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  1. #1

    How do I like grand strategy games?

    For as long as I can remember I've cursed friends and maybe even family for enjoying these bland, boring, stupid grand strategy games. I've seen my friends play them for hours on end; trading stories of war, victory, defeat and that one time they blew up some elephants using an army of cannons. They get so sucked in and engaged.

    At this point I've come to envy them. Growing tired of FPS games and RTS games, I've started longing for something different. Something grander. So I've tried Europa Universalis. I've tried Civilzation. I even liked it, but eventually I got bored; and quite early in my civilzation's development. I had no grand plans, no fearsome specially tailored army, no clever ruses. I just had like 4 dudes hitting a really small castle. I've tried Crusader Kings 2, and a whole bunch more. But I've never really given any of them a proper chance. I always get demoralized and bored.

    So help me! If you can. What kind of mindset do I need to be in to enjoy a game like Crusader Kings 2 or Europa Univeraslis? And out of curiosity, what are you thinking while you play these games? What makes them so fun and captivating for you?

    And is it just a case of "stick with it and you'll get it", or am I one of those freaks who just don't get it and never will?

  2. #2
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Fumarole's Avatar
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    Try something space based perhaps, like Sword of the Stars or Alpha Centauri.
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  3. #3
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus soldant's Avatar
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    CK2's mindset is more about families and less about building armies. At least that's the intention - you're not out to toss armies at each other but to build up your dynasty and managing the fact that sometimes people are a massive pain in the arse for no good reason. Play it from that perspective and it becomes one of the most interesting games around.

    EU3 and CK2 are probably two of the better grand strategy games, I find a lot of other ones get bogged down in pointless details or micromanagement which shouldn't be part of grand strategy. Any of them that you play requires a commitment for several gameplay sessions though, I don't know any which can be over and done with in a single session (unless you can sit still for 24 hours or something).

    Sword of the Stars incidentally I didn't like, because the grand strategy part was boring and the battles were crippled by a useless UI. Just IMO, didn't click with me.
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  4. #4
    The only one I've really played and stuck with has been Crusader Kings II, but I've played it for almost 400 hours now, and that is just ridiculous. It's one of my favorite games.

    I think you really need to have an interest in history, because largely, you're staring at a map. So, you have to have an investment in the world you're playing in, and the characters that populate it. You have to be interested enough in it to set creative goals for yourself, and actually care about those goals regardless of how little they go towards 'winning'.

    Set goals for yourself by thinking of 'What if...' scenarios. CKII to me is like an alternate history simulator, where you can see - if things went differently, if certain people acted differently or were never born at all - how things might have happened. Look to actual historical events for inspiration.

    But there's also the political and role-playing elements that make the game incredibly deep and interesting on top of that. Don't just look at the characters as names and stats. Look at them as people. Try and develop them as characters in your head and you'll become more attached to them. You might actually even feel bad the first time you have to have a kid killed (and you will have to do it at some point, it's almost a CK rite of passage to realize you're a ruthless, power hungry lunatic). Insane, dramatic, events will play out. Hell, some of my character's lives have practically been Shakespearean plays, without any sort of plot actually existing anywhere but in my imagination with the help of some traits and stats. Try and make the character you're playing as a believable one. Look at political situations from different angles, scheme, be manipulative and creative with how you solve problems. Pulling off a plan years in the making is immensely satisfying, but you can only really get there once you've mastered the mechanics (which is a satisfying achievement in itself).

    That's why I've stared at a map for so long, and will stare for a lot longer. Particularly once the new expansion comes out. Hope you can get into it, because it's really an amazing game in my opinion.
    Last edited by Cosm; 18-04-2013 at 04:58 AM.

  5. #5
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus jnx's Avatar
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    For me games are often only half of the story. Whether an rpg or grand strategy, I often imagine and visualize events and character development in my head. I think Tycho from PA once wrote that he does this too, so maybe it is a type of gamer. And I think this type is able to get sucked into these games really easily and tell enthusiastic tales.
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  6. #6
    Lesser Hivemind Node L_No's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Bacon View Post
    And is it just a case of "stick with it and you'll get it", or am I one of those freaks who just don't get it and never will?
    I feel your pain ;) Somehow, I never really could enjoy Civ and the like, maybe I should try again after reading this thread.

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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Bankrotas's Avatar
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    I can't even sit through whole game of Sins of solar empire not being bored. I always will alt tab just to read something (I need second monitor :/)
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    Network Hub Ethelred's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Bacon View Post
    So help me! If you can. What kind of mindset do I need to be in to enjoy a game like Crusader Kings 2 or Europa Univeraslis? And out of curiosity, what are you thinking while you play these games? What makes them so fun and captivating for you?
    For me it's just that I hate to lose. The emergent story lines etc do come, but my objective is always to beat the AI or humans or whatever.

    This is why I always try & play at the hardest difficulty setting - the sense of achievement is my motivation I guess. That's not to say that I have ever won a game of gal civ 2 or Civ on the highest settings - they are more glorious defeats.

    Like sports you can get into, for want of a better word, a zen-like trance of intense concentration which does bemuse other people but when you are in the zone makes perfect sense.

    I don't tend to gt the same fix from FPS, maybe it's because these simulate movement?

    Although turn based is good, my favourites are things like the total war series where you get a mix of turn and realtime.

  9. #9
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Jesus_Phish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bankrotas View Post
    I can't even sit through whole game of Sins of solar empire not being bored. I always will alt tab just to read something (I need second monitor :/)
    I do that with Civ V when it gets to the stages of just clicking next turn and late game when the computer turns start taking more than a few seconds and there's still loads of them knocking about.
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  10. #10
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus sonson's Avatar
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    CK2 is a funny one in that itís essentially a political intrigue simulator, itís all about the narrative of bastards and claims and incest and stuff. Thereís a lot of depth to it but the only mechanics you really need to get in my experience are those which motivate the desire for political greed and self interest, and the rest you can safely ignore. It is a game you can win, but Iíve no idea why youíd want to do anything other than treat it as this snow globe of dynastic intrigue. So while itís easily one of the most accessible 4x games, it wonít actually prepare you for any others in all likelihood.

    One game Iíd suggest given your position would be Shogun II. The idea might be laughed at by some, probably by people who never played it, but as someone who was a hard-core 4x enthusiast for a while I can honestly say that Shogun II provides all 4 elements, along with an exceedingly competent and interesting AI, in a manner which is far more intuitive to handle, nice to look at and to me personally just outright better.

    There is so much to do now in terms of character relations, technological research, diplomacy, town management and military manoeuvre that the massive battles the series was initially famous for are now very much a second place priority, and you can easily play it with autoresolve without it feeling any less of a game. Itís still very hard to win without military conquest-though possible-but the nature of how you manipulate your own society and those of others for war is astonishingly open ended and deep, far more so than any other 4x game Iíve played. The AI plays by the same rules as you, without buffs and phantom resources, and as such is far more believable and honest than other strategy AI Iíve played. It feels like competing against a person, and what you see is what you get. You plan on the basis of what you know, what the game tells you.

    The link between society and military in particular is very very well done and along with the AI provides the biggest reason for such a massive improvement over previous TW offerings. If you donít strike a balance youíll either be rich but weak or mighty but fragile at home, so it honestly isnít just a case of building soldiers all the time and playing Risk like every version before it. Upkeep and chain of supply are dealt with simply but effectively, and maintaining a huge army is impossible without also having incredible wealth or constant conquest to pay for it. Samurai cost at least twice as much as regular infantry and as such army make up is a dynamic which needs thought all of itself. If you don't plan all 4x elements in advance on anything above the easy difficulty the cracks will start to appear quickly.

    If you want a game in which you are free to control the traditional 4x facets which is also a challenge, and as a bonus, a conceptually and visually gorgeous experience, Iíve not found better yet. Honestly, it provides what I was looking for in years of 4x playing but never really found.

  11. #11
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Heliocentric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jesus_Phish View Post
    I do that with Civ V when it gets to the stages of just clicking next turn and late game when the computer turns start taking more than a few seconds and there's still loads of them knocking about.
    Yeah, I know the feeling and I know the cure. Specifically? PBEM/Dropbox multiplayer. Many strategy games are ill suited, Civ in particular because 90% of what you do is pointless busy work.

    My picks for Strategic Bliss:
    Solium Infernum, it's the only game that solves the "Free for all" problem so acutely. Hell can only have one king and you'll need to lie, steal and threaten your friends to get there.

    Civilisation 4: Colonisation, with the TAC (The Authentic Colonisation), the Kings are Pricks but enough of that, so are your fellow colonists, they'll sell guns and rum to the natives and then bribe them to sack your towns. Dramatically more immediate and diverse than Civ4, if still a little slow.

    Dominions 3, full disclosure? I'm still in the honeymoon period of this one. But it's got more enough texture to it.

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  12. #12
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Xercies's Avatar
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    CK2 is probably the best I would say I guess I never liked EU3 because it never felt really that grand or that I felt like it was very exciting, because the characters are there CK2 just feels a whole lot better because each king has its own story along with your countries stories and its a great pleasure going from 1 single county to empire. Every other grand strategy game has felt a bit boring in comparison except maybe Hearts of Iron because of the smaller time span.

  13. #13
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    I totally feel for this thread. I considered myself a die-hard RPGer, secondly a MMORPGer, and not at all strategy minded. In fact my strategy play still sucks. I get totally bored with conversations from people I call "spreadsheet strategists" who break a game down into numbers then debate the play down to single gold-coin differences.

    BUT I have fallen in love with a few. Master of Magic, Stars!, Space Empires IV (not V), and BOTH of Illwinters games Dominions 3 and Conquest of Elysium 3. I love them because they have tons of build options to go different directions, and lend themselves to me RPGing the game even if the game doesnt.

    Both of the Illwinter games support more map and more nations at once than anyone really seems to want to play. Tons of fun. In Dominions 3 you play a pretender god who wants to become a full god leading a nation each with its own mythology (usually based on a real nation in history and their real mythology). The game has over 70 nations all unique with different units and different pro/con to the way they play. With all of the build options for your pretender, game options, equipment combos, spell tree, etc you can have very unique games for years. And THEN when you get bored there are the maps and mods adding to everything above that! And THEN there is multiplayer play for challenges after that. Years after release there is still no kill-all walkthru posted for the game.

    And if that one seems alittle too much strategy then there is Illwinters newer game Conquest of Elysium 3 which has a lot of the same features but is smaller, faster play, less micromanagement, and better for solo or team play (cheaper also)
    Last edited by gp1628; 18-04-2013 at 04:00 PM.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heliocentric View Post

    My picks for Strategic Bliss:
    Solium Infernum, it's the only game that solves the "Free for all" problem so acutely. Hell can only have one king and you'll need to lie, steal and threaten your friends to get there.
    Are people still playing Solium Infernum? I honestly never got into the multiplayer (shame on me; I was too lazy to find people). How does PBEM/dropbox even work? I wait for someone to play on their computer and then they e-mail that to me?

  15. #15
    I really enjoy these games. I do think a sense of imagination is required to get the most out of them however. I know some people just try to exploit the games and conquer the world as quickly as possible but I prefer to play it as realistic as possible and try to imagine what a ruler would actually do in various situations. There's something very satisfying about winning a bitter hundred year long war or successfully guiding your small country into an economic and cultural golden age. There are some good let's plays on Youtube of people who get really into their CK2/EU3 campaigns and really make a story out of it. I'd suggest checking some of those out.

    For example:

    http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL3788587A0D376D2C
    http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list...-P_lUJ8VlCylZB
    http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLBC43D965734D3050

    are all very entertaining, epic and well done.




    I think starting with a country/area of the world you have some actual real life interest in helps. These games are really about telling stories and creating alternate histories.

  16. #16
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Heliocentric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by illway View Post
    Are people still playing Solium Infernum? I honestly never got into the multiplayer (shame on me; I was too lazy to find people). How does PBEM/dropbox even work? I wait for someone to play on their computer and then they e-mail that to me?
    It can be emailed but drop box is lazier. Essentially I open my drop box folder, and copy the .sav file from the host or if i'm the host then all the .trn files, paste them into the games save folder (using a shortcut to hop there) and boot up the game, when a hit end turn i copy my output (.sav if admin or .trn) and (I tap "back") paste it into drop box folder. And then you must brood intensely waiting for the turn.

    Edit: The rps Solium community is healthy but if you desperately want a game on demand the Cryptic Comet forum is a hive of villainy.
    Last edited by Heliocentric; 18-04-2013 at 05:03 PM.
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  17. #17
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Kelron's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by illway View Post
    Are people still playing Solium Infernum? I honestly never got into the multiplayer (shame on me; I was too lazy to find people). How does PBEM/dropbox even work? I wait for someone to play on their computer and then they e-mail that to me?
    How to find Solium Infernum games: scroll down to Game Clubs forum, SI sub forum.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by jnx View Post
    Whether an rpg or grand strategy, I often imagine and visualize events and character development in my head.
    I think this is one of the most valuable "skills" in gaming: that what you see on the screen isn't necessarily the real story but simply a prompt for the "story-in-your-head". I wonder if this "skill" is something that can be learned or if it is mainly a character trait that you can't do much about.
    Irrelevant on further examination of the rest of the thread.

  19. #19
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Xercies's Avatar
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    I think this is one of the most valuable "skills" in gaming: that what you see on the screen isn't necessarily the real story but simply a prompt for the "story-in-your-head". I wonder if this "skill" is something that can be learned or if it is mainly a character trait that you can't do much about.


    I actually think this is the key to enjoying grand strategy games, without the story in your head it can look a bit cold where its just numbers on a screen and pushing little men around on the board and waiting for things to die. But if you put a story in there it all becomes very exciting and sometimes compltly hilarious.

    Also my most fun with grand strategy games is actually not winning but losing spectacurly. I still remember my time in Poland on CK2 where i unfortunately married my king to a chaste lady they had two kids one of them was completely unusable as a king and he died 3 months in and the other one was a lady which meant everyone revolted against her and i got invaded by a the holy roman empire. It was completely hilarious.

  20. #20
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus vinraith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bankrotas View Post
    I can't even sit through whole game of Sins of solar empire not being bored. I always will alt tab just to read something (I need second monitor :/)
    That's not a reflection on strategy games as a whole, Sins is just really boring.

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