What is a Strategy Game?

Strategy games are one of the oldest forms of games invented.  Strategy games are those in which you make decisions with a set if units in which your individual decisions dictate whether or not you win.

The oldest strategy game in existence may be what we call Chinese Checkers.  This game of marbles focuses on moving your marbles from one side of the board to the other.  This game features three players.  You can move a piece one place at a time.  If there is a piece in the way you can hop over it.  If there are two pieces in the way you cannot move that piece.  This simple set of rules involved complicated tactics in which players would have to predict the moves of two opponents many turns in advance.

The first computer strategy game is chess.  Simply called Chess this game was developed as a simulator.  The computer was designed to beat opponents.  The series would eventually become known as Chessmaster and over time the program would get better and better.  Eventually a strategy game is developed so tough that world renown chess champion Bobby Fischer is unable to beat it.

Strategy games often revolve around you thinking what your opponent is doing and how to counter it.  Most strategy games involve different units with different strengths and weaknesses.  By using them effectively you can create units that will emphasize the weaknesses of your enemy.

Strategy games are not based on chance and decisions are based on known information.  Although many games involve a dice roll your decision to attack with a dice role is a decision strategically based on strong odds, not on luck.

Strategy games come in many kinds they are:

  • Table Top Game: These games focus on units occupying blocks or hexagons.  A person will get a limited number of moves per turn in which they must move their pieces across a physical table top space to beat their opponent.  This games most often feature dice but can also see coin tosses or total annihilation.
  • Card Strategy Game:These games start at Magic the Gathering and focus around maintaining a set of character cards while using a set of item cards to defeat them with.  Players will sometimes use dice to decide ties but the basis of it is mathematics and who has the better numbers.
  • Real Time Strategy: This is the most common type of strategy game played on the computer.  It focuses on managing units and resources in a real time environment.  A person will have to collect resources, construct unit producing structures and make units.
  • Tactical Strategy: This sub-genre of the real time strategy focuses on making tactical decisions instead of managing an economy.  This economy-less game sets you with a limited number of units and focuses entirely on the tactics you will use to beat your enemies.  Examples of this include Final Fantasy Tactics, Advance Wars, and R.US.E.
  • Turn-Based Strategy: In a turn-based strategy game you can make a limited number of plays before you have to end your turn.  You will not be able to make any moves until all of the other players have finished their turns.

Strategy games are not enormously popular.  They are potentially the weakest of the gaming genres.  This is in part due to the complicated decision making involved in this game archetype.  Sometimes people will have to make very fast decisions as seen in speed chess while other people will fear the long meta-analysis of their opponent.

Strategy games are inherently not friendly to new players and take a long time to get a strong grasp of.


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