Impressive turn-based strategy games for Android tablets

by Larry Sullivan

I have enjoyed turn-based strategy games ever since I played a game called Panzer General for the PC years ago. Playing the role of a commander and trying to figure out the best strategy to win is a lot of fun. In addition to your current move, you need to look ahead and figure out potential future moves or consequences to your actions. Many times you need to lose and learn from your mistakes to be successful.

The games listed below are all fit the bill, but each takes a slightly different approach to gameplay. These games play fine on Android phones but the bigger screen really makes them better. From what I have read there are some neat looking games coming out later this year, so keep you eyes open.

Everlands HD ($1.99)

In Everlands HD your job is help the nice animals stop the evil animals from taking over the forest. Why are some animals going bad? Follow the story mode and see. Everlands HD provides a slightly different spin on turn-based strategy games and it’s a refreshing change. The story mode provides 20 levels of play. There is also a duel mode where you can challenge your friends (on the same device). The game does have a very helpful tutorial and will give you hints as you play if needed. A free feature-limited version of the game is available.

The game is played by placing your animals (one per turn) on the game board and then attacking your opponent. There are about 20 different animals, each with different levels of health and attack strengths and directions. The key to doing well is figuring out the best animal to play and where to place it. As you attack an enemy, you lower its health, when you are successful, that animal will change sides. Doing a little bit of math will help in planning. Now this happens both ways, so you need to take care. When the board is filled, the majority present wins.

The graphics in the game are great and gameplay is very smooth. In each level, you only have so many animals to work with, thus adding to the challenge. Knowing the different animals is paramount. I have to admit I have used their hint feature more than once! Each level does not take a huge amount of time but you do have the option to pause the game and return later. Overall it is a very fun game. I did find the game will only work in portrait mode.

Age of Conquest: Europe ($3.99)

The goal of Age of Conquest: Europe (and all of the titles in the series) is very straight forward: conquer all of your opponents. There are numerous titles in the series; all play the same, just with different maps. There is a Iite version so you can try before you buy. You start off with your kingdom occupying one territory and some resources. On each turn you need to create more troops and then move them to conquer new territories. The more territories you have, the more money you earn, thus more troops you can create.

Although the game does not have the fanciest of graphics, it really is a lot of fun. I found myself playing turn after turn and getting frustrated at the AI and wanting payback! The game does have a number of options which really can spice up the game such as fog of war, random placement, diplomacy and empire management. In most games you will have to deal with multiple fronts, so you will need to take the time to review the whole map. Overall, I like the simplicity of the game, the variety of game options, and replay potential it has. This game also will only work in portrait mode.

Highborn: Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3 ($0.99 each - Amazon Appstore only)

Highborn is an easy to pick up and learn casual turn-based strategy game. The game follows the story of Archie and his fellow heroes and their battle against Decay. This game is broken up into three chapters. Each is independent of the other, so they can be played in any order but they do follow a general story arc. The games are only available on the Amazon Appstore currently. Each chapter is made up of eight levels plus a tutorial, but each level will take some time to complete, thus it is not a fast game.

One of fun aspects of Highborn is its sense of humor. The dialog, jokes and references are really well done. I was smiling the whole time I was playing. The maps in the game are quite extensive and have a wide variety of terrains, which effect units’ movement and effectiveness. The developers put a lot of effort in character development, so make sure you read up on the different ones you encounter. You really will get wrapped up into the story when you play which makes the game lots of fun.

Each turn is broken into movement and action segments. After moving your unit and an attack occurs, a small animated cut scene will come up to allow you to “watch the action.” In addition to the story, you can play in multiplayer mode via OpenFeint. The game allows you to save your progress at checkpoints. To win a level, your hero must survive, if they don’t you get to start all over. The game will only work in landscape mode.

Great Little War Game ($2.49)

This is just a great little game! Great Little War Game (GLWG) plays on both small and large screen, has pinch-to-zoom, and gives the player a ton of options within the game. This has become one of my favorites. The game is broken up into three modes: Skirmish (play against the computer), Pass and Play (multiplayer locally) and Campaign (progress through a series of battles with the Generalissimo “assisting” you along the way). The game has at least 19 maps and each varies in size, starting locations, resources and terrain.

The developers really did a great job in providing the player ability to change so many of the game options. The list is really too long to put here but take my word, this feature really adds to the game’s replay value. You can save up to three games and it comes with OpenFeint achievements. Just recently, another version of the game came out GLWG:All Out War ($0.99) which is “a stripped down version of the original game, designed just to allow play of two extra campaigns.”

The 3-D graphics of the game and the battle animations really makes GLWG stand out from the usual top-down view offered by most turn-based strategy games. The campaign mode is fun but I favor the skirmish mode myself. As with the other games, your mission is to knock out the enemy and take over their bases. The game provides a nice variety of units you can create. To take over your enemy base, you will need engineers. In general, GLWG is not a fast game, but you can save your progress. The game will only work in landscape mode.

UniWar HD ($4.99)

The game Uniwar has been out for some time for both iOS and Android devices. It has won numerous awards and has been highly rated by its users. Recently it has undergone a major update, it is now Uniwar HD and is better optimized for Android tablets and provides a built in map editor. With these recently changes, the game is definitely worth the price.

If you enjoy games like StarCraft then I recommend you try Uniwar HD. In the game you can choose between three races to play and within each race there about eight different units. As with any of these games, each unit has its own strengths and weaknesses, so you need to do some research. To win, you need to eliminate your enemy and take over his bases. The game has three main modes: Campaign (play a series of missions against the computer to learn the game), Solo (play a single game against the AI), and Online (play others over the Internet). The online game feature is the main thrust of this game. This is no major storyline, just play against others and see how well you rank. A note: when you first start, you will need to create an online account to access all the features of the game such as map editor.

To have a chance to win in the game, you really need to know the units and how they interact with the terrain. Terrain plays a big part of the game. The campaign mode will definitely help newbies out but practice makes perfect. You can play quite a bit solo but it’s the online gaming component where Uniwar HD excels. There is a very active and helpful community already in place, and tons of player-made maps available online giving Uniwar HD an almost endless number of games. The graphics are great and fit well with the game. You can zoom in/out in the game and play in landscape or portrait modes. I wish I had Wi-Fi in my office so I could play more.

So, are there any particular turn based strategy games that you like to play? The games listed here represent a nice variety of game styles. If you enjoy story-based games with online multiplayer modes and 3-D graphics, then these Android games should have you covered.