Neuroshima Hex, an intriguing strategic warfare boardgame from Big Daddy’s Creations, is now available from the app store. Despite the promising elements of multiple warring factions, a variety of tile types, and quick-paced play, our ability to truly enjoy the fruits of this game were a bit constrained until we played a number of games and gained a clearer understanding of the seemingly confusing gameplay.
Neuroshima Hex Pros:
- Deep, strategic gameplay
- Easy controls
- Great soundtrack
Neuroshima Hex Cons:
- Confusing rules
- No online multiplayer
To start, you choose to play as one of the four factions, which is your first strategic decision, as all have unique attributes that give them an advantage in one respect or another. You then receive 35 tiles to be placed, in turn, upon the hexagonal sections of the board. Each turn gives you up to 3 tiles, though you’re required to discard at least one before playing the others. The tiles fall into one of two categories: board tiles and instant action tiles. Board tiles are placed in empty spaces and consist of fighting units. Instant action tiles cause something to happen (allow you to move a piece, begin a battle, etc.) or enhance the effect of an action related to pieces on the board (increase initiative phase, strengthen defenses, etc.). Each faction has an HQ piece that the opposing side attempts to destroy. Whichever side has lost the fewest HQ points by the end of the game is declared the winner.
It seems pretty straightforward, but the ability to play effectively relies on a deep understanding of how each piece attacks, defends, or contributes to the overall goal. Play order is based on initiatives, with each board tile receiving a number 1 through 3, which denotes when they make their moves, highest to lowest. Initiative 0 is reserved for HQ to fight back after all attacks have been launched. Tiles must be positioned in specific directions in order to direct their attacks/defenses, as denoted by the markers on the sides of the tiles. There are markers for melee and ranged attacks, armor, nets (which disable attacks from opposing tiles), mobility, and toughness. There are also modules that positively or negatively affect tiles connected to them by increasing/decreasing values of certain attributes (initiative, attack value) or performing additional actions (stealing bonuses, etc.). Though there is a Rules section within the game that offers a quick tutorial video, a manual, and info on all armies, it is the underlying strategy that took a while to click in with us. Perhaps a more interactive tutorial could help reduce the initial confusion, or easy access to the Manual from within the game. We seemed to have a half-decent handle on things when reading the manual, but when actually playing the game, plenty of questions arose as far as exactly what the abilities of our selected pieces were, what defenses we could expect from the opponent as we try to place our pieces, and why certain pieces were or were not destroyed during battle. The more we played the game, the more we figured things out. We are having a blast now and really enjoy the subtleties of gameplay, but it was a slow and arduous path that we traveled.
Graphically, Neuroshima Hex has a nice clean look. The tiles are sizeable and easy to distinguish from one another. Animations are limited to pieces sliding or bumping each other and disappearing from the board. Otherwise, it’s fairly static and boring. The soundtrack vacillates between epic battle music and mysterious thriller tunes. It adds some nice atmosphere to the game. Sound effects, however, are sparse and not all that enthralling. Controls are quite effective, with tile placement requiring a simple drag and release, while rotations occur by tracing a circular motion around the desired piece. The four corners of the screen may also be tapped to bring up stats, hide your unplayed tiles, confirm your move, and pause the game. It’s very responsive and pretty intuitive.
Replay value is good if you can figure out what to do and really delve into the strategic side of the game. If not, you’re not likely to return. The tutorial video is helpful, but it’s still not enough to make us feel comfortable with the game. Pass-and-play is available if desired, though a proper online multiplayer system would be a welcome addition. For $2.99, fans of strategy-heavy boardgames will find this to be a great value. Despite getting our butts whipped over and over in the beginning, we have uncovered a clever game that plays well on the iDevice, making it worthy of a solid 4.5-Dimple score.
Neuroshima Hex Review,