Ligato gameplay 1
Multiplayer:Pass n play only
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:
Price: Free
User rating:
GD Star Rating
Ligato, 7.3 out of 10 based on 8 ratings

30 years ago at the height of the Cold War, a strategy game called Ligato was invented in GDR – or what we referred to for 45 years following WWII as East Germany. Was it worth the wait?


Nominally an intelligence duel between the Cold War superpowers, Ligato is played on a 6×10 board, with each super power owning the back two rows of their respective side.

Ligato setup

Each player starts off by deploying 6 pieces to the board. Between the 6 pieces, you must use a total of 20 forward spaces toward your goal – so if you deploy one piece in row 5, you have 15 spaces left for your other 5 pieces. Note that you won’t be able to change this (at least not for free – see below) so place carefully.

Ligato gameplay 2

Each player then takes turns sliding pieces across the board. A piece moves either forward or backward exactly as many spaces as there are pieces in its row, including itself; if either position is either off the board or occupied by an opposing piece, movement in that direction is impossible.

Ligato win

The ultimate goal is to get all 6 pieces to the back row of the opposite side of the board. First player to do so wins.


Ligato can best be described as “functional.” The game is playable and is enjoyable enough for fans of abstract strategy, but there are a number of little rough edges on the app that point to the need for a better coder. This is first apparent when the app is opened up – there’s the distinct sound of typewriter hammers striking paper, but no text is “typed” across the screen. You might also notice that many of these screenshots bear an achievement badge; this is because the badges don’t disappear on their own, and will instead remain in the upper left until you unlock a new one or purge the app from RAM.

Ligato rules

The rules are summarized on one page and are not accessible during play. In the apps’ defense, there aren’t a lot of rules, but the lack of ability to access them during play is not impressive. Similarly unimpressive is the need to manually “abort” from a game, even after a winner has been declared.

Ligato buy undo

The undo button must be purchased. While we understand that a free download must make money somehow, this reporter at least feels that such a vital feature of a game like this is a poor place to do it.

Ligato first file

Unlocking certain achievements will also unlock various Secret Files. These tell the (supposedly accurate) story of the game’s origin in a muted noir style. You can also pay to unlock these images, though it’s not clear why you’d want to – with no online competition possible, earning achievements against the AI where the replay value lies in this game unless you have a live opponent handy.


As a free download, there’s no good reason for fans of abstract strategy or Cold War paraphernalia not to take this one for a spin. The game itself is enjoyable if you’re into abstract strategy, and there’s a very clear differentiation between the AI strengths – fortunate, since your only option for a live opponent is someone in the same room. With some refinement this app could be a worthy contender in the abstract realm; as it currently stands, it’s more of a curious relic than a sturdy soldier.

Ligato abort mission

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