Thursday, May 18, 2017

Boardgaming Apps Coming 'Round the Bend

Boardgame Apps are now nearly as frequent as the physical copies, with their digital boxes adorning our phone spaces. For some, these apps are a cheaper alternative to acquiring the physical copy, allowing for faster setup and learning on-the-go. For others, the app is complimentary to their existing physical copy, and, at times, totally eclipses physical play altogether.

Recently, however, I've felt a new effect - actually wanting to get or play the physical game.

Boardgame apps are not a new thing, and I've played my share for a few years now. All promise the same thing, and all have delivered in some capacity; quick plays, simple tutorials, play multiplayer online, etc. And I've played through several games, including Carcassonne, Ascension, Star Realms, Patchwork, Castles of Mad King Ludwig, Pandemic, Baseball Highlights 2045, Colt Express, Rhino Hero, Paperback, Zombies!!!, Kamisodo, Tsuro, 6 Takes!, Le Havre, Pickomino, Neuroshima Hex, Galaxy Trucker, Agricola, Can't, seriously, I can't stop where's the period to end this sente-

*Ahem* Anyways, NONE of the app versions of the games above didn't drive me towards the physical equivalent, whether I already owned the game or not. It felt distinctively app-like, whether the game helps to pre-calculate complicated point systems, or it looks so elaborately flourished that it makes the game ho-hum in real life. I was satisfied enough with what they offered, and unceremoniously closed the app without another thought.

Lately, however, I've run across some games that get me excited to play a real copy of it in my hands. That's...something I never expected or thought could/would ever happen, but it did. Three separate boardgame apps, in fact. Let's go down the list, shall we, and figure out how that happened.

Potion Explosion

I've never played this game before, so getting accepted into the beta program for this app was great in its own right. Amidst all the bugs and issues, I learned the game eventually. It wouldn't be until the game's final release and playing it with some other human peers that I learned more about the combos with the marbles and potions.

While the game has its "bells and whistles" in the animation, the core of the game - picking marbles and creating explosive combos - is still very true to its physical version. Just watching the balls slam and get collected to the pool has me imagining me doing the same with a handful of marbles. With each completed online game, I feel more and more inclined to purchase this game for myself, being able to teach it calmly and easily to friends and family, and seeing myself enjoying this game a LOT. The app even has a sound for all the marbles rolling down the lanes, like a bunch of bowling balls returning to the station all at once. IT SOUNDS SO NICE!

Potion Explosion iOS link ($2.99)
Potion Explosion Android link ($2.99)


The Onirim app is purely just the base game with no expansions (they'll likely come at a later date), but that didn't stop a lot of people from enjoying countless plays of this. Being a veteran of the actual game, the app did satiate the hunger in me to play this on-the-go, and certainly expedites the time usually spent shuffling SO MANY TIMES.

No matter how wonderful it is to play a game VERY quickly with its automatic shuffling, it has reached a cap for me - at least until the expansions come trickling down. In fact, it has spurred me to actually PLAY the game more. Other apps in this same situation didn't motivate me so - Pandemic, Castles of Mad King Ludwig, and Star Realms failed to get me all amped up to play my own copy. Why so with Onirim, especially with all the shuffling?

Well, for one, I personally find the shuffling quite therapeutic. Second, it make me ache again to play the game with the expansions. I may return to the app for some time when the expansions are available, but it'll likely get me excited once more to play my own analog copy. Thus, to trade off between the digital and analog copy can be considered the perfect marriage of the two, hand in hand.

Onirim iOS link ($0.99)
Onirim Android link ($0.99)


A couple of years ago, I heard about this solo game from Japan. It wasn't until the app came out that all those memories flooded back once more. And, after a few rounds of the app, my interest pined again for this game about multiplying sheep. Diving into the app without any knowledge of the game, I quickly picked up how easily I lost and, more importantly, how to strategically win. I also pictured how awesome the game would be on my table.

A quick search later, and I easily find a copy online for purchase. For an app of a game I heard about years ago to suddenly surface and cause this immediate impact really tells a lot about how well the app was put together. Behind the basic game (which is free, by the way, just limted to 5 plays daily, unlimited with more modes if you buy the upgrade for a meager $4) lies a simple interface and straight-forward no-fluff gameplay that delivers you the core game with no fuss - a game I can easily feel at ease playing on my own table.

Shephy iOS link (free)
Shephy Android link (free)

An Ideal Cycle of LIfe

With the ability of streamlining the rules and getting you playing no time, boardgame apps are the perfect gateway to gateway games. At the simple cost of a coffee or less, the price of entry for these games is tiny to see whether the big purchase is your thing. For an app based on the physical boardgame, many people may happily retreat to them in lieu of their physical counterparts...but a GOOD app will convince people that the real game is a worthwhile purchase to buy and share with their friends in an analog setting.
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