Tiny Warz: Big on Fun

8 10 2009

Recently I’ve gotten into looking at browser-based games that are either free or have an optional pay model. One such game is Tiny Warz, a Massively Multiplayer Turn-Based Strategy Game (or an MMTBSG if you like alphabet soup). The game is free to play but of course there are some restrictions that are only lifted if you do pay for what are called “TinyDays”. Still, even without paying to play the game is very open and accessible. Not to mention fun.

I’m not really sure there’s much of a fleshed-out story to Tiny Warz, though the flavor text for units often refer to a few events which does give at least some feel to the universe. Companies and planets are named, battles are referred to, all to give some sense of identity to what each unit is about. In that sense Tiny Warz shares something with WoW, in that the story is more about lore than an actual plot narrative.

In any event the game itself seems to borrow elements from the Battletech tabletop strategy game, with some other, more traditional strategy elements thrown in. You’re placed in command of a small force of units that can be crewed by crews of your choosing. Crews have both piloting and gunnery stats that will increase as they gather experience in battle. Vehicles range from scout cars, to tanks, to “Meka” (yes, they are what you think). Each unit has it’s own costs, stats, combat efficiency values, and so on which dictate things like how much it costs to deploy them on a mission. A player also has their own namesake command crew, which levels up differently. Anyway gameplay is fairly simple, you assign crews and modifications (if any) to selected vehicles and then deploy them to a planet, paying a certain fee in “Command” points to do so. From there things play out in a turn-based manner for a number of turns until the planet you’re deployed on reaches “horizon”, at which point (unless you recalled them earlier) your forces are airlifted out for free.

While on planet there are a few things one can do besides shoot at bandits (or other players if you’re on a PvP world). You can mine for ore, which will allow you to either get more credits or build more vehicles (more on that in a bit). You can attempt to salvage the wrecks of destroyed units to either get their mods or even salvage the complete vehicle (difficult and costly at first, but definetely worth it later). Or, if you’re on a world with such things, you can capture relics or beacons to earn points for your faction…assuming you’re in one that isn’t the two starter factions.

Command points are useful for other things besides ordering your units about and heading down to planets. Command can also be used, in conjunction with Ore, to produce vehicles and mods. Mods are attached to vehicles to enhance their abilities. In order to build certain vehicles or mods you need what are called Construx. You get some automatically when you’re in a faction, as those are shared by all faction participants, but individual ones will have to be acquired through packs. In effect it’s a lot like a TCG of sorts, and I was almost starting to feel, since there are 3 expansion sets out now in addition to the main set, that I was in danger of encountering a game on the verge of crumbling under too much being added to it like I felt Mechwarrior: Dark Age was. Fortunately that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Anyway as I said the game is still pretty functional when it’s free, and free players can even earn the most costly of in-game currency (TinyBucks) without having to pay a cent. But there are definete benefits to becoming a paid player. Getting 2 months of paid days is about $6 so it’s still a damn good deal, and that allows, among other things, players to level their command crew beyond level 5 and use the Intermediate and Advanced tier of vehicles, buildings, and mods.

Best part is that, even though I’m in a faction, I don’t feel forced to do anything. It all feels very relaxed and casual, and that allows me to have fun in dropping a team down onto a planet, wrecking a few bandits, mining some ore, then heading back up and hitting the market. Graphically the game is nothing huge but the unit designs are pretty nice and everything is clear enough so that you know what’s going on. I’d recommend people at least try it out if they’re interested in turn-based-strategy at all.

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