Grand Strategy and 4X

Grand Strategy and 4X

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Updated Feb 09, 2024 at 10:03PM EST by Philipp.

Added Feb 09, 2024 at 04:39PM EST by Philipp.

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About

Grand Strategy is a genre of video and tabletop games that places focus on grand strategy, the use of an entire nation's resources in order to achieve its military, cultural and geopolitical goals. 4X (an abbreviation of "Explore, Expand, Exploit, Exterminate") is a an overlapping genre of games which revolves around building, advancing and maintaining an empire in a large game world. Some of the best-known examples of grand strategy games are Europa Universalis, Hearts of Iron and Crusader Kings, with notable 4X games examples being Civilization and Stellaris. Paradox Interactive is a notable developer and publisher of grand strategy and 4X video games.

Starting in early 2010s, grand strategy games have frequently been referenced in memes over their gameplay often appealing to military and history buffs, and the genre still being considered niche and inaccessible to the general audience due to their complexity despite having a significant fandom.

History

The genre of grand strategy games takes its roots in board games such as Risk and Diplomacy. The earliest recognized video game implementation of the genre is a 1983 video game Geopolitique 1990 developed by Strategic Simulations, in which the player controls the United States in a hypothetical conflict against USSR. Other popular early grand strategy video games developed in the 1980s and 1990s are Nobunaga no Yabou, Romance of the Three Kingdoms and Svea Rike, the latter developed by Target Games which would eventually become Paradox Interactive.[1][2]

In 1991, MicroProse released Civilization, an influential game which helped popularize the 4X genre.

The grand strategy genre saw popularization in the 2000s with the release of titles such as Europe Universalis, Total War and Hearts of Iron, with Swedish company Paradox Interactive becoming a publisher specializing in the genre.



Multiple sequels within the popular franchises followed in 2010s and 2020s. Some of the notable modern grand strategy and 4X games include Hearts of Iron IV, Europa Universalis IV, Stellaris, Sivlization VI, Crusader Kings III and Victoria 3.

Gameplay and Features

Gameplay of grand strategy games usually involves the player overviewing a global map in which they control a certain territory. Gameplay often involves reviewing a multitude of changing conditions in the game via information screens, and adjusting parameters to respond to them. The games can often be paused in order for the player to get acquainted with new information and make decisions. Some games can take place over large historical periods exceeding thousands of years, while others focus on shorter timeframes.

The goal of the game is often to lead one's nation to success, be it military or diplomatical. Players often set their own goals: for example, attempting to conquer an entire continent.



Use in Memes

Online, grand strategy games have a reputation of appalling to history and military buffs and being somewhat inaccessible to a general audience due their complexity and lack of visual gloss. Memes about grand strategy games and their players often reference ability to commit various atrocities in them, their gameplay being to complex and slow-paced for a general gamer, and some player's fascination with certain nations and states such as the Holy Roman Empire (examples shown below). Some memes insinuate that grand strategy players tend to be neurodivergent.


PARADOX GAME FANS BE LIKE YOOOOO THIS GAMEPLAY IS FIRE PHED CAMORLD Lucas THIS GENERATION WAS THE FIRST TO BE RAISED ON RUSADER KINGS CRUSADER KINGS III paradox INTERACTIVE TAUGHT ME racism against mongols TAUGHT ME racism against scandinavians EUROPA TAUGHT ME racism against turks VICTORIA TAUGHT ME racism against confederates TAUGHT ME racism against germans TRONT"! STELLARIS TAUGHT ME racism against space aliens AND I WOULDN'T WANT IT ANY OTHER WAY

Out-of-contexts screenshots of internet discussions of grand strategy games, most notably of Crusader Kings have repeatedly went viral on social media (example[3] shown below).


Iron Spike @Iron_Spike Crusader Kings gameplay discussions out of context are things of beauty Will the pope approve my divorce if i kidnap him? CK3 i hate my wife and she's 45 and can't make me more children but she's a good spy and i want to keep her but i don't want her as a wife, and the pope hate me and won't approve my divorce papers will he accept my divorce if i kidnap him? or do i need to kill the popes until one agree to my divorce? thanks Vote 10:38 AM Feb 14, 2022 LO 5 Share :

In memes, grand strategy games are often referred to as "Paradox games" due to Paradox Interactive being a dominant company in the industry.

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Top Comments

Batman's Left Nostril
Batman's Left Nostril

I would say "don't knock it 'till you try it," but I cannot in good consciousness entice others to try it if my HOI4 experience is anything to go by. It's not that it's a bad game or that I didn't enjoy it, quite the opposite in fact. The problem is that it will absolutely consume your free time once you get hooked thanks to the long play sessions and near-infinite replay value, from trying all of the different countries and paths to the myriad of quality mods and conversions like Kaiserreich, Road to 56, World Ablaze, Red Flood and Equestria at War to name just a few (even non-bronies will admit that EaW is very well made).

Also Paradox games are infamous for draining player's wallets with an absurd amount of paid expansions and DLC, many of which contain features that should have been present in the base game to begin with.

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