Two years ago, iOS players received a gem in Autumn Dynasty [$6.99], a beautiful real-time strategy game with a unique art style and excellently implemented gameplay. With the recently released Autumn Dynasty Warlords [$6.99], the stakes are raised significantly with a fully functioning turn-based strategy game incorporated on top of the core RTS gameplay. While this sounds like an awesome combination in theory, Warlords implementation leaves plenty to be desired.

If I were to describe Warlords at a glance, I’d call it a mix of Civilization-style turn-based strategy with an RTS combat element. Players start out with one region under their control with amidst a kingdom of lands ripe for the taking. Many are neutral areas ripe for conquest, but you’ll quickly discover AI warlords seeking to rule as well. Conquered provinces earn gold, which can be used to train more troops or build structures that provide benefits to the region. Meanwhile, building and invading regions are wrapped up in a turn-based system. There’s plenty of strategy in terms of what provinces to conquer, which buildings to place on the limited plots of land and whether to engage in diplomacy or sabotage. Simply put, there’s a lot to see in Warlords.

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The second half of the game is the RTS portion, and it plays similarly to the original Autumn Dynasty with some changes (for better or worse). The control scheme, smooth battles, and rock-paper-scissors styled gameplay all make a return with the same unique visuals. Supplemental improvements such as the decree system (earned power-ups that modify unit stats) also spice up the basic gameplay. Superficially, fans of the original will feel right at home, but once you get into it, a few big changes become apparent.

For starters, Warlord’s RTS portions feel far more simplified than the original game. Units are more limited in terms of variety and number. The maps lack the variety in terms of setting and scope that I enjoyed in Autumn Dynasty. It feels like a conscious decision was made to simplify and streamline the battles due to the fact that they are now a smaller part of a larger game. I can understand the rationale behind it, but I feel as if they took the strongest aspect of the original and made it limited for the sake of throwing in the other strategy elements.

Those other elements, mainly the turn-based Civilization-esque gameplay, also suffer from a certain lack of depth. While there’s plenty of different buildings to construct, a lot of the advanced structures feel unnecessary. Meanwhile, the game’s spy/diplomacy system almost feels superfluous with a mission structure that takes too long to become useful. Even the game’s system for invading neighboring countries simply feels tacked on. That’s not to say the dedicated player can’t glean some usefulness (along with plenty of content) from mastering all these aspects, but it’s obvious that Warlord’s strongest aspect lies with its RTS portions.

Maybe it’s a classic case of mismanaged expectations, but I almost would have preferred just a direct sequel to Autumn Dynasty without the added layers of gameplay. As it stands, Warlords plays like a game that tries to be everything to everyone but falls a bit short. It’s still a fun game and players that put forth the effort can get enjoyment out of the additions. However, it just didn’t fully do it for me like the original did.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • VoodooVyper

    This score seems very dependent on the prequel and what has changed. Would the game have received
    the same score had it been a standalone game with no prequel? I have
    never played the first one and am interested in the second one. Reading
    an entire review comparing it to the first doesn't help my decision
    making.

    • Mauiwoweee

      Well if you just want to go straight to the actions then the first one should be for you. But if you want to take your time managing crews, moneys, lands and stuff like that were the war is more detailed and more like the real thing as in you are the warlord, making choices before going into war. Then this is for you. Although this game is fun, it wasnt fully for me. The first part however was fun for me. Hope this helps...

  • Morgan01

    I played the first one. While I enjoy it, I got a little bored as it seemed somewhat repetitive in scheme. When I heard of this title, I had hopes of it being more in depths than the first one.
    While it sounds like they added to the complexity with various means of strategy, it also seems that they have over simplified many of of the existing and incorporated aspects. Hopefully they are able to expand further on these as it would make one heck of a game. In the meantime, I'll watch this title to see if they are able to build on it.

  • CalinR

    Its actually an incredibly close imitation of the total war games. The battles are smaller in scope, which is a big disappointment, but the strategy comes from choosing the units that'll be deployed in the various engagements. And comparing this to civilization shows a lack of familiarity with the turn based strategy genre. The focus isn't on city planning, as each province only has 3 - 5 building slots, and most units only take a turn to recruit. It's actually heavily inspired by the total war series, to the point where it recreates the meta gameplay almost identically.

    The real time battles are a weak point, but in the original, you could only field a maximum of 9-ish units at once, and here it's 7. While I wish the devs would expand and polish the rts portions more, that's my opinion, very much like this review is an op-ed piece. And while no one's opinions are technically wrong esoterically speaking, (not incorrect, but wrong specifically), some opinions are based on a gut feeling, and some on actual experience with the subject and the associated works of the genre. This is not the latter, but a crudely cobbled-together example of the former.

    • C. Stubb

      Actually, in the original, you weren't limited to "nineish" units. In all stanard s (excluding some campaign levels

      • CalinR

        So, by beginning your comment with "actually", I assume you're trying to be rude to a stranger on the internet (me) by correcting my statement of approximation. I don't "actually" know the skirmish popcap because I've never "actually" built more than 9 units at once in order to beat the AI even on the hardest setting (which im sure you'll be able to provide the specific name for, what with your keen attention to meticulous detail oriented tasks like composing prose). I am however, certain that you've noticed, the "actual" popcap in the second game, is objectively smaller than most levels allowed in the first game. "Actualy", if you're correct in what i think you're "actually" trying to say, you're proving my point, that the first game had a more premissive popcap than the second. So, your intentional rudeness notwithstanding, what specifically is the point of contention you're trying to make?

    • flashbackflip

      Agree on this comment. Not being familiar with classics such as mentioned shows lack of professionalism and leads to misunderstanding resulting in misleading review

  • Irvin

    It's got some balancing and mechanical issues but overall and enjoyable experience.

    The only thing I don't like about it is once you figure out the winning strategy the game becomes too easy.

    Winning strategy:
    (1) Build an outpost and level it to level 2 which allows your troops to move freely in province you own and a market place on every province you concur except....

    (2) focus on concurring at least 2 province with a 5/5 city in the beginning(they look bigger than normal city from the map), then build a Stronghold and all the prerequisite that leads up to it and get them all to level 5(max).

    This will allow that province to produce troops that start at level 5 which beats out all AI troops even when they out numbered you.

    The rest of the game is a cake walk after that.

  • 21tigermike

    Game of Thrones music? jk

  • wharfrat1979

    I was also surprised with the civ comparison. Total war games are a better comparison. This game sounds more like the total war game total war itself should make instead of that lame looking iPad game they came out with for shogun. It would be cool if they did something with rome 2

    • Keithustus

      Hey! Total War Shogun Battles is a lot of fun. But you're right this is more what you expect from Creative Assembly.

  • mezmorki

    The game has all the right elements to make it really a terrific game. Unfortunately, the mechanics from a balance point of view are really really screwy. It's way too easy to game the system (see comment above about level 2 outposts), making the economy and force positioning largely pointless from a strategic standpoint and just a tedious management exercise instead. Managing the heroes and diplomacy and espionage missions sound awesome in concept, but are likewise irrelevant as you just end up having to steamroll your opponents anyway. I love the idea of the multiple stages to the RTS fighting, but usually that's moot as well as the AI usually was far too few units to defend itself across all those stages.

    Honestly, if the devs did a total overhaul of numbers and balance in the game, I think it could be tightened up into a really deep and challenging experience. It's so pretty, a great functionally, but the gameplay needs a lot more tweaking to pull me in.

  • BobCat5142

    How does he not compare this to Total War: Shogun

Autumn Dynasty Warlords Reviewed by Eric Ford on . Rating: 3.5