Follow-Up to “Crash Course (ep. 27) – Greed Corp”

I didn’t much care for my run through the “Greed Corp” campaign levels, but not because the game isn’t good. I’ve never been much of a turn-based anything kind of guy – I prefer action-adventure RPGs to traditional turn-based, and I’d rather play Command & Conquer over Risk or Axis and Allies. Hell – I’m not really a fan of chess or checkers. So when tasked with completing all 24 of the levels available in story mode, I had to actively force myself to open the game and play through them one or two at a time. I didn’t enjoy the process overall, but I still felt proud of myself whenever I would emerge victorious from a match.

Now that all that griping is out of the way, allow me to say some good things about the game.

I am a huge fan of the tile-destruction mechanic that the whole game is built around. It is beyond satisfying to finish an opponent or take out a large portion of his units with a well-placed cannon shot or by planting a harvester right in the middle of his forces and letting the inevitable resource grind send his hopes plummeting into the mists below. On the flipside of that, it is frustrating and heartbreaking to see the same thing happen to your own troops and outposts, knowing that you’ve been out-maneuvered and that there is no way to save those 16 walkers camped out on a cracked and crumbling hex. As a corollary to the mechanic itself, being able to use harvesters offensively is a pretty cool concept. Several battles were decided when one force would shuttle over a regiment of troops to claim the tallest hex tower in the midst of an enemy island and plant a gold-spewing time bomb. And since there is no “sell” option for buildings and units, the only thing you can do when it happens to you is pray you have enough earth under your feet to self-destruct the harvester without dooming the rest of your surrounding territories.

Another cool game mechanic that came up every so often is claiming the spoils of war from an opposing faction that you’ve just conquered. If you are able to wipe out another team by taking all their land or by destroying them with cannon fire (i.e. they don’t go down in flames because of harvesters), then you get that team’s leftover funds, constructed carriers, and any remaining tiles that they might have had scattered throughout the map. While the ability to do this is only useful in matches with three or four players, being able to do so will pretty much seal your victory (granted that the faction you eliminate through conquest actually has anything left over to transfer).

The story mode is divided up into four separate campaigns – one for each faction (Freemen, Pirates, Cartel, and Empire) and each containing six missions. As you go through the game, there is a bit of a narrative that unfolds as text before and after each mission. These factions don’t have any special units or powers to distinguish them from one another; the only difference is the cosmetic appearance of the units and buildings they use.  I was able to beat most of the missions within one or two attempts, but there were about four levels in the entire game that gave me some serious trouble and had me replaying them over and over and over again. Those stages were usually troublesome because of where my turn fell in the order or the layout and positioning of the stage itself. (And let’s not also forget my ineptitude as a commander and inability to plan more than, like, two moves in advance.) However, even with a few hiccups, I was able to make it through the game in a little over nine hours of play time.

One tactic that helped me beat many stages is more of an exploit of the AI as well as a little bit of luck. On maps where I was pitted against more than one opponent, I would spread out and harvest as much land as possible away from my starting area, leaving about four or five hexes untouched. These harvesters would eventually create an island platform for me to hold my remaining units and structures. I would then let the computer players battle each other while I amassed troops and cannons with ammo. As the computers would tear at each other’s throats, I would weigh in every now and then with some cannon fire to ensure that neither of them got horribly overpowered. Once one faction was erased from the board, I would quickly swoop in at the last minute to claim victory from the remaining opponent. A bit of a cheap trick, but it solved problems quickly. This strategy would probably not work against multiple real players, as they would detect the rising threat and form a temporary alliance to take down the cherry picker.

Two things that I haven’t done are play skirmish matches against bots (which is pretty much like extending the campaign, except on new stages and with the possibility of collecting achievements based on specific win conditions) and playing online against a fellow hooman bean. I don’t see the latter happening for two reasons:

1) This ain’t my jam
2) The player base is essentially nonexistent

This game was originally released in 2010, with an Android adaptation released late in 2013. And in the time since then, I don’t think there have been many (if any) updates, patches, or additional content released by the developers. Since the game has been in this abandoned stagnant stage for such a long time, it’s no wonder that not many people are playing it. However, it simultaneously surprises me that more people aren’t playing it. I mean, the game is pretty well-balanced – most stages are symmetrical in design and starting setup, and the factions have no differing qualities to make one more preferable over another. It’s basically fancy chess. And last I checked, chess is still being played and hasn’t had any updates in a few hundred years.

That being said, there is a very small group (as in fewer than 100 players) named “Greed Corp: Rebirth” that is still dedicated to the game. I don’t know if they have done this (or if it’s possible), but if someone from that community was able to make a level designer, as well as modding the game to allow 2v2 matches and local matches, then I could see this game having a resurgence. Honestly, simply having local multiplayer would make this a fun competitive game to pull out among friends (in the same vein as the Worms series). This game could have a lot of replayability, but the lack of community creation tools and the cost of accessibility is what I think is keeping this game from flourishing.

Also the Steam version of the game is $10 while the mobile app is only $1, and I don’t think there’s any difference between the two! Seriously – local multiplayer.

Anyway, if you wanna give Greed Corp a shot, it is available on multiple platforms. If you like turn-based strategy games, then this should be right in your wheelhouse. And who knows – if enough recommendations go out and enough people jump on board then it may become as popular and competitive as something like chess.

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