Mushroom Wars 2 is a basic strategy game where you need to capture buildings to generate your troops, those troops are then sent on a one way mission to claim the opposition’s real estate and ultimately overwhelm them. There are some special buildings available that help with defence or support but in the end, this game comes down to the numbers, meaning the largest army almost always wins.
The day is October the 20th, a day which later would be remembered as the start of the Great Fungi Conflict of 2017. This was not just a simple misunderstanding between nations, it was the biggest war since the Truffle Uprising of 1862.
I was in my study, contemplating the meaning of it all and why I was placed in this particular garden, when I heard the faint rumblings of a great number of footsteps in the distance. I’ve been dreading this day, when those fat faced Portabello’s would no longer be satisfied with their corner of the garden. Never mind that they already claimed the largest puddles from the last rainfall, now they’ve come to claim ours too. They were always a restless bunch and their king is an imbecile who is driven more by greed than sense.
The time for peace has come to an end. I behold my polished armor and face the very real possibility that it might be the last the last thing I’ll ever wear. My wife peeks, teary eyed, around the corner as I prepare for the battles to come, broken hearted at the fact that she might need tor aise our young Shiitake’s by herself. But I cannot let that flood my thoughts, I have a duty to my people to keep them all safe. With sword in hand, I will defend my country and vanquish our enemies.
Mushroom Wars 2 is available now on Steam
The reality of Mushroom Wars 2 is far less dramatic than the picture I painted above. Each battlefield represents a portion of the garden you have to claim. Your soldiers are made up of tiny mushroom men, armed with pointy swords. Rather disturbingly, the buildings scattered around each map are also mushrooms. Either these are built by the mushroom people to look like mushrooms or those among the common folk who become obese are simply slaughtered and turned into living space.
Regardless, when a building is under your control it starts generating troops. You then select a building and point the soldiers to another to send them marching out. If you already own the targeted building then you’ll simply strengthen your numbers there, but those under enemy or neutral control will come under siege. This is where the numbers game begins, i.e. the largest army will be victorious. A slider on the left side of the screen lets you choose the percentage of the troops you’re sending into battle so you can split your forces to match your strategy.
At the start of each level you set out to capture as many neutral mushrooms as possible, to help increase your numbers. The buildings have various levels which determine the rate at which they regenerate your troops. A building can then be upgraded at the cost of troops, 5 to get to level 2, then 10, 20 and so on. An upgraded building will sprout smaller mushrooms to the side which once again brings into question the sanity of it all. Are those soldiers you gave up for the upgrade sacrificed and turned into building blocks or were they simply absorbed by the structure around them?
In addition to the warrior spawning mushrooms, you also have defensive towers to capture. These fire at any enemy stupid enough to come within range. Upgrades are again available which increases the rate of fire.
Then we come to the final structure which looks like a little laboratory. Capturing these provides some support for your men and makes them stronger in battle. In addition, you can also use the morale system to help your troops perform. This star based system increases every time you successfully defend one of your own structures or conquer one of the enemy’s, and decreases when the opposite happens.
As we all know, mushrooms just love flexing their muscles and showing off their physical prowess. I frequently break up fights in my pantry when the cans of mushroom soup get a little rowdy. Even so, Mushroom Wars 2 calls in the services of fungal sorcerers, to make those mushy meatheads realize that the brain is still the strongest muscle in the body. Before each match you can select your magical hero which determines which abilities you’ll have available. The first available hero lets you cast iron armour on your buildings to fend off an imminent attack, increase the speed or morale of your troops or convert any enemy buildings that have been left unguarded.
The game provides some variety to keep the fighting interesting but since most of the outcomes are determined by sheer numbers, there is an inevitable tipping point in each match that you cannot come back from. The start of the game is always a rush to claim as many neutral buildings as possible, after that you need to take over those claimed by your enemy and once you have about 70% of the available buildings, it becomes near impossible for the tides to turn.
The campaign takes you through a series of fights against the AI, each of which can be played in several difficulty levels. Playing on easy lets you see how many enemy soldiers are hiding in each building and also gives you a warning to indicate which one of your buildings is going to be attacked when the enemy approaches. When playing on more difficult levels not only increases the skill of the AI but also takes away some of this vital information, leaving you fighting blind. The entire first campaign is a slowly progressing tutorial which takes forever to complete. I’m all for a detailed tutorial but having you play 3 or 4 matches to master one additional feature seems excessive.
Next we have an online PvP mode which is surprisingly detailed for such a simple game. They’ve even gone as far as including a ladder system that will match you with players of similar skill.
Finally you can set up custom matches where you can select the number of players, whether those players are real or AI and you can choose from a range of 29 available maps.
While working on this review I had some unfortunate Internet problems which had me play Mushroom Wars 2 with Steam in offline mode most of the time. While I can’t be sure, I highly suspect this is the reason why my game progress was frequently not saved, which had me replay the same maps several times.
I was also unable to test the custom game mode due to the AI not responding during match setup and thus the match never starting.
The game itself doesn’t look like anything remarkable. The simple game mechanics are reflected in the design, both visual and audio. However, between matches you are treated to some masterful artwork, some of which I’ve included in this review.
Years ago, I came across a Flash based browser game named Civilization Wars which I played whenever I had a few spare minutes in front of my computer. I loved Civilization Wars and despite its simplicity, I ended up playing through the campaign several times. The gameplay in Mushroom Wars 2 is an exact replica of those I found in Civilization Wars so obviously, I took an immediate liking to it and my expectations were high from the start.
In large part, I was not disappointed but the game is not without its flaws though. I might only have picked up two technical bugs but as far as bugs go, not saving the player’s progress and not initiating one of the few game modes are some biggies. Additionally, despite utilizing a style of gameplay I enjoy, I soon grew bored marching my band of mushroom hooligans across the map. I was unable to test the online play, and while I suspect it would be entertaining to take on your friends, even this I suspect would grow old rather quickly.
If you’re looking for something to occupy some brief periods of boredom you might be suffering from then Mushroom Wars 2 will do just that but don’t expect to lose hours of your life here.