Shocking gaming confession: I’ve never played an ANNO game. They’ve always looked cool, but daunting. Like a medieval SimCity with a dash of Civilization — and while I love both of those games, adding another large scale strategy experience into my repertoire just seemed kind of terrifying.

Thanks to Ubisoft, I’ll now be able to stick my toe in the shallow end to test the waters and see if it’s for me, and at absolutely no cost. (thanks, free-to-play!) ANNO: Build an Empire has just soft launched on the iPad in Canada, and is destined for a worldwide release at some point in the inevitable future.

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Thanks to my total lack of experience with the franchise, I’m going to let the game’s official press release do the talking for me:

ANNO: Build an Empire offers the original ANNO experience, requiring players to plan ahead and fulfil residents’ requests in order to develop and grow a powerful city. Players have complete control in choosing how to grow and operate their city and the most determined players can manage multiple islands at the same time while establishing flourishing trade routes with your neighbours. To boost the competitive level, players can challenge and invite friends to take part in this new ANNO adventure.

Consider me intrigued! If you are too (and don’t live in Canada), here’s a quick primer on how to get a Canadian iTunes account of your own. Once you’ve convinced Apple you’re an authentic Canuck, grab ANNO: Build an Empire from the App Store here.