Want the satisfaction of a turn-based strategy game, but without the huge time investment they typically ask of you? The Hundred Year Kingdom has your back. One hundred turns, one hundred years—that’s all you get to build a thriving civilization from nothing. A single game will rarely run more than half an hour, but it’s remarkable how much satisfaction there is in this short-form strategy premise.
The Hundred Year Kingdom eschews complexity in favour of something deceptively simple. Playing out on a six-by-six grid, each turn lets you pick one action to undertake: develop an undeveloped tile, upgrade a developed one, or do nothing. Each structure generates resources each turn (food, production, and culture), and each new development costs a set amount of the same to build. The goal, then, is to try to rack up your per-turn production, so that when your hundred years are up, you leave behind a civilization with full coffers and happy people.
This framework may seem basic at first, but there’s a surprising amount of depth and a puzzle-like quality to the whole thing. Each structure can branch off in different directions that prioritise different resources: an empty plain can turn into either a farm for food, or a mine for production; the farm can then become either a farm estate (more food) or a pasture (a split of food and production), and so on. By the late game, there’s enough variety to make a satisfying puzzle of balancing resource needs with the limited space available.
Wonders and natural phenomena throw another wrinkle into this mix. The former are the final forms of each building branch, which not only generate a huge amount of resources on their own, but boost the affects of certain other constructs—the catch is that you can only build one of each wonder. At the same time, things like mountains and oceans have (often detrimental) effects on surrounding tiles, while also providing unique bonuses and shortcuts to some late-tree builds.
The result is a game that grows surprisingly complex the more you dig into its nuances. Early games tend to revolve around sort-of-random building placement and an effort to cast a wide net and have one of everything. That’ll work okay (especially on the relatively easy maps available from the jump), but it’s far more effective to think ahead—like, way ahead—to what kind of wonders you want to build, what’s going to work well on your current map, and think about what’s going to work best with this.
The Hundred Year Kingdom doesn’t have a specific win condition or fail state; you’ll play your hundred turns, one way or another. Instead, it’s all about scoring: the amount of resources you’ve managed to collect by the end of a game determines how well your civilization will thrive in your absence, and in turn, a final rating of your success as a guiding hand. Chasing higher scores works well as a little extra incentive to play better—though the intrinsic satisfaction of the game loop is its own driver for improvement—but for something more tangible, there’s a gradual drip-feed of unlockable buildings, new maps, and a light levelling system for the goddesses who support you with various bonuses.
It can be a little rough around the edges, though. The goddesses who feature so prominently in promotional materials have surprisingly little presence in the game itself, save a few passive bonuses and annoying tendency to offer words of encouragement each turn that feel slightly patronising (and get very repetitive, even in the space of a single game). Their designs are nice enough—anime-style renditions of goddesses like Freyja, Gaia, and Arianrhod, and their portraits balance nicely with the pixel-art playing field, but they feel like a missed opportunity for something more substantial. I’ve also run into the occasional random snippet of untranslated dialogue, which isn’t the end of the world given the dialogue isn’t great to begin with, but it’s jarring all the same.
Even so, The Hundred Year Kingdom has become my go-to when I want a quick little game to unwind with before bed (that inevitably ends up keeping me up way later than I should, because of that “one more turn!” itch). It’s pocket-sized strategy game whose minimalist systems hide a surprising amount of depth and soothing, satisfying way of scratching that civilization-building itch.
The Hundred Year Kingdom
Developer: kaeru-san games
Publisher: Chorus Worldwide Games
Genre: Turn-based strategy
A review copy was provided to Shindig by the publisher.