New World Colony

Published on October 26, 2011
By
Players:
2-4
Multiplayer:Local and online through GameCenter
AI:Yes, 3 levels
Universal App:Yes (there is a single app which works on both iPhone and iPad in HD)
Purchase for iPhone:Use link below to purchase universal app
Purchase for iPad:
New World Colony
Price: $2.99
User rating:
GD Star Rating
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New World Colony has recently been updated with various rule tweaks and balancing, much improved graphics, and is now a universal app available for the iPhone as well. The review text below has been rewritten to reflect the updates.

An impressive new game from a bedroom coder, New World Colony has shown me how incredible one-man production teams can actually be. Surprising for a game of this type, it’s addictive too. Described by one player as a “strategic improvement over Catan” – it’s easy to see why.

New World Colony doesn’t break any fundamentally new grounds when it comes to gameplay concepts or graphics, or interface – but it does pull everything it has together in one incredible package that’s hard to put down. The premise sounds similar to Catan at first – build towns and capture lands, gather resources, and then upgrade to get more resources – until finally you get enough victory points to win the game. And yet, it is so very different.

GamePlay:

There are 3 basic hex/land types in the game that are the most prevalent – forest, fields, and mountains – each producing the basic wood, food and stone resources. Each land type also has a more rare version which only occur as single hexes, but provide some additional bonus – for instance, gold from a special mountain as well as the usual stone. Finally there are water tiles, which assuming you have built a harbor allow you to get a random amount of food and gold per turn. You can only capture land next to you by expansion, and it costs 20 food and 20 wood to capture. Basic tiles provides 5 resources per turn.

 

new world colony2 500x375 New World Colony ipad screenshot

They are some upgrades available for each tile, obviously at cost. These are pretty standard – a mine gives you more stone, sawmill gives you more wood etc. You can also build a town hall to begin getting victory points (which win you the game, and as a cost when attacking).

new world colony3 500x375 New World Colony ipad screenshot

 

Contiguous areas of captured land of the same type will earn bonus victory points when they have a town hall or greater structure on them.

You can win by either eliminating other players, or collecting enough victory points – so it’s a tough balance to play. You can also destroy players victory point bonuses by capturing any of the land inside their contiguous land area, thereby breaking the bonus.

Finally, you have two types of wall that increase the victory point cost of attacking a particular area from the side on which you built the wall.

To prevent early victories, there is now an action point system, which is initially set to only two actions per turn. Each town hall you build will increase the number of action points you have, until at some point they no longer become relevant really.

A further balance has been added by preventing any attack moves until you have built at least a fort – this is one upgrade from a town hall, and it’s fairly costly to have gotten that far. This prevents early sabotage where an opponent would make a town hall quickly, acculate a few victory points, then hit your own key piece of contiguous land thereby crippling you.

One thing I would say is that although the beginning of the game is much more balanced now, the endgame seems to be all that more predictable, at least when playing against the AI. Even against some really tough opponents, there seems a point where both they and I both know it’s all over, and they’re just playing the rest not to be a bad loser. I haven’t had a chance to play this against a multiplayer opponent yet, so I can’t comment if it’s the same situation there. It’s still a great game, but the latter half feels like it needs something else.

At this point for instance, it was obvious I’d won…

new world colony4 500x375 New World Colony ipad screenshot

Implementation:

The graphics have undergone a radical upgrade since I last reviewed the game, and we are now treated to lovely isometric renderings of the respective buildings. It’s a small touch that really adds a level of professionalism to the game.

 

AI is nicely balanced with 3 levels (perhaps a little too easy since the update), but there’s also GameCenter multiplayer functionality built-in. I haven’t been able to find any players yet as the game was only just launched, but I’m hoping as the community behind the game grows to get in some good games.

This is another game with a good variety of options in terms of game type. For instance, I’m quite a fan of the defensive game, whereby stone walls simply cannot be breached, and players must seek another way into enemy lands. In addition, you can adjust the size of the map and victory conditions.

options 500x375 New World Colony ipad screenshot

In short – this is a game you will come back to again and again, thanks to variety of games, AI levels, and random map generation. It’s not perfect, but it’s damn good and I’m confident the developer continue balancing and adding additional features.

I’m certainly reminded of Catan while playing New World Colony, as well as a long running PC game favourites such as Settlers and Civilization – the concept of gathering resources and building up your cities is a natural human desire – and yet this game is very much unique in it’s gameplay. Though it has humble beginnings, I do predict big things for this particular game, and wouldn’t be surprised if the game was picked up by a large studio for a second outing, as well as a real-life board game! Definitely a winner – you won’t find me giving a more shining review of many games, so pick this one up now.

New World Colony, 7.6 out of 10 based on 179 ratings

Review By: James Bruce

James also hosts a weekly technology podcast (NSFW language), and is a staff writer and developer for the fantastic tech blog MakeUseOf where he regularly writes about Arduino and Wordpress.
Players:
2-4
Multiplayer:Local and online through GameCenter
AI:Yes, 3 levels
Universal App:Yes (there is a single app which works on both iPhone and iPad in HD)
Purchase for iPhone:Use link below to purchase universal app
Purchase for iPad:
New World Colony
Price: $2.99
User rating:
GD Star Rating
a WordPress rating system
Share this review:

16 comments
Per Ivar
Per Ivar

Possibly the best game I have played on my iPhone/iPad! It's fun and the balance for turn based playing against one or multiple hard ai is fine. I struggle with playing real time against hard ai because I never have the time for building walls after an attack before the ai does a counter attack and ultimately wins. But believe me the game is super addictive and very good. (the only other game I used to bother to play was Slay, now thIs one has gotten all my attention)

Brian
Brian

Game is fun, graphics are decent, but the balance is HORRIBLE. Impossible to beat AI on medium, and having a real struggle even on easy. Very frustrating. Had the same complaint about Uniwar.

Andy
Andy

Game is free now. I learned rules today and i like it.

Erik Asmussen
Erik Asmussen

@maryn The AI should be much better in the new version that was just released yesterday. It definitely did take a step back in the previous version, so it wasn't just your imagination.

Christos
Christos

Great update in the appstore. Fantastic 3d graphics and really good UI. Bravo!!!!

maryn
maryn

really enjoyed this game, but not so much since the update. i would prefer an option to turn off the new action points system. my other problem is that either i have got much better, or the ai has weakened a bit, as i win almost every game, and have it wrapped up quite early. could an update include a higher ai level?

OneRandomGeek
OneRandomGeek

Erik Asmussen - Was a little hesitant to pick up an indy game over more established brands at first but after reading your comments and seeing your level of dedication to your creation I will definitely be picking this up tonight and giving it a try. Plus it's only $1.99 right now.

Mark Crane
Mark Crane

Great article. So glad to see the author refining the game. Small typo: I’m confident the developer continue balancing and adding additional features.

Erik Asmussen
Erik Asmussen

One possible solution that is very simple: I could make towns/forts/strongholds prevent the normal resource production from the territory they're on. This is nice for two reasons: It makes these structures have a greater opportunity/maintenance cost, and especially in early-stage games it would be a significant drawback to lose out on these resources. Players would need to delay their towns until they (and their opponents) have a more significant economy running. Also, it would mean that building towns on singletons would be more cost-prohibitive, because you'd be losing out on 10 resources instead of just 5. As such, it would incentivize players to go after larger regions instead of spamming small regions with towns.

Erik Asmussen
Erik Asmussen

Hi, I'm the developer of New World Colony. gezemice, thanks for the very thorough feedback! I agree with a lot of your points, although I do have a few strategic suggestions that might improve your head-to-head games. If your opponent is able to build up too much of a CP (Colony Point) advantage early in a game, then you are definitely hosed for exactly the reasons you specified - they can invade, and you can't retaliate. But I would consider this to be a strategic mistake that can be avoided or mitigated by some of the tactics below: - Building a town will cost you resources that you could have used to expand your colony and increase your economy. So if you are the second player to build a town, then you can use your economic advantage to expand faster than your opponent. Just make sure to expand further away from your opponent, since they may be able to invade you if you get too close and that can be a huge setback early in a game. It's less of a factor on large maps too, since there's more space overall. - In early games, CP is fairly rare so even if they can invade your territories, you can much more easily spread to new areas and block large regions. 20 food + 20 wood is easier to come by than 10 to 15 CP at this point. - Walls can be very effective. By increasing the invasion cost they delay the turn that your opponents are able to invade, which might be just enough time to build your own towns and structures. Also, if the opponent invades you through a stone wall (at a cost of 20 CP, let's say), and you can retake it without having to go through a wall, it only costs you 10 CP. So you've just shaved off a few turns' worth of CP just by building a single wall costing a few wood and stone. - If your first and only town is captured, you're going to lose for sure. So try building your first town as far away from the opponent as possible, and/or building it on a mountain (mountains are more costly to invade) and protecting it with walls. - With an economic advantage, you can upgrade your towns faster. So you may start out with a CP disadvantage, but if you are the first player with a fort or stronghold, you can win that advantage right back because of your economy. Don't forget that upgrading all the way to a stronghold will give a defensive boost to all territories in the region. As such, stronghold regions are very difficult to invade because you can recapture them more cheaply than they can be invaded. Combining this with walls is an excellent defense. Now, having said all this - I agree the balance is not ideal. Right now, it is a better move to have multiple small regions than one large region. That's not how I originally wanted the game to play out. I could increase the CP bonus for large regions, or decrease it for smaller regions. Maybe I can require a player to build a fort before they are allowed to invade, which would shift the focus more to economy than CP production in the early stages. Even adding a 20 gold cost to building towns may help with this, as you suggest. I do like the idea of increasing the resource costs for invasions. CP is almost always the limiting factor, and a player with a weak economy but lots of CP production is stronger than they should be. Maybe I'll increase the food cost, since it doesn't play as much of a factor in late-stage games as other resources. I also want to avoid the 'slog' that can happen in some games - this is the situation where one player has an advantage that is difficult or impossible to overcome, but the other player can dig in and hold out for a relatively long time, which makes for long and unsatisfying games. Players basically keep recapturing the same high-priority territory over and over until both players' resources are drained. Inevitably, the player with the most CP wins, but by draining all the resources it makes the game pace slow down significantly. I'm going to be testing out a 'fortify' mechanic where a player can select one of their territories to have significant additional defense, at the cost of some of their resources. Potentially, they could fortify one territory per turn for each fort that they control. This would further emphasize the importance of having a good economy in order to upgrade structures, and would force opponents to find alternate routes once one of their territories are captured. And by decreasing the power of CP, it could allow a trailing player to get a better foothold and strike back more effectively. I do still like the fact that an entire large region can be disrupted by a single captured territory, because the idea is that it would allow a weaker player to make a significant attack against a stronger player. In practice however, the stronger player can just recapture the territory. The fortify mechanic should help improve this situation as well. Please let me know if any of these tips are helpful, or if you think any of these planned features would be an improvement!

gezemice
gezemice

This is a great game in concept, but very unbalanced for two human players. Me and my husband have made several attempts at playing this game, and all of them boiled down to whoever builds the first town gets the advantage and will start taking the territories of the other one, and they can't do anything about it but delay it in a slow and ardouous struggle. In all games we tried, the person being behind in CP tried various counter strategies, but even just one less per turn would put the other at a great advantage. There is no way of coming back. CP is too powerful, and there is no other dimension to the game after your first town. It is a great concept though, I think with a little bit of balancing it would be a really, really good game. Suggestions for more balance: 1. Make towns cost more, or perhaps stagger it - first town is cheap, second costs more, etc. This would take resources away from attacking. 2. CP shouldn't be the only thing that matters for invasions. Increase the invasion cost in other resources, so people are forced to gather more resources and can't just attack every turn they got enough CP. 3. Allow CPs to be used defensively - let them to be used for a defensive structure/construct that increases the territories invasion cost in not CP, but other resources. Maybe for 20 CP you can buy citizen loyalty that increases invasion cost by 100 gold. Or for 30 CP you can build a moat that requires 100 wood for the invader because he/she has to build ships or bridges. This way there can be a defensive strategy going against an offensive one. 4. Give a bonus for the size of the controlled region, even if it isn't complete. It is really easy for the opponent to keep you trapped if your starting spot happens to be surrounded by one large region - you will never be able to break out, all they have to do is keep one or two territories under constant attack. For example, a town in a region could give you one CP per territory as a base, and double it if the region is complete. This way there would be a bonus for completion and incentive to get larger areas, but you aren't out of the game if one of your territories is taken by the opponent - nor is having a lot of small regions such a big advantage. Just some ideas in there to help with balancing - because I think the game is an excellent idea, well executed, great interface and easy playability and options - but for us to have an enjoyable game between two humans, there need to be several employable strategies to win, each with its strengths and weaknesses - it shouldn't boil down to the first one building a town slowly suffocating the other who is desperately trying to counter the inevitable, but never succeeding. It is so bad that even one CP advantage early on allows you to wipe out the opponent - if you have 10 and the opponent has 9 and it is early, you can take their forest region, and next turn they dont' have enough wood so they can't settle or build, nor can they attack because they are one CP short - but you still get 10 CP next turn and attack another territory or wait for them to use their CPs and save yours for attacking a larger town of theirs. It isn't even strategy, just who got a more advantageous area to start in - which is often the player who chooses first. If the balance is fixed, this will be an amazing game.

Angelus Morningstar
Angelus Morningstar

I thought I should comment that yes the graphics seemed a bit basic at first, but the actual game play really draws me in. I find it quite addictive.

Bruce
Bruce

Very Good Graphics! Of all the things to complain about this would be the last. I think the graphics are great and people I show the game to feel the same -- its one of their first comments about how professional the game is drawn. Compare to screenshots of others on the 'top list" here and I think most people will agree.

Jack
Jack

I can't see past the appalling graphics

Maryn
Maryn

bought this based on your review. very enjoyable game. i would rank it in my top half dozen ipad board games.

James Bruce
James Bruce

Shame, it's awesome. But yes, the graphics do need a little professional work done.