Pros:

  • Easy to get into
  • Simple mechanics
  • Crisp 2D graphics
  • No installation needed
  • No PvP makes for gradual and unending progression
  • Cooperative elements in a browser strategy title

Cons:

  • Time between actions is pretty long
  • Expensive premium currency
  • Monotonous tech tree
  • Lack of customization options
tl;dr – City builder browser game focused strictly on PvE and player cooperation.

Elvenar is a browser based fantasy strategy game by InnoGames. It was first launched on November 2014.

Gameplay

At its core, Elvenar is a city building game. Upon registering for the game, players have the option to choose from a human settlement or an elven settlement. This is mostly cosmetic, as both factions have similar unit types and structures. There are only 3 main resources: coins, supplies and knowledge. Coins and supplies are needed to build and upgrade both new units and structures. Knowledge is needed to research technologies to improve your base.

There are three basic structures in the game. Houses increase your population and your coin production. Workshops produce your supplies. And traders allow you to trade goods with the other players. To manufacture trade goods, you have to build a factory for that item. For example, you need a Marble Manufactory to generate a marble trade good item. You can also build cultural monuments which boosts your culture, increasing your coins and supplies production.

Researching is an important aspect of this game. Every hour, you gain a knowledge point which you can invest in a technology. A technology that has all of the knowledge points needed will unlock. By researching new technologies, it allows you to unlock new units or structures, expand your buildable area, or move up to the next age. There are multiple ages in this game, and as you move through the age, your buildings change appearance, reminiscent of Age of Empires games.

You can also gain knowledge points by scouting the world map. The world map is a hex grid with your settlement in the center. At the start of the game, only your settlement is visible, you have to send a scout to your neighboring hex grid to discover it. Scouting costs coins and takes time depending on how far it is from your settlement. Each discovered province has multiple events which you can solve by either fighting with the locals or negotiating with them (you lose some coins, supplies and trade goods). Completing these events give you knowledge points.

If you choose to fight, battle is done in a turn based hex grid system. Elvenar has multiple unit types you can use and these can be recruited by training them in the barracks. The unit types are fairly basic and cannot customize them beyond upgrading them by researching the necessary technologies. At the start of the game, your buildable area is pretty small. You can increase it by scouting and doing all the events in your neighboring province, researching the town expansion tech, or buying it with gems.

Unlike most strategy games for browsers, the game is focused squarely on fighting the game instead of other players. This makes it a lot easier to forgive elements that most would consider pay to win. In fact, it’s one of those few browser titles with real focus on cooperative elements

The Good

At the start, Elvenar is pretty fun and really easy to get into. The tutorial is great, properly guides you throughout the nuances, and the game’s mechanics are easy to grap. You can also move your buildings freely and at no cost, making rearranging your city a breeze. The graphics are also pretty nice for a flash game. The 2d graphic is crisp and the animation is fluid. But I think the best thing going for it is that it’s a browser based flash game, and as such, you play this on any pc without needing installation.

The Bad

Everything in this game, such as upgrading/building, takes time. At the earlier levels most actions takes an hour at most which isn’t a problem. The problem comes at the higher levels, everything requires hours to days of waiting. The only recourse to this is by spending gems. Unfortunately, these gems can only be purchased by real money and they are pretty expensive. Luckily since there’s no PvP it’s not a huge concern for most of the player base.

Also, while the game is touted as a browser based fantasy strategy game, there’s really nothing strategic you can do. For example, the tech tree, while pretty long, is just a monotonous rehash of the same technology over and over, just renamed. This is like playing older Civ games where your technology tree is only composed of future tech 1, future tech 2, etc. And that’s just not limited to technologies. There’s pretty much a severe lack of customization options everywhere. You’re pretty much railroaded into one path. Your only choice is to upgrade or to not upgrade, which I think you can agree isn’t really much of a choice.

Closing Thoughts

In the end, Elvenar is a decent city building game. While it is easy to get into, there’s not a ton of difficult decision making. Players looking for something deep may be disappointed, but the gradual growth is smooth. The lack of direct competition between players encourages cooperation and allows all players to slowly progress. It’s a decent idle game, so if you want something to play intermittently it is a good option.

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