Please help cure my gaming malaise
May 12, 2015 12:20 PM   Subscribe

I play a lot of PC action games, but I'm kind of bored of the same old junk. I'd like to play a relaxed, slow-paced strategy game.

NOTE: I have Crusader Kings II before you recommend that. It works very well for this purpose but I'm looking for something new.

Parameters:

Game should be either turn based or slow real-time. The game should either have little emphasis on battles or have a battle system that isn't dreadful (my main beef with Crusader Kings). I should be able to play this game to chill out, so I'm not looking for something really tense or difficult.

Any setting whatsoever is fine. I like pretty games though, so that would be nice.

The game should be available on Steam or GOG. The lower the price, the more likely I will actually buy the stupid thing and not just stare at my library for an hour.
posted by selfnoise to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (24 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
Came in here to recommend Crusader Kings...

My other go to for this sort of gaming experience is Dwarf Fortress. It does still throw you in the deep end and let you figure things out for yourself, but then, you've already experienced that with CK2. Try the Starter Pack, it helps a lot.
posted by 256 at 12:23 PM on May 12, 2015


What are your thoughts on Age of Empires? Most of them are on Steam, and they were always a quality RTS experience.
posted by deezil at 12:30 PM on May 12, 2015


Most obvious answer is one of the Civilization games. If that's a no-go or you've already played them, and given your preference for the focus to not be combat, maybe Offworld Trading Company? If you want value for money Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri great and is cheap on GoG.

My other thought is that if you want something to scratch the itch for slow/relaxing/strategy that you describe why not look at sim or sandbox games? You can't "win" SimCity, but you can pick up SC4 for cheap, it has a huge mod community, and offers all sorts of challenges to muck around with. ("Why isn't my business zone developing? Maybe a park and some police/fire over here to boost demand? Nudge the highway over to here. Oh crap now I'm over-budget and bleeding money, let's throw up some slums and factories on the other end of town to get some cash until the business district grows... Oh look it's 3AM.")
posted by Wretch729 at 12:40 PM on May 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


Rather than Simcity games, you may want to try Cities: Skylines, which was the subject of a post on the Blue. It's modern, cheap, available on Steam, and has a really strong modding community tied in with the Steam Workshop.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:49 PM on May 12, 2015 [5 favorites]


Wretch makes good suggestions.

I suggest the Total War games (Rome, Medieval, etc.). Turn-based strategy map where you manage your cities and move army stacks. Battles can either be fought in a realistic real-time 3d environment, or just skipped, with the results calculated by probability.

The older ones are pretty cheap by now, available on Steam and at places with ancient PC games for sale.
posted by General Tonic at 12:54 PM on May 12, 2015


Yes, if you can pay a bit more Skylines is probably the best choice (that's actually my FPP that zombieflanders linked to on the subject).

Seconding the Total War games rec as well.

It also occurs to me you might enjoy Sins of a Solar Empire. It can be relatively slow paced. It's been a while since I played so I forget all the details of the game but you could check out one of the LP videos on YouTube.
posted by Wretch729 at 12:59 PM on May 12, 2015


Endless Legend sounds like it would fit your criteria: It's turn-based, rather slow (a game lasts for 300 turns by default), the combat system is nice and tactical, it's available on Steam, and it's gorgeous.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 1:00 PM on May 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


Lords of the Realm II is a cheap, classic version of what you're seeking. You can almost always avoid battles or castle sieges, but it's actually a really fun battle mini-game--so much so that I think they made a battles-only expansion pack.
posted by resurrexit at 1:05 PM on May 12, 2015


Banished.
posted by humboldt32 at 1:07 PM on May 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


(Side note for Banished - the Colonial Charter mod, which you can easily get in the Steam Workshop, vastly increases the game's replayability)
posted by Wretch729 at 1:09 PM on May 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


selfnoise: "Game should be either turn based or slow real-time. The game should either have little emphasis on battles or have a battle system that isn't dreadful (my main beef with Crusader Kings). I should be able to play this game to chill out, so I'm not looking for something really tense or difficult."

Come play hexcells . It's a chill game for chill people who like to brain hard. There's no combat to learn.
posted by boo_radley at 1:25 PM on May 12, 2015


Dungeon Keeper or the newly released Dungeons 2 should do nicely.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 2:02 PM on May 12, 2015


Seconding Cities: Skylines if you have any interest in interchanges and traffic management (it's good in other aspects too, but those parts are really excellent.)

Anno 2070 (or its older cousin Anno 1404) is a super chill builder game that emphasizes supply chain management over city building or combat. It goes on sale a lot, would not recommend paying full price unless you're desperate.
posted by Wulfhere at 2:03 PM on May 12, 2015


tropico 4 or 5 - super chill if you want them to be.
posted by nadawi at 2:21 PM on May 12, 2015


If you like CKII try Europa Universalis IV and Victoria II, all made by Paradox. Hearts of Iron III is the last one and in fact you can chain them all together to play from I believe 769 to 1948 by using converters for the save file. That's a mega campaign let me tell you.
posted by Carillon at 2:29 PM on May 12, 2015


Please don't try Nethack. Just don't.
posted by RedOrGreen at 3:01 PM on May 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


I rather enjoyed Valkyria Chronicles even though I'm mainly an action gamer. It's a turn-based tactical game, but unit movement is quasi-realtime and aiming is manual, so it's an interesting hybrid.
posted by neckro23 at 3:10 PM on May 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Do you object to combat-oriented games as a whole, or just overly complex or difficult ones? I could suggest Panzer Corps, a remake of the classic Panzer General series. It's distinctly battle-based, but it's very "beer and pretzels", testing your problem solving and decision making skills much more than tactical acumen. To me, it's practically a puzzle game using World War 2 units as pieces, not actually a war game -- especially if you play with fog of war off.

It also has an over-arching campaign mode, including heroes and a persistent core force that evolves over time, and many available DLCs, including a "Grand Campaign" that covers the entire war in detail over something like 150 (IIRC) scenarios. Plus, when you play it on an easier difficulty level, it can be very forgiving and not at all taxing in a stressful way.

I find it a useful way to unwind my brain without shutting it off completely, whilst providing that nice Skinner Box jolt every 10-20 turns, which is about all I could want out of a light strategy game.
posted by jammer at 3:10 PM on May 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


I know you didn't ask for dwarf-fortress games, but there exist a ton of dwarf-likes. toomuchpete wrote an article about some of them in 2013 on Full Glass, Empty Clip, which is part of the MeFightClub collection of sites. Among them I'm still noodling around with RimWorld, which defies your request that it be buyable on Steam or GoG, but I think it remains worth a look. SpaceBase DF-9 would be as well if DoubleFine hadn't screwed the gamers and released an Alpha instead of finishing development up.

I have Crusader Kings but liked it so little that I just stopped playing it.

In my installed library now that may interest you:
- Pre-Civlization Marble Age - is not pretty but has an almost spreadsheet-like play to it that is sort of appealing? I don't know how to describe it. It's on sale right now for $2.50. But it's definitely turned based and middling complex and kind of interesting.
- Castle Story - A Dwarf-like. Kind of engaging. Requires a 3-button mouse, so I'm sort of cool on it on my MBP (which only really has good trackpad shortcuts for two buttons, sort of).
- Creeper World 3: Arc Eternal - Low on the pretty but an interesting simulated fluids based approach to a tower defense game. Not exactly turn based but the action here is gentle and you can plan your strategies, the mechanic gives you time to do that.
- Infested Planet - This is prettier than the preceding ones on this list, but not fabulous. Still, the colors are bright and the action is sort of strategic, but can also be somewhat furious. Unsure if you'd like it, but I thought I'd note it here anyway.
- Offworld Trading Company - It sort of reminds me of a pretty M.U.L.E. There are plot scoutings and land grabs and auctions and you balance resources as your colony grows. It's in Early Access. But the gameplay, when it's not borked, is kind of pleasing. It's sort of real time, but slow. There aren't any battles, and the graphics are pretty.
- Prison Architect - It's what RimWorld was based on, graphics-wise, so nothing to write home about, but it's a prison-administration-oriented dwarf-like, and pretty solid. There are occasional riots, but other people fight the battles. You just set the orders.

I don't have it installed right now, but I wonder if you'd like the newest XCOM - Enemy Unknown. Its battles are turn-based, unit/squad tactics. And the game is generally well-regarded.
posted by kalessin at 4:42 PM on May 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


There's a couple other ones I like:

Majesty and Majesty 2 -- real time, but you don't give commands directly, but rather, you build, recruit, and you... incentivize the heroes so they do battle and beat up monsters and whatnot.

King's Bounty series -- your lead a hero around a map gathering resources, build up your army, and combat the "gate keepers" in certain areas in turn-based combat.

Blackguards -- more RPG than strategy, you have to engage in tactical combat to enjoy the story.
posted by kschang at 2:32 AM on May 13, 2015


Not sure if you're interested in sports games, but the Football Manager series is turn-based, role-playing and there's no battle at all (except for matches, of course). The games are super-immersive and you can play as any club in the world. There is a bit of a learning curve, but there are tons of strategies and forums on the web if you'd prefer to go that route.

Warning: these games will consume your life. Seriously.
posted by Fister Roboto at 12:10 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Thanks everyone! I had actually forgotten that someone had recommended the Anno games to me but Wulfhere's post reminded me. And it turns out that 1404 is on Steam for really cheap, only it's called "Dawn of Discovery" for some reason. And it's pretty and I'm enjoying so far. Will have to make some additions to my wishlist for the rest!
posted by selfnoise at 7:38 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Similar to Football Manager but baseball related: Out of the Park Baseball.

It's extremely detailed, customizable, and has a dedicated and active user base. This is my favorite game ever, and it's the reason I don't go out anymore.
posted by bluejayway at 5:11 PM on May 14, 2015


"relaxed, slow-paced strategy game."
"The game should be either turn based or slow real-time."
"The game should either have little emphasis on battles or have a battle system that isn't dreadful"
"I should be able to play this game to chill out, so I'm not looking for something really tense or difficult."


Okay, so this is somewhat leftfield, but have you considered chess? If you register on a site like http://www.chess.com you can play on your PC against the computer or human players, and either play live over-the-course-of-an-evening games or correspondence games with three-day time limits. You can also download the (free) app to your phone and sync your games if you travel by train or bus a lot.
posted by Cantdosleepy at 5:50 AM on May 18, 2015


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