The Battle of Polytopia

What is it
The Battle of Polytopia (or simply, “Polytopia”) is a free (ad-free as well) turn-based mobile strategy game.

Who is it for

Winning the game requires some strategic thinking and there is some very mild cartoon violence (about as much violence as in a game of chess) so I would put the lower limit around 7 years old. It’s fun for adults as well, so no upper limit on age.

If you or your child is a fan of Age of Empires, Civilization, or similar resource-management, leveling-up, strategic conquest kinds of games, this is the same but simplified, optimized, and minimized so that you can play on a small screen.

What Kids Like

The game is very addictive. The gameplay is very well-balanced so “just getting by” is possible with some effort but really winning can be tough.

The graphics are very appealing.

What Parents Like

I like that it’s free, with no ads. Too many games (even many paid ones) are full of ads. Polytopia makes revenue by charging for the online multiplayer option or for letting a player buy a tribe that is unavailable in the free version. The game clearly states that the multiplayer option requires spending “real money” so kids won’t be tricked into thinking that they can get it via credits earned in-game.

You can still play “hot-seat” multiplayer games for free, handing the device back and forth in a way that feels like playing chess.

And the game is just fun, very well-polished and balanced in a way few other mobile games are.

What the Critics Think

Apple/iOS/iTunes gives it 4.7/5 stars

as does the Google/Android Play store

The Battle of Polytopia wins gold in Lovie Awards 2018

The game has attracted a large following and there is now a subreddit and a fan wiki

Concerns/Flaws

Being free and ad-free, I have none of the usual complaints about the apps I let my children use. The theme is of conquest, so there is the suggestion of violence, but not more than you have in chess or checkers, or even tic-tac -toe.

The only real complaint is that in fitting a complex game into a simple mobile-friendly interface, the developers packed a lot of detail into the little isometric tiles. You sometimes have to look very closely to see where your players are.

Who Made it / History

Polytopia was made by a Swedish developer and released in 2016.

From the wiki:

The Battle of Polytopia, formerly known as Super Tribes, is a turn-based world-building strategy game developed by Midjiwan AB. The player leads one of fourteen Tribes to conquer a square-shaped world by capturing Cities. Cities earn Stars that can be used to research Technology, train Units to engage in Combat, and develop the surrounding Terrain to gain Population. Be warned, however: the more Cities that are added to the empire, the higher the cost of technological research… and the greater the area that must be protected from the endless onslaught of the other tribes!

You may play in Single player, where the goal of the game is either to gain the highest possible score in 30 turns (Perfection), or to destroy all opposing tribes (Domination).

Alternatively, you could engage in a local multiplayer “Pass & Play” with your friends, or connect with them online and play games from the comfort of your homes!

Where Can I Get it

iTunes for iOS

Google Play store for Android

and Steam will have a desktop version in ‘early 2019’

Games World of Puzzles


Games Magazine has been around for 40 years. I was around 8 when I started getting it. I couldn’t do most of the puzzles in there but enjoyed the ones I could, and strived to do better each issue and try new puzzles. The format of the magazine has changed quite a bit since those early days and gone are some of my favorite sections, such as the Hidden Content. Also, they have since merged with World of Puzzles magazine to become ‘Games World of Puzzles’.

But the magazine is still the single source for puzzles by the best puzzle designers in the country. No other magazine or website comes anywhere close to having the wealth of styles and quality as Games.

They have finally updated their website where you can get a sense of what the issues are like.

Games Magazine - Games World of Puzzles

An issue typically has lots of standard pencil puzzles (crosswords) more challenging ‘cryptic crosswords’ (like the kind you see in the Times of London) and unique puzzles such as solo battleships and many others. There are also brain teasers, logic puzzles. And also game reviews (both board and electronic) and contests. There are also usually two pages devoted to kids’ games, which are easier versions of some of their standard puzzles.

It’s a magazine that can sit on the coffee table for weeks with something for just about everyone in the family. An annual subscription is a good gift for a precocious child, and is a good alternative to videogames.

Because You Are My Baby

This is a book that I thought would get ignored on the shelf, but the kids ask for it at bedtime every now and then.

I had thought the sentiment was too sappy, especially for the older ones, but I think there are two reasons they like it:

• The illustrations (Marcellus Hall) are a lot of fun, with lots of details to look at, and they help convey a sense of adventure: deep-sea diving, space travel, etc.

• When the kids have a frustrating day at school or with friends, or feel jealous of a sibling, they like a cuddle and a story that reminds them that they are loved, even though they wouldn’t admit it.

This is a good, solid bedtime book.

Star Wars

We don’t have any Star Wars-related suggestions at Matchstick. I loved Star wars as a kid, and had the figures and the trading cards, and spent hours drawing T.I.E. fighters and X-Wings, but as a movie and a concept and a universe, Star Wars is candy. I loved Star Wars when I was a child, but I loved Cap’n Crunch, too. I won’t let my kids eat that stuff now.

Kids love Star Wars and many adults are nostalgic for it, but the movies and books and games and other merchandise is fun without having anything redeeming about it. If anything, the big lesson of the Star Wars stories is that all problems can be solved with magic and/or fighting. Watch any kids after watching one of the movies and all they want to do is hit each other with sticks. It’s odd to see kids’ backpacks at school, many of which have images of stormtroopers with blaster rifles running and shooting – not the kind of imagery normally allowed or encouraged at schools.

One could argue that Star Wars gets kids interested in Space, but I would argue that it actually perverts interest in Space because kids would much rather watch a version of space that manages to have sound effects in a vacuum, where vehicles can travel from one planet to another in a few minutes.

I don’t hate Star Wars (although episode VII was merely poorly-implemented fan ficton) and I let my kids play with the toys from the 70s that my mom saved in the attic for all these years, but I don’t push it and don’t have any Star Wars-related book or toy recommendations. There are plenty of more meaningful, educational, and dare-I-say ‘wholesome’ stories out there.