Ancient Empires Lux Review (PC)

As a teenager I grew to love the board game Risk - all the little pieces and the total world domination at my fingertips. Then my brothers got much better at the game and my job was to simply to be as big of a pain in the side as possible. I admit I ducked out of playing once it came down to arm wrestles for particular cards. In a nod to the Risk heritage comes Ancient Empires Lux from SillySoft, the latest in a series of world conquering downloadable games.

There are several games in this series from SillySoft each focusing on the battles and conquests of various time periods including battles of the galaxy, North America and now Ancient Empires. The focus of the game is to start from a given location within the empire map and to push out with ever increasing armies to conquer the adjacent squares around you. Victory is yours when you’re the only one left on the board.

Watch for the seafaring!

Card trade in

This is a turn based strategy game that can be played as quickly or as slowly as you wish. In the case of Ancient Empires Lux if you want to play the battles click by click you can, or you can hold down the ‘ctrl’ button while attacking for all attacks to happen at once. This allows for quick wipe out of a lightly defended area, or a slower attack where you may pull from several locations for armies. There are 58 different empires to play through at three command levels which are unlocked as you progress through the Empires.

Much like the board game players collect cards on each turn when they conquer another area of the map. At five cards you have to cash them in for extra armies, the number of extras going up every time cards are cashed in. This can be a key point in the strategy to hold onto your cards for long enough to get the most armies. As well if you are the one to remove another player from the map you inherit all of their cards which may be cashed in several sets at a time. To add additional challenge and replayability to Ancient Empires you get to choose one of five starting situations ranked from one to five. Situation one is generally the best position as far as defendability and ability to power your way through the empire. The higher the number the more difficult the starting position, ranging from land that has a lot of boarders to defend to being dotted in cities all over the map. The more difficult scenarios are balanced by more starting armies and your points at the end of these games is multiplied by the number of the position (1-5) so you are awarded in your final score for playing the more difficult scenarios.

Select your battle Dotted lines represent trade routes, rivers can only be crossed at city points

In addition the game play has been punched up through trade routes and seafaring options. Some maps allow you to take to the seas in order to reach islands and other empires, expanding quickly the directions that you can do battle from. As well many of the maps have dashed line trading routes that allow for moving between extreme opposites of the map quickly. These additional features add to the complexity of the game as they provide both more methods of attack, but also additional fronts to defend on.

I liked the music and sound effects for this game. The background music is martial in theme, but doesn’t repeat so often that it becomes annoying. If you need to turn it down the options allow for the music to be turned all the way up or down easily. The sound effects for battle consist of clanking and screaming agony as armies go up in smoke, which made me giggle.

Graphically this game is very simple, but very appropriate for the type of game that it is. Basic graphics resources is all that is required, but the colors are bright and numbers sized to be easily read. There is limited animation as the armies advance. Some battles feature tiny flying arrows or puffs of smoke and dirt. This appears both when you are doing battle and when your opponents are combating each other.

Total domination! VICTORY is mine!

Overall this was a great game. It’s easily picked up and played for a few hours with a lot of options for replaying. Definitely worth the twenty bucks and the download. Besides, no one wants to arm wrestle me for my cards in Ancient Empires Lux. Though maybe they could try that…a younger bother mode. Might be a hit.

Top Game Moment:
Breaking out from the five point position for the first time was thrilling. I had lost about seven times on the same level and finally got the balance of armies just right!

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