Where are the micro-scale strategy games?

I enjoy larger-scale strategy games, where empires collide and battles wage across regions, countries or galaxies… but where are the small-scale games? Other than the Sims (arguably) and Black and White there aren’t really many games where you’re managing a little village in detail and dealing with those small struggles of daily life in a fantasy, medieval, or whatever village.

I think a game on that scale could offer some really interesting challenges and fresh gameplay as well as interesting multiplayer options (spore like ‘loose’ massively multiplayer gaming).

NWN2 has something along those lines with the Keep you get later in the game. I find myself absolutely obsessed with my little castle, constantly striving to get all the little bonus bits to make it super awesome.

Sounds to me like you’re describing city builders like The Settlers, or even something like The Guild. The dynasty level gameplay in Crusader Kings comes to mind.


Naw, there’s something slightly too abstract about those, and too much based on the tech chain theme. Hmm, I’m thinking baout more personal control of families you can identify with… Like running the families in Jericho after the apocalypse, zombie or nuke :)

King of Dragon Pass

That’s the sort of thing I’m talking about. Perhaps with more Zombies tho. Going to check it out.

There are zombies. And skeleton Pterodactyl. And Broo… what more can you wish for? ;)

And beware the Terrible Ducks of Death.

Dukes. Dukes of Death.

No, I actually do mean Ducks…

It has been a pretty long time since all my people were fed by dairy. You sort of get to miss it, the satisfaction of a peasantry stuffed with cheese and butter and buttered cheese.

Duck I says.

Argh. Now I’m getting flashbacks from some medieval empire management game, but I can’t remember what it was. I just remember there was a slider that let you adjust the ratio of meat/dairy to feed the peasants, and that it wasn’t KoDP. Can anyone remember the name of the game and put my mind to rest?

One of the first two Lords of the Realm games perhaps? I seem to recall they had fairly complicated farming/resource management modes.

Ahh! I think that’s it, the first Lords of the Realm game. Thanks a ton. :)

If you want a more casual game, Virtual Villagers is pretty decent. I’ve gotten many hours of gameplay from it. http://www.virtualvillagers.com/

And Virtual Villagers will - literally - play itself. If you just close the game without pausing or ending the play session, your villagers still go about their business.


You took the words out of my mouth. KoDP always reminded me a bit of an older DOS game, too–Balor of the Evil Eye, which was all about leading a tribe in Celtic Ireland. There is also the Guild, which falls somewhere between roleplaying and strategy. You do have to manage a business and a family dynasty, and some of the interactions with your competitors can be pretty strategic.

But yeah, there aren’t a whole lot of games in this vein.

Balor was a KOEI game and so it’s no surprise I’ll tend to lump in Romance of the Three Kingdoms games here. Especially 7, 8 and 10 which focus as much on individual characters as playable entities as the big strategic picture.

I also agree with KoDP and Crusader Kings as suggestions. While the scale is bigger than a village in all of these examples the dynamic is the relations between characters and how best to apply them in situations. KoDP probably has the most real personality but it’s also the most abstract. CK does a great job, if you don’t let yourself get too bogged down in micromanaging, of creating the illusion of underlings with some real free will. Managing relations with your vassals and leige and keeping an eye on what your dynasty is up to, including how their personalities are taking shape, gives a real sense of feudal dynamics that no other game I’ve seen comes close to.

Even the Guild, which does have a smaller city-scale to it, doesn’t manage to convey much personality through characters. Their actions will effect you over time and you can develop opinions about individuals, especially troublesome rivals or helpful allies, but it feels a bit cookie-cutter in each game. When you’re playing CK, especially with the later mods that add many events and conditional-branching event trees (along the lines of KoDP where one decision provoked by a random event can have reprocussions for a long while), NPC figures seem to take on lives of their own as actions/traits accumulate and attitudes shift.

Isn’t Dwarf Fortress along the lines of what the OP described? For the ascii-inclined, anyway.

Dude, I remember that from Lords of the Realm. I remember when my whole population was eating milk and cheese, and I’m thinking . . . how will we wage wars when everyone has so much gas?