What Are We Still Playing? 2014 Year End Edition

battlelore uthuk turn

Got some iTunes store gift cards burning a hole in your pocket after the holiday? Here’s a look at some of the big names we’ve reviewed recently – and how they stack up two to twenty weeks down the road.

BattleLore: Command

battlelore uthuk turn

Reviewed: 12/17 (2 weeks ago)
Status: Playing occasionally
Comments: The inability to do multiplayer without another iPad in the same room is a surprisingly large drawback to this otherwise very well presented game. While the campaign certainly has plenty to do, the game is ultimately a little too random to fully keep one’s interest in a fundamentally solid way. With that said, the base necessities are implemented very well, and if this game holds a nostalgic place in your heart (something of which our reviewer can say he is guilty) you could do a lot worse at the price point. It’s certainly cheaper than a box full of plastic – easier to find, too!

Stalag 17

stalag 17 escape

Reviewed: 11/25 (4 weeks ago)
Status: Deleted
Comments: Let’s be clear – there really isn’t anything wrong with this app from a technical standpoint, and with the exception of the corny music there’s nothing wrong with the content either. It’s all well presented, clearly explained, and intuitive to play. The problem is there’s just no meat there. The AI is actually pretty good, but the game is too constrained to have many meaningful choices. There’s nothing wrong with good filler – and this isn’t even bad filler – but ultimately we’re not going to pull the iPad out for filler at game night, and there’s no reason to keep playing against AI on your own.

Warhammer 40k: Space Wolf

Space Wolves move

Reviewed: 11/19 (5 weeks ago)
Status: Playing occasionally
Comments: Though the online connection requirement limits what you’re capable of with this app, ultimately the gameplay is fun and fairly unlike anything else that exists on the iPad – something that is, frankly, an appreciatively rare state considering that over 150,000 games exist on the platform. The company behind it also heard the protestations of many reviewers and players, and rebalanced the later levels to be a bit more forgiving of those who can’t or won’t buy endless IAP currency packs. We’ll be the first to admit this is an acquired taste, but it’s great for those who acquire it.

Sentinels of the Multiverse

sentinels of the multiverse villain card

Reviewed: 10/28 (8 weeks ago)
Status: Playing actively
Comments: Full disclosure: Our reviewer was already a fan of this game on the tabletop going into the review. That doesn’t change the fact that the game is delivered in a polished app that doesn’t have any visible rough edges and that presents the material with all the comic book splendor it deserves. The app is more likely to be played solo, and that diminishes the game somewhat – you don’t get the feel of representing a particular hero in your quest to save the world, nor can you plan your next move with your cohorts. With that said, we’re still working to unlock the alternate cards for various characters, and expect we’ll be at it for a while.

Doodle City

doodle city gameplay 2

Reviewed: 10/21 (9 weeks ago)
Status: Playing occasionally
Comments: This isn’t really a game as much as it is a puzzle, and said puzzle is played in what amounts to competitive solitaire. You’re either randomly getting your squares assigned in a solo game, or getting your squares randomly assigned by your opponents in what only barely amounts to player interaction. Toss this into an app that doesn’t always remember to ping you when it’s your turn in a multiplayer game and it sounds like a loser (or at least a snoozer). Which it mostly is, but occasionally you may get the urge to do something pointlessly cerebral, and this is perfect for that kind of moment. Also it weighs in at a mere 93 megs installed, so it’s not like hanging onto it is costing you much.

Galaxy Trucker

galaxy trucker building a ship

Reviewed: 10/15 (10 weeks ago)
Status: Playing occasionally
Comments: Once the newness faded, this one just sort of fell into the Boardgames folder and stayed there, only to be brought out every once in a while. The simple fact is that the turn-based multiplay, while perfectly suited to the realities of how people use their devices, doesn’t have the frenetic, semi-serious, semi-trash-talking fun of it’s real time brother, and you can only play that against AI so many times before it starts to feel a little pointless. It’s still nice to have on hand for when you want to scratch that itch, the presentation is top notch, and the campaign gives it some life without real opponents, but ultimately this almost serves better as a gateway to the boxed version than as a game in its own right.


province goal

Reviewed: 9/23 (13 weeks ago)
Status: Deleted
Comments: Like BattleLore, the lack of multiplay hurts this title. Unlike BattleLore, there is really no point to this one without a live opponent – and those live opponents are gonna be few and far between without the Internet to help match you. The AI is just too predictable – we’re not even sure that the strategies we’ve developed for this game are strictly speaking the “best” available, but they’ll cream the AI every time. We could see this being a killer app on the iPhone, combining the pick-up-and-play aspect of a minigame with the always-on-hand nature of a phone device, but on the iPad this one doesn’t seem to have staying power.

The Manhattan Project

Tovarich Pizor’s iPad 2014.09.02_117

Reviewed: 9/4 (15 weeks ago)
Status: Deleted
Comments: Sometimes, an app is so bad that even a highly-regarded, multi award winning game can’t save it, and unfortunately The Manhattan Project is one of those. It’s got all the things that make a terrible port: a poor rulebook that doesn’t orient correctly and doesn’t take the platform into account; a fiddly interface that doesn’t behave consistently and ignores basic usability guidelines; an online mode that is so poorly implemented it’s almost worse than not having online at all. We get that sometimes bad apps happen to good games, and it isn’t the game’s fault, and that’s what happened here. Doesn’t change the fact that the app is so amazingly poorly done that we can’t recommend the purchase – except maybe to someone you want to scare off from playing the tabletop version.

WWE Supercard

WWE Supercard entrance ramp

Reviewed: 8/27 (17 weeks ago)
Status: Deleted (on iPad); Playing actively (on iPhone)
Comments: This is a stupid game and a guilty pleasure. We’ll be the first to admit that. It’s also just about the perfect time killer for things like bus commutes, teleconferences, or bathroom musings. The non-demanding gameplay makes it perfect to pull out when you’ve got a few minutes or even when you’re doing something else entirely, and our reviewer admits with a shit-eating grin that he’s logged over 1300 plays – without spending a cent, for those of you for whom that sort of thing matters. The developers have added many new cards and two new modes since the game’s release, and seem to be actively soliciting (and acting upon) feedback from players. Frankly we wish all games were handled this well. The graphics were sort of an odd fit on the iPad, but they fit a 5S screen perfectly, and the miniscule amounts of data transferred won’t kill your data plan – you’ll probably use more streaming Pandora on your morning jog. This one shouldn’t work, but it totally does – and that’s the bottom line, if you smell what’s cooking.

So tell us – have you deleted anything, and what are you still playing?

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