Pick a "best strategy game" that exists right now

keithburgun

Administrator
Staff member
#1
We talk a lot about strategy games here and on the Discord. If you had to show an alien what the currently best example of a strategy game (including tactics games!) was, what would it be?

For me, it would probably still be League of Legends. I wrote extensively about my explanation for that here.

So yeah, how about you? I know it's hard, but pick one and try to give some explanation. Could be a board game, videogame, app, whatever.
 

Nachtfischer

Moderator
Staff member
#2
Considering how much time I spent on it that'd have to be Gwent for me. Why?
  • Really good balance between just enough randomness (hidden info) and keeping the causal chain of actions intact (read more)
  • Relatively elegant core gameplay system
  • High in-game skill ceiling (i.e. not just in terms of "get the best deck together over time")
  • Short matches
  • Round-based nature adds structure (arcs) and depth
  • "No trash cards" philosophy (induced by the lack of a traditional resource such as "Mana")
  • Relatively few no-brainer decisions (again cause there's no "mana curve" and reduced draw RNG)
  • (external factor) Good number of really smart steamers and content creators surrounding the game
Of course it's not the ideal game or something. But it currently comes closest to the sweet spot between being mainstream enough to gather enough players to be competitively playable whenever I want, and being an actually interesting strategy game.
 
#3
As a novice of Nachtfischer in game design my point of view is maybe still more of a player than a game designer. So please take this text with a grain of salt.

Supreme Commander (video game)
Compared to the classic strategy games like C&C and Starcraft it has automated many trivial tasks and added comfort functions.
Supreme Commander and its ancestor Total Annihilation have changed the economic model in a fundamental way.

Some of the following features are maybe in other games too. But SC is they beautiful combination of them all.
  • Strategic zoom (iris zoom in R.U.S.E., like google maps): use your scroll wheel and zoom in and out where the mouse pointer is. No need for a clickable mini map (its still helpful to see potential threats at any time), because within seconds you see the whole map on your screen.
    • no long lasting up/down/left/right scrolling. Or moving your mouse to the mini map.
  • stream of resources per second + build queues: start a build (unit or building) now and it will finish when enough resources flowed into it. Order as many builds as you want.
    • No waiting until you have enough money in your pocket to buy a certain unit/building
    • No resource income which depends on moving units.
  • build queue loop: loops through a defined set of units (e.g. tank, tank, anti-air, artillery, shield-tank). Infinite building of units.
    • No ordering any unit separately.
  • routes for move orders: your units move on that route so you can avoid hindrances or enemys
    • No babysitting your units until the reach their destination.
  • self running air transport routes: Just send your units to the start point, they will be carried automatically to the end.
    • Allows to move a big army very easy over big distances. Saves time.
    • Can be connected to your factories so all new units will always be sent to the actual front.
  • mixed formations (Total War ?, Age of Empires?): units in a group are arranged automatically depending on a configuration. Classic example is close combat units or meat shields in the front, long range in rear. Shield-generator-tanks will always be well placed to shield as much units as possible and have minimum overlapping.
    • No babysitting of units and losing units due to bad micro management.
It still has some flaws i would like to see fixed:
  • almost pixel exact placement of buildings and all orders (like so many other games):
    • its i'm possible to guess most consequences due to too much complexity.
    • It can be that you have to erase and rebuild parts of your base. What a wast of time. Or you spent more time on boring trivial exact placement of buildings to avoid erasing.
    • You can lose a game due to a wrong place turret which shoots into the ground. Or a wrong place shield generator which does not cover a certain building.
    • Some times micro managing your armies like in Starcraft
  • super weapons and its counter weapons: imho a totaly disconnected mechanic from the units and buildings game part. Patch work design, not clock work :) (Thanks Keith for that)
  • exponential 3 tier based development: Very low chance to beat high tier with low tier. Fast reaching the next tier is next to auto win.
    • I can't remember how much SC2 fixed this. There was a more linear tech tree invented.
Final note: Imho it was evolutionary a big step. But there are still many steps to go.

Smallworld (board game)
  • near zero randomness. No card drawing, mostly no dice rolling (not as core mechanic)
  • uncertainty comes from the other players which are having much more possibilities than in chess or go. (every player can do multiple normal actions in his move. At best (or worst) he can withdraw all his tokens and start from any side of the board newly with full force.)
Therefore it doesn't matter that you have perfect information on the board. Its not calculable.
Yes, a actions is executed immediate with no hindrance. But i always think and try to guess what my opponents will do. And try to prepare for that.
"Do i weaken my defense to conquer on more land for more gold? Or should i stay more safe?"
 
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#4
Probably Invisible Inc. It has a lot of interesting mechanical interactions, and some "hidden" rules that aren't bad the same way hidden rules (secrets, super-rare items) in rogue-likes usually are. I think the amount of pre-game decisions strikes a good balance of giving players something to talk/think about, while still not being awkward/overbearing like in CCGs. And there are a couple mods that improve the UI for advanced players.
The only issue is how time-consuming it is to play a single round, and how weird the scoring system is (wish it had single-player ELO). But there are options to make a custom, shorter version of it.
(Also the DLC sucks.)
 

BrickRoadDX

Maker of BrainGoodGames
Staff member
#5
With a gun to my head right now I would say Race For The Galaxy. Incredible variety/complexity ratio. Incredible interesting decision/playtime ratio.

Plays amazing with 2 players and is also very good (albeit different) with more players.

It's just so damn efficient.
 

keithburgun

Administrator
Staff member
#6
RFTG is really not a bad call. My issue is that it feels too random. Do you play with the base set, or some specific expansions? I do like it a lot though. I probably should get back into it.
 

BrickRoadDX

Maker of BrainGoodGames
Staff member
#7
I like base set (for newer players) and base + Gathering Storm.

Great either way (if you play a ton or get "spoiled" on strats you might wanna move on to Gathering storm but not necessary before that.)