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Having announced yesterday that this blog is about to expand it’s collective consciousness into other games other than Warcraft, it is probably an idea now to lay out the stall of what is to come. Initially this morning that will mean a couple of hours fiddling with layouts, and then some time in the week deciding how change plays out.

Between all that, there’s likely to be some Beyond Earth as a filler.

If there were ever a game that utterly meshed with my own outlook and ideas of the future for our planet, then this is it. It’s also by far the simplest Meier game I’ve ever picked up, in terms of being able to dictate terms and play at my own pace. The original Civilization has now become far too complex for me to easily dip into without losing entire days to the process. This game is like reading a Play Your Own Adventure novel, where you are the individual in charge of dictating mankind’s deep space destiny.

There are many paths to victory, but I’m starting my replay with the outright Affinity ones: Harmony, Supremacy and Purity. Transcendence is the path of Harmony, and last night’s game finish (after two days and over 400 turns) wasn’t the fastest means to approach my target but ended up as very satisfying. I am not a big fan of warfare, when all is said and done, preferring instead to focus on construction and co-operation. This path made the aliens my friends, keeping combat to a minimum.

It’s also been a good way of reacquainting myself with how the game works, and arranging important game advantages by developing certain skills and traits early. Warcraft’s almost obsessive need to push even the most casual player into a min/max mindset has proven useful for understanding exactly how things work. Next time a game is started, it will be with pen and paper to hand so notes can be made. As games become increasingly complex to grasp, there needs to be a record kept of what was undertaken.

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Without doubt however, it is feel of the interface plus amazing soundtrack that keeps me coming back for more. Spoilt undoubtedly by Azeroth’s ambience and themes, this is like being dropped into a reasonably well budgeted Sci-Fi movie from start to finish. The immersion is impressive, my desire to explore is only reined in by the need to complete increasingly complex Quests and Objectives. As a solo experience it is hugely satisfying.

That’s what I’m here for right now: no fast paced FPS games with friends, or the glut of LoL style ‘lets go grind 176 levels on this character and then do that with 35 others’ that seem to be so enjoyed by others. With limited time, and one eye on more important pursuits, this is the easy choice. My rules, my timescales, and nobody else to have to worry about or to get angry if I don’t play the way they think is ‘right.’

This is relaxation as I enjoy it most.

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