Strategies are considered an almost dead genre. The reason is the modern streams and cybersport activities. The golden age of these games was around 1998-2006. The period is limited roughly, but you can see the dynamic of new hit titles in this niche. There are some vivid factors of popularity here.
First of all, look at the progress of the graphic. The earliest golden classic from Westwood and other studios, like Dune 2: Battle for Arrakis, had very modest pixel backgrounds. But revolutionary mechanics were made these days. And they are still relevant!
After 2007, the glory of cult brands significantly faded. The universal formula of making the virtual warlords was extremely easy. Gamers in the nineties know the meme about C&C clones. Yes, the Command and Conquer series was a big hit with a strong plot and decent mechanics. Well, even the spinoff parody Red Alert was received unusually well. But then the number of these games became overwhelming. So, the standard and very boring titles seem non-relevant now. And the fresh ideas are almost exhausted to modern days. Still, there are seldom old and high-quality franchises (see them below).
All the modern strategic successors deliver you the same basic things. Let’s see them closely.
- Mechanics and core
Every strategic game, regardless of its type, have these main features:
- The base. This is the place where the hero starts the conquest of the map. A city, a citadel, an island, or another kind of domain – it doesn’t matter. The setting itself defines the nature of the base. There are some scenarios without a landed rampart. But generally, the protagonist needs a safe space;
- Resources. Minerals, food, energy, the castled points on the summits. All kinds of things that are needed for victory;
- Buildings. See, not every construction on the map is placed in this category. Strategic buildings are producing an: army, workers, ships, and mechanics, boost for them all, etc. A mine is obviously a construction, but it is still a resource. Sometimes buildings are all the artificial houses or landmarks on the base. It depends on the game balance;
- Fog of war. You should discover the map manually, with scouts, or vanguard, or another way. The opponent also can’t see your base from the very beginning of the new game. This is the turning point of balance;
- The territorial control manifested in a lot of ways. You can “rework” the ground (like profaned lands in Warcraft), cast the special aura, or just hold the perimeter with defensive towers and walls. Control is vivid for a score in “conquering” strategies, like Civilization.
All these components are necessary for the genre.
Turn-based strategy. Like advanced chess but with a lot of options. You should make all the moves before the “end turn” button. These games usually don’t have a real-life timer. Frequently the missions in the TBS title have a move counter. A protagonist must complete the quest, take a point of defeat the enemy in a small number of turns. However, most TBS man & man matches continue until being defeated.
The most famous brand of TBS is, of course, Heroes of Might and Magic. This is one of the most illustrious franchises of yore. Modern German-Hungarian sequels were mediocre, but the first five parts are good even today.
The most classic genre, real-time strategy. Base, resources, a fog of war are presented here. The most legendary RTS are Warcraft, Starcraft, Command & Conquer. The strategic tournaments in this niche always were pretty hardcore. There is much micro-controlling and busy work here, so you need to have an excellent reaction and a swift mind.
RTS today are in the shade all over the world, except Korea. Starcraft (with the second trilogy) is a national cybersport in this country and is promoted even by the local government.
- Grand strategies
Just one simple rule: conquer everything. The GRAND title is given for the scale of your ambitions. Typically, you are playing as a one-man dynasty or some kind of eternal ruler. These games are honorary time killers. One turn at the end of the party lasts tens of minutes, even hours. The micromanagement can be annoying, but fans are considering all the procedures as part of the immersion.
The most famous and alive publisher of grand strategies today is the Swedish conglomerate Paradox Interactive. Their main titles are usually about historical periods, but some of them are even bigger:
- Crusader Kings. From the Viking era till the fall of Constantinople (India, Central Asia, and Northern Africa are included);
- Europa Universalis. XV-XVIII centuries. Despite the title, you can start the game even as an Ainu chieftain;
- Hearts of Iron. The interbellum: a period between world wars, roughly 1936 -1948 (dates vary in different games with different DLCs). The next big conflict is inevitable, and your nation shall stand in the middle of the rising storm;
- Victoria. XiX century, the highest epoch of European colonial empires, a zenith of great world kingdoms;
- Stellaris. Build your own galaxy dominion!
- Modern popular strategic titles
We are highly recommending these titles especially to the fans of online slot games on top betting sites:
- Crusader Kings III — the latest installment of the cult game;
- XCOM 2 — only tactical mode is a TBS-like RPG. But the game is excellent;
- Homeworld — 4X cosmic strategy with angelical music
- Total War: Warhammer II — The first franchise of all Total War series that steps into high fantasy;
- Civilization VI — Sid Meier’s masterpiece, that gives you a possibility to conquer Earth as an eternal ruler of your favorite nation;
- Company of Heroes 2 — a classic wargame RTS;
- Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 — the same thing but with an alternative history.