When news hit a month or so ago that the wonderful 2-player game Fort Sumter was coming to digital via Playdek, I was…well, let’s just say excited and leave it at that (I don’t want to be embarrassed).
Now that day has finally arrived, with it dropping on all platforms (Steam, iOS, and Android) yesterday to a lot of fanfare.
Needless to say, I jumped on it as soon as I could.
This 2-player card-driven game was designed by Mark Herman with artwork by Knut Grünitz and Rodger B. MacGowan and published by GMT Games. The app, as noted, comes from Playdek and it is up to the usual Playdek standards.
I already went over how the game plays in my review of it, as well as telling you my opinion of the game itself. Thus, I’m not going to get into all of those details again.
Suffice to say that it’s a card-driven game where you play cards for either the event or for the political influence points to try and take control of Pivotal Spaces and Crisis Dimensions to gain victory points.
I loved the game. It’s quick (perfect for lunches) and yet the decisions are meaty as you try to get your objectives even while preventing your opponent from achieving theirs.
This is a review of the app, though, so how is it?
As with most Playdek apps, the presentation is wonderful and the app works great.
The graphics are really good, everything moves easily, it’s intuitive and it just works.
It comes with a tutorial that takes you through the entire game rather than having a series of small tutorials that cover different aspects of it, which I greatly prefer.
The tutorial isn’t really necessary for anybody who knows the game, as the UI is easy to understand, but it would help a great deal if you’re brand new to the game.
(Note to those achievement hounds who already know the game – you don’t have to go through the tutorial like I did. There is no achievement for completing it)
Everything is just so crisp and clean, and easy to see. You can double tap on a card to bring it up to view easier. You can play the card directly from this screen or drag it upwards from the main screen (if you can play the event, it will show you “Play Value” and “Play Event”).
There’s online multiplayer which is asynchronous (maximum 21 days, but unless you go away for a week or two, you’ll have no trouble meeting that one) as well as pass-and-play and games against the AI.
The AI is…well, terrible might
be too strong a word not be strong enough. There’s only one level of AI, and unless they’re crowd-sourcing the education of the AI so it will eventually get better as it plays against people, it will be incredibly difficult to lose against it.
But really, that’s not what I want these apps for (at least not too much) anyway.
The bread and butter is the online multiplayer and it’s as smooth as…well, something that’s incredibly smooth.
Matchmaking is easy, especially if you already are playing with people in other Playdek games. Just find them on (or add them to) your friends list and you’re good to go! You can choose random sides or set sides.
There’s a chat function, and it actually is fairly prominent and lights up when there’s a message there, which makes it actually easy to see instead of the way it’s implemented in Ascension and Lords of Waterdeep (I think they both light up, but the chat button is so small that it’s easy to miss that it’s even there, much less lit).
One minor criticism of the online multiplayer, though is when you’re on the lobby screen looking at your games. When it’s your turn, your side of the game kind of lights up and blinks. The light is kind of a brownish colour that blends in a bit and it’s hard to see unless you look really closely.
One other preference (I wouldn’t call it an error or anything) is for the educational value of the game. There is a Card Gallery in the settings, but it would have been incredibly cool to have an “info” button on the cards during the game that would call up a brief reference to what the card represents.
A missed opportunity.
Other than that and the AI issue, I can’t really say anything bad about the Fort Sumter app. If you like the game at all and like digital board games, you have to buy this. It’s a must-own.
I received a free review code for the Steam version, but I went ahead and bought it for iOS too because I want to be able to carry it around.
They even went to the trouble of giving you a variant map if you don’t like the current layout!
Personally, I find it relatively ugly, but if you get confused by the current map, the variant is great option for you.
I highly recommend Fort Sumter, both as a game and as an app (it made my Top 15 games played of all time list).
You can’t go wrong getting this one.