Wednesday, December 1, 2010

App O' The Mornin': La Briscola Review

Grade: B
Price: free

Yesterday, I wrote about the popular Italian trick-taking game called Briscola. I won't rehash the rules, which can be read here. Go head, read them. I'll wait here for you.

As you can see, it's a pretty easy game to understand. If you want to test out this whole Italian playing card thing without spending any actual scratch, then Out of the Bit's simple port of Briscola is the place to start. I'm not quite sure why they added the definite article in the title, but the App itself is called "La Briscola," which means ... "The Briscola." (The word "briscola" may mean something, but the Italians aren't telling. It's the whole omerta thing.)

The port does its work and stays out of your way. There's a help file that explains the rules, and a few configuration options, but by-and-large this is a simple cards-on-a-table game with everything laid out cleanly and logically. You have three cards in front of you, a draw pile with the trump visible beneath it, three hidden cards in front of your opponent, and small area where tricks are played.

One nice feature is the array of card designs: Bresciane, Milanesi, Romagnole, Siciliane, Napoletane, Piacentine, Trevisane and standard Poker decks are all available for play. This doesn't change the game, but it does show you a nice range of traditional Italian deck designs, and really helps get you familiar with their appearance and value.

There are three difficulty levels, but I really couldn't distinguish among them. Four backgrounds are also available, and one of them isn't even hideous.

The game is free, with banner ads occasionally occupying a bar along the top of the screen. I'll never understand why publishers don't offer ad-free versions: I'd pay a buck to get rid of ads.


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