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Supercell's Boom Beach sticks close to the basic formula established by mega-hit predecessors Clash of Clans and Hay Day, but it brings an enticing new combat system that grants you greater control over your own fate. It's war of oceanic proportions, as you work to liberate the natives of one island after another from the evil Blackguard (as well as from rival players).
Your goals boil down to two needs: keeping your headquarters protected from invaders—with help from an assortment of mines, defensive buildings, and strategic placement—and building up an army strong enough to take down the headquarters of any island not under your control.
These core goals are backed by secondary ones; you need gold and wood (and later, also iron and stone) to build stuff and pay for new units, or to explore more of the map. Resources come at a trickle of x per hour from a variety of sources, but must be manually banked with a multitude of taps on the screen, leading to the kind of busywork that's become standard in casual games post-Farmville.
Boom Beach's battles are where the magic happens. You get control over where and when each landing vessel drops off its personnel—which will be some multiple of one of the half-dozen unit types—and you have a gunship to help direct your troops around, heal them, and shoot missiles at enemy buildings. Such interactions make for tense viewing, and these concessions keep you engaged and invested in the action from landing to retreat/victory/defeat.
But there's not a lot of playing in Boom Beach, really. You'll spend a few minutes banking resources and upgrading and building new units or buildings (only one at a time, sadly), fight a few skirmishes to reclaim lost villages or beat down newly-discovered foes, and then return to whatever it is you were doing outside the game. You can subvert the system with diamonds, so that everything happens instantly, though that'll cost you a fortune in real money—especially as the prices increase exponentially with each level. It’s ultimately a stellar example of habitual, piecemeal gaming, for better or worse.
The bottom line. Boom Beach continues Supercell’s fight for your wallet in a solid, yet unspectacular freemium combat strategy game that rewards the patient and meticulous.
iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 7.0 or later
Fun and strategic battle/combat system. No paywalls, so long as you’re patient. Huge number of island bases to attack. Non-player island bases are creatively designed.
Many of the build and upgrade timers are very long. Limited benefit to creative player base designs. Diamonds are hard to come by after an initial influx.