Long-term strategy is a fascinating genre – committing to a single campaign for weeks, or maybe even months, as you and a bunch of opponents battle it out for supremacy. It kind of reminds me of those people who used to play chess through the post, making one move per letter. But long-term strategy becomes even more interesting when you move it to mobile, a platform where games that require a little play per day, i.e idle games, usually flourish.
That’s because long-term strategy isn’t actually ‘idle’ in any sense of the word, and as opponents are eliminated, the conflict and amount of maintenance it requires escalates, to the point that it’s almost all-consuming. Can you hop into a grand strategy game, make a few little choices, and then remove it completely from your mind? It takes a very special kind of player to be able to handle that.
Conflict of Nations: WW3 is a fairly popular long-term strategy game that can be played on PC, web browser, or on mobile, with up to 100 players duking it out to see who can claim the most territory. The game essentially revolves around victory points, and whoever reaches a certain amount first is crowned ruler of nations. You get these elusive points by claiming territory and just generally expanding your influence.
But the kicker, and the long-term strategy element, is that everything takes an extremely long time to do. Whether it’s moving troops to take an enemy city, building barracks, or recruiting some soldiers – you could most likely travel to the country you’re invading in real-life, in the amount of time that it takes to move your troops there. But that’s an aspect of Conflict of Nation’s realism, and how it creates a long-term bout between you and the other players.
Everything you do in-game revolves around resources, and each of your cities produces a certain number of each, with specific territories providing more of an individual resource. You can also build local industry in your cities, which bolsters the amount of resources you can get, as well as offering trades on the market, which other players can choose to accept. Resources are vital for producing buildings, units, and, as is usual for strategy games, general upkeep.
"Gold can basically be used to instantly replenish morale"
I was pleasantly surprised by the depth of units you can build, from submarines, to tanks, to stealth bombers, and as this is a WW3 setting, you can amass an arsenal of missiles and nuclear warheads. Though you won’t have access to these for a fair while, as you’ll be researching and constructing the requisite buildings to unlock them.
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One quite fun feature in Conflict of Nations is the news site, where you can basically publish articles claiming whatever you want for other players to see. It's inevitably a bit of a trash pile, but it's pretty fun nonetheless
This is all fairly above board – you gradually build up your infrastructure and armies, then start to take on opponents, and claim territory. One of the things I also really like about Conflict of Nations is how ‘diplomacy’ is literally just a messaging service between you and other players in the game, which feels very open in a fun way. I also like how you can construct some buildings on any tiles, which allow for faster movement of units, or increased unit replenishment. Conflict of Nations really is about infrastructure and well-laid plans.
But it’s not all good – being free-to-play, the game features a currency system, namely gold, which you can use to speed up clocks, and replenish morale, which is kind of the god stat. Morale basically effects resource productivity, and the likelihood of uprisings, and is lowered through civilian casualties and conquering cities, or having cities conquered. It regenerates everyday, and while building bunkers increases that, gold can basically be used to instantly replenish it.
This does add a certain degree of pay-to-win with Conflict of Nations, as you can basically insta-regenerate all of your morale, meaning you can mitigate the effects of any war weariness, and basically stay on the offensive. But, as mentioned, this is a free-to-play game, and in that sense, you get what you pay for. And that’s not to say that morale is the be-all and end-all. If anything, outsmarting a player who has sunk money into gold to beat you, is kind of an added difficulty component, and it’s of course fun when you beat them.
But for those players who think they can hack the overall commitment, Conflict of Nations is certainly bang for your buck – considering it’s free and a single game can last up to a month. Admittedly, it does take a certain type of strategy player to enjoy it, and it is hampered on occasion by its pay-to-win elements, but Conflict should give any serious mobile strategy nut a bit of enjoyment.