Spies & Soldiers was featured in the Melbourne International Games Week Steam Showcase with an available demo still open for all. The strategy game focuses on subterfuge and turn-based conflicts, expanding your empire across a procedurally generated map.
Developed locally by Ghostbat Games’ Jim and Ben Batt, this simple to learn but difficult to master digitised board game is an addiction waiting to happen. It is a one-on-one game based upon simple mechanics with which complex strategies will arise.
The two main things you’ll need to wrap your mind around are military strength and subterfuge. You’ll need to bolster your forces of Soldiers to build an effective offence and defend against invading armies. Relying on strength in numbers, it’s basically whoever has the most infantry wins a battle. Your military will take control of settlements that dictate who has the most control over the map.
On the other hand, subterfuge is the domain of Spies. While Soldiers have fairly straightforward gameplay, Spies rely on information and deceit. They are used specifically to take control of cities which enables players the action points to power their devious activities. The secret army also has a vicious side, able to assassinate opposing Spies and sabotage enemy defences. Players can upgrade their Spy’s rank which will boost their effectiveness and allow them to perform more devastating actions across regions.
Spies & Soldiers has the potential to be a favourite game for strategy fans. Jumping into your first game may seem intimidating, but you’ll quickly learn the ropes and eventually become captivated by its systems. Ghostbat Games have developed gameplay that always seems tactical, no matter the stage or pressure of the other team. At any one time, a smart player can flip control and totally surprise an opponent with a terrific strategy. Maybe a Spy who has been secretly ranking up on one side of the map takes a stab at one of an opponent’s most valued pieces. Maybe brute force is your favourite method of victory, and growing your army to an undefeatable state is your path. Either way, this game allows for many avenues of play.
Another standout of Spies & Soldiers is its humble yet beautiful art. The entire game is styled like an old war or pirate map, painted with a watercolour aesthetic that matches the feel and tone. It’s easy on the eyes, inviting, and most of all lovely to look at. The user interface and menus are also so easy to use. Controlling play pieces and selecting map regions while understanding what everything does with the useful tips complements the overall art superbly.
Jim and Ben Patt aim to expand this type of digital board game into a series. Ghostbat Games’ design philosophy is inspired by the first games these two brothers played as kids and their first steps into computer programming with ASCII. Spies & Soldiers is just the first in what will likely become a signature style of strategy games for this Melbourne studio, aiming to explore “the cross-pollination of procedurally generated elements and digital board games.”
The demo for Spies & Soldiers is still available on Steam and you can look forward to a full release sometime in Early 2022. For more on Australian developed games, the PAX Australia Indie Showcase, and more, make sure to follow our website and social channels.