Review: Tower Wars

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Somehow, people keep coming up with new spins on the well-worn tower defense genre. Tower Wars is the tower defense genre taken to its logical conclusion, a game where you both defend with towers and attack other peoples’ towers. To that end it’s mainly a multiplayer game, though the last major update added ten levels of bots to lose to without anyone knowing your shame. It’s a good thing too, because the odds of you getting a match against a person aren’t very good these days.

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Each match gives you command over a castle, a barracks, and large tracts of hex-gridded land. Everything you have is mirrored by your opponent to keep things fair, of course. Your task is to send waves of attackers to destroy your foe’s castle while maintaining a field of towers to defend your own castle. The resource that fuels both of these labors is gold mined from upgradable plots in your territory, so right away you have a balance that must be struck between offense and defense. In addition, your attackers earn Battle Points for the time they spend alive in enemy territory. These points are used to unlock new units, upgrade your units, and upgrade your mines.

If all this is starting to sound complicated, it is. You need to be sending troops to attack, upgrading those troops, upgrading your mines, and managing your own towers, all based out of two resource pools. And yes, just the tower defense part is full-fledged tower defense, with the ability to place upwards of a hundred towers of eight different types and three upgrade levels on a single map. Layering further complexity over that, while an interesting idea, makes the game a huge struggle to keep up with. It’s basically Build Orders: The Game so if that was your favorite part of Starcraft, there might be something here for you to latch onto.

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Even so, it’s hard to give a positive review to a multiplayer-focused game with no player base. None of my half-dozen attempts to find a match, ranked or unranked over several days, met with success. Poking around the forums it seems there are only a few dozen active players left, and there may be something wrong with matchmaking that the developers have not addressed. It’s just as well, because the complexity pushes it up into DOTA territory, long matches and all. A single round can last thirty minutes to an hour, and a loss after all that time really hurts because it earns you nothing. There are no unlocks or points or anything to chase, just match after match. And when you can’t even find one, that’s a problem.

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