Reign of Conquerors (iOS) review
As its title suggests, Reign of Conquerors is another in the increasingly-long line of massively multiplayer kingdom-building “hardcore” strategy games available on social and mobile platforms. As per usual for new entries in this increasingly-crowded genre, the game doesn’t do many particularly new things, instead playing it safe with a fairly conventional, predictable strucutre — but it is, at least, a good example of the genre done quite well, with excellent presentation and a relatively intuitive interface.
In Reign of Conquerors, players are cast in the role of the heir to the throne of a ruined kingdom. Having fled from the enemy forces, they are then tasked with setting up shop in a remote corner of the land that should be theirs, and spreading their influence as far as possible. This is achieved by constructing buildings to gather resources, constructing other buildings to train troops and recruit “hero” characters, and then sending said troops and heroes out into the world to conquer territory and expand the kingdom.
The kingdom-building side of gameplay is the most conventional aspect of the game. Unfolding from an isometric perspective, the player constructs various buildings by selecting them from a menu and placing them in the available space. Buildings may be shifted around at will, so placement is not important. The buildings menu does not appear to be organized in a particularly logical order, neither is there a search or filter function, so there is often a lot of scrolling to find the specific structures necessary to progress.
The player is led through the things they should be building via a series of quests. One of these is marked as “recommended” at any one time, but the player may tackle them in any order they wish. As is apparently the norm for this type of game, very little explanation is given as to why one might want to build each structure through the quests, but the interface at least makes it fairly clear what their function is. Completing quests rewards the player with a variety of prizes, including resources, free troops and even hard currency.
The battle aspect of the game has several different aspects. Players may send a hero and their retinue of troops into a “monster dungeon” to battle computer-controlled forces and gain experience, or they may fight against other players. Unlike other examples of this genre which unfold across a persistent world map, human opponents are randomly selected according to those with a similar amount of “kingdom points” to the player. This helps keep competition fair, and helps prevent “griefing” situations where players are constantly harassed by a more powerful neighbor, though it does make the game world feel considerably less “coherent.” A nice new feature on top of the usual PvE and PvP components is the facility to explore and conquer new lands, each of which provide various bonuses to the player’s ability once they have lowered the monster infestation rate. Being permitted to engage in this activity requires the purchase of exploration permits, however, and these don’t come cheap.
When a battle unfolds, whether it is against monsters or other players, everything occurs automatically according to how the player has set up their troops. The hero leading the troops affects the player’s overall battle strength, and the troops do the actual fighting in four lines. The battle is animated to show how things play out, but the enormous damage figures the two sides inflict on each other do not appear to bear any relation whatsoever to the number of troops that are wounded or killed by an attack; similarly, although it is possible to watch the battle unfolding, things happen much too quickly for the player to be able to make any sort of strategic decisions. Some players may also prefer the opportunity to have a bit more control over what is happening, but this is not an option — battles are completely automatic.
Reign of Conquerors’ main distinguishing feature over its competitors is its excellent presentation. The game’s (rather cliched) scene is set with some excellent artwork and stirring music, and the game itself is accompanied by high-quality, atmospheric music and sound. The visuals for the various buildings are a little muddy and uninspired, but the artwork for the hero characters is of a similar quality to that seen in the introductory sequence and the interface is clear and easy to navigate, issues such as the disorganized build menu notwithstanding.
On the whole, Reign of Conquerors is a fairly good example of the “hardcore social strategy” genre. It isn’t doing anything especially new and there are a few too many “coming soon!” buttons in the game for my liking, but for those players who enjoy this type of game — and judging by the enormous success of Supercell’s very similar Clash of Clans, there are plenty of them — this is a good alternative to some of the more established titles. It remains to be seen how much of a foothold it will be able to gain in this increasingly-crowded genre, however, making it one to watch for now.
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An unoriginal but competent example of the popular (and crowded) “hardcore social strategy” genre that is yet to prove itself in the market.