Subterfuge – You win or you… lose

Subterfuge is a real time game of strategy and diplomacy by Snappy Touch, a two man team. It’s available on iOS and Android platforms. Subterfuge plays rooms, known as games, which can hold up to 10 players. A game can last about a week, though it’s not as exact as the tag line would have you believe. The main goal of the game is to be the first player to reach 200Np. Nps are mined from mines that players can build using drills that periodically spawn from factories. Drills can also be used to attack other players to claim their territories.

There are three different types of outposts. Two basic ones are the factories, which generate drills and the generators, which determine the maximum number of drills you can have. The third type is the mine. The first mine can be build using 50 drills, and the second, 100 and doubles up with each mine, therefore it is better to try and capture other player’s mine.

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Another factor in play are the specialist. Most important of these is the queen, which recruits a new specialist every 18 hours. If a player’s queen is killed, he is eliminated. The specialist introduce a whole different layer to the game. A well timed hire or promotion can change the outcomes of battle. For example, an admiral allows drills to travel faster, allowing you to capture and fortify an outpost before the owner’s drills can arrive in time to defend the place. When specialist are promoted, or a martyr is recruited, the game tells every player in the game that Player X has done so. It keeps everyone on their toes.

There is also a “time turner” dial where you can watch how your moves will play out and decide whether to commit or not. You can also go back in time to watch other movements and try to guess what other players might be doing beyond the fog of war. Speaking of the fog of war, the time shifts that you see only takes into account the things you know, if a player is sending 200 drills to attack you under the fog of war, you won’t be able to see how that affects your moves.
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The meat of the game comes in the form of communication with other players. Forging alliance and backstabbing each other to gain the upper hand in this game of thrones subterfuge. Power is always changing hands in this game, as any player who manages to top the charts will see the other players banding together to bring them down. The best strategy is perhaps to make yourself nonthreatening and gun for the win when you are close to it. Checking other players’ line of sights can also help you in your mind games as you attempt to outsmart your opponents. For example, you could tell Player A that Player B is sending a sizable force towards his border (after building up some trust of course) and this will make Player A move his drills towards the border, triggering Player B to actually move his drills towards the border.

Subterfuge is a stressful experience. I found myself checking my iPad regularly throughout the day, making sure I wasn’t outmaneuvered by my neighbors. I check it before I go to bed, when I get up to pee and the first thing I do when I wake up is check it. Alliance are often only paper thin and when the status quo is broken and one member is getting a lead on the rest, the members of the alliance will often backstab without hesitation. It doesn’t help that the main screen of the game shows when the leading player will win, which means that you can’t hide in third place and build a bunch of mines and hope that no one noticed. Wars often last as long as a few bouts before sides have to concede before other players start taking advantage of their weakened borders. Players are usually only eliminated when his neighbors all band together against him, or they make a risky play with the queen.

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And above anything else, never, ever play this game with a friend. Beyond the fact that you might find yourself backstabbing each other, working together is also a stressful experience as paranoia sinks in about what the other friend is planning. Worst still is when the paranoia spreads and the friend is worried about other players and in turn it affects you. Resulting in more unless checking in with the game.

Don’t get me wrong, Subterfuge is an amazing game but I don’t think I’ll be playing another match anytime soon. I have enough on my hands without constantly thinking about what my next move in the game will be and what I should tell my “allies” to make them think I’m harmless and target the other players instead.

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