App of the Week: Friendstrap

Developer: Game Oven

Compatible with: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch

Requires: iOS 6.0

Price: Free

Available: Here

While the heyday of the board game may have passed long ago in the eyes of many, if you haven’t been paying attention to them lately you may be surprised to find that some of the absolute best party games available to adults are board games. Whether it be the raunchy and hilarious “Cards Against Humanity,” or the clever take on the battle of the sexes “Ladies and Gentlemen” provides, there are a growing number of board games out there that may cause your guests a moment of hesitation when you suggest them, but will soon have them engaged in a way that no other form of party entertainment can achieve.

“Friendstrap” is not one of those board games. However it does retain the spirit of them, as well as the relaxed yet competitive atmosphere they can lead to.

It’s setup couldn’t be more simple. You and a friend put a finger on one of the two dots on screen while a topic appear atop, and a counter begins on the bottom. To play you each have to simply have a conversation on the topic until it disappears and is replaced with another. You repeat this until someone removes the finger and thus themselves from the conversation.

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Now where this gets interesting is in the topics themselves. While some are no more invasive than the weather, others can get incredibly intimate and even awkward. Even better, the topics themselves are often presented in only a few vague words (for instance; “Friends With Benefits”) allowing the psyche of the users to take the game in unique directions. For instance, one strategy would be for each player to pursue the most outlandish conversation paths in order to ensure their companion is too mortified to contribute.

To be honest, based solely on its built-in design, “Friendstrap” is an incomplete experience that works better as a conversation starter or time killer than a full on game. However, with the application of a few “house rules”to keep the participants in check, and the right kind of participants, there is a lot of potential in its simple set up to lead to hours of laughter. Fortunately no such outside creativity is required for the topics themselves which remain ambiguous and entertaining regardless of the specifics of the personal games you create using the built-in set up. With over a 1,000 of these topics included (with additional, even more awkward ones available for purchase) you’re likely to never have the same conversation twice, especially when considering the individual whims of the players.

It’d be misleading to call “Friendstrap” a complete app, as taken at surface value there frankly isn’t much to it. However, the incredibly ambiguous set up is best viewed an an intentional design, as it allows whomever has a finger in the game a level of control over the experience that caters more to their individual whims and unique quirks, rather than forces them to necessarily adhere to pre-set rules. In that regard, its incomplete nature becomes its greatest asset as it ensures every session will be entertaining and unique above all else.

If conversation is truly a lost art, then the ability for “Friendstrap” to strike up entertaining conversations between nearly any participants on any of its topic makes the app something of a work of art itself. An unassuming yet brilliantly maniacal party game, there’s little discussion to be had regarding “Friendstrap’s” status as app of the week.


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Stats galore: Bill James Baseball IQ app

Baseball fans love their stats, particularly fantasy owners looking for an edge. Whether you’re a certified stat geek or your fantasy league’s reigning champ, you could spend hours digging through the vast pool of information found in the Bill James Baseball IQ app. Created by Steve Selfors in collaboration with noted historian and stat savant Bill James and developer American Eagle, Baseball IQ sets itself apart from other statistics-based baseball apps by putting the sport’s endless stream of useful data into the hands of its most rabid fans with full color graphics that are easy to both navigate and understand.

Say, for example, you want to see how Toronto’s Jose Bautista, the game’s current home run king, has fared against Yankees ace CC Sabathia throughout his career. Well, for starters, that’s just too simple for this app. In fact, with a few clicks, you can see Sabathia’s lifetime stats against every hitter on Toronto’s roster (Bautista, incidentally, is 0-30 against the large lefty with 14 strikeouts…yikes). Want to see a location breakdown for Bautista’s 14 Ks vs. Sabathia? Check out the K Zone chart. Wondering how those numbers stack up against Bautista’s stats against other Yankee starters, or any other pitcher in the game over the last year? Last two years? Last three years? Check. With Hit Locator, you can see where Bautista is most likely to hit the ball in certain situations (against particular pitchers, in a specific ballpark, with an 0-2 count, etc.), and with Hit Zone, you can see the location of pitches in and around the strike zone where Bautista tends to get his hits. Of course, these breakdowns are available for every player in the game over the last three years, and the app also allows you to stack one player’s stats up against another’s over a set time period and against particular teams and/or pitchers. Pretty cool.

But we’re just scratching the surface here. The bottom line is, you’ll find stats on the Bill James Baseball IQ app that you won’t see anywhere else, giving you the knowledge you need to impress your friends at the bar while continuing to dominate those same friends in your fantasy baseball league.