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The Strategist

Published by Oxeye Game Studio
Price $14.95
Primary Genre Secondary Genre

The Strategist is a turn based strategy wargame. This game has been compared to Risk, but I've not played Risk before so I approach it with new eyes. In a rectangular world divided arbitrarily into regions, players use simple rules to spread their territories, attack and conquer regions occupied by opponents, and eventually rule the world.

A four player game. In the beginning there was one.

The graphics are very basic. There are some animated graphical effects to represent troop movements or other game actions but generally this is a computer game that looks like a board game. The sound is equally uninspiring. The title music is little more than military snare drums, but no music is generally not a problem with a turn based strategy game as silence is usually preferred. Graphics and sound can add atmosphere to any game and beautiful things to see and hear can entice players so it's a shame that in this game the basics are all you get.

The HTML Readme file is comprehensive and there is a good help system built into the program, and useful tips on first game. It took a few moments for me to work out that I had to right click to turn off the 'troop movement' cursor and get back to the 'select territory' cursor but it only took a couple of short games for me to understand how to play.

I have divided, now I must conquer.

This game is about conquest. Up to ten players can compete in one game either on one computer or online. An excellent random map generator allows you to decide on the terrain you want including strategically important lakes and seas because marine bases are needed to attack and defend across stretches of water. There are lots of game settings to modify the rules to your personal desires, but oddly the skill level of the computer players cannot be changed.

The game is played in turns and each turn has several phases. First reinforcements boost the troop levels in any zone you decide, then you can build buildings, move troops and attack adjoining zones. There's no undo icon but Ctrl-Z does that trick, and indeed most game actions have a Ctrl key combination. Turns happen quickly (the speed of A.I. players can be adjusted).

There are two important parts to the strategy, terrain and troop movement. A chopper option allows you to move troops from any location to any other but generally you can only move to adjoining regions. Bigger numbers give better attack and defence strength, and numbers can also be spent on a few buildings; a factory, new headquaters, or a marine base. Factories produce more troops per turn, more headquarters give more action points per turn, and a marine base is essential for attacking across oceans. Enemy regions can be only be attacked when your forces surround at least half of them so the layout of the map also adds strategy.

The Strategist is an absorbing wargame that works best against human opponents. Players can play in teams, and the strategy can be deep and complex despite fairly simple rules. The lack of difficulty levels for the A.I. players, or some sort of long term campaign mode harm the game. There is no plot and the presentation is minimal (this is not a beautiful game) but the core gameplay is what counts here and it works.

Graphics 55%
Sound 25%
Playability 80%
Longevity 80%
Overall Score 75%
Silver Star

Published on 23 Dec 2005
Reviewed by Mark Sheeky

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