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Strategy Games for Console: The Best Titles for PS5, Xbox Series X and Switch


Strategy Games: A Guide for Beginners




Strategy games are a type of video game that emphasize thinking and planning over direct action in order to achieve a goal. They can be very challenging and rewarding, but also require some skills and knowledge to play well. In this article, I will provide you with an introduction to the history, types, and tips of strategy games, as well as some recommendations for beginners to try.




strategy games


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History of strategy games




The history of strategy games begins on tables and boards, crammed inside cupboards alongside that knackered old box of Risk that every home seems to possess. The moment strategy made the leap to consoles and computers, it was already familiar. These werent just inspired by the games people were playing, in many cases they were direct copies that had been squeezed, sometimes awkwardly, onto a new platform.


In 1972, Invasion was released for the Magnavox Odyssey. It was Risk, essentially, but with Pong-like battles that were fought on top of overlays that had to be slapped on the front of the television. Aside from the battles, Invasion was mostly played on a physical board, so the actual strategy game didnt really take place on the console at all. The Odysseys limited capabilities ended at displaying a few squares that could be moved by twiddling the knobs attached to the little boxes that served as controllers.


The success of microcomputers like the TRS-80 and Apple II inspired a new wave of tabletop adaptations, spearheaded by Strategic Simulations Inc. So began a cavalcade of wargames, and more than a few RPGs, that would last for around 20 years. Founder Joe Billings had shopped around the idea of making adaptations of existing wargames to tabletop publishers like Avalon Hill, but had no takers. That didnt deter him. SSIs first game, Computer Bismarck, bore a striking resemblance to Avalon Hills Bismarck. The publisher noticed. Quickly, Avalon Hill started releasing its own games on computers, competing with SSI. The pair churned out wargames with dizzying momentum, but SSI took the lead early, launching 12 games in 1981. Some of these games were tabletop wargames with a digital componenttheir boxes full of tokens, maps and thick manualsbut others, including Computer Bismarck, featured AI opponents and could be played entirely on a computer.


Eastern Front (1941), published by Atari in 1981, immediately made its contemporaries seem antiquated. It was one of the first great leaps forward in strategy gaming, presenting players with a single year of Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union, where everything from troop morale to the weather played a role. It was meaty and complex, but also accessible and elegant. It was also the first strategy game to use a hexagonal grid, a feature that would become synonymous with the genre and continue to appear in many of its greatest games.


Eastern Front (1941) was also the first strategy game to be influenced by the work of Sid Meier, the godfather of the genre. Meier had created a series of simulations for various platforms, including a submarine simulator called Silent Service and a fighter jet simulator called F-15 Strike Eagle. He was interested in creating games that were more than just realistic recreations of historical events, but rather "interesting decisions" that challenged the player's creativity and problem-solving skills.


Meier's breakthrough came in 1987, when he released Civilization for the PC. Civilization was a grand strategy game that spanned the entire history of human civilization, from the ancient times to the modern era. The player had to guide their chosen nation through exploration, expansion, exploitation, and extermination (the four Xs that gave rise to the term 4X strategy game). Civilization was a game of epic scope and scale, where every decision had long-term consequences and every game was different. Civilization was not only a critical and commercial success, but also a cultural phenomenon that inspired countless sequels, spin-offs, clones, and mods.


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Types of strategy games




Strategy games are a diverse and rich genre that can be divided into several subgenres based on their gameplay, mechanics, and themes. Here are some of the most common and popular types of strategy games:


Turn-based strategy games




Turn-based strategy games are games where players take turns to make their moves, usually on a grid or map. Turn-based strategy games often involve managing resources, building units, researching technologies, and engaging in combat. Turn-based strategy games can be further classified into two subtypes: turn-based tactics games and turn-based 4X games.


Turn-based tactics games




Turn-based tactics games are games where players control a small group of units or characters in discrete scenarios or battles. Turn-based tactics games focus on tactical combat and positioning, rather than strategic planning and resource management. Examples of turn-based tactics games include XCOM, Fire Emblem, Final Fantasy Tactics, and Advance Wars.


Turn-based 4X games




Turn-based 4X games are games where players control a large empire or civilization in a vast map or galaxy. Turn-based 4X games focus on exploration, expansion, exploitation, and extermination (the four Xs), as well as diplomacy, trade, culture, and science. Examples of turn-based 4X games include Civilization, Master of Orion, Endless Space, and Stellaris.


Real-time strategy games




Real-time strategy games are games where players make their moves simultaneously in real time, usually on a map or terrain. Real-time strategy games often involve collecting resources, building bases, producing units, researching technologies, and engaging in combat. Real-time strategy games can be further classified into two subtypes: real-time tactics games and real-time 4X games.


Real-time tactics games




Real-time tactics games are games where players control a small group of units or characters in continuous scenarios or battles. Real-time tactics games focus on tactical combat and coordination, rather than strategic planning and resource management. Examples of real-time tactics games include StarCraft, Warcraft, Command & Conquer, and Age of Empires.


Real-time 4X games




Real-time 4X games are games where players control a large empire or civilization in a vast map or galaxy. Real-time 4X games focus on exploration, expansion, exploitation, and extermination (the four Xs), as well as diplomacy, trade, culture, and science. Examples of real-time 4X games include Sins of a Solar Empire, Distant Worlds, and Stellaris.


Grand strategy games




Grand strategy games are games where players control a nation, empire, or faction in a historical or fictional setting. Grand strategy games focus on politics, diplomacy, economy, culture, and warfare, as well as historical accuracy and realism. Grand strategy games are usually played on a large map that represents the world or a region. Examples of grand strategy games include Crusader Kings, Europa Universalis, Hearts of Iron, and Total War.


Tactics games




Tactics games are games where players control a small group of units or characters in discrete scenarios or battles. Tactics games focus on tactical combat and positioning, rather than strategic planning and resource management. Tactics games are usually played on a grid or terrain that represents the battlefield. Examples of tactics games include XCOM, Fi


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