• Review

Breaking the Tower

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Rating: 4.4/5 (138 votes)
Comments (71) | Views (9,899)

breakingthetower.gifJohnBBreaking the Tower is a slow-paced strategy game where you build a village, raise an army, and eventually topple a tower on the other side of the island. Think Settlers or the original Warcraft, but simpler and with more automation. All you have to do is decide what to build, plunk down a building and your pixelated little peons take care of the rest.

Breaking the Tower uses a simple rock-paper-scissors-type approach to gameplay that's entirely mouse-driven. You have three basic resources that are used for everything in the game: wood, food, and stone. Each of your eight structures costs a different amount of one or more of these to build, but they all generate something, whether that's more resources or units. Balancing the number and type of buildings to manage their relationships is the key to forming a stable village. And stable villages are great for breaking towers.

At the onset of the game you'll have 100 of each resource to build anything you see fit. Start with the basics, which at the very least will include a farm to grow food, a mill to gather crops, a masonry to gather stone, and a woodcutter's shack to harvest wood. Once enough resources have been collected you can worry about expanding.

Tip for taking down the tower:

When you've cleared a path to the tower, place mason shops at its base to take it down one level at a time.

Analysis: Breaking the Tower is simple, not too challenging, but somehow extraordinarily engrossing. Your first game will likely last half an hour or more, with a good bit of that time spent waiting for resources to be gathered so you can spend them. Pro tip: multitask! I've been playing another round while writing this review! Really it's not a question of if you'll break the tower, just when. The agaonizingly slow pace of the game will probably turn away some gamers, but it's the perfect diversion when you can't put all of your attention on a game and just want to flip back and forth. It requires patience more than skill, but it's just as rewarding all the same.

Play Breaking the Tower


I love this game. A lot.


Loadings this game 2 times now has frozen my browser....AARGGH

Kimbo3311 October 13, 2008 1:59 PM

It freezes my browser as well, and my whole computer freezes when I tried downloading and opening the zip file. I've already got Java installed and updated, what is missing here?


Breaking the tower? I think it's more like "Breaking the server. You've been Jigged". I'm having the same problem as Rewyn.


I can use it fine. I guess...The jig is up! Hah.


Opening a zip file shouldn't crash your computer.

The game should run fine in a browser or by downloading the zip and double-clicking on the .jar file contained within it.


I'm having the same problems others are having.

I've tried it with Firefox and IE running XP as well as on Firefox and Safari on OSX with the same results.

I was able to get the zip file to open on the mac, but the game looked really stupid and made these annoying noises.

I think I've dedicated enough time to this one.


Unfortunately, although Java is purported to be cross-platform, Java applications don't always run the same on everyone's computer.

That's a problem with Java, not with this game or how the developer created it.


wow im loving this game.. reminds me of 'the settlers' but in a more simple form.


cool game, just one little question:
how do you actually destroy the tower?


I can open the game, but then nothing happens when I build stuff. The buildings make dents in the ground, but don't get built. The timer doesn't move, either. My computer does other Java stuff just fine; what's wrong with this one?


Yeah, I'm having the same trouble as coolgame. My people have been running around forever and butchering the enemies, but the tower isn't falling...


At what point does the tower take damage or get destroyed? Is there a threshold of soldiers?

Fuzzyevil October 13, 2008 5:05 PM

You must place masons around the tower to make it fall. It makes sense, in a roundabout way.


Hint on destroying the tower... you've got a way to create more trees, but what about running out of stone? Where can your peons get more stones? Hmmm, the warriors seem to be good at stabbing people, but their swords are useless on the stone tower... :)


All I get is a blank space where the game should be. Below it is text.


Caya - like the other complaints above, your issue is due to the version of the Java Run Time Environment installed (or not installed) on your computer.


ohh- Thank you Jay! :-)


My Mac says I have Java 5.0 installed just this last March, and it refuses to give me an option for installing anything else. I see that the Java homepage says that version 6.0 is the latest, but it also tells me to go through the Mac Software Update menu- which doesn't give me the option to download Java.

I downloaded the zip file for the game and I also got a huge memory hog, the game stopped dead, there were funny noises.


Yep, same for me, Caya.

I had to play the game using Parallels running Windows, since Windows installs a different version of the Java RTE.

This isn't the first Java app that I've been able to run on my Mac (in Windows), but not in Mac OS X.


So, actually commenting on the game itself -

It's a decent diversion of time, which is what it wants to be. Very basic interface, cute old-fashioned graphics, and not too much to come back to.

I spent about 40 minutes on bringing it down the first time, and applaud those who did it in half the time, but the game doesn't really lend itself to being played more than twice, at most.

Denita TwoDragons October 13, 2008 8:02 PM

This is a ruthless slayer of time! My son loved it, too.

But while the retro graphics were a nice touch, they were a tad too hard on my nearsighted old eyes. If they offered a full screen version or a slightly larger windowed version, that would be great. As it is, I developed a touch of eyestrain trying to make out all those teeny little peons!



And most of my guys wander aimlessly doing nothing. Yeah, that's great.


well ive tryed putting stonemasons around the tower but nothing has happened and its been about half an hour.. any other hints? or am I not doing something right here? cheers!


Olliec4: building more residences might be the answer- the "masonries" might just be sitting there without any masons to do the work.Also, even with several "masonries", the tower crumbled very slowly for me.
On a more general note, having played this game through once, I don't imagine i will do so a second time. It's still kind of neat-o though.

Papachabre October 13, 2008 9:05 PM

I have ten barracks surrounding the tower with three or four guard posts as well, but my soldiers still wander aimlessly around. I would like this game more if I had more control.


I had a bunch of the black enemies destroy half my town while my 15 warriors wandered around uselessly on the other side of the map, even though the gaurds tower was near the battle. If you don't get control of the guys, at least make them intelligent enough to defend the settlement.


This is definitely not a game that you can just sit there and watch, primarily because your peons have the intelligence of dead parrots. I watched a guy fell a tree right next to a woodcutter and then wander halfway across the map with the wood before giving up and going to play at the beach.

The soldiers also don't seem too keen to fight--they only really fight when they just happen to be facing the enemy, but most of the time it seems they'd be just as happy running away as if they were being chased by a vicious rabbit.

The only way I found this game to be really palatable was to set things in motion and then go do something else (like work!) for lengthy periods of time. Right now I am desperately low on wood because none of my peons want to chop trees down--and I don't have enough wood to build more residences to increase my chances of getting a lumberjack who sleeps all night and works all day. Time to do more work, I suppose.


I started it, built all the usual buildings, my guys started collecting... and then I just gave up. It looks like a nice game, but not something I can sit and watch for a half hour or more.

Etienne Laurin October 14, 2008 12:43 AM

If the game starts but doesn't rotate and if the timer stays at zero, try this version:


I changed the code to use full-precision integer time instead of floating point. It makes the game playable on my linux computer.


Suho: I think you could've fit one more Monty Python reference in there ;)

While I like the idea of a very simple, laissez-faire game, this one is still a little incomfortable. As mentioned, the graphics are a little too simple for a world this small; it's difficult to see what's happening sometimes.

And, yeah, the little colonists are about as smart as turnips. If they could be trusted to ensure their own survival--or respond to more specific direction--this game would be easier and faster to complete. Then I wouldn't spend so much time monitoring my little island, pining for the fjords.


Thanks, Etienne! That worked for me (Mac).

I wonder if we can get the author to update his Web version? I'll try to contact him.


Aha! Merci, Etienne!

Ça l'a fait marcher pour moi aussi. Ma problème n'était pas cela dont vous parlez, mais quand même, votre version l'a corrigé.

fuzzyface October 14, 2008 4:43 AM

Nice game, I just fail to see how it is in any way a "rock-paper-scissors-type approach to gameplay", I mean many game combats are eventually rock-paper-scissors style. But this is not. You have only 1 kind of warrior so does the enemy. Just because you have 3 kind of ressources doesn't make that "rock-paper-scissors-type" yet.


@ Anonymous: yeah, but I didn't want to overdo it, you know? ;)


I like how you can keep the game running after you bring down the tower. I now have an island with 400 inhabitants. They've run out of stone to dig up, sadly. :)

Unsurprisingly it's not running too fast either...

fuzzyface October 14, 2008 8:16 AM

For a little longer comment of mine, for those who player the classic settler version 1, they will clearly see the inspiration. And its nice to have (AFAIK first) real settlerslike game free as "in the webbrowser application". The settlers 1 had a little more to make it a big commercial game back then, but sooo much more it wasn't after all.

I definetly had 1 hour of relaxing fun, and I think this is a great basis to develop more compelling games upon, a little here and a little there, a small scenario around and this might gonna be a real big thing.

One thing for the players: Something which I also noticed actually after playing on after the end of the game, the actual mechanics are quite different to what we are used to the settlers or other settler like games. In settlers when you say you build a woodcutter house, 1 (or 2) woodcutter will inhabit it and start working. not so in this game, in this game peons wander freely around doing all kind of tasks, where the woodcutter/mason/planter/farmer/mill houses are actually more "catalysators" to peon work. That is if you have only 1 farmer house 100 peons and nothing else, all peons will run toward that house, make a dozend farming fields and all are out of work for now, until harvest time if you have 1 mill. So to say, to build 2 masons directly next to each other to a stonefield will likely not produce more output than building 1 mason only. You just need more peons to make more work.

1 bug I discovered. When there isn't really anything to do for peons to do, the game gets redicously slow, this won't likely happen in normal game, but it can if foolin around.

Afterall from all of the webgames out there, this is IMHO definitely in the top 1%. (and IMHO in the top 10% of JIG featured games)

Anonymous October 14, 2008 9:58 AM

Perhaps someone got confused with the mention of the "Rock, Paper, Shotgun" website ...??


I wish that getting rid of a barracks made those warriors revert back to villagers. I've got an island of warriors who refuse to do work.

Anonymous October 14, 2008 1:07 PM

my island

after 2 hours, i finally hit the max of 470 peons.


After I toppled the tower, I went ahead and reforrested the island. I think it's the right thing to do. :)


I don't think the

"When you've cleared a path to the tower, place mason shops at it's base to take it down one level at a time."

part should be in the review without a spoiler warning. I'm glad I played this before it was reviewed, 'cause like a lot of other people I really like figuring out stuff like that myself.


Thanks for the suggestion, Invi. I've updated the review accordingly. :)


The author created this game in 48 hours as part of a competition. I think that's pretty impressive.


This game is really making me want to dig out Age of Empires or Pharaoh -- I want to tell my peons what to do or who to attack! Watching a ninja ravage my woodcutters while the warriors wander around brandishing swords is maddening.


I have one problem with the game, my peons randomly all die out for no discernable reason. I get to a population of around 30 peons and 30 soldiers, plently of food wood and rock, and the next time I look all my peons are dead, but the population counter is still on 30, so no new peons replace them. The soldiers are unaffected but on their own they are useless.


Great game... I'm off to play Settlers III again...

Managed to keep going till I had 550 peons :)

Nothing left now though.



Whooh, broke the 25 minute mark.... 24:17 or so isn't all that bad.

... Now, on to seeing how quickly it's possible to fill the island with cute little wobbly pixels.


Interesting social commentary...you basically strip an island of its resources just so you can destroy some faceless enemy...


I opted for some woodcraft and forestry:

Stonehenge strategy -- after strip-mining, I put the lone woodcutter in the middle and locked him in with residences. Since the peons bounce around randomly, the barrier slows them down, so there's still wood coming in, just not fast enough to deplete resources. All the planters were placed close to the shore, so if anyone wanders back there, they plant more trees. Basically: good traffic lanes for food production, slower ones for wood. Food steadily increases indefinitely, so does wood albeit slowly, and the only limit is how much stone you have left.

Urban + rural + wooded wonderland.

UnderwaterPeacock October 15, 2008 4:25 PM

This is an incredibly deceiving game. The slow-pace and the pixilated screen mask a completely addictive environment. Quite a leap of logic there, too (at least for me). It took me forever to figure out that TOWER=ROCKS. I kept seeing my soldiers "Level Up" and I assumed that eventually one would turn into a super warrior and smash the tower. Who knew it was the peons that would do the actually "breaking" I love this game.


I love the game but 2 things:

1: Those black people! Once I get NEAR the tower, black guys come and start tearing down my city, from end to end!

2: There's an annoying beeping sound that's still on my computer even though I don't have BtT up!

JuryRigged October 16, 2008 8:19 AM

Reece, I had that same problem. The beeping went away once I completely closed my browser. Annoying, but fixable.


Such a lovely game. Kind of relaxing, and one of the few Java games that actually run on Opera. Thanks.

Roseate Spoonbill October 18, 2008 11:03 AM

This is really sweet if you're studying or something. You can just flip back and forth. The sounds are annoying but you can just turn them off.

Roseate Spoonbill October 18, 2008 1:06 PM

I actually left the game to play itself for a few hours and came back to find my resources in the thousands.


I beat this game in 21:55, but it didn't ask me to enter my name and it's not showing up in the high score...

The trick to

spread everything out... keep advancing towards the tower by clearing trees and put your housing up there so the peasants will be in that area... put farming in the back and near other farms for efficiency, and don't waste resources on warriors until you're about to need them... then build a lot.


This game is a complete waste of time. The peons run around randomly doing nothing and the warriors seem to have more fun running away rather than fighting. If the peons and warriors would have more intelligence and would do what they're supposed to, I'd probably like it, but at the moment, it's pathetic.


Holy crap, this game was made in 2 hours? Although it's true that it may be unpolished and not that much of a game, it's got a top-quality concept. It'll easily make short work of an hour or two... possibly more if you like to experiment.


This game is excellent. I've played this a bunch of times since I found this. Props to the creator. I'm so surprised he didn't win first place in the competition this was for - it's such a well-made game.


Mass Deforestation WHOOOO!

ganondox May 30, 2009 9:17 PM

Maxed at 470.


Phooey on the intelligence of the warriors. I had the max amount, and I put guard posts near the tower to beat the shadows at their source. So obviously, that meant they were to have a beach party! Meanwhile, literally, ONE, I repeat ONE, shadow destroyed the ENTIRE town. And when I tried to rebuild, the same thing happened, until I had no resources left, and nowhere to make more. Meanwhile, the fighters: At the beach party.


The guy who made this game is the guy who made Minecraft


I'm in the game for 5 hours and the tower has been halved. Doesn't seem to improve since then any more. What am I doing wrong?

Anonymous August 30, 2011 1:34 AM

Beat this in 27 minutes, has anyone else done better?


38:51 WOO!
My "warriors" didn't slack off like Shade's. All my 'peons' stayed at the opposite side of the island harvesting instead of attacking the tower. I think it has to do with the 'nearby' in the description: 'peon' starts at 'boarding house' type thingy, and chooses the nearest activity. Peon-making houses I put on the far end of the island to protect them from monsters, along with flourishing farm. Peons weighed dangerous work near tower monsters or fun farm work with many buddies. Warriors: 9. Tower attacking peons: 2. Farm workers? 48.


I'm surprised you haven't mentioned it was made by Markus Persson, the creator of Minecraft! It's an excellent game, I have to say. Strangely addicting once you figure out how to do it!


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