Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
Real-time strategy games seem to be a dying artform, which is a shame given that Eugen System’s RUSE provided a perfect roadmap for where they might want to go.
RUSE was an RTS inspired by poker, about deceiving and being deceived through subterfuge.
Was that column of tanks approaching to your east real, or an illusion created by misinformation? Was that territory to your south real empty, or was it simply being plunged into darkness in preparation for a devious ambush? By using powers across regions of the board, you attempted to convince your friends you were deploying one strategy when your real plan tightened around them like a noose.
This made for tense, smart matches, where tactical thought was rewarded more than macro- or micro- actions per minute.
It’s a real shame the game didn’t seem to catch on. Ubisoft published it but there’s never been a sequel, and Eugen instead turned to their – admittedly beloved, but to me impenetrable – Wargame series. I still hold out hope for more strategy like this, however, which felt more like a boardgame for the way it played with social dynamics, than yet another hopeless retread of Command & Conquer.