What do you get when you mix Clash of Clans with the Total War series and put it into a freemium mobile game? You get a mobile game that just might not suck – Art of Conquest.
Art of Conquest is a city/castle builder, but with an adventure mode mixed in. This adventure mode is where you control some guy/girl on a horse and run around collecting resources and attacking baddies. Once you initiate combat, Art of Conquest takes you to a map where you lay out your units. Those units rush to the vanguard and fight like the Total War series, only here, you don’t directly control them.
The units range from typical medieval fare – spearmen, swordsmen, archers, cavalry to fantasy creatures like wizards, skeletons, dwarves, and elves. There are some rock-paper-scissors type strengths and weaknesses, and most of them are about the same as those you see in Total War. Spearmen counter cavalry, who counters archers and mages. The combat great fun, and it’s the biggest highlight for Art of Conquest.
That said, the building aspect is quite fun by its own right. I often look forward to upgrading my sawmill and barracks. There’s even a mini-Civ-style research building, which allows you to slowly buff out your units. The building part is slow, even from the beginning, which is unusual for a freemium game.
Along with your normal units, you also get heroes, who act as generals for your army. You need to use heroes to deploy units to the battlefield. Each hero has a list of abilities that can be used either in combat or in the over-world. On top of using the right units for each skirmish, well-timed hero abilities are essential for success on the battlefield.
Most of the game is all about slowly building up your castle while you explore the over-world to gather resources and plunder dungeon encounters. Sometimes, you’ll run across giant monsters guarding hoards of treasure. Sometimes, you’ll even run across another player character who is much stronger than you and cry as they decimate your armies. It’s great.
The freemium aspect is, of course, one of the biggest negatives for Art of Conquest. That said, they do it smartly. AoC opts for an optional subscription service (called patron status) rather than outright peddling loads of micro-transactions. It’s another victim of the terrible status of the mobile gaming market, but hey, a dev’s gotta eat.
I’ll admit, I’ve spent more time on Art of Conquest than I ever intended to. It is addicting. The combination of a slowly-growing castle and a combat system that is actually fun lends this game to not sucking. That’s why I am nominating Art of Conquest a mobile game that might not suck.