Wednesday Night Gaming (Mini): Neuroshima Hex for iOS

 

Hey ya’ll! Unfortunately I’m a bit short on time this week (job hunt, etc) and I’m working on making some tweaks to my Wednesday Night Gaming format, so I’ve decided to go a bit rambly about a relatively new (for me) game I’ve been playing lately instead of a full on review.

iOS board gaming is pretty cool. Since I have an iPod it isn’t great for game nights (just a little small), but it is pretty damn super to have a few games to play against a computer when you’re standing in a line, on public transit, using certain types of rooms when you don’t have a book around, etc.

It is fun in that same way Chess against computers is fun. I imagine it starts to drag once you get quite good at it (part of the reason I don’t play Ascension as much anymore, I can pretty much walk all over the computer whenever I want now), but, for casual play, it is pretty awesome.

And yes, I know lots of these games have local/online multiplayer. It is a fantastic feature and all games should do it. But like I said, I typically play these games in spare moments where I have nothing else to do, so these features aren’t that important. What I care about is a game that plays quickly, smoothly, and that I can quickly engage with and disengage from.

Enter Neuroshima Hex.

This game is pretty awesome.

To sum up gameplay (and I apologize in advance for any misused terms, as, since I was playing on iOS, I didn’t read the instructions too closely), you have an army formed of hex shaped units. You and your opponent will play your HQs onto the board. You then draw 3 of these hexes per turn and discards at least 1(with the exception of the first turn, where 1st player draws 1, second player draws 2, neither discards), then play/hold/discard the other 2 onto the hex shaped board.

The game ends after a final battle conducted after one player is out of tiles. The winner is the person whose HQ has the most HP remaining.

Now, these hexes come in three varieties: units (dudes that do stuff and stay on the board), modules (dudes that buff your other dudes and stay on the board), and actions  (one use tiles that do things like move your dudes or kill enemy dudes).

Now, where this gets fun is in how your units and battles work.

See, a unit is composed of several parts. First of all, they have initiative, which determines how quickly they act. Higher initiative means you act earlier, lower initiative means you act later. They also, generally, have the ability to attack (either adjacent tiles or tiles at a range) on certain sides of their hex. A number of them also have special abilities (such as being able to disable opposing tiles on certain sides or being able to absorb ranged attacks on certain sides).

Now, that makes things sound simple. You just place a guy down so he can shoot/stab an enemy guy. No big deal, right?

Wrong.

See. Battle only occurs in specific circumstances: when the board is filled completely, when a Battle action is played, or on the last round of the game. This means that that guy you just deployed to take care of the netter? Well, he could get flanked by a faster unit long before he ever has the chance to attack.

This means that the game is all about planning ahead. You can’t (regularly) place tiles for a gain right this moment. You need to place them for a gain when the next battle occurs. You have to anticipate what your opponent could play where and how to minimize the danger to you while maximizing the threat to your opponent.

Yes, you could play your super strong unit in front of their HQ right now, but what if they surround it with faster units and kill it before it attacks? What if they can set-up a ranged unit at an angle where they are had to kill because they’re covered on vulnerable sides by another unit?

The random draws can make the game a bit frustrating (your opponent sees all the right tiles at all the right times, while you see a handful of Move and Push tiles), but, ultimately, that is part of the strategy: dealing with what you all get.

Other quick stuff… hmmm. The base game comes with 4 armies, and an expansion adds 5 more. Each army plays rather differently, having radically different tilesets and each HQ possessing a fairly game defining special ability (allowing adjacents units to act twice, increasing their initiative, etc). The game supports 2-4 players. Has online and local multiplayer.

I will admit I’ve had some issues with the game “locking” up (preventing me from backing out of informational menus), but I’m not sure if this is the game or my iPod (which is having trouble lately), so just putting this out there as a warning.

The game is a real blast and pretty much fits all my criteria for a great iOS board game. It works my brain a bit, it plays fairly quickly, it easy to jump into/out of at a moment’s notice, and has massive replay value.

There is a Lite version available for free if you want to try it and a cheaper, puzzle oriented (boards are already laid out, you have to figure out how to deal with the opposing HQ) version available if you like puzzle games more then strategy games.

Agree? Disagree? Just want to shoot the breeze? Follow my blog and comment!

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