Synopsis of Sparta
Just like the home console market, a trend among desktop and mobile game developers is to build a specific game established around a proven game genre. Sparta: War of Empires is a perfect example of this popular trend. Clearly capitalizing off of the success of the 300 franchise, Sparta: War of Empires pits your Grecian forces against the might of Xerxes’ Persian imperial army.
You are tasked with the typical city building and army raising in order to keep your Sparta-inspired city from being crushed by the infamous Persian emperor. In addition to shoring up your defenses you have to strategically deploy your military forces and negotiate when needed to defend your city, and, gods willing, expand it into a new glorious empire.
But to do this, you’ll have to unite the feuding Spartan factions under a single banner or wind up being crushed by the advancing Persian hordes…or your fellow countrymen.
Forging Your Empire
Being a city builder game, you begin with a small, under-developed city which you must build up, upgrade and stock with well-trained, well-equipped armies under the tutelage of the legendary King Leonidas. Predictably, you are assigned a series of simple starter building quests which, when completed, reward the player with experience points, additional combat units, resources, and, on occasion the world’s currency: Drachmas. More on that last bit later.
Build Bigger and Better
The more you build, the more complex the game becomes and the longer you’ll survive in this bronze age world of spears and shields. Building types are classified by their utility and grouped into five different categories. Resource buildings provide the four primary resources, those being grain, timber, silver, bronze. Advanced buildings of this types can also reduce consumption and store resources long-term.
The second type, Military buildings raise combat units, Academy buildings allow you to research upgrades, and Command buildings accelerate construction and open up new ways to play, like PvP engagements.
Lastly, the final main building types are Trade buildings which allow the player to exchange, rather than combat other players. For example, by constructing a Port you are able to build Galleys and trade with other players as well as track the exchange of goods between players. Diversifying your building types will allow you to gain access to more tech trees, new combat units, and other strategies to play and succeed.
Besides the four primary aforementioned resources, four secondary, but just as important, resources within this game also exist. Scrolls are awarded to the player for leveling up and completing Persian Position quests, and allow the player to advance through the tech trees. Glory Points can only be earned, not bought using the game’s currency, and allow the player to purchase more advanced units. Denarii are Roman currency and allow the player to recruit elite Roman warriors, and the newest secondary resource, Sketches, dramatically upgrade buildings.
Money, Money, Money
The final, and, perhaps the most important secondary resource are Drachmas. To quote Sparta:WoE’s wiki “Drachmas are an Archons best friend. Not only are they [shiny], but they boost almost anything an Archon can think of, making all functions under the Archon’s watchful eye work faster and more efficiently.”
The downside, at least for players who play for free, is that there are a finite amount of Drachmas available to the player. The game is designed with in-game rewards for playing well, for example, participating in and ranking well in global quests. Of course, you can spend some real coin to acquire more Drachmas. (And for those who are a bit mischievous and furtive, there exist a number of cheat strategies to acquire more Drachmas by exploiting glitches.)
Rallying Your Forces
Once you’ve established a strong city-fortress the next thing you are going to want to focus on is building up an unstoppable military. Without an army in a Mediterranean 5th century-inspired world, you won’t be able to do much, let alone repel the advance the coming Persian onslaught. As with other MMORTS game’s combat units are divided into two main categories: offensive and defensive.
Along with these, there are also scout units, which will report an enemies fortification and military strength along with elite Roman and Champion units. These latter units are particularly expensive but pack a bigger punch than standard units.
Fortunately, the game does have some built-in protections to guard newbs from being slaughtered by higher level users. Specifically, everyone under level thirty and everyone, regardless of level, who’s played for less than three days are granted low-level protection. Such protection prohibits experienced and high-level players from targeting your fledgling city for conquest and plunder.
Just be careful who you target in turn. Attacking a new player right away will open you up to attack by literally any player.
Alliances and Agreements
As with other games in this genre you need to forge alliances, termed Coalitions, with other players, especially since you’ve not only got to contend with other players in the game but also the advancing Persian NPCs. Besides mutual protection, Coalitions also allow the player to capture randomly located Pantheons. Pantheons are heavily fortified structures which you and your Coalitions must capture and hold while under assault from Persian military forces.
After surviving an assault you must expend an enormous amount of time and resources to rebuilt. During this time and after your Pantheon will become a target for more Persians attacks and as well as rival Coalitions. While it is unlikely that you can hold these positions indefinitely, the longer you do the more you are rewarded with Orichalcum, a rare unit which upgrades your combat units into veterans.
Besides making alliances with other players, you may also come into Agreements with them as well. Signing these Agreements allow you to recruit new combat units and upgrade your buildings.
Everything considered, Sparta:WoE is a fairly well-designed game, but those who aren’t particularly enthused by modern MMORTS games may find the gameplay monotonous. The graphics are fairly standard but still pretty to look at. The building, combat unit, and background design fit the theme and time period overall, quite well.
Overall, Sparta:WoE is not just like other MMORTS as specific mechanics, such as Agreements and an involved trade system promote cooperation between players. Further, unlike other games in this genre you don’t have to just contend with low-level NPCs and other players, but a powerful and organized NPC opponent, Sparta: War of Empires is something a little bit different for the genre. While free-to-play, ultimately this game is still pay-to-win.
Consequently, if you want to have a little bit of casual fun, then this would be a great download. However, if you are willing to commit to a great Coalition and start conquering rivals be ready to commit some coin as well. So, ready to build a Grecian city and rally troops to repel the Persian advance? Then start playing Sparta: War of Empires, right now!