A few weeks ago I stumbled across one of the most delightful MMO browser games. In fact, I was so enamored by it that I actual convinced three of my other friends to play it with me in a world populated by… well at least a few hundred other would-be kings. The main reason why I was so enamored by it, and I am assuming you’ll be able to make the distinction as well, is due to it’s inherent familiarity with long-time famed series: Civilization. Let’s take a closer look at Ikariam, a massively multiplayer online strategic browser game.
Despite its instant familiarities with Civilization, the gameplay is actually quite different, but don’t be too quick to give up hope. Where Ikariam is different than Civilization is also why Ikariam is such a fun game. Some key differences include:
- This game is time based, not turn based.
- You won’t ever get to different eras of technology. You’ll primarily be hanging out with Caesar and crew in this game.
- The entire world is divided up into hundreds of islands with a specific amount of space available on each for newcomers and colonies.
You’ll start your new-found civilization on a random island, most likely already populated by other players. Depending on where you start off you could start on a relatively young island or an island already teaming with huge civilizations. For example, when I started I was placed on an island where the highest level city was only 5 (out of 24), where as, one of my friends started out on an island where the highest level was level 18. Needless to say, he was in a much heavier situation than I was. Naturally you’ll start your city with nothing but a town hall that is level one and from there you’ll build all your buildings in designated plots of land.
Now before I continue on, I think it’s important to explain briefly the mechanics that make Ikariam work. I mentioned above that the game is time based, not turn based. This means that every building you make (only one at a time per city) will take a certain amount of time and resources to make. So provided you have the amount of wood and ore required to upgrade, let’s say, your town hall it still means you’ll have to wait until it’s actually built. These times depend on the level you are upgrading your building too and range anywhere from 10 minutes to 12 hours and beyond. The same holds true for troops, trading, transporting, and warfare. Everything is time based and, while that may seem like a turn-off, the system works surprisingly well.
Continuing on now that we’ve explained the logistics of the game a bit more, you’ll find near everything in Ikariam that you’d expect from Civilization, only smaller and more suitable for a “play for 15 minutes” type style. Barracks allow you to build troops, academies allow you to invest in research towards one of four fields (seafaring, military, economy, science), hideouts allow you to train thieves, trading ports allow you to build cargo fleets, and shipyards allow you to build military fleets. All the same fun stuff you’d expect from a Civilization-esque game.
In order to recruit troops, research certain things, and build and upgrade buildings, however, you’ll need the resources to back them up and sometimes, those aren’t very easy to come by. In fact, this is probably one of the few annoying things about the game. When you start on your island you’ll have two resources available, wood and one of the other four resources. Each island has a different resource and depending on which you land on you could end up with marble, sulfur, crystal, or grapes. Each has their own uses and you’ll notice that each becomes extremely important in the later parts of the game, especially grapes. Early on, however, the most important resource you’ll need will be marble, and if you have no instant access to that material you had better start asking some of your neighboring islands that do to cut you a deal or else your expansion has ground to a halt. It’s a slow process and an even slower fix as it could take weeks to secure some marble. When all is said and done though, you should be back on your path to civilization greatness.
Of course, what would a good review be without a look at the battle system? Yes, worry not, those troops that you plan on amassing will be put to good use. Ikariam offers two direct ways to utilize your military; pillaging and occupation. They do exactly what they sound like. Should you decide to pillage your neighbor and succeed you’ll get an amount of their resources/gold (depending on how fast your troops can load up your ships). If you decide to actually occupy a city and succeed you’ll get full use of that city until such times as you decide to withdraw. The actual battles are a bit mundane and offer no graphics, but it’s still satisfying knowing that your troops are returning with a bounty of treasure.
So that’s basically it. There is a lot to do in Ikariam and if I really wanted to I could probably explain on and on about all the minute details that make Ikariam so much fun. However, as I am sure this block of text has already fulfilled your review quota for the day, I’ll just tell you to go out there and give the game a try! It’s 100% free and while they do offer a RMT system I haven’t noticed anything that they offer to give any players a noticeable advantage. For those who wish to look me up here is my information:
- Server: Iota
- Username: Dmitry
- Island location: 2, 32
Hope to see you there!