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Games

Hard-Wired to Play the Wrong Way in Today's Open Thread

When you have to be true to your gaming values, no matter what kind of game you're playing.

by Rob Zacny
May 3 2017, 2:53pm

Above: screenshot courtesy Sega

This week I've been playing Dawn of War III, which is an interesting game for all the reasons that Ian Williams brought up in his article from last month. But I've run into a particular problem with it. Or, perhaps, it's more accurate to say that Dawn of War has revealed a problem with me.

Dawn of War combines MOBA and real-time strategy elements in some really cool ways, but that also means that your army is largely divided between Elites (hero units) and… expendables.

And I'm having trouble playing that way. A lot of games teach you that you want to keep your units alive and healthy, and that preserving your strength is as much a part of the battle as destroying your enemy. But Dawn of War III, even more than other Warhammer (40k) games, seems to take the view that most of your units are, in the last analysis, pawns to be sacrificed. Elites are important; regulars exist to die in their service.

I've always known I was a little over-cautious in wargames and strategy games, but Dawn of War III is really driving home how debilitating my desire to avoid casualties can be. Instead of trying to get a squad of Assault Marines to safety in the middle of a deadly battle, I should probably just be writing them off and ordering fresh ones from the barracks. And yet there I am, taking a critical moment to jet-pack them out of the maelstrom when I should be calling down an orbital strike.

It's a flaw that I realize follows me from game to game: Almost no matter the rules or mechanics of the game, I am playing "no one gets left behind" in situations where the entire point is likely about known when to make strategic sacrifices. I ruined State of Decay for myself by approaching every session like it was a bomb-defusal scene in The Hurt Locker.

Does anyone else have a gaming quirk or character trait that you'll find yourself expressing no matter what kind of game you're playing? Does it enrich your play experiences, or do you wish you could turn it off?

Comment, discuss, let us know your thoughts in the forum post for this story!