2012 - The Year of the Strategy

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So I've decided to devote the majority of my gaming time in 2012 to playing strategy games (yes, I know its April already) and to improve my skills in them. Frankly, I currently suck at strategy incredibly hard even though I've played them on and off for years and my first game ever was a strategy game. I'm absolutely determined to get better at these so I can enjoy them to their full extent. Business/Management Sims also count because they are a type of strategy, regardless of what people might say.

Here's what I have lined up. Most of them I already owned, some of them I've recently bought or am about to buy:

(Thanks to some suggestions in this thread, the list is now pretty overwhelming and may bring me well into 2013 to be honest. Keep them coming everyone)

Age of Empires III
Age of Mythology + Titans expansion
Anno 1404 - Dawn of Discovery + Venice Expansion
Caesar III
Command & Conquer 3 - Tiberium Wars + Kane's Wrath
Command & Conquer Generals
Command & Conquer Red Alert 3
Company of Heroes
Empire Earth II + The Art of Supremacy Expansion
Europa Universalis III
Hearts of Iron III
Homeworld
Homeworld 2
LOTR - Battle for Middle Earth
Patrician III
Populous - The Beginning
Rise of Nations GOLD
Rollercoaster Tycoon 3
Sins of a Solar Empire Trinity
Sacrifice
Starcraft + Broodwar
Starcraft II
Star Wars - Empire at War + Expansion
Star Wars - Galactic Battlegrounds
Stronghold - Crusader
Spellforce 2 - Shadow Wars
Supreme Commander + Forged Alliance
Theme Hospital
The Movies + Expansion
The Settlers 7: Paths to a Kingdom
Tropico 4
Warcraft III - Reign of Chaos + Frozen Throne
Warhammer 40k - Dawn of War + Winter Assault + Dark Crusade + Soulstorm
World in Conflict

Some games are omitted because I've already played them too much, this includes Age of Empires 1 (my first ever game) Age of Empires 2, Red Alert 2, SimCity games, Total War games, and Civilization games. I mention these because I know people will suggest them.

So, anything to add to my list? I'm looking for PC games past about 1995 (yeah, sorry but I'm not much of a retro gamer) and they must work on Windows 7 x64 even if that requires some faffing about. My laptop runs Windows XP but unless the game is fully 2D my chances of it running at all on my craptop are slim. I should also probably mention that I don't play multiplayer, so I'm looking for games with solid Singleplayer experiences.

You should also check out the Dawn of War games, I haven't played Dawn of War 2, but the expansions Winter Assault, Dark Crusade and Soulstorm are all equally great and offer something different. The resource management isn't as high in these games however (compared to Starcraft/Age of Empires) but it's still a blast to play.

AverageJoe:
So, anything to add to my list? I'm looking for PC games past about 1995 (yeah, sorry but I'm not much of a retro gamer) and they must work on Windows 7 x64 even if that requires some faffing about. My laptop runs Windows XP but unless the game is fully 2D my chances of it running at all on my craptop are slim.

Well, an obvious candidate is Anno 2070. It can seem strange to take the Anno Domini-series into the future, but it really works and is an absolutely splendid game.

Star Wars: Empire at War is also quite excellent, and while we're on the topic you can throw in Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds as well, or Age of Empires Strikes Back, as it's commonly known.

If you can find copies of it, The Battle for Middle-Earth series is fun, though if you want to play multiplayer you'll have to have a lan party or use gameranger.

All fantastic suggestions, keep them coming!

Elcarsh:
Well, an obvious candidate is Anno 2070.

Already tried that one, but for some reason it plays like crap on my PC even on lowest settings, which is strange since I have a gaming PC that can max games such as The Witcher 2 and Battlefield 3. Anno 1404 plays fine.

Aussie502:
You should also check out the Dawn of War games, I haven't played Dawn of War 2, but the expansions Winter Assault, Dark Crusade and Soulstorm are all equally great and offer something different. The resource management isn't as high in these games however (compared to Starcraft/Age of Empires) but it's still a blast to play.

Soulstorm is generally regarded as the poorest of the lot, if you had to choose something from the DOW series go for Dark Crusade. It's a stand alone expansion pack so you don't need the original game to play it and it features 7 playable races on a risk style map.

Are you going to get Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion? It's coming out in June.

Definitely empire at war, its a lot of fun, from what I've heard Star Wars Rebellion seems pretty good as well. Also, if you don't mind space 4x games, sword of the stars is great.

AverageJoe:

Some games are omitted because I've already played them too much, this includes Total War games,

:O :O :O

You can't have played Fall of the Samurai too much :P

If you're going for expansions to some games, you should try Command and Conquer 3: Kane's Wrath.
It only gives you the Brotherhood of Nod to play as in the campaign, but it elaborates a little more on just what Nod was doing during Tiberium Wars.

I recommend Sacrifice, which can easily be acquired cheaply from GOG. It's an RTS you play from a third person perspective, ordering around your units from the point of view of a wizard who can also participate in the battles. It's thoroughly unique and really, so much fun to play.

Also, personally I enjoy Warcraft 2 more than 3. I really missed the sea battles when they took them out in 3. Worth a go if you haven't spent a lot of time with it, or if you can get it for a few dollars.

Go. Play. Heroes. Any, but I'd suggest 3. Heroes 5 is also good - it takes the best parts of Heroes 3 and adds some stuff. So it's around 90% Heroes 3. Expansions improve it. Heroes 4 is kind of "meh" and doesn't compare well to the rest of the series. Heroes 6 is...well, it's a different experience than the rest. But it's too expensive - you can buy Heroes 3 and 5 for less than its price. Also Heroes 6 isn't on GOG - the rest are.

Failing that, or maybe in addition, play Disciples. Go get Disciples 2 Gold from GOG (again) - it has all the expansions and it's good. I haven't played the original but I've heard good things about it.

Your list is missing the strategy greats:

Crusader Kings I
Crusader Kings II
Europa Universalis III Divine Wind
Victoria II
Hearts of Iron III

As Aussie said, try Dawn of War. Personally I'd stick to DC because it's a damn good game backed with a wealth of mods. I believe they have a complete collection set available but I'm sure it's cheap on Steam too.

As has already been suggested the Dawn of war series is a lot of fun. If you feel like branching out a little then you may want to consider MOBA games like League of legends(LoL) or Defense of the ancients(DOTA). They are not RTS games exactly but they are kinda similar and can be fun, they also involve a lot of team strategy.

Dungeon Keeper (GOG Link) and Dungeon Keeper 2 (GOG Link) are two brilliant sim/strategy games.
Totally different twist on the whole evil vs good thing, stuffed with charm and humor and they both have HORNED MOTHERFUDGIN REAPERS!

Also bump for Total Annihilation, Dawn of War series and Anno 2070

id recomend heading over to battlefront.com and picking up their combat mission games.. damn good ones

Star Wars Battlegrounds. Actually a quite challenging single player mode, but a good teacher. It taught me to love strategy games back in the day.

Other than that, Total War, but that's only for the big experience, because that comes with all sorts of town management as well. If you just want big set piece battles then don't bother, but if you're looking for something more in depth, Total War is basically the only choice.

The Warlords Battlecry, specifically number 2, but the first one's a great place to start, I found 3 to be dumbed down far too much.

Trust me if you know what's good for you.

I'd like to put in another vote for both Total Annihilation and Dawn of War + expansions. (Can't speak for 2, haven't played it.) Both superb RTS's and well worth playing. DoW's on Steam, and you can get TA quite cheaply off GOG here.

I recommend both Battle for Middle Earths, great games.

And also Star Wars: Empire at War

MYTH II SOULBLIGHER , BEST RTS EVER MADE. ALSO THERE IS A FREE PORT FOR MYTH 1 YOU CAN DOWNLOAD WHISLT RUNNING THE MYTH 2 PROGRAM. ok, so its not a rts in the traditonal build base/resources sense but the tactics and armies involved make it one of the best games you will ever play in your arsenal for 2012 games.

I say devote the majority of your time to the superior game on the list; Red Alert 3.

Seriously. Its incredibly balanced, but people think "OMG ITS EA, IMBALANCED TRASH GAME!!"
I would say its the closest anyone has gotten to starcraft balance. And this is comming from a guy who played red alert and starcraft competitively.

ALl the DOW's are pretty easy strategy games to get decent with.

And You really can't forget Shogun II. It's quite possibly the most indepth strategy game I've ever played.

The most methodical strategy series that I've yet seen are those brought out by Paradox. Hearts of Iron II, Europa Universalis II, Victoria II and now Crusader Kings II. Somehow, they have this habit of cracking it at the second attempt. Third tries just lose something somewhere.

Stronghold crusader. good castle sim/ strategy war game. only stronghold game I really liked

AverageJoe:

...
Rise of Nations GOLD
...

Awesome.

Too much Civilization? How's that even possible. Civilization V is amazing, and there's an expansion pack coming out 19th of June, called Gods & Kings. And it's a Civilization expansion pack, meaning more of everything than an average full game sequel. I think it'll be even better than the honorable Beyond The Sword was for Civ IV.

Also, The Lord of The Rings: The Battle For Middle-Earth 2 (and The Return of The Witch-King expansion)
and Crusader Kings II is really interesting grandeur strategy that can offer a lot.

End of nations is going to be FTP, it plays a lot different from normal rts games though. Its an RTSMMO made by the people who made the first couple CNC's. Its pretty good, but its still in alpha so they have a lot of tweaking to do. i was lucky enough to get in.

The Movies
Evil Genius
M.U.D TV
Prison Tycoon
Tropico
Total Extreme Wrestling 2010
Comic Book Hero: The Greatest Cape

All games I can recommend. But then, I'm more of the management sim player than an RTS player, so maybe my opinion is flawed...

Did you count Cataclysm to Homeworld? Because I don't see it listed separately, and it's the best Homeworld game in my opinion.

TopazFusion:
Total Annihilation.
Awesome game, and the predecessor to the Supreme Commander games.

Seconded. Also agree with the statements about Dawn of War and the expansions for it (Particularly Dark Crusade).

add war wind 1 and 2 to your list.

very innovative, units are individuals instead of mass produced assets. you recruit humble civilians and then train them in different carreer paths (like meele fighters or sharpshooters) in different buildings (your units actualy can/have to enter buildings to use their function), and pimp them out with equipment that you find/buy, and with cybernetic upgrades, like artifical eyes for better detection of cloaked enemies and furter lines of sight, or mechanical arms for more carrying capacity and more damage. you can even give your units names and carry them across missions with their upgrades, experience and equipment! (if they didn't bite it in the previous mission)

the whole thing is topped if with four very different playable factions, each with it's own very long and detailed campain.

on the downside, the game is from 97 (2000 the second one it hink) or so and doesn't really look great. but it still kicks ass.

My question is where did you manage to find a copy of Populous the Beginning? I fancy playing that again but can't find it anywhere.

Blunderboy:
My question is where did you manage to find a copy of Populous the Beginning? I fancy playing that again but can't find it anywhere.

I have a physical copy myself, love that game.
But for ye, I must mention, that GoG.com has every Populous for 5.99 a piece!

OP:

I'll probably play through every Heroes Of Might and Magic game again. I do that. Alot. Especially with 2 and 3. Those games are aaaaaaaawesome.

Blunderboy:
My question is where did you manage to find a copy of Populous the Beginning? I fancy playing that again but can't find it anywhere.

This one you mean?

EDIT: "Ninjas. Damn."

Stronghold and Stronghold Crusader were so much fun, I shall not comment on the rest of the series but Stronghold and Stronghold Crusader were fun.

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