I’ve gone under cover, daubed with camo, scrabbling through barbed wire and spiked pits to give you the low-down on wargames on the Android platform!
I’ve not been Android enabled for long, so this is a quick look-see at some of the wargame offerings available to us mobile grogs.
Having spent the better part of my entire life, flicking through the slurry that clogs up the iTunes App store, looking for wargames on the iOS platform, I’ve only ever plucked one or two morsels out, that hardly satisfy this yearning hunger!
I’ve often greedily viewed the Android store with a longing, wishing I could dabble in some of the titles there, that look like they might actually present “proper” wargaming on a mobile platform.
Well, that time has come. I have now spent real coin getting hold of some of these titles, and I want to present to the “Wardroid”‘s amongst you a shopping list.
Levee En Masse (Victory Point Games)
Levee En Masse is a States of Siege solo-friendly boardgame, that has been translated to work as a mobile game. I originally bought it on the iOS platform, but have since pined for it on Android. Luckily there is a port!
Like all States of Siege boardgames, its about keeping the “wolf from the door”. In this Napoleonic themed game, you have armies on five tracks marching on to take Paris. Your job is to play your limited actions wisely enough to maximise the odds of you winning a combat die roll and pushing the advancing army back along its track.
A number of factors change the battling environment over the course of the game, with all variables attached to story event cards, that play out historically or randomly. You can choose to boost political influence of the Republic, or attempt to reduce the influence of the Monarchy or Despotism. The event cards have informative prose as well as a visual representation of the changes about to be made to the political and military landscape.
Other events such as public disorder inside of Paris, have to be dealt with using an action. Which can really thin out your options, since every attack, change of influence (positive or negative) and placement of a defensive picket costs an action.
The Battles themselves are very simple affairs, needing only a roll of a die. Attack modifiers are shown explicitly and you even have a meter showing you what you have to roll to make a successful hit. Different armies have different strength components, and these can fluctuate according to events, or position on the map. The British army for instance has a Naval component, and it is stronger than when it’s on land.
Levee En Masse’s simple mechanics make it ideal for a quick lunchtime spin. If you involve yourself in the theme, by reading the event text, and you take note of the changes in the environment, you can have some tricky choices ahead of you, before you have to submit to lady luck and the die roll on the battlefield.
The games events play out in three phases, coloured Blue, White and then Red, and the game gets more and more intense as the armies approach Paris, and you have to spend your actions wisely to push them back.
So good a game, I bought it on two platforms! Well worth it.
Now listen Victory Point Games, it might be time to bring a port of my favourite States of Siege game to the mobile platform, namely Zulus on the Ramparts – an AAR of the boardgame can be seem here.
Small General (VR Designs)
Victor Reijkersz’s background lies in the development of PC based wargames such People’s Tactics, Advanced Tactics and the Decisive Campaigns series of games. They are all chit-based operational wargames. His earlier Tactics games focus on generic forces, with the modding ability to create some fantastical battlefields to play out your wars on. His work on the Decisive Campaigns games is outstanding for bringing history to life, and weaving so much detail into the game.
His only foray into the mobile platform is Small General.
From the little I’ve played of the game, it’s a handheld game that has the essence of Advanced Tactics running through it.
Its a straight forward operational chit mover, with a die roll at the heart of the combat. It’s cleanly presented, generic in style, with the BLUE and GREY EMPIRE at war.
I’m a big fan of Victor’s games, but I am more in tune with his Decisive Campaigns material simply because it soaks you in a warm luxurious bath of history as you play it.
Small General provides a decent enough diversion, for small skirmishes on the move, especially if you have more affinity with his Peoples General/Advanced Tactics series.
Conflict Series (Joni Nuutinen)
Joni has a number of wargames available on the Android platform and he groups them together as the “Conflict” series.
I’ve only sampled a couple of them at the moment, but after giving them a brief play, I can see myself stumping up for the rest – it’s just a matter of time.
Again we’re looking at a chit shuffler, but at quite a high level of scale. More strategic in play, with a presentation that reminds me of some of the boardgame mods made for Wastelands Interactive’s wargames.
The game manages to give you a sense of the daunting task ahead of holding the initial invasion beachhead and then attempting to push inland and secure the major locations for the troops behind. You have to use combined arms and surrounding tactics to maximise your effect on the persistent and often entrenched enemies.
Visually it’s very appealing, with the majority of the stats being displayed on the bottom status line. The UI is very simple, and does the job on the mobile platform, with one exception – every now and then my stubby sausage fingers seemed to move a tank unit out and then back in when trying to select the next unit in the same hex.
Combat results are displayed in a popup panel and are quite detailed, but have a title that lets you know immediately whether its a Victory or a Defeat. Weather is also modelled in the game, and can have quite a dramatic effect on your actions.
Unit variety is a big bonus, having named divisions and special ops, air support, anti-mine flail tanks. Pocket History.
American Civil War
I wanted to see how this game different from the Conflict series, and it manages to bring the American Civil War to your mobile device. Using a similar interface, you do get a more intimate feel during play. The visuals don’t seem to be as varied as the Conflict series, but they suffice.
If you can familiarise yourself with the straightforward interface, then you’d have many hours of wargaming in your pocket with Joni’s titles.
More colourful, and more boardgame-like, DK Simulations titles are worth looking into for the handheld grognard.
Rommel in Africa
I picked up this title, to sample the Gazala scenario mainly. If you want a pure chit shuffling operational wargame with NATO symbols and hexes then these games are the ones to go for. Simple to play, satisfying to delve into, you just can’t get anything like this on the iOS!
German Eagle vs Russian Bear
Again DK Sims, give you Eastern Front conflict, in a colourful boardgame fashion. While this game is similar enough to Rommel, there are a number of titles under the DK Sims banner that are very different.
Overall you get the impression that the DK Sims folks are a homebrew outfit, who really want to bring “proper” wargaming to the mobile Android platform. Eagle vs Bear does it really well.
This game is a very homebrew representation of a print and play boardgame that I have direct experience of known as Barbarossa Solitaire. I’ve run a couple of games using my custom paper versions, even documenting an (unfinished) AAR on SFG!
It’s a very abstracted view of German conquest and defeat across the Eastern Front throughout the early 1940′s. Each turn is represented by a season, and as the seasons progress various modifiers attempt to simulate the problems that the German High Command begin to run into.
This was one of the more disappointing titles I picked up. The UI is very terse and bland, although the original pen and paper design wasn’t much better! But the main problem is that the game hangs intermittently, and often crashes out on exit. I’d like to see a much better implementation of the game, but kudos for trying to bring something different to the platform.
Napoleonics: Quatre Bras
Now onto the DK Sims star game for me.
This is a top down boardgame-like abstracted view of the movements available on the Battlefield surrounding Quatre Bras during the Napoleonic era. Your points of attack, and formations are determined by board positions, and the links available between them. If you want to get into line formation, you need the movement points to get into a position to form a line. There are cavalry units that can zip about the map with more movement points, and you have Artillery units that take a turn to unlimber and move a very short distance indeed.
Ultimately it’s a game of movement and protection, and attacking in force to take the Victory Point locations. The fact its presented on a top down planning map makes the decisions a lot more easier. But re-enforcements flood onto the battlefield, and you have to react and adapt, and attempt to hold what you have.
It’s a very quick and fluid game, and I just like the visual representation.
Full points for almost capturing a dream game of mine. If it had a little more UI/Visual polish I’d have paid triple what it cost on the store easily.
Lastly a title set in Ancient times, with the word “anus” at the end *giggles like a British schoolboy*.
Basically its a very well presented version of ”Field of Glory lite”. You march your Legions out to take other locations, and you use the resources afforded to you to build supplemental units.
Visually the graphics are very clean, with well coloured attire and accoutrements. Gameplay is straightforward, with movement points, and combat resolved using a die and modifier system.
You build units at major cities, and there are a good selection of units on offer.
You get an odds calculation as you go into battle, and your choice to make a full on attack or skirmish is available.
I’ve not spent a massive amount of time on this title, but thought it was worth mentioning, simply because of how well it looked and how easy it was to play.
Anyway, it’s been a whistle-stop tour of some of the wargaming delights available on the Android platform now. I’ve not covered any of them in any particular depth, and I apologise for that, but I hope that it’s given you some pointers on where to look to get your wargaming fix on the move. For me personally, I’m delighted to see such “proper” Grognard titles turn up, because this genre of gaming is very poorly served on the iOS platform.
If you have other suggestions for “Wardroid” gaming, please mention them in the comments below.