2009 Game of the Year: Strategery

I suspect the Ktarians invented Strategery.

Until this fall, the only PS3 games I’d played and really loved in 2009 were Valkyria Chronicles (a 2008 release that I started last Christmas and replayed in August) and Flower (a brief, downloadable game). I replayed Final Fantasy XII (again) and Shadow of the Colossus (again). And there were spans of several weeks where I don’t remember turning the system on at all.

But my console got plenty of use over the last three months of the year. I recently played through several high-profile, well-received games: Uncharted 2, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Assassin’s Creed II, and Dragon Age: Origins. I thought all of them were great. They were all ambitious, and each of them was successful. I can’t complain about any one of them being awarded GOTY by various other gaming sites.

However, my game of the year is Strategery: a $2 game for the iPhone with no music, no story, simple gameplay, and bare bones graphics.

Strategery is a stripped-down clone of the board game Risk, with a few major alterations: map layouts and initial army placements are randomly generated, and each game lasts between 30 seconds and ten minutes. The highest difficulty setting really is tough (your four computer-controlled opponents will often conspire to attack you, even if it makes no strategic sense for them, individually), which keeps it challenging — sometimes impossible — even for seasoned vets. And the short duration of each game always compels me to play just one more round.

I’ve played Strategery almost every day for the past nine months. If I’ve averaged a mere fifteen minutes per day (a modest estimate), that’s almost 70 hours of gameplay. And Kathy’s played it at least as much as I have.

We’ve played twice as much Strategery as we have any other game this past year. And it’s the one game I’ve played that I wouldn’t give up for any other. That makes it my game of the year for 2009 — and I’m still playing plenty of it so far in 2010.

Game of the Year: Strategery (iPhone/iPod Touch)

Favorite Console Game (2009 Release): Uncharted 2 (PS3)

Favorite Console Game (2008 Release): Valkyria Chronicles (PS3)

Pleasant Surprise: Flower (PS3)

Biggest Disappointments: Puzzle Quest: Galactrix (PS3) and Noby Noby Boy (PS3)

Favorite Non-Videogame Game: Premier League Fantasy Football/Soccer

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One thought on “2009 Game of the Year: Strategery

  1. I have to support Greg (per the advice of our marriage counselor) in his assessment of Strategery. It’s got a high replay value because the games are so short. But, unlike many other casual games — Bejeweled, for example — games of Strategery have a definitive end. There’s no endless leveling up to lull you into a daze, wasting an hour of your time before you even realize it.

    If Greg wants my attention while I’m playing a game of Strategery, I can tell him that I’ll be done in a minute and mean it (unlike all of the other things I tell him that I don’t mean). It’s the one game I wouldn’t want to give up simply because I feel like I’m in complete control of it. I can play one round or fifty and enjoy the game without feeling guilty.

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