Can I get a 3X game?
October 4, 2009 9:29 PM   Subscribe

I want a 4X game, but without the warfare. Are there any such games?

I really like 4X games like Master of Orion II, the GalCiv series, Sins of a Solar Empire, Civilization, Alpha Centauri, etc. But what I like about them is the empire building, the first 3 of the 4 X's. I'm not as keen on the eXterminating of your opponents, if only because at higher difficulty levels it's *my* empire getting conquered.

What I'm really looking for is the video game equivalent of a Euro-style board game like Agricola, Puerto Rico, or Le Havre, where the competition is based on who can build the best empire/farm/company, rather than who can conquer the other person's stuff. There's still competition in these games, so I don't find them as boring as SimCity, but opposition is more indirect.

Graphics are mostly irrelevant here; I'm looking for fun. Are there any good video games like this out there?
posted by JDHarper to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (17 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
I've heard good things about Dawn of Discovery/Anno 1404. The game has some military elements but I've heard that they aren't a focus, it's essentially an economy simulation. And I know graphics aren't important to you, but the game looks really really good.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 9:40 PM on October 4, 2009

For newer Civ games, you could effectively do something like that by editing the rules files.

Like, change an early, cheap unit so that it has a squillion hit points, 0 attack, a billion defense. Then change all other units to have 1 hp / 0 attack / 0 defense. There's probably also a toggle or two in there somewhere that will prevent enemy units from attacking your improvements.

This might also include the Civ4-based Colonization. Don't have it, so dunno.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:50 PM on October 4, 2009

Try something like Patrician III for empire-building and minimal combat.
posted by turgid dahlia at 10:01 PM on October 4, 2009

Civ 4 definitely has rulesets where you can force everybody into peace, or make a win by conquest ilegal.
posted by stresstwig at 10:02 PM on October 4, 2009

Just another vote for Civilization 4.

If you do a custom game, you can turn off the military victory option--and it would appear to me that the AI recognizes that. I think there's an option that forces all empires you encounter to offer you peace--I don't recall if it's separate, or if one of the difficulty levels just includes that.

Also, in the past ten or fifteen Civ4 games I've played, there have been no wars that I didn't start. In fact, I'll often turn off most of the win conditions except military victory just so that I can have a nice war of conquest--otherwise, the computer gets to Alpha Centauri just as I'm building up my invasion force.
posted by Netzapper at 10:27 PM on October 4, 2009

I really like Railroad Tycoon 2 (not 3, it seems crap, so far...). Added bonus, it's old enough to run on just about anything these days.
posted by pompomtom at 10:32 PM on October 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

(sorry, forgot to say: you can see all the map in RR tycoon, so the explore part isn't really there...)
posted by pompomtom at 10:33 PM on October 4, 2009

You might want to look into Imperialism and Imperialism 2. Also, if Railroad Tycoon is up your alley, try out Open Transport Tycoon Deluxe (OpenTTD), which has the added advantage of being free.
posted by matkline at 12:22 AM on October 5, 2009

The problem with Civ 4 and the 'always peace' ruleset is that the NPCs don't seem to know the rules, they still put large amounts of resources into building military forces - I don't know if turning off 'conquest victory' as an option changes that though
posted by missmagenta at 1:14 AM on October 5, 2009

Best answer: I have 1701 AD / Anno 1701 and it's not exactly what you're after but it's fairly close. There is some combat but it's by no means the focus of the game. You can play a good amount of the scenarios without firing a shot.

The majority of the gameplay consists of building supply chains for various commodities your settlement needs to advance. For instance, to fulfill the demand for alcohol you must either purchase or trade for it or produce it yourself. To produce it, you need open land where hops or sugar cane grows, then you have to build plantations to grow the raw materials, then you need to build a brewery or distillery to turn the raw materials into the finished good, then you need to get those goods to your people.

Check it out. You can get it, with the Sunken Dragon expansion, for about $30 on Steam.
posted by Liver at 6:26 AM on October 5, 2009

As others have said Anno 1404 (and presumably 1701) are a very relaxed 4x that focuses mainly on building and trade, with minimal combat (it is fairly boring and clearly not the meat of the game). In fact you can just focus on your economy then make other people fight for you did a good job.

Sin of a Solar Empire is about to release a new diplomacy expansion that will dramatically increase your diplomatic options and potentially allow you to win without really fighting at all, but the battles in that game are so awesome looking you might want to dabble in them a little.

Stardock is also putting out another 4x early next year called Elemental that is essentially (I am hoping) a Master of Magic clone that will have a well developed diplomatic system. In an interview the designer presented a situation where you could essentially marry off your daughters to foreign rulers and through that essentially gain control of their kingdoms over time. There are also numerous other non directly military ways to win in that game (powerful artifacts you find, and spells you research), so it might be up your alley(they had me at mummies with flaming swords riding nightmares, but everyone has different tastes).
posted by BobbyDigital at 6:56 AM on October 5, 2009

Open Transport Tycoon Deluxe (OpenTTD)

Screw you. I had almost forgotten about that timesink. Well, goodbye productivity for the next month or so...

posted by ConstantineXVI at 7:25 AM on October 5, 2009

Response by poster: All these games look really interesting. Thanks everybody!
posted by JDHarper at 7:31 AM on October 5, 2009

Democracy is a political sim that you also might be interested in.
posted by saxamo at 11:56 AM on October 5, 2009

There is the free online game "Children of the Nile," which is a city-building economics sim. You trade goods with other players. However, everything takes place over chunks of real time, meaning that you're often waiting for something to ship. It makes it easier to work with other players and plan ahead, but it also means you can't play it for as long as you'd like all the time. Note that leaving the game alone doesn't have dire consequences, either. At worst, a resource will have maxed out. It's not like your citizens will starve and revolt just because you didn't play one day.

Not really an RTS, but you might like it.
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:08 PM on October 5, 2009

Response by poster: Bought Anno 1701; so far, it feels like just what I was looking for. Thanks!
posted by JDHarper at 9:52 PM on October 5, 2009

I see you've found a fun game (which apparently I need to look into), but I wanted to add: as mentioned before, Colonization (the new one built off the Civ4 engine, or the older one really, if you can get it to run) really has very little military element. It's all about exploring the new world, building a colonial empire through trade and diplomacy, and (eventually) throwing off the yoke of your mother country. To be honest, I've never gotten to the revolution stage. There will undoubtedly be some fighting, because there are cannon units and soldiers, but that's a pretty small part of the game. I've always been happy going about building a little trading empire.

It's also available on Steam for $30, but it comes up occasionally for a discounted price (which is when I bought it).
posted by This Guy at 8:41 AM on October 6, 2009

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