Posted by: markfender | November 19, 2014

Turn-Based Tactics

It’s such a troubling genre.

King-s-Bounty-Legends-Brings-Turn-Based-Tactics-to-Facebook-2I’ve never been a fan of real-time strategy games. For one, I don’t like building an infrastructure before I sweep my armies across the plains. Going out and harvesting things to bring back to base so that I can build a building so that I can upgrade that building so that I can build the unit I want is boring. (Not that all of them do this. But most do). For two, I’m not that good at clicking. My reflexes aren’t that good.

So, in general, I prefer the slower-paced turn-based games. Except when I don’t. Which is usually.

One complaint I often find is that the movement grids don’t really matter. King’s Bounty and Heroes of Might & Magic use the hex formation we’re all used to. And I so often find that it really doesn’t matter. Occasionally, some terrain will be placed that impacts the battle, or who gets the charge off first matters, but most of the time, movement doesn’t really do anything in these games.

But one thing recently struck me as odd. Have you ever noticed that there don’t appear to be any computer-based tactics games that have a binary dead/alive option? In a large majority of tabletop based miniature games, a model is alive or it is dead. The strength of the attack exceeded the strength of its armor and so it is removed from the table. That doesn’t ever seem to happen in computer games.

Now, it’s kind of a pain to track individual wounds in a tabletop game, so I certainly see the reason why they don’t always take that option. And computers can track that stuff without even thinking about it. So, there’s a definite advantage the computer has. But, does that mean that it’s always the best method to resolve conflict?

Because, across a lot of turn-based tactics games, I’ve noticed that my strategies are always the same: find several units to concentrate firepower upon one other unit to eliminate it from the table in one turn. And, while there is a certain logical sense that makes, it also means all of these games play the exact same way.

This struck me recently because of the Warmachine Tactics computer game. While it plays faithfully by most of the Warmachine tabletop rules, it doesn’t when it comes to wounds. Each model has multiple wounds, even when they didn’t in the original tabletop game. And, in my limited time with the computer version, I find myself implementing the normal tactics you always do in these games – find three or four guys who can all hit that one other guy so that you can remove him from the board this turn. And that’s not the wargame I used to play on the table. It’s a fine type of game – I have a lot of these sorts of games on my computer, but it’s doesn’t resemble the tactics of the tabletop game and that was sort of what I wanted.

So, why isn’t there a turn-based tactical game that uses binaries on the computer? Just because computers can track more data than two guys standing over a table covered in felt doesn’t mean that they have to.

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