Okay, I will tell you a story, and I want you to reply with, ‘TMI’, or ‘too much information’, okay? When I was in grades 11-13, I was in many ways a bigger nerd I am than now. Apart from starting the pen-twirling club at my school and leading the floor-sliding club for best distance, I played Risk or Diplomacy every lunch period. That meant never finishing a game, but carefully packing, unpacking, and then tallying up pieces at the end. I’m a good sport, but as in all things gaming, a loser. In truth, after no fewer than 30 tries of taking over the world (RISK), or Europe (Diplomacy), my score card was litteredwith fewer check marks than I have thumbs. TMI, right? Conquest brings back those hazy secondary school days of so long ago. While developer Seon O’Connor swears that Conquest isn’t associated with Hasbro or RISK in any way, Conquest is one of the best RISK clones I have ever played and a great port of the Windows app.
The original is a great board game because it is simple, relies in silly tactics, and is above all, is complete fantasy. But, outrageous games are fun because they are outrageous. Conquest does traditional RISK, complete with geometrically increasing sets, continent bonuses and a damn near perfect rendition of the old map. But, it offers much more.
Firstly, if you get tired of taking over the world, you can wreck havoc on Atlantis, England, Esterbrook, and six other tailored maps, each with unique graphical styles. There’s even a Starquest map, though I will have to admit ignorance as to its legitimacy and/or relation to the original; my brain, you see, has completely farted after so many years of disuse (my brain, not Starquest).
Conquest is a rich RISK clone, but not exuberantly so. You can choose from 10 maps, a mix of up to 8 computer/human players, 5 levels of difficulty, card set bonuses, and an array of initial army placement rules. In other words RISK fans will rejoice, but geeks who love mission risk, political treaties, and capitol rush, may be crushed. On the bright side, within a lean deviance of orthodox RISK, Conquest has about everything a person could want. Well, almost.
If you are not familiar, RISK is simply a power mongering board game. You place armies, roll dice and attack neighbouring countries. Assimilating a continent will get garner your army with more pawns to expend in death and destruction and fuel your campaign for world domination. You collect cards after successfully killing a neighbour, and in Conquest’s gentle twisting of the rules, you can choose from the following 4 bonuses:
- Depends – # of army depends on face value of card, and its combination
- Increases – # constantly per cashes in card set
- Limit – # increases until 16
- Same – sets are statically set at 5
Conquest makes good use of the touch-screen. All you need is your thumbs for placement of armies, attacks, and cashing in sets. To embark on a mission, you merely slide your thumb from the attacking territory (make sure there is at least one army inside) toward the poor sods who are about to be rained upon by your lethal fury. The game will then decide how many “dice” you than throw, and of course, as in the board game, Conquest is replete with cheating throws — of course, sometimes you get lucky too, but this is RISK – I am supposed to complain — where a strong army of 21 will lose against 3. The only real interface issue is whilst attacking: sometimes you may press attack in quick succession and ‘overfire’ so to speak, and inadvertently deploy your army. This issue alone makes me wish the final deploy/end attack button had a different home on the screen.
As for AI difficulty: I could not win on easy or very easy, but as soon as I stepped up to ‘very hard’, the board was mine even though I usually find it very hard to win any game on any setting. In fact, in the span of an afternoon, I have fully beaten six maps on the setting. The other caveat is an issue with movement: some of the pieces have a mind of their own. For instance, several times, my army buzzed off to some remote, backward place like Norway for lutefisk when I specifically sent them to the weak Ukraine. Issues with movement are about half solved by the blessed ability to zoom and pan into the map using pinch and spread gestures, but not all.
There isn’t much else to RISK, or its clones, and that is precisely why Conquest is both good and bad. It perfectly re-creates the board game — if a board game can be re-created on a hodgepodge of glass and plastic/metal — but may not add all that it needs to be be THE RISK clone. Map selection is great, you can choose from a good mix of starting positions and attributes, and iTunes music can play in the background. Even so, crushing the enemy is ever so much more fun when accompanied by the gay piping of the imperial army musicians.
Conquest can be played against a melange of silicon and flesh for up to 8 players on the same machine. But, where passing the glass is a fun, cheap form of entertainment, it does not substitute for WiFi, Bluetooth, or internet play. My wife enjoys beating me at any game on any medium, but both of us prefer to win and lose with others in full geek across a table top of a Coke-spotted RISK board.
For 5.99$, it is a good romp, but it begs for some sort of mutli-machine multiplayer, and maybe an all-nighter!
Conquest assumes control of my high school memories, beating the peaceful side of me into submission, but only just enough. A little more pulp and it would be worth more than a GRAB.
|Title:||Conquest (v2.0)||Developer:||Sean O’Connor|
|Price:||$5.99||App Size:||2.9 MB|