Demise of Nations (DoN) is the latest strategy title from prolific and well-respected game designer Noble Masters LLC, and is easily my favorite of the group. Featuring cross-platform competitive/cooperative multiplayer in both ancient and modern settings, DoN offers classic turn-based, hex-grid strategy goodness on a wide range of historical, modern, and what-if maps. Although there is no campaign, this particular title also serves up full-featured modding tools, and random map generators . Although I can't attest to the quality of the iOS modding tools, the game's cross-platform compatibility means that whatever is created on the desktop version and uploaded to NobleMaster's servers is also available for mobile users. As proof of this, I recently downloaded a fan-made map of Westeros...
You begin your aspirations of world domination with a single country (often a single city) where you must develop your cities, build infrastructure to take advantage of natural resources, train units, explore the map, and wage war in classic 4X style. There are, however, some things that set DoN apart from other offerings. The most obvious of which are, for example, the static nature of the setting. The world does not advance through various ages of development as you play like, say, Civilization. Start an ancient world map, end on an ancient world map, etc. Second, the various armies are designed around the classic rock/paper/scissors design rather than possessing relative strength/defense numbers. And third, all player turns are executed at the same time once all players have finished making their moves. Want to attack that army two squares away? It may not be there when you arrive. Want to invade that undefended city? It may not be so vulnerable when you attack. Of course, all movements happening truly simultaneously would be chaotic and frustrating. Instead, DoN executes movement in order of relative player strength (highest to lowest). The results can be unpredictable but in a tempered, realistic way. DoN also features diplomacy, research, trade, naval combat, and ever-changing weather and seasons that can dramatically affect gameplay.
Demise of Nations is technically a free-to-play title, but not in the traditional sense. If you are content with playing by yourself or joining the multiplayer games of others (on the ancient Rome map), you need never pay a cent. However, you can pay $4 per map to get a bit of variety or pony up $20 for everything (all maps, modding tools, random map generators). Also, if you want to start a multiplayer game, you will need to drop a few coins of the game's currency amounting to an extremely affordable 5c/game. As with Noble Master's other games, there is no way to pay extra for an in-game advantage. For those that prefer to play for free, you can do that without having to look at a single advertisement for the privilege. If your mobile gaming sensibilities more closely reflect those of desktop gamers, you can pay for whatever content interests you, or all of it in a bundle at a steep discount. Earlier, I referred to Noble Master LLC as a "respected" developer. What I meant by that is they have a long history of regularly updating their products and listening to customer feedback. I mention this because in its current state, Demise of Nations is still a bit rough around the edges here and there. However, since it's release, it has steadily and noticeably improved, and based on this reputation, I'm quite comfortable vouching for the developer's willingness and ability to ultimately make it as polished as their fantastic Age of Conquest series.
If, like me, you're a rabid 4X gamer (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate) I strongly encourage you to give Demise of Nations a try. For the low, low cost of free you can download a full-featured and ad-free game and take it for an endless spin around ancient Rome. Go ahead, what have you got to lose besides all of your free time?
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 4 - Hand-drawn 2D sprites may not look pretty, but they won't burn your battery to the ground either. Sound: - 3 - Sound is decent and functional. Controls: - 5 - This game was designed for the touchscreen, and it works perfectly. Gameplay: - 5 - Accessible 4X gaming on mobile with endless replayability.
Playing Hints and Tips:
You only get one leader. If it dies, you lose, no matter how well you are doing at the time. Remember this if you find a vulnerable enemy leader. Waging war costs happiness. Be careful you don't overreach. Don't forget to develop resources within your territories and trade for those resources you lack.