While strategy games are more concerned with long-term planning, tactical games are more concerned with smaller commitments. The team battles of the X-Com series are a clear example of a tactical game. Long-term preparation is needed, but not on a large scale.
Tactical games are usually shorter and focus on more personal situations. As a result, they are more likely to focus on controlling small groups rather than empires or economies.
Games of Grand Strategy
Tactics are the polar opposite of the big strategy games. They focus on large-scale plans and intrigues for the management of the empire. The player rarely gains direct power over his citizens or even over their economies, but rather serves as the nation’s leading spirit.
The Paradox Interactive or Starborne series of games are the best examples of these games. Victoria II from Paradox takes the genre to a new level, allowing the player to lose almost all direct control over their economy if certain political parties gain power.
How have strategy games changed over time?
Initially, the strategy games were turn-based, with two teams facing each other. This format has proven to be durable and is used in many of today’s most popular strategy games, such as chess. These games can last from a few minutes to a few hours, with the duration of the game increasing with increasing level of difficulty.
In general, the games became more complex over time as they tried to better represent the realities of command. Thoughts from that time influenced many games, with Karl von Klauswitz being one of the most influential.
Although Kriegsspiel still pitted two players against each other, it was created to accurately simulate the tension of the command facing a general in the field. As a result, structures were introduced as the main fog of the war, which were later developed by the board game Stratego and perfected by video games such as Flashpoint Campaigns: Red Storm.
On the other hand, strategy games become more complex over time. Many players faced each other in some board games, such as Diplomacy and Danger. The addition of multiple enemies to the strategy game genre introduced a new level of difficulty and unpredictability. It also allows for more “social” games, including alliances and fraud. Diplomacy, in particular, is experimenting with the concept of an unequal distribution of power between participants. As a result of being squeezed between more powerful rivals, countries such as Austria and Italy are forced to take violent and unpredictable moves.
The tremendous creativity that came before computers allowed us to create strategy simulations is truly astounding to the enthusiast of modern strategy games. Kriegsspiel, Chess, Danger and other games offered complex, if limited, representations of command stress. Video games, on the other hand, allow game designers to make increasingly complex and nuanced decisions.
Within hours or days, it became possible to recreate entire battlefields and periods of time. This also helped the player see how their choices are more clearly reflected in the game thanks to the improved graphics. Most importantly, it paved the way for the development of the real-time strategy genre, which added an extra layer of tension to the game.