase for iPad:
Abalone®
Price: $2.99
User rating:
GD Star Rating
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Abalone, 7.0 out of 10 based on 8 ratings

Originally designed in 1987, Abalone is something of a modern classic of abstract strategy. Will you be a push-over for the iPad version?

abalone titleGameplay

Abalone is an abstract two player game played on a hex-shaped board. The hex is 5 spaces to a side, and each player begins the game with 14 marbles. A standard layout has all 14 marbles in a geometric layout on one side of the hex.

abalone start

Marbles can move either independently or in concert. A single marble may push 1 or 2 like-colored marbles in its wake, or may make a “broadside” move – moving to one side and taking up to two adjacent marbles with it. When marble is moved, a red arrow appears, and tapping it cancels the move; green arrows may also appear, indicating adjacent marbles that can make a broadside move in concert with the one you moved.

abalone arrows

You can also push opposing marbles. A line of two of your marbles can push one opposing, and a line of 3 can push two opposing. Pushing a marble off the hex scores a point. First to 6 points wins.

abalone gameplay

Implementation

Abalone is very geared around the single player experience. This is good, because there is something terrible about the network play options…but let’s stick to what’s good for now.

abalone menu

Abalone, in addition to it’s core game mode, features a series of 30 challenge levels. Essentially chess puzzles done Abalone style, these levels are designed to teach core concepts of the game’s strategy. A fully interactive tutorial is also available.

abalone setup

The game also features a fair number of set up options. You can choose between the white or black player, specify any number of points from 1 to 6 to signify victory, turn on a round timer to limit thinking time, and choose between three levels of AI difficulty. In addition, the game sports more than 2 dozen different starting setups, many of which are inspired by official Abalone tournament play. There is also a different bonus challenge level available every day.

abalone network

With so much going for it on the single-player front, multi-player falls hard. The game offers standard pass n play, and also features network play via the company’s own server. Network play requires tokens, and the only way to obtain tokens is to purchase them.

I’ll repeat that, because it bears repeating: the only way to play this game on the network is to pay per play with in-game currency which must in turn be purchased with cash. I’m now almost sorry that I gave Civilization: Revolution such a hard time – at least that game only charges you ONCE for network play!

Verdict

It isn’t often that a truly innovative 2 player abstract comes along, and there’s a strong case to be made for Abalone being such a gem. As a single player experience, there isn’t much more you could possibly ask for. It’s such a shame that the greediest monitization we’ve seen yet on the iPad mars such an otherwise well-polished title.



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