(reviewed for iPhone)
Neuroshima Hex, at first glance, appears to be complex. Different phases of combat, priority attacks, damage and priority modifiers, passive and active abilities, as well as keeping track of individual unit health…it was like doing Magic: The Gathering math for a 3v3 match.
Thankfully, the bright sparks at Big Daddy’s Creations have graced us with an iDevice app that handles all the gruntwork for you. This is a good thing because, as it turns out, Neuroshima Hex is a lot of fun.
The game is relatively simple – each player has a HQ with 20 hitpoints, and the aim of the game is to survive with the most hit points (preferably by reducing other opponents HQ points to zero). Each player has a selection of hexagonal tiles that consist of units, actions, and utilities (power-ups). Each unit has varying abilities – melee attacks, ranged attacks, ranged attack shields, and immobilisation, to name a few. Utility tiles can help units attack faster, take more damage, increase their mobility, and so on. Action tiles allow you to deal damage to units, or to initiate battle. Battles are resolved automatically by the game – units who have a higher Initiative can attack first, and some units can attack multiple times or at range.
The game consists of four races, each with their respective strengths, weaknesses, and specialities. Borgo focuses on units with higher Initiative and multiple hits. The Hegemony has resilient units that can also dish out a beating, but fewer ranged attack specialists. Moloch specialises in ranged combat, but also has a handful of units that can melee attack several tiles at once. The Outpost focuses on mobile units and special utility tiles that sabotage the enemy. The races are varied and it all makes for some interesting strategical gameplay – it will be rare for matches to have the same outcome twice. There are also two additional races available for purchase within the app, but at first glance it looks like they have additional abilities that the core races do not – I have a feeling that this might throw the game out of balance. They may be worth a shot if the price goes down.
The game fully embraces the touch screen controls on your iDevice of choice – rotating tiles and placing them on the board is straight forward enough, and the pinch zooming is nice, albeit somewhat redundant.
The bottom line is Neuroshima Hex is addictive. Once you get a handle on the rules, each game is an ebb and flow of attacking, defending, counter-attacking, and striking faster than your opponent. You spend several seconds deliberating over which tile to discard at the start of your turn so as to counter the defence put up by your opponents. Once you learn the nuances of each unit, you can attempt the higher difficulty levels and four player cut-throat matches.
However, the app does tend to eat up your device’s battery life. There are also no wireless connectivity options just yet, so you can’t play games against your friends on separate devices. There’s the option for pass-and-play, but I would’ve preferred wireless multiplayer over hot-seating any day. According to the website, a wireless multiplayer update is coming soon.
This is still a great little app that’ll definitely give you some bang for your buck. Recommended.
(Neuroshima Hex is also coming to Android.)