Video Game Investigations: Little War Game

So recently someone left a comment asking someone on this blog to write a review of the video game they designed, titled Little War Game.  Normally I shy away from actual reviews because, well, there are enough of those on the internet already, but I decided to give this one a shot because I had never heard of the game before.  So today on my new review segment, I’ll investigate Little War Game and tell you if it’s worth your time.  It’s free, so you don’t have to worry about it being worth your money. The game itself can be played at: www.http://littlewargame.com/

Basic Rundown

Little War Game is a free-to-play browser based real-time strategy game.  It has simple sprite graphics that are like slightly more cartoony versions of the original Warcraft: Orcs and Humans.  Each player starts with a set of units and buildings.  It’s based on the map, but it’s usually a castle (Your main building, which builds workers and stores gold) and some workers (who mine gold and build things).

At first glance it’s a solid, but rather generic RTS.  You have your staple units: warriors, who are strong in melee; archers, who are weaker but have range; priests, who are weaker but can heal you; mages, who are ranged and blast people with spells; and catapults, which are slow moving and useless at close range but can deal massive damage from a distance.  As you explore the unit options and play more though, you’ll find some extra depth.

The beast units in the game, for example, give you some extra flex in your strategy.  Wolves are weak defensively, but have a solid offense and move quickly to flank.  Werewolves can run into the center of a group and knock everyone down and dragons are, well, they’re dragons.  This gives more room for strategy than my old staple of building a massive wave and sending them at the enemy base.

I will say that I was not able to delve too deeply into the game because I found myself beating the computer pretty quickly, and had a hard time finding people to play in the lobby. Maybe it was just a slow day, or maybe the community is particularly small.  If there is one thing I have learned from playing fighting games, it’s that you don’t really know the depths of what the game can do until you’ve played with people of varying skill levels.

Positives

Little War Game has a lot to work with.  All of the core elements of a good RTS are there: variation in unit types, room to upgrade, and multiple strategies for success.  Admittedly, I’m not a master of RTS games but I had a really fun experience and played a few times.

The maps seem to lend themselves to different types of play as well.  For example, in the map labeled “Footman Frenzy” building heroes worked very differently than normal and it seemed like the big way to get a fighting force was to summon special units from your castle, which suddenly had a mana bar.  These units were like bigger, super-powered versions of other units and I kind of wish they had been available at some point in other maps.

The game is also free, and plays in your browser.  I think this is an important selling point because it’s also a fully, and fully functional, real time strategy game.  The mechanics are very solid and seem to be well balanced which is, as you know, very important for me.

Negatives

I think the biggest problem that Little War Game faces is that it feels generic.  One of the things that has always made any game interesting to me was flavor and this game is sadly lacking in a lot of that.  To be fair, I’m sure that there are a lot of limitations that just come from the game being the sort of game that can run efficiently in a browser without a download or installation.

Still, wargames especially have always felt like they needed some kind of factions to make it more investing.  As it stands, your army differs from the enemy army by color and it doesn’t even feel like there’s a huge difference there.

There are some other things that bother me, though they seem to be intentional design choices and they’re not necessarily bad.  Only one worker can be building a structure at a time, for example.  When you’re trying to rush a certain structure this can be really frustrating.

The only real mechanical gripe I have that isn’t addressed in the game’s FAQ is that pathing can be weird, as your units can displace each other or accidentally block each other off.  This feels like a precaution taken against units becoming brick walls to other friendlies, so while I feel like it’s worth noting.

Current Letter Grade: B+
I try to take everything into account and in spite of the negatives that I was able to mention, Little War Game is a very solidly put together RTS.  The gameplay is not buggy and while there is not plethora of options, the ones it has are well-balanced.  It is a well-built, functional game of skill, but it doesn’t quite hit the mark on engaging the more creative or artistic side of gaming.

Things I’d LIke to See

Most games these days are constantly under development, even after release so I’m going to put a list of things that I think could bump this game up from whatever letter grade I give it.  In ths case, these are the things that I think would bring Little War Game from a B+ to an A.

The big thing is some variety of armies.  Even if its just a skin change, it would add an extra level of engagement and identity to the game.  If the factions could be mechanically different, though, that would be a huge jump.

The other would be adding elements like terrain, that would hinder movement or combat. There’s a baseline here in that some terrain is impassible, and there are some places where elevation changes and cannot be moved over but can be shot over. It could give flying units, beasts, and wheeled units extra utility.

The last thing is more unit options.  Not types of units, but things for units to do.  Werewolves and spellcasters have special abilities but beyond that most units just attack.

The last thing I’ll say is that I think this game will be better with a wider and more active community.  That’s sort of my plug for you, my faithful readers, to give it a shot.  It’s definitely worth at least a try-out, and I’d like more people to play with.

Also, I now have a facebook page for my blog.  Check Me Out!

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5 comments

  1. Reblogged this on LittleWarGamers and commented:
    Thank you for your review, Game Detective! The most eloquent and detailed review I’ve ever read before!

  2. As a long-time member of the community, thank you for your feedback and honest opinion. One aspect I feel needs to added in is that while there is only one developer, jbs, he updates very quickly and is generally very receptive of player input when it comes to adding features. As such, bugs and other errors are squashed as they come up and there is never a feeling that the game has been abandoned in development… even now there’s work being done on a patch which would add skins and a variety of other features to the game.

    Keep up the good work and I hope to see you and others in Littlewargame!

    1. Thanks for this input. That’s the sort of info that can really only come from being a long-time player, I suppose in retrospect I could’ve added that the forum for the game seemed to represent a small, but friendly and active community.

      And yeah, I Hope to see you on there too. My username is pretty telling, so you should recognize me if you do!

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