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Riskternatives: Conquist and Strategery


I looked at two world conquest-style games that follow from the original Risk board game: Strategy and Conquist. Admittedly, I'm not a big Risk fan. I much prefer games that involve more building and planning and less random dice rolling. With that confession on the table, I did find that both games were well made and offered many nice features.

For US$3.99, Conquist for the iPad offers an app that, of the two, is closer to real Risk. The map is the standard Risk world (see the screen shot above) and Risk-style grace notes like those cards you collect and trade in are included in game play. Conquist provides multi-player interaction using a single interaction board, so you don't have to "pass and play" your iPad around. If you don't have friends around, it's easy enough to set up two to five bots to play against.
Conquist's graphics were well done and the game has nice screen feel. I sometimes found the icons on the board a little confusing and would have appreciated an obvious help button. But if you're not looking to restart a game or adjust options, the normal game play is very easy to follow and the interaction elements were nicely touchable and well laid-out.

At half the price (US$1.99), Strategery app offers the same basic game-play, a simpler interface and a novel twist. Instead of mimicking the Risk board, Strategery automatically generates new worlds with random layouts. Although the maps produced look a bit crude (see the image to the right), I found that I rather enjoyed the unexpected nature of the gameplay this produced.

Whatever algorithm produces these maps has done a nice job of interspersing seas and oceans and providing intricate common borders. It doesn't look as nice but it adds a twist to the proceedings.

I found that game play proceeded much faster on Strategery than on Conquist. With the "fast fast fast forward" feature enabled (the three arrows on the top-right of the screen shot), I could move through a game in just a few minutes. That's perfect for a short, fun break.

You don't have to roll dice, the application does it for you. That streamlines the interaction and leaves you to decide just where to plan your attacks and expand your border. User-settable options allow you to adjust the size of the board and the degree of difficulty. The "Easy" option is really a bit too easy for anyone familiar with the game but is a great way to introduce it to new players.

With the original (and official Electronic Arts version) selling for just $4.99, you might ask why you should consider the alternatives. I found both knock-offs to provide excellent value and game-play. Conquist's interface meets or exceeds the EA version. Strategery adds a new spin that goes beyond the expected. Both games should appeal to anyone who likes Risk-style games.

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