Little War, a Competitive City Builder, Comes to Facebook in English

Chinese developer Five Minutes isn’t known for localized versions of its games, but the company has recently slipped an English-language copy of its successful title 小小戰爭 onto Facebook. Little War, or Lil War (the logos and game copy vary), is primarily a city-building game, but with rich social dynamics allowing both friendly and competitive play with friends. The possibilities are only limited by the number of neighbors you accumulate, with the game’s true potential requiring a critical mass of neighbors.

You begin as the chieftain of a group of tiny, chibi-like tribe, tasked with creating a society. Based on your level, you create facilities to produce food (the game’s currency) and build homes to increase population.

Now, while these mechanics might sound familiar, there’s one key difference: your population is a tribe of warriors, and the goal is to be the strongest. Beyond some decorative aspects, this competition is the core of Little War. To this end, you construct warrior training facilities as well as food production centers.

Your soldiers spend most of their time fighting off monsters that wander into your village. These horrors appear daily, and range from simple boars to the mighty tyrannosaurus. Based on the creature, you need a certain number of soldiers to kill it and there is always the chance of causalities. Once defeated, the creatures yield random items, such as stone, bones and agate, which can be used to construct special buildings (more on that in a bit). Soldiers can also clear land to expand your village.

As you invite friends, the game will give them special items, as well as a few extra monsters to slay in their villages. Neighbors can also gift items to each other, but the interaction doesn’t end there.

Ultimately, the point of adding neighbors is to conquer them. Based on the number of soldiers you have, you can actually invade friends’ virtual villages. The number of defending soldiers they have will determine if the invasion is successful. This is a feature called “Occupy.” If your attack succeeds, the you will gain your neighbor’s village as a colony and will be able to tax its food production. In order to stay in control, you must make sure you have enough troops to keep the villagers in line, while still keeping your home village safe.

This is where things get interesting, as the occupied player can invoke revolts to force their way free, and other friends can come and try to “Rescue” them. It gets better. Remember the special items from before? Well, these are used to construct tribal renditions of the world’s great wonders (e.g. Stonehenge). With each completed wonder, you will gain a special magic power that grows stronger as the associated building is upgraded (using more special materials).

Magic powers granted by your monuments can augment defensive capabilities, inflict casualties before attacking, increase the chances of breaking an occupation, and so on. When utilized, these spells consume a slowly recharging resource, “Magic Points.”

As fun as Little War can be, the level of complexity is directly related to how many neighbors you have and how well they work together. Because there does not appear to be a way to invade random users, all of these features are only available if your friends play. Adding users that aren’t friends is also risky, as you run the risk of being completely overpowered by significantly stronger players.

Even if you don’t accumulate a lot of neighbors quickly, Little War is a decent city building game. In fact, there are a number of solo-friendly tasks to complete, such as constructing certain buildings or killing monsters.

Little War has proven itself to be popular in its original Chinese form, with both a high DAU and MAU count. Based on our initial impressions, the newer, English version could also do well. However, most Western social games promote more cooperation than Little War and other Chinese games do, so despite the high production value and creativity, we can’t say for sure whether the English-language game will attract players.