Step into the boots of a 19th century wrangler building a monopoly throughout the Argentinian region in the family Wolfgang Kramer board game Hacienda HD (iPad only), ported to iOS by Cube Your Mind. This time, money isn’t what the cowboys are after – it’s the points that make the gold.
Hacienda – which is Spanish for ‘estate’ – describes the games’ objective in just one word. Set on a hexagonal grid with three actions allowed per turn, players must breed animals, sell livestock to the markets, and claim new land in order to score points to win.
With excellent management, the user can score with the highest number of points using several options, along with the use of strategic methods such as cash gain and opponent blockage.
Hacienda HD can be played with up to five friends, or just against the computer. The app provides two game boards – an easier model that features a dog bone shaped region, and a more complex, variated model for higher difficulty. The app also has a left handed option for controls which can be adjusted in the settings.
The graphics, although simple and plain, look great on the iPad’s retina display, presenting original artwork by Michael Menzel. The game speed is nice and quick, and is extremely fun to play. The digital style is so realistic that it might as well be the best iOS implementation yet for a board game user interface.
The game takes some time to learn but the tutorial provides a explanatory walk through for a first time user and even gives good tips to follow. I could only notice a few discrepancies – the user interface can be hard to read because the text appears very small, especially in the stats located on the top left of the screen. There is no zoom to get a closer look at the board, and if a user runs out of cards and cash there is no option to make a pass, as allowed in the original board game.
But small shortcomings aside, Hacienda HD (iPad only) is a great strategy board game that the family can play together, or one person can enjoy against AI opponents. The iPad is becoming a fantastic home for board games, and Hacienda HD is a quality addition to the genre.