I first saw Total War Battles (now out on the iPad and iPhone) at GDC earlier this year, and walked away excited about its potential. The Creative Assembly has been making phenomenal Total War games for the PC for years, with deep, intelligent war strategy across several time periods. Now Creative Assembly faces the challenge of bringing an involved, deep strategy game meant for a mouse and keyboard to iOS.
Their answer is Total War Battles. It's been streamlined a lot, but all of the elements of real-time strategy combat are still there. You build bases, hire units, and lead them forward onto a (very compressed, hex-based) battlefield. What Creative Assembly actually came up with is somewhat similar to the popular Legendary Wars, but I think it's a bit cleaner and nicer than that one. That's not surprising, given how experienced Creative Assembly already was at making great games.
Aside from the hex battle maps, there's a ten-hour long, story-based campaign to play through, and as Creative Assembly told me at GDC, the basic storyline is fairly easy, meant for more casual players. More difficult maps are available to those who want a challenge. Total War Battles also offers local multiplayer. You can face off against an opponent 1v1 on the same iPad screen. It's not quite as deep as the core game, but it is kind of a wacky take on strategy that's worth a try.
Total War Battles is US$6.99, and despite its quality, I'm pretty sure that Creative Assembly won't get nearly the audience they're hoping to at that price. Still, it's a great game -- if you like real-time strategy games, it's a must-play, and if you play PC games at all, TWB is worth a look just to see the choices Creative Assembly made in translating its work to the iOS screen. And if all else fails, just wait -- the next time Sega runs a big sale, this will likely be a little cheaper.