So it is the Christmas holidays and you may be visiting family/socialising/other meaningless tasks. What do? Well don’t let this stop your ridiculous gaming obsession! I fancy speaking to you about a couple of iOS games I have picked up over this 2011 Christmas holiday and why you should get them too! Now just to warn you, these games are based around board games rather than your traditional simple action games found on the iOS but trust me they can be a lot more satisfying!
First up is my home-boy Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer
Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer is a fantastic game I stumbled upon when browsing the Apple App store. Adapted from the board game version, Ascension sees you building up a deck of cards, fighting monsters and gaining honour points. The process is simple and the controls work smoothly yet there is much depth to the tactics of winning.
Each player (2-4, AI or human) has the same 10 starting cards, which provide low amounts of the basic resources of runes and power. 5 cards are drawn each turn. With runes you purchase better and more interesting cards and place them in your discard pile, ready to be reshuffled and used in your hand when your hand is empty. This results in cards you purchase being in play within the next couple of turns rather than direct. With power you destroy monsters in the center row (a row of random constantly rotating cards in the middle of play) the destroying of monsters can affect other players negatively or give you runes and also give you honour.
Honour is your score and comes from a pool of honour available to everyone, the person with the most honour at the end of the game wins and the game ends when the pool runs dry. You gain honour as I said before from killing monsters but each card also has an honour amount associated with it. This honour amount on each card is counter up and added to your total at the end. This can result in tactics involved purely in the massive acquisition of cards rather than killing, or just trying to kill as much as possible before the honour point pool is depleted.
The cards are beautifully hand drawn and the game looks amazing. The cards can have varying effects such as giving you runes and letting you draw a card, therefore increasing what you can do that turn. Cards such as these or cards allowing you to draw 2 more cards can result in massive turns where you manage to play out 10 cards or more even though only starting with 5. This can be immensely satisfying seeing a good play come together. There are also cards that allow you to destroy your own cards permanently for that game. Why would you want to do that? Well its genius, it allows you to discard the weaker cards to allow your stronger cards to come out more often. As you are building on top of your first 10 weak cards, you want to start getting rid of them to allow for your new improved cards. – I love it!
I have tried to put the game simply but it is hard to explain. Don’t let that put you off though! Each game takes around 10-15 minutes depending on how many people you are playing with and you will have everything sussed in only 2 or 3 games. Mastering the game takes a lot longer though but luckily the AI is very competent and can be quite a challenge on its second difficulty level! There is also multiplayer over the internet if you so desire and a new expansion increasing the number of cards to around 120 I believe (Don’t quote me on that)
So that is the jist of it. What do I think? I love it. I think it is my favourite iOS game of all time and I’ll keep coming back to it trying to improve my tactics and best my highscore, even to try get my friends involved for a good game. A fantastic find. Buy it for less than a starbucks coffee. (I’m also led to believe there is a “Lite” version which you can try)
What about le second game? Well its Cabals
Cabals is another card game based around a more Lovecraftian universe deep in magic and mystery. Cabals is actually a Free-to-play online card game originating on the PC although I have only played its iOS version (so not sure if there is any differences/cross-compatibility.) So yes, its free! and isn’t quite a card game in the same sense as Ascension and more of a game involving tokens moving across a gameboard.
The objective is to storm the opponents stronghold or to hold enough points on the map for long enough to acquire 60 Dominion points before your opponent. Upon downloading the game you are given access to one free starter deck from a choice of 4. I just fired in and chose a random one but each starter deck has a different set of cards, some of which have different actives, others are just basic units with different art. To gain other cards you can either purchase them using your hard earned cash, or gain one at a time through defeating opponents and leveling up. I am fairly certain this method of gaining cards isn’t viable if you wish to become competitive at the game as its just too slow. There isn’t really much variation to the cards either, but the free-to-play model has definitely got the potential to add hundreds more purchasable and unlockable cards to increase the life of the game.
So whats the game actually like? Well you move cards across varying battlefields, gaining power each turn from specific points and then spending that power to bring cards from your hand into play. The premise is simple and there is some tactics behind it although looking back at Ascension it does not seem to have the depth that I would like. While there are cards with special abilities, they are few and far between and even then not very game changing. The tactic of keeping your units that produce resources behind from the front line, then send everyone else forward seems to work everytime even against challenging AI. Perhaps there will be more luck against people online but I doubt it.
In terms of the actual iOS port, the game once again is technically superb. Smooth controls and brilliant visuals leave little to be desired from a board game of this type.
So Cabals has the potential, and with being free-to-play you can’t go wrong. Get it downloaded, give it a go and wait for the release of more interesting and eventful cards. Maybe you’ll find some more depth in it than I did, if so let me know in the comments I’d love to hear your thoughts.