One of the things I love most about the iPad is how many board games have made it to the iOS platform. Classics like Ticket to Ride, Carcassonne, and Settlers of Catan blazed the trail, but now we're seeing another wave of releases with games like Eclipse: New Dawn for the Galaxy and Lords of Waterdeep. Here are some of the games I've come across recently, but I'm always looking for more. Add your own as a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Starbase Orion is a turned-based galactic exploration, colonization, and conquest game inspired the classic Masters of Orion series. It's available for iPhone and iPad, though the developer hopes to expand it to Andorid, Mac, and Windows as well.
When it comes to pinball, there are two tables that I love. Star Trek: The Next Generation and Indiana Jones. I easily spent hundreds of dollars in quarters on those two games in college, and they're the two games I'd most like to own.
Fantasy Flight Games made its name creating huge, sprawling board games with hundreds of fiddly-bits and robust game mechanics that take hours to play. Fans who buy Arkham Horror or Mansions of Madness know they’re getting their money’s worth … and that there’s no way the game will fit in their pockets. With the Elder Sign: Omens app for iPhone ($3.99), Android ($3.99) and iPad ($6.99), they’ve taken a different approach: create a lightweight, fast-playing game that’s as atmospheric as its predecessors but can be played anywhere.
Masks: 1,000 Memorable NPCs for Any Roleplaying Game is a fire hose of inspiration aimed directly at your brain. It's a massive collection of non-player characters for the fantasy, science fiction, and modern genres designed to make the game master's life easier.
One of the good things about Dungeons & Dragons next-generation inspired publishing hiatus is that it gives other games a chance to shine. While I doubt gamers are suddenly diverting all of their D&D 4th Edition buying power toward other games, I do hope (and anecdotally this seems to be the case) that it gives folks a chance to try something new.
One of those new thing's that's generated a fair amount of buzz has been Margaret Weis Production's Marvel Heroic Role-Playing, which is a Cortex-infused take on the superhero genere. I bought the core rulebook early in the summer and paged through it. Based on that initial glance, I liked what I saw, particularly with how it handled the superhero tropes of particularly solo vs. duo vs. team match-ups, but I give it a more through read-through.
The Unknown Regions is the final sourcebook for Wizards of the Coast's Star Wars: Saga Edition Role-Playing Game. The book serves as a placeholder for all the books left unpublished, and promises to carry players to the unexplored corners of the Star Wars galaxy. It does this by venturing into The Unknown Regions to explore what fans know -- the Chiss, the Rakata and the Sorcerers of Rhand -- and plenty that they don't.
The Unknown Regions details eight worlds created just for the book, introduces a planet generator that game masters can use to make their own, and debuts creature generation rules to populate them. Since Scouts are essential to exploring these brave new worlds, they get a variety of feats and talents, and because no final frontier should be without its dangerous challenges, the book re-envisions "Hazards" as Dungeons & Dragons Fourth Edition-style threats that require a combination of brawn and skill to defeat. The end result is a tool kit that gives players everything they need to continue their adventures beyond the last book in the Star Wars Saga Editions line.
Skill challenges were the best thing to emerge from our Dungeons Dragons 4th Edition mini-campaign, and when we started playing Star Wars: Saga Edition, we pieced together our own version of the rules. We based them on 4E's examples, the skill DCs established in Scum and Villainy, and personal experience. The end result created some of the most memorable moments in our campaign, including the heroes' disastrous attempt to escape a proto-star nebula.
Galaxy of Intrigue formalizes these ad hoc rules by creating a Skill Challenge system for Saga Edition that improves the 4E iteration in every way. The source book introduces new feat and talent options for skillful characters, nine new species (including the Bith, Defel and Neimodian), an entire world dedicated to intrigue, eight mini-adventures, and the "The Perfect Storm" campaign.
Pandemic is Z-Man Games' globe-spanning game of viral infection in which 2-4 players travel from city to city trying to prevent local outbreaks from turning into full-blown pandemics.
The game is played on a map of the Earth, with major cities connected by highways and flight paths. At the start of the game, color-coded cards keyed to the cities are drawn from the Infection Deck, indicating which metropolises have seen virus outbreaks. There are four viruses in all; the goal of the game is to cure the viruses before the planet succumbs to rampant disease.
At its heart, Steve Jackson’s Munchkin is a simple game. Players assume the role of adventurers hacking, slashing, and looting their way through a dungeon, fighting monsters (and often each other) on a quest to reach level 10.
These power-hungry munchkins can play all manner of cards to help them, including weapons, armor and other magic items, as well as special species and class cards. It’s simple … but often devilishly hard to track. The Munchkin Level Counter app ($4.99, Steve Jackson Games) adds to the complexity, but also brings some new tools for managing it.