This is a freemium game review, in which we give our impressions immediately after booting a game up, again after three days, and finally after seven days. That's what the strange sub-headings are all about. Click here to jump straight to day three or day seven.
Have you ever noticed that there are lots of games about war?
I suppose it's in our gaming DNA: one of the earliest video games ever - the stunning technological achievement that is Spacewar - has got the word right there in the title.
War of Nations is the latest take on human beings killing other human beings for geopolitical reasons, this time in the guise of a freemium builder and battler.
It's got seven days to convince me that it's a worthy addition to the war game ranks.
War of Nations's greatest asset is how snappy it is to play.
The game map is divided into a grid of hexagons on which you construct buildings to build out your base. Building consumes resources, and you have to wait set periods of time before they're ready. You can speed up these times with premium currency. Fancy that.
You'll want to build units to attack opposing nations, too. Once they're ready you simply send them to a neighbouring opponent, where they'll destroy oil derricks, mines, and other valuable assets you might find in any power-hungry nation.
All of these actions are quick and fluid. The menu design is based around windows of information, and you tap a familiar 'x' at the top right of the page to exit them once you've done what you need to do. So far, there hasn't been much in the way of advertising or pushy IAPs, which keeps the flow of play smooth.
Unfortunately, I haven't seen much to indicate that I'm in for anything other than a week with yet another builder battler that copies the same formula as everything else. Resources, time investment, social hooks, menu choices, tech research, little by the way of strategy or action - call me a cynic, but the warning signs are all there.
However, one novel element is the inclusion of Commanders that, when assigned to units as they attack, boost their strength. Perhaps there's some depth there to explore.
I'll find out soon enough.Day 3: Sun Tzu got nothin' on me
Progress is quick in War of Nations. I feel I'm making real strides forward with my little base, and I'm being rewarded for my efforts continually.
I've begun expanding my territory with outposts, allowing me to advance ever closer to enemy lines. I'm also upgrading all my buildings as much as I can, simply so that I can gain access to better types of military hardware.
My thinking is that if a potential enemy sees that I have a level 3 HQ, he'll be too overawed and terrified to launch an attack.
Executing these kinds of tactical master plans remains a pleasure - each menu choice is activated with a satisfying 'click' and accompanied by an epic orchestral flourish.
But what's leaving me a little hollow at the moment is the lack of true strategy in battles. I can assign Commanders to lead my units, as I noted a few days back, but I'm not seeing much else in the way of active participation. I can watch a battle after it happens, but I don't think I can intervene in any way.
I'm left to concentrate on amassing more resources back at the base, and hoping that I've sent enough units along to the fight. Of course, I can also play diplomat, and join an alliance.
So far I've requested membership in the following alliances: Clean with vodka, Terminators, and the imposing-sounding CALL OF DUTY BLACK OPS 2.
I hope they accept me.
However, I must admit that these names, combined with what I've seen in the global chat, leads me to believe that most people either aren't taking the game very seriously or are aggressive teenage boys.Day 7: D-Day
Little has changed during my time with War of Nations. I'm definitely making progress, but I get the impression that this is a game for the long-haul rather than a casual dalliance.
There's ever more to upgrade as I go about my business - giving additional weapons and armour to my Commanders to make them more effective in battles, and systematically completing missions in order to produce more resources or reach a certain level with a building.
The community is aggressive, but that's all part of the game. People are encroaching on my territory, and if I were a good warrior I'd be shoring up my perimeter by counter-expanding and attacking my enemies left, right, and centre.
But I'm not a good warrior, and I've no desire to be one. So I'm peacefully building up my resources and only entering combat when absolutely necessary. It's a boring process, and I'd much rather marvel at my impressive base as it grows and grows than sweep through a land destroying everything I can.
If you're a peaceful soul in search of a deep and satisfying mental workout, War of Nations isn't the game you're looking for. But if you're an armchair Napoleon, and you're not looking for too much tactical play in your war games, then this could well be the one for you.How are you getting on with the game? You can tell us and the rest of the PG community about your experiences by leaving a comment in the box below.