Strategy and word games
The best strategy or word game for Android is... Mini Metro (£4.29)
Underground maps are beautiful things, and so it’s no surprise a game based on them looks wonderful. What is surprising is a strategy title focussed solely on passenger movement and carriage management is this compelling.
On selecting a location, stations periodically appear, and it’s your job to connect them. The snag: you’ve a limited number of lines and carriages, and if a single station becomes too overcrowded, the entire network closes.
Particularly on a tablet, Mini Metro’s mix of gorgeous ambience and increasingly demanding line juggling proves compelling. And even when it becomes frustrating, you’ll never get angry at it – unlike the real thing.
Card Thief (free + £2.99 IAP)
If you thought Hitman GO shook up stealth for mobile, Card Thief takes things a sneaky step further. Your arena of sorts is a deck of cards, dealt on to a three-by-three grid. During each turn, you tiptoe about, using stealth points to forge paths that involve grabbing loot, and aiming to avoid guards keen to hurl you into a cell.
The game initially lobs a load of tutorials your way, and perplexes with its many nuances. But if you stick around, you’ll learn new techniques and tactics with every game as the rules begin to click. Before long, you’ll be living your own life in the shadows – mostly so you can get away with playing more Card Thief on the sly.
If you’ve ever stared aghast at a hideous road junction and assumed you could do better, Freeways is ready to prove otherwise. It dumps you before dozens of screens, each empty bar the odd sign and building. Prod any of those and arrows detail where the traffic wants to go. Then it’s just a question of laying the roads.
The snag is concrete pours from your finger as you drag across the screen, with all the finesse of a toddler with a crayon. And although you can build bridges, you’ll sooner or later jam up your tiny network and have to start again. It sounds dull. It really isn’t. In fact, Freeways is one of the most weirdly compelling strategy games around.
Reigns: Game of Thrones (£3.19)
The original Reigns and sharply written sequel Reigns: Her Majesty were clever spins on kingdom management strategy. Everything was distilled to Tinder-like left/right swipes to respond to your subjects and enemies. In this mash-up with the HBO TV series, you get to claim the Iron Throne for as long as you can hold it as Jon “knows nothing” Snow, Cersei “learn to count to ten” Lannister, Daenerys “watch out for her dragon AIEEEEE!” Targaryen, and other claimants.
Throughout, you must balance the demands of the army, church, people, and bank, ensuring none become too angry or dominant. There’s surprising depth and cracking writing as you work your way through many moons, get horribly killed when winter arrives, and then have another go to discover more parts of the intricate puzzle-like narrative maze.