Because I don't work at gaming website or magazine, I pick and choose what games I want to review, as opposed to being assigned games for review. The benefits of this approach are many; I don't have to force myself to play through awful games if I don't want to, and I review games that I think I'll actually be able to write something interesting about, rather than re-hashing graphical assessments and "fun factors".
Recently, however, I've tried to reach out of my comfort zone, and try games that normally wouldn't appeal to me. Both Greed Corp and Napoleon: Total War fit this criteria quite nicely. My experience in the strategy genre has been limited to StarCraft and the Advance Wars series, both games I love, so I thought exploring the deeper recesses of the genre would produce satisfying results. Greed Corp appealed to me because it was lighthearted take on turn-based strategy, much like Advance Wars is; Napoleon offered an encompassing realism that would test me.
Though I ended up not reviewing them, I still played them (and am still playing them now), simply because they stimulated the same part of my brain; the part that loves working around rules. What's even more interesting, however, is that these two games go about doing that in completely different ways.
Greed Corp takes the simplest approach possible. It's a quasi-board game, with a hexagonal board, but what differentiates it from other such games is the fact that it favors an aggressive approach. Gathering a single resource with Harversters sucks the land dry, and as a result lowers, cracks, and eventually destroys the tiles around he Harvester. Because of this, you're constantly forced to march on towards the enemy, because not doing so means suicide or losing due to lack of resources. The endgame will usually involve a handful of small islands attacking each other through either cannons or air drops, which both require large amounts of money to operate.
Napoleon, on the other hand, is much more methodical. Every move must be calculated, and executed over a number of turns; gathering armies, building relationships with other countries, and managing your own territories are only a few of the things that any aspiring emperor must commit to over a number of turns. Some of these things can be auto-managed and forgotten about, but even without the more complex aspects, everything must at some point be managed. Battles within the campaign -- a turn-based economy metagame separate from the actual battles -- are also a case of slow execution. You can fast-forward actual movement, but both the circumstances that lead to a battle and foresight will ultimately decide the winner of a battle.
Napoleon also is also a game made up of many small factors that add up. In battle, everything from the orientation of your troops and kind of ammo you're using to the wind speed and weather conditions can affect the flow of battle. Likewise, the amount of cash you rake in during turn in the campaign depends on what trade routes you have control over as well as what towns you have lordship over. There are simply so many things to worry about that managing the smaller facets is as much of an obstacle as the actual "game" is. These sorts of intricacies are why certain people are attracted to games with such complexity; to them, managing these things is as fun as actual going toe-to-toe with England time and again.
Greed Corp, on the other hand, casts out many of these complications for the sake of keeping the gameplay simple. You have single unit, a single building to make those units, a stationary cannon, a carrier for long-range air drops, and harvestors. For a strategy game, that's incredibly simple. Instead, you must focus on marking your territory and attacking the enemy with your Walkers, with battles being a greater than or equal to affair. Missions are quick, even if for the simple fact that you only have 60 seconds to perform your turn.
This doesn't mean that Greed Corp lacks the strategic and management aspects that Napoleon players hold so dear. You must carefully allocate your resource between building units, arming cannons, and building the one-use carrier that will be a necessity once the land battlefield is naught but towering islands. You can also perform some fairly strategic maneuvers, such as dropping a Harvester on a small series of adjoining tiles, dooming them to a slow a profitable death
I love both Greed Corp and Napoleon: Total War. It's interesting, however, how two games with two completely approaches can in equal amounts tense and rewarding. More than any survival-horror game or movie, Greed Corp made me afraid to play it and tense throughout. With no option to save during battles, winning is an all or nothing affair. Likewise, the stakes were so high in Napoleon that I couldn't withstand losing a battle, accessible save system and all. These two games are a great example of how it's possible for the video game industry to give the same sort of pleasure to people of all kinds of disciplines without dumbing down the best aspects of a genre. The "Casual" and "Hardcore" crowds don't exists, in my opinion: there are only varying degrees of desired complexity.