I love video games. I also thoroughly enjoy board games. Sadly, when one of these mediums tries to cross over to the other, the resulting product usually is lackluster. This is one of those cases where that statement is NOT true. Asmodee Digital has taken beloved board gaming franchises and has put the love and care into “porting” them over to the digital realm. One to one conversions can turn fun board games into cumbersome and frustrating experiences. The trick that I believe the great people at Asmodee Digital have figured out is that you need to design a digital board game not as a conversion, but its own unique video game experience. From the titles I demoed I truly believe they have found the perfect formula for this. So let’s say you want to experience some of what Asmodee Digital has to offer right now. Well you’re in luck because they have a great lineup of available titles for you IOS, Android, or even PC.
Pathfinder Adventures: Rise of the Runelords
Pathfinder Adventures is a role playing card game. I have previously played the table top version a handful of times. Players build their character and fight monsters, but unlike a traditional roleplaying game instead of dice and character sheets you play with a deck of cards. This deck can be customized with new abilities, items, and allies. All of these are used in your pursuit of defeating the villain and closing the “gates” at certain locations. These “gates” are decks of their own that you drawn against and face challenges, traps, monsters, and hopefully the final villain. I had tons of fun playing the tabletop version of this game, but a big drawback was keeping track of all the hundreds of cards, and setting the game up each time. This is completely solved in the digital version! The game does the tedious shuffling, sorting, and setup for you so you can jump straight into the action. The app is constructed beautifully, with great design centered around player experience and interface. This is a feature that really jumps out at me from all of Asmodee Digital’s games. With Rise of the Runelords you get the base deck, 11 characters, and around 1000 original cards. You can even get expansions, like the Rise of the Goblins expansion which was released August 2nd. This expansion is 8.99 on both Steam and mobile. You can pick up Pathfinder Adventures: Rise of the Runelords right now on mobile for free for the first three adventures in Rise of the Runelords, and for PC the game will cost you 24.99 USD but get you everything you need to play the complete campaign. Asmodee digital is asking for a premium price, but they do have a premium product to offer you. Pathfinder Adventures is packed full of hours of play, and exciting` adventures to be had. Go get to it!
Onirim is a game I have had my eyes on in the tabletop word. It’s a solitaire card game that “takes players on a journey through their dreams to best the luck of the draw.” I am attracted to single player board games because of the ease of finding players, just me and myself! Onirim was difficult for me to find because I believe it has been in and out of print, as of this morning there is one copy available on amazon for twenty eight dollars. Onirim is a game about being lost in a labyrinth of a dream world. You wander from room to room, trying desperately to find the exit from this terrifying and unreal world. The labyrinth cards are sorted into four different colors: red for the observatory, green for garden, brown for library, and blue for aquarium. Each suit of cards has two doors in them and 10 nightmare cards, totaling over a deck of 100 cards. All these cards are shuffled together, you draw five cards and the game begins. The goal is to find the doors. You start by playing cards, one at a time looking for the doors scattered throughout your deck. The colored labyrinth cards will be stamped with a sun, moon, or key symbol. You then place the card down on the table and the symbol must be different from the proceeding card’s symbol. When you have played three cards of matching color continuously you then search the draw deck for the matching color’s door card. The keys have multiple uses. You can use them as regular cards, but you can also discard them to look at the top five cards of the draw deck. You must then discard one of those cards and you may rearrange the other four. You can also use a key when you draw a door card of the same color as the key in the draw phase, discard the key and you can immediately claim the door. But what if you draw a dreaded nightmare card? You would then discard the card and then do one of the following actions: discard a key card, discard your whole hand, shuffle a door back into the draw deck, or draw five cards from the draw deck and discard all labyrinth cards. Nightmares are pretty scary. If you find all eight doors cards before the draw deck empties you escape the nightmare and win the game! So here’s the kicker for the digital version: Onirim is totally free to download and play. You can find the game on Steam, IOS, an android. There has been 3 expansions releases since release, each costing you 0.99 cents, with more planned expansions on the way. The game’s art style translates beautifully to a mobile phone, which is where I have been playing the game lately. This is almost a no brainer to download as it will cost you nothing and gain you a great game to play in your free time.
Potion Explosion seems like it would have been a mobile game first, then a board game. The setup of the table top game takes many cues from games like Bejeweled and Candy Crush. As a wizard you must take ingredients (marbles) from the rows of available marbles, when you remove a marble you can cause other marbles to crash into each other. If these marbles are matching colors then they cause an explosion and you collect all the marbles of the same color touching said crashing marbles. With these ingredients you then brew potions that will give you special powers and victory points. The ingredients are colorful and each stamped with their own unique emblem. The art in the game screams kooky. The gameplay is extremely straight forward, fast paced, and easy to learn. The table top game is a great family game and this is a near perfect translation to a mobile platform from what I have played. You can pick up Potion Explosion on IOS and Android for $2.99 USD. The game offers single player, and local and online multiplayer. Potion Explosion hits my table a ton and I can’t wait to try it out and give you guys a full review. Here’s a video showcasing the mobile game and features.
Mysterium is a sleeper hit in my opinion. I knew nothing about the game until recently. I purchased the table top version by recommendation from my sister and have been playing almost religiously during our board game nights. The game is bursting at the seams with theme. You play a physic investigating a murder that was committed on the sprawling grounds of Warwick Manor some thirty years ago. The mansion is haunted by the ghost of the staff long dead. Mysterium is a cooperative game of deduction and teamwork for two to seven players. Over the course of the game, one player takes on the role of the ghost and over seven rounds, tries to lead the psychics to the correct murderer. Each round players receive one vision card trying to point them in the correct direction. You have three mysteries to solve: who the murder is, where it took place, and what weapon was used. The ghost is sending each vision to every psychic, pointing them to their own unique set of killers, places, and weapons. Each of these visions cards are very obscure, like maybe a suit of armor sinking in the sand of an hour glass. What could it mean? Is the ghost trying to point me into the direction of the doctor who served in battle, or maybe the old time weathered widow. At the end of seven rounds if each psychic has guessed their set correctly you will then work together to determine who the real killer is. Asmodee Digital has knocked it out of the park again with this physical to digital adaptation of Mysterium. From what I saw at Gen Con the app is beautiful. It uses most of the original art from the game, and adds even more with beautiful backgrounds and spooky tunes. You can pick up Mysterium on IOS and Android for $4.99 USD or $9.99 for the Steam version on PC. Also they will be adding new content soon to the base game of Mysterium. Be on the look out for our upcoming twitch stream!
Spot it! Duel
Spot it! Duel is a family card game about matching symbols as quickly as you can and raking in points. It has a quick and addictive flow of gameplay that is easy to learn. You can build up bigger and better combos scoring yourself extra points. But you must be careful and balance your matching and speed. The game has art that really jumps off the screen. The symbols and characters remind me of emojis. This is another great example of Asmodee Digital translating a table top game to the digital space. Spot it! Duel looks great, and the features and play styles added are more than just a ‘one to one’ conversion. Spot it! Duel is a lighter game, so instead of a premium price the game is freemium. You can download it today for IOS and Android and jump right in and start matching. Recently they have added a whole new character, and daily mission with rewards to the game. Here is a look at the game and gameplay. Enjoy!
Jaipur is another area of my gaming ignorance. I was very much a “Jon Snow” when it came to this game. Let me tell you that my eyes were opened wide after demoing Jaipur at Gen Con. Jaipur is a fast paced card game for two players. Players take on the mantle of traders in the market seeking to acquire goods of various types and try to make the best profit. But what are all the items good for if you don’t have camels to ensure that you can take them across the desert to the best market available? Jaipur features a deck of 55 cards, 44 of these cards are goods ranging from diamonds to leather. Each turn a player may take one or more cards from the market and add it to their hand. If a player takes one card a new card is drawn from the deck and replaced in the market. Although a smart merchant may want to take more goods on his/her turn. A player is also able to take multiple cards but the same number of cards must be given back to the market from the player’s hand. Or third and certainly not least a player may take all camels that are in the market. Players cannot have more than seven cards in their hand at any given time. Jaipur is a risk/reward type of game, with great elements of hand management. But what are you going to do with all the goods? Well you sell them of course. To sell goods players simply discard a number of cards of the same type. The reward for selling goods is to earn a number of Goods Tokens equal to the number of cards sold. So if two leather Cards are sold, the next two leather Goods Tokens are taken from the relevant supply. Because the Goods Tokens are ordered from highest to lowest value, there is an incentive to sell early to secure the higher values. I like this as it simulates somewhat the concept of supply and demand. When goods are first sold their value is high but after a few are sold they diminish in value. Jaipur is an extremely balanced game, so there is a catch to selling single goods too quickly. To counter the quick flipping of goods, Jaipur rewards the more patient and methodical players who manage their hand. If you sell three, four, or five goods of the same type at a time not only do you get those Goods Tokens, but you also collect a bonus tile with values ranging from one to three, four to six, and eight to ten respectively. Selling in bulk can be extremely lucrative for a patient merchant. This is the basic gameplay of Jaipur, and after playing a few rounds on the Ipad at Gen Con I was hooked. You can find Jaipur on IOS and Android for $2.99 USD. Any wise merchant would know that is a steal of a price.
Ticket to Ride: First Journey
Ticket to Ride has been many gamers first foray into deeper tabletop gaming. Ticket to Ride: First Journey attempts to make it even more accessible for a younger audience. Instead of competing for points players will be given objectives and made to focus on connecting certain cities. The art is extremely adorable and again the game is a great digital adaption of a tabletop game. The UI is very intuitive and easy to understand what is going on even if you have never played Ticket to Ride before. Ticket to Ride: First Journey will be releasing in Quarter Three of 2017 on Steam, Mac, IOS, and Android. The game will come with a price tag, but Asmodee Digital wasn’t sure of what it will cost you. I can attest though that you will be paying for a premium product because their developers have put a lot of thought and care into adapting this beloved franchise.
Settlers of Catan is a classic board game, but Asmodee Digital isn’t just making digital ports here. Catan Stories is a all-new text adventure game based on Settlers of Catan. Catan Stories will tell the story based on the Legend of the Sea Robbers scenario that will be released later this year for the board game. In Catan Stories the player will guide three different characters through the exciting and adventure filled story to protect Catan from the Sea Robber threat. You can get your hands on Catan Stories some time in Quarter four of 2017 on IOS and Android.
Another classic board game will be making it’s way to the digital space with the upcoming release of Carcassonne. Carcassonne is a multi-award winning tile matching game. The game has been around forever, and was one of my first tabletop purchases. The digital counterpart includes a full single player vs AI., pass and player local multiplayer, and even online multiplayer modes. The people over at Asmodee Digital assure me that this isn’t like other digital adaptations of Carcassone. Again beating a dead horse, but they are looking at the development of the game as a video game, not just a simple conversion of the old board game. Carcassonne will be making its way over to Steam and Android later is year.
Mille Bornes is a french card game where players compete to drive 1000km, dealing with road hazards along the way. The game seems very straight forward. I personally do not know too much about the game, nor did I get a chance to demo the game at gen con, but I have spoken with a few fellow gamers and they have fond memories of Mille Bornes. From what I have gathered, like most card games, Mille Bornes is a hand management game. I spoke with a personal friend and she remembers playing the game with her mother when she was younger. The game is a very skill based game. You must plan each turn ahead of time, and watch your hand limit of six cards. You are trying to move towards the goal of 1000km. The game strikes the critical balance of skill and fun and is endlessly replayable. Mille Bornes is coming to Steam, IOS, and Android some time later this year.
I’ll be honest, I had never heard of Abalone. So to wikipedia I ran to figure out more about this game. Abalone is a abstract strategy game, which is a genre of game I have been highly intrigued by lately. They seem to rely more on skill and thought than chance. Think Chess. But what is Abalone? Abalone is a beautiful, strategic marble game. It was awarded as a Mensa Select Winner (kind of a big deal), and now will be adapted for multiplayer online play. The game is played on a hexagon grid, with each player having fourteen marbles. I won’t try to pretend to be able to explain the rules of Abalone. So I’ll leave it up to Don over at Marbles the Brain Store. Regardless the game looks extremely exciting and I can’t wait to test my wits against opponents online on Steam some time later this year.
Smash Up is one of my all time favorite games. It’s a super quick to teach and easy to play card battle game. Each player picks two different factions and smashes the genres together. The base game comes with pirates, ninjas, robots, zombies, dinosaurs, wizards, tricksters, and aliens. Each faction has it’s advantages and disadvantages. Maybe ninja-robots are awesome, but they might be weak against pirate-zombies. Learning all this is super fun, and with all the countless expansions they have for the board game I can’t wait to see what they will add to the digital version. Asmodee Digital plans to support Smash Up with In App purchases for the boxed expansions, but had no news yet on which ones they plan on bringing first. Smash Up will be coming to Steam, IOS, and Android…you guessed it, later this year!
This is the one I am most excited for-Zombicide! I have most of all the expansions for Zombicide and it hits my table almost as much as any other game in my collection. When I saw that Asmodee Digital is adapting one of my favorite table top games to the digital table I was super stoked. From what I saw of the past games I totally trust them to make a great digital adaptation of this amazing game. Zombicide is a cooperative zombie killing game. Players each choose a unique survivor and use their skills and teamwork to cause zombicide. The game takes almost a whole table top to setup, each map is a collection of tiles, and countless doors, rubble, and other map modifications. That is my biggest gripe with the tabletop version of Zombicide, it takes up so much space and has so many components. So this is why I am so completely on board for a digital adaptation. Zombicide, like I said earlier, has many expansions and small additional optional add ons. Asmodee wasn’t willing to commit to telling me what if any expansions will be available to purchase later, but they did assure me that it wouldn’t make sense to not offer expansions if the player base wants them. Oh trust me, we do. What blows me away is that the game will be on Steam, of course, but also IOS and Android. That is mind blowing to me. I can’t wait to play on my Ipad, but sadly there is no release date at this time.
So Asmodee digital didn’t have too much to say about this section of games. But there are a few bombs of announcements here.
Bananagrams is a fast and frantic anagram game where players build crosswords without pen and paper or board. The game is perfect for families and friends. Bananagrams has multiplayer and solo modes, with tons of replayability. The game will be on IOS and Android, so keep your eyes open for more info.
Scythe is a runaway hit in the board game world. It is a deeply thematic engine-building game. The game is set in an alternative history of Europe in the 1920’s. In Scythe, each player represents a fallen leader attempting to restore their honor and lead their faction to power in Eastern Europa. Players conquer territory, enlist new recruits, reap resources, gain villagers, build structures, and activate monstrous mechs. The game is wonderful, and I am head over heels waiting for the release of the digital version. I have complete faith in Asmodee Digital to make another great digital apadation. The game is deep and engaging and can even be played solo. Scythe will be only available on Steam, which is a good call. The depth and beauty of this game may not transfer well to mobile. It’s almost like trying to play Civilization V on mobile, it wouldn’t work. No release date or window has been given, but definitely know that I will be covering Scythe when it launches.
I have yet to try Terraforming Mars, but I have heard nothing but good things about it. I mean it’s a Spiel des Jahres nominee, which is almost the highest praise in the board game world. The game is set in 2400 and players act as a corporation with the goal of advancing the human infrastructure through the solar system and mainly Mars. In Terraforming Mars, you play one of those corporations and work together in the terraforming process, but compete in doing the best work, with victory points awarded not only for your contribution to the terraforming, but also for advancing human infrastructure throughout the solar systems and other commendable achievements. The players acquire unique project cards, which represent anything from introducing plant life or animals, hurling asteroids at the surface, building cities, and establishing greenhouse gas industries to heat up the atmosphere. You compete for the best places for your city tiles, ocean tiles and greenery tiles. When the terraforming process is complete, the player corporation with the most victory points wins. Soon you will be able to help habitat Mars in the digital world. No platforms or release dates have been announced.
Well that is it from Asmodee Digital at Gen Con. I had a great time talking with them, and I would like to thank them for taking the time to demo the games and answer my questions. Keep your browsers refreshing for more Board games news here at GameOctane!