It’s been a while since I’ve come to you with a strong mobile game recommendation, so hold on to your butts, because here it is. You got to pick up and try SuperTribes.
I saw some buzz circulating about this game last Friday, and when I took a peek, I thought the art was cute and the price (free) attractive. So why not?
Within a half-hour, I was absolutely grooving on this game. Heck, within 10 minutes. There’s no tutorial but if I can figure everything out within minutes, so can you.
Basically, SuperTribes is a pared-down Civilization clone that eschews huge, drawn-out games for a more accelerated and streamlined experience. You pick a tribe (there are four free ones and a fifth that’s the game’s sole IAP — for $0.99), each of which sports a different look and starting skill, customize a game (just the number of computer opponents and difficulty level), and then get going. Maps are always the same overall size and are randomly generated.
What changes the game here is that you start with 30 turns, no more, no less. Once you run out of turns, the game is over and that is that. So it’s very rare that you’ll end up conquering the world (although it can happen); instead, the goal is to grow the best civilization you can in that time frame and get the highest score (and there are many ways to boost a score).
Three design choices help SuperTribes be way better than it has any right to be. First, it’s got a really attractive art design that’s meant to play holding your phone normally instead of landscape. Two, it’s quite intuitive, with the more complex Civ features taken away or restructured to fit a time-limited game. Three, start-to-finish it’s never boring or requires tons of micromanagement. It’s a perfect mobile title for that.
Your currency is resources, which are used to build new units, roads, structures, and purchase tech advances (there are around 20 of those). Cities generate resources, so you want to build those up by increasing their population (through fishing, farming, mining, etc.). Every time a city levels up, you get a choice between two helpful features (such as an explorer who will uncover a chunk of the map or another +1 to resource generation). So every turn you can send your units to explore and spend resources to advance your civ the way you like.
Growing your empire is handled in an interesting fashion, too. You can’t create settlers and spawn a hundred towns. No, you have to find unclaimed villages and plop a unit on them for a turn, then they’re yours. Capturing an enemy city is pretty much the same, as long as you can get rid of its defensive unit (if any). You can only have one unit per square and there are only about a dozen or less types of units (from swordsmen to knights to ships), each with their own pros and cons. If you accomplish certain tasks — claim enough cities or defeat enough units — you’ll be given a free super-structure (think Civ’s wonders) that will not just help your empire but contribute greatly to the final score.
Interacting with other civs is streamlined as well. No diplomacy here: Most civs start off somewhat neutral to you (usually they’ll give you a free tech advance when first encountered), but sooner or later everyone starts fighting. There are no treaties, no suing for peace, nothing other than either trying to ignore them, turtle up, or go on the offensive. Happily, combat is pretty simple and the “only one unit to a square” rule makes Civ’s stacking a thing that doesn’t happen here.
I’ve played several games so far and can say that they usually last about 15-20 minutes each. Perfect for a quick break. The turn limit strangely works in its favor, encouraging the player to be more bold and not get too attached to a civilization, its towns, or its armies. Use it or lose it, really. Seriously, check it out and prepare to be charmed!