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Pike
04-25-2013, 01:47 AM
Good evening ladies and gentlebots! I've made up a list of what I consider to be the ten definitive strategy and tactics games of all time. Yes, I left a lot of very good ones off of here - I had to be selective. Yes, I admit there are some games I haven't played that should be on the list but that I can't judge yet. Oh well. :monkey:

10. XCOM Enemy Unknown - Coming in at a very respectable #10 on the list is Firaxis's XCOM remake from last year. It's pretty amazing what Firaxis managed to accomplish with a small budget, and although they could certainly have benefited from some more cash in their pockets, this game really shines with all the depth of the original (regardless of what the haters say) and, more importantly, its white-knuckle tension as well.

~

9. Victoria II - Possibly Paradox Interactive's finest hour, Victoria II puts you in charge of a country in the 19th century and... well, that's the whole point. You can go to war, of course, but that's not the goal here, per se - the goal is to be more prestigious than all the other countries via any means possible, whether it's diplomatic, political, or economical. Staring at a map and a bunch of spreadsheets was never so captivating.

~

8. Age of Empires II - A delightfully fun and very well made romp through history with all the hallmarks of a great real-time strategy game. The game still holds up today just as well as it did when it first came out, so grab a friend or two because the multiplayer is a blast.

~

7. StarCraft: Brood War - To me it was a tossup between this and AoE II for the title of Greatest RTS of All Time, and StarCraft barely won out. What gave it the edge, to me, is the fact that somehow Blizzard managed to create three races that were all very distinct in flavor and mechanics but who all managed to balance each other out perfectly. I have no idea how they did it, but they did. No RTS has surpassed it since.

~

6. Rome: Total War - It could have just as easily been Medieval 2, but in the end I had to give the title to Rome. The whole point of Total War is to shift you between the "strategy" and "tactics" side of the war coin, and this game does this with aplomb in a way that no other game really does. Plus, there's nothing like controlling a thousand guys on the battlefield.

~

5. Crusader Kings II - I'm rating this higher than Vicky II because of the polish and the fact that Paradox succeeded in putting personality into the strategy genre. CKII is about families, dynasties, and people, all of whom have individual stories - stories that you'll invent as you play. Combine this with being able to mod any fantasy scenario you want into it (Game of Thrones, The Elder Scrolls, et al.) and the replayability is off the charts. Grognards may turn their nose up at the lack of a million pie charts, but the rest of us know that this is a very excellent game indeed.

~

4. Master of Orion 2 - Oh, now we're getting to the good stuff. What is there to praise about MoO2 that hasn't already been praised elsewhere? It's the 4X of a generation; it's influenced every turn-based space game ever since, and to this day people are still remaking it and porting it to every system under the sun. It's a space opera turned video game, with different types of alien races to meet and planets to colonize and ships to build, and while a few truly great space 4Xs can claim to stand alongside MoO2, none can claim to have surpassed it. Not yet, anyway.

~

3. Civilization IV - This is, bar none, the best Civilization game. We'll get this out of the way right now. II was very good as well, I and III had their moments, and V is, well, pretty heavily flawed (http://www.garath.net/Sullla/Civ5/whatwentwrong.html). Civ IV, though, did everything right. From the standpoint of pure mechanics, this is probably the greatest 4X ever made. Between the civics, the wonder system, the tech tree, the espionage, and the sheer wealth of options and empires to choose from, this is very definition of a flawless turn-based strategy game.

~

2. X-Com UFO Defense - I've yet to play another videogame where I was pressed up against the monitor, straining my ears to just listen. But that's what happens when you play X-Com and that terrifying "Hidden Movement" screen pops up. One misstep could mean that your entire party is destroyed in one turn by a rogue grenade- you can never be too careful with X-Com. Oh, but that's all smalltime compared to the later enemies which Microprose gleefully throws at you as you progress through the game, losing your soldiers left and right. It's terrifying, it's intense, it's ballbreakingly difficult and it's brilliant.

~

1. Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri - What sets SMAC apart isn't the mechanics (although they are still very good), or the difficulty (although it can still be very hard), or the customization (although SMAC has that in spades.) It's not even in the Planet Busters and their ability to literally wipe out half of the playing field in one shot. No, what sets SMAC apart is that it's hard science fiction, it's philosophy, it's religion, and, ultimately, it's human nature, all wrapped up tightly in one interactive package. SMAC goes beyond being just a game or a piece of entertainment. It makes you feel, and it makes you think. The fact that it insists on doing so while you're sitting breathlessly on the edge of your seat is a bonus.

~

Honorable Mentions go to: Europa Universalis 3; Darkest Hour; Space Empires IV; Warcraft 3; Medieval II: Total War; Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2, and various other games that I'm probably forgetting.



:squee: LET'S TALK ABOUT STRATEGY GAMES! :squee:

Mister Adequate
04-25-2013, 01:51 AM
I would make my list almost exactly the same, but I would remove StarCraft and I would put Dawn of War in instead.

Del Murder
04-25-2013, 02:55 AM
Is FFT a tactics game or is it considered a 'tactical RPG'?

Bolivar
04-25-2013, 03:07 AM
That's a pretty thorough and glorious trek through the strategy genre over the years and its very different incarnations. Personally I'm a golden-age RTS fanboy, but this is an awesome road map for novices looking to expand their horizons. I actually have Vicky 2 waiting to install from Amazon, I should probably get on that sooner rather than later...

chionos
04-25-2013, 03:56 AM
Well, Pike didn't specify RTS or anything, DEL, just "Strategy/Tactics" so FFT would actually fit. Based on what she included in her list, though...


My list would have Europa near the top. I tend to play more strategy board-games than anything else these days. A lot of A&A, etc. We've thought about getting the Europa board game, but man it sounds like a lot to learn.

I played the SHIT outta some C&C:RAR back in the day. And I always enjoyed the simplicity (and sound effects) of AoE.

Cruise Control
04-25-2013, 04:04 AM
I'm going to flippantly dismiss your list since you seem to operate under the impression that Starcraft or any RTS is better than Company of Heroes. But really, good list. If you haven't, you should definitely try Company of Heroes.

Laddy
04-25-2013, 09:52 AM
Damn good list, Pikey-Wikey! :D

Pike
04-25-2013, 10:32 AM
I'm going to flippantly dismiss your list since you seem to operate under the impression that Starcraft or any RTS is better than Company of Heroes. But really, good list. If you haven't, you should definitely try Company of Heroes.

Haven't played it, I'm afraid.


Is FFT a tactics game or is it considered a 'tactical RPG'?

I honestly consider FFT and similar games to be RPGs more than true tactics games so they were not included. (Although in all honesty they wouldn't have made the list even if I was including them. :p ) This is personal opinion of course.


My list would have Europa near the top. I tend to play more strategy board-games than anything else these days. A lot of A&A, etc. We've thought about getting the Europa board game, but man it sounds like a lot to learn.

I felt really bad about leaving EU3 off the list. It was a tough list to make.

LocoColt04
04-25-2013, 10:31 PM
Some disagreeances throughout, as I'd probably through both FFTactics and Tactics Ogre both into that list if they're allowed - BUT I absolutely agree with SMAC sitting atop your list. Good show.

Pike
04-25-2013, 10:51 PM
I still say that FFTactics style games are a subgenre of RPGs whilst turn-based tactics games like X-Com are a subgenre of strategy games... but it seems that most people disagree with me.

Regardless it still wouldn't have made my personal list, so it's a moot point. :)

chionos
04-25-2013, 11:58 PM
I don't disagree. I think that's a fair distinction.

Del Murder
04-26-2013, 02:34 AM
Ok in terms of the genre as Pike defines it then I've only played AOE2 on that list. It's pretty fun. I might try out the new XCOM for PS3 since it sounds interesting.

Aulayna
04-26-2013, 02:44 AM
I would make my list almost exactly the same, but I would remove StarCraft and I would put Dawn of War in instead.

Dead to me.

LocoColt04
04-26-2013, 03:54 AM
Ok in terms of the genre as Pike defines it then I've only played AOE2 on that list. It's pretty fun. I might try out the new XCOM for PS3 since it sounds interesting.IT IS SO GOOD

And as Pike defines it... I can't say there's anything necessarily missing from the list. I'd also like to see Dawn of War there, but not in place of Starcraft.

And Alpha Centauri remains in the number one spot, regardless.

Skyblade
04-26-2013, 05:36 AM
I still say that FFTactics style games are a subgenre of RPGs whilst turn-based tactics games like X-Com are a subgenre of strategy games... but it seems that most people disagree with me.

Regardless it still wouldn't have made my personal list, so it's a moot point. :)

Play a Fire Emblem game. Then tell me how many RPG elements a game needs to fall on the RPG side than the tactical side of this demarcation.

Pike
04-26-2013, 10:35 AM
I think I played some Fire Emblem back in the day. I don't remember enough of it to pass any sort of judgement on it. Regardless, since I don't remember it, it wouldn't go on my list anyway... same with any other strategy games I haven't played. I'm sure the list would be different if I'd played all of them.

Skyblade
04-26-2013, 01:22 PM
I think I played some Fire Emblem back in the day. I don't remember enough of it to pass any sort of judgement on it. Regardless, since I don't remember it, it wouldn't go on my list anyway... same with any other strategy games I haven't played. I'm sure the list would be different if I'd played all of them.

I wasn't suggesting that it would go on your list, just that it might blur the line between straight tactics games and tactical RPGs.

Pike
04-26-2013, 04:13 PM
Perhaps it might!

Mister Adequate
04-26-2013, 05:32 PM
Yes some games do straddle that line more finely than others! This does not invalidate the concept of genres!

Bolivar
04-27-2013, 04:14 AM
I like what Pike said in the other thread about how these games, coming from two very different traditions, still arrived at a very similar outcome. I love both genres, but I would still keep them separate.

maybee
04-27-2013, 05:13 AM
No Fire Emblem or Fire Emblem Awakening ? :confused:

Pike
04-27-2013, 10:36 AM
I haven't played Fire Emblem in so long that I don't remember it and am not in a place to judge it :p

maybee
04-28-2013, 07:17 AM
I haven't played Fire Emblem in so long that I don't remember it and am not in a place to judge it :p

Oh Pike !

Stop right there and go to Vizzed. Com and play them !!

Loony BoB
04-28-2013, 07:47 AM
I've played half of these games (1, 2, 3, 8, 10). I feel like I've earned my Pike badge. xD I've played a bit of Starcraft here and there, too, but I could never get into it for some reason. I think Warcraft beats it pretty easily for me, purely on the general feeling I get when playing it. It is to me what Hello Kitty is to many others out there. Just makes me go "d'awwwww" and want to cuddle it.

DK
04-28-2013, 08:04 AM
AC should be on ever top ten list ever. I mean every single one, not just video games. Top ten US presidents, SMAC. Top ten carbonated beverages, SMAC. Top ten ways to say "you get the idea", SMAC.

Del Murder
05-03-2013, 11:20 PM
I have a question for Pike and the rest of you strategy game fans.

I'm a big fan of Tactical RPGs, some of which I mentioned in this thread (FFT, TO, FE, etc.). In fact, this genre may even by my favorite game genre. Some of the things I like about it are the integration of RPG elements (story, characters, class/equipment systems) with the tactical gameplay. My question is, would I still enjoy the more 'traditional' strategy games that may be lacking the RPG elements?

My main concern is the single player campaign in these games. Of the items on Pike's list I've only played AOE2. It's a really fun game, but only when you have someone to play with. Is that generally how strategy games are, or do some have involving single-player campaigns with characterization, story, etc.? I really have no interest in just doing random battle after battle if there are no characters or world to anchor myself to.

FYI, the game I'm considering buying is XCOM Enemy Unknown, but you guys talk a big storm about SMAC all the time that I might try that one too.

NeoCracker
05-03-2013, 11:27 PM
As someone who doesn't really play normal strategy games, and is also a big fan of SRPG's, Enemy Unknown is pretty good. It has a distinctly different feel then an SRPG, The story is pretty sparce and basic, but servicable.

The unit customization isn't is detailed as games like Tactics, but it's still existant and fun to play with.

I think it would be likely you'd enjoy it.

Pike
05-04-2013, 12:55 AM
I have a question for Pike and the rest of you strategy game fans.

I'm a big fan of Tactical RPGs, some of which I mentioned in this thread (FFT, TO, FE, etc.). In fact, this genre may even by my favorite game genre. Some of the things I like about it are the integration of RPG elements (story, characters, class/equipment systems) with the tactical gameplay. My question is, would I still enjoy the more 'traditional' strategy games that may be lacking the RPG elements?

My main concern is the single player campaign in these games. Of the items on Pike's list I've only played AOE2. It's a really fun game, but only when you have someone to play with. Is that generally how strategy games are, or do some have involving single-player campaigns with characterization, story, etc.? I really have no interest in just doing random battle after battle if there are no characters or world to anchor myself to.

FYI, the game I'm considering buying is XCOM Enemy Unknown, but you guys talk a big storm about SMAC all the time that I might try that one too.

RTS games such as AoE2 tend to lean themselves more towards multiplayer, but grand strategy, turn-based strategy, 4X, and turn-based tactics (XCOM falls under that last category) all work perfectly fine-- I'd argue better, in many cases-- in single-player.

I should mention that grand strategy, turn-based and 4X games tend not to have a "campaign" per se, though. You play as one empire at a time... one "game" at a time, so to speak.

Bolivar
05-04-2013, 01:21 AM
I don't know if you'll find a game amongst these with heavy characterization and plot like an SRPG, but Crusader Kings II kinda hits that mark since it's essentially a game all about characters. You're scheming and plotting against your vassals, your liege lord, your uncles, mercenary captains, and your own councillors, all the while they're doing the same thing against you and against eachother. It's probably the best exemplar of emergent narrative in gaming yet.

Pike
05-04-2013, 10:09 AM
Yeah, most of these games don't involve preset characters or plot. You get to make up your own, and your own goals, instead :)

Del Murder
05-04-2013, 04:25 PM
Ugh, that's too much work!

Skyblade
05-04-2013, 06:26 PM
Ugh, that's too much work!

Actually, the problem for me is that most of those don't have characters. You never deal with more than the face of an empire, there's never a personal connection to any of them. From Civilization and Ghandi threatening me with nuclear weapons to XCOM and my army of mute mooks, the personal connection is just always missing.

I don't have a problem making my own story, I have a problem getting invested in a world of nonentities. Which is why TRPGs are always way more interesting than straight strategy games.

The best straight strategy game I've played was Master of Orion 2 (and a lot of that is because it's the best empire building sim of all time, in addition to being a great strategy game).

So go pick up Fire Emblem Awakening. You'll like it way more than any straight strategy game.

Bolivar
05-05-2013, 02:13 AM
So go pick up Fire Emblem Awakening. You'll like it way more than any straight strategy game.

It's on its way from Amazon! You can expect your PM box to be filled in a few days :blahblah:

Skyblade
05-05-2013, 02:20 AM
So go pick up Fire Emblem Awakening. You'll like it way more than any straight strategy game.

It's on its way from Amazon! You can expect your PM box to be filled in a few days :blahblah:

Forget that, we can make a thread for it. I was planning to soon anyway. By my calculations, we only have three more Thursdays before the last of the DLCs is out, and I was going to make a thread for it then to discuss them (they're awesome), but we can launch it earlier if I have someone to talk to about this game. And we'll drag Del into it too! :D

HasteInTime
05-05-2013, 02:42 AM
Oh wow number one at the top is also my all time PC fav SMAC. Pike you rock...

Pike
05-05-2013, 09:22 AM
Oh wow number one at the top is also my all time PC fav SMAC. Pike you rock...

Why thank you :cool: It's my all time favorite game as well. Tied with Morrowind and Deus Ex.

Scotty_ffgamer
05-17-2013, 04:26 AM
I just want to say that I am getting SMAC as we speak. I haven't really played anything of that genre of games, but I looked back at this thread for some reason and decided I needed to play SMAC. I see it mentioned all the time so I figure it's a good investment.

Pike
05-17-2013, 10:32 AM
I'm going to congratulate you but also warn you that if you have never played a 4X before and you're going for SMAC as your first then you are in for one hell of a learning curve.

Good luck!

Del Murder
05-17-2013, 05:08 PM
What's 4X?

Pike
05-17-2013, 05:11 PM
It's the genre that games like Civilization fall under. It means a turn-based strategy game that is focused on making a big empire, I.E. exploration, expansion, exploiting and exterminating - which is where the term 4X comes from!

Del Murder
05-17-2013, 05:11 PM
Which would be the best first game to try if you've never played these before?

Pike
05-17-2013, 05:12 PM
I'd go for Civ IV or Civ V. IV is the better game but V is supposed to be friendlier to newbies.

kotora
05-17-2013, 05:53 PM
Your opinion is wrong, Brood War oughta be way higher. Otherwise, good list, but missing a shoutout to Total Annihilation/Supreme Commander! I don't think any other game has attempted RTS on such a grand scale.

Pike
05-17-2013, 06:10 PM
Brood War is my favorite RTS but this is covering all sorts of strategy/tactics genres, not just RTS, so some concessions had to be made.

Haven't played Total Annihilation/Supreme Commander yet.

Scotty_ffgamer
05-17-2013, 06:51 PM
You are right; I have no idea what I am doing, haha. I am looking into getting Civ IV in the future when I have some more money. I just got SMAC because it was $5 and I figured I might as well give it a go. Do you have any advice for playing SMAC?

Slothy
05-17-2013, 07:01 PM
Automate all of your terraformers.

Pike
05-17-2013, 07:02 PM
Watch out for mindworms and for getting backstabbed. Whilst you can usually play through other 4X games through pure diplomacy, there will be war in SMAC whether you want it or not (usually when you aren't ready for it)

Slothy
05-17-2013, 07:08 PM
I am always ready for war in SMAC because war is the only victory condition I care about.

Mister Adequate
05-17-2013, 08:30 PM
Something to be aware of with SMAC is that despite not having unique units or anything, the factions all play very differently, much more than in most 4x games. Take a look through each one and think about your usual playstyle, then match them up and play to your strengths.

Dignified Pauper
05-19-2013, 12:32 PM
Crusader Kings II might be one of the best "inventive" narrative games ever. Every time I play, something absolutely absurd happens... I mean, EVERYTIME. It's AMAAAAAAZING.