iPhone Games

I’ve never been a gadget person, but I’ve been unable to avoid being entranced with my new iPhone. I’ve never had a smartphone before, so the effect is probably just due to having the internet with me wherever I go.

Plus I’ve purchased a few games. Most of these are conversions of boardgames but because I play boardgames primarily due to their superior mechanics, this isn’t a slight on them at all.

SmartGo was one of my first purchases, combining a huge library of puzzles (tsumego) with an AI far stronger than that on my last phone. It was smacking me around in 9×9 giving a 2 stone handicap until I tightened up my tactics and staunched game-turning losses.

Tichu is a 2v2 partnership card game close to the Asian favourite Thirteen. I found it quite addictive early on, but I’m not playing it as much recently. I think it would be more fun with a human partner.

Neuroshima Hex is an excellent tactical combat game that possesses the asymmetry of an Ameritrash, the tight design of a Euro, and the tactics of an abstract. As the real version was too expensive (given I’d probably never get to play it), this was a straightforward purchase, and I’m considering the 2 expansion armies.

Starbase Orion is a homage/rip-off of the old Microprose 4X space strategy game, Master of Orion II: Battle at Antares. Almost every single major mechanic and implementation of each mechanic (types of planet and their characteristics, the types of utility ship, how colonies work, the classes of weapons, how infrastructure works) is taken from the original game. There is a bit of tightening-up (removal of “hidden” spies who didn’t do anything, a kinder tech-tree) and a couple of new ideas (nebula generator). Currently it lacks many major mechanics (diplomacy, retreating from battle, choosing not to engage in battle).

I hated the original Ra when I first played it in real life, but a few rounds against an AI taught me the scoring and opened my eyes to its appeal. So far it’s my favourite “short” game (they’re all pretty quick) on my iPhone.

Medici (one of Reiner Knizia’s other feted auction games) was on special so I acquired it too. It’s simpler and less mechanically colourful than Ra but I’ve been playing it regularly, trying to figure out the core strategies.

Tigris and Euphrates is a very recent release and my most recent acquisition. Known as one of Knizia’s masterpieces, I learned it against some very poor AI and enjoyed it a few times against humans on BGG. This implementation is excellent, aside from the finicky touch accuracy and the slow Undo. A friend calls T&E “the most evil game ever” because “you have incentives to screw other people over”. Essentially you can get points by building up, or by tearing down; everyone builds up early on, making the inevitable conflicts all the more painful. It’s a deep, subtle game, in which you can play opponents off each other, and turn their efforts against them. The ancient civilisation theme is very abstract, but still present; I actually prefer this high-level approach that makes every decision meaningful and allows some very tricky play (eg start a war between two kingdoms and overthrow a surviving leader, or overthrow and leader and use the kingdom to attack another). I really enjoy the depth of the game, as I can play it in less than half an hour and thereby gain experience faster. The conflict and resultant losses is sometimes painful, but I’m slowly acclimatising myself to it.


One response to “iPhone Games

  1. I’m entranced by my iPhone too! And I don’t even have Internet in the go. Only at home, where i can go online without waiting for my computer to boot up. I’m getting addicted to the games I paid for more content. I tend to go for quick puzzle games. Try “cut the rope” and “helsing’s fire” – you can download free versions to try them out.

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