Online gaming has evolved and grows increasing popular as developers find new and exciting ways to keep players involved. Nuclear Salad has infiltrated two popular games, Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle Earth (KoM) and Game of War: Fire Age (GoW). How do they compare?
First off, both games are free to download, but be warned: They both offer and encourage in-app purchases. A person could easily spend $100 per week on either game because both require you to first purchase its version of currency before buying any items so that you don’t really know how much things cost as you buy them. For example, in KoM you could buy a special chest for 750 mithril, which is roughly $56.00. If you knew at the time it would cost you $56.00 to buy something that gives you some resources and some troops, you may think twice about the purchase. The developers know this, and both games are designed to mask what you are spending and to also give extreme advantages to those willing to pay for them.
Both games follow essentially the same premise. You build up your city (or cities) using resources like wood, stone, food, and ore which you either collect from locations outside your city or accumulate through fields (e.g. quarries, mines, farms) you’ve built. You train troops, and can attack other players or compete for prizes in different tournaments. Both games offer alliances – teams formed by other players or yourself – that you may join to enable trading of resources, coordination of attacks, participation in alliance competitions, and general socializing. Let’s break it down.
Both games provide three chat vehicles.
- A kingdom or global chat, where content posted may be read by anyone playing on the same server.
- An alliance chat, where content posted may only be viewed by current members of your alliance, if you are in one
- Private chat (aka whispers), where content posted may only be viewed by one other person.
NOTE: GoW also offers a fourth option where you can create a new chat room and invite specific members to join so players from multiple kingdoms and alliances could be represented within a single room.
The best thing about the GoW chat is that if you log into the game and catch the tail end of a conversation, you can scroll back and see the full conversation so you do not miss anything. With KoM, if you are not logged in at the time the content is posted, you will not have access to view it. GoW also gives a selection of avatars so players can pick one they feel represents them. KoM does not offer this, often resulting in people wondering whether or not they’re chatting with a male or a female.
Both games have a preview window at the bottom of your screen. KoM‘s previews everything: whispers, kingdom chat, and alliance chat, while GoW‘s only shows the alliance chat or the kingdom chat, depending on which window you last had opened. GoW will show a red dot if a new comment is posted, but you have to actually go open that chat to read it and see if it’s anything of interest.
Graphics and Quality of Game Play
From GoW‘s map view, you can watch any player marching, and you can also watch cities get attacked, heroes escaping, monsters battling, and cities burning, all of which can be quite entertaining to observe. KoM shows only your own marches via a line on the map to wherever you’re going along with your hero’s head indicating movement. KoM has added some visual effects when attacking but they still do not compare to GoW‘s.
Both games provide ample tournaments but KoM occasionally has issues with the game going down for unscheduled maintenance in the middle or near the end of a competition, resulting in a lot of grumpy comments posted in chatrooms. GoW gets glitchy from time to time, but it seems KoM has far more occurences of the game going down completely.
Heroes, Troops, and Fighting
A marked difference between the two games comes down to how heroes and troops do battle and the results of those fights. In KoM, you cannot send a march to attack without a hero. Each city has several heroes. The level of the Great Hall in your city will dictate the maximum level of the heroes. Heroes may be outfitted with gear that will provide advantages over a hero of a lower level and lesser gear. Even in massive defeats, the hero will never die. If a person chooses to keep troops hidden in their cities, incoming attacks will not be defended, so resources may be stolen by attackers, but no troops will ever be killed unless a player opens his or her city. If a player battles another player, any troops lost are dead. The player will need to train replacements.
In GoW, cities have hospitals which will heal troops up to the hospital’s capacity, which is based on the level and number of hospitals. Resources will be needed to heal, but it is far faster and less costly to heal troops than to train new ones. Troops will always defend a city if it is attacked. The player does not have the option of hiding troops. The only ways to protect them are to use a protective shield (which may be purchased, gifted, won, or bought using “loyalty points”) or to rally another city as this sets troops in an attack queue and while there, they don’t defend your city. The problem is that shields and rallies only last a limited amount of time (unless you spend 40,000 gold to buy a 30-day shield) so if you cannot get back on the game before the time limit, your city may be alight, your troops may be dead or in the hospitals, and your hero may be captured. Your city only has one hero, and yes, in GoW that hero can be captured and even executed, which raises the stakes. Hero resurrections may be purchased using gold or “loyalty points” or gifted from another player and used to bring a hero back without having to start from scratch.
KoM has multiple cities on one account. You have to get deeds for the 2nd – 5th cities before you may build them, but those may be won in chests, fought for in goblin camps, or stolen from other players. GoW only has one city per account. The problem with GoW is that once your buildings reach a certain level, everything takes painfully long. Research which helps you strengthen your troops and build faster takes months for the higher levels. This is where the spenders have a huge advantage as they can purchase speed-ups and rush through the different levels. Once builds and research hit a certain level, the game can feel a bit boring for the non-spenders with limited things to do. KoM, on the other hand, provides so much to do that sometimes it can be overwhelming. One can go through a campaign map to win useful items, attack and mine caverns for gems to enhance gear, outfit heroes, upgrade/enhance gear, donate to the alliance, and attack other players for resources. It’s tough to get bored.
In summary, it depends on your style of play. If you don’t spend, but don’t mind that your city will take years to be competitive against big players or heavy spenders, and you don’t mind getting annihilated every other weekend, then GoW may be a fun, visually entertaining escape from reality. If you don’t need fancy graphics, but just want to keep busy and grow at a reasonable rate, and have the option of fighting players close to your own level and not being forced to fight the player who has 2 billion might more than you, then KoM may be your best option.
Ultimately, we chose Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle Earth as our preferred game, but something really needs to be done to correct the performance issues or we’ll be saying goodbye to it as well.