Vainglory

After minor amounts of hype, Vainglory finally launched in the US, with iPhone 6/6 Plus support to boot. Although Vainglory isn’t the first MOBA on iOS, it’s the first one to be featured in an Apple keynote speech, which is probably worth something.

If you don’t know what a MOBA is, you’re luckier than me. Seriously, though, Wikipedia once again knows all. For the rest of this post, I assume that you have some knowledge of the genre and are interested in reading about Vainglory. If not, feel free to skip right to the next section.

If you’re still with me, Vainglory plays differently from League of Legends or DotA 2. The biggest difference is that Vainglory is 3-on-3 and only features one lane. Because of this, I think the metagame will eventually end up as “lane-jungler-roamer”, where the roamer can hold his or her own in both the lane and the jungle and fills in where the team needs help. The most versatile champs will rise to the top in this format.

I also think that jungling and counter-jungling will be the most important factor as the metagame stabilizes, due to the existence of the jungle item shop, the minion miners, who strengthen your minions as long as you control the two mines, and the most important factor: the gold miner and the Kraken. At the four-minute mark, all three miners appear. The gold miner continues to mine throughout the game and when a mining cycle completes, the team that most recently killed him splits the gold payout, which can be a significant gold boost. At the 15-minute mark, the gold miner unleashes the Kraken, who kills the miner and takes his place for the rest of the game. The Kraken is a dangerous opponent, but the team that kills him gains the Kraken as an extremely powerful ally. Getting the Kraken will almost always allow your team to make a comeback or allow your team to secure the win. He’s that important.

The best thing and the worst thing about Vainglory is the lack of chat support. It’s great that you don’t have to talk to the crazies out there, but it can be damn hard to get your teammates on the same page without it. The waypoint markers can help, but they’re not always a good substitute.

So if all of this sounds interesting to you, hit me up. My in-game name is “cottontail”.

Sailor’s Dream

Another big release was Sailor’s Dream by Simogo, the same team behind acclaimed games such as Device 6 and Year Walk. And just like those games, it’s tough to describe exactly what the game is like. But it’s only $1.99, so maybe skip out on those McDoubles one day and give it a try.

Faraway Kingdom

Hoo boy, this one. It has that retro 8-bit aesthetic, and it also has that retro 8-bit thing where the game doesn’t do a great job explaining exactly what everything does. The game is part town-builder and part pseudo-dungeon-crawler. You build up your kingdom by building houses for your heroes to live in and underground dungeons for them to train in so they can be strong enough to head out on raids against the big bad monsters.

The raids are the only interactive part of the game. When you enter a raid, you’ll be asked to create a party of 6, 9, or 12 heroes. The game sticks with the MMORPG holy trinity, so you’ll need at least one Warrior to lead the group, along with a combination of Mages and Priests. You can also bring along a friend’s hero. Once in the raid, your characters will do their roles automatically, but whenever a critical hit (or heal) occurs, a corresponding orb will pop out. Touching that orb will allow you to use that class’s special ability, with more orbs leading to a greater effect. Special abilities range from increasing that class’s strength for a short time or making critical hits more likely or quickly regenerating a class’s HP or MP.

Okay, so it’s not the most interactive thing out there. But it is the most interactive thing that happens in the game.

A key aspect of the game is your heroes’ elemental stats. Each underground dungeon and raid has an element associated with it: either Fire, Water, Nature, Darkness, or Stars, and sending heroes with a high elemental stat will give them major stat boosts. This is especially important in raids, where your opponents’ stats tend to rise pretty damn quick.

If you’re looking for some action, Faraway Kingdom is pretty short on it. But if you like the town-building aspects and are looking for a game that you can “play” while you’re doing something else, it might be worth your time. And if you like it, hit me up. My in-game name is “cottontail”. Again.

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