Everybody wants to rule the world, but who has the time to conquer it? Sure, I'd love to burrow down the rabbit hole of some awesome 4x game but I have kids, a wife, and a job. Those games are dangerous for the likes of me and though I try to avoid them the craving to amass powerful armies and sweep across the land is hard to resist. I'm constantly on the lookout for games that feed that need without butting up against my day-to-day obligations. Just a little taste...that's all I need. I know I'm not alone here which is why I'm here to review Legends of Callasia by Boomzap. I'll discuss the game and how well it satisfies the urge without digging its tentacles too deeply into the busy gamer.
A great war has engulfed Callasia and you must pick a faction. The Faeborne are native creatures of the woods and wild—treants, satyrs, wood golems, phoenix and the like. The Hundred Kingdoms are humans that rose up and spread across the land, though they also get some awesome pets. The Faeborne initially greeted them in peace but soon found themselves being displaced by the interlopers (sounds vaguely familiar). The Revenant are an undead menace (skeletons, lich archers, wraiths, and other abominations) unleashed by human sorcerers who promptly lost control of their new toys. Now that they are free, the Revenant figure they'll do some redecorating in Callasia.
Dragons are quite good, to which any Targaryen will attest.
There are a few different ways to play Legends of Callasia: single-player campaign mode, single or multiple-player skirmishes, and online multiple-player games. The gameplay in all modes is focused on the actions of your generals. You start with a single general and are able to deploy more as the game progresses. The most I've had is four. Each general can take one action per turn. Actions include building structures, such as hamlets to increase gold production or towers which allow you to hire troops in a territory.
Generals can also lead troops into an adjacent territory as an action. If the territory is not controlled by you or an ally the general will attack that territory's garrison, if there is one. Battles can take one or many turns and the general will dedicate their actions to the fight unless you order a retreat.
Combat is relatively simple. Each turn consists of a missile phase, where ranged units launch their attacks, followed by a melee phase where the face-to-face fighting goes down. You don't control any specific units and your role is strategic rather than tactical—you put your troops in a position to win and let them do their thing.
Take that undead jerks!
There are a number of factors to consider before going into battle. Defending generals can take a defensive posture, which provides a large bonus. Certain units have advantages as well, both generally and against other types of units. These types of things build up and influence the outcome of combat.
Once you’ve got everything lined up you can see a preview of the first turn of battle. It’ll give you an estimate of the casualties (by unit) you can expect to see. Generals locked in combat cannot recruit to change odds in a multiple-turn battle, but you can send in another general with reinforcements.
Once you win a new territory a general will need to occupy it before it switches to your control. Occupation can take several turns depending on how built up the territory was. An enemy castle, for example, means a territory will take several turns of occupation to convert. It takes time to root out enemy insurgents, win the population over, and so forth.
Caption: Looks promising…let's do this!
Legends of Callasia also makes use of cards. You get a card each turn and can have up to five. Cards do things like providing a bonus in combat or more gold production for a turn. The "Mercenaries" and "Peasant Revolt" cards are particularly fun as you can stir up trouble in enemy territory, forcing them to use resources to deal with it.
The game moves fast and you make progress quickly. The action absolutely sucked me in and I found myself in the familiar refrain of, "just one more turn" or, "I just need to secure that territory and then I'll quit." I played the tutorial and first campaign in a couple hours and looked up wondering where the time went. The second campaign was more difficult (the AI is robust enough to put up a good challenge) and therefore even more absorbing. I won that and started the third campaign but had to make myself stop in order to finish this review.
The Free Trial
Legends of Callasia is a $15 game. That's a good chunk of cash and far out of impulse-buy range for most people. I don't have a problem paying that much for a mobile game but will rarely do so based solely on a pile of App Store reviews and glorified blog posts masquerading as reviews. Boomzap did the right thing with this game, the perfect thing in fact, by providing a free trial. The trial allows you to play an entire campaign and three single-player skirmishes after going through a fairly robust tutorial. This is more than enough content to help you make up your mind.
It'll take you less time to finish a campaign if you are not taking notes for a review.
If you fork over the $15 you get thirty campaigns, thirty-five skirmishes, and online multiplayer games. I didn't try multiplayer yet, but you can play against random-internet strangers or friends. There is also a ranked mode and leaderboard if you want to get competitive about it. You can play on any platform—PC, Mac, and iPad with Android tablets coming soon—with the single purchase. Handy if you spread your gaming across different devices.
If you enjoy wartime strategy games but either don't want to or don't have the time to micromanage every unit and territory under your control, Legends of Callasia is a great way to spend an hour or an afternoon. You can get that fix without a huge commitment. By keeping the action focused on generals the game moves quickly and you can play a full campaign in a couple hours.