I’ve been keeping my eye open for games on the iPhone that involve wargaming or warfare to some extent. Sifting through the millions of flicking and twitching apps, or the cornucopia of rough edged homebrew Stratego clones to present to you a list of half decent games of handheld war.
Heres my findings as of January 2011.
World in War
With top notch presentation, this simultaneous Risk-like war-game, delivers a map crafted in the style of the Hearts of Iron games, and also board game-like troop miniatures. It plays out in a similar way as Castle Vox (which I’m told plays out like the original Axis & Allies), you plan your troop movements, you buy in more troops, or you play strategy “cards” which add a bonus or a downer to your opponent. Then the turn is resolved simultaneously and any conflicts are played out with troop numbers and types (Infantry, Tanks, Artillery) affecting the outcome. During combat resolution. the troop types follow a Rock/Paper/Scissors setup in that Infantry > Artillery > Tanks > Infantry. The more territory you hold, the more income you reap for purchasing new units next round.
You can play a Campaign, with nicely drawn 2d cutscenes and dialogue, and with objectives that follow a storied path, or you can jump into a single battle. The planning Map graphics are very stylish, whereas the combat graphics are just functional depictions showing unit types being reduced in numbers. Overall the game has a nice board-game feel to it, and your interest in held trying to second guess the provinces your opponent will advance through. You can try out the game on the website, there is a flash based version hosted there.
Easy Tech Collection:
I’ve been impressed by the offerings from Easy Tech, they seem to deliver the sort of polished strategy games I crave. They have two offerings based around the Musket & Artillery era and one centered around World War II. Other titles in their collection include the Battles of Tiles style games The Myth of Hero Legend and Sparta 301 – both action/strategy titles worth playing if you like the “Rolling RPG” premise.
Musket & Artillery: American Revolutionary War
Three scenarios are immediately available, Lexington Shooting, Battle of Saratoga and the Siege of Yorktown – with two more available to unlock North & South and Pioneer. The maps are exquisitely drawn and the full coloured unit counters are impressive. The game plays out like a simple turn-based board-game, where you move your troops around areas on the board, and you can assault enemy positions with up to 5 units. During a conflict resolution, you have a graphical representation of the troops in a line firing muskets at each other, and you roll some virtual dice (with modifiers) to decide the outcome. All very slick and quite satisfying to play out.
There are a variety of advantage cards on offer that you can buy if you have the gold at hand, which adds to the basic piece moving dice rolling combat. The only disappointment I have with game is that the combat resolution is always lines of men firing muskets at each other – even if the counters show cavalry, naval ships or artillery (unless I’m missing something fundamental in the gameplay).
European War: Musket & Artillery
Based on a similar engine to the American Revolutionary War game, with the following scenarios available : Siege of Toulon, Battle of Austerlitz, Battle of Marengo, Battle of Tannenberg, Battle of Galicia, Battle of Gallipoli and also a free-play Conquest mode.
European War II
With a similar structure, but obviously themed around World War II, EW2 has four campaigns Germany, Britain, France and Russia – with only Germany unlocked from the start of play.Theres also a free-play Conquest mode, where you can play any one of a multitude of countries involved in the war.
With slick presentation, this game pips World in War at the post in terms of the quality of the map art and unit detail. The units are fully coloured and large complex sprites. When moving units, you are shown blue arrows for movement, or red arrows into enemy territory for combat. Entering combat is similar to the Musket and Artillery games, in that you can take up to 5 units at a time, and you see a representation of the units firing when you roll the dice. The main difference being, much to my delight, that you can see different troop types such as tanks attacking infantry. You can only have one troop type in a particular zone though. Unlike World in War with its ability to host combined forces or split them between armies in provinces.
Following the other games, the advantage cards can be played to mix up the action, giving your troops bonuses or dropping downers onto the enemy.
Pocket World At War
An interesting real time take on handheld wargaming, where you can drag your troops across the schematic map and hopefully time it right to engage in combat. It is pitched at representing a lightweight manoeuvre warfare game that can be played out in a few spare minutes and it does this successfully. Pinning units in combat and then flanking them to reduce their morale seems to be the order of the day. With the inclusion of air support units and an Eastern Front campaign its worth looking at if real time swiping warfare appeals to you, in the breathing space between your full on wargaming.
Trenches (Rolling Offense)
I first saw these sort of games over at Armor Games with their 1944 effort. I call these sort of games “Rolling Offense”, you have to throw more and more troops into the combat to progress linearly from one end of a horizontal scrolling map to the other. Trenches is a polished effort that goes for the super deformed cartoon quality that is becoming very popular in handheld games. The game is themed around World War I and the subsequent trench war of attrition. The key to play seems to be able to pit the appropriate troop types to counter whats ahead, in sufficient quantities to overwhelm and reap the rewards to feed the rolling offense war machine.
Last Front Europe (Tower Defense)
A full featured and slick presented Tower Defense game centered around World War II. The artistic direction leans towards a cute and functional style, reminiscent of the old Cannon Fodder game. You can play through four campaigns (North Africa, Stalingrad, Operation Market Garden and the Battle of the Bulge) pitting the appropriate nations against each other. With a key online component allows you to store/compare your progress, gain achievements and use a map editor to create your own levels or download other player made maps.
Civil War Defense (Tower Defense)
This title is a Tower Defense game themed by 2d sprite presentations from the mighty NorbSoftDev renowned for their Scourge of War (SoW) Gettysburg real time wargame. As such its an interesting advert for SoW and if you are sold on the American Civil War theme, you’ll get enough play out of it that you will be clamouring to purchase SoW and play a “proper” Civil War Game.
The Civil War Escape (Matching Puzzle)
As a bit of fun, this is one of the more lighter puzzle games that has a tenuous american civil war theme (some of the colourful matching tiles are horses, muskets, artillery cannons and crossed sabres) but is just fun enough to play it when I have a few minutes spare. Its quite a challenging matching game, where you have to get the soldier tile to the exit tile across the board, but it allows you to use the iPhone’s gyroscope to “shuffle” the board and use gravity to drop existing tiles into gaps previously created. Removing these tiles, should, if you’re lucky give you a pathway for the “Escape” to happen.
Anyway, hopefully theres a little something for everyone there, if you’re short on war themed games on your handheld. The quest for iWarfare continues….