Teburu – the future of gaming, or a niche assistance?

If you don’t like apps in your games, Teburu is going to make you really mad

Gaming apps. A phrase that some gamers want to love, and some love to hate.

I quite like some apps. Chronicles of Crime and Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game are excellent examples of games that include gameplay not possible with digital assistance.

But that is the keyword – assistance. If I want to play a video game, I will play a video game. Some apps mean well, but add very little to the experience. The whole thing is very hit and miss.

One of the first digital apps I tried to embrace was the Zombicide Companion App. People were enjoying the game, but a few had complaints about the amount of ‘little things’ they had to track with their characters. I was hoping that the companion app would help alleviate this. Spoiler alert – I was wrong.

As you still had to play wiht the cards physically, it was just doubling up on a lot of the admin

Some apps only try and help with one small facet of a game. For example, the 7 Wonders scoresheet app. And help it does. 7 Wonders scoring is almost a science unto itself when beginning to learn the game.

But there have been some great examples of apps that blur the line between tabletop and video games. Mansions of Madness 2nd edition, for example, made it possible for me actually to play as the player for a change. I did not always have to be ‘the bad guy’, which opened up a lot of new gameplay chances for me. In all of the games of Mansions of Madness I had played, I had never been a player character. Now thanks to the app, I can play Mansions by myself if I want!

I no longer have to spend an hour alone setting everything up thanks to the Mansions app

CMON and Xplored have taken the app ‘games master’ one step further. With the assistance of app integration, NFC and Bluetooth technology, the vision is you can play your game and have all of the admin done for you.

Introducing Teburu, the tabletop gaming console that CMON and Xplored hope ushers in a new age for tabletop gamers.

On the surface, I love the idea. The idea itself is far from new. Years ago, when the Microsoft Surface was still a tabletop computer concept design, developers showed off the possibility of playing Dungeons and Dragons with the tabletop being an interactive map that recognised your miniatures.

Teburu doesn’t seem to be going quite so far, but the basics are all there. You have an app on your phone with your characters information such as stats, inventory, etc. A central app keeps track of all other aspects of gameplay – enemy positions, line of sight rules, objectives, everything.

One advantage Teburu has over a lot of concepts I have seen are physical dice you roll and don’t have to tell the app the results. It might not sound like much, but having to stop to type in your rolls all the time sucks. Now, I am a little worried about the dice needing a charge halfway through a game, but that is a small price to pay.

The mat becomes a large sensor so that it knows the position and orientation of your pieces

There are a lot of games that can benefit from this type of system, and CMON makes a lot of them. Dungeon Crawlers is a genre that suffers from a lot of admin minutiae that stops you just having fun. Having something that takes care of all that math is appealing for a lot of players.

I am a little torn of the existence of Teburu. On the one hand, I admire the tech and passion involved in its design. It also allows for more social gaming, as you are still playing a physical game with your friends. Because the app takes care of the rules, ‘House Rule’ arguments and the like will be minimised as well.

I am hoping that this concept is successful, but I also hope that this technology will be available to other companies as well. Fantasy Flight could expand its existing app game lineup with the Teburu expansions, for example. Other games, like Betrayal at House on the Hill, would be so much easier for new players. The Betrayer would have their information and can see hidden rules on their phone, and the whole ‘What does this mean’ argument becomes invalid immediately as the app won’t let them make illegal moves.

Another thing I will be wary on is how fragile the system will be. Not in use, but storing and unfolding the base over and over.

Of course, this is probably going to cost a pretty penny. While described as a console that other games work with, the initial cost will likely be reasonably steep. If you aren’t a fan of CMON games in general or only really love one of their games, the investment may be too much.

I am still waiting to hear some feedback after the Teburu being shown at Gen Con 2019 with the new Zombicide, but I will be following the development news closely.

There have been hints and teases of other compatible games, such as the upcoming Project: Elite and even the newly revealed Ankh. I expect a lot of this information to continue to firm up before the Teburu Kickstarter alongside Zombicide Evolution – Las Vegas next year.

What about you? Do you like the idea of game apps in general? Do you like the idea of the Teburu, or do you think it’s going too far? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time,

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