Welcome to the latest in our series of Pocket Gamer columns. We're taking the best games writers in the industry and giving them a platform. Veteran journalist Jon Jordan is here each week examining the trends shaping your mobile games scene. This week, he's playing King's new game Legend of Solgard.

After a couple of weeks of pondering the ins and outs of Epic's distribution strategy for Fortnite on Android, it's nice to get back to the real business of mobile games, which - of course - is mobile games themselves.

And, right on cue, King has finally released Legends of Solgard, a game I assumed had been lost in soft launch iteration.

After all, the midcore match-3 strategy experience, which is developed by Swedish startup Snowprint Studios, has been in testing since October 2017. And that's a lot of testing.

However, looking back at my initial first time user experience video, it's not obvious how much has changed. Certainly the basic gameplay, which is turn-based and has you matching your units on a lane-based grid to attack the enemy and destroy its portal, hasn't altered much.

Match-3 to unlock

Like all match-3 games, Legend of Solgard has immediate pick-up-and-playability, but given the turn-based mechanic, you also have to be thoughtful to ensure your moves - only three per turn - really count. Of course, there's also plenty of metagame in terms of unlocking new characters and then levelling and gearing them up.

And it's this layering of easy, well understood gameplay with more abstract, deeper goals than just completing more puzzles that underpins the very concept of a midcore game.

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It's not a great description, however, and certainly there's no universal agreement what a 'midcore' game actually is.

Partly this is because if a midcore game finds any level of commercial success, the developers have to add a lot more content for experienced players to consume. Over time, this means so-called midcore games become more complex - in other words, more hardcore.

Good examples include Small Giant's Empires & Puzzles (another lane-based match-3 game), which I churned out of after four months of solid daily playing because of its then character cap, since fixed.

Indeed, a raft of updates and aggressive UA spending have seen Empires & Puzzles becoming one of the success stories of 2017 and 2018, peaking within the US top 20 top grossing game chart.

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Less well known but similarly successful has been N3twork's match-3 game Legendary, which two years on is now a solid performer within the top 50 grossing game chart in key markets such as Germany, the UK and US.

Match-3 to rule them

Of course, recent years have also seen plenty of other examples of combining match-3 gameplay with strong metagame in the form of female-focused match-3 builders such as Playrix's Gardenscapes and Homescapes, which are top grossing in South Korea, Japan and China, as well as the West.

Throw into the mix the continued success of standard match-3 games such as Candy Crush Saga, Toon Blast and Fishdom and it's clear match-3 has become the dominant genre across mobile games.

And that makes complete sense. Everyone knows how match-3 works, levels are quick to complete, every success encourages another go, and this accessible, tactile and addictive simplicity can be combined with other mechanics to generate almost endless possibilities.

As for whether Legends of Solgard can succeed or not, it's still very early days.

It's yet to make much impression on the top grossing charts, nor is it ever likely to rank alongside Candy Crush Saga and its ilk. But given its long testing period and eventual release, King clearly has faith it has the potential to build a strong - if different - following of its own.

And, perhaps more importantly, it's a pretty enjoyable game to play. Check it out.

If this column has given you food for thought, share your comments below and bookmark Jon Jordan's page for more of the same next Monday. Remember to also check out words of wisdom and mirth from experienced games journalists Susan Arendt and Harry Slater each week.