Strategy/RTS or Real-Time Strategy games are all about building armies, managing resources, expanding the main base, and fortifying it to defend against AI or other player troops. The key factor that differentiates the RTS genre from other strategy genres, as the name suggests, is that all actions take part in real-time.
An in-game clock introduces new challenges to strategy games, the player is forced to make momentary and swift decisions based on limited information. Given enough time, anyone can make a good decision. Strategy genre enforces critical thinking to not only consider current actions but also plan upfront. The implementation of the inner clock presents players with an interesting twist to strategy games, splitting them into two sections, turn-based and real-time.
Single characters are not as important to the genre as they are to some others. One must think of Strategy/RTS games in terms of whole armies, nations, and empires. This genre is also very beneficial to players as it trains them to quickly evaluate situations and determine the best possible outcomes for the future. Poor decisions can only be eliminated or mitigated in subsequent attempts, however, the pressure and inability to control the pacing of the game is constantly present.
For readers not familiar with strategy games, it is important to know some key terms present throughout the genre:
- Unit – a mobile object that a player can create or purchase. Units must be commanded to do specific tasks. Often at the earliest stages of the game, the player starts with very few utility units, that are unable to fight and can only collect materials or build infrastructure.
- Base – main castle or fortress, which can be fortified and upgraded. Usually, the main object of an RTS game is to destroy the opponents base.
- Facility – a building that meets a specific purpose e.g. a place from which specific fighter units can be purchased.
- Resources – materials or currency needed to expand or upgrade your facilities and base. In most RTS games good resource management skills are one of the key factors to achieving victory.