17 September 2014

Mobile App Review: American Revolutionary War

Matthew Flanigan reviews one of the few American Revolutionary War titles available today for the Android mobile platform. Does it pass muster?

Published on 29 JAN 2013 6:05pm by Matthew Flanigan

When searching for applications on my Android phone or tablet itís easy to become disoriented with the sheer number of applications available. Atop the lists in pretty much any category stand the fan favorites like Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, Plague Inc, and Words with Friends. However when you look at war gaming, you quickly find a lack of an adequate selection. While there are some well-regarded ones out there like World War, Modern War, Total War Battles, and Frontline Commando there seems to be a pretty big genre which is missing, historical wargames. For example, if you search for World War II games there are only a handful, Civil War games are even harder to come by, and Revolutionary War games, well donít hold your breath. One developer who is trying to fit that niche however is Joni Nuutinen. Mr. Nuutinen has created a series of games called the ďConflicts-SeriesĒ which focus on historical wars from the American Revolution, through the American Civil War into World War II. Recently I had the chance to sit down and play one of the Conflict Series games, American Revolutionary War.

   

American Revolutionary War is a hex-based game and it plays more like a classic board game than a computer game, which is something I think is sorely missing in the world of mobile. You would think a phone and a tablet especially would be the perfect medium to bring board games mobile, in fact a tablet is more suited to hex-based board games than a standard PC in many ways. You can touch and drag around your pieces with your hands much like a regular board game, you  have a top-down view, and you can take it and set it up anywhere, unlike many computers.  There is a lot going for this style of game and Joni Nuutinen hits a lot of very positive elements in American Revolutionary War. In the game you play the role of the Colonials in the American Revolutionary War. Over the course of the game the enemy (the British) will launch various offensives, from Boston, Charlestown, and Canada and your goal is to beat them back as best as you can and hang on to enough territory to convince the British to let you become your own nation.  The games interface is pretty simple, as I said earlier the game is a hex-based game that any seasoned board or computer wargamer will immediately feel at home with.

Units are represented with counters and advance one hex at a time, though some specialty units can advance further. The map covers the entire thirteen colonies from north to south and is zoom-able so you can zoom out if you need to get a view of the bigger picture. The map also has features such as rivers, roads, cities, marshes, plantations, and is impacted by events like storms which slow movement. The game is a turn-based strategy game in which you get an income every turn based on the territory you hold, that income is represented in gold. As a Colonial most of your units start as militia but you can use gold to buy new militia, upgrade your militia to regular infantry, or even dragoons. Further, in order to launch attacks maintaining your logistical system is critical as there are ammo wagon units which must be kept within a certain proximity of an attacking unit and must also be replenished by expending gold after they run out of ammunition. Supply lines are also a critical element to the game and you need to make sure youíre not letting the British get in behind you and also try to cut the British off themselves. Itís far easier to be victorious vs. a surrounded British unit than a well-supplied one. You can spend money on unit upgrades as I already mentioned but you also need to spend money on appeasing the Royalists or Indians to keep them off your back, there is nothing more frustrating than seeing a loyalist rebellion pop up in an area you had recently just pushed that feisty British Army out of, or losing income because your plantations were raided by Indian tribes.

   

Overall American Revolutionary War is a fun board game on Android and fits the historical wargame niche well and the price is a bargain if you consider how much time you can put into the game. With that said there are a few improvements that could be made: first the game works great on a tablet with a big screen but when you zoom out you are unable to issue commands and this means playing on a phone can feel too compressed to be enjoyable, a bigger screen is necessary for an ideal experience with this game. I canít imagine playing the game on a smaller Android device, you need a big screen. Second, the game feels almost too long for a game of this type, it takes dozens of turns just to get to 1778 and by that point the game can get a bit repetitive, there are elements which keep you on your toes like Indian raids, loyalist rebellions, even French intervention and the historical shift of the war to the southern colonies but despite these nice touches it feels at times like your rushing from one crisis to another without a viable strategy.  Lastly, the game could use multiple scenarios. If the campaign game is so long it would really benefit the player to be able to choose a northern campaign, southern campaign, or grand campaign, or something along those lines to break up the game and give the players more opportunities and add more replay-ability to this fine game.  

  

One feature that seems to be lacking is player vs. player games, I would imagine it would require a ton of changes in the coding but while the AI is quite good, there would be a lot more immersion if there could be a player vs. player setup of some kind. Overall the game fits a niche which has barely been touched and itís an excellent board game style android game. I would definitely recommend this game for anyone with an Android Tablet or a larger screened Android phone. 

American Revolutionary War can be purchased here via Google Play. 

 

About Matthew Flanigan

Matthew Flanigan is a recent college graduate with a double major in History and International Relations whoís been playing war games for over 15 years. He loves any type of war game, from games like Panzer General, to FPSí such as ARMA II and even epicís like War in the Pacific: Admirals Edition. In addition to making videos for his Youtube channel, Matthew's even begun the slow task of teaching himself the basics of computer programing.

Forum username: mflanigan