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On Waypoint Radio this week, Austin went on and on aboutloving the new mech-focused game from the developers of FTL, Into the Breach. The way he talked about Into the Breach certainly sounded like a game I’d want to play, but as he described the way it plays, I ran into a familiar stumbling block: “Well, I’m not usually into strategy games.” More specifically, I’m not good at strategy games.
I’ve played them over years—Command & Conquer and Warcraft were staples of my youth—but when it came to the strategy part, I was the person who made as many tanks as possible and called it a day. Tactics? What are tactics? Those games never seemed to demand a higher level of play, so I never learned anything beyond the equivalent of a tank rush. When I’ve tried playing games that, upfront, ask for something more, it often scares me off because I’m convinced I’ll never figure it out.
I’ve made some inroads. Years back, I dove into Fire Emblem: Awakening, despite having zero experience with the franchise and a natural fear response kicking in the moment a bunch of grids appear on-screen. I fell in love, and importantly, it was a confidence booster. When XCOM showed up, a game promising to appeal to newcomers and genre veterans, I took a deep breath and remembered I managed to make it through all of Awakening without letting anyone die. Maybe I could do this?
I beat XCOM—and later, its sequel—by the skin of my teeth. It was satisfying to make inroads with a genre that had, at one point, make me feel bad about myself.
The problem is I view all strategy games through the same lens. How much is so-and-so- game like Fire Emblem or XCOM? I’ve never touched a Civilization game because it seems very possible it would bring up those crappy feelings all over again. Maybe I’d be into those wildly complicated simulation strategy games like Stellaris, but same thing—what’s the point of playing a game where you’re going to walk away upset?
It brings me great joy to hear Into the Breach is for people like me, folks who have found success in Fire Emblem. The only question is how I start breaking out of that loop.
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