When I was about six years old, my father decided that it was far past time he taught me and my sister, who was eight, how to play strategic board games. He sat the two of us down and placed a well-used copy of “Lord of the Rings Risk” on the table. Over the next few hours, I fell in love with “Risk.”
“Risk” is a game that gets a bad reputation among hobby gamers for its reliance upon dice instead of a less random system for combat, but for me it has always been the core of my gaming background.
“Risk” was a gateway into other complex strategic war games, like “Ikusa” and “Axis and Allies.” This eventually led me to PC strategic games. I have been a big fan of the “Total War” franchise for several years.
Recently, I have discovered a new strategic game to occupy my oh-so-limited free time. It’s an excellent real time strategy game called “Iron Harvest.” For those who haven’t played them, real-time strategy games are games which don’t have turn-based combat, and happen in real time.
For anyone who is interested in this type of game, “Iron Harvest” is an excellent purchase. The game is based in the “World of 1920,” which is an alternate world created by Polish artist Jakub Różalski. Paintings done by Różalski to depict this world show images of advanced societies, where mechanized war suits have crept up in the place of tanks.
The “World of 1920” is the same world that is represented in the popular board game “Scythe,” which is part of what drew me to the game.
“Iron Harvest” was not set to come out until Sep. 1, but the developers released a free beta version in advance to help iron out any wrinkles in the game. I, along with my roommate, devoted hours of our time to playing the beta in both the single player mode and in multiplayer.
The single player has options for custom skirmish matches against an AI opponent, challenges where the odds are stacked against you and an enjoyable campaign with a rich story. The skirmishes were fun, and the easily adjustable options allowed for a wide variety of ways to test oneself against the AI opponents. The challenges were also fun and really helped me develop a stronger understanding of the three different factions’ playstyles.
The three factions currently in the game are Polonia, Saxony and Rusviet. My personal favorite is Polonia, because I enjoy the way the faster moving mechanized units open up opportunities for a good flanking maneuver on slower-moving opponents. Each faction is well developed and has a unique playstyle developed through their unique mechs.
Polonia is the only faction in the beta that had part of its campaign unlocked. This might be why I am so fond of it, because the story of Anna, a young girl dubbed the Polonian Joan of Arc by the men she leads into battle, is very compelling.
And, if you ever get tired of playing the campaign and beating up on the AI, you can always team up with some friends and beat up the AI together. Better yet, beat up some of your other friends. The game has modes to allow for 1v1, 2v2 and 3v3. This can be in any combination of actual players and AI’s so you don’t need an exact number of players for a match.
This game is amazing whether you are playing it solo or online, and as soon as I get my hands on the full version, I have every intention of once more spending far more time than I should playing this wonderful game. If you have not yet experienced the absolute horror that comes with the realization that your friend somehow managed to sneak a terrifying, several story high killing machine onto your left flank, then you have not yet experienced strategy games to the fullest.