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Empire: The DeckBuilding Strategy Game is a fantasy-themed game for iOS and Android devices. It combines elements of 4X strategy (explore, expand, exploit and exterminate) with deck building.

In this game, players control the Empire and are tasked with defending it against the encroachment of the Desolation. With each turn, they explore the map, found cities and build armies. Periodically, they can upgrade the cities, and the manner in which they do this determines the cost of future military units, economic growth, victory points and how quickly they build the deck of combat cards.

Combat against the monsters of the Desolation is a fun and absorbing turn-based affair. During each turn, players are dealt several cards that allow them to cast spells, speed their cavalry, halt their archers and much more. On the battlefield, the two sides’ units are randomly placed on opposite edges of the map, and the opposing units advance to attack the enemies occupying their target hexes.

Building the card deck through victories and city upgrades is one of the most interesting facets of the game. This component, combined with exploration, city construction and exciting battles, makes Empire a “must-buy.”


Golem Arcana is a breakthrough in tabletop gaming. It is designed by the great Jordan Weisman and it is one of the first board games to seamlessly combine prepainted miniatures with digital technology. Rather than lessening the complexity of the rules to make the game more accessible, Golem Arcana lets technology do the heavy lifting.

Using a tabletop digital interface stylus, players can tap any of the miniatures to see their capabilities displayed on a Bluetooth-enabled tablet or smartphone. To check out the combat odds, they simply tap the attacker’s base and then touch the defender’s base. By tapping a piece of terrain, they can learn its properties and whether it blocks the line of sight between two units.

Golem Arcana achieved its funding goal on Kickstarter, a site that brings together projects and backers, and the game is due out in July 2014.


The Bureau: XCOM Declassified is a third-person tactical shooter that puts players in control of William Carter and two other agents as the characters work through a series of missions in which they battle aliens hellbent on conquering Earth.

This iteration attempts to stay true to the XCOM universe’s tactical roots by offering “Battle Focus Mode,” which allows players to slow down time, move the assisting agents to strong positions and direct them to use their special powers. It is a good tactical shooter that would make a solid addition to any XCOM aficionado’s game library.


 Mark H. Walker is a retired U.S. Navy commander and the author of more than 40 books, including three novels. Read his insights into gaming, writing and living at or

Originally published in the May 2014 issue of Armchair General.