I find it really hard to learn board games from their apps. There is something about not being able to physically touch the pieces, and not setting up the board myself or being to ask questions that doesn't work for me. One app has being able to break that rule - Neuroshima Hex 3.0. I'm not sure what it was, maybe the simple rules or being able to see the whole board in the app, or the help system, but it just clicked. So much so that I haven't tried the actual board game until now...
Neuroshima Hex 3.0
Neuroshima Hex 3.0 is a board and four (in the base game) armies. Each army is a set of hex shaped tokens one HQ and a number of troops, modules and instant effect tokens. After placing your HQ's and taking your slightly different to normal first turn, play proceeds by drawing up to three tiles, discarding one, and then placing, saving or discarding one or two of the remaining tiles.
Troops coming in melee or ranged types, some units can do both. They can also have armour, shields and over abilities. Instant effects aren't played on to the board but, unsurprisingly, resolve instantly. These can let you move played tiles, take out opponent units or start a battle. Lastly there are modules. Module hexes are played to the board and generally boost the abilities of the units they connect to.
Battles occur when the either the board is full, players run out of tiles, or one player plays a battle tile. All troops then activate in initiative order. Troops have a base initiative of 0-3 but this can be modified. All attacks of the same initiative attack simultaneously and units that take the required amount of hits are removed from the game. Play continues this way until no more tiles can be played or someone's HQ loses all it's health.
The base game comes with four different factions and they all play differently. As well as this there has been a lot of expansions released with more factions that add new instants and powers. The game plays really well, there are good decisions to be made but as you are only choosing between three tiles at a time it doesn't drag.
The hardest decision in Neuroshima Hex 3.0 is usually which tile to discard. Do you hold on to one hoping to use it later, put it a sub-optimal place hoping to move it later, or discard it because the other tiles are more attractive right now? The different tile distribution and powers of the factions are great and make each faction feel unique, which along with the random draws makes replay-ability higher than I thought it would be.
The artwork is fine, and the graphic design and icons clear, but ultimately this is an abstract battle game. You position your units to damage the enemy HQ and react to their attempts to do the same to you. The biggest issue with the game is working out what happens when a battle occurs. There can be a lot going off all at once and trying to keep track of it all can be a task, which is why for me I will be going for the app version over the physical version as it handles all the upkeep for you.
Some are always going to want the physical over the digital and for those people they will find a tight game of tactics and strategy, with asymmetric factions that are fun to play and try to work out how best to use them. There are helpfully guidelines on how best to play them but you may want to discover this for yourself. There is a decent amount of content across the four factions, and the game rules come with a lot of solo 'puzzle' set ups for you to work out.
So, ultimately it depends on your preference. There are not many apps of board games that I would take over the physical form, usually they are just a way of playing the game when I'm out. Neuroshima Hex 3.0 is one though, but ultimately I wouldn't say no to a game of it whether in person or across t'internets.