Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
Defender of the Crown [gog page] is probably the first strategy game I ever played, if you’re willing to ignore Chess. Let’s just say that Cinemaware’s depiction of a Kingless England was my first computer strategy game. I played it on an Amiga back in the eighties and it felt like an entire world was coming to life on the screen.
Cinemaware were masters in the art of making games that felt expansive while mostly being collections of mini-games. That was partly down to the brilliance with which they captured elements of genre, whether the chivalric life/war sim of Defender of the Crown or the b-movie sci-fi horror of It Came From The Desert. It’s also fair to say that the games actually were expansive compared to their peers.
Defender of the Crown has jousting, sieges, raids, army management and a Robin Hood cameo. I remember thinking it was similar to Risk (another non-computer strategy game I’d played) but with a much smaller map. But I quickly accepted that the size of the map mattered much less than what you did with that map, and Defender of the Crown’s map was alive with possibilities.