Oh, Neuroshima Hex, how I love thee. How has this collection of colourful hexagons festooned with post-apocalyptic B-movie extras and little triangles come to dominate my imagination? If you have NO idea what I’m talking out, please go ahead and find out with these excellent reviews (and my excellent comments on them).:
Dice Tower The chaos of four player may be a matter of taste. Six enemy tiles can be placed before you can take your turn. In theory, this could be five soldiers pointed at your base and a battle tile. In fact, this would be unlikely to happen unless you’re in the lead (in which case, take it like a man / cyborg / punk / soulless skull crusher). If you’re trying to win, you’ll be completely absorbed by damage limitation. The game’s tough enough to take pride in second place too. If you’re trailing, there’s still avoiding last place and for the loser, there’s still the consolation prize of mere survival. Wherever you are in the pack, there’s something to play for.
Drake’s Flames I love the phrase “hexagonal chess” and would say another of Matt Drake’s phrases fits perfectly here: “At the end of your turn, you say ‘Hah!” and at the end of your opponent’s turn, you say, ‘Dammit!’”
Shut Up and Sit Down I’m inclined to agree that this works better on screen than on cardboard, but a simple app might solve that problem.
Back already? Then let us begin.
I think there’s something to be said for unoriginal themes; they become archetypes. The armies are all familiar from somewhere. The Borgo (blue) are the cyborgs. Moloch (red) may as well be called Skynet, and The Outpost (green) are the seasoned guerrillas that face them down. The Hegemony (yellow) all wandered in from Mad Max.. Yes, we’ve seen them before. We can guess that the cyborgs are quick on the draw, the robots are relentless, the guerrillas are mobile and the punks would rather bash you with a baseball bat (with a nail stuck through it, naturally) than save up their bottle-caps for an AK47.
It’s the combinations that make it so fascinating. What happens when Mad Max punks pick a fight with the snooty, idealistic guerrillas instead of baseball-bat-proof death machines? Or when cyborgs feel tempted to smash open their robotic overlords for spare parts? The thematic interest all comes from the combinations, so let’s have a look at how the different versions of the phone games compare.
NH Lite gives you just Borgo (blue) and Hegemony (yellow), you have to play as the cyborgs, and the punks on the other side are dumber than the baseball bats they’re holding. It’s still a great and FREE introduction to the basic concepts of the game and a way to see if you will become obsessed enough with it to seek out random articles on anonymous blogs. Combinations: 1 (Well, it IS free.)
After a few weeks of unchallenging punk-bashing, you might get bored and uninstall or you might get the full version of Neuroshima Hex for a couple of dollars / pounds, because all that timewasting can be renamed “practice” if you can unleash your skills on another poor wanderer in the wasteland. Now you have a choice of four armies, multiplayer and the (bastard) hard difficulty level. In 4 player mode, you have 4 combinations of armies facing each other. In 3 player, you have 4x3x2 combinations. In 2 player mode, you have 4×3.
Combinations: 40 (Not bad for a couple quid.)
If you’ve come this far, you might feel that you’ve paid enough and that paying nearly the same again for an extra army is not worthwhile. You could be right. But here’s why I think you should buy the full five army pack. First of all, they all play very differently with new strategies to master, as well as being another bunch of familiar archetypes.
New York (light blue) has free armour for soldiers next to their base, making it a challenge for others to break through and do damage. Great for defensive players. They’re the military fascists that spring up after an apocalypse like mushrooms after rain – the soldiers in 28 Days Later, or some of the arseholes in Fist of the North Star.
Neojungle (khaki) is a mutant plant that shares all of its bonuses among connected tiles and some of its mouths can poison HQs. Once it has grown up, it’s almost unstoppable. Hacking it down with machetes becomes a priority. They’re like Triffids, with the hive mind of the Borg.
Smart (white) are the next generation of evil robots. They don’t have the resources of Moloch but they have deathrays that light up whole rows of pieces and regenerating androids. I haven’t worked out their weakness yet, but I trust that there’s a way to beat them. Perhaps a team to generously give to the newbs.
Vegas (brown)are the rich team, who ducked the apocalypse by hiding under roulette tables. Their special power is bribing soldiers from other armies to fight for them. They’re very tricky to play against or to use – real game changers. One for NH vets who want to try something very different.
Steel Police (purple) are a whole army of Robocops. They remind me of the Brotherhood from Fallout. Their power is the steel net, which can freeze ANYONE at any time, at the cost of a point from the base. They’re probably, thematically, the least distinctive of the bunch, but fun to play as, especially when you can use the net for free.
Still not convinced? Let’s get back to the combinations for the full five army pack. In 4 player mode, there are now 9x8x7x6 combinations. In 3 player mode, there are 9x8x7 combinations. In 2 player mode, there are 9×8 combinations. Combinations: 3600 (That’s right. Through the magic of maths, the “extortionate” price of six pounds – which is over twice the price of the game for only 125% more armies – actually gets you 8900% more game.)
If you think that I have an interest in all this praise, you would be right. There are a few apps I’d love to see from the makers of Neuroshima Hex, and from what I understand of game publishing, they’re unlikely to do it unless they can afford to or see demand for it.
So for the talented convertors of NH at Big Daddy, a few requests:
Please make a battle simulator app for NH for Android. From my non-existent programming perspective, it seems straightforward. Strip out the AI and animations from the main game and make the whole set of each army available to put down at once. The battles can be single rounds with negative scores on the bases, so it would be no fun as a cheap NH replacement on the phone. This would eliminate the number one barrier that stands between me (and probably many others) and purchasing the actual board game, and all its expansions – i.e. accounting and rule checking and annoying mistakes at each battle, which are taken care of by the app.
Please port Neuroshima Hex Puzzle to Android.
Please bring out the two newest armies for the app – mutant rat people and super soldiers. I can’t wait.
And for everybody who is still here, you can see Portal Games’ dedication to making excellent games here. BUY THE FIVE ARMY PACK FOR NEUROSHIMA HEX!!!!!!!