F2P of the Day: Caesary

F2P of the Day is a recurring feature in which we select and sample a game that you can play without spending a dime.

Rome, they say, wasn’t built in a day. This bit of conventional wisdom certainly rings true when playing Caesary, a game of base-building and civilization-development set during the height of the Roman empire. You can raise towering structures and lead mighty armies to battle — but only if you’re prepared to wait.

You’ll wait because each project in Caesary takes time, in addition to costing resources and manpower. Progress bars take 10, fifteen, or even thirty minutes to fill. You’re welcome to try to speed the process up, but rushing jobs costs gold, and once you’re out of gold, you’ll have to spend real-world money to get more.

The development cycle of the free, browser-based strategy game is shrouded in mystery, but Caesary is readily available via a number of Asian and North American sites specializing in browser games. The revenue they earn from impatient players is no doubt significant. I created an account via SubaGames and jumped into the ancient world action.

Despite its complicated UI, Caesary’s conventions will be familiar to strategy vets. Players are tasked with developing a Roman town. This is achieved by harvesting four types of resources, increasing the number of citizens by building cottages, and giving those citizens work by upgrading sawmills, mines, and farms, which in turn leads to more resources. These can be spent on new buildings, upgrades, troops, and heroes; the more you develop your infrastructure, the more cash, crops, and commodities you’ll be able to accrue, and the more powerful your armies will become.

Caesary’s hero system is perhaps its most unique feature. Despite the rock-paper-scissors system of bonuses they employ against each other, the troops you recruit are mostly just numbers on a spreadsheet. Not so the heroes, who can be customized and equipped, RPG-style, in order to increase their efficacy.

This system of improvements abets your heroes and their supporting soldiers when they undertake various missions outside your town. At first, they’ll simply be leading raids against unclaimed territory. Hilariously, the game calls them “marauds;” the localization in Caesary is usually off-key, and always over the top, though endearingly so. As the game wears on, you’ll have the opportunity to garrison locations and extract the resources there for your benefit. The actual fighting during these first two mission types is resolved offscreen, but you’ll eventually wage war against other human players, which triggers a full-fledged combat view — arranging your troops in an advantageous formation becomes important to victory.

For a strategy gamer like myself, there’s a lot to like about Caesary. It’s reasonably deep, and its various gameplay systems, though numerous, seem to support each other well. It compares favorably with CivWorld, which we reviewed in a past installment of this column. Most importantly, it seems flexible enough to reward a wide variety of different strategies and tactics — a key genre criterion. On the other hand, the long delay for construction and recruitment will always be a drag: when the stakes get high in PVP, i’m sure it’s downright agonizing to wait for a new complement of troops to finish. Caesar would have sympathized.

Check out the previous F2P of the Day, Global Resistance

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