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TOP FIVE GROWING TRENDS IN WAR STRATEGY GAMES
I don’t know what to say… being a huge strategy game fan, I’ve been noticing some sparring changes over the course of the years which makes me wonder… ‘what just happened?’ I mean, it started it out simple with Command and Conquer where you had two sides with infantry and tanks with some Tiberium on the field, you’d set up your base and you’d duke it out the best you can. You can turtle, you can send three men to set up choke points for tanks to walk through, etc… but after the years past… something happened. I’ve been searching for months, and I think something be happening out there. I don’t how to put this… how can I put this without shocking the public, what a dilemma I face.
Confused monkey is confused, ‘What just happened to Strategy?’
Number Five – Holy man Jesus, an army of different people?
Perhaps it had something to do with Command and Conquer when it came out. I mean, I was able to pump tank after tank, APC after APC and steamroll over someone’s base within a split second. No one would ever survive and I would only lose about… say ten tanks when I did so? Perhaps fifteen or so, but I would always have enough to take on the next wave… to boot, back at base was a brimming ground for another squadron to plough right through the next base up north somewhere. Yeah sure they’d bomb me to hell, but by the time my army got back, their bombers would be stuck in the air, without a place to go. Starcraft did diversify (I was Terran for this) but I was still able to pump tank after tank when it all got good and well and rush into another base, ignoring troopers and mowing down their base…
Those were the salad days, but then someone got this genius idea… “Why don’t we make more things to counter other things,” To which this other guy replies. “Things countering other things?” Then the other guys says. “Countering things with other things… with extreme prejudice…” So now we have this pool of complexity where when this thing is massed, this thing can counter that thing… and now we have this big ball of things countering other things and in ways it can be a bit of a mess… but that’s what makes the strategy game work! I mean, look at Warhammer 40,000 or Company of Heroes, both games of which did just exactly that with mortars, anti-tank guns, and infantry upgrades. No longer can I mass tanks and rush, I must carry a diverse population and carry out my devious plans (I feel like a military commander with all these things at my disposal). It’s a shame these games aren’t popular in the competitive space like Starcraft, would’ve been fun to watch these two games.
Number Four – Resource gathering, fight for more things?
It’s starting to pick up nowadays that now many strategy games are starting to change their resource model into a more action-packed, stream-lined package. Before it was encouraged that you should sit in your base and harvest resources where the field is nice and close. You don’t need to head out in the open if you don’t really want to, you could just as well amass an army in your own base and laugh at your enemy when they try to take you with their one man infantry squad. After many companies started adapting this growing trend of a resource model, things changed very quickly. Now you are forced to head out into the world for mass, Tiberium, fuel, munitions, power, or just manpower. I mean now it’s like… “Don’t pick stuff up and make it on the spot,” now we all shall wait to get that mammoth tank you want to stop around in. “You want that lollipop over there kiddie?” The resource shouts to me. “Sorry,” It taunts. “You must wait till you have enough points, go play with your friends and earn some more.” And usually when they say that, they must mean that I have to go out and fight… ugh.
Kind of makes you want to scream, right?
While it can be considered a good thing that you have to earn most of your points for further and better tanks by fighting, or retrieving crystals (Command and Conquer 4), or by capturing specific points to win or something of that nature, it can upset the other strategist that are used to the old-school tactics such as turtling or rushing. I mean, I enjoy fighting other infantry and as a result I do a fair bit of offensive if I play games like (ok, I enjoy Company of Heroes… I ain’t biased) Company of Heroes. Rushing a sniper, a mortar, or a group of Strumkrappen… or those German infantry guys with really grey suits and fancy crosses with a group of rangers, never felt so satisfying. Games as such do discourage turtling and as a result are more action-packed in a broader sense. And with the resource gathering model, you are forced to fight out in the open to capture strategic points which adds to the suspense of every game you play. Seems to me many games of this nature are adapting this model to avoid monotone games and increase enemy encounters… thank god.
Number Three – One thing to do many things?
It seems to be a moot point compared to the other two, but it’s something I’ve noticed and I think everyone else has noticed it too when they first played the games. Remember how many structures you needed to get your economy running in Starcraft for mass production? Remember how many harvesters you needed to churn out to get a good flow for tank production? Holy Christ, do you remember the irritancy of protecting your fields from ruffians out there? Well I remember and god I stopped playing those games as it gone too far as I ended up turtling for half those games, with no winner present… (someone usually left, what douche bags, aye?) I mean, these two things down below were too familiar a sight…
So then there comes the juggernauts… the guys from Massive Entertainment, the designers from Creative Assemblies, and the dudes at Relic Entertainment to really speed things up on this front. Ever since the entering of Total War, Ground Control, World in Conflict, and Warhammer 40,000 Dawn of War II, there has been a spike in numbers of games being developed where base-building is a moot point. No longer will I have to deal with turtle strategist as everything you need is usually in one building, or called in via air support. Yeah sure you can create defensive structures, but they aren’t as destructive as ones you could probably build in games like… Command and Conquer! And if they are present in the game, they are usually manned by something, (In Company of Heroes really) and can be decrewed easily and used against their makers.
Number Two – Squads of Infantry, what the hell just happened?
I remember playing Starcraft for the first time a while back… and after words, I questioned the ability of infantry as a whole. I mean, fragile marines trying to defend themselves mid-game almost seemed useless… and I laughed every time I heard a Terran marine scream as they were mercilessly beaten down in the bunker by massing Zerg. After that beat down… (I Charlie horsed my friend after he did that to me… seven damn times!) I ended up deporting them into my bank of useless unit list and only used them for minor defense when I didn’t have anything else to use. After playing Command and Conquer after playing Starcraft, I didn’t use infantry at all for anything… except the engineer and occasionally the commando. I mean, if my friend did use them, I ran them over! That or I just as well obliterate them with Humvee’s in support of tanks. If they stayed back behind the tank screening force, my friends would usually just aim for the medium’s before going for the Humvee’s… poor bastards.
Notice how no one is shooting at the infantry? That’s because they are about to be ran over…
So after much deliberation in their strategic headquarters of planning of new games, they were able to come up with the plan of creating not one person, not two… but a whole whopping squadron of total ass kick in a bottle. So after I played through Warhammer, Company of Heroes, I have gained a new respect for infantry everywhere. I actually started to sort of appreciate the infantry in Starcraft a little more after playing said games. Now they are much stronger than ever before as they can with stand machine gun fire (if in cover), and they can be upgraded with meaningful weapon that makes them versatile; unlike before where I was forced to pay another batch of Tiberium or some more crystal so I get an anti-tank trooper out or something. Thank you strategy games for doing that… now we just have to work on different ways to reinforce that same squad.
Number one trend in strategy games nowadays – I mean, holy nut sack, placing units somewhere else for a better view? Are you high?
This can be a gripping concept if your strategy boils down to rushing towards another base and obliterating what’s in their base. I mean, oversized forces before could mow down defenses or a well versatile force through just sheer shock force. “Wh0 c4res wh3re y0ur uNits w3r3?” some say to me. “I’m in ur base, raping your d00d5!” Then I usually lose and watch Seinfeld afterwards, because after a gripping loss, Seinfeld helps you forget about it all. Many competitive games touched base with many of these concepts, but it wasn’t exactly enforced to much a degree if they had a big enough force. I mean, unit elevation was new and fun to play around with but if they found a way up… you were boned and there was nothing you could really do about it less you stacked that cliffside with more turrets—sorry. So really before, it boiled down to who had the bigger force and who could shock their opponent first.
This voids your cliff sides and all concepts of elevation in any game, this is what it boiled down to sometimes if you just couldn’t find that damn cliffside way path. That or they were just too lazy to buy artillery.
So after all these years, it seems that many games are starting to get the idea of the concept of elevation by enforcing penalties and bonuses to those who actually have the smarts to put their rifleman on the cliffside to rain hell from above with grenades and potato sticks to scare their enemy. Heavy machine guns can avoid fire better and get a better view for many games, and snipers get a hell of an advantage such as not being able to be shot as easily from said vantage point. Tactical placement has become one hell of a point in other games over the years and are enforces heavily and are encouraged through several means. Easier fights, surprise battles, and tactical surprise as they probably weren’t expecting that random flanking manoeuvre you performed behind their backs. Games like Company of Heroes, World in Conflict, Ground Control, and Total War encourage such behaviors and give you the stats of many to come to terms with said tactical control. World in Conflict encourages flanking for veterancy and for the lighter, cheaper tanks to perform well to warrant a purchase. Ground Control recommend such manoeuvres to destroy stubborn defenses and as a result encouraged infantry to suppress while your tanks did the work. In the sequel, you were given stats that took the top armour and side armours into account. See what I mean? There is a growing trend in all these games, and as a result you don’t need fast fingers (have you seen them Koreans in Starcraft? Christ, I don’t want to play Starcraft no more) to win a game against them, you just need to know where to place your units and structures for the utmost efficiency.
We’ve come a long way from the simplicity of early tactics. Now that we’ve all matured and we’ve all outplayed the tactics of before, it’s time for these simple innovations to take the spotlight to spice up the strategy genre once and for all. Now let’s get out there and start appreciating the innovations out there by playing all those great games I mentioned above J.