A single-player, turn-based, divide-and-conquer strategy game featuring competing Girl Scout-esque cookie clubs.
Ever wonder what you’d need to take over the country? A few thousand tanks and a few million Rambos would probably do the trick, right? Wrong. Think bigger—and by bigger, I actually mean smaller, sweeter, and with more chocolate chips.
In Cookie Domination, America’s entered its second civil war. The dividing issue? Cookies. Five “cookie clubs” of little girls around the nation are determined to spread their confections from sea to shining sea, beating the snot out of each other while competing for the biggest market.
The game starts when you select which cookie club you’d like to control. Each club represents a different region of the United States: the Boston Young Achievers (nicknamed the “Nerds”) of New England, the Dixie Baby Belles (“Hicks”) of the South, the Kansas Rascal Dodgeball League (“Jocks”) of the Midwest, the Li’l Seattle Goths (“Goths”) of the Pacific Northwest and the South Beach Spirit Squad (“Cheer”) of the West Coast. Each club has its own look, as well as personalized weapons to use in their cookie-selling conquest. For example, the Nerds are outfitted in private school uniforms and glasses and fight with over-sized pens, while Cheer sports ponytails and ra-ra skirts and pummels with pom-poms.
After you’ve selected a club to support, the great divide-and-conquer battle of baked goods begins. Each level is an area of the country, presented as a map that’s further broken down into “neighborhoods.” There may be 20-40 neighborhoods on any given map. The general goal is to wrest control of the neighborhoods from rival cookie clubs. You assign girls to each neighborhood, who then attack adjacent neighborhoods. Typically, if yours contains more girls than the group you’re attacking, you win, and successfully take over the neighborhood. When you’re finished attacking, you may re-assign girls across your neighborhoods, especially to beef up defenses along your borders. It’s a lot like “Risk,” but replace the soldiers with brownie scouts who squeal “hip-hip hooray.”
When all is said and done, your enemy club(s) unleash their offense and distribute their arms as they see fit. On your next turn, you’ll be rewarded extra troops to add to your ranks. The more neighborhoods you conquered on your previous turn, the more troops you’ll be rewarded. If you conquer a neighborhood containing a school, your troop bonus will be extra big.
It’s an easy game to figure out, as you’re essentially just adjusting numbers. But strategizing is required, especially as the object can differ from map to map. You might have to simply take over all the neighborhoods, or only take over those in a designated area that might be surrounded by heavy defenses. You might have to invade an enemy HQ that’s located in a particularly difficult-to-access neighborhood, or capture an enemy club’s flag and return it to your own HQ. You can even teleport from one end of the map to the other via a bus stop.
Another thing the game does well is its presentation. The girls deliver some funny lines in between scenes. In one, the Goths sneer at the Nerds, telling them, “Will your computers and spreadsheets save you from the bleak darkness of mortality? I think not.” Cheer taunts Goth: “Go cry over some bad poetry.”
A potential con is the game’s difficulty level. Gameplay is fairly easy and formulaic, but might develop strategizing skills for younger gamers. Another downside is the occasional tedium, especially when waiting for computer-controlled players to take their turns—a common annoyance in games. It’s also slightly annoying to press the “fast forward” button during each battle scene to speed up the combat animation, as you will most likely do. (FYI, you can fix this in the game’s “Options” menu.)
Despite the moderate challenge, there is replay value in different achievements you can accrue. You’ll be rewarded trophies if you fulfill certain conditions: the “Invincible” trophy for defending five attacks with one neighborhood, the “Fast Track” trophy for winning a map in five turns, among others (17 in total). You can also beat the game with all five cookie clubs, allowing you to win more trophies, compete in more maps and be treated to the girls shooting off more zingers.
Overall, Cookie Domination is a funny, breezy take on the traditional war strategy game well-suited to casual gamers. Moral of the story: The next time a smiley second-grader comes to your door peddling Thin Mints, be wary of what the sprat’s capable of. Cookies are dangerous business.