Kahmate by Id&aL icon

Kahmate ($3.99) by Id&aL is a port of the excellent rugby-themed board game of the same name to the iPhone.

The app retains all the cardboard pounding fun of the original, making it even easier to setup, play, and enjoy Kahmate in a digital form.

Kahmate by Id&aL screenshot

As a board game, Kahmate translates the rules of rugby into a tile-based format that’s easy to understand and engaging to play. Users move pieces about an arena-shaped game board, capitalizing on each unit’s special strengths and weaknesses to score tries. For the uninitiated, that’s a goal in rugby.

On that note, no direct knowledge of rugby is necessary to play Kahmate. The app has created an almost RPG-like experience out of the sport, making no foreknowledge of the game necessary. However, Kahmate does come with an extensive (and illustrated) tutorial course to help the player along just in case.

The gameplay itself is turn-based, letting both players move twice each round. Tackles, handoffs, passes, and kicks have all been preserved here, helping those that are more familiar with the popular sport to feel at home.

If there’s a contention between plays, the developers have also included a nifty Rook-style “fitness cards” system. This added component combines a selected number with a unit’s stats to determine the outcome of a challenge, replacing the scrum and foul.

If a try is scored, the game is over, which may sound like a brief experience to fans of rugby. However, scoring even one point can be quite the challenge. Managing the various units’ strengths and positions requires a lot of strategy, and when it’s done well, games can last anywhere from half an hour to an hour.

Kahmate by Id&aL screenshot

As deep as the strategy of Kahmate is, though, the game is currently without a quality AI for new players to test their mettle against. The included trainer is competent, but will hardly give a skilled player a run for their money.

The developers promise that a full-blown computer player is coming, but in the meantime, adding online matchmaking via Game Center would go a long way toward fleshing out Kahmate’s gameplay.

That being said, the title is a lot of fun with two human players. Kahmate is simple to pick up, and with such a simple, touch-based interface, it takes no effort at all to learn the app’s navigational ropes.

It’s worth noting as well that the graphics are impressive. The field has a well-worn look that suits the iPhone’s Retina display, while the game pieces themselves are lively and engagingly animated.

Kahmate is priced at $3.99 in the App Store. For that money, though, players can enjoy one of the simplest and most strategic board games to ever hit the iPhone and iPad.