|Mode(s)||Single-player, Two-player, Four-player|
Zatikon is an online multiplayer game developed by Gabe Jones and published by Chronic Logic, the independent publisher and developer responsible for Gish and three commercial sequels to Bridge Builder.
Like chess, Zatikon is a turn-based game that takes place on a grid. Using units they deploy from a castle at their end of the board, the players try to move onto the castle of their opponent. Instead of moving only one unit each turn, the players get commands, which they can use to move multiple units or to have a single unit take several actions. Each unit has five characteristics:
- Actions, which determine how many times it can move in a given turn;
- Life, which determines how much damage it can take;
- Power, which determines how much damage it inflicts with each attack;
- Armor, which reduces the amount of damage it takes from each attack; and
- Deployment cost, which determines how many commands it costs to deploy.
Most units can attack enemy units, though how they attack varies. Archers, catapults, and many wizards can attack units several squares away. Generals and knights can only attack adjacent units. So can warriors, but they attack all enemies in range simultaneously.
In addition to attacks, many units have special abilities. For example, the shield maiden can take damage for its allies, the priest can convert enemy units, and the swordsman can block attacks.
The game has five different modes:
- Single player constructed, in which one player plays against a computer-controlled opponent that gets stronger each time they win and weaker each time they lose;
- Cooperative constructed, in which two players play against the computer opponent;
- One-versus-one constructed, in which two players compete using armies they have designed;
- Two-versus-two constructed, in which teams of two compete using armies they have designed; and
- Random, in which two players compete using randomly generated armies.
In the constructed modes, players design their army under two constraints. First, their army can only use units worth 1,000 points. Since each unit has different point values, the players must decide whether to have several less powerful units, a few strong units, or some compromise between the two. They also try to create armies with units that complement each other. For example, a player might combine several cheap units with a captain, which can grant them free attacks by attacking a unit within their range.
Second, players can only add units to their army if they have recruited that type of unit. Players recruit units using gold they win when they defeat computer-controlled opponents or complete a game with a human opponent.
Zatikon was released as demoware on November 7, 2008. In April 2009, Chronic Logic released the original version as freeware. However, players can buy expansions to gain access to additional units. As of November 2010, the game has two expansions: Crusades, which adds 40+ units, and Legions, which adds 30+ units.
The game received positive reviews. Steve Blanch of independent game review site Bytten named it the best strategy game of 2009, describing it as "one of the most absorbing strategy titles I (have) played in a good while." In his review, he praised the number of units, explaining that "the diversity of their attributes and skills ensures that truly no two games will play out the same way."  Out of Eight said "the large variety of units makes for some innovative and truly unique strategies."
Several critics praised the game's 90-second time limit. Mac Gamer said the timer "heightens tension by creating an immediacy for quick, decisive action." Out of Eight added that the timer "cut(s) down on the game time, which is already pretty short (a typical game takes 10-15 minutes I would say)."
Most reviewers criticized the game's sound and graphics. Gas Bandit Gaming described the graphics as rudimentary, saying "the playing field and all units consist of tiled images with only the most very basic of animation occurring during moves and attacks." Adrenaline Vault agreed, observing "the graphics and audio are just placeholders for the interface."
Two reviews say the game has a steep learning curve. TestFreaks points out that "there are a lot of characters to study, and it takes time to understand all their strengths and weaknesses." GamesInfo.net reports "that playing online the first few times is likely to be very similar to learning chess. That is to say, you’re likely to lose over and over and over."
- Chronic Logic (date unknown). "Zatikon Guide." Accessed Nov. 24, 2010.
- Chronic Logic (January 20, 2010). Zatikon Unit Guide (PDF). Accessed November 24, 2010.
- Author unknown (Monday, May 17, 2010). "The Zatikon Underdog: The Captain." Accessed March 19, 2011.
- Pisciotta, Josiah (November 7, 2008). "Zatikon Released for Windows, OSX, and Linux." Accessed November 24, 2010.
- Pisciota, Josiah (April 15, 2009). "Chronic Logic releases Zatikon version 1.0 for Windows, OSX and Linux." Accessed November 24, 2010.
- Williams, Andrew & Blanch, Steve (April 16, 2009). "The 2009 Bytten Awards." Bytten. Accessed November 20, 2010.
- Blanch, Steve (November 28, 2008). "Zatikon." Bytten. Accessed November 20, 2010.
- Allen, James (September 24, 2008). "Zatikon Review." Out of Eight PC Game Reviews. Accessed November 20, 2010.
- Marsh, Russel (June 6, 2009). "Zatikon." The Mac Gamer. Accessed November 20, 2010.
- Author unknown (May 13, 2009). "Review: Zatikon." GasBanditry.com. Accessed November 20, 2010.
- Pitruzzello, Jason (May 30, 2009). "Zatikon PC Review." The Adrenaline Vault. Accessed November 20, 2010.
- Saporito, Jeff (April 15, 2009). "Zatikon." TestFreaks. Accessed November 20, 2010.
- Rubinow, Brubinow (October 17, 2009). "Review - Zatikon." Intelligent Decisions. Accessed November 20, 2010.