Ever since I was in grade school, I’ve been rather terrible at strategy games. Don’t get me wrong, I loved playing them. Archon and Archon II: Adept are bona fide classics, but to say I was any good at them? That’s a stretch. Sure, maybe I would do well against the computer from time to time (and I stress the word ‘maybe’) with the difficulty settings in my favor, but I would regularly get crushed by my best friend back in 6th grade. He was a natural, understanding unit attributes, terrain variables, light/dark cycles, and long-term strategy. Me? I just wanted to get to the one-on-one arcade-style fighting bits. I was much better at those than I was at moving pieces around the board, but that more traditional strategy element is a specter that would follow me constantly.
Chess is another highly strategic game that I happen to enjoy, but again, when it comes to playing it, I’m pretty bad. It’s not uncommon for me to lose my queen early, or find myself in a very premature check scenario because I wasn’t thinking ahead or couldn’t see what my opponent was setting up. I’d gravitate towards variants like Battle Chess or Battle Chess II: Chinese Chess (pictured) instead for the graphics and humorous animation.
In conversation, I’ll tell people that I prefer turn-based strategy over real-time strategy games because I can “take my time”, but in reality, they both can frustrate me. I’m not sure what it is that sends my anxiety through the roof when I play them, but I can usually hear myself saying, “You could have done X, Y, or Z, and that would have been better than the move you just made.”
Perhaps it’s because I’m horrible with statistics. It was my least favorite course in college, after all. Anyway, these thoughts ring true particularly for turn-based games where I have time to reflect on the decision made. This has been a major hindrance to my enjoyment of renowned series like Advance Wars, XCOM, Fire Emblem, Civilization, and many others, and frankly, I’m sick of it.
So today, I’ve decided to start and take on Fire Emblem: Awakening on the Nintendo 3DS. I know that it’s not the hardest one, and I’m going to be playing it on the Normal/Casual settings, but I think this is the best chance I have of cracking into a genre that has caused me more grief than joy throughout my life.
I also have to come clean and say that apart from the first Sakura Taisen on the Sega Saturn and Herzog Zwei on the Sega Genesis, I have never fully beaten another strategy game that I didn’t have to test as part of my job. At least, none that I can think of. I’ve played many of them, but rarely have I completed one. If I think of any more, I’ll revise this, but for all intents and purposes, that’s it.
I’m looking forward to this journey, and hope that when I reemerge, I will emerge enlightened. In the eternal words of Yoda, “You must unlearn what you have learned.” Wish me luck.