Elemental Challenge Day Twelve: Real-Time Strategy



Amass your armies, send forth all legions, and don’t forget to say “Yes, milord?” because today, Day Twelve, we’re turning to the more actioney end of the tactical spectrum with Real-Time Strategy games. The RTS subgenre is just as involved and complex (and sometimes shambling) as Tactical RPGs, introducing time-sensitive actions into warfare, essentially turning the experience into an arms race for survival. Imagine a game of Chinese Checkers except there are ten times as many pieces to move and every dozen of them has their own special rules. Maneuvering units, harvesting resources, constructing productive buildings and fortifications, engaging the enemy all while racing against the clock and your opponent brings an extra degree of anxious urgency to the otherwise cumbersome world of strategy gaming.

“It is a good day to die.”


FF3-NES-Summoner2.png The Green Screen Mage

I guess Halo Wars. I played it because it’s Halo and that’s my favorite series. But honestly, I hate RTS games so much. They are not my favorites.



blackmage The Black Humor Mage

I don’t think I’ve ever played an RTS games. They’ve always looked a little boring to me. And it’s always disappointing to see the trailer for them. I remember seeing the trailers for StarCraft 2, and thinking “Wow! What a great looking scifi game!” and then I saw the over-the-head camera and commanding troops and ships, I just lost interest. It looks like chess! If I wanted to play chess, then I’d learn it because my father never taught me! I hate you dad!



mystic_knight1 The Midnight Mystic Mage (Sublime Reviews)

Dawn of War. I can get specific with this one because I have only played one in the series so far. I was gifted a copy of Dawn of War 2: Retribution, and it is an incredible RTS game. I played through as the Tyranids and loved all of the rich Lore and the beautifully finished levels and upgrading systems. I have not been able to play Warhammer or Warhammer 40K on the tabletop yet but I am a big fan of the universe and all of the different races and their histories. (Honorable Mentions – Starcraft/Warcraft, Age of Empires, Command & Conquer)



spoonybardmageright.jpg The Spoony Bard Mage (Nerd Speaker)

While I actually enjoyed Warcraft III more, StarCraft was the one I played all through high school. Sure, I sucked at it, and always tried to rush to Carrier with Protoss, but it was good times.



finalfourteenthmage.png The Final Fourteenth Mage (Cilla vs. Games)

Stelcon. I really enjoy DOS games which is fairly evident through some of my previous answers. Stelcon was an amazing RTS game where you versed an opponent (CPU or human) and took control of various planets on the map. You could then use these planets to attack neighbouring planets and take control of them. The enjoyment came from sitting next to the person you were playing with and knowing that you were about to take over their planet in your next turn.



HandheldMage1  The Hopeful Handheld Mage (Retro Redress)

I picked C&C3 not for it’s single player mode, but the excellent online Skirmish mode, where four players can fight each other online. There is no greater thrill than developing armies faster than your opponents…or greater fear than running away from a player with fully developed alien forces.

Unless EA’s servers crash…which is 9 times out of 10.



 The Rage Mage

Nothing screams “opulent pretentiousness” like Magic: The Gathering, and the icing on top of that sweat-jello cake is MTG: BattleMage for PS1. An RTS on home console. Well there’s yer problem. The game reeks of hair and toenails with gameplay so confusing and monotonous, it might actually make you want to play the card game instead.



rmage2.jpg The Well-Red Mage

Command & Conquer: Red AlertAge of MythologyAge of Empires IIAge of WonderWarhammer: Shadow of the Horned Rat, Dawn of WarWarcraft 3, haha even Fat Princess are all RTS’s I’ve fond memories for but the ultimate real-time strategy experience in my life has been StarCraft: Brood War. I sunk so many hours into this game… entirely in single-player. I created my own maps. I played as Protoss so I could “whammy” enemy SCVs and Drones with Dark Archon mind control so I could build up a massive three-faction army on a custom map with billions of resources, amassing an invisible armada of Zerg, Terran, and Protoss aerial units guarded in groups by Arbiters floating above entrance points to my sprawling empire hemmed in by a three-layer wall of Photon Cannons. It took hours to max all this out but it was beautiful. My goal was always to create a self-sustaining army that could guard its base while I went afk, and it worked a few times when everything turned out just right. My favorite of the three races was always Zerg (Tyranids are the best!), especially with those delicious Lurkers. And the story missions weren’t bad, either. What a game! I grew up with Legos and Lincoln Logs and Tinker Toys so building things was something that drew me into StarCraft,El and other RTS’s I’ve loved.

starcraft brood war kerrigan


Tomorrow we’re going to open the door and explore a vast new world. Come back again if you’re the adventurous type! Thanks for reading!

Did you enjoy this post? Consider becoming a Warrior of Light and join us in restoring integrity and quality to entertainment journalism. We specialize in long-form, analytical reviews and we aim to expand into a podcast and webzine with paid contributors! See our Patreon page for more info!



30 replies »

  1. Lord C is notoriously impatient (a fact that my evil army of minions will no doubt attest lol ) but I have played Age Of Empires 1 & 2, (liked 1 more) & Age Of Wonders was bloody awesome! I liked being evil & slapping everybody about with an army of frog riders & giant spiders!!! (Some slight money cheatin may’ve occured!? But I Still Won!!! Bwahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I never knew there was a Magic: The Gathering vidja game lol. I’ve never played the IRL one, but not because I’m too cool for it. I mean anything I do be ones exponentially more awesome so that’s just not possible.

    Gemfire is this SNES strat game that fits the bill for me. You’re a noble trying to conquer an entire continent and overthrow the despot king keeping everyone under his tyrannical rule with a dragon. The battles have to be executed with troops, gold, and food taken into consideration. The music is pretty fantastic, too!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think there are several MTG video games but that one was terrible. Definitely a case of a game that was too much of a PC game for home consoles. It was hard to tell what was going on.

      Hoohoo Gemfire… I remember renting that one weekend as a kid, knowing nothing about it, and being bored right after the title screen. My younger self had no patience for strategy games like that! Shame!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hopefully they improved from there! It seems like it would lend itself well to a console so long as it was executed properly.

        I can see how that would be ultra boring to a kid lol. I was a bit older when I played it, and I already had FFVI under my belt so I had some strategy experience going on. It was much easier to pick two players, play them both and just clean house lol.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I nominate Command and Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars, though I have not played the multiplayer Skirmish mode. The previous game transformed from the conflict within a modern setting of the first game into a war in an apocalyptic wasteland. This game develops this idea further, with the world described as different zones based on the level of contamination by Tiberium and the ability for civilisation to survive. I found the level designs interesting, with some containing large, deserted cities and others located in dead landscapes, with the shadows of quickly moving clouds visible on the ground. I also liked the grimmer atmosphere following the invasion and how it is shown between the two factions (an animated sequence shows the invasion before the start of a new level during one campaign, while the invasion begins half-way through a level for the other faction). I also liked the Scrin and how they made the game more innovative, with a greater emphasis on aerial vehicles and the unusual designs of the units. I also enjoyed the changes to the gameplay, such as the optional missions, displaying the levels objectives, building queues, controlling small groups of units (instead of individual fighters), the use of intelligence files to develop the story and some of the new units are good. I liked the story and how both campaigns are linked. A particular highlight is the design of the huge Scrin towers.
    Why do you like Red Alert? What do you prefer about Star Craft compared to other real-time strategy games? Were you describing the ultimate base?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think I liked Red Alert because I played it most, and I like the Tesla Coils and Tesla Tanks! StarCraft was sci-fi and I love sci-fi over high fantasy. I was indeed describing the ultimate base.


      • I have always found Red Alert a slightly strange game. Later games in the Red Alert series were comical with a slightly cartoonlike aesthetic. The first Red Alert game resembled the original Command and Conquer game, except with a few differences, such as the factions, ore instead of Tiberium, levels covered in snow and Tesla Coils instead of Obelisks of Light.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I recommend Warcraft III Battle Chest. It’s one of the most accessible RTS games you’ll ever play. Even if you’re not into the games, it does a pretty nice job of easing you into how to play. A lot of games don’t do that, expecting you to instantaneously understand all of the stats, and management. When you finally understand what it is you need to do, you’ll find the games work a lot like Sim City. But with war. You send your peons out to gather resources, use those resources to build barracks, training facilities, and all kinds of other buildings with different purposes. Everything matters. Where you place structures. How many soldiers you’ve trained. All of which costs money. So you’d better send parties out into the forest to find caves to mine gold from.

    In Warcraft III multiplayer, all of this becomes even more important. If you’re not good at managing this stuff, you’re going to get destroyed when they send their army in to raze your city to the ground. One of the really cool things I love about it, is if you’re desperate you can make the peons, and citizens take up arms. 99.9% of the time they’ll die as they have practically no health whatsoever. But it is pretty neat. Plus if you’re into World Of Warcraft, (I’m not. MMOs are not for me.) and want to experience one of the big storylines, then check it out for the single player campaign.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Any game of this vein that eases a player into it sounds like a game that has itself well-sorted out. I think that’s the biggest turn off for a lot of big strategy games is the high inaccessibility. It’s not like I’m psychic and I can magically know exactly what the devs were thinking with a single tiny icon.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m sad to say, I don’t have a lot of RTS experience outside of Age of Empires. I micromanage and track -way- too much to be an effect RTS player, because I will genuinely keep track of every unit and resource available to me- which pays off in turn-based strategy, but noooooot so much in real time. It’s a shame, because I adore everything -about- RTSs, and from beating Age of Empires, I can say that my favorite part of the genre is getting a good plan and your final strike team to come together for that last push against the enemy base.

    I will admit the number of squadrons I’ve lost due to forgetting they existed in some far off corner of the map is… staggering.

    Naval battles were my favorite, though, because the idea of a water unit being able to bombard the land blew my mind considering other games were a lot more picky about letting something like that go unchecked. Setting a massive group of ships on a path of destruction guarded by one dude on a horse was comically hilarious to little-Me, and taught me the most valuable lesson I’ve ever taken away from the genre- a heavy advantage in numbers, especially at range, is strategy enough. – w-

    (I wasn’t terribly sure about this, but I feel as though Dwarf Fortress deserves an honorable mention, despite not being an RTS in the traditional sense. It certainly shares elements from here, including my favorite rule of thumb- everybody is a winner as long as that playthrough ends in madness and flames.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Those Age games are really fun. I know this isn’t an RTS but I stumbled across an old collection of PC games, Sim City 2000 being the title I was most excited to see again. I wish I’d run into one of the old RTS’s though. I haven’t played an RTS in quite an… age.


      Liked by 1 person

  6. I don’t think I’ve played many games in this genre. Not that I don’t like them (because they’re right up my alley)…. I think I just never really picked any up. In middle school I uses to play one of the Age of Empires games at school sometimes. I loved the game but I didn’t remember which one it was.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I bounced around a bit between StarCraft, StarCraft II, WarCraft III, and Dawn of War 2. In the end though, Dawn of War II does more that I like in it. It is also the least traditional of these games as it does away with the base building focus that the genre usually has and instead focuses on strategic and tactical combat scenarios with a small team of “heroes”. It is basically an entire game filled with the non-base building side missions that other RTS games always have.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I played and loved Dawn of War, since it gave me some relief from buying and painting the over-expensive Games Workshop models. The Tyranids (my race in the tabletop game) made me almost instabuy the 2nd game. I love how well it works without the base building, and I liked it even despite that aspect’s absence.


  8. Greetings Well-Red! I feel really bad for missing half of your super cool series already. I’m going to go back and share thoughts on everything I can though! My favorite RTS is Ogre Battle: Person of Lordly Caliber for N64. First and still one of the only ones of the genre I’ve played. I don’t generally like war games, so a fantasy-themed RTS was up my alley. It’s more tactical though, I suppose.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My friend, Mr. P! Good to see you, as always. Thanks for taking the time to read. I’m sure your time is even more precious now than it ever was! I hope you’re doing well? I also see that your channel is growing! Very exciting! I recall us chatting about Ogre Battle before, I think. Maybe last year? Time flies…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes! My time is definitely more limited and divided than it ever was, but I still try to find time to read up on anything I’ve missed. We’ve probably talked about Ogre Battle before, because how could it not ever have come up? 😛 It was one of my favorite N64 games, and I’ve always been meaning to pick it up on Virtual Console, since it surprisingly ended up there. But alas. Maybe one day.

        Liked by 1 person

    • WC3 is the only Warcraft game I played and I was surprised at how accessible and enjoyable it was. The way that friends talked about it, I always assumed it was a complex, niche thing. It felt very natural, especially after playing so much StarCraft.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It plays quite differently to the previous ones, but even those were very accessible (I played a hell of a lot of WC2 as well). It holds up very well today, I played it through again a couple of years back.

        Liked by 1 person

Kindly leave a civil and decent comment like a good human being

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s