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Just Relax! - The Joy of Turn-Based Gaming

I love action games, be they first-person shooters or third-person shoot-em-ups. I'm not as big on platformers, but they can be fun at times.

But sometimes you just want to take it easy. You want to be able to sit back and plan what you want to do for your next move. Do you have to take out those guys in the concrete bunker that have your buddies pinned down? Wouldn't it be nice to examine your options and decide what you want to do, how you want to protect your men (and women!) to the best of your ability?

That's why I love me some turn-based games. There's something to be said for the intricate strategy of placing your units and moving them around at your leisure (hopefully not theirs, though). It's nice, for once, to be able to put the controller down to go get a celery stick (because that's what real gamers eat) without having to worry about pausing it. (Empty Chair: You did remember to pause Bioshock before sitting down to write this, didn't you? You didn't? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!)

This is the main reason why I have never been a fan of RTS games. I don't want to think about everything on the fly, running from one end of the map to the other to make sure I have everything covered. Give me a moment to think about what I'm doing.

The ultimate in turn-based strategy games, at least right now, is XCOM, of course. I bought that game day 1 and plowed through the campaign as fast as I could. It has the honour of being one of the few games that I've gone back to play again, though I haven't finished the second playthrough yet. Granted, this was inspired by all of the GIO games that are being played right now, primary example being the excellent blog series by Noobtubin8er, the first of which can be found here

(Not my actual screen shot, as this guy actually has cover)

(Brief aside: RIP Captain Mrkvicka, who sadly perished in a ship-recovery mission recently. His Lightning Reflexes avoided the reaction shot by the alien as he ran to cover, but unfortunately the cover he was running to was blown away by the miss. He thus ended the turn out in the open, easy pickings on the alien's turn. He shall be missed)

But XCOM isn't the only one out there, of course, though much to my disappointment, most turn-based strategy games are only on PC and not on the consoles. I wonder why that is. The fact that you're using a controller instead of a mouse shouldn't be that big of a deal, since it's not like you're needing quick reflexes or anything. I want more turn-based strategy on my consoles!

I love wargames, and there are plenty of them out there for me if I actually played games on my PC. There are also the classic Civilization games, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, the classic Panzer General series, and many more.

There are even some great games on mobile devices and tablets (anybody going to buy XCOM on your tablets when it comes out?). A great turn-based tactical game, Hunters (both I and II) gives you a squad of mercenaries who go around the galaxy doing missions with everything from wiping out defenders to sabotaging power plants to assassination. You can improve your Hunters as they succeed in missions, get them better weaponry, and all of that. 

One thing I love about turn-based games is that you can look over the entire map (or at least the entire map that's revealed to you) and plan out your moves. Sure, as the old saying goes, a plan never survives first contact with the enemy, but at least it gives you an idea of your objectives, what you need to do to achieve them, and where defenders might be hiding from you. It's nice to be the armchair general when things aren't falling to pieces all around you before you can actually do anything about them. (Empty Chair: You realize this admission is going to cost you that 4-star general post you were up for).

Yes, action games are great too. I will be going back to Bioshock: Infinite later tonight, in fact. But sometimes, I just want a little quiet. A little peace. A chance to put my feet up and relax. There is definitely tension in these games, but it's a different kind of tension. It's not the frenetic tension that being shot at by 300 terrorists gives you. Instead, it's the tension of figuring out what move won't get your guy killed. One of your people has become over-extended and has four aliens with shots at them. And they're out of ammo and have to reload. What do you do?

The quiet desperation is no less tense as the game cycles through the aliens' shots, one-by-one.

MISS!

MISS!!!

MISS!!!!!!

CRITICAL HIT! SQUADDIE JONES IS KILLED!

Whoops.

It never gets old (Empty Chair: Squaddie Jones definitely didn't get old).

So what's your take on turn-based strategy? Boring for you? Not enough action? The perfect way to end a really busy day?

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