Trouble Brothers Jeff McCord and Stephen Shippert are no strangers to making board games. They’ve been in this business a long time, and know a thing or two about how to make traditional board games just as exciting as modern video games. Cargo Runners is their latest effort at bringing old-school style to the digital era, and while it lacks a single-player component, it’s still one of the best iPad board games on the App Store.
The goal of Cargo Runners is to make a certain amount of money in cargo sales before any other player. Each turn involves rolling two die– one for movement and another for ‘events’. Then you can choose whether or not to swap out the ability-granting ‘communiquÃ© card’ you currently hold for another. Finally, you’ll move your ship to either pick up new cargo or deliver current cargo to a port.
This game’s worth all the tea in China.
Add in port-specific cargo contracts and cumulative unused movement points, and you’ve got a lot of strategy to play with. It sounds complicated, but Cargo Runners’ intuitive design and well-written instructions make it all easy to understand quickly.
Cargo Runners offers 2-4 person multiplayer on a single device and online multiplayer via Game Center. Online play works just fine, and it enforces a time limit of two minutes on each turn to keep the game’s pace up, so that no game lasts more than half an hour. Also, the game continues uninterrupted when a player drops out, so rage-quitters can’t ruin a good game. Unfortunately, there are no win/loss statistics for online multiplayer, something we hope is added in the future.
Cargo Runners has a beautiful art direction that strives for classic board game authenticity, as opposed to the flash of other board game ports. The level of detail and polish is high enough that the game could easily be directly translated into a physical product. At the same time, players will also benefit from the digital presentation, like when areas where your ship can move light up on the board.
The $7.99 asking price makes this a pricey investment, but board game enthusiasts should definitely sign up. Cargo Runners takes the best parts of a physical board game and adds the right digital touches, like seamless online multiplayer, to make for a perfectly original iOS board game.