From Nevosoft, the team that's no stranger to casual strategy or simulation games (see My Kingdom for the Princess 2, Paradise Beach 2, and Farm Craft 2 for fine examples), comes a quirky, lighthearted game that takes inspiration from the likes of Galcon and Risk, LandGrabbers. In a land filled with castles and knights and crusades, it's own or be owned. You are a brilliant military strategist (but you knew that already!) who has decided to show your prowess by taking over the land. One building at a time. Send units, fortify your homeland, and set out to conquer the medieval world the only way you know how: casual strategy gaming!
Taking over the world, as it turns out, is a simple matter of mathematics, risk, and smart decisions. You start with at least one property that slowly stocks itself with units. Click on your piece of land, then click on a neutral (or enemy) property to send half of those troops out to attack. If your warriors outnumber the target's defenses, you win that piece of land and immediately start to gather troops there. Keep the new building well-defended, as the more you expand, the more vulnerable you are!
Later on, you'll get to use more than just soldier-generating houses. Watchtowers, for example, don't create units but instead house them and can quickly dispose of invading troops with, of all things, lasers. Not bad! There are also cavalry units you can train who are faster than standard units and are able to swarm watchtowers, giving each building and each soldier a strength and a weakness, just like any good rock-paper-scissors strategy title. Buildings can be upgraded at the temporary cost of half your units, a risk you must often take in order to hold more troops, thus increasing your defenses and possible attack strength.
It isn't all about troops and numbers, though. Nevosoft has spiced the gameplay up a little by including artifacts of the ancients, spells you can cast that do massive damage to your enemy. Not too massive, of course, as they don't give you an overbearing edge, but it's enough to help you out in a pinch, and it comes with a price tag. Good for feeling more like a god than a mere military genius!
Analysis: Good looking, easy to play, and fun to conquer, LandGrabbers is exactly the kind of game you want when you go looking for a Risk-like strategy title. Games of this ilk tend to be overly serious, devoting much of their time creating complex stat screens, a thin but dour storyline, and in-game technology that is realistic within the confines of the game's world. Here, though, you find lasers and knights riding alongside each other, "Bright and cheerful" is how the developers describe it, and that's exactly what LandGrabbers is!
Apart from the reliability of the genre and the inherent depth of strategy games, LandGrabbers does take a few steps to make things more interesting. New building types are fun and add a different sort of slant to your conquering techniques, though they won't change the outcome of any battle on their own. In the end, it's up to you and your plotting and scheming to get things done, so don't be afraid to experiment and try now ideas early in the game.
One obviously absent feature is multiplayer, as Risk games tend to be more fun with, you know, other people. The game's AI is pretty good, however, and manages to be aggressive without leaving its own territory undefended. There's no shortage of challenge, and the length and variety of the included stages is more than enough to keep you entertained.
Nice visuals, an easy interface, and a pristine presentation of the casual strategy genre we all love, LandGrabbers is a great way to get your Risk fix without breaking out the actual board game and trying to hunt down some friends to play with who aren't watching Doctor Who.