Dec 22, 2009

Age of Conquest: North America

Age of Conquest is a game available for almost every somewhat popular computer platform available. It is a turn based strategy game somewhat like the classic Risk, but far more in-depth. Several versions are available, but from what I can tell the only difference is the map (and the historical scenarios available for the map). The game offers many different scenarios to choose from such time periods as the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, or you can choose to go Random and have starting locations arbitrarily assigned. The game also offers 3 difficulty levels and 2 objectives: world domination (i.e. conquer everything) or standard (i.e. conquer everything OR kill all enemy kings).

In the beginning you'll start with 5000 gold, a province, and a king. On your turn you'll be able to recruit new soldiers, buy towers and fortifications, move (aka attack), or disband. Typically you'll be buying some new soldiers, attacking adjacent provides to increase the size of your empire, and perhaps adding a tower or fortification to increase the defensive strength of a province. Towers also allow you to monitor troop buildups in adjacent provinces.

When an attack occurs some very clear formulas are used to resolve the outcome and the game includes details on this. There's no dice rolling or randomness as there is in Risk. The game also plays a lot slower than Risk as there is more decision making such as when to build towers and fortifications. With the Risk clone I used to play on my Pocket PC (Pocket Conquest) I could polish off a game in 5-10 minutes, but this game strikes me as the kind of game that could take an hour to play.

All in all the game plays well. The rules are clearly explained and it even offers a tutorial mode which worked well. The user interface didn't have any serious problems other than sometimes the slider was difficult to grab onto a make slide when I was choosing how many troops to recruit. The graphics are basic, but they are what you would expect from a turn based strategy game where the goal is to quickly convey information.

There is a free Age of Conquest Lite for those that want to get their feet wet first, before buying one of the four 'full versions' available. All versions are all priced at $2.99 except Europe which is $4.99 (I presume it comes with more scenarios than the others?). If you like turn based strategy then there are not a lot of choices in the Android marketplace. Fortunately this is a good one provided you're not expecting to hammer out a game in ten minutes. This also, however, means there's still plenty of room for a good Risk clone as this game certainly doesn't fill that gap.

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