Riese in Review – Sometimes war is just another board game…

For reasons unknown one genre the iDevice is still almost devoid of are CCGs or Collectable Card Games. For the uninitiated, probably the most well known such game is Magic the Gathering. We’ve seen some titles based on the idea, like the very much underestimated Orions: Legend Of Wizards (TMA Review). It seems I’m not the only one who noticed this gap, as Genius Factor Games recently released Riese in an effort to both satisfy the market and promote the webseries, currently airing on Syfy.com.

It’s hard to define the genre of Riese specifically, but I would call it a tactical card turn-based strategy game. The world of Eleysia is in turmoil with its rightful princess dethroned. The dreaded Sect has put into power a puppet ruler that has declared it the official religion. The people have banded together to form the Resistance, their last hope of defending their homeland against the usurpers. And we’re thrown smack in the middle of it all.

Riese is actually a reasonably well thought-out cross between a CCG and a board game. It is split into a series of individual battles, the goal of which is to take over a specific region. The goal of each battle is to take over more than 75% of the battlefield. You do this by moving your units over the tiles, though it’s not necessary to keep them there afterwards. The units themselves are deployed on any neutral tile out of the cards you draw at the beginning of the game, with used cards immediately replenished. All actions, be it deploying a unit, moving it or attacking costs a certain amount of decision points, or DPs. You start with 3 and more are added at the beginning of each turn depending on the amount of units you have in play – up to a maximum of 5.

This rather simple gameplay aims for the easy to pick up but difficult to master goal. With only a few basic rules, but lots of cards to make up your deck (which incidentally can have up to 20 cards) you are destined to spend quiet a lot of time in the deck management interface. And with more cards unlocked as you progress farther through the game, as well as 3 separate factions with their own to choose from, it is bound to make any CCG fan’s day. Unfortunately the rather simple goal of taking over the territory instead of one more focused on eliminating your opponent takes a lot out of the excellent premise. Remember, you can place your units on any unoccupied neutral tile, meaning if you have a lot of 1 DP cards in the deck it’s quite easy to simply rush any battle.

Technically Riese is well thought-out. Utilizing a lot of visuals from the webseries it will be immediately recognizable to any fan. And anyone not yet familiar with it will still enjoy the excellent artwork on the cards. I did find the interface a bit clunky, especially with the card tray obscuring almost half of the battle screen. Another part I thought was a bit counter intuitive was the deck management interface, which is workable if you have an idea of what you want in the end, but it’s hell to manage if you want to experiment. Oh yeah, and do remember to save your progress since Riese lacks bots, Fast-App switching and auto-save support.

Riese is a must have for any fan of the webseries and/or the CCG genre. Superb story aside (though it must be good if they made a whole webseries out of it) it brings a well-thought cross between the card and board game genres to iDevice, set in steampunk goodness. Genre experts will spend hours building that perfect deck and newbies will find the default ones nicely suited for most battles. I’m not sure if they will address the issue with the basic mechanics, but the multiplayer update will surely make it an excellent addition to any iDevice.

With this I declare Riese officially touched!

App Summary
Title: Riese Developer: Genius Factor Games
Reviewed Ver: 1.0 Min OS Req: 4.0
Price: $3.99 App Size: 113.59MB
  • Great original concept
  • Lots of cards to choose from
  • Authentic artwork
  • No multitasking or auto-save
  • Some underlying issues with the basic mechanic
  • Somewhat clunky interface


A project manager in a major telecommunications supplier, an iPhone junkie and lately - a TMA editor. Love long walks on the beach and my wife, who is the most beautiful girl on the face of this planet. You can also follow me on twitter for all things iPhone and project management (and some personal stuff as well): http://twitter.com/ChiffaNe

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