Best of 2012! Strategize This: A Beginner’s Guide to Strategy Games

Fire Emblem, Advance Wars and Final Fantasy Tactics are all household names for hardened strategy fans, but how do they fare in the hands of a strategy newbie?

By Katharine Byrne. Posted 12/28/2012 15:00 Comment on this     ShareThis

Genre: Turn-Based Tactics
Accessibility: 2/5
Fun Factor: 4/5

War. War never changes– not when Black Hole are on the loose, that’s for sure! By far the most difficult game to get into out of the three, Advance Wars 2 throws you right in at the deep end, bombarding you with multiple different units and enemy types to get to grips with right from the word go. There’s terrain cover to worry about, weapon range, capturing buildings, supplying your troops with enough ammo and missles, pitting infantry soldiers against giant tanks, fog of war, CO super powers… The list goes on, but I’d be as bare-faced as Flak’s mighty chin if I said I didn’t enjoy every minute of it!

It’s tough, sure, but getting so many toys to play with so early on is actually quite exhilarating, and you also feel like you’re learning things much faster than in FFTA. The mission objectives are more varied as well, and alongside the traditional “destroy everything on screen” tactic, you’ll be capturing enemy HQs or defeating troops in a set number of turns all while holding down your own fort, too.

Go, tanks, go!

Each map’s unique characteristics also make it a much more rigorous tactical exercise than FFTA and you will lose if you simply try and play it by ear. I’m almost ashamed to admit it, but I had to yield a total of five times on the second mission alone (made all the more humiliating by its one-star difficulty!), and it was all because I was trying to do it my way instead of paying attention to the required strategy for that map. This may make it a rather unfriendly game to newcomers, but there is a greater sense of achievement when you do finally complete a mission (especially if you’ve had your bullet-riddled buttocks handed to you on several occasions), and once you’ve cracked things like defence cover and CO super powers, there’s nothing quite like watching your fleet of tanks mow down a line of enemy foot-soldiers.

Okay, so maybe I’m getting a bit carried away, but I think another part of Advance Wars 2‘s appeal comes from the fact that you get to see the battle sequences in much greater detail. Much like Fire Emblem: Sacred Stones, every time there’s an individual skirmish, the top-down view transforms into a 2D side-on battle, and it looks and feels much more satisfying than FFTA‘s meagre “tap them on the head” animations. It also has a cracking soundtrack, which makes every turn go by that much smoother, even if several of them lead to crushing defeat.

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