Amplitude Studios’ Endless Legend was a bleak, lore-filled 4x strategy that turned a lot of heads in 2014. And its first expansion Guardians brings enough new quests, buildings, and primeval titans to keep the diehards happy and stir some new blood into the pot. Discovering and systematically taking control of the hex-based grid that was the world of Auriga was one of my favorite parts of 2014. Endless Legend has enough familiarity to settle seasoned strategy gamers into it quickly. But it was all the strange pieces of minutia that Amplitude added that made it a truly wonderful turn-based experience. Endless Legend was never satisfied with the standard civ on civ competition: that style of gameplay that pits one society against another, largely-identical society that boasts slightly varied bonuses and a differently colored flag. No: when you struggle for dominance in Endless Legend, it is against nemeses so different in playstyle and appearance that they come off as utterly alien. Winning the game means mastering a new style with each faction you take up arms with: from manipulation and diplomacy to waging endless war against all oncomers. Guardians merrily continues that tradition, throwing a heavily diverse, new range of shininess to add to your faction’s toybox. These wondrous new buildings, abilities, and quests add a true leg up to whoever is cunning enough to claim them first, and bring a fresh sense of urgency to your game’s choices and timing. Shared events fill Guardians, offering up mutual hardships beyond the frozen specter of the occasional winter. Sickness, bad luck, and the literal wrath of the gods will affect all factions, sometimes stopping carefully-laid plans in their tracks. There will be other opportunities for you to work together with your erstwhile foes, bringing manpower and resources to fuel a common cause. But the most intriguing addition to the latest expansion of Endless Legend is its namesake: the Guardians. Ageless, titanic protectors of Auriga, guardians can be summoned and maintained by any faction, and their presence is the definition of a game changer. While some can dish out massive amounts of damage, another can heal entire armies, and yet another can expose huge tracts of undiscovered land. While they are by no means unstoppable, the very presence of these Guardians adds yet another level of tension to every turn and decision. That’s not to suggest that this new expansion has solved every issue that its original might have had for some. The rudimentary combat system still leaves a fair amount to be desired, and the lack of visual customization in units (beyond their sword and shield) stands in direct contrast to the gorgeous and varied surroundings of Auriga. But when it comes down to it, these remain pithy complaints in the face of such a unique and exciting 4x experience. Endless Legend: Guardians offers even more material for one of the most satisfying strategies in years: definitely enough for anyone who’s been waiting on the sidelines, wondering if this contender was worth a play. Endless Legend was one of Phil’s favorite games of 2014! Do you think it deserved the hype? Let us know! Anthony This sounds like an interesting game I haven’t tried out the original so Ill have to check that out.