I'm sure you've played something like this before. You know those games in which you have a bunch of blobs that build up power and then conquer other blobs? I have no idea if there's even a genre, but what's certain is that after the archetypal game came out (probably in Flash form), it became a source of inspiration for others.
Little Wars 2.0 takes this simple formula and applies a space empire theme. Although, frankly speaking, it still looks like blob warfare to me. The idea is, as always, to conquer your enemies in each scenario. Blobs represent worlds/planets. Each planet has a population level, which indicates how fast it produces ships. These forces can be then sent as a group via travel lanes to conquer or reinforce. You can also spend ships to assign abilities to your worlds. By spending five ships, you can have a world boost its defense capacity, or increase its production rate and forfeit defense entirely. You can freely switch between the two modes when you think it's appropriate.
When it comes to warfare, enemy ships destroy each other at a 1-to-1 rate. When a world is left without any forces, it will begin to lose defense points (if it had any) and finally switch allegiance to whoever conquered it.
Little Wars supports up to four players games in real time, but what's weird is that it only does it in local mode. There is no Internet multiplayer. The way it handles this is through an odd three-way hybridization of real-time, tick-based, and turn-based mechanics. Here's how it goes: There is a single time-flow for everyone. However, players get to give orders one at a time in the most peculiar way. By default, when is your "turn" you may issue up to three commands, be that move, reinforce, or upgrade, and until you do, you have fifty seconds of time to wait or react.
I can't say I find this system to be balanced; in fact, it may very well be prone to a lot of metagame manipulation. For example, a player may use his leftover time, to prevent the next player from reacting to a fleet that's currently on route. You might avert this if you adjust the per-turn action and time limits, but having to pass the device around too often can also be an inconvenience. In any case, this is quite a novel concept, and I wouldn't mind trying it out once or twice.
However, Little Wars' 2.0 staying power is with its hundred and sixty pre-made levels, as well as the random map generator. These ensure a nigh-endless supply of war scenarios. The sound design in Little Wars is also worthy of attention. The music track changes tone and pace with the speed at which the time is running.
Little Wars 2.0 is one of the most well thought out strategy games of this style. The local multiplayer mode is a novelty, and the sound desing is interesting. I can't say I'll still be playing this in a year, but for its modest price, it's a worthy purchase.