Leviathan Warships
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The Fleet Fitting Window, With Various Hulls

We've all imagined being that man. The guy who stands in a tent with maps laid out before him, calm an in control as people rush around him, giving orders and stroking his magnificent beard, unphased as the ground shakes from mortar fire. Being a commander just seems so cool.

Leviathan Warships sees you take command of a fleet of warships, with various aims - normally revolving around blowing enemy ships out of the water. The game is turn based, with your planning lasting anywhere from 30 seconds to a week, giving the game a play-by-mail feeling. And in fact, this turn based, tactical, play when you want feeling really brings to mind a similar game; Frozen Synapse.

You guys might not have played Frozen Synapse, so I'll sum up by saying it is very, very in depth - you can have your each of your men run forward, or move forward while aiming in a direction, or crouch under a window, or stand in overwatch over a pass - or all at once. The level of micro control you have is simultaneously overwhelming an empowering.

Unfortunately, I went into Leviathan Warships with this comparison in mind, and this leads to the problems I had with the game. Take away the (unfair) comparison however, and you've got quite a gem of a game. The number of ships you can field depends only on the points cost of each one compared to the class of fleet you're building - small, medium or large. You give each ship individual orders for moving and firing, or you can let your ships auto-target; but each of your guns has a limited engagement range, leading to elegant dances around each other as you use the terrain and your shields to best effect.

Each of your ships is completely customisable before each fight, and you can save individual ship blueprints and entire fleets for later use. Different hulls will have different hard points for guns, and you will have to leave some empty - sheer points cost will limit you, even if the number of guns on a ship wasn't limited (which it is).

Playing the game does have a few problems - there is no function for matchmaking by skill. You can search for available games that fit your criteria, but you have no way of knowing who you'll be up against. I got rather demolished the first few times I tried public games, until I found a friend willing to learn the game with me.

Playing with people you know, the game can again be a little problematic; the 1v1 maps are very small, and not suitable for medium fleets or higher, while the 2v2 maps cause problems finding each other (I subsequently always took a radar module however, which I assume is the point). The combat did feel limited overall, although that is directly due to the Frozen Synapse comparison earlier.

In Leviathan Warships, when you give your orders for a turn, everything will happen at the first opportunity - your radar will ping, shields will go up, and guns will fire on the first available target (unless explicitly told to not fire). Given each turn resolves in 10 seconds of combat, being unable to micromanage some things, such as shields, is a real pain.

Often, I had the choice during my planning of popping my shield early and wasting half of the duration, or taking half a volley of fire in order to pop it next turn, something which is incredibly irritating when you're used to having the fine grained control over actions in Frozen Synapse.

Otherwise, the game is rather good; lots of different fittings for different strategies, many weapons that involve player skill, and the ability to carry games onto different devices (although requiring a second purchase of the game for mobile). Beyond the lack of fine detailed control I would have hoped from a strategy game like this, and the matchmaking being rather lacklustre if you don't have friends to play with, I can't help but like the game. If you're a fan of casual strategy, and you like naval puns, this is a solid game.

Some Combat Simple, Yet Powerful