Asmodee Digital Roundup

Asmodee Digital is the video game publishing arm of French board & card game specialist Asmodee. After numerous acquisitions, Asmodee controls an impressive stable of popular games. Asmodee Digital has been steadily converting them to digital form, as well as publishing some notable third-party games.

Many of my favorite iOS board game ports, as well as some popular games that I tried but found lacking, are in fact Asmodee Digital titles. So here is a compact review round-up for (almost) all Asmodee iOS titles I’ve played. Most are also available on Android and Steam.

I won’t link to external reviews in this post – there would be no end of links, and you can easily find them yourself – but you might want to read David Neumann’s interview with Asmodee Digital’s marketing officer Philippe Dao on the company’s situation and future plans.

Reviews

Asmodee games tend to feature great graphics, good user interfaces, and solid AI, so my reviews mostly concern the gameplay which is directly adapted from the original board games. I have ignored any scripted campaigns that might be present, and only played the standard games.

Three big titles are missing from the round-up: Pathfinder Adventures, Pandemic, and Ticket to Ride. I played each of them some while ago but simply did not like the gameplay at all. However, they are all faithful and well-regarded ports of the respective board games. They are also well-known and widely covered, so there’s no point in my bickering about them at length. You should certainly get the Asmodee ports if you did like the board games.

Colt Express — Competitive card & board game. I just wrote a dedicated review. Unusual game, highly recommended.

Jaipur — Competitive card buying game. Players take cards representing trade goods, and sell one or more cards of the same type to acquire victory points. Taking camels instead of trade goods lets you take multiple cards in the next turn. Selling more cards at once gives bonus points, but being the first to sell any particular trade good is crucial because initial sales usually yield the most VPs per item. Solid theme and fun mechanics, though somewhat random.

Mr Jack Pocket — Asymmetric competitive card & board game. Three detectives try to catch Jack the Ripper by obtaining a line of sight onto as many suspects as possible, thus eliminating them. Strong theme but one significant downside: the rules are massively weighed in favor of Jack. No big deal in the physical game as a human Jack is bound to make mistakes the detectives can exploit. Unfortunately the AI Jack makes no mistakes, even on easy, and can usually avoid detection. Frustrating rather than challenging. Only recommended if you intend to play online.

Mysterium — Asymmetric cooperative card game. One player is the ghost who hands out pictorial clues to the other players. As psychics, those must identify the ghost’s murderer along with the murder weapon and location. Despite the rulebook’s impressive complexity, this identification boils down to similarities in the different sets of picture cards available to ghost and psychics. Mysterium is all theme and no gameplay. Not recommended.

Onirim — Solitaire card game. Stack three cards of the same color but non-consecutive symbols to open a door. You win by opening two doors of all four colors, you lose by running out of cards. Two twists are ghosts which force you to discard 1–5 cards; and keys which can be used to defeat ghosts, immediately open doors, or inspect and rearrange the top five cards on the pile. Onirim has a strange reputation for high difficulty but I have a win ratio of nearly 25% which is really quite high for a solitaire game. Clever design, highly recommended.

Small World 2 — Fantasy 4x board game in the tradition of Risk and History of the World. I wrote a dedicated review in 2013. One caveat: I haven’t played it in a while, and the iOS app has last been updated in 2014. Philippe Dao did state that a major update was incoming in the above interview, though.

Splendor — Competitive card buying game. Players may either draw gem tokens or buy or reserve cards. Each card has a cost in five varieties of gems, and provides one permanent gem to reduce card costs. More expensive cards also provide victory points. The first player to pass a VP threshold wins, so the challenge is to balance acquiring gems or cheap gem cards with more expensive VP cards. Quite enjoyable.

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