The Perks and Problems of Playing Grand Strategy GamesAug 2, 2020 | 0 Votes by Mikhail - rate Grand strategy games may not be the most-played and mainstream genre today, but they’re still widely loved and played. They’re fun and extremely engaging, but have their own set of issues.
Grand strategy games are undoubtedly one of the most popular and timeless genres out there. Sure, franchises like Crusader Kings and Civilization are not as mainstream as popular MMOs and RPGs, but they are as - or even more - immersive and engaging. They almost never get old: even if you play it for a thousand hours, you’ll almost always discover something new.
Playing them has its perks, but investing time in them will expose you to a few issues, especially if you’re pretty new to the genre. Here are some of which:
Long learning curves
One thing about grand strategy is they take a pretty long time to learn, even if you’re a veteran. For games like Europa Universalis IV, you might have to invest 10 hours - or more - to learn its basics and mechanics. By then, you might already have a good grasp of the game, but at the same time, you haven’t even scratched the surface yet.
Because of this, grand strategy games take a lot of time to enjoy. For gamers that just don’t have enough time, this will definitely pose a problem. A lot of people simply want their purchased games to quickly give them bursts of entertainment and not require them to go through a 10-hour course before getting their feet wet.
They’re not just about war
War is undoubtedly the main draw of grand strategy titles. Players will levy their forces and fight in large scale battles decided by unit composition, terrain, and a bunch of other factors. After this, the victors will then get to claim territory and annex their weaker neighbors. The thing is, they aren’t just about war. A huge part of the gameplay involves diplomacy, economics, and resource management.
In Stellaris, you need to make sure you have ample energy and resources before going to war and colonizing a planet. In Hearts of Iron IV (which is a WW2 simulator), your ability to wage war is dependent on how much fuel you have on reserves. Imagine playing as the German Reich with countless tanks but no fuel to drive them forward. In Crusader Kings 2 and EU4, you have to play diplomacy and gather allies to secure your borders while making sure you have enough gold to pay your armies and hire mercenaries.
Micro vs Macro management
Grand strategy games let you go hands-on in managing your territories. There’s a great deal of micro-management, especially in titles like EU4 and CK2. In a nutshell, you’ll get to build structures and improvements in your territories, allowing you to boost the local economy and enabling you to recruit better and stronger units.
Though more territories mean that you’re stronger militarily and economically, it also means you’ll have a lot to micromanage. In Total War and EU4, this means you have to develop each province separately and construct buildings, a task which requires a lot of clicking. Though games streamline this with better menus and automation, this is a dull and time-consuming affair players have to deal with.
Active mod communities
Mods add layers of depth to grand strategy games. Some provide basic things like UI tweaks and improvements, while others deliver full-on graphical overhauls, new maps, and music. In addition, there’s a mod on Crusader Kings that brings players to the “A World of Ice and Fire” universe, letting them play as - or against - their favorite Game of Thrones characters.
If you’re playing a strategy game on Steam, be sure to check out the Workshop and see what they have to offer.
Each playthrough is different from the rest
One of the best parts of grand strategy is the unique experience every playthrough provides. For example, let’s say you’re playing as the Ottoman Empire in Europa Universalis 4. Due to its strong position, you can barrel through Eastern Europe and become the dominant world power.
In addition, it also has its unique storylines, technology, and focus trees, giving you a unique experience from the rest. Apart from the Ottomans though, you can also play as hundreds of other nations. These include Byzantium whose mission is to survive the Ottomans as well as Hungary. More powerful nations like France, England, and the Spanish kingdoms are also available.
Depending on which game you’re playing there’s is simply a lot of options and factions to choose from. If you’ll play through a grand campaign, you’ll be able to create an alternate history and chart another nation’s path into the future.
Overall, grand strategy games are simply unique and they present their own unique set of challenges players face and have to overcome. Though they may feel as if you need a doctorate degree to master their gameplay mechanics, they’re a joy to play and experience once you get the hang of it.
So, are you currently playing a grand strategy title? If not, there are a number of free titles you could try out like Starborne, Crusader Kings 2, and Supremacy 1914. Give them a try and see if they fit your fancy.