Which light strategy/builder game?

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Freezer-TPF-
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Which light strategy/builder game?

Post by Freezer-TPF- »

I need a break from my epic playthrough of FO:New Vegas (90+ hours and counting), so I'm thinking of switching up genres and going with something like a fairly light strategy and/or builder game for a little while. I'd like something that is easy/quick to get into but still interesting and fun (of course). Not too complex, but not too mindless either. The only strategy games I've really dug into are Civ4/5, and I probably haven't played a builder game since SimCity back in the DOS days.

I tried Swords and Soldiers HD last night and that seems cute but a bit too mindless and spammy. I was hoping it would be a little closer to Plants vs Zombies (dare I dream?), but oh well.

A quick look at my Steam library revealed the following contenders below, with my rough pre-impressions:

+ Greed Corp. = Seems worth a good look even if the gameplay doesn't have much legs.
+ Guardians of Graxia = Potentially too puzzle-y?
+ Sid Meier's: Railroads! = Looks promising. Maybe too simple for some but might be just right for my purposes.
+ Sid Meier's: Pirates! = Looks promising. Never played the original.
+ Tropico 3 = Love the style and setting for a real change of pace. Is it too complex for a n00b?
+ Grand Ages Rome = Looks good but maybe too epic for my current purposes?
+ Hegemony: Philip of Macedon = Also looks neat but some apparently find it too frustrating/hard. Also there is a gold version coming soon so maybe I should wait for that.
+ Civcity Rome = Reviews are kinda mediocre. I don't own it but it's cheap.
+ Total War (Rome or Medieval 2) = Maybe too epic for my current purposes.
+ Company of Heroes = Seems a little too action-y/intense for my current purposes, especially since I have little RTS experience.
+ Dawn of Discovery = Maybe too complex for my current purposes? Also, I don't own it yet but will buy it eventually because it looks gorgeous.
+ Civ5 = I haven't played it much since release, but since it's been patched I could give it another go if I don't feel like learning a new game.

I'd appreciate your musings, thoughts, or other recommendations.
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Lordnine
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Re: Which light strategy/builder game?

Post by Lordnine »

+ Greed Corp. = This is fun and has SO MUCH potential...but it doesn't quite live up to it. If you would play against friends consider it but otherwise pass.

+ Sid Meier's: Pirates! = I had a lot of fun with this one back when it first came out. It's a bit on the simplistic side but you can easily get lost in it for hours.

+ Tropico 3 = Pretty complex. I really want to like this one but so far I havent managed to really get into it.

+ Civcity Rome = This was $1 during the Steam sale. Feels like one of the old Caesar titles. Good but very dated.

+ Total War (Rome or Medieval 2) = My problem with these games is I love it for the first campaign I play and then I never play another. Still very good games but I would avoid the newest version (Empire+ Napoleon).

+ Company of Heroes = Meh. Dawn of War II surpasses these in every-way in my opinion.

+ Civ5 = I enjoyed CIV5 much more than CIV4 but I still don't feel either one can hold a candle to the now ancient Alpha Centauri.
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Re: Which light strategy/builder game?

Post by zinckiwi »

I've been playing Dawn of Discovery for the past few days after picking it up during the Steam sale. Having a good time with it.

First, it's certainly got a great deal of depth and potential complexity, but it doesn't come at you all at once. Each level of civilization adds a few new pieces to the mix (a new type of food in addition to the ones they already have, for example), but just one at a time and the pace of progression is slow enough that you won't feel suddenly overwhelmed. (In fact, the opposite -- you need to very deliberately work towards going up a level).

There is no tutorial to speak of, but the campaign does a passable job of explaining the macro-level goals and gameplay. The micro-level stuff is going to be a test of how willing you are to explore the interface and figure things out for yourself. I didn't finish the campaign before I tried a sandbox game, but some things that you gloss over in the campaign due to the scripting become roadblocks in free play, until you happen upon the mechanic required. You'll probably resort to trial and error a bit in the beginning (the only way to work out whether the "sell up to <x>" order meant "let up to <x> go" or "keep at least <x> in reserve" was to set <x> and observe -- and it's the latter, if you're wondering).

It's grid-based (which gives it the edge over Grand Ages: Rome, to me) and radius-based (as opposed to walker-based, which is slightly disappointing but oh well). My personal holy grail is Zeus/Poseidon, which I often still play, but DoD is certainly scratching my itch right now.
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Re: Which light strategy/builder game?

Post by baelthazar »

Greed Corp is extremely simply. Not perhaps as simple as Swords and Soldiers HD, but nearly that simple. It is, perhaps, closer to PvZ in style, but not quite. If you want a good turret defense like PvZ, might I suggest Revenge of the Titans.
Guardians of Graxia - Not much of a builder, but a pretty good strategy game. There are some puzzle elements, I suppose, but it reminds me more of a cross between King's Bounty and Etherlords. It is worth your time, particularly if they follow through with the plans for a random map tile generator in the next expansion.
Sid Meier's Railroads! - I would skip this. There are some highly fun elements, particularly if you like model trains (you could think of SM:R! as a PC version of model training) but overall the game is highly simplistic and lacks some key elements to be a good transport tycoon sim. I also found the performance to be lacking on my Windows Vista/Windows 7 system, but I never knew why.
Sid Meier's Pirates! - a great game! It is simple enough to play casually, but has several deeper avenues. It is completely sandbox, which is nice, you can be a trader, a pirate, search for your family members, look for gold, or hunt bad guys. If you like this style, but prefer space, I would suggest Space Rangers 2, which is basically the same format - only in space. Be forewarned, both games are stuck at 1024x768 resolution at the highest (unless this has been modded or patched), so widescreen might not be available.
Tropico 3 - actually, of all the Tropico series, Tropico 3 is the most newb friendly. If you want a stylish and fun, and mostly laid back, city building - T3 is a good way to go. Start the game, set everything on high resources and stable politics, and you have a great learning game. When you want more trouble, ramp up the political discord or lower the resources available and you suddenly have more complexity. The system is very scalable to exactly how you want to play. As far as builders go, T3 is one of the best in recent years.
Hegemony: Philip of Macedon - I got a copy on sale, but haven't played it. A lot of people I know like the game, and I think the Gold patch will be available to all that bought it earlier. But I do know that it is more of a war game than a builder and is supposed to be rather challenging. It is also not without some quirks.
Civcity Rome - Never played. Heard it was boring and bland. Tropico 3 is a better pick. If you really want Rome, go with Grand Ages Rome over this, it is made by the Tropico 3 people and has a bit more character and life. GA:Rome is about as difficult as Tropico and is pretty easy to play without too much fuss. I prefer T3, actually, and the graphics engine is more optimized in T3 so I get better performance.
Total War (Rome or Medieval 2) - Way too convoluted, difficult, and deep to fit your criteria. TW games take HOURS and DAYS to play, and the battles themselves can take 20-30 minutes (and you can have 2-3 battles per turn, on some major turns). They are also rather difficult to learn to play well. I say skip.
Company of Heroes - A good game, highly action packed, but rather fast-paced if you are looking for slower games. Plays a lot like WWII Dawn of War II (or should I say DoW2 plays a lot like WH40K Company of Heroes) - which is no surprise as they are the same game engine series. A very cinematic game and the units are not overly detailed or hard to control. Not a lot of building, and base building is pretty rudimentary. You can really think of it more like a Area Control game like Ground Control or World in Conflict.
Dawn of Discovery - A hardcore builder in the body of a casual builder. Managing your population, as they tier up, and managing the numerous colonies and their transport infrastructure is very difficult. Some people have even come up with algorithms to help them get the "perfect" balance of production buildings and inhabitants for each good that is required. If you want casual, DoD is NOT for you. Same with Settlers VII, which hides its balancing act of proper production chains under a cartoon veneer.
Civ5 - If you own it, play it. I very much like the game, warts and all. However, it is an epic game and rather long-winded. The AI seems to have been improved some and there does seems to be things working more as designed, but I still get the scrolling lag, the texture popping, and the memory leaks.

I saw that Steam had Simcity 4 up for sale. It is old and somewhat ugly, but widely heralded as the best of the SimCity series. There was also a light city building game by one of those casual gaming companies (NOT City Rain) but I can't remember the name off the top of my head. I might also suggest Minecraft, which is the ultimate of "building" games as it basically is a giant Lego set that you can live in. Gratuitous Space Battles is also fun, it combines ship design with light strategy and is something that can be played casually.

Hope that helps.
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Re: Which light strategy/builder game?

Post by Skinypupy »

I might also suggest Hinterlands. City building lite mixed with Diablo lite, games can be completed in 2-3 hours (or more, depending on how large you set the map), and it's quite addicting. Has a real "Majesty" vibe to it (moreso than Majesty 2, actually) and I find it to be highly addicting.
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Re: Which light strategy/builder game?

Post by Bakhtosh »

Total Annihilation might scratch your itch.
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Re: Which light strategy/builder game?

Post by Arakiel »

Skinypupy wrote:I might also suggest Hinterlands. City building lite mixed with Diablo lite, games can be completed in 2-3 hours (or more, depending on how large you set the map), and it's quite addicting. Has a real "Majesty" vibe to it (moreso than Majesty 2, actually) and I find it to be highly addicting.
Speaking of which... either Majesty or Majesty 2 are great choices. "More gold, your Highness." And for the price, you can't go wrong with Guardians of Graxia.
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Re: Which light strategy/builder game?

Post by theohall »

Grand Ages: Rome I would call a "light" city builder. The tutorial doesn't explain everything - like the cool things one can do with the Authority tab, but it is easy to play.

Been using that as a break from The Saboteur when I get tired of blowing up Nazi stuff.
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Re: Which light strategy/builder game?

Post by Freezer-TPF- »

Thanks for the responses so far, with special mention to baelthazar's MVP effort.

Space Rangers 2 and Majesty/Majesty 2 are good suggestions. I'm adding them to my thoughtspace. I actually have SR2 installed (unplayed) but have been saving it for a rainy day since it looks like it has a bit of a learning curve. I've been intrigued by the Majesty series but don't own them. Majesty Gold is only $5, and it looks like most people prefer that to the sequel. I appreciate a bit of character and humor in my gaming.

I was interested in Hinterland before release, but I recall it being a bit of a mess with bugs and interface issues. Has it been all fixed up?
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Re: Which light strategy/builder game?

Post by theohall »

Adding some things about Grand Ages: Rome.

It's a pausible, real-time, City Builder. And you can build stuff while paused until you run out of resources or money. None of the campaign missions (5 missions in now) have taken more than an hour. Re-playing the same scenario - half an hour - and there is a reason to replay things, because you develop your leader by selecting talents and each of the 5 houses have unique family talents which will alter the way one plays the game. Plus the two sets of general talents everyone gets.

So it has plenty of replayability with relatively short missions, so far, in the campaign.

Haven't messed with a sandbox game, yet.
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Re: Which light strategy/builder game?

Post by baelthazar »

Freezer, my post highlights that I clearly play too many games... :D

I booted up Hinterland again today and I'm happy to report that many of the niggling little bugs seem to be cleared up. I'm irritated that I still have to turn on vsync outside of the program, but otherwise it was some simple, action-packed fun.

I don't think that SR2 has too much of a learning curve. Certainly it helps if you start with one of the Ranger or Privateer classes, and I like the Gaelins or whatever those guys were called, for their high tech and decent ships. Certainly there is a lot you CAN do in the game, but you can take it slow if you don't want to get overwhelmed.
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Re: Which light strategy/builder game?

Post by Freezer-TPF- »

Glad to hear Hinterland has been improved. Sounds like it's worth a look.

How's the difficulty factor on Majesty Gold and/or Majesty 2?

And to throw a few more out there: any thoughts on a trading game like Port Royale 2 or Patrician 3/4? Is one series clearly better than the other?
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Re: Which light strategy/builder game?

Post by LordMortis »

Hinterland sounds like it may be my sort of game. I've watched the name come up once or twice. Damn you OO! I'm going to cry if I missed a $2 sale on Steam for it over holidays.
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Re: Which light strategy/builder game?

Post by Skinypupy »

Freezer-TPF- wrote:Glad to hear Hinterland has been improved. Sounds like it's worth a look.

How's the difficulty factor on Majesty Gold and/or Majesty 2?
I loved the original Majesty, but didn't care for 2 at all. There was no sandbox mode, and all the missions felt so tightly scripted that if you didn't exactly read the minds of how developers wanted you to beat it, there was no way you would succeed.
I'm going to cry if I missed a $2 sale on Steam for it over holidays.
It was $2.50.
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Re: Which light strategy/builder game?

Post by Koz »

Sid Meier's Pirates! is more of an action/adventure game than a strategy game (your strategy is to get more ships, kill more pirates) but it's very well done and a great "light" game. You can pretty much just jump straight into it without having to figure things out.
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Re: Which light strategy/builder game?

Post by Archinerd »

What about Bronze?
http://www.shrapnelgames.com/Dreamspike ... _page.html" target="_blank

I just finished playing the demo, it was fun and quick. It wasn't quite enough to convince me to buy it on the spot, but I'm going to think it over.
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Re: Which light strategy/builder game?

Post by Freezer-TPF- »

Archinerd wrote:What about Bronze?
http://www.shrapnelgames.com/Dreamspike ... _page.html" target="_blank

I just finished playing the demo, it was fun and quick. It wasn't quite enough to convince me to buy it on the spot, but I'm going to think it over.
That looks intriguing and appears to be well-regarded, though $30 sounds a bit high. I do not like messing with demos unless they are unlockable (i.e. I don't have to hassle with uninstall demo/reinstall of the full version). Is this one unlockable?
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Re: Which light strategy/builder game?

Post by Archinerd »

Freezer-TPF- wrote:
Archinerd wrote:What about Bronze?
http://www.shrapnelgames.com/Dreamspike ... _page.html" target="_blank

I just finished playing the demo, it was fun and quick. It wasn't quite enough to convince me to buy it on the spot, but I'm going to think it over.
That looks intriguing and appears to be well-regarded, though $30 sounds a bit high. I do not like messing with demos unless they are unlockable (i.e. I don't have to hassle with uninstall demo/reinstall of the full version). Is this one unlockable?
I don't remember, and I've already deleted it.
$30 is just a little too high for me too. The price point along with the lack of multiplayer is making me hesitate... but I think I'm going to end up getting it anyway. I was thinking about how much fun it was today while I was supposed to be working. Plus, I saved a whole bunch of money on video games during the Steam Sale, it wouldn't hurt me to buy one at retail price every once in awhile :).
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Re: Which light strategy/builder game?

Post by Freezer-TPF- »

True, and paying an extra $10 or so for a game I really enjoy is no big deal. It's just kind of a shame for the developers in that $30 for a game like this is probably nowhere near the optimal price. Imagine this title for $15-20 or even $10 on Steam (with a sale at some point for 50% off or something) and you have to believe they would increase their revenue many times over the current situation.
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Re: Which light strategy/builder game?

Post by oliverh »

I would like to suggest Light of Altair and Imperium Romanum. $15 and $10, respectively, but they've been on sale pretty regularly. LoA is a planet-based, very lightweight Civ-style game. Sort of a super-light 4x game. It's got it's faults, but I like it for what it is.

I prefer IR to GA:R for one (probably dumb) reason. In GA:R, your building aren't built by slaves anymore - as in, they don't walk to the building site with goods. All the buildings are just... done. I hated that so much I bought IR instead, which still has your slaves walking to the site with the goods. Silly, I know.

I'd also throw Heroes of Might & Magic V out there as I really like the very slight town-building aspect to it. It's also cheap, though isn't an RTS.
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Re: Which light strategy/builder game?

Post by Freezer-TPF- »

I tried Light of Altair a while back and it didn't hold my attention very long. I had high hopes for the concept, but placing structures on planets quickly grew tedious and the rest of the gameplay wasn't compelling. Maybe I didn't give it a fair chance, but I shelved it.

I played a little bit of HoMMV, but King's Bounty seems to be a better version of that sort of gameplay so I have that one at the top of my list when I am in the mood for a game like that.

I actually bought Grand Ages over Imperium Romanum during the last Steam holiday sale since it seemed to be regarded as a better game overall. I don't think your (oliverh) reasons are silly, though -- I also like seeing buildings progressively being built from the ground up.

Anyway, I tried out Greed Corp. last night and it's a nice little game. Fantastic art and sound for a small title. I can see how the fairly simple units/gameplay will hamper its depth once you sort out a few key tactics, but I'll probably play this a bit more before checking something else out.

As a wildcard, I also grabbed Ceville (on sale from D2D for $5, DRM-free) as another bit of gaming sorbet. The art and characters are pretty good, but I ran into the issue I usually have with most adventure games in that after a while I feel like I am doing more listening and watching than actual playing. That's okay when I'm in the mood for that and when the story is interesting, but when the story is really just about how to pass the next obstacle then I find myself just clicking through dialogue so I can find the next object(s) I need to move on.
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Re: Which light strategy/builder game?

Post by noxiousdog »

Freezer-TPF- wrote:Glad to hear Hinterland has been improved. Sounds like it's worth a look.
I picked it up because of this thread and I've put 5 hours or so into it. I could easily put in 10-20 more. That's a good deal for $10.
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