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A strategy game is a board game, video or computer game or other type of game in which the players' decision-making skills have a high significance in determining the outcome. Many games include this element to a greater or lesser degree, making demarcation difficult. It is therefore more accurate to describe a particular game as having a certain degree of strategic elements, as in being mainly based around strategic principles.
The crucial factor that separates this type of game from all others is that there is no element of chance involved. All players have equal and complete knowledge of all elements of the game. There is no physical skill required other than that necessary to interact with the game pieces.
Its benefit is the open interaction with other people. The game partners have similar starting points and evaluate how other humans may react under same conditions. So game strategies evolve with more or less spirit involved to get advantages and/or protect artfully.
- Board games like
- Chinese checkers
- Nine Men's Morris (Mills)
Strategy (and tactics) are usually contrasted with luck, the outcome of luck-based games relying on probability. Games exist on a continuum from pure skill to pure chance, with strategic games usually towards the skill end of the spectrum. The word "strategy" is borrowed from a military jargon. It originally refers to a planning at a very high level and often strategy games deal rather planning in smaller scale for which a word "tactics" is used in military context.
In abstract strategy games, the game is only loosely tied to a real-world theme, if at all. The mechanics do not attempt to simulate reality, but rather serve the internal logic of the game. To win, the player must think about the problem, rather than the graphical representation of the situation. Chess, Checkers and Go are excellent examples.
This type of game is an attempt to capture the decisions and processes inherent to some real-world situation. Most of the mechanics are chosen to reflect what the real-world consequences would be of each player action and decision. Abstract games cannot be cleanly divided from simulations and so games can be thought of as existing on a continuum of almost pure abstraction (like Abalone) to almost pure simulation (like Strat-o-Matic Baseball).
Wargames are simulations of historical or hypothetical military battles, campaigns or entire wars. Players will have to consider situations that are analogous to the situations faced by leaders of historical battles. As such, war games are usually heavy on simulation elements, and while they are all 'strategy games', they can also be 'strategic' or 'tactical' in the military jargon sense.
Traditionally, wargames have been played either with miniatures, using physical models of detailed terrain and miniature representations of people and equipment to depict the game state; or on a board, which commonly uses cardboard counters on a hex map.
Currently, the most popular miniature wargame would probably be Warhammer 40,000. A popular strategic board wargame would be Axis and Allies, and Diplomacy has been a successful one for decades. Advanced Squad Leader is a successful tactical scale wargame. A successful translation of the tradtional genre into a computer game would be SSI's Panzer General series.
Wargames instantiated on computers generally take one of three archetypal forms; the earlier most common and close to the boardgame origin turn-based type, and the real-time "strategy" and "tactical" types.
- Further information: Tactical role-playing game
The term "turn-based strategy game" (TBS) is usually reserved for certain computer strategy games, to distinguish them from real-time computer strategy games. A player of a turn-based game is allowed a period of analysis before committing to a game action. Examples of this genre are the Civilization, Heroes of Might and Magic, Jagged Alliance, Master of Orion and X-COM series, as well as tactical role-playing games such as the Final Fantasy Tactics series and Nippon Ichi games.
TBS games come in two flavors, differentiated by whether players make their plays simultaneously or take turns. The former types of games are called simultaneously-executed TBS games, with Diplomacy a notable example. The latter games fall into the player-alternated TBS games category, and are subsequently subdivided into (a) ranked, (b) round-robin start, and (c) random, the difference being the order under which players take their turns. With (a), ranked, the players take their turns in the same order every time. With (b), the first player is selected according to a round-robin policy. With (c), random, the first player is, of course, randomly selected.
Almost all non-computer strategy games are turn-based; however, the personal computer game market trend has lately inclined more towards real-time games.
Online, browser-based games, have become popular as well. One popular example is War of Empires.
Usually applied only to certain computer strategy games, the moniker "real-time strategy" indicates that the action in the game is continuous, and players will have to make their decisions and actions within the backdrop of a constantly changing game state, and computer real-time strategy gameplay is characterised by obtaining resources, building bases, researching technologies and producing units. Very few non-computer strategy games are real-time; one example is Icehouse.
The game considered the father of RTS games is Dune II, by Westwood Studios, and was followed by their seminal Command & Conquer. Cavedog's Total Annihilation (1997), Blizzard's Warcraft (1994) series and StarCraft (1998), and Ensemble Studios' Age of Empires (1997) series and Age of Mythology (2002) are some of the most popular RTS games, also online games as NukeZone can be considered belonging in this genre.
Sharing feature of the simulation and war game categories, real-time tactical computer game titles focus on operational aspects and control of warfare. Unlike in real-time strategy games, resource and economical management and building plays no part of the battle gameplay. Example titles include Warhammer: Dark Omen, the Close Combat series, and the Total War series.
In God games the player is in more or less absolute control of the world and his subjects. There are usually challenges set to overcome with the power wielded by the player. Examples are Populous, Spore, SimEarth, and Black & White.
Economic simulation games are simulations of businesses or economies. Examples are Railroad Tycoon, Transport Tycoon, Capitalism, Industryplayer and Supreme Ruler 2010.
City-building games are a specialised but prominent subset of economic simulation games, where players, normally from a point-of-view high in the sky, can build and manage a simulated city. City building games normally do not support online or hotseat play. The most notable games of this genre are the Simcity by Maxis and the City Building Series by Impressions Games. City building games do not usually have objectives, except those set in the player's mind by the game; this has led some theorists (such as Chris Crawford) to declare that they should be considered 'toys' instead of games.
- List of strategy video games