Stick War 2: Order & Empire

stick war 2

Armies will rise, Warriors Shall Fall

More often than not when deciding to sacrifice your spare time to the mercy of a tower defense game, you can pretty much expect a pretty standard set of features: a top-down view of the terrain through which a path runs that must be guarded by multiple towers which are built at your discretion. You can also expect various upgrades, enemies, and sometimes special powers and abilities to help you with keeping the advancing enemy at bay. Stick War 2 possesses much of these tower defense normalities, but weaves in some real-time strategy characteristics in addition. You can expect some epic battles large numbers of stick figurines for the purpose of protecting your castle’s statue, and in terms of towers there are only two: your tower which must be protected, and the enemies’ tower which must be destroyed. Armies will be raised and warriors will fall, but only one side can be left standing.

The Two-Towers

The game boils down to the user-controlled protection of your castle’s statue, which is located just outside your castle walls and possesses a health bar to indicate its condition; a corresponding tower is also possessed by the enemy, and must be destroyed before yours meets its demise in order to win. The game is viewed from a side-on perspective, with your castle sitting on the left and your enemies’ one at the opposite end. The main bulk of the strategy is concerned with balancing the production of troops with the gathering of mana and gold, the two resources that allow you to research technologies that allow you to use new upgrades and troops. In this manner, the whole thing leans towards the real-time strategy genre; it is the borrowing of elements from this genre that makes the game reasonably addictive to play.

Allied Forces and Enemies

In order to fight off the enemy, you are responsible for assembling an army composed of troops of various abilities, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. All troops are created/trained within the castle walls, from the basic Swordwrath unit that deals high damage but has low survivability to Castle Archers that remain in the castle walls, dealing damage from afar. You will eventually be able to create wizards and even giants that advance on the enemy whilst towering over them in a menacing manner. Enemy stickmen also range from basic swordsmen, to moderately-armoured Speartons, right the way through to boss-like foes such as the final boss Medusa that can turn your troops to stone and render them useless.

Research and Development

The buildings within your castle walls contain different technologies and upgrades that need to be researched at the expense of your gold and mana, which are attained by your miners through mining and praying to your castle’s statue respectively.  Researching different technologies is the only way to be able to use the various upgrades and additions to your weapons, forces and various abilities. Archers, for example, can be upgraded with flaming arrows or blazing bolts to increase the damage they cause, and swordsmen can be upgraded to use their shield to bash the enemies.

Squandered Potential

On paper, everything about Stick War 2 looks incredibly entertaining and fairly original in its premise. Stickman style games have been used in many series of flash games such as the Sift Heads series here sifthead.net as has the use of upgrades has been done a thousand times before, but not on an army of stick figures fighting it out in real time in order to protect their castle’s statue. The praying for mana I thought was a nice gathering process as well, since it usually just regenerates automatically without explanation in games of this type.

The execution of the game however, doesn’t feel as spectacular as it looks when it is written down on the page: the process of training and upgrading your troops is relatively slow, and the progress you make in the game is extremely gradual, even feeling a little gruelling at times. The game will definitely appeal to those that have played its predecessor and fans the type of long-term fans that enjoy keeping up with the games development here stickwar.com, and its unusual stick-based illustrations and animations will also draw in new players, but for me, the game just didn’t have the lasting appeal that true real-time strategies like Forge of Empires or dedicated tower-defense games such as Pokemon Tower Defense kingdomrush.com possess.