Game Review – WWII Sandbox, Strategy and Tactics (iOS, Android)

WWII: Sandbox. Strategy and Tactics is the third (and worst titled) game in the Strategy and Tactics series for mobile platforms. The gameplay is basically the same as its predecessors, with a few additions and tweaks. This entry returns to WWII but forgoes the campaign design of the last two games and allows one to play as any country in the Second World War for as long as it takes them to win or lose (players can even play past “winning” until there are no more opponents to fight).

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The touch controls are the same as the last game, and work just fine. I’ve had no problems with responsiveness. The basic unit vs. unit abilities have remained essentially the same as the first WWII game, with the upgrade tree a little more well explained and fleshed out (I personally find this to be not worthwhile as upgrades are really only noticeable in battles with few units). There are a few tweaks and additions, though: reinforcements now have to appear in factory provinces, the upgrades can now be purchased with resources since there are no development points, the cost of paratroopers has been significantly increased, making them much less useful (but still very important), planes have been made both more expensive and more powerful, and most game-changingly, ships have been added along with water provinces for them to move on. These water provinces provide no resources, but the ships in them can battle each other, bombard coastal provinces, and block over-sea routes of attack for land troops.

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(I should mention before going on that I have the paid version. In the free version I believe everything I mention is unlockable, but it would take so long for players to complete the almost impossible tasks needed to unlock new features that it should be considered much more restricted. The free version is really a “try before you buy” kind of thing, especially since purchasing only a few upgrades in it would cost more than the paid version)

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The main draw of the game, though, is the sandbox game-play. Players could choose from any European country that was in the war, and, after updates, can now choose from most Asian countries that participated as well. When choosing a country, the player will also choose an objective. Completing this can end the game, or the player can choose to continue until they decide to stop or all enemy forces have been destroyed. This flexibility makes the game much more fun than the previous iterations and allows much more room for actual strategy and tactics when playing. The alliance system, while primitive (with three sides {Axis, Allies, and Communists} that can attack either other side but not countries allied with their side, and neutrals that can attack anyone and be attacked by anyone) also adds a bit more depth, and with that and the random occurrences of uprisings in certain provinces; weather preventing planes from being usable; and sabotage preventing resources from being produced and vehicles from moving, the game becomes much more involved and interesting.


The huge maps (the Asian one being almost entirely new), many countries, and long list of objectives for each country contribute quite a lot to make this game more replayable than the others. The game can be a little long, especially if one decides to continue after completing the objective or plays with a tiny country, but the game lends itself to interesting narratives (How did Estonia conquer all of Europe?) and that keeps the player more involved through the entire process, though some of the alliance choices do take one out of the story (Switzerland, Czechoslovakia, and the Baltics are Allies, Finland and Spain are Axis, Yugoslavia is Communist, and Austria is Neutral. Various other problems are in the Asian map). The events, such as coups where smaller states are annexed without being attacked, the uprisings where certain countries attack in random home provinces (or sometimes related ones, like New Ireland in the Asia map), the US Navy arriving in the Pacific, Countries changing alliances (Yugoslavia can declare neutrality, Ireland and Hungary can join the Communists, etc.), and the surrendering of countries (the Soviets being almost defeated in Asia will always lead to them being replaced by the Germans before being fully defeated) add more to the story than this takes away, though.


The story gets a lot more simple near the end of the game. The AI doesn’t scale based on how well you’re doing, so while playing as a small country like Portugal, Greece, or Estonia is challenging at first (Sometimes very challenging: I haven’t even figured out how to survive as the Netherlands!) by the time you start nearing the power level of some of the more powerful countries there is little that they can do to stop you. Especially since they like to put most of their resources into upgrading, which makes them more powerful in the count, but gives them many fewer units. The AI also plays overly cautiously. It’s afraid to commit large numbers of troops to a single breakthrough area, and will retreat when met with stubborn defense. This means most attacks when you start to get larger can be easily repulsed (It also means large battles like Germany or Japan vs. the Soviet Union can take quite some time to resolve without intervention) and if the player can form a wall of armies and manage the keep them relatively strong, they have created an unbreakable defense and unstoppable attacker. The large map allows for this fortified wall strategy a lot more in many places (less so in Asia, that is a more airplane- and ship-centric map), and when backed up with airplanes, the only thing that can beat it is rushing forward too fast, and even then with time the player can likely come back to their former position. The player also tends to be more objective based, targeting strategic provinces (which have targets) to destroy other countries, or targeting specific armies to surround and destroy, while the AI is more survival based, trying too keep as many armies alive as possible.

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The random events can be a problem at times too. When playing as Ireland my objective in a game was to take and hold London for a turn. But the oversea routes kept being blocked by storms, and by the time they weren’t, the British had become too powerful, and my landing operations in Spain and Scotland had failed. It took me until 1947 (the game starts in 1939) of mostly waiting to actually complete my objective (which also highlights how bad the AI is, since no human would have lost in that scenario).

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Despite some of these drawbacks, and the relatively simple gameplay, I quite like the epic quality of the game. It’s large (the map is larger than the large Europe map from the first game, extending into the Soviet Union, Scandinavia, and the British Isles. And the Asia Map is almost as large and mostly new), dynamic and interesting to watch even where one is not currently playing. Happenings on other fronts and random events keep players more in the game while they are waiting for units to heal or buying more troops, and can mean the difference between success and failure. The lack of a timer, settings for alliances (but without as much control as I would like), and large amounts of missions make this game very close to true to the title, a WWII sandbox. I like the stories one can create, I like the gameplay (though I wish there was a bit more depth to both it an the Diplomacy system), and most of all I like feeling like I’m in charge of a massive army on a massive chaotic battleground. This game is the game I wanted when I bought the first game, and I’m glad I finally got to play it. It still isn’t very complex (not a mini Hearts of Iron), but I haven’t found much more complex on mobile devices.

5 thoughts on “Game Review – WWII Sandbox, Strategy and Tactics (iOS, Android)

    • You can’t. If you turn on alliances, you are with a set group of other countries from the start of the game. Occasionally, there are random events that change the alliance of non-player countries.

    • I purchased the “full” version with all the countries unlocked, but from what I remember, unlocking different countries and objectives was simply done by completing different “win condition” objectives for available countries. It was just a grind.

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