Despite the many technological and social advances made so far in the 21st century, there are some areas in the entertainment industry seemingly undergoing a period of stagnation. The number of rehashes and remakes of classic film and gaming brands is ever increasing with largely mixed-to-negative results. Such failures beg the question of whether original works can be bettered? If Conquist 2 is anything to go by there may be hope yet.
Military strategy games have always been amongst my favourites, whether it be the classic board game Risk or the legendary Command & Conquer series. Conquist 2 takes direct influence from the former, Risk, boldly mimicking the title’s famous premise and daring to try and better it. Can it succeed? Or is another rehash destined to fail? Stick around to find out more!
Rules & Objectives — A Crash Course
Success is far from guaranteed when porting a board game to iOS, with the odds further stacked against developers when mimicking a classic title. The developers of Conquist 2 have managed to maintain the original essence of Risk including the rules, objectives and inherent playability held whilst seeking to inject a new lease on life into the game’s premise.
Fans of Risk will be instantly familiar with Conquist 2’s premise as the fundamental goals have remained almost entirely intact. Taking place on a map broken into dozens of territories and a handful of continents, the ultimate aim is to conquer and occupy every territory on the map in order to win. Simple, right?
For each new game players are assigned an even split of the map’s territory and an equal amount of troops. Utilising strategic troop placement, defensive fortification, and a healthy dose of pot luck, players must in turn “roll” dice to wage war on neighbouring territories with the highest number winning each individual battle. Be warned, the odds of victory are slightly weighted in favour of the defending player as an equal dice throw results in the loss of a troop for the aggressor.
Territories can be auto-assigned randomly or chosen individually depending on your preference.
The rules and objectives implemented in Conquist are largely easy to grasp allowing players to quickly become comfortable with the game; however, mastering the strategy is an entirely different proposition. As with Risk, there are bonus cards on offer for each successful turn taken; these cards must be collected to complete a set which can be redeemed for reinforcement troops. Timely use of the reinforcements can be the difference between victory and defeat with a well-timed, reinforced surge, making or breaking a game.
Where Conquist 2 begins to divulge from its ancestral influences is with its new game modes that require a rethink of strategy; however, the rules are virtually the same with the objective of the new modes being the only real difference. Conquist’s developers have allowed the game to excel with new, expansive game modes and sophisticated maps that take full advantage of the digital platform, removing the shackles attached to the game’s board-based heritage.
Modes, Maps and Multiplayer
One drawback of a physical board game is the inherent necessity of a playing partner — likely why most collect dust until the holiday season. Conquist 2 provides two methods of multiplayer — local and online. The latter option runs with the help of Game Centre, meaning that new games can be initiated with random players from around the world or with your own friends. The former option can be used with multiple iOS devices, or with a single iPad passed around a group of players.
One of the only criticisms of Conquist 2 lies with its online play. In the era of instant gaming, it is found wanting. Getting a new game started is an unfortunately painstaking experience as the vast majority of games take a lengthy amount of time to connect. Once games have begun, however, performance is typically very good with only the occasional hiccup occurring, but getting to that stage is somewhat questionable.
Ironically, despite Game Centre integration, the best way to play Conquist 2 remains with friends, both locally and online. The intensity of playing with friends is the reason I love this game; broken ceasefire agreements feel like a betrayal of friendship, grudge attacks are made, arguments occur and then when the dust settles, all is made well with a clink of glass and a sip of beer — or juice, whatever you prefer.
There are four game modes to choose from with all playable as a single player and only the classic modes available on online multiplayer. The two original games influenced by Risk are World Domination and Secret Mission — both being fairly self-explanatory. If you get tired of conquering the world on a daily basis, don’t despair, Conquist 2 has you covered. With Castle and Colonisation modes, the goal isn’t to conquer everything in sight, but rather to capture opposing players’ castles.
With Colonisation all troops begin at their respective capitals and must strategically work their way toward each other, with the winner eventually controlling all capitals. With Castle mode, the goal is the same, but when a capital is captured the territory and troops held by the defeated player transfer to the victor. Castle mode also limits territories to holding just 10 troops, putting a premium on strategy, defensive fortifications and prudent attacks. One problem with the Castle format is that, once one capital is conquered, the troops and territory gained give an unassailable advantage with victory being easily attainable.
Despite the added game modes, by far the best addition to Conquist 2 is the new and improved maps. An obvious drawback of the Risk board game was the board itself, forever limited to the world map. The composition of the stock board map doesn’t change, and the strategies used to win are reused time after time severely weakening the game’s challenge. Once upon a time I would’ve resorted to making my own maps, but not anymore; those days are gone.
No longer is there any need for makeshift paper maps to infuse excitement into the game as there are eight to choose from with Conquist 2, including the Roman Empire, the U.S.A, and, well, an octopus … yes, you read correctly. Requiring a total rethink of strategy, new maps serve to further challenge how good a player you really are with new ploys needing to be developed.
Interface & Gameplay
Perhaps the best compliment I can give the interface is that I have never had to think about it; seamless, fluid and easy to use. Whether it be starting a new game, pausing or saving in-play, the navigation is clear and to the point. Masked with a beautiful military-themed skin, its crisp designs add a beautiful polish to an already fantastic game — not only does it just work but it looks great at the same time.
Having played Conquist 2 extensively I find the gameplay to be very smooth and responsive; adding troops to territories, rolling dice, attacking and fortifying are uncomplicated with a clear step-by-step process. For those regions with small or island territories that can be difficult to pinpoint, it is possible to pinch and zoom in order to get closer to the target — a handy capability with the iPhone’s limited screen real estate.
Depending on the level of difficulty and amount of players — or bots — in a game, it can take a while to complete a game; therefore, games can be sped up by altering the default settings, as seen below. CPU turns can be quickened and rolling animations removed to improve game speed; also, the battle pop-up can be disabled allowing players to simply tap where they want to attack and have the result simulated in the background.
Many digital versions of famous board games have been met by mixed reviews by users (see Monopoly and Scrabble), perhaps because developers have chosen to directly copy the game without utilising the new platform to its full potential by changing maps, for example. Conquist 2 on the other hand, is by far the best board game port I have played on iOS, striking a perfect balance between old and new with the slightly lacking online feature being the only real issue. Though it is difficult to admit, Conquist has managed to surpass the classic Risk, and, in the process, shown how digital board games should be developed.