There have been several attempts at combining Miniatures Wargaming with computers over the years.
Carnage & Glory II is a spreadsheet-tastic way of computer-moderating a large wargame on a Windows PC. The interface is not at all user-friendly, and it only runs on a PC or laptop, so perhaps not particularly portable. It’s still available to purchase, though whether it has been updated to run on the latest Windows operating systems, I do not know.
If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you may well be familiar with our misadventure into Ex-Illis. I still think that this game was really good, but I was obviously in the minority.
This was a combination of a miniatures game with an app, which moderated combat and spell effects, as well as managing your forces (it even allowed for your army to gain experience and level-up, this gaining new abilities, as it fought battles). I think one of the primary reasons for its failure was that many people looked at the app, and wondered why they should purchase the miniatures to go alongside it – thus many saw it as a video game, rather than a hybrid game, as was intended. This game is well and truly dead, and is no longer playable (it requires a server connection to the game database, and this is all now offline).
Next came Golum Arcana, which again used an app to moderate the gameplay. This was released in 2014, but by the start of 2016 the developers announced that they were no longer producing new content for the game, and they have just announced that the cloud software licence is expiring. They are looking to produce an app for the game, but the writing is on the wall, and this game has effectively gone the way of the dodo.
More recently, Fantasy Flight Games have been using Apps in some of their boardgames.
In X-COM, an App is used to control the aliens, and also manage the turn order, whilst the Second Edition of Mansions of Madness sees an app take over the role of game master, a role that was allocated to a player in the first edition. One practical aspect of this is that Mansions of Madness is now playable as a solo game. I must admit that as a fan of all things Cthulhu, I am starting to get very tempted by this game (Damn Dave Hickman for showing it to me the other day!)
Feedback on these two games is somewhat mixed, but it is generally believed that their reliance on technology isn’t universally welcomed in the boardgame community.
I also know of at least one other wargame company who is currently developing a phone app to help players with their rules – again the app is being used as a game/rules moderator (whilst still allowing players to roll dice, should they wish!) We have yet to see the final version of this.
Now Ynnis Interactive are looking to produce a dungeon-crawl style game where the dungeon and monsters are created on a tablet, and you play using a miniature.
When I first saw this game I was really interested, as it seemed that we were getting something of an interactive dungeon crawl, with rooms being generated by the application as they were explored. However, once I viewed the Kickstarter video, it quickly became clear that this isn’t really the case. The app looks to be a real-time video game and the ‘miniatures’ in question are, in reality, little more than a very ornate stylus. This is a shame, as the idea of generating dungeon maps on a 7″ or 10″ tablet and then playing on them with miniatures must surely be one that has some appeal – much in the same way when the idea first appeared in the age when video game screens were first put into tables.
Maybe this is something we will see in the future, but today is not that day.