Mobile gaming, allowing people to play board games on their phones or tablets (either hotseat or against online players), has been growing, with Asmodee digital doubling down in this category. Several of the games I’ve discussed earlier have solid mobile versions already: Patchwork and Jaipur. Both implementations allow for hotseat, online play, or play against an AI. Today we’ll go over a couple of other games that have been ported to Android (and I believe they are all on iOS as well, so fear not Apple fans).
Game 1) It’s time to save the world – Pandemic
Pandemic is a co-op game, this means that it is the players vs. the game instead of the players vs. the players. In general, I’m not a big fan of co-op games in face to face play, because the game plays more like a puzzle with multiple people all trying to solve it at once. Playing solo removes my aversion for co-ops, as no longer do I have to worry about someone else making a poor move costing the game, now I just have to worry about me making a poor move. In this game, there are four different diseases spreading across the country, and your team of specialists (between 2-4 of them) must cure all four of the diseases to win. There are different roles, all of which allow you to take special actions, or modify a rule. The game ends when you have either cured all four diseases, you are unable to place a disease cube of the correct color, or eight outbreaks have occurred. Each specialist gets four action points a turn, which can be spent on:
- Moving. Move to an adjacent city, discard a card for a city and move there, or discard the card of the city you’re in to move to any other city. If you are at a research station, you can move to any other research station.
- Treat disease. Remove one cube of one color from the city you are in (all cubes if the disease is cured).
- Build a Research Station. Discard the city you are in and place a research station
- Share cards. Give another player in the same city as you the card for that city.
- Cure Disease. Use five cards of the same color to cure a disease.
- Pass. End the specialists turn (Not used frequently)
There are also Event cards that you can play which do not require action points. After ending your turn, you draw from the city deck. Then you draw from the infection deck to see where the diseases spread, which includes a number of Epidemic cards (I’ll explain those in a bit). The number of cities you draw from the infection deck depends on the difficulty and how many outbreaks have occured. In each of the locations you drew from the infection deck, you must place a cube of the appropriate color disease. If any city then winds up with three cubes (or more) of the same color in it, then you have an outbreak which spreads the disease to all cities adjacent to the one suffering the outbreak (this can cascade through multiple cities). The only time cubes aren’t added to the board is if the disease has been eradicated. An eradicated disease has no cubes on the board at all. When you hit an Epidemic card, one city is selected to get three cubes of the correct color added to it, and then you shuffle the infection deck back together and draw cards again. As you can see, it’s very easy to watch your game spiral out of control.
Game 2) Lightweight economic engine building – Splendor (2-4 players online, solo against 1-3 AI’s)
Splendor is a race to 15 points. Each turn a player can take one of the following four actions:
- Take three gems of different colors (with a limit of 10 in their hand)
- Take two gems of the same color, as long as there are at least 4 to begin with
- Purchase a card by paying gems
- Reserve a card by putting it into their hand (limit of 3), and taking a gold gem (wild card)
As you purchase cards, they will provide you a free gem for any later purchases you make. This allows you to purchase more expensive cards later in the game. There are three tiers of cards, each with their own deck. The first tier of cards are worth at most 1 point (with most being worth no points), while the second tier is between 1 – 3 points, and the third tier between 3 – 5 points. There are also nobles that you can claim at the end of your turn. Nobles will either require that you have four free gems of two colors, or three free gems of three colors. Each noble is worth 3 points. The end game is triggered once one player reaches 15 points, at that point play continues until everyone has taken an equal number of turns.
Game 3) Deck building that doesn’t require shuffling – Star Realms
This is a small, light deck building game that you can pick up a physical copy of for ~$10. We touched on deck building games earlier, but this is the first I’ve brought up. Both players start with the same 10 card deck. Through the course of the game, players buy cards from the center to make their deck better. While this is going on, both players are attacking the other, trying to reduce them to 0 authority (health). There are four different colors of cards you can buy, and most have a bonus ability if you play more than one of them a turn. They have special names for the colors, but each color has a focus:
- Blue – Healing and drawing more cards
- Green – Massive damage and base destruction
- Red – Trashing cards from your hand/discard pile
- Yellow – Drawing more cards, and forcing your opponent to discard cards
You can play the AI for free, but you will need to pay if you wish to play online against real opponents. The game allows for real time and asynchronous (48 hours a move) play.
Game 4) Yes, I am breeding sheep – Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small
Uwe Rosenberg returns, with another two player game. This game is a worker placement game in which you are trying to efficiently build up a farm. You do this by getting resources, building fields, and getting animals to put into the field. When placing animals on your board, each area can only contain one type of animal. So you need to plan ahead to enclose enough areas that you will be able to store all of the animals you’re getting. At the end of each round, there is also a breeding phase, where if you have at least 2 of a type of animal, you’ll get another one. The game is played over 8 rounds, with each player getting 3 actions per round. At the end of the game, you’ll score points based on how many of each type of animal you have, any fully utilized extension boards, and for buildings. If you have any animals that you did not get at least 3 of, then you will lose points for that type of animal.
We’ve gone through some midweight games, and with this little breather, next week I’ll be tackling some of the heavier games that are out there.