Video Game Tuesday: Strategy Games

This week for Video Game Tuesday I’m back with a look at some different types of games and the bigger differences between them and the common features. It’s all about Strategy Games!

Strategy Games?: There are two main types of games that come to mind when you talk strategy games at least to me. There is the RTS, or Real Time Strategy, and TBS, or Turn-Based Strategy. They are very different in how you play them, and while there are some common strategies between the two, how you go about them is completely different.

RTS?: So RTS games are games like Starcraft or Command and Conquer. These take place in real time with you giving orders and building armies and bases to destroy your opponents. Often the biggest skill that professionals in this kind of game look for is APM, or Actions Per Minute. Getting 100+ APM consistently is generally a good thing and means you may be cut out to try becoming a pro if you so desire. If you can’t do that you’re unlikely to be able to ever compete at a professional level. I think I remember getting 100+ apm for brief spurts of time in some games of Starcraft 2, but I never considered myself ever cut out for the pro scene. One because I dislike competing immensely, and two because even getting 100+ for those brief times is already rather incredible with my physical disability.

TBS?: Games like the Civilization series are a good example, these aren’t always as action or war oriented, and sometimes you can even play a game and win without ever getting into conflict once, at least with AI opponents.  I tend to prefer these sorts of games, although I’ve not played too many strategy games in general with more in the RTS category, although those are mainly for the custom game maps and types that you could create in games like Warcraft 3. Angel Arena is still one of my favorite custom game types, beating over any DotA clone easily.

So what are some similarities between the two?: Well in both games the key to success, at least to me, is to always increase your production capabilities. This means increasing the number of your base or cities as the game progresses to constantly produce units that you may need to fight off an opponent quickly. In RTS games this means quickly building your worker units and getting a steady supply of resources as your first steps. Once that happens you can start building up your fighting force while constructing your base. In TBS games this is still the case, but it’s more about buildings and land improvements at least in the Civ series.

In addition always upgrading your units with tech upgrades as much as possible is always a key to winning, if your units can launch more powerful attacks than your opponent, battles will quickly turn your way even if you have the same amount of troops in a battle.

What’s different?: Well in RTS games speed is always going to be a priority, can you attack your enemy before they get a defense going? If so you have a quick victory in sights and can probably clinch a fast win. In TBS games, it’s more about location and choke points. If you can block your enemy from getting resources or funnel them into one area you can easily defend your bases and prevent them from overwhelming you.

That’s it for this week’s Video Game Tuesday. What are some of your favorite strategy games? What type are they? Leave a comment below!

 

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Video Game Tuesday: For Chris Metzen

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This week for Video Game Tuesday I’m honoring a legend. It’s For Chris Metzen!

Chris Metzen?: Chris Metzen was Blizzard Entertainment’s Senior Vice President of Story and Franchise Development. In other words he had the final say on what the story of pretty much every Blizzard Game. He worked on pretty much every game they made in at least one form or another starting with Justice League Task Force and the original Warcraft up to the most recent launch of World of Warcraft: Legion. He also was a concept artist and voice actor for many of Blizzard’s video games. He voiced Thrall for example in every Warcraft game that Thrall appears in.

Wow, so what is happening?: He’s retiring, to spend more time with his family. It’s really hard for artists to let go of their pet projects, and Warcraft was definitely Metzen’s baby. So I respect him for having the courage and resolve to retire and spend time with his family instead of staying on to watch over his work.

He’s not staying in Game Development?: Nope, he really just wants to spend time with his family, and won’t be joining any other game studios. Again I really respect him for this choice, but given his success I have no doubt he’s pretty much set for life by now.

So what’s up with the picture above, it looks like a statue?: It is Blizzard’s farewell present to Chris for everything he’s done for the studio, which is a huge amount. It will be erected soon™.

So Chris I hope you have a fun time being a fan instead of a developer in the future! The industry will have lost one of it’s greatest, but your legacy will live on for many, many years.

That’s it for this week’s Video Game Tuesday!

Video Game Tuesday: Heroes of the Storm [Technical Alpha Impressions]

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This week I’m going over a game that isn’t even close to being in Beta let alone released yet! It’s Heroes of the Storm, Blizzard’s take on the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) genre.

Plot Synopsis: There is no plot as of right now, and it’s highly unlikely that there will be one, however if were to be one it’d be weird.

Gameplay: This is going to be the main section of this review since it’s in Technical Alpha right now and things are very likely to change gameplay wise for individual heroes, however the core gameplay will stay most likely. If you’ve never played a MOBA before here is quick rundown from the League of Legends wikipedia entry:  Players gain levels from killing the opposing team’s Champions, controlled by other players or bots, and minions that regularly spawn and attack the other team’s turrets, minions, and champions. In the classic game mode, the map is typically divided into “lanes”, which are paths that spawned minions take, the “jungle”, an area between lanes where neutral monsters spawn, and “bases”.

The main differences between HotS and other MOBA games is that you don’t get any currency to spend back at base to buy items to improve your hero, instead you get talents at certain level milestones that let you modify your abilities and at level 10 you unlock a choice between two different ultimate abilities. In addition you gain experience as a team instead of as an individual which removes the need for last-hitting and kill stealing, which is a major skill in other games that can be very aggravating to your teammates and opponents. Everything you do gains experience for your team, be it healing other teammates or lane minions as a support character, laying traps down to ambush the other team as a specalist hero (more on them later) or taking down the opposing team as a warrior or assassin hero. This makes playing as a healer on your team fun instead of something you do cause you drew the short stick, and you can still kick butt even as a healer, just not as much as other heroes can. Specialist heroes, like Gazlowe from the Warcraft universe, are special heroes that focus on laning (progressing your minions and therefore your teams overall progress towards victory) and aren’t very offensive oriented. They are more adept at laying traps although some like Abathur can be very offensively capable with their abilities. As of right now there are only 4 specialist heroes in the game, and I’d love to see more because I hate playing as all the ones that are out at the moment.

I recently played as Malfurion, from the Warcraft universe, and had a blast even though I tend to hate healing in games. I prefer heroes like Nova, a stealthy ranged assassin from the Starcraft universe that specializes in taking down the enemies but has terrible health) in other games like League of Legends. I also don’t tend to like playing against other people in games, but I really enjoy playing against humans in HotS because you can’t really be bad as long as you learn throughout the match.

That said there are things that concern me, it takes way too long to accrue enough in game money to unlock certain heroes, like Nova, whereas other heroes, like Malfurion, are easily bought. I think the upper limit on in game money purchases should be no higher than 5,000 gold, which if you are lucky for 10 days and did every daily those days, you could buy any hero. 10,000 is too large a number even when you are just starting out and getting a lot of money from leveling up your account. Also you should be able to complete a daily with any hero rotation, this last week I got a daily to play as a specialist hero and couldn’t finish it without buying a hero because there were none in the free rotation. Also you should be able to buy vanity items like hero skins for a very high amount of gold, something like 10,000 for a skin would be reasonable, because all things should be unlockable given enough time. If people want to just buy something with real money outright and earn that immediately that’s okay, I’d rather earn it without spending real money but still be able to have fun skins or mounts.

Art: The art is pretty amazing, but I expect it to get better by launch. Certain things bug me, like the little puddles in the Raven Lords map which has the same effect as cloaked units like Nova or Zerateul which is very confusing for some players.

Music: While I enjoy the fact that it’s a mixture of the three main Blizzard universes I really would love for some more variety, like taking really popular songs from each franchise and being able to have that play in the background. Maybe even being able to pick your own favorite BGM from a selection of BGM’s from each franchise in the menu.

Overall: I’m going to enjoy playing HotS much more than I ever enjoyed playing League of Legends or Defense of the Ancients All-Stars back in Warcraft 3.

For those who like: MOBAs, Blizzard Games, Online Multiplayer.

Not for those who don’t like: Any of the above.

Video Game Tuesday: Hearthstone

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This week on Video Game Tuesday I’m reviewing Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft! I got into the beta for the game back in December and was happy to try it out for a bit, but was disappointed a bit at the lack of balance at the time between the different decks. So when it launched on the iPad a couple weeks ago I was very happy to give it another try and was very pleased at how it turned out.

Plot Synopsis: Wait you were expecting a plot for a card game?

Gameplay: It’s a card game in the fashion of Magic the Gathering, or Yu-Gi-Oh if you were burdened with a little brother in the early 2000’s like I was. You choose to build a deck of 30 cards and depending on what Hero you choose, Jaina Proudmoore is the Mage for example, you can add different spells and minions as well as hero-neutral minions into your deck. I prefer playing with a Hunter Deck, Rexxar is the hero, and building up my less powerful minions by sacrificing more of my own minions to become stronger. The gameplay is very balanced now and while it will probably become quite different come Fall, with the new Adventure mode being released sometime this summer, so far I’m really happy with how my deck turned out. I win 60% of the time with that deck, which isn’t bad in a game where RNG, Random Number Generators, rule supreme. I’ve reached Rank 20, because I don’t really enjoy competitions all that much and I only wanted the card back for reaching that rank which is pretty easy to get.  One thing that must be stressed about this game is that you can buy cards with real money, however if you are a cheap person like me you can get a pack with 100 gold, which can be earned by winning 30 games or completing a couple of daily quests. You don’t need to buy cards to win games, as I’ve nearly leveled all the card decks to level 10, the point in which every basic spell and minion specific to each deck is unlocked. I have bought 2 packs with money (it cost $3), however I did that as part of the beta test.

Art: The art in this game is pretty amazing, although there are certain things that bug me, like the Gryphon on the Human board being the low poly model that’s been around since World of Warcraft launched and not the much more recent Grand Gryphon model of Mists of Pandaria.

Music: It’s okay, but since I play this on my iPad most of the time I don’t get to listen to it. I’m actually listening to an audiobook, if I’m just playing casual games; or music, if I’m playing ranked games.

Overall: If you want a great card game to play that is multiplayer and free play this game. It’s been released for iPads so far and will be coming to Android soonish.

For those who like: Collectible Card Games, Warcraft, Free games.

Not for those who don’t like: Any of the above, but really it’s free just give it a try.