World in War
| World in War

Back in the days when chess was the war game, orders during real battles weren’t instantly issued via radio, but communicated through other means - ones often prone to misinterpretation.

By the time in which World in War is set - World War II - things were a lot different. Troops were more mobile and connected to their commanders, so it’s fitting that this turn-based strategy game includes real-time elements to better portray the period's more modern style of warfare.


World in War loosely charts the major conflicts of war from the perspectives of each of the four superpowers: Germany, Britain, and The Soviet Union, with the United States available via in-app purchases.

Each force comprises three different ground units - infantry, tanks, and artillery - which relate in a rock-paper-scissors system. Naval and air forces do make a brief appearance, but disappointingly only as placeholder units when transporting troops via sea or as special Operations cards.

Each turn you collect cash based on your territorial holdings that can be spent on producing new troops at factories or on the aforementioned Operations cards that grant special bonuses.

Piece by piece

So far, so boardgame. The point of distinction is the combat system.

Moving troops over a border doesn’t automatically start a fight. Instead, the game saves the order (represented as big red arrows) and then executes everyone’s moves at once during the movement phase.

This means you have to shift from thinking about your own moves to thinking about your opponents’ next moves. Second-guessing where they’re likely to move is critical in shaping your own strategy.

It’s a clever system when it works - tactical retreats, baits, and surprise attacks help ramp up the strategic satisfaction, particularly against a friend via OpenFeint or by passing around a device.

Ugly side of war

On the other hand, the game’s delayed movement mechanic can descend into a farcical dance, with individual units tearing around after each other for turns until they finally meet accidentally on a border.

There is the option of splitting forces, but for some reason the game won’t display what units are in a stack once they’ve been given an order.

Combat isn’t particularly easy to judge, with large battles often resolving in an unpredictable fashion due to the lack of visual feedback and zero transparency in the calculations. Instead, all you get is tiny images of the troops, seemingly blowing up at random - it isn’t attractive, exciting, or helpful.

This vagueness may be in keeping with the game’s ethos - one in which orders are given simultaneously, leading to a unique, scrappy, and mobile form of warfare - but it also prevents a potentially interesting war game from promotion to the higher ranks of turn-based strategy.

World in War

An awkwardly structured combat system and bland presentation undermine World in War in its attempt to provide an original turn-based strategy game
Will Wilson
Will Wilson
Will's obsession with gaming started off with sketching Laser Squad levels on pads of paper, but recently grew into violently shouting "Tango Down!" at random strangers on the street. He now directs that positive energy into his writing (due in no small part to a binding court order).