Best Of best-indie-strategy-00-7314

by Matthew Byrd

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The Most Hardcore Android Strategy Games You Have Never Heard Of (2014 Edition)

To be perfectly honest, there is no shortage of great strategy games on Android. From the moment the OS rolled out, developers everywhere have been finding ways to take advantage of the unique capabilities of the platform and create a variety of strategy titles that can stand toe to toe with their more technologically capable counterparts.

However this bountiful influx of great Android strategy games is something of a double edged sword. For every great strategy game that comes along, wins critical acclaim and can boast a million downloads, there are a hundred others worthy of that same level of success that just happened to fall short.

Since we at Hardcore Droid can’t tolerate injustice in any form (and in fact are forming a roaming street justice gang as we speak), we only felt it right to share with you the 2014 edition of The Most Hardcore Strategy Games You Have Never Heard Of.

Castle Raid 2

HD Score – 4.5

At times, it may seem like there is nothing new under the tower defense sun. In truth there often isn’t, but there are some developers out there who are able to use the lessons the genre has provided thus far, to perfect the basics of the concept, while also tweaking the idea just enough as to rekindle that addictive nature the best tower defense games can still inspire.

Castle Raid 2 is certainly an example of that trend. It holds fairly closely to the basic tower defense set-up, but adds some nice touches to the mix through the inclusion of more offensive capabilities, as well as some more traditional RTS resource management. However, the trump card of Castle Raid 2 has to be its perfectly implemented single device two player mode. The game’s castle v.s castle set-up proves to be an incredible vehicle for some truly intense two player match ups, and deserves to be experienced by anyone with a tablet and some friends they don’t mind yelling at, and with.

In his review of Castle Raid, Dabney Bailey criticized the game for its lack of single player content, and while time has not healed that wound, any strategy fan who can regularly take advantage of the its multiplayer needs to download Castle Raid 2.

Rising Empires

HD Score – 4.8

The 4X strategy genre has always been a holy grail for PC gaming fans who like their strategy titles to feature hundreds (if not thousands) of hours of deep gameplay. Due to the complicated nature of these games, however, their appearances on Android have been few and far between, while quality Android 4X games are rarer still.

And yet, Rising Empires manages to execute the idea of 4X on Android so well, that it almost requires playing lesser games of the genre to fully appreciate. Trying to give a full recap of all the gameplay it has to offer would fill up the pages of many of the fantasy books that inspired its world, but suffice it’ll keep you glued to your device for those aforementioned hundreds of hours, as you attempt to expand your empire on the surface of the netherworld, and participate in all the political, military and technological maneuvering that such an effort typically requires.

Rising Empires’ less than stunning visuals and potentially overwhelming gameplay depth may limit its appeal in the eyes of some, but those that know what they’re getting into with a game such as this, will be in awe of the amount of content it has to offer.

Dark Frontier

HD Score – 3.5

Upon first glance, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Dark Frontier is just another tower defense game. Everything on the outset certainly advertises it as such, and even a few minutes with the game seem to back up that idea.

In truth, though, Dark Frontier is much closer to a dark fantasy version of the horde mode from games like Gears of War. It may sound like a small distinction, but Dark Frontier’s equal focus on action and strategy affords it a level of intensity that the average Android strategy game just can’t match. Dark Frontier puts your back against the wall right from the start, and forces you to conjure all your skills to survive even just a single wave of enemies.

You don’t typically see Android games as unflinching as Dark Frontier, and even though our own Tyler Burt correctly identified the game’s problematic control scheme in his original review, developer Sea Ape Entertainment should still be commended for successfully infusing some true hardcore action gaming qualities into the often paint by numbers tower defense genre.

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Autumn Dynasty

HD Score – 3.5

For as much deserved praise as Android strategy games get, the one thing they typically don’t excel in is providing more traditional PC style RTS experiences. A big part of the reason for that is the inability for touch screens to provide the same precise maneuvering capabilities that a mouse and keyboard can. As a result, serious cuts usually have to be made to the strategic options in a mobile RTS game, in order for it to even function properly.

Autumn Dynasty makes some cuts of its own, but developer Touch Dimensions was smart enough to trim away a lot of the fat that kept true RTS games away from Android, while retaining the aspects that matter most. This results in a strategy game that may not feature dozens of units and lengthy upgrade options for each of them, but does offer what is otherwise a complete real-time strategy game built of the rock/paper/scissors relationship of its troops, and an intuitive path finding system that allows you to truly exercise your strategic superiority.

It also doesn’t hurt that Autumn Dynasty’s feudal Japan setting and hand painted visual style lend it a level of atmospheric excellence that even the RTS big boys could be envious of. This is just truly great strategy gaming, all-around.

Templar

Templar Assault

HD Score – 3.5

If there’s one universal truth in the world of gaming, it’s that there isn’t enough XCOM like turn-based action/strategy games out there. I mean my god; even breaking down the description of that genre gets me oddly aroused.

Templar Assault’s full embrace of that type of game is honestly all the reason you need to fall in love with it. However, if you’re not the kind who is tempted by looks alone, then surely a few minutes with Templar’s own brand of strategic gameplay that rewards smart tactics with genuine feelings of success, will properly convince you of its merits.

Like any game from the Trese brothers, Templar Assault is only recommended for those unafraid of a genuinely deep, and occasionally complex, mobile gaming experience. That caveat aside, however, this is one incredible strategy game.

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Strategy & Tactics: World War II

HD Score: 4.0

Even though Blizzard games like Starcraft and Warcraft popularized the rise of fantasy and sci-fi based strategy games, the genre owes much of its early success to the popularity of military based titles. In particular, World War II based military titles.

Strategy and Tactics harkens back to those roots in a big way. Taking place in the familiar European theater of the second great war, Strategy and Tactics doesn’t exactly break new ground in terms of environment, or gameplay for that matter. Through and through, it’s a simple and familiar exercise in turn based troop maneuvering.

Yet it also executes its own brand of strategic gameplay to such perfection, that there really isn’t a need for any additional complexity, as the hours’ worth of time you’ll put into mastering its ins and outs more than makes up for it. Factor in one incredible soundtrack, and your guesses for why this game wasn’t a bigger hit are just as good as mine.

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Spaceward Ho!

HD Score: 3.5

Despite my early disappointment that Spaceward Ho! is not in fact an intergalactic prostitution ring simulator (which let’s be honest is a license to print money), I was pleased to find that instead it is a member of the rarest of tribes; the mobile 4X strategy game that is worth your time.

Unfortunately, much like its contemporaries, it does suffer somewhat from iffy controls and a lack of visual personality. To put it simply, this is not a very sexy game. Which I again maintain could have been fixed easily with the addition of some interstellar ladies of the evening. But I digress.

Still this genre has always been more about providing a nigh-infinite amount of gameplay, and Spaceward Ho! maintains that tradition admirably. There may not be many 4X options available on Android, but even if there were I would still easily recommend Spaceward Ho!.

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Slay

HD Score: 4

As a general rule, games created by two ammeter developers and released the same year as Forest Gump, shouldn’t hold much weight in the modern age. Gaming is a medium where a well-received big budget title that’s only a few years old can feel conceptually and technologically outdated, meaning that an independently made game released 20 years back has no business holding up today.

Yet the gameplay of Slay truly is that timeless. A hexagonal turn based strategy title that has you trying to take over an island nation through the upgrade and maintenance of your peasant population, Slay is that rare strategy game that is able to stretch gameplay that can be learned in five minutes, into two decades worth of enjoyment.

Or, as John Markley put it in his original review, Slay is a fun, simple and addictive experience. Don’t go without this one any longer.

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About the Author

Matthew Byrd

Matthew Byrd is a freelance writer living in Brooklyn, NY. In the rare moments he's not gaming, or attacking the notorious blank page, you're likely to find him enjoying a slice in the park while re-reading Kurt Vonnegut. Follow him on Twitter (@ByrdMan014), or don't. That's the beauty of choice.



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