Castle Building Games

Building a Castle takes the Power of Men; Building an Empire Gives Power to Them

True Power

You are kidding yourself if you think that castle and empire-building games are anything other than one of the most dizzying heights of (simulated) power that can possibly be achieved. Though other genres like first-person shooter, RPG, and adventure games can go some way to putting varying degrees of power in your hand, to claim that firing a few weapons and solving a few environment-based puzzles around you counts as real power is to misunderstand the very meaning of true power in the first place. No, the true power comes from building something from scratch, asserting complete control over it, and establishing long-term control and dominance over said something. There are few displays of power, wealth, and dominance quite like that of a castle; build enough castles over a sufficient expanse of land to govern a sufficient number of people, and you’re got yourself an empire. It is the building of castles and empires that games like Forge of Empires and Good Game Empire directly concern themselves with, and it is the very best castle/empire building games that this article is largely focused on.

Forge of Empires

Forge of Empires game

Those that were lucky enough to get in on Forge of Empires at the ground floor will remember a time before the game was successful enough to be able to afford TV advertising; these were times before empire building became a little more popular in the gaming community, though it certainly isn’t a new concept by any means. Though Age of Empires and the various Total War games have been providing us with incredible castle and empire-building games for many years, Forge of Empires is a relatively recent emergence, but it is differentiated from these paid-for games in the sense that it can be played in your browser without installation, and one doesn’t necessarily have to spend any money to join in the fun. Further differentiating its style from the crowd is the attempt at accurate historicity through the game’s journey across the ages of man.

At its core, Innogames’ Forge of Empires is a textbook empire game that starts you off with a very small plot of land in the Stone Age. Your task from here is like any other empire game: to transform your small settlement into a fully-fledged empire by erecting structures of various type. The idea is to build up your settlement gradually and paying attention to the vital areas of your miniature empire that form its basis: resources, economy, a military, and perhaps most important of all, the happiness/satisfaction of the people of your village/town/city. Only by striking a balance between these facets of your settlement can you get it to grow larger and prosper.

The game’s interface is again very similar other empire-building games as it gives you a sort of top-down view of your empire, allowing you to control everything with your mouse. You can navigate through the various menus, erecting production buildings to produce resources, military barracks to train troops, houses to increase and contain your population, and ornaments/centres of cultural significance (theatres etc.) to increase the happiness of your people. Military expeditions are a critical aspect of expanding your empire; the map of the surrounding area lets you invade other territories or strike deals with them, and battles take place in a turn-based manner. The most exciting aspect of Forge of Empires however is seeing the game progress through the ages, which is achieved by performing research in various areas branches of interest like agricultural methods, forging techniques, and eventually mathematics, physics, and other forms of education/early science as you progress towards the middle ages and beyond.

A successful player will end up with a significantly large empire made up of impressive buildings and a gigantic castle or fortress at the centre of it all. Holding on to your power is the key to continued success, and this is an ongoing task since anyone other player in the online network can challenge your might and destroy/plunder your empire if it isn’t sufficiently defended.

Play Forge of Empires

GoodGame Empire

Good Game Empire game

Back to the classic empire format here, but with a slightly more casual twist: Goodgame Empire is sort of like a more relaxed version of Forge of Empires. Its graphics are less gritty and more cartoon-like than its Forge of Empires counterpart, making it a little more light-hearted but at the same time taking away from the epic and realistic nature of the proceedings. Whether you enjoy Goodgame Empire really depends on what you want from an empire game, but if you want a lighter experience that can be enjoyed every now and then whenever you’ve got a few minutes, it’s the perfect foray into castle-building.

The game begins by giving you ready-made castle and small settlement and tasks you with simply improving on what you already have and expanding by engaging in sieges and other such acts. The gameplay is largely objective-based, with different people giving you tasks and jobs to complete in return for rewards and expansion of your castle/lands. Performing any kind of construction work takes quite a bit of time, which is why the game is perfect for dipping into every few hours or every day or so. Research can be performed, and various tasks can be completed without paying any real money, but if you want to play for free you’re going to have to spend quite a bit of time on it.

Goodgame Empire is also online-based, so you can’t avoid being attacked by others at the end of the several-day safety period put in place for beginners. If you want to start with a ready-made settlement and expand/build in a light-hearted manner, Goodgame Studios’ Goodgame Empire should do you just fine.

Play GoodGame Empire

Kingdom Rush: Frontiers

Kingdom Rush Frontiers

Not all games are about empire expansion and resource management, however. Kingdom Rush: Frontiers is a game that takes a somewhat different approach to the building of towers and castles, and what better format to allow you the chance to build large defensive/offensive buildings than the tower defense genre? The original Kingdom Rush was a storming success and Kingdom Rush: Frontiers is a sequel that turned out to just as good, if not better than its predecessor. As a tower defense game, the basic aim is to stop waves of enemies from making their way across the screen on the prescribed pathways and breaking through your gates. Stopping the enemies requires that you build different towers to attack the enemy and defend against them; money is earned from killing enemies, and the killing-tower buying-upgrading  cycle continues.

Kingdom Rush: Frontiers stands out due to the brilliance of the towers and castles that you can build. The game sticks to the same four tower types as the original: barracks, artillery, archer, and mage. Each of these tower types is more effective against certain types of enemy and can be upgraded several times. The final beauty of the towers is that with the final upgrade, you get to choose between two different final forms of the tower. For example, the mage tower’s final form can either be a Necromancer tower (allows the resurrecting of enemies for use as allied forces as well as various other attacking benefits) or the Archmage Tower (fires powerful bolts of magic at enemies and can summon tornadoes to damage enemies as well). As far as building some of the coolest and most visually stunning towers and castles in gaming, Kingdom Rush: Frontiers has the edge.

Play Kingdom Rush: Frontiers

Castle Wars 2

Castle Wars 2 game

Turn-based strategy is the name of Morkeulv’s  Castle Wars 2’s game. Instead of being an epic online experience like the previously-mentioned empire games however, this one is a flash-based sequel that involves simply playing against a computer or someone else over the internet. The game is more like a significantly augmented board-game than a strategy-based experience, but the strategic element is still undeniable. The aim is to go up against an opponent, with both the opposition and you possessing resources and health which must be chipped away until either one of you wins. Bricks, weapons, and crystals are the main resources, but there is an element of chance involved because each turn relies on various cards drawn at the bottom of the screen. Victory is achieved by either building your structures to beyond 100 in level or by reducing those of your opponent to 0.

Though not as realistic or engaging in the long-term as Forge of Empires or GoodGame Empire, Castle Wars 2 lets you dip into discrete battles against simulated or real-life opponents that can be won in minutes. The whole experience is different to most castle-building games, but it is one that deserves a place in the mind of anyone wishing to try out the best castle games out there. 

Play Castle Wars 2

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