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First Wood War

For: iPad   Also on: Android, iPhone

Needs to branch out

Product: First Wood War | Developer: SMS Services O.o.o | Publisher: i-Free | Format: iPad | Genre: Strategy | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
First Wood War iPad, thumbnail 1
Wars are always fought over resources. Well, that or religion. Let's steer around that particular hot potato for the purpose of this review, though.

While we've grown accustomed to nations battling over oil, the humble tree is the catalyst for hostilities in First Wood War.

The fact that the battles here are fought by trees should inform you that we're firmly in the realms of fantasy in this simplified real-time strategy game.

Strictly roots

The arena for this particular resource war between two tribes of woody warriors is even more restricted than your average tower defence game.

There are two bases facing each other and a couple of paths in between. Along these paths are several neutral structures that you can capture and turn to your advantage.

Lumber mills enable you to collect more wood, which you can use to create more warriors. You can then send these warriors out into the field, either to fend off enemy attacks or to launch an assault on the enemy base.

There are also some special structures that boost your troops' stats while under your command.


You don't take direct control of your troops - you simply build them, at which point they set off automatically to wreak havoc. You can select which path they run down, but that's your lot.

This restriction serves to keep things flowing, but it also makes you feel frustratingly detached from the action. It's particularly annoying when your troops opt to engage enemy woodsmen instead of running through a breached defensive tower to regain control of the lumber mill.

One element of combat over which you do have direct control is your trebuchet. This recharges over time and can be directed over huge distances to bolster an attack or help out in defence.

This, too, is frustrating, though, as shots take an age to reach the target. Often, the enemy group will have moved on by the time your shot lands wastefully behind it.

Getting to the root of it

The developer has created a rich world in First Wood War, powered by a slick 3D engine and underpinned by an attractive art style that's just sufficiently different enough from every other fantasy game out there.

But the game is full of irritating snags like the aforementioned direct control and trebuchet issues. Combine those with unresponsive controls and a difficulty level and level-up system that turns gruellingly harsh way too quickly, and you have some major problems.

The simplified approach to strategy - which the dev has taken in a bid to make it more suitable for touchscreen devices - also results in repetitive, grind-heavy gameplay. Each level just becomes a grind of unit production. And once you've conceded a certain amount of ground, it can be virtually impossible - and certainly less than fun - to turn the tables in your favour.

First Wood War has all the characteristics of the material at its core: it's pretty to look at and immediately satisfying to wield, but it's also heavy going and, well, inherently wooden.
First Wood War
Reviewer photo
Jon Mundy | 24 April 2013
First Wood War is an attractive real-time strategy game, but numerous issues with its controls, difficulty level, and grind-heavy gameplay serve to set fire to the developer's noble ambitions
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