Subterfuge is a real time strategy game in the very strictest sense. The description claims that matches can take up to a week to finish, and it requires diplomacy as much as it does strategic mastery. As you can probably imagine, itâ€™s not exactly all itâ€™s cracked up to be.
The way to win a game of Subterfuge is to be the first player to accumulate a total of 200 â€śNeptunium.â€ť Or be the last one standing. Of course itâ€™s a little more complicated than that when you factor in things like taking over factories to produce larger fleets of submarines, hiring specialists to give you various advantages and perks, send groups of subs out to conquer new areas, and conspiring with other players behind everyone elseâ€™s back. Assuming any players opt in to the whole diplomacy thing, anyway.
Most of Subterfuge is simply figuring out how many subs to send where, while occasionally throwing a specialist into the mix. Whatâ€™s interesting and simultaneously irritating about this is that it takes hours (I mean hours) of real time for them to reach their destination. On the one hand this means that you can jump in and issue orders at your leisure, with no real pressure to play on anyoneâ€™s schedule but your own. On the other hand it can take upwards of eight hours for something to happen.
Despite the complexities of being a strategy game thatâ€™s played in real real time, Subterfuge is actually quite easy to play. Tapping on a location you own and then dragging to another location will create a straight path for your subs to follow, while a dial that pops up can be used to decide how many to send. From there itâ€™s simply a matter of having more subs or a higher overall combat value than your target in order to take it over. But as simple as it is to physically play, it could still benefit from an improved tutorial – preferably one that explains one or two more complex strategies such as staggering sub launches to circumvent certain specialistsâ€™ abilities.
On the topic of advanced strategies, I canâ€™t say Iâ€™m fond of how players who donâ€™t pony up the $9.99 for â€śLevel 2 Security Clearanceâ€ť are limited to a total of four preset orders. I do like that itâ€™s possible to create a sort of schedule of orders for your forces – things like telling a fleet to travel from point to point in succession rather than having to jump into the game every time they reach a waypoint – but limiting your options to a total of four while players who pay can queue up as many as theyâ€™d like feels a little unfair.
Subterfuge is a fairly entertaining game for what it is, even with its quirks. I canâ€™t say Iâ€™m particularly into the idea of spending another week+ shuffling submersibles around an abstract map but I can definitely see how it might appeal to others. Iâ€™d say if you like your strategy to be heavy on the real time stuff thereâ€™s no harm in giving it a look.