Saturday, September 20, 2014

. . . Ptience and the Challenges of Combat Strategy Games

Among the many gifts that Apple's iPad has delivered in its promise to make life more interesting for gamers we must include the unanticipated breadth of entertainment offered by the many games in the  RTS, CSG, and RPG genres that the platform offers - many of them free-to-play!

One such title - Boom Beach - offers far more than simple entertainment, that is provided that the player is willing to exercise an element in gaming that comes in all too short supply regardless of the genre or sub-genre: patience.

I can think of no more perfect an example than Boom Beach, which while it presents the typical tools that are the meat-and-potato for such game genres, at the same time in its mixture of immediate and obvious gratification.

There is hardly a better example for the style of WYSIWYG game play - and its record of progress, thanks in no small part to the multi-player and player-vs-player elements with which the game is built.  In simple terms then, the player who is willing to trade lengthy delay for material improvement in both the strategic and tactical position will find success for the asking. 

Players incapable of that sort of long-term view or who place more emphasis upon direct action, while they will still find entertainment and satisfaction in the game, find a decidedly different sort.

Basic Premise
Boom Beach begins with a uniform set of challenges.  The players are given an island base with very basic facilities that they must defend and use as the source of supply, and a combination of naval and marine offensive forces in the form of a Gunboat and Landing Craft with which to flex their military might and muscle and, if they know what they are doing or are even a little bit lucky, can raid and capture islands, bases, and resource facilities.

The ever-present need to build a defensive position while at the same time thin out the local threats at nearby island, and the never-quenched need for more resources - gold, wood, stone, and metals, not to mention gems for making idols, and more of the same for building defenses - means that even the more impatient of gamers will still find plenty of targets.

But what of the patient?

Despite it being a game in which the player faces both computer-controlled NPC and human opponents, none of the action is instant.  That is to say none of the battles take place in real time.  The first that a player knows that his base has been attacked is when they log in and discover either smoking ruins of their base, or more often (if they are good at it) their local militia repairing the damages from a failed attack.

I have found the game to be incredibly entertaining, and even more so when the player is willing to take the long-view of things, and works towards progressively improving their position.

The iOS platform needs more games like Boom Beach - that is certainly true.  If you happen to know of any - and are interested in sharing - please do email me?

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