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App Based Gameplay – From Terrible to Great

In the past few months, I’ve been playing a little game from Fantasy Flight Games called Lord of the Rings: Journey’s in Middle Earth.

As a reviewer, I get a lot of items into the office without having to pay a penny, and while many of them are returned, I can still play them for free for at least a little while.

Journey’s in Middle Earth was initially a game I didn’t want to play because it required an iPad application (or PC / Android) to play. That sounded like an experience from hell, and I didn’t want to participate.

Well, $450.00 dollars later and 25 hours of time played, and my opinion on application based board games has really changed. It’s changed so much, in fact, that hopefully soon I will be reviewing two other application based board games from Fantasy Flight Games: Descent: Legends of the Dark and Star Wars Imperial Assault.

I cannot say how good applications are from other companies, but it looks like Fantasy Flight Games has perfected the applications they use. Let’s take a look.

Journey’s in Middle Earth, and likely Descent and Imperial Assault as well, are complex games with lots of moving pieces.

A lot of it is controlled and tracked by the players, but even more is handled by the application. I was nervous about this system. I want to play the game, not have an application play it for me.

Boy was I wrong. See, without the application, these games would be dead in the water, and would require another player and a large book. What I never realized, however, was that the application was actually a virtual game master, handling all the behind-the-scenes actions of the AI players. That means enemy placement, health, movement, etc. was all handled for you.


For individuals who love being a dungeon or game master, the idea of an application might still feel a bit to foreign.

I’ve been won over, however. I can play weekly games of Journey’s in Middle Earth with my father-in-law cooperatively without having another person running the enemy players.

I’m excited about where application base games could go in the future, and if other companies want to launch games, they should consult Fantasy Flight Games – they’ve apparently figured it out.


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blank Adam Roffel has only been writing about video games for a short time, but has honed his skills completing a Master's Degree. He loves Nintendo, and almost anything they have released...even Tomodachi Life.

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Twitter: @AdamRoffel