If you play a lot of strategy games, the default setting of World War 2 can become a bit tiresome.
Sure, it was home to the most titanic battles the world has ever seen, but there's only so many times you can annex Poland before repetition starts to creep in.
So it's refreshing to see a deep, detailed strategy game based on some unusual history. Pike and Shot allows you to re-fight battles from the pivotal conflicts of the Renaissance.
The wars between the Italian city-states, the Thirty Years war of central Europe and the English Civil War.
It does so in enough detail that you can watch the slow evolution of weapons and tactics unfold beneath your fingertips.
The history might be obscure, but it makes the strategy and tactics mouth-wateringly unique.
Pipe and Slippers
However, one of the reasons this era is under-gamed is because battles tended to run along very similar lines. You broke through the enemy formations where you could, and tried to roll up the flank. This is the goal of most of the scenarios in Pike & Shot.
While a little repetitive, it's absolutely spectacular when it happens. What was a cohesive force one turn will transform into a ragged band of routing remnants the next, leaving you feeling like a gaming god.
The game makes you work to get the tactics right in trying to secure that vital breakthrough. To do this, you're going to have to learn some bits of obscure militaria.
You need to be able to appreciate that what look like identical cavalry units are in fact Kurassiers and Boyars.
And that the former is terrifying in the first round of combat, and the other makes up for a lack of initial impact with all round staying power.
Pips and Stats
There's a lot of nuance in these unit on unit intereactions, and it's here that the meat of the game lies.
While you'll get a quick estimate of the combat odds before deciding to charge or fire on an enemy, you have to internalise these details to make key decisions in the heat of combat.
There are also obscure rules about limited melee between foot and mounted units, choosing priority targets, and other minutiae to learn.
So although the game uses the same engine as Slitherine's excellent and super-accessible Battle Academy 2, this is a rather more hardcore game.
The game tries to walk you through this in four tutorial scenarios. It's about the best way it could have presented itself, but it's still a lot to take in.
If you have the patience for it, it will reward you a hundredfold with thirty fascinating scenarios that rarely play out the same way twice.
Premium and Superb
Bizarrely, part of the charm of the game is the way in which units can refuse orders, leaving you casting round in desperation for other troops to plug the gap.
It might sound like a flaw for a strategy game, but it feels appropriate for warfare before the advent of radio or telephone.
And it never happens for anything other than a good reason. Your stubborn troops might be locked in an ongoing melee, gaily chasing down a routing enemy or busy fleeing for their lives.
So it feels more like the realistic ebb and flow of battle than an annoying loss of control.
If the thirty scenarios included for you aren't enough, there's also a skirmish mode for random battles with lots of settings to tweak.
You can also play online against other humans. There might be a premium price tag on this game, but it's going to buy maximum replayability.
Pike & Shot takes a little known slice of historical warfare, and brings it to life with such sharpness that it's almost painful. It's not a game for everyone.
The price, the obscure subject matter and the steep learning curve will be off putting for many. But for a certain breed of strategy gamer, mobile gaming doesn't come much better than this.