There have always been two types of word game.
The first is the noodly kind, where the timing of your actions doesn’t matter a jot. If you find ‘boring’ before ‘tedious’ in your wordsearch book, yay for you. But then there are the Scrabbles of this world, drenched in strategy, and their mobile-gaming offshoots, which add to the mix Risk-style land-grabs.
By contrast, Nimblebit’s Capitals is far more focused on making a play for territory, and in many ways it’s all the better for it.
Terrain in vain
A game begins in an empty white void, your and an opponent’s hexagonal capitals surrounded by letters. Any of these letters can be used as a word for submission, but only those adjacent to your existing territory enable it to expand.
The aim is total domination, but once your territories meet, Capitals becomes a fierce squabble for terrain — a tug o’ war of words that would likely result in board-flips if you were playing on a table.
Fortunately, unless you’re playing a local two-player game, you have the relative safety of the internet on your side (matches are made via Game Center), and can therefore march directly into your friend’s territory with a cunningly placed ‘quixotic’, before gleefully chuckling when they only manage to fend you off from directly around their capital with a rubbish ‘tent’.
And your opposite number’s capital is an important and cunning addition to this game. It’s captured when you happen to make a word linked from your territory that ends up adjacent to their capital. You then get an extra go — and since obliteration is the name of the game, that gives you a chance to wipe out their tiles entirely.
There’s no barrier to entry — the game is free to download and try. Run out of ‘lives’ (you get three) and you can watch an ad, buy 10 more for 79p, or just admit you’re a bit obsessed and spend £8 on eradicating the life counter entirely. That larger figure might lead to some eyes popping out on stalks, but we’d frankly rather devs actually have the opportunity to make some money out of their mobile games, especially when they’re as good and endlessly replayable as Capitals.
Capitals is free to download on the App Store, and works on any iOS device running iOS 8 or newer.