Ace Gaming Apps With These 7 Strategies

Our expert tips will have you whacking aliens and rescuing princesses in record time

By John McMahon

Gaming apps have become incredibly popular for the iPhone. In fact, more games have been published for the iPhone than Wii, Xbox 360, and PS3 combined! Some of the most popular genres are strategy, role-playing, and tower defense, all of which I have significant weak spots for myself. The problem is that strategy games usually require so much… well, strategizing. The genre is well-known for copious amounts of skills, upgrades, and abilities. Don’t let your games outsmart you; read the 7 tips below to save yourself sore thumbs and hair loss.

Quantity, not quality

This advice is golden for your tower defense subgenre. Players easily get wooed by the max-level Uber Facemelt Tower (or other similarly impressive unit) that can blast away any creep in one shot. Those clever developers, however, recognize the appeal of having that tower and have devised a simple counter-measure; occasionally, a massive swarm of weak minions will flood your defenses and leave you helpless against sheer numbers. Fight fire with fire, and fill every available tower slot and upgrade evenly. Your swarm tactics will mow down endless waves of minions. This rule may be bent by utilizing a tower or unit with splash damage, giving you flexibility to handle the masses.

Passive abilities own

As an RPG fan, I absolutely love passive abilities. They may usually be obtained at the beginning of the game and stay with you throughout your adventure. In strategy games, passive abilities are often overlooked in favor of some fancy-pants explosive attack. Look beyond your two seconds of fame and see where you are now: That active ability is on cooldown and more enemies are coming. Active abilities also outlive their usefulness in certain stages of the game, but your faithful passive abilities remain by your side all the way through. I’m a sucker for increased critical hit chance.

Don’t Be a magefighterhealerthief

Once you pick a path, stick with it. There are very few role-playing games where hybridization is viable, and you don’t want to find out if what you’re playing is one of them. You want to wield a tree trunk and wear a metric ton of armor? Focus on your strength attribute. Maybe you prefer mastering the elements and wearing a dress – I mean, robe. Intelligence and wisdom are your best bets. You don’t see a thief that looks like Ahh-nold or a dwarf throwing fireballs. Why be good at a few things when you can be amazing at one thing? Very few things annoy me as much as seeing a warrior cast a heal spell. That’s just wrong.

Put all your eggs in one basket

Obviously, this rule is in direct conflict with “quantity, not quality.” Legos are great for toddler-level structures but not skyscrapers. Let’s be smart about this: You need to use discretion when employing this method, but when it works, it’s extremely satisfying. The best popular reference I can make is the Starcraft zergling rush or carrier mass. If you can destroy everything in one blow, who needs defense? This technique is best used in short levels or stages. Inevitably, something will come along that requires more than one attack and you might as well be naked, for all the protection you have. 

Spend wisely

Any good game will have you penny-pinching. We love the universal gaming currency that gold has become and we also love to spend it. Unfortunately, our spendthrift habits have carried over into our gaming and we often find ourselves a few coins short just when we need them the most. Don’t be a Scrooge, though; I’ve made the mistake of saving for that big purchase, only to be blown away by the next wave of enemies and having to start all over. Have a realistic idea of what you want your next purchase to be and aim for that.


Always spend your skill/attribute points and gold. Some players get emotionally attached to their stockpile of riches and are surprised when they can’t make a dent in the enemy’s defense. On other occasions, it’s simply forgetfulness that causes this lapse in judgment. Forgetting to upgrade your gear/units/towers/etc. can easily mean the difference between victory and defeat. Depending on the strategy you find appropriate, upgrading lends itself to the “put all your eggs in one basket” or “quantity, not quality” methods. Of course, always “spend wisely.”

Save, save, save

Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, will tick you off more than losing and having to restart at a checkpoint from four hours ago. This is a gaming best practice and should be widely used regardless of genre or device. Even if a game claims to auto-save, save manually if at all possible. Another great idea is to save in two separate slots or files in case one becomes corrupted. Strategy and RPG games have longer playtimes and storylines, making frequent saves a necessity.

– By John McMahon

About Erin Lang Masercola

As Business Unit Editorial Director at Beckett Media, I lead creative teams in technology, gaming, collecting, autos, home decor, outdoor sports, and more.

Posted on March 21, 2011, in iPhone, iPhone Apps and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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