Wizards and Wagons[$4.99] is out now from Touch Dimensions and it is one of the more active and engaging item shop sim games I have played. Known for more traditional strategy games, Touch Dimensions is stretching their dev skills to reach into the sim genre. Rather than sitting in town and waiting for customers to come to you, W&W mobilizes the store and puts you in the drivers seat. As last week's Touch Arcade Game of the Week, I was not surprised to find dynamic gameplay and an addictive quality that has put some extra rings under my eyes for the last several days from lack of sleep.

As a wandering merchant your main goal is to make loads of money. By evaluating the supply and demand of each town in the game, you can buy low at a town selling goods, then travel to a town in need of those goods and sell high. Simple enough right? As your cart rumbles down the road, you will have to fight off bandits and monsters intent on stealing your stash and destroying your house on 4 wheels. This is where the action component kicks in.

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Depending on the town you are travelling to you might end up killing a few lowly slimes or having squads of attackers hurling themselves at your cart(and possibly killing you). The starting weapon you get, a standard bow, is actually really effective as long as you can tap the screen quickly but there is a large selection of ranged and melee weapons you can equip on your cart to beef up your trail blazing ability. This part of the game is kind of like a rail shooter with the cart following a pre-set path and you responsible for aiming your attacks to dispatch your attackers. One thing to remember though is that the more weapons you bring with you, the less room you will have for other cargo.

There have been some reports that the game is too hard and that people have had to restart the game just to survive the first few trips. I think it's important to note here that even though the game has a cutesy fantasy possibly even Zelda-ish look to it, this is first and foremost an economics simulation that is designed to be challenging and richly rewards successfully negotiating lucrative deals and treacherous passages to far off towns. You will need to understand a little bit of risk management and you will need to be able to tap your way out of your cart getting swarmed from time to time. At the point I am in the game I have indeed died a few times and have been sent back to the starting town, but you only lose 10% of your gold. This is a pretty minor set back compared to some of the hauls you can bring in on a successful trip to a town in desparate need of what you are bringing them.

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I am definitely in a stable position to continue making gold and at no point have I met my demise without thinking something like, "I should have repaired my cart before leaving" or "I should have equipped that other weapon for this journey to a far off town." As you get further away from the starting towns, bigger and badder enemies start to appear. Between bigger carts and weapon upgrades, there is usually no reason to fear venturing far and wide as long as you prepare and repair before embarking.

On the economics side of the game, favorable trades are sometimes difficult to identify immediately. In addition to the normal supply and demand that each town has posted, you will also have the option to pick up quests that give rewards for completing tasks. Some of these tasks will penalize you for failure, and some just woefully fall short of being worthwhile. The game strikes a nice balance of challenge that forces you to decide which quests or trade routes are worth investing time into completing. You might end up barely getting across a 10 day hike only to find out that the goods you have brought are no longer in demand and the trip cost you a few hundred gold. There will be times you go from a full health bar to almost dead in one round of cart combat, but you can always repair at the next town, and there are definitely attacks that you can "pre-fire" to prevent getting bogged down and stay healthy. Quests you get from random towns people also have some hidden rewards that are pretty great and generally a little better than guild quests, but every once in a while you can get a gem in the guild too.

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Really the entire game has a fantasic sense of balance. While it expects you to make your own fortune, your losses and setbacks are measured and not too severe to recover from. There is a lot to like about this little vendor sim and well worth the price of admission.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • NOEN

    Great review Fretz. Well done. Definitely recommend this one. (Hey, that rhymed!)

    • gaymerX

      I really want to check this game out, but everything I've read about it makes it sound a bit rogue-like-ish? Is it? I really have a strong distaste for rogue-likes... But the trading and commerce side of this is very much intriguing to me.... So I'm torn. $5 for this game seems fair, but I don't want to buy it if I'm going to hate it. Aargh!?!? What to do?! Do I wait for the inevitable price drop and give my $5 to a few other apps in the meantime???

      • Schpank

        There's progression, an end, and no permadeath, so... It's more up your alley than you think. Buy it.

      • gaymerX

        There's a definite end? I liked "you must build a boat".... And I played that till the very end, unlocking everything. Ok. I'm convinced.

      • fearlesskk

        I mean its 5 bucks give it a try

  • App Symmetry

    Woah, great review! Looks like I've got another writer to add to my 'favorite TA reviewers' list... Starseed, Five Card Quest and now this... I really thought each one of these titles would get a bad review&rating (just based on some of the impressions in the threads), but was pleasantly surprised when the reviews came out...
    Anyway - great review - great job - lovely game.

    • Andrew Fretz

      Thanks! All 3 of those games set out to do a specific thing and accomplish their goals very admirably while delivering gameplay with pretty wide appeal.

  • Schpank

    Good game. Needs some tweaks to be truly great. Guild assignments should be more worthwhile, especially considering they serve to get you traveling and opening more of the game. Some of the markets are a little unbalanced, with certain routes or loops being more lucrative than others. The combat part is cool, but could be more strategic. I was able to stick with the swinging dagger, a long-range AOE weapon, and a collection of stat raising passives for the entire game. Seems you should be forced to modify your gear or play style by the differing behavior of mobs. Maybe this game would have benefited from a hub approach, where the further you travel from your current base, the better the rewards and dangers... Anyway, really good game as is and worth every penny.

    • Andrew Fretz

      I think that if they equalized things more it would have detracted from the feel that you really need to hunt down the "best" route to take and the "best" quest to take in a given situation. If it weren't an economics sim, I would definitely expect more equity.

      • Schpank

        Hmm... you have a point there...

  • rezn

    I'll be picking this up today. Looks like the best new game in the last couple weeks.

  • unexpect3rd

    Trading mechanics always pique my interest. Furthermore, this is touch dimension, one of the gamedev gods of singapore helms it.

  • gingler

    I really liked the review, but i saw a very interesting thing on the game could be called flaw???

    The more time you spent playing, the cheaper everything becomes, now, i know this game should be played like 30 minutes or even an hour, but im the kind of person that usually on the first day plays 5 or 7 hours straight xD

    Soooo what happened is, you start talking to every town person, and they tell you the prices are going cheap in x place... But after a while since you cant be evrywhere, all places items become awfully cheap XD i noticed this the first day and the second day when i tried? It only took me an hour for this to happen again.

    Making the whole economic thing useless xD sure i was getting more money from certain routes, but there was a point where ANY rout gave me profit, the thing was get the route with more profit until the prices normalized a bit ( or didnt give the revenue i wanted) and change to another route and repeat.

    I was able to travel from 1 town and another and get 1000 from simple stuff.

    But heres the funny bit, if you close the game and open again everything goes back to normal.
    So i guess thats why nobody noticed :p

  • Noah

    Is there a story and/or ending to the game? Or do you just get so much money you stop playing after a few weeks...

  • Jon Garcia

    game is also coming to Steam/PC. So if the people dont wanna get it on there phones or other devices. They can just wait a bit and wait on the PC version. Which should have more options and stuff and even might cost bout $4.99 maybe $9.99. Give you something else to think bout!

    • Jon Garcia

      p.s. - I have this on my phone and I like it alot actually
      This game and 2 others are my favorite so far : Tinker Island & Chaos Chronicle

  • Modjular

    I know this is a late comment. But I want to point out that this game is more a commodity-trading game like Space Trader. Definitely not a shop-simulator.

Wizards and Wagons Reviewed by Andrew Fretz on . Rating: 4.5