Sid Meier's Starships
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You begin Sid Meier's Starships by choosing a leader. Each one has a special ability, like access to more money, or some free technologies to get you started.

From there you have access to space travel and have to set about visiting other worlds, contacting new races, gathering more resources, building cities, upgrading your ships, and bringing peace to the galaxy.

Star fleets

The main map allows you to travel between planets, making friends and killing enemies along the way.

You might arrive at one location, for example, to be told that a transport vessel needs accompanying through dangerous territory.

Successfully complete the mission and you'll win the favour of the locals and adds to your resources. Having your fleet stationed at one location also wins the population there over, as does annihilating any currently occupying forces.

Though expanding, negotiating peace, and building Wonders can all lead to victory, in my experience the majority of the game focuses on combat. Battles take place on a large grid, littered with asteroids, all of which provide your ships cover.

You have to position your fleet tactically to engage the stern of enemy vessels - where energy shields are at their weakest - and unleash volleys of laser, plasma, and missile fire.

Each weapon type has its own advantages and disadvantages, and careful use of them, along with fighters, scanners, and cloaks, is the key to success.

The UI is sensibly laid out, and it's easy to access the details of your units. There are only a few small (and fixable) presentation imperfections in the otherwise high quality production.

Galactic civilization

Those concerned a deep strategy game won't work on a portable format like the iPad can rest easy too, as while whole games may take hours to complete, each turn is over quickly and the game automatically records your progress in case you need to stop.

Sid Meier's Starships is an empowering gameplay experience that simultaneously makes you feel like the President of an entire space-faring species, and the Commander at the head of a fleet of combat-ready ships.

And it does it in an endlessly replayable manner that's as strategic and devious as you want it to be.

Sid Meier's Starships

Sid Meier's Starships is an excellent large scale strategy game, that's nevertheless pleasingly bite-sized