Games for the weekend: Trenches II

Games for the Weekend is a weekly feature aimed at helping you avoid doing something constructive with your downtime. Each Friday we’ll be recommending a game for Mac, iPhone or iPad that we think is awesome enough to keep you busy until Monday, at least.
Trenches IITrenches II ($1.99 iPhone, $2.99 iPad)(s aapl) is the latest in a lineup of World War I-themed games from Thunder Game Works. Falling somewhere between Plants vs. Zombies (s erts) and Flight Control, Trenches II offers slightly more advanced, compelling gameplay, so much so that it approaches the realm of real-time strategy gaming.
Trenches II
The game’s training mode leaves a lot to be desired, with constant, annoying pop-ups, but you can get the hang of things without the tutorial. The basics are as follows: As time passes, you earn money to buy more troops. Troops advance from left to right with the swipe of a finger or two.  You do need to be careful though, as your troops will need to be directed to bunkers and other objects on the battlefield to take cover.
You can lead British, French or German troops into battle. Game strategy comes in the form of which type of troops you buy when. There are sharpshooters, engineers, medics, spies, and flamethrower units to name a few. Along the way, you earn Perk points, which can be used to unlock new troop types and upgrade existing ones. For the impatient, there are in-app purchases to accelerate the earning of Perks.
Trenches II
The more rewarding part of the game, and what makes it a great game for a weekend, is definitely the Skirmish play mode.  In it, you need to scope out a battlefield with airships, and then decide how to deploy your troops. The challenge comes from knowing when to invest in an engineer, and when to invest in a rifleman. The resemblance to Flight Control comes in directing different groups of troops to different points on the battlefield.  This adds a lot to the overall feeling you get of being a real-time field commander.
The iPhone can seem a little tight in terms of available screen real estate with Trenches II, so if you have an iPad, that’s the way to play.