Are you bored of being bored with the game selection on your iPhone, iPad and/or Mac? Do you crave a game with infinite replay-ability—that’s never the same twice? That takes some strategy to master? That can be played solo or multiplayer? How about a game that can be played in as quick as 1 minute or can last over half an hour? A game that is completely free?
If you’ve answered yes to any or all of the above, you need to try Galcon 2.
Galcon 2 is the latest in a long line of “swarming” spaceship games from indie developer Phil Hassey. As you may have guessed by the game’s name, the point of the game is to take over the galaxy—to conquer it. Phil’s website describes it as a demolition derby in space.
I’ve been playing Galcon, in one version or another, for several years now. It’s highly addicting. So much so that I have uninstalled the game (only to reinstall it a day later) in order to keep it from taking over my life too many times to count.
Galcon is, by definition, a competitive game. While there is a solo mode, I never play it. The solo campaign is best for teaching beginning players the basics of the game and for practicing against the AI. Eventually, as players improve their skills, the computer just becomes too easy to beat.
The robust multiplayer action is why I, along with many other dedicated members of the Galcon community, keep coming back. I love pitting my own mind against another opponent. It’s why multiplayer on Halo is one of my favorite things in life. In Galcon’s multiplayer arena, you can battle from one to twelve opponents simultaneously.
Part of what makes multiplayer on Galcon awesome is the ability to chat with other players. If chat didn’t exist, I think this game would die. There are so many multiplayer games in the App Store that don’t allow for any type of player-to-player communication, which is a shame. The ability to taunt, congratulate, mislead and psych-out other players is half the game.
And here’s the crazy part: Galcon 2 works on iPhones, iPads and Macs. There aren’t separate multiplayer arenas for each device, however; a person on a phone or tablet can play with people on a desktop or laptop in the same game. This is part of what makes the Galcon community so robust.
At it’s core, Galcon is played by using your finger (on an iOS device) or your mouse to send spaceships from one or more of your planets to another (either your own or an enemy’s). In general, you want to get as many planets as you can as planets produce ships and build your fleet.
Different players prefer to play on different devices (assuming you have a choice). I personally find that I can play faster on a touchscreen (and in this game, speed can make all the difference). As a side note, a player who goes by the name of MAFL is infamous within the community for having said, “PC ships are faster.” It has become a recurring joke since obviously all ships travel at the same speed.
Galcon 2 contains a number of various game modes to help keep things interesting. Free-for-all, or FFA, is the game’s default mode. FFA is quite simple: it’s every player for themselves.
Teams is one of the game’s most popular modes. As you have probably guessed, players team up in this mode to do battle. Team sizes can be as small as two players or as large as six. Team games tend to be a bit faster paced and provide a good way for players to 1.) learn from others, 2.) beat better players they normally couldn’t on their own and 3.) gain experience points faster. Two players in particular seem to love Teams mode: Tycho2 and chrispduck.
Galcon 2 contains a 1-vs-1 mode, called Eliminator, that is one of my favorites. In older versions of Galcon, two players could choose to play each other in an FFA room and this was known as 1-vs-1. It was fun, but the planet layouts were random which often gave one player an advantage. In Galcon 2, the Eliminator mode fixes this by allowing players to play from identical sides of the map (symmetry mode). That means that the better, faster, smarter player will win these matches. Eliminator also makes it so that several players can play 1-vs-1 games in the same lobby. For instance, if there are 12 players, 6 groups of 2 players will play each other and then the winners of those matches will play each other (while those who have lost look on) and so on until there is one final champion.
And this leads me to Yusuke. As far as I am concerned, Yusuke is the undisputed 1-vs-1 champion of Galcon and perhaps the very best player of the game in any mode. If you play the game semi-regularly for a week or two, you’re bound to hear people talk about Yusuke—or see him playing in-person. I’ve played plenty of games with Yusuke and he’s very, very fast. Not unbeatable, mind you, but brilliant none-the-less. I almost hate to say that because Yusuke is also one of the most arrogant people I’ve ever run into (which leads to many hilarious chat conversations).
Frenzy is a new game mode introduced in Galcon 2 that starts players off with multiple planets at the beginning of each game, rather than the standard single planet setup while Billiards mode sets the planets in motion.
While Galcon 2 is completely free-to-play, it does offer a number of interesting in-app purchases (IAPs) that allow players to customize the look and feel of their forces. None of these upgrades changes how effective your ships or planets are in battle—they merely enhance the look of your fleet. To make an IAP you’ll need to convert your real money into Galcoins. Some IAPs range from pretty inexpensive (such as picking a permanent planet and ship color) to pretty darn expensive (like picking a non-standard planet type, such as Lava). I don’t have hard numbers, but it looks to me like most people who purchase upgrades do so to change the look of their ships from the standard triangle shape to something more unique (like a rocket ship, a line or even a square).
While I’m on the subject of customizable ships, this is a good time to mention the season items that the games developer likes to add to the game from time to time. Around Valentines players could change their ships to hearts. Around St. Patrick’s, players could do battle with shamrock-shaped ships. Around Christmas is was candy canes. This is one of the ways that Phil helps to keep things interesting.
Becoming an “admin” of a your own server and being able to choose your own settings (and who you play with) is also an available in-app purchase.
Part of the fun of Galcon is ranking up. Every player has a flag next to their name that denotes their rank. A pink, yellow or green flag means you are a beginner in skill level. A red or blue flag means you are improving. A blue flag with one, two, three or four stripes means you’re one of the better players in the game. You earn stripes based on how many wins you have versus other players of same or better rank. Your rank can degrade if you lose to players with lesser ranks. Players who win tournaments are given “wings” behind their flags (more on tournaments in a moment) and players who play a lot earn stars. The best players in the game have 4-striped blue flags, multiple wings and multiple stars. It can take A LOT of playing to reach this level.
There are two Galcon 2 features that really make the game more playable: friends and clans. The friending system lets you add people as friends (or accept friend requests) which in turn allows you to see if someone you like playing against is playing in a particular server/room. So, if you’re a good player and you like playing other good players, not only can you do so, but you can play people you are already familiar with.
Clans allow groups of players to pool resources and take over the galaxy together. Clans are started by chiefs, members can donate Galcoins to clans (which can be used to hold tournaments) and clans are ranked for everyone to see within the game. Some clans are very hard to get into (aka exclusive, with 30 or so members) while others are very inclusive and accept anyone (and contain hundreds of members). Personally, I’ve chosen to be in a smaller, more prestigious clan full of a handful of other really good players: some of the best (and no, it’s not Yusuke’s clan—my clan is better).
I touched on how competitive Galcon can be earlier, but now it’s time to talk about tournaments—the ultimate way to gain supremacy in Galcon. Clan members use donated Galcoins to host tournaments for different price amounts ranging from 500 Galcoins up to several thousand Galcoins. Whichever member purchases/holds a tournament gets to set the rules (as they become that tournament’s admin): game mode, number of planets, planet symmetry, etc. The admin can admin other players, can kick players out, can mute their chat ability, can set a timer to limit game length and more. It’s fun to host a tournament in Galcon, but it’s even more fun to win. Winning a tournament can be quite difficult—especially those that offer a large purse sine more skilled players tend to join those. Admins can decide whether to award 1 player with a trophy/place or many—it’s completely up to them (and it’s possible to have tie games).
But tournaments aren’t the only way to win Galcoins. There is also a built-in betting system which lets players bet on themselves or other players. If you are confident that you will win a round, you can place a bet of anywhere from 50-5,000 Galcoins (or more, if you’re really daring or rich). In order to win coins at least one other player must place a bet.
Galcon is one of those games that is easy to play—easy to learn the controls and mechanics—but more difficult to master. But, luckily for you, there is a bustling forum where players are very active sharing tips and strategies, ideas for improvements, stats and data and much more. If you have any sort of question, the forum is the place to go.
Finally, let me say a word about a few of the active players in Galcon. Like I said, the community is excellent and very active and remains so year after year. There are many players I have come to enjoy playing with, so let me mention a few of them here so that if you see them in-game you can say, “Hey,” or at least know you are playing with someone who knows what they are doing:
Shimon, Yusuke, GooDy, Yodigity514, BLACK5535, esparano, t2nerb, EVIL_genius, NSE_monsta, ausdiemaus67, j1clique, skiddoo, GooZok, Hobbes95, Tycho2, zeropoint, JoRgELoRa, OhmSweetOhm, oculterito, harpwn, monguesto, Cruser12, biwillia, eduardozrp, milkyway, bartbender, Doomster, and Terces.
Why are you still reading this? Go download Galcon 2 right now!