Here Be Dragons is a turn-based game where players go in search of legendary monsters. It has previously released for PC and Switch, but now it has arrived on iOS devices. So, to find out if mobile is good a platform for hunting mythical beasties in a turn-based fashion, we handed the game over to our App Army.

Here's what they said:

Jc Ga

Here be dragons is not a game for everyone, and it is difficult to give an objective opinion; I will therefore make a rather subjective review: I enjoy this game! The choice of the living map for the background is undoubtedly what can appeal to everyone, with its sepia colour and delicate animations. The strategy game, despite its side of discontinued successive levels, is interesting and it renews itself with the different abilities of the ships changing with each rapid campaign, and the various powers of the enemies make each confrontation a kind of new puzzle.

I was surprised to like the idea of the dices which add the stress of chance to the game and an interesting board game dimension. I appreciate the music, emphatic and surprising, which fits well with the 15th century and the satirical choice, on the other hand, I don't really like the characters because their only dimension is to be totally crazy and very cartoonish. Finally, I really like this game because it has the great merit of not being like any other, and some original ideas and polished details really struck me as remarkable.

Pierpaolo Morgante

HBD is a turn-based strategy game whose main goal is to sail the sea and engage in combat with a series of sea monsters while following the adventures of a few ship captains. Short review: “I LOVE THIS GAME.” Longer review: It is a very entertaining game. It literally kept me glued to the screen. I highly recommend it for the following reasons.

I really enjoy the game mechanics, which I have never seen before in a strategy game. In order to decide who goes first, each turn opens up with a dice roll. Whoever gets to select their dice first should try to keep the advantage, otherwise, the opponent will get to start the turn. Overall, it makes the game well-balanced, as it is sometimes fairly easy to lose priority, and it never gets boring for lack of competition. To spice up things a little, there are also other actions the player (not the AI) can perform (I used them to tamper with the opponent’s dice). You also get to control different ships with different abilities, preventing the game from getting boring.

The graphics are really cool. The sepia colours are great in setting the mood (we are around 1490), and the background motions are a nice touch too. I love the fact that the developers included a bestiary to check the monsters’ abilities. There are only two difficulty levels (fun and challenging). I played the whole game in challenging difficulty (the default). It got hard but never frustrating. On the side, the game depicts Christopher Columbus as mildly incompetent. I find it actually very fitting since he never set foot in America…

Max Williams

Here Be Dragons is a dice-rolling turn-based strategy game, set in the golden age of sea exploration, where your small fleet of ships faces off against another small fleet, of usually innocent fishermen, explorers, island dwellers or sea creatures. (There is a darkly humorous element to the game where your captain is constantly being told that everything else on the sea is an enemy to be destroyed, when in fact they are normally wholly innocent).

On any turn, you have only a few possible actions to choose from, each of which has a range of numbers between 1 and 6, and you can "activate" that attack by putting one of your rolled dice on it. That is the core of the game. There are other rules around that, which I must admit I failed to fully understand, and often I would be trying to drag a dice onto an action but not be allowed to, and I didn't know why. However, I suspect that I just need to read the help section a bit better.

I'm only onto the third set of missions and am still getting to grips with the rules as I said above, but I'm finding this an interesting and engaging game. It does take a little bit of getting past how evil your character's actions are, however. My 4-year-old daughter saw me playing and when I explained what was happening she was aghast that I was playing someone who was trying to kill some whales.

Obviously, this is not meant to glorify violence towards animals or innocent people but rather to make a point about our tendency to whitewash the actions of explorers like Captain Cook and Christopher Columbus, which weren't always so great. Anyway, I'm definitely going to go back and get to grips with the rules properly and destroy some more innocent cultures. Recommended for turn-based strategy fans.

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Torbjörn Kämblad

I have had an ambivalent relationship with pirates and pirate-themed games since forever. Actually since Sid Meyer´s Pirates that I played on my old Amiga. I did?t find pirates likeable, and ship battles to be cumbersome.

Some 30+ years later I give Here Be Dragons a go, which is a scaled-down ship battler. Turn-based with dice for initiative and actions it is far from the old school Pirates of my youth. Still, I find it cumbersome, these ships were?t made to battle this way. Why not go into battle on the beach wielding swords instead is my constant question?

There is quite a number of cool ideas here on how to create a turn-based brawler out of the ship skirmish. I did?t manage to get into it however due to both a lack of urgency and foremost a lack of font size and clarity. Everything is small, and heck I played games 30 years ago, which means I am getting old.

If the game would have been stripped from the story, the small texts and just given me skirmish battles from the start it would have suited me better. Now I kind of think it is trying too much, but not nailing a lot of the fundamentals. Only recommended to those with scurvy running in the family, aye!

Karl Nuttall

The game starts with a funny intro regarding Christopher Columbus and his voyage to discover new land. Your introduction to how the game plays and the system which is a turn-based strategy begins you are the captain off a ship and you are working from a ‘living map’ You roll a dice or a cherub rolls a dice you get a prompt telling you how to the turns and system works. When you have got past the training you get out into the proper map and start encountering the monsters.

I think the writing could be a little bigger I did struggle at times trying to read some of the instructions. As you progress on the map you need to think more about your tactics like repairing your boat and you also replenish your health and who takes the turn first you or your opponent. The monsters are quite varied and do offer a bit of variety when you play against them.

My only real complaint about the game is I found the writing quite small and struggled to read it at times. I loved the humour and thought the map added to the overall effects of the game. I did feel it for a bit repetitive very early on but when I did get past the first couple of tasks I found the game became very enjoyable. This is definitely a game I will be playing again!

Mark Abukoff

This is a clever and darkly witty turn-based battler between ships and opponents ranging from other ships to whales to monsters. I liked the dice-rolling mechanic (for initiative and tactical decisions) over cards, and the overall visual tone of the game is appealing. There was a moment during the tutorial where it didn’t seem to allow me to do what I was supposed to, the first time you drag a die to an action but could be I made a mistake somewhere.

In any case, I made it past that moment and battle and didn’t have trouble after that. I know that there was a moral subtext to the game, about white-washing historical figures. But as that’s really the last thing I’m looking for in an iPhone game, I ignored that and enjoyed it. My only complaint is that the text was pretty small. On a decent-sized screen and wearing reading glasses, I still had to squint. So that doesn’t encourage me to go back and play a lot. However, if you can ignore the morality subtext and you can read the text, you’ll probably enjoy this. And the dice-spewing Cherub!

Matt ARen

HBD is a turn-based combat game set in the late 1400s. You play as various captains that are part of an effort to clear the monsters from the sea. The opening narration sets a great tone for the game. The music fits well with different pieces for the story scenes and combat, pleasant to the ear but not exceptional. I enjoyed the sound effects in combat. Various attacks, heals, and statuses have distinct sounds.

Sepia tones and old-world cartography set the art style for this game. This is paired with silly cartoonish character designs for the captains and other humans. It brings a nice bit of levity to what could become an overly serious game. There’s not a lot of animation happening, but the game looks good and maintained a consistent quality.

 I’m old school, and I still enjoy turn-based combat. Much of the strategy in HBD is managing the dice, which can affect initiative, attacks, abilities, environmental effects, damage, and enemy actions. The dice you choose each turn have a massive impact, so it’s important to take a moment and consider carefully. This is an aspect that I really enjoy but may not match up for others.

Overall I really enjoyed this game. The silliness appealed to my sense of humour, and good turn-based gameplay is hard to come by these days. If that is a game mechanic that you can enjoy I heartily suggest a purchase.

Oksana Ryan

This was a turn-based game that I found hard to get to grips with at first. The graphics and sound were good but right from the start I found the whole mechanics of the game hard to follow. I don’t know if I wasn’t doing the tutorial right but several times I just couldn’t get the game to flow.

It felt awkward and, to be honest, there seemed to be too many instructions. I would have preferred a more straightforward method of play, perhaps leading gently into further upgrades in play. Instead, I felt a little bombarded. That said, on the whole, it wasn’t a bad game and for fans of the turn-based genre, I think it would be a winner.

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