Portal Game’s Neuroshima world is one that I really enjoy. It’s a post-apocalyptic setting where humanity has devolved into their own tribes and ideologies (hmm, maybe not that far off is it?). The factions range widely from the Moloch: a faction of killer robots, to the Outpost: humanity last bastion, to the Borgo: a race of super mutants.
Portal Games has actually taken this universe and built a few games around it. Neuroshima Hex, the absolutely fantastic abstract strategy game is a must play in my opinion. Then there is 51st State, a fun engine builder that works off a shared deck. But today, we are going to be focusing on Neuroshima Convoy, a two-player asymmetrical card game between the Moloch and the Outpost. Specifically, the new digital offering for iOS and Android. Did the jump from tabletop to tablet work well for this underrated title? Let’s find out.
Each player in Neuroshima Convoy has their own unique deck and goals. The Moloch player wants to march their robots to New York City, while the Outpost must try to stop them… or at least slow them down as much as possible.
Each round is played out in a series of phases with the Moloch player always going first. The Moloch can play any number of robot cards into a city location. Then the Outpost player gets to respond by playing soldiers. Finally, the Moloch player gets a chance to play and activate module cards that attach to their robots. These will add to their strength or give them unique powers. In addition to playing units, players also have instant cards they can play during their main phase that will let them move units, draw cards, and do other one time effects.
The goal is to have the most strength of units in the current location at the end of the turn. If the Moloch does, they will destroy that location and the next one in the line. If the Outpost has the most, they will discard the top card of the Moloch players deck.
There are 5 cities in total, each with a different number of locations to battle over. There are a few more wrinkles in the game—such as bomb cities, playing units to locations ahead in line, and specific victory powers—but that’s the quick summary of it.
The Moloch player wins if they have a robot left alive in New York or a card in their deck at the end of the game. If not, the Outpost player wins.
Digital Game Experience:
Reviewing digital board games is a challenge task. Unlike board games, digital apps can change with patches and updates. The state of the game when I first play it might be different then when you are reading this review. So the best I can do is give you my experience with the game up to this point and you can take it from there.
And for Neuroshima Convoy, it’s been a fairly mixed bag. Let’s start with the in-game tutorial. This is something that every digital board game should have. Skip the rulebook and let the app teach you. Unfortunately, when I played the tutorial for the first time, it was flat out awful. The app walked me through a couple of turns and then dumped me into the game. Other than a few of the basics, I had no idea what I was doing or why. My game was a mess and I lost handily.
However, there was a patch at some point that updated the tutorial, and I did try it again for the sake of this review. While I think it was better, it still wasn’t good. There were things it never taught about the game—like what the circles around the units mean, or what a Shield token on robot does—to give you an example. The tutorial teaches you how to do some things, but not why. I ended up reading the rulebook again to remember what everything I needed to know.
I also encountered some fairly serious bugs in the game. Like game-breaking bugs. One time I clearly won a battle, but the app said it was a tie. An even bigger one was that the app told me I needed to destroy some robots to advance to the next location, yet it wouldn’t let me click anything. I had to quit out of the game and start over. Overall, Neuroshima Convoy really felt like it could have used more time in development and definitely some playtesters outside of Portal.
This is further shown with the lack of any level of AI. The AI in the game is fairly good. I’ve won a few times but also got crushed quite a bit. Yet I really wish there was some AI scaling—especially for new players. Being able to choose from an easy, medium, or hard AI would be a welcome addition. The other missing feature was not being able to mulligan your opening hand (which is something that’s even in the physical rulebook). Starting the game with all module and instant cards can be REALLY rough for the Moloch player.
However, If you can wrap your head around the rules and manage to avoid any of the serious bugs, Neuroshima Convoy is a fun game. There is a lot of strategy to choosing your battles, deciding what card to play and when, and what cities to focus on. The gameplay is deep and even a bit addictive, unfortunately, the app trips over its feet way too many times.
If you would rather play online, Neuroshima Convoy does have an online option, but it’s limited to random people you can find. I really wish they would have had the option to play with a friend. That’s a huge miss for the app. On the plus side, it’s nice to see Portal game finally adding in an online component after leaving it out of Tides of Time and Imperial Setters Roll and Write.
Neuroshima Convoy is a fun game to play on your tabletop if you enjoy asymmetrical games. Unfortunately, the app just doesn’t feel ready for prime time. The graphics are actually great, but I encountered way too many bugs. Combine that with the lack of a good tutorial, AI levels, and other basic quality of life needs make me think this one better checking out after a few patches come down the pipeline. If you want to check it out for yourself, it’s available for iOS and Android.
Final Score: 2.5 Stars – A game that’s actually pretty good held way back by too many technical issues with the app.
• Gamebreaking bugs
• No AI scaling
• Bad tutorial
• No option to mulligan starting hand