Strategy video game

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SimAnt (1991) is a strategy game with a lot going on.

A strategy video game is a genre of video game where the primary goal of game play is for a player to develop and adapt a strategy to defeat opponents. Strategy video games are typically divided into turn-based strategy, where players alternate actions, and real-time strategy where players make actions as fast as they can input them. Real-time strategy games are better suited to the advantages of video game technology.


As a child, I played a variety of traditional strategy board and card games like checkers and kings in the Corner, and I'm pretty sure the first strategy video games I played were just adaptions of these games. However, the first strategy video game that I remember really impressing me is SimAnt. However, from that and many later strategy games, I've discovered that so much of their game play involves playing very similar matches over and over again as you hone your strategy, a process that I don't enjoy all that much. Because of that, there aren't that many strategy games that I like, and even fewer that I love.


I define a strategy video game as one where the primary way to achieve victory is to develop a methodical strategy, specifically, one which must be adapted as the state of the game changes, typically to counteract an opponent's strategy. Because of this, strategy games are more dynamic than puzzle games, usually because they're competitive. Strategy games can exist that don't have an opponent, for example, the randomness in The Oregon Trail forces the player to frequently adjust their strategy to deal with changes in the environment.

Strategy video games share a lot of the same mechanics as puzzle video games, but puzzle games rarely require strategies to adapt. For example, solitaire and poker share many of the same game play mechanics, but in solitaire, aside from the initial deal, the game state is determined solely by the player's actions, so an optimal strategy can be made which covers every possibility. Poker, however, introduces psychological elements including bluffing, learning tells, and the like where players are constantly adjusting their strategies to win. If a game acts like a strategy game, but there is a guaranteed way to win, I view it as a complex puzzle game.

Most video games benefit from using play techniques that are often called strategies, for example, it's much easier to rack up a high score in Space Invaders by using the "death row" strategy, but, since the invaders can't adjust their attack against the "strategy," the game's really about honing a play style, not about creating or adjusting strategies.


The first strategy video games were just electronic adaptions of traditional strategy games like chess, checkers, and backgammon. One of the earliest was an electromechanical game in 1950 called Bertie the Brain which could play tic-tac-toe. Some of the first to take advantage of the unique features of a computer were developed for the US military to simulate war games. Probably the first strategy video game made primarily for entertainment was Darwin a programming video game made in 1961 where players would write programs to try and capture the most memory. After each match, players would update their strategies in hopes of doing batter the next time. This game was later popularized as Core War.


This is a list of strategy video games that are important to me. For all games in this genre, see the category.

Title Released Developer Sub-Type
Age of Empires 1997-10-15 Ensemble Studios Real-time strategy
Civilization V 2010-09-21 Firaxis Games Turn-based strategy
Dicewars 2001-??-?? Gamedesign Turn-based strategy
Hearts 2006-11-08 Oberon Media Turn-based strategy
Master of Magic 1994-09-?? Simtex Turn-based strategy
Myth: The Fallen Lords 1997-11-07 Bungie Studios Real-time tactics
Myth II: Soulblighter 1998-12-28 Bungie Studios Real-time tactics
SimAnt 1991-12-06 Maxis Real-time strategy
Stronghold 1993-??-?? Stormfront Studios Real-time strategy
WarCraft II: Tides of Darkness 1995-12-09 Blizzard Entertainment Real-time strategy


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