Developer: Yibin Huang
Price: $0.99
Version: 1.1.1
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★½☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Economics can have a surprising impact on a game. How much something costs can directly effect how often players use it, or if they use it at all in the first place. It can effect whether or not they attempt to upgrade something rather than saving up for something stronger. Entire strategies can be changed simply because an item requires a certain amount of gold to purchase. And it’s economics that make Magic Craft: The Hero of Fantasy Kingdom so intriguing.

Magic Craft shares many commonalities with most other tower defense games. Enemies move along a set path toward the castle, players must construct defenses (in this case hire soldiers, archers, etc) to keep them at bay, and enemy waves get progressively tougher. What’s immediately different is that peasants must be hired first and foremost. Once they’ve been placed, then they can be trained into effective combat units. Once a level is complete a certain number of stars is earned (up to three) which can then be used to upgrade various things like unit affordability, starting cash, special ability power, and so on.

It took some getting used to at first, especially because I never noticed anything explaining the whole peasant thing, but the way cash flows in Magic Craft adds a whole new dynamic to the tower defense formula. Peasants can be absolutely essential to success. They might be completely useless at attacking anything, but they generate gold as well as harvest special resource points during each wave that can really help to flesh out defenses in the long run. Another interesting twist is that every time another unit (i.e. two archers, three soldiers, etc) is created its cost goes up. In other words the more wizards or whatever a player uses on a map, the more they’re going to cost. It really forces one to think much more carefully about placement and diversity.

The lack of any real explanation about unit creation is a bit of a shame, but the real problem I’ve been having with Magic Craft is the fairly typical issue of a misread tap. There have been levels where I’ve placed a peasant in the wrong spot multiple times, often having to sell him and try again due to tight finances. Which isn’t all that cool when they sell for half of what I paid for them two seconds prior as the game highlighted the wrong spot.

It’s funny how Magic Craft: The Hero of Fantasy Kingdom seems like such a mundane and typical tower defense game on the surface, but feels quite unique once the action starts. It still takes some adjustment and doesn’t always register taps correctly but it’s an impressive amount of strategic fun.

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