Saunders’ Law: All Cooperative Games Should Have a Solo Mode

I have too many board games. Cough. If I see a board game that is cooperative, more times than not, I will just pick it up. My collection has ballooned because of this! And I was reminded (recently) how ridiculous I have become … a friend bought another friend over for games night at my house. He was so overwhelmed by all my games (some not even opened), he ended up filming a video panning over all my games. Okay, okay, I need to get some of them played.

So, recently, I have been on a quest to get more games played! And because my favorite type of game is cooperative, 9 times out ten, the game is a co-op. The best way to get my games played is to learn it first, then teach it to my friends! But I am BLOWN AWAY by how many cooperative games do NOT have a solo player mode for me to learn with! Really! Off the top of my head:

  • Sentinels of The Multiverse: Only play 3-5. What the Hey? I had to make my own solo rules. See end of article.
  • Battle for GreyPort: See previous review.
  • Time Stories

I don’t understand this! It should be easy to have a solo mode in a cooperative game! If NOTHING else, the solo rules should be “take 2 positions in the game and have the solo player play both positions” (or 3 or whatever). It’s not the best way: sometimes it will work (CO-OP solo mode explicitly has the solo player play 2 characters in the game), and sometimes it won’t (Sentinels of the Multiverse needs 3 characters for balance—there is so much going on, it’s too overwhelming to play 3 characters).

So, to all game designers of cooperative games, I henceforth issue this challenge:

Saunders’ Law: All cooperative board games should have a solo mode!

Why?

  1.  For Teaching Purposes! The best way to learn a game is to have someone teach it to you. If someone can’t teach it to you, then you may have to learn it from the rulebook (by yourself).  Game teachings almost always goes better when someone learns the game (by themselves),  then teaches everyone.Example: Recently, I taught my game group “Zephyr: Winds of Change” (as I pursue Part II of my review). The game has great solo rules, and I was able to learn the game enough first, then teach it to my group.With a solo mode, it is so much easier to learn the game. Then we can teach others.
  2.  For Replayability! Sometimes I can’t play with other people. Or sometimes I don’t want to play with other people. I am always on the lookout for games that work well in solo mode so I can play it. Most cooperative games can easily add a solo mode in and make the game that more attractive to consumers.I can’t tell you how many times I have played Atlantis Rising as a single player because it was really fun. Or Arkham Horror. Or Sentinels. Or CO-OP. Or Secrets of the Lost Tomb.
  3. It’s Usually Easy! This really only applies to truly cooperative games. Games where there are traitors, or semi-co-oops, this doesn’t make sense. But when a cooperative game is fully cooperative (where the players win or lose as a group), then there already is an engine for pitting “bad effects” against the players. Typically, it’s not much harder to add a solo mode, even if the solo player just plays those multiple positions by himself.
  4.  More people Will Buy it! This goes hand-in-hand with replayability. A game with a bigger player counts brings in more customers. As an example from my own world: Recently, Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition came out. I only picked it up because it had a solo mode (1-6 players). The original First Edition of the game DID NOT have a solo mode (2-5 players), which is one of the many reasons I didn’t buy the first edition.

To drive this home, I will note an experience we had with Time Stories  about 6 months ago. Time Stories is for 2-4 players: there is no solo mode.  Because the game is a “play-once story” with lots of plot that can be spoiled, you can’t just try it first.  So, we tried, as a group, to learn this game with 4 players.  We got bogged down in some of the rules because no one knew how to play.  We did get through it, but it would have gone much better if just one person had been able to play  it first.  My friend Josh and I were talking: we think Time Stories would really benefit from a tiny  deck (5? 8? cards) that demos most of the mechanics for a solo player.   Then, that one person can learn the mechanics, without spoiling the rest of the game, and teach others.  A solo mode is Time Stories would have gone a long way for our group.  Honestly, that game group’s opinion of Time Stories was sullied because of our “group-learn” experience.

I hope game designers will heed Saunders’ Law: I think it will make the hobby a better place.

Addendum: Solo Rules for Sentinels of The Multiverse (abbreviated)

Solo variant 1): Go play the iOS/Andriod App. I am not being flippant here: it really is a great way to play solo mode. The app takes care a lot of the fiddliness for you, so that playing 3 SuperHero characters (the minimum you can play with) isn’t too overwhelming.

Solo Variant 2): Take 2 characters to play with: the solo player operates two SuperHeroes. When the characters play, they each play twice: hero 1, hero 2, hero 1, hero 2. This “simulates” playing a 4-player game (with is fairly balanced), but with much less overhead–there’s only two characters to operate.

Solo Variant 3): Play 3 characters. This will work, and it’s pretty fun once you know the game, but it is still an awful lot of maintenance for 1 solo player. I like the game enough that I will play this way sometimes.

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More and More Mutants on Kickstarter Lately!

Recently, there have been a slew of Kickstarters for cooperative board games that I (and hopefully you!) may interested in.  Weirdly, the ones I have been interested in are “mutations” of many games I have referred to in my blog over the last year …

1. Sentinels of Earth-Prime

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1780208966/sentinels-of-earth-prime?ref=user_menu

If you look at my blog about my top 5 games of all time, you’ll note Sentinels of The Multiverse occupies the number 2 spot!  Well, Green Ronin (responsible for the Super Hero RPG Mutants and Masterminds) has teamed up with Greater Than Games to make Sentinels of Earth-Prime, a bunch of new heroes and villains using the Sentinels of the Multiverse system.  It’s a mutant!  It JUST came online, and it has already hit its funding mark. Check it out here!

2. Island Of Doctor Necreux, Second Edition

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/977252844/the-island-of-doctor-necreaux-second-edition?ref=user_menu

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I was very excited when I saw this was up for a second edition.  I JUST wrote a blog entry here!  But here again, it is a mutant, as it is the 2nd edition of the game I really liked!  Check it out here!

3. Shadowrift Expansions

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/shadowrift/shadowrift-skittering-darkness

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I wrote up a top 10 favorite cooperative games Off The Beaten Path, and Shadowrift (the first edition) was on it!  Right now, more expansions (and you can get the second edition at the same time) are available here!  It has definitely evolved and mutated since I got the first edition …

4. Gloomhaven, Second Edition

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1350948450/gloomhaven-second-printing?ref=user_menu

Where’s Gloomhaven on my blog you might wonder?  You may even search for it and say “Darnnit Rich, I don’t see Gloomhaven anywhere on your blog!”  And strictly speaking, you’d be right.

I see Gloomhaven as the spritiual successor to Dungeons and Dragons/Pathfinder: it’s the RPG mutated to Card form.  Recall that D&D/Pathfinder is my favorite game of all time.

5. Thunderstone Quest

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/alderac/thunderstone-quest-from-aeg

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An adventuring deck-building game.  Kind of a mutant of Shadowrift and Gloomhaven! All right, I may be reaching for that last one, but it looks really cool.


So, those are 5 cooperative games appearing on Kickstarter now or very recently.  I am looking forward to all of these!

 

 

Island of Dr. Necreaux: Second Edition is on Kickstarter!

A while ago, I listed my favorite cooperative games Off The Beaten Path.  It seems like all top 10 cooperative games list the same games over and over, so this was my attempt to give some love to some other overlooked co-op games.  One of my favorite little games on this list was The Island Of Dr. Necreaux.  I had played the original first edition and really enjoyed it.

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One common complaint about the game was that the FAQ was bigger than the rules!  Well, a second edition is now on Kickstarter !!!  It has more colorful art, and (hopefully) will fix a lot of the discrepancies from the first edition.

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I have to admit, I really enjoyed the “Flash Gordon”-esque art from the first edition, but I am excited to see how they’ve updated the rules.  And new colorful art!

As I type this, the Kickstarter ends in five days and they are not quite there yet.  Get out there and pick this game up!  It really is a great game, and I am telling you, this is a really unique cooperative game that’s quick, thematic, and very fun.

I already have the first edition (and really like it!), but I really want this game to succeed so I just backed it myself a few minutes ago.

Review of Zephyr: Winds of Change — Part I. The Unboxing and First Impressions

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Just today, I received my copy of Zephyr: Winds of Change. It’s a cooperative board game set in a SteamPunk world, with fighting, flying airships! What’s it look like?

Unboxing it reveals a lot of good looking components.

This was a Kickstarter that promised delivery in March 2017. It only missed by about 2 weeks (it’s currently April 14th), which is pretty good for a Kickstarter!
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/portaldragon/zephyr-winds-of-change

It looks fantastic.

My plan is to review this game in several parts. Part I will be the unboxing and first impressions (after playing through it once to see how it works). Later on, after I’ve had a chance to teach it to others and play full sessions, I will have a better idea of how it plays long term.

So, here we go …

Unboxing

Unboxing revealed very high quality components. The cards are nice quality (linen-coated I think), and have some great art.

One of the coolest features of this game is that there are clear cards (the lady below) that go on top of normal cards: the combination makes a “new card” (sorta like Mystic Vale).  There are 40 clear cards (called “personality cards”) that be fitted onto the faction cards.

The rulebook and Introduction look real good. They have plenty of pictures inside, use big fonts and seem easy to read. This is a good sign.

As I am punching out the pieces and separating out decks, I am consulting the main rulebook. I do like everything I am seeing, but I am slightly annoyed that the decks aren’t marked better. They use iconography, which is fine, but a word like “Assignments” and “Missions” coupled with the Iconography on the back of the decks would make the game easier to learn. I understand the goal these days is to make things as language independent as possible, but given the amount of text in this game, it wouldn’t have taken much work to mark the backs of the decks. This is a very minor annoyance, but one nonetheless.

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Learn From My Mistake

As I start punching out pieces, I am concerned when I get to the dials. 99% of the time, the teeny-tiny little holes to punch out can be thrown away and/or ignored. THESE MATTER IN Zephyr! The A and B must line up. If you accidentally punch them out too soon, you may lose track of where the As and Bs go!

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Probably the easiest thing to do is Punch out just the A pieces (so you don’t lose track of which is which). Don’t forget to punch out the square holes BEFORE you attach the plastic peg/hole. You want the smooth sideof the peg on top, and the rough open side underneath the dial.

 

Attach the A pieces first, then repeat with the B pieces.

It sounds stupid to emphasize this, but, how many games care about these teeny tiny holes? Most games DO NOT .. Zephyr does.

Color Continuity

My first real gripe is that the colors don’t seem consistent. Take a look at all the cards that have the same sign (for this faction).

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The symbol is three different colors: deep blood red, white,  and off-red on three different places (target, ship, and cards, respectively).  The faction cards don’t even have a symbol (strictly speaking, the factions can crew any ship, so it maybe confusing to have the symbol).

It’s not the end of the world, as you can follow the symbol, but I would have
expected the color to be the same everywhere. See two other ships below.

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Another place: the upgrade cards. The colors on the markers (which are systems you put onto your ship) don’t quite match the colors on the cards. Again, not the end of the world, but still slightly annoying. It’s not a big deal, except that the silver cards in my deck look much more orange than silver. They almost match the bronze upgrades. I am sure it was a printing issue, but hopefully they will fix it in a later version.

Intro Book

The intro book is real good into getting you into the “feel” of the game quickly, and taking you through the core mechnisms quickly.  It’s very well laid-out, with lots of pictures.  It’s a big font, and “thematic”.  I got the sense of the game very quickly after reading this.

I found a few editing minor errors, the biggest of which was that the “Day One” paragraph finished a sentence with an “or” … or WHAT???

The bigger concern was that I couldn’t “play” through the Intro scenario.  They had Missions and Assignments “hard-coded” in the book.  Which first I thought was great (“I don’t have waste an Assignment card or Mission card on the Intro scenario, which I will only play once”).  But, you want to put cubes on these cards to mark things.  See above: I want to put my ship on the Assignment card (like I would in the real game), but I can’t, because I can’t then turn the page!

Honestly, this is a minor quibble, because this introduction is very well-written and really brings you quickly into the game.  I just wanted to “put the cubes and markers” on cards like I would have in the real game.

This Was Cool

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Scenarios tell you how long they will take to play!  That’s a GREAT IDEA!  Depending on the group of friends or time constraints, you can decide which Mission.  And even based on the number of playing.  *Stands up and applauds* What a great idea.

First Playthrough

First of all, bravo.  Zephyr has solo rules which are simple: they are just a minor tweak to the main rules.  I can learn the game by myself so I can teach it to others.  It seems, to me, that all cooperative games should have solo rules (I am looking at you, Battle For GreyPort).  And Zephyr’s seems to work well.  I think I got the sense of the game pretty quickly.  I am a little nervous to scale it up because there is some weirdness describing how other players interact with each other, but that’s what the second part of this review will accomplish.

The rulebook was pretty good to good: I could find things when I wanted to, the overview had page numbers to the more “complete” description, but tended to describe everything in outline form so you had a sense of where the game went.

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There we also Summary Cards, which I think almost every game needs. *More applause*

I liked that there were “common builds” described on the last page (the back over of the rulebook) for that first few times you play.  I do wish it had been referenced somewhere, because I only found it when I went looking for the Solo Rules modifications.   (It may have been, but I didn’t see it).  Make sure you check out the back cover of the rulebook the first time you play.

So, was the game fun?

Yes.

I built a ship (using the “common builds”) and worked backwards to see how scrap was used to build the systems.  Ahh!  I get it!  I suspect some of the fun in this game comes from building your ship, once you understand all the systems (bronze, silver, gold and epic) and how they can work together.

As you go through the game, you will add onto your ship.  And, to be frank, I liked that.  After some big combat, you get “scrap” as your reward, and you use that scrap to upgrade your ship.  Pretty easy, thematic, and fun!

The combats, a vital part of the game, took me a while to grok.  I’m still not sure I understand everything. When can I play certain cards?  Am I allowed to play an extra card because the Silver upgrade said I could?  Can I heal a shield while in combat, or can I only heal on the next round after the damage is taken?

The combat is basically simultaneous between you and the bad guy(s).  So, sometimes it’s unclear when some effects go off.  I probably need to look through the glossary and/or a FAQ to double-check some of that.  So, some of the combat is a little fiddly and unclear. But, it seemed okay once I got it.

Final Thoughts for Part I

So, I enjoyed myself.  I’d like to play again.

I am very happy with the experience.  I got into the game quickly from the intro book, the rulebooks were pretty good to good for when I started real games, and I had fun.

The components are pretty spectacular.  Barring my issues with the color (which frankly, didn’t get in the way when I was playing), the ship card and crew cards (with the clear backgrounds) were just great to look at and fun to use.

I need to play Zephyr with friends a bunch of times to see if I am going to enjoy this more.   Stay tuned for Part II.

Dedicated to Tobias James.  We’ll miss you little guy.

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“My Top 5 Games of All Time!” or “What I Want In A Cooperative Game!”

I have to admit; I’m not really a fan of the “big coooperative” games this year that won the Board Game Geek awards.

  1. Arkham Horror: The Living Card Game just failed for me (see my review here).
  2. I am still learning Mansions of Madness, but at this point in time, the game is overwhelming me with its complexity. I spent two hours pouring over rules and set-up … and it just took it out of me … I couldn’t take any more, so I boxed up Yig and Hastur (before they turned me mad) hoping to try again soon.
  3. And I can’t get Mechs vs Minions. To be fair, I could have Kickstarted it, but the price point scared me away.

So, it almost looks like I didn’t like COOPERATIVE games???? Absolutely not! Here are my Top 5 Games of all time … note that that they are ALL cooperative!

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5. Arkham Horror. I love this game, and it was probably the very first cooperative board game I ever played. I just loved that a board game could be cooperative! (And NO, Eldritch Horror has NOT replaced Arkham Horror for me).

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4. CO-OP: the co-op game. This is self-serving, but I still like playing my game to this day.  It’s still fun for me to puzzle how to barely save the CO-OP in the last turn!

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3. Pandemic (any version). Just a great game.  And yes, I am showing the old cover art because that’s the version I have.

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2. Sentinels of the Multiverse! Why did it take so long to realize a cooperative super hero game?   (And yes, I am using the original box art because I got the original game waaaaaay before it was popular and had a second edition.  I had to order it from the web site because that was the only way to get the game back then).

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1. Pathfinder and/or Dungeons and Dragons RPG: I love it because of the adventure I explore cooperatively with my friends!  (And yes, I had the old version, so that’s the art I am using … I am seeing a trend here …)


I put Dungeons and Dragons (or its equivalent Pathfinder, which is really what I am playing these days) at the top of my list because, it is really the first cooperative game I ever played! And it is open to imagination within a rule system. Some of my favorite experiences of all time were my friends and I exploring a world together.

So, I think my RPG experiences with D&D color what I want in a cooperative game. I want to be part of a movie! I want to have a plot that unfurls, where my decisions make a difference, and where there is some critical moment that decides the game!

What I like about Arkham Horror is that I feel like I can do whatever I want: there’s a lot of choices! I can go get a spell, a weapon, a unique item, heal, explore, close gates. My world is wide open! And the way we investigators work together influences whether we win or lose. Sometimes, no matter what we do, we will lose. But those moments when we just barely win or barely lose are the stuff of memories!

“Remember that time I closed the gate in the last round just before the last Doom token came out??!?!”

I like Pandemic and Sentinels because they are more puzzly: you have to do the best you can with the resources you have (which are much more constrained than Arkham Horror or D&D). These games still feel like movies to me though. In SOTM, Legacy punches and takes out the villain just before the the bad guys descend en masse! In Pandemic, the Medic flies to Laos in the nick of time to stop a massive outbreak!

One game that I like (but didn’t mention on my Top 5 list) was Agents of Smersh. It is also cooperative. It has a lot of these movie-like and puzzly qualities too … It has a book of encounters to be read aloud, but you are still making choices and moving around. (In my mind, Agents of Smersh completely replaces 1001 Arabian Nights. Agents of Smersh is a real, honest to goodness game, whereas 1001 Arabian Nights is just an activity … a fun one, but nevertheless not a game).


So, what do I want in a cooperative game?

Something that feels like a Movie. Me and my friends are working together. Making real choices. Just barely defeating the game in the last moment. And sometimes losing. (But not always losing: AH:LCG, I am looking at you …)

When I designed CO-OP, I wanted:

  1. Lots of flavor text like Arkham Horror and Agents of Smersh and SOTM. I like text, and I like the atmosphere it brings when you read it. All the cards in the game have some kind of flavor text, whether it be silly quotes or explaining what the card does.  In some ways, I wanted a book of encounters like Smersh, but I was able to simplify and achieve that with text on the cards …
  2. Meaningful choices. There’s a bunch of things you can do on each turn, but the work action forces you to look at all your cards and think about a lot of things at once: What do I play? Should I support another player? SOTM really influenced me a lot on this.  I like how SOTM and Pandemic force you to make the best of what you have.
  3. Suspense! … where we just barely defeat the game. I spent a lot of time balancing CO-OP so it wasn’t too easy or too hard. I can’t tell you how many games we just barely won in the last round, only because we puzzled how to use the cards just right. And that’s what I want!

In all the games in my top 5, there are always “movie moments” where we just barely won or lost. And we still remember to this day.

CO-OP represents a fusion of all my favorite games: a movie-like quality in a balanced puzzly game with lots of flavor text.


So, I am still hopeful for Mansions of Madness: it look like it will definitely evoke a movie-like play environment. I am just worried that “upkeep” will kill it: there’s SO MUCH upkeep at the start of the Investigators Phase! I am worried that all that upkeep will take me “out of the movie”.

I am willing to chalk up my Mansions of Madness issues as simply jet-lag from my Australia trip (see last blog entry). Or maybe I just went mad from playing …………. hahahahahahahah …. hahahahahahaha ……

Thoughts on Board Game Apps

Recently, my wife and I had a chance to vacation in Australia for 2 weeks.
We saw Kangaroos, Wallabys, Koalas, Wombats, and some other cute creatures.

 

Part of the Australia experience is flying that loooooooong 14 hour flight from the United States into Sydney. I am not great at sleeping on  planes, so I had to keep myself busy/entertained. I ended up trying a lot of solo board game apps on iOS; in other words, a lot of solo play! Strictly speaking, not all the games I played were cooperative, but solo play is something I like to discuss here occasionally too.

Here are the apps I looked at/played for 14 hours!

  • Star Realms
  • Pandemic
  • Agricola
  • Sentinels of the Multiverse
  • Splendor

I was originally going to write a “review” of each of them, but I realized there were some things they all shared in common (or didn’t share), so I thought I’d touch on those items instead.

No Scrolling

There was a time when I was the Agricola champion in our group. This grew, partly, out of my familiarity with the game. I would play the solo mode of Agricola over and over, trying to amass the most points. (The ‘recommended’ solo mode has you play a campaign, but I preferred the single solo game, where you take some random selection and play it a few times trying to get the best score). It was even so ridiculous that I would play on the airplane! That doesn’t SOUND ridiculous , but this was before there were applications on an iPad!  So how did I play? I took pictures of the cards I drew, then I would “play” the game, writing out my progress. I could fit an entire play on a small piece of paper. Here’s a sample of a few of my plays.

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So, when I found the Agricola app, I was ecstatic! No more silly piece of paper! But, then I played it and ergh. I was very frustrated very quickly. Why? I think it boils down to the fact that the actions were all scattered all over the place and you had to “scroll” to look around. Ergh. I didn’t play it much because I was constantly looking and scrolling to see what the actions were. What I WANTED was one screen, with an overview of everything where I could zoom in if I wanted more information! I realized I wanted something like my weird little pictures.

I also downloaded the Pandemic app just before I left for Australia. Pandemic is probably a top 5 game for me. It’s great. I used it when I taught an intro Python course. (I’ll discuss this more in a later blog post). I looove the game. It does a great job … but … it scrolls. Ergh. I want everything on one page. So, again, I didn’t really play it very much.

I also played Star Realms, Sentinels, Splendor on my plane trip. I ended up playing these three things a lot more. Splendor has no scrolling, and Sentinels and Star Realms have minimal scrolling.

My conclusion: I don’t like apps that scroll. Splendor is simple enough that everything can be on one page. Star Realms does a great job of “zooming in” on cards if you want to read them, as does Sentinels. If you get too many cards, both Sentinels and Star Realms have to scroll through.

I want everything on one page so I can get an “overview” of the game, just like playing a real board game. I want to be able to look at the page and get a sense of everything. If I want more information, I want to just click on a card (kind of like picking up a card and reading it during a game).

So, Agricola and Pandemic are fails for me on that front, while Star Realms, Sentinels and Splendor work well.

Apps Might Be the Best Way To Learn

My Star Realms card game has been sitting unplayed for some time. I bought it because some the Dice Tower people really liked it, and it was cheap. I remember opening the box to read the rules, and was just “underwhelmed” by the one sheet of rules. It wasn’t even a booklet, but a kinda pamphlet. Ugh. It was kind of hard to read. So, I put the rules down and moved on to something else. Star Realms remained unplayed.

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BUT, the iOS app has a great tutorial! While in Australia, I downloaded it because it was the right price (free with in-app purchases) and because I already have the card game!
I was up and running in about 5 minutes. It was also easy to try stuff and just see what happens. The Star Realms tutorial is the way to learn the game. Don’t (blech) learn from the rules “rulebook” (notice the quotes).

 

While in Australia, I wanted to teach my nephew and niece Pandemic. We couldn’t find a copy of Pandemic board game (not even at Australian Target), so I showed him the app. That was the right way to do it! I could easily go through the rules, show him a lot of the cards and the roles. We never found a copy (surprisingly), but I think he might be getting one for Christmas! The app was just enough to get him interested.

As much as I didn’t enjoy playing the Agricola app, its tutorial was great. Sentinels and Splendor seem to have good tutorials too.

One of the conclusions from this trip: the iOS App might be the right place to teach and/or learn a game! Besides YouTube videos and forums and the rulebook, the iOS/Android app is another resource for learning a game.

Where’s the UNDO?

I had a loooooot of fun playing the Star Realms app. But one thing continually frustrated me. I would hit a card wrong and accidentally play it instead of looking at it. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Could I back-up and replay that? Nope. I was just stuck. THERE WAS NO UNDO.

If I were playing Star Realms with my friends, I could say “Whoops! I meant to get the coin not the Authority … is it okay if I slightly redo that?” I am not talking completely redoing a turn, just a minor glitch.

Nope. No UNDO.

When learning a game, it would be nice to be able to “take back” a turn to see if you could do anything different. Or if the plane is “jostled” and you accidentally hit the wrong space!

Sentinels gets this right. You can do a slight UNDO (usually replaying up to 3 turns previously). If you mess up, or just meant to do something else, you can just backup with the UNDO.

I didn’t get far enough into Pandemic or Agricola, but neither Splendor nor Star Realms have an UNDO. Only Sentinels.

I want an UNDO in my iOS games! It is much more like the board game experience: you can a replay a turn, or slightly re-try something. It frustrates me that so few apps have this feature. To me, it is my goto feature for apps.

Music Control

When I play Sentinels, I either put some music on in the background or watch a video (more like “listen” to a video). Sentinels has some good theme music, but you can turn off the theme music so you can listen to your own music. I really appreciate how thoughtful Sentinels was with this level of control.

Splendor and Agricola also worked on this front. I was able to watch a video (“picture in picture”) or listen to my own music. There were controls for the level of music and sound in the game.

Star Realms failed in this regard. I had to listen to its music. It has good enough music. But, after a while, I want my own.

It sounds silly, but I want to be able to control the Music I listen to in a game.

Final Thoughts

  • Star Realms was fun as an app, despite its frustrations with Music and NO UNDO. I’d give it 7.5/10 as an iOS app.
  • Splendor was particularly fun, and except for it’s lack of an UNDO, was great.
    I’d give it 8.0/10 as an iOS app.
  • Sentinels is, in my mind, the prototypical app and fun fun fun. 10/10 as an iOS app.

Agricola and Pandemic were well done and beautifully implemented. But I didn’t
want to play them because of the scrolling. I can’t rate them because
I didn’t want to play them.  I’d rather play Agricola with my weird little pieces of paper.

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