I picked up an iPod Touch recently and thought I'd start giving my impressions on some of the games for it. I'm hoping these blurbs will lead to me writing full-fledged board game reviews later, which I've been unmotivated to do since I came here.
Reiner Knizia's Robot Master (iPhone & iPod Touch):
Straight out let me say that this game really didn’t need to have Knizia’s name attached for me to know it was designed by him. It’s basically a tile-laying game where your lowest total is your score as well as some other Knizia standards. The board is a 5x5 grid and there are six of each tile numbered 0-5. At the start of the game a random tile is placed in the center to start things off as each tile has to be adjacent to another. When a tile is placed into a square the total for that row and column increases by the tile’s point value. A 10x bonus is given if there is a matching tile in that row or column and if there are two other matching tiles that row or column receives 100 points regardless of tile value. Once every space on the grid is filled the game is over and as stated your lowest total in either a row or column is your score.A pretty simple game on the same complexity level of something like Sudoku.
In the solitaire game, my preferred way of playing, you are given one tile per turn to place and your final score is the lowest total out of the rows and columns. If playing multi-player you get a hand of 5 or 12 tiles (your choice) to choose from and your score will be the lowest column total while your opponents score will be the lowest row total. I only played a few games against the AI and found no problems with it. I'm not sure when or why I'd ever play against a live person, but the option is there nonetheless.
Now we joke a lot around F:AT about the so-called “Euro” games being multiplayer solitaire, math exercises, puzzles disguised as games, etc. However, for the on-the-go and mostly solitaire needs of Touch or iPhone users they apparently work out pretty well. For me the ability to play it while listening to music is a big plus and pretty much the kind of thing I got a Touch for instead of just a regular iPod. Anyways, if you like Knizia’s tile-laying games then this is a good portable option where you’ll find more strategy the more you play it. I’m not sure if this has any direct board game equivalent, but there are implementations for Reiner Knizia’s Poison and Reiner Knizia’s Knights Of Charlemagne. I’ve never played Knights, but the screenshot makes it look Battle Line-esque so I may give that a shot sometime also.