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p55carroll
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Just to promote some discussion for the fun of it, I thought I'd do a series of forum posts based on the 53 genres listed in VGG.* Here's a GeekList of all 53 threads.

This thread's genre: Strategy

Listed below are the top-ranked games in this genre. How does the list fit with your experience?


Have you played any of these games? Which ones? Do you agree or disagree with the ranking? How would you rank the games listed? Are there other games in the genre that you think should be in the top ranks?

And by the way, what do you think of this genre in general?

X-COM: UFO Defense
Civilization II
Master of Orion II: Battle at Antares
Star Control II
Civilization
XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Heroes of Might and Magic III: The Restoration of Erathia
Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri
Master of Orion
XCOM: Enemy Within


*In case you don't know how to find the VGG genres and rankings, hover over Browse at the top of the screen, then click Genres. Click a genre, and scroll down to Linked Items. Click the Sort window, and sort by Rank.
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Wow--some great games on this list. For me, they're out of order, but as I scan the list I'm inclined to claim this as my favorite genre. To me, these are the "normal" games--the kind I've mainly played all my life and still look for. I guess I'll continue calling myself a strategy gamer, as the name seems to fit.

Master of Orion might well be my all-time favorite game. I still play that pretty often.

I wonder what Star Control is. It's the only game on this list I haven't seen, and it appears on two or three genre lists, so even people who who know about it don't seem sure of what it is.
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This is the only genre where I've played all the games in the top 10 of it, and I enjoyed them all, though some way more than others. Also, these genre rankings really show that people generally don't rate enough games, and most of the current ratings are likely left over from the early days of VGG when a bunch of BGG'ers came over to rate games and try out the new domain, but then didn't stick around.

Star Control II is an adventure game where you fly a spaceship and befriend/fight aliens. I have no idea why someone put it in the "strategy" genre, here. It is a great classic game, though.
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Ooo, I've actually played some of these! I don't really think of this as being a genre I play a lot of, but I do play very specific games within this genre a lot.

My favorites are:

Plague Inc: Evolved
Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri
Magic: The Gathering (MicroProse)
Gridland
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Thought I'd comment on the games in the top 10 that I've played.

X-COM: UFO Defense
I thought this was wonderful, back when it was new. But after playing awhile I started to find it frustrating and difficult. The tactical combat is very exciting, but tense; and it hurts to lose crew members (but that happens a lot). Besides being distracted by other games, I think what made me stop playing X-Com was the need to run a business on the side: manufacture and sell stuff to finance base expansion, recruitment, etc. Usually if there's much of a business aspect to a game, it's not for me. Nevertheless, I still own the game (in both GOG and Steam), and I still like the tactical fights.

Civilization II
A big improvement on the original game, which I also played. I really liked the animated advisers (though I think the Elvis bit was overdone). The game played very well, as I recall. But in every version of Civ, I'm always somewhat torn: I can't be bothered with tightly managing the economy, and I hate the way war works--so I end up trying to win by grabbing and holding the lion's share of territory and quickly climbing the tech tree. When that works, it's a satisfying game; when it doesn't, I want to swear off Civ and play something else.

Master of Orion II: Battle at Antares
I learned to appreciate this game last year (or was it the year before?). I didn't play it when it was new, but I bought it in GOG a few years ago, along with the original MOO. Everybody was saying MOO2 was the best, and I wanted to find out for myself. So I played until I won with all the races (including a custom race) on Average, then did the same on Hard, and continued until I won one game on Impossible. All those games were on a standard map with random events and tactical combat switched on. When the experiment was over, I shrugged. As far as I'm concerned, MOO is every bit as good a game as MOO2. MOO2 has more features, but I like some and dislike others. Fans rave about race customization in MOO2, but I'd just as soon play with the predesigned races and enjoy the variety. Great game, but to me, no better than MOO.

Star Control II
I think I briefly sampled this game once, but I've mostly forgotten it. Looked like it was going to take some getting used to, so I went back to playing familiar games instead.

Civilization
I'd barely remember this if I hadn't played half a game several months ago. It was a huge part of my life when it first came out, but I was always frustrated with it for reasons given above under Civ II. Soon it was eclipsed, in my world, by Master of Orion and Master of Magic.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Never played this.

Heroes of Might and Magic III: The Restoration of Erathia
I started with HoMM2 and didn't play HoMM3 until years later. I always disliked the artwork but appreciated the design quality. Sometimes, though, it felt like a runaround: with only so many leaders, your armies can only be in a few places, so they chase each other all over the map. You lose cities and have to recapture them; you lose heroes (and sometimes retreat or surrender on purpose) and rehire them. I never played enough to thoroughly learn either the strategic or tactical dimension of the game. But I was often frustrated when an enemy force would pop up unexpectedly and capture my home base. Or fed up with having to relay fresh troops up to a hero in what I considered the front lines. Also, I never saw the benefit of many of the spells; my heroes never gained that much mana anyway, so I only used a few basic spells. One of the all-time great strategy games, but one I never got used to.

Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri
Terrific game. Some say it's the best 4X strategy game ever designed, and I wouldn't argue much with that. Personally I prefer MOO (see below), but that's just me. The factions in SMAC are distinctive and well presented. It's great to be able to exploit sea squares as well as land squares, and to be able to change terrain. Somehow the combat system works so well that I don't object to it in this game the way I always do in Civ. On the downside, there's the tech tree; the names of things you can research don't mean anything until you read up on them and figure out what they do. But the associated movie clips are great. Diplomacy works well in SMAC, I think; you can do a bit more than you can in most other games of the kind. Unit design and production is just a chore, IMO; I always automate that. A nice feature of SMAC is that you can automate most anything. I don't like that you always play with seven races, though; you can change the map size but not the number of players, and that makes small maps too crowded. The expansion, Alien Crossfire, helps in some ways (like making artillery useful) but is optional. The seven new races are nice to play around with, but somehow they're not as interesting as the original ones. You're free to mix and match, though.

Master of Orion
This could be my all-time favorite game. It doesn't look like much, and some find that it has too few features to be engaging. But for me it's a big relief to be free from the micromanagement that's required in so many other games of this kind. You manage most things with sliders, which you can set and forget for a long time. The focus is on exploring, colonizing, defending, and conquering. Grab and hold a significant majority of planets, and you can win by being elected galactic emperor. Or you can get ahead in tech, soup up your spaceships, and conquer the galaxy. No race customization as in MOO2, but the ten predesigned races are endlessly interesting to play around with. Perhaps my favorite feature in MOO is the planetary missile base. By themselves or combined with planetary shields, missile bases can effectively secure your colonies during long phases of the game, giving you time to complete your research or beef up production--or maybe forge an alliance. IMO too many games give a big advantage to aggressive players. MOO is more balanced. In the end, something can always get through the defenses, but in the meantime passive defense is a viable option and sometimes the best choice.

XCOM: Enemy Within
Haven't played this.
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Disagreed almost entirely on Alien Crossfire; the new water-worms slow the early game to a crawl, since coastal bases are too risky in AX.

Re: manufacturing/business running in X-COM, have you played Xenonauts? It might be worth looking into, you can never make a profit from manufacturing/selling for cash, so there's no more "factory bases" to manage, and instead, nearly all of your funding comes from shooting down UFOs (either directly, or indirectly, since your success in shooting things down is what determines your income from each region). Less "business management", but it makes winning the air-war super critical, far moreso than it was in X-COM (it also has the somewhat unfortunate side effect that it's harder to recover if things start going south.)
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Cynical wrote:
Disagreed almost entirely on Alien Crossfire; the new water-worms slow the early game to a crawl, since coastal bases are too risky in AX.

Hmm--I've read a number of articles on SMAX, and I've never heard anyone else mention that. It makes sense, but maybe I never ran into it. No, wait--I do recall Isles of the Deep offloading swarms of worms onto my coastal areas. Is that what you mean? I thought that happened in the base game too. But in SMAX, there are some big water serpents, IIRC. And Nautilus Pirates too.

So, if you disagree with most of what I said, does that mean you like the seven new factions in SMAX?

One thing I recall is that the tech tree is changed in ways intended to balance the game more. For example, in the base game, the Hunter-Seeker Algorithm is almost a must-have: once you get it, you're immune to probe teams (spies/saboteurs), and that immunity is good for the rest of the game. In SMAX, there's a tech advance that trumps the H-SA.

Other tech advances in SMAX seem unnecessary. For instance, Cloudbase Academy, which strengthens Air Power. In the base game, Air Power is a potentially decisive game changer already. Why further enhance it?

Quote:
Re: manufacturing/business running in X-COM, have you played Xenonauts? It might be worth looking into ...

I haven't, but I'll take a look. Thanks.
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Patrick Carroll wrote:

Hmm--I've read a number of articles on SMAX, and I've never heard anyone else mention that. It makes sense, but maybe I never ran into it. No, wait--I do recall Isles of the Deep offloading swarms of worms onto my coastal areas. Is that what you mean? I thought that happened in the base game too. But in SMAX, there are some big water serpents, IIRC. And Nautilus Pirates too.

The problem is Isles of the Deep in SMAX is that a spore launcher can just sit on one, destroy all of your stuff, and you can't do a damn thing about it until you've moved far enough up the tech tree that you're making aquatic units that can take them down. As such, coastal cities are non-viable early, which slows the game to a crawl because coastal is generally better than going inland a few squares.
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I haven't played as many strategy games as I have other genres, but the strategy games that I have played, I really enjoy. In particular, I enjoy the Civilization and XCOM series. There's something really rewarding about the genre. To me, they almost feel like board games that allow you to try out a number of different approaches to win. It leads to a different kind of excitement for me. It's not always in your face action, but the genre still delivers a lot of those kinds of moments for me, as far as excitement goes.
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