If you’ve been craving a good strategy game for your iOS device, I have some very good news for you today. Afghanistan ’11, from the developer behind the great Vietnam ’65 ($9.99), is finally coming to iOS on October 24th. Afghanistan ’11 takes the innovative Vietnam ’65 formula—which emphasized the winning of hearts and minds aspect of counterinsurgency operations—and makes it bigger and better. Just like in Vietnam ’65, in Afghanistan ’11 you have to win the locals’ hearts and minds in what has become America’s “forgotten war." And, as the US military has found out the hard way over the last decade and a half, winning hearts and minds is much more complicated than simply taking out enemy troops; it also involves political games and often making deals with the devil (see corrupt governments).
In the game, you’ll have to provide security to civilians and persuade them to reject the Taliban and isolate Militia leaders. But one wrong move, like messing up during a routine patrol, can harm your relations with the locals and also harm your image in Western newspapers. In other words, it’s like fighting a war while walking in military boots on eggshells. You do have access to the latest technology—drones, air power, etc—but the enemy has plenty of natural cover and IEDs, rocket launchers, and an uncanny ability to ambush you.
So, as you can tell, this isn’t your run-of-the-mill wargame, and that’s partly why critics really liked it when it came out on PC earlier this year. I really liked Vietnam ’65 when I reviewed it, and I’m really looking forward to Afghanistan ’11, especially because it’s always interesting to see how game designers translate what is a very messy reality into war game mechanics. Not long to wait now.