Before I start this review there’s something I should probably make clear: I generally don’t appreciate games such as Clash of Clans, and tend to believe they’re the bane of the App Store. Many disagree with me on this matter — however — as evidenced by the game’s ludicrously massive fan-base, and otherwise continued-praise and maintained-relevance after all these years. Therefore it’s perfectly okay if you’d like to massively disagree with rather me during this review, and — depending on how you personally felt about Clash of Clans — might even actually want to do just that.
Anyways, getting down to business, Honor of Throne (out now, free) is yet another freemium game — a la Clash of Clans — with both strategic base-building and base-sieging sections; except this time centered around turn-based hex-grid combat, rather than RTS. The game additionally features fully 3D-rendered graphics — which even managed to run fairly reliably on my iPod Touch 5 (most of the time, anyways) — rather than the pre-rendered graphics seen in Clash of Clans. Exactly like Clash of Clans — however — is that Honor of Throne features a ton of cool-down clocks for you to endlessly wait through, which is something I’ll definitely be covering further down.
However — before I get ahead of myself — the first thing you’ll do upon opening the game is go through what I presume is supposed to be a tutorial, but I really can’t be sure as it rapidly loaded from one scenario to the next. Having a tutorial where a player presses a single button — or perhaps even two — isn’t exactly the best of teaching methods, even if you do cover a wide-range of topics amidst the frenzied educational clip-show. I’ll admit that it wasn’t really until after the warp-speed tutorial finally ended that I actually had a chance to begin slowly figuring out exactly how one plays through Honor of Throne.
During the building phase players may place buildings — either for the goal of defense, resource production, or troop enrichment — as well order soldiers from their barracks (as each barrack may only hold one unit at a time, more barracks make for larger armies). Furthermore — much as you’d expect for a freemium game — both in-game resources and real-world time are needed to construct/upgrade all of these, unless you use IAP-currencies to bypass these requirements. With build/research/upgrade times quickly going more than an hour, you’ll soon be spending more time waiting on buildings to finish than you’ll spend working on this base (especially since only one thing can be built at a time).
That said, I did rather like the fact that — even after something was already constructed — you’re freely allowed to reposition the structures on your home base wherever you saw fit. Additionally — unlike most other games — you’re perfectly allowed to sit and wait whenever the app’s early tutorial portion orders you to spend gemstones to speed up the construction of something. While this will certainly prolong the suffering you spend before reaching the game’s real meat-and-potatoes, it also leaves you in a better place later on should accidentally put yourself within a bad corner (which is very easy to do).
Afterwards — during your attack phase — you’ll be lashing out against either randomly generated enemy encampments, or even the bases of other players, in an attempt to loot valuable wood and gold (as this way is much faster than slowly waiting on your mines). It should — however — be noted that a gold fee will be required to begin any offensive, so you’ll actually end up going backwards in resources should you somehow fail to succeed. This is further compounded by the fact that any units lost during an engagement will have to be recreated at their now empty barracks, as process that — in a moment of adding insult to injury — will require yet more gold and time to achieve (or the use of IAP gemstones).
Although I can’t be 100% sure about the matter, since the very nature of such games mean my ability to exhaustively test them is rather restricted, I also believe that a player will lose some of their resources when another player successfully raids their home base. Keep in mind that I could very well be wrong about how I’ve interpreted the data given to me by the game, especially since I wasn’t super carefully memorizing my resources remaining each time the game made me walk away. However — assuming I was right — this a grave thing to keep in mind, as such a setup largely favors players whom shell out the most money (although there does exist actual strategy in Honor of Throne as well).
Like with many hex-grid games you’ll have various units you can bring into battle, each with their own movement ranges — attack power — and defensive capabilities (all of which can be upgraded through research back at your home base). Furthermore — as is also to be expected — various types of terrain will either aid your units with bonus protection, or hinder them with greater exposure to damage from your opposition. Additionally certain units will have special perks, such as how the normally weak — and otherwise light armored — scouts are able to largely hurt any target they find not directly touching an ally.
Furthermore — although this is perhaps neither here, nor there — I swear that those aforementioned scout units are shouting out “Messy Cheese” each and every time you click them.
The actual turn-based hex-grind game play was actually fairly enjoyable, or at least it was when it was tackling the randomly generated computer opponents that would occasionally be spawned in my corner of the world. Speaking of which: players can further expand the part of the world they can see via hot-air balloons; which naturally require gold both to be constructed, as well as operated afterwards. Doing this will increase their chances to loot AI outputs for valuable gold and wood resources, but will also increase the odds of the game randomly placing other players’ bases in their range.
Disregarding the fact that Honor of Throne seemed quite content to place players far beyond my level range within my territory — which could have easily just been the random whims of a perfectly fair, yet cruel, RNG — these battles were a bit less enjoyable. While strategy is certainly still quite important here, far too often I’d either find players with: A) a base I had no hopes of defeating with my low-level units, or B) a player whom — although higher leveled — lacked the tactical wherewithal to repel even an army of flies. As a result these — whether they went down well, or not — tended to be far less enjoyable than the aforementioned AI battles, and even less fun was watching the game showing me replays of massively overly-leveled players utterly curb-stomping my own base.
Still — despite all of this — I must admit that there were many things I liked about the game’s combat system and presentation, but — if all things were considered equal — I’d far rather pick up Great Big War Game (our review) than continue playing Honor of Throne. However – as previously mentioned — I was never really a fan of this freemium-model, so perhaps a game that I find sort of tolerable — when compared to its famous competitors — would actually prove hugely popular with anyone whom already enjoyed Clash of Clans. I again apologize that I can’t be more sure about the facts I’m putting forward in this review, but it’s those very same non-stop cool-down clocks that are a rather large part of what continue to makes me antagonistic to games such as this.
Finally — before I go — I want to commend the developer for having an open forum in their game, as I regularly saw players giving each other helpful advice towards base building and strategy (or sometimes just complaining about high-level players raiding their base). I will — however — point out how this forum doesn’t ever separate players on the basis of their world-region, and as such you will sometimes be presented with entire walls of foreign text (which is admittedly far less helpful). While I don’t claim to understand what works best for fans of games like Clash of Clans, I would heavily suggest that a future-update to Honor of Throne should provide separate forums for different major languages.
Honor of Throne is a Clash of Clans-esque game about building a base — facing many cool down clocks during both the building, and upgrading, of each and every structure — as well as afterwards attacking other people with your army. Unlike Clash of Clans — however — this attack phase takes the form of a turn-based hex-grid strategy-game, presented with 100% real-time rendered environments and soldiers. While the combat is certainly enjoyable — if perhaps a bit shallow, at least compared to Great Big War Game — you’ll have to endlessly slog through both cool down clocks — and players pumping themselves up via IAPs — in order to get anywhere.