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StrategyPlanet | Gaming Is Life | A Hex on You
by NikNak | December 4th, 2000

I'll easily admit the fact that I'm not the smartest man on the planet. I have trouble splitting the bill at restaurants. I'm the one always asking, "Why'd he do that?" in the middle of a movie. I don't like math. (Math is for girls.) I think South Park is a documentary.

It should come as no surprise, then, that in the debate between turn-based and real-time strategy games; I side firmly with the RTS crowd. I think most turn-based wargames are as much fun as being at a Michael Bolton concert.

I know I'm risking the wrath of a hundred older men, all of them still bitter that no one let them die in a war, when I say things like that, but it's true. Turn-based wargames bore all Heck out of me. I just can't stand their "you first, then I'll go" style of play. It's all too friendly. It makes me think of two Victorian gentlemen playing croquet while eating scones.

UPPER-CRUST DANDY: Well, you've really got me in a pickle, haven't you?
POWDERED FOP: Yes, I daresay that my boys will easily put the whup-ass on your silly regiment of cannoneers. Care to parley a surrender now?
UPPER-CRUST DANDY: That seems a tad premature. Look there. Even whilst we sup, my group of hidden skirmishers are routing your cavalry. Booyah, I say. Boo-yah.
POWDERED FOP: Drat! Now I'll be forced to commit my reserves before a proper tea. Your skank-ass tactics are beginning to vex me frightfully.
UPPER-CRUST DANDY: I invite you to talk to the hand. Bee-yatch.

My friend, we'll call him Rob, (since I made him up) is adamant that turn-based wargames are where the real strategy purists can find a good game. The term "real-time strategy" causes him to sputter and convulse like a Pokemon fanatic on a sugar high. "It's not real-time," he'll insist. "It's crack-time. No battles are that fast. The last real-time strategy game was Harpoon 2. You could actually play a scenario in that game for days without even seeing the enemy's ships! That's real-time."

Rob was a big board game player when computer games consisted of titles like The Big Bouncing Semi-Colon Monster, The Letter 'C' Chases The Letter 'X', or The Fantastic Algebra Maze. This was when video cards had both colors available for your gaming thrill. Black and white.
"Run X, run! Don't let the C get you!"

The types of board games Rob played were frightening. They were made by small companies and shipped in large crates to specialty shops. The boxes had to be large to hold all the pieces. Each game came with a zillion cardboard counters, hex maps, assorted dice, and rulebooks.

Oh, and what rulebooks! These games had huge rulebooks - sometimes two or three large binders chock full of crazy rules. Rules that would make Stephen Hawking's head spin! Rules that referenced other rules! These games had more rules than EverQuest's Software Terms of Agreement. The more rules the better! Rob couldn't get enough rules. Rulebooks like those wouldn't even fit on the 640k of hard drive the best computers had at the time.

"Endorsed by the US Naval Academy!" or "Used by the Army War College!" was proudly emblazoned on the boxes. Games like Invasion Europe and Advanced Squad Leader were known for their complexity and brutal realism. Their excruciating, mind-numbing, anal-retentive level of detail helped to scare away the Sorry! and Uno crowd. These games also scared away girls, but who had time for girlfriends or bathing when you could recite the order of battle for the Zulu forces at Roarke's Drift?
"Deathmatch, Squad Leader style."

Ah, the heady days of Nehi grape soda, Cheetos, and stacks of Military History Quarterly! Wh00p! Rob wuz whack wit the strategizin'!


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