Review: Wars Across the World28 Feb 2019 8
Review: Wars Across the World
Released 03 Dec 2018
The basic concept of Wars Across the World is to take a single set of game mechanics that can underpin a range of different scenario types across history, at varying command levels. The design justification being that the base mechanics only need to be learned once, so that the developers can offer a breadth of battles and campaigns that all follow the same underlying logic, and so can be played in succession without much difficulty.
I was rather sceptical that such a design could both be fun and plausible, but so far I’ve been pleasantly surprised with what has been created. A combination of modern gaming techniques and ease of accessibility make Wars across the World an impressive achievement, and an excellent addition to mobile war games overall.
The company behind this, STRATEGIAE, have managed to find the sweet spot for mobile gamers and very much captures you in the ‘just one more turn’ trap. Whether it was defending Berlin in the dying days of the Second World War, force marching down to London from York in 1066 or desperately trying to seize Sinai whilst holding off the Syrians in 1967, I always needed to keep clicking that button to see what happened next.
The success of this game isn’t down to a single contributing factor, there are a range of elements here that have just been done very well underpinned by a well thought out baseline.
Firstly, the game is incredibly easy to pick up and play. Within a minute or two of installation you are quickly in the front line of the action dragging units around, making political decisions and trying to get some sort of strategic plan together. Within ten minutes you are quickly wondering whether not bothering to read through the scenario notes is really an excuse that will go down well in the Fuhrer’s Bunker and perhaps you are just better off blaming everything on Steiner (Insert Downfall meme video-ED).
Every phase it’s very clear what you need to do as the game highlights units and warns you when you haven’t activated elements. Even better it highlights cards that you could play so you don’t need to wade through endless cards trying to figure out what you need to do. It is so well implemented it ought to be mandatory for every game to copy this style of in-game assistance. Mr. Clippy this is not.
The game is built around an area movement map with strict turn and phase orders, but the designers have not let themselves be restricted or influenced by any specific school of wargaming techniques or traditions. This game is a smorgasbord of mechanics and they come together beautifully. Yes, there were times I didn’t really know what was going on but because I was so immersed in the experience it didn’t detract from the game.
My biggest concern was that I couldn’t see how they could merge such wide ranging historical eras together, let alone combine that with options for grand strategic level and operational level player perspectives all into a single game.
How they have overcome this is through incredible flexibility in their design tools. Units can be given any combat, movement and morale stats that fit the geographical region and the historical/ political situation. As a result not all scenarios are equal in quality, some of them are simply better designed than others. The base game on the iPad comes with a tutorial and a single mission but you are going to have to buy additional scenarios to justify getting this game in the first place.
Apart from the Berlin 1945 scenario ($2.99), the rest of the scenario IAPs are $1 each Everything I tried was worth the app purchase fee, and for this review I played Hasting 1066, Waterloo 1815. Tannenberg 1914, Normandy 1944, Berlin 1945 and Six Days 1967. I thought Berlin 1945 was the best of the bunch; an excellent scenario that had considerable depth compared to the other options, which probably explains the higher price.
I always approached each new scenario somewhat sceptically, doubting that the mechanics I had just been using could work on a totally different time frame I was now loading up. However I continually found that my doubts were unfounded and that it was actually really fascinating to see how different unit types worked in different era’s and situations. It was genuinely interesting to compare how my tanks performed in Suez against how my cavalry performed in 1815 or in 1914 at Tannenberg.
There are nuances to combat which I found strange at first as there are restrictions on unit limits and leader requirements. However these restrictions are designed to abstractly reflect logistical limitations and can occasionally be broken with the right card. Relatively modern armies tended to suffer morale collapse less readily than historical armies but none of the scenarios felt like a grind and there was often a real decision to be made. Most importantly the end result is plausible more often than not.
The AI isn’t a genius but considering that I lost my first four games in a row suggests that the competency level is definitely a fun challenge. Certainly the AI rarely lacks compunction to act, which often kills computer war games for me in general.
Wars Across the World also has an option for hotseat multiplayer and because it doesn’t take more than 1-2 hours (and I finished some in 30 minutes) to complete a scenario so you can easily sit down with a friend/ adversary and play a game or two over an evening or on a journey.
Everything you would want from a modern wargame is here; fog of war, morale, logistics, political considerations, supply, time pressures, interesting investment trade off’s. This is a far cry from many of the other wargames that we see with no real political context or pressures. War isn’t a logical, mechanical odds counting exercise, it’s a disorganized mess in which you simply attempt to act less badly than the people on the other team.
Wars Across the World captures that essence through the use of scenario specific cards. These cards cover a whole range of political and military factors and can be played at a strategic and tactical level during various phases of the game. Each set of cards is different for each side in each scenario and they provide a central part of the immersion that make this game good.
Most scenarios allow you to spend investment points on new units, replacements or cards. This creates interesting strategic dynamics and decision trade off’s. Many of the political elements allow you to buy time in some way or alter the balance of the conflict in the longer term. Some of the political cards impact the opponent, creating unforeseen challenges and friction of war.
Current scenarios range from ancient warfare through to the 20th century and there are more being released. Excitingly there is the option for user created scenarios as well. Wars Across the World straddles a line between offering meaningful depth and decisions, without crossing too much into the territory of hardcore wargames that you might see grace the front page of our sister website. It’s a welcome site in an app store increasingly looking at free-to-play and casual audiences.
At the time of writing, Wars Across the World has the following IAPs, all of which unlock additional scenarios to play within the game:
- Saratoga 1777 ($0.99)
- Six Days 1967 ($0.99)
- Tannenberg 1914 ($0.99)
- Malaya 1941 ($0.99)
- Waterloo 1815 ($0.99)
- Bulge 1944 ($0.99)
- Bull Run 1861 ($0.99)
- Hastings 1066 ($0.99)
- Berlin 1945 ($2.99)
- Hamilkar 264 ($0.99)