We’ve had an interesting two weeks so far talking about Action RPG combat systems and traditional turn-based combat, and this week we get to shift focuses to the Strategy RPG. Traditionally, Strategy RPG combat is done with two actions per character: Move and Action. The action is typically to attack, use a skill, or use an item. This week, we look at five games that spice this system up to the point that makes them stand out from others.
Let’s take a look, shall we?
I don’t think I could even be considered competent if I didn’t include Nippon Ichi’s flagship strategy series. Disgaea took the Strategy RPG and tossed it like a pizza with everything on it.
On top of the basic command actions, you are able to do things like have your party member pick up another, and even create stacks of people, only to throw them along the map. This action was essential in some cases when the map was either too high for someone to reach, or there was a break in the map.
The maps are also endowed with Geo panels, which was a puzzle on its own. Each colored panel on the map could indicate a plus or minus to enemy and ally alike. The only way to stop these benefits was to hit the Geo Panel, which would trigger a possible chain reaction. These reactions also added to the post map bonus at the end of the fight. This could be manipulated to clear the board of all colored tiles, but some careful planning is required to successfully clear the board.
With all these features, and a level cap of 9999, any Disgaea game can bring you hours, week, even years of enjoyment if you’re willing to put in the commitment.
While Suikoden Tactics offers mostly standard fare, what set this one apart from the others was its ability to manipulate elemental affinity on the map. Basically, you can use items or cast a rune spell that creates a field of a particular element to a portion of the map. If you start your turn on that a square that shares the same element as your party member, you will heal some HP and gain stat boosts. Conversely, if you start your turn on a square with an opposing element, you will lose stats and take damage. Any time you cast magic, the area you hit will also scar the land with that element, creating some interesting tactical advantages and disadvantages while you play.
With the addition of both land-based and flying mounts, the customization for your party is exceptional.
This fantasy re-telling of the tale of Joan of Arc mostly followed the traditional SRPG system, but the added effect of gauntlet-wielding characters made for an interesting tactical advantage. These characters have the ability to transform into super beings when conditions are met. They gain access to a wider movement range, more powerful skills and stat increases. The stand-out feature here is when a transformed character makes a kill. After a kill, they are immediately granted an extra move and action. It’s a good way to clear a field if there’s a swarm of enemies. The bad news is that you only get the transformation for three turns, so if you send them too far, it could be a problem.
Fire Emblem: Awakening
While the combat mechanics of the Fire Emblem games are fairly straightforward, Awakening has the buddy system. The benefit of pairing up two units allows you to move slower moving units larger distances. For example, pairing a heavy knight with a pegasus knight means both units will omve the same distance as the pegasus knight. Based on how often they are paired together, your buddy may also make a follow up attack when attacking an enemy. Other benefits to pairing up are available outside of combat, so it’s a very well-rounded system.
Being the newest game on this list, Stella Glow offers a few neat twists to the strategy combat system. The biggest feature being the spells cast by witches. These spells have different effects that last several turns, and affect the entire map. The drawback to this is that the witch is rooted in place, leaving her vulnerable to attacks. It will take careful planning and placing of your witches to ensure that no harm comes to them.
Some characters have some interesting combat mechanics as well. An example of this is the fire witch, Sakuya. Her techniques differ based on whether she has her sword drawn or not. This makes her extremely versatile as a combatant. These mechanics alone are some of the many reasons that Stella Glow stands out as an SRPG.