I’ve recently had the chance to play around with the beta version of Wargaming.net’s latest strategy game, Massive Assault Network 2. This simple-yet-rich turn-based strategy game is looking to be a doubly-dangerous time killer. MAN2 can either be played in a quick-paced single gaming session, or it can be broken up and enjoyed a turn at a time over days or even weeks. For those of us with busy and disjointed gaming schedules, any title offering this sort of flexibility is very welcome.
MAN2 seems pretty simplistic at first glance. Battles are 2-player (or player vs. AI) affairs, taking place on one of about twenty possible maps. Each map is divided up into several territories, some of which are randomly (and secretly) given over to each faction at the beginning of the match. These “Secret Allies” are the heart and soul of Massive Assault Network 2, as players begin each game with an entirely different set of Secret Allies. Each player must disclose one Secret Ally at the beginning of the game, letting the opponent know where the initial attack might be generated. The remaining, non-Secret Ally territories are neutral ground, ripe for conquest by either side.
Upon disclosing a Secret Ally, players are given a certain amount of credits to spend on military forces. There is nice selection of land, air, and naval units to choose from, and both factions seem to be well balanced. After this initial expenditure, each non-contested territory will continue to generate credits for a fixed amount of turns, allowing players to fund their war machine. Once the initial forces are purchased, it’s time to send them off to war.
Invading neutral territories comes with a great deal of risk. As soon as even one unit crosses into a neutral border, the opponent takes control of Guerilla forces within that territory. Each territory has a Guerrilla credit rating, which allows the enemy to purchase military forces and then immediately control and attack during their combat phase. Adding to the danger, the neutral territory may actually be one of the enemy’s Secret Allies, allowing them to Disclose at any time and pepper the ground with defense forces. Deducing which territories may or may not be Secret Allies, and deciding when and if to Disclose Secret Allies is often more important than actual troop movement and combat.
As the game continues, each player takes turns moving and attacking with military units, deploying Guerilla forces when required, gaining revenue and purchasing more military in un-contested territories, and Disclosing remaining Secret Allies (if they so choose). Once one side eliminates the other’s units, or achieves an overwhelming military advantage, the game is over.
Players can easily find opponents via MAN2’s matching system, or go head-to-head with the very capable AI. Here, also, games can be tailored to taste, and players can issue challenges to anyone willing to take up the gauntlet. All game data is held on the server side, so several games can be played at once, as each player can log in and take their turn at their convenience. And players aren’t limited to a single game at any given time, as MAN2’s service allows players to participate in several different battles at once.
All in all, things are looking good for turn-based strategy fans. The final bits of balance and polish are falling into place, and MAN2 is shaping up to be a solid entry into the field. Those who want to check this game out can still get into the open beta version and give the almost-finished code a test drive. Unregistered players will only get a shot at a few of the maps, but that will be more than enough to whet appetites. We’ll have a complete review once Massive Assault Network 2 is fully released.