App Review: Forge of Empires

Once again, I’m about as far away from reviewing new and cutting edge as you can get, because Forge of Empires has been a thing since 2012.  I started playing in 2016 because I was sick as you can get with a monster flare-up post-surgery, and I have yet to lose interest to this day (actually quite an achievement for my attention span).  Personally, I’m always on the look-out that will keep me entertained during flare-ups, in doctors’ waiting rooms, in the emergency room, etc, without requiring too much mental capacity.  This fits the bill exactly.

I should say that Forge of Empires is also playable on the desktop, and that does give you access to slightly more features.  However, I like the app interface better and have other games I’d rather be playing on the computer.  My personal view is that this game just works better as an app.

I initially met Forge of Empires through one of those annoying pop-ups that kept happening in another ad.  I think I went, “FINE!” and downloaded it to see if it would shut the thing up.  Then I started playing and I take back my initial annoyance.  FoE just wanted me to know that it could make my life more fun.

A nifty little world-builder by InnoGames, FoE lets you craft an empire however it most suits you – combat, trade, or going it alone.  You can play in worlds from Arvahall to Rugnir.  I’m in Brisgard, Dinegu (still not sure how you’re supposed to pronounce that – let me know your thoughts in the comments) and Griefental.  Worlds with names at the beginning of alphabet (Arvahall, Brisgard, Cirgard etc) are older than those at the end Mount Killmore, Odhrovar etc), and usually have more advanced players in them.  This makes you a tiny fish in a huge pond, but also lets you access the experience and assistance of top players if you join a good guild.  I’ll talk about guilds in a minute.

You start in the Stone Age, but the brief tutorial will quickly take you into the Bronze Age.  In each age you get shiny new buildings, technology and troops.  My three empires are currently in the Late Middle Ages (Dinegu), the Colonial Age (Brisgard), and the Progressive Era (Griefental).  You also get new territories to conquer on the world map, which in no way at all resembles our earth.  No sir.  That’s definitely not America I just conquered.  Nope.

As you progress you will also gain blueprints that will let you build Great Buildings.  These are rather attractive replicas of famous landmarks past and present, such as the Lighthouse of Alexandria, Alcatraz, and Hong Kong’s Innovation Tower.  These all give you different rewards.

Now, I talked earlier about the different ways to grow your city.  You can, if you like, focus entirely on the military aspect of things, study the combat system and create dozens of troops, ruthlessly attacking and plundering your neighbours.  Personally, I’m not a fan of the combat system and find this a relatively inefficient way of gaining resources (not that I leave my neighbours entirely in peace).  If I want to play a proper combat game of this sort, you’ll find me in Age of Empires or Total War.

You can go solo in this game, not joining any guilds and having allegiance to nobody.  I was that way for a little while, but personally, I find the benefits of a guild too good to resist.  A guild gives you a group chat where you can trade goods, help each other upgrade your Great Buildings, and most importantly, get help and advice.  Learning from your own mistakes is good and all, but I would prefer to learn from other peoples’.  It also gives you access to some of the more fun parts of the game, such as the Guild Expedition, where you have to either fight or solve a sort a little puzzle to get through the jungle and on to great rewards.  It is a weekly event and some guilds get really into it.  The more wins a guild gets, the more power they get and the more benefits they can pass on to members.

There are five main resources in the game – supplies, coin, goods, forge points and diamonds.  Coins and supplies let you build buildings and produce goods.  Goods let you trade for things in guild expeditions and the world map.  Forge points let you research tech and upgrade Great Buildings.  Diamonds let you build super-duper buildings, heal troops faster, buy blueprints for Great Buildings, and generally just buy your way to an easier time.  You can buy them with real money, made easier by the fact that the rest of FoE is free.  I am a cheapskate who refuses to spend money on apps, so I just hang about til I win them in the Guild Expedition or in the quests that are constantly popping up.  I have about 600 without having spent money on them.

The thing I like about FoE is that you can play it at your own pace as well as in your own way.  Sure, you can set your buildings to produce things every 5 minutes if you want.  However, if you are at work or just as lazy as me, you can set them for an hour, 4 hours, a day or, in some buildings, 2 days, so you don’t have to be constantly keeping tabs.

Personally, I think it is really cool to see your city getting better and better, and to meet the competing demands of population vs happiness, or goods production vs the supplies you need to make them.   Constant quests give you a reason to keep playing, and guilds make it a fun and supportive environment.

Do you play FoE?  Drop your name and neighbourhood in the comments so we can be friends!  I’m QueenAthenae.  I’d love to hear other people’s experiences with this app, and whether you prefer desktop or device!

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