While some people see strategy games as boring, long, and complicated, I find that strategy games can be a gold mine for learning critical thinking and problem solving while also giving the player a fun and exciting experience. Although they are not for everyone, these games are able to give the player a very challenging and memorable experience. Players who understand the styles, gameplay mechanics, and visual graphics will begin to see the diversity in this style of gaming.
The strategy corner of the gaming world offers a wide variety of different options including space, history, city building, and more.
Space strategy games, like Galactic civilization, Endless space, or Aroura 4X, offer a deep space experience (usually involves civilization building although different styles are available) where you can control a galactic empire while managing to keep enemies at bay. Space strategy games can be very appealing in that they allow for conventional starts, which mean that you begin with present day technology, allowing for great roleplay. I have not seen a space strategy game that has appealed to me as much as the other genres, but the elements I enjoy include ship creator, space combat, creative technologies, and the use of imagination to come up with a futuristic reality.
History strategy games, like Sid Meier’s Civilization, Crusader Kings, or Europa Universalis, offer gameplay going through history (usually starting from a point in time and runs through a simulation). Some are more historical than others teaching you events with a realistic accuracy. Others allow you to change history leading to an ahistorical world. This is the style I have spent most of my time with, the satisfaction of reliving history or the ability to change history appeals to me. If you are a fan of roleplaying certain parts of history, this is a great style of strategy you would enjoy.
City building games, like Sim city or Cities Skylines, offer gameplay by testing your city management, financial, and organizing skills. It can be very satisfying to build your city from a simple town to a large metropolis. These games tend to be very slow pace but if you enjoy slower paced games this could be the type for you.
There are many different styles which I will not list, but this gives you the opportunity to explore different options to try them out yourself.
Strategy games have varying elements of gameplay, which is one of my favorite elements of the genre. The ability to try different styles with varying elements of gameplay opens a world full of options for players.
Space games give you the opportunity to start from your planet and spread across the galaxy. Some can be more complex than others, Aroura 4X being an extremely complex game involving mostly spreadsheets and numbers while Galactic Civilization is more basic and thus easier to follow. You start off on your home planet researching technology, building infrastructure, and preparing for intergalactic travel. Once you get your first ships you can explore, colonize planets, and interact with alien species through diplomacy, trade, or warfare. This style of strategy offers a fun exploration experience (as usually maps are randomized and thus completely new every time) and gives the player a great sense of power and control ruling a galactic empire.
Historical strategy games allow you to go through history as a civilization, country, or person and there are many varying styles. Sid Meier’s Civilization allows you to start from the beginning of history, allowing you to grow, research, and expand while encountering other civilizations, while Crusader Kings allows for “person to person” interaction to increase your power. Europa Universalis is about playing as a country to try to become bigger and stronger (usually to achieve world conquest). This style has varying end goals, either by total conquest, or by a peaceful victory through diplomacy or culture.
City building games are about constructing a town or city, while also offering a satisfying experience of achievement for completing a goal or a rank. There are a few city games to choose from that offer different experiences but most have the same idea; you start off with an empty piece of land and build houses, stores, factories, etc. I haven’t played many city building games in the past but I am actively trying out Cities Skylines and I will point out that the in-depth gameplay and interactivity in that game is fantastic, including the ability to name each resident, enact laws, and control transportation.
Styles of strategy not only vary with gameplay, but with visuals and map styles as well. While I don’t judge a game purely on its appearance, I always appreciate a well designed and visually appealing game.
Graphics and visuals vary with every game, but there are similarities in style. Crusader kings and Europa Universalis offer a world map within which to play. Sid Meier’s Civilization works with a randomized map, allowing for a good replay ability and fun for discovering the world around you. Space games offer a galaxy full of planets, stars, and ships. Strategy games come with a diverse field of graphics, anything from 2D to 3D, a world map to a galaxy map, and a painted map to a terrain map. Strategy games are usually not specialized in visuals but some developers put many hours into creating a beautifully constructed map you will enjoy for a long time.
Games like Cities Skylines put a lot of effort into creating a realistic atmosphere, while other strategy games concentrate more on gameplay rather than visuals. However, I do enjoy when a developer works hard on the visuals of a game, to help you connect with the atmosphere and to emerge yourself with the game you are playing.
Music is also another area of strategy games I deeply appreciate. I love some of the soundtracks that come with these games; I think most of them could have come out as stand-alone tracks and still be popular. The music in games like Crusader Kings, Europa Universalis, Endless space, and a host of other games give you sound tracks which help you connect to the gameplay by adding excitement and tempo to the pace of the game.
For someone who spends 400+ hours on these types of games I do have to say they give me lots of enjoyment playing each one. Although not for everyone, I believe in people trying varying styles of video gaming and encourage players to try different styles, to experience all that gaming has to offer.