This colossus figure towers over all comers. Photo: Hunter LeFebvre, Cult of Mac
SEATTLE, Washington — Table top miniatures are some of the geekiest board games, coming as they do with thick rulebooks and complicated sets of play mechanics. Developer Harebrained Schemes, the folks behind video games Shadowrun Returns and the more recent Shadowrun: Dragonfall, has decided to bring this arcane, geeky gaming genre to players who might want to try it out without having to fight their way through an extreme learning curve.
With the time we spent with the game at the Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle this weekend, we’ve got to say, we’re pretty impressed. While there’s still quite a bit of learning that has to occur in order to fully and deeply play this fantasy-themed miniatures game, even players as young as four can grasp the basic concepts of move, battle, and conquer that the game’s iPad app and bluetooth-connected stylus allow.
“There are a lot of rules to these kinds of games,” said Harebrained Schemes’ Ray Winninger. “Sometimes there are these giant, thick rule books and that sort of thing. It’s especially hard to bring someone in who’s never played before and to just kind of plop them in the middle of it. So, we’re trying to manage all of that for you.”
Board games have enjoyed quite the resurgence on the iPad, with digital versions of just about any game folks can think of, including Monopoly, Risk, Ticket To Ride, and Small World, just to name a few.
Many of these games have excellent pass and play gameplay, which lets gamers play a turn and then hand the iPad over to a friend to take their turn. What’s been missing, though, from many of these games, is real-world dice. There’s something delightful about the randomness of the analog cube, used in all kinds of board games from Backgammon to Yahtzee.
Dice+, then, aims to remedy that with a big, lovely, bluetooth-powered die, ready with its own app full of dice games that will work with the plastic die. Suffice it to say that playing a digital game with a real-world die is, simply put, sublime.
Imagine buying a paper magazine (remember those?), only instead of pages it just has a cover and a hole in the middle. Into this hole you place your iPad, which you then use to read the magazine’s contents. Useless, right? But that’s (almost) exactly what Hasbro has done in a desperate attempt to bring its board games into the 21st century.