Ikariam is a world of islands. Not in the way that “every man is an island”, or that your planet in OGame is an island in a sea of stars, but literal islands. Each island hosts a number of cities and mines that are separate from the rest of the world, and the way these cities interact, and interact with other islands, is very unique to Ikariam and makes a fascinating Online Strategey Game.
In the standard OSG, every city is on the world map, and the only difference from building here or there is how long it takes to reach certain allies or enemies. There is also usually a single theater of war: your army. War can often boil down to two rams butting heads to see whose is bigger. Ikariam’s islands make warfare much more dynamic by introducing a navy, and also create a sense of community with the other players on your island.
1) Community. From the start of the game you have a certain connection to the other players on your island. You all share the same mines and it is very difficult to upgrade them without a group effort. This is very different from other OSG’s where your spawned neighbours are generally your default farms or farmers. In Ikariam, it is to every player’s own advantage to make sure every player on his island is strong and active. Both to help upgrade the mine, and because of…
2) Navy. You cannot get from one island to another without ships! This opens a world of strategy not present in other OSG’s. In order to attack another player, you need to get your troops to their island.
If you have a big enough Navy you can smash your opponent’s and then embark. Of course, if you spend all your resources on a Navy, you won’t have enough land troops to successfully attack the city. Another alternative is to land at another city on the island, and then move your troops across the ground. This means that in a war between two players, entire islands can be involved, which again reinforces the sense of comunity that islands create.
This unique feature, that, more than just sprinkles, is at the core of Ikariam’s gameplay, gives this OSG an original taste in a genre that definitely needs it.