GWJ Strategy Gaming Group: Now Playing Warhammer 40K Mechanicus

Don't know where to post this, so apologies if this isn't the right spot.

Background:

There are many 4X games that take the player from The Stone Age to The Space Age, allow you to build a colonial empire during the Age of Exploration, play as a feudal warlord, deal with intergalactic species, build planets filled with dinosaurs, etc.

There are also entire genres built around post-apocalyptic scenarios after everything has fallen apart. These range from our own time (The Division) to fantastical worlds to far-flung space scenarios.

Question:
Where is the game that puts a player at a point in time during the height of a civilization and requires them to 4X their way on the back down as their society collapses on itself?

Am looking for a way to experience both the implications of entropy as well as how to manage collapse on a massive scale. The post-apocalypse genre seems (to me, could be limiting in my description) to individualize the experience and brings everything down to how the player will use a gun/violence to survive on an individual unit level. If it expands beyond the player, it's to incorporate a loved dog, or a family member or sometimes a tribe which is usually only tied to the player in that they exist to give ammo/food/quests. There is never meaningful collective action to establish order, let alone reverse the slide/rebuild a society. I'm not aware of any mechanics that emphasize anything other than American West-style gunfightering.

Could be many ways to implement including:
- Paradox-style history-sim where a Roman family starts in maybe 4th century Rome and gradually has to deal with Germanic invasions and eventual collapse of Rome proper?
- Alien invasion/war destroys entire civilization and player manages collapse post-"Independence Day" (prior to any rebuild)
- Post-Nuclear Winter 4X
- Zombie apocalypse and you play as warlord (but good!) who attempts to preserve humanity
- Fantasy world where your race, immortal Elves, have defeated all humans/dragons but that act ruined the symbiotic nature of life in your world and your society is decaying
- Environmental collapse of many types (rising seas, food ecosystem collapse, run out of carbon fuel, etc.)
- Disease permanently alters humankind life expectancy and/or fertility

TLDR:
Is there any game that forces the player to play Bizarro-Civ where the tech tree flows backwards and you kind of have to play The Postman on a societal level?

Well, part of that is available in Paradox Grand Strategy games - specifically Crusader Kings, Europa Universalis and Imperator. However, they don't rewind the tech clock (that's actually more dependent on supply chains and logistics than actual loss of know-how, I think), except to the extent that if you lose special supplies/locations, you lose the units they supplied. (Civ does this too.) Paradox seek to model the *usual* variations in fortune that a ruling family and country go through at various times in history, though, not a tech apocalypse.

Imperator might actually be the closest in its system to what you want, but definitely not in theme or in the grimdark feel of the game that you imply.

I think you've hit on a new and interesting theme for games, to be honest. I wonder if any of the game companies will go for it over time.

There is one game that comes to mind, though. Frostpunk. And come to think of it, the survival games genre could scratch this itch. Oxygen Not Included, for example, or the excellent Rimworld. They are games where you build things, and then Things Fall Apart.

Hiya Top Shelf welcome! I’m not an expert at all the strategy titles out there, but Attila Total War and Rome Total War Barbarian Invasions both had that feel. You start out with massive empires and maxed out troop types if you play the Western Romans or Byzantines but have to hold out against nearly unbeatable waves of barbarians, slowly trying to stop the bleeding. That might be worth exploring for next month - I’ll mention it in the main thread.

EDIT: I got distracted and missed Robear’s response. Yes Frostpunk is an amazing survival strategy game!

Shadow Empire is a good post-apocalyptic 4x. You don't manage things on the way down but you do manage sort of rebuilding on a single planet, long after a galaxy-wide apocalyptic war. I say sort of because you will not get back to where things were before the apocalypse but you do make some progress and can find stuff from that era that is still useful.

Most of the games I can think of are usually at a point where society or civilisation have collapsed, and you’re either trying to rebuild or survive with limited resources. Sourcerer King: Rivals is a 4x where the evil necromancer has won and you’re trying to survive / rebuild without attracting too much attention, until you’re ready to strike. A.I. War works on a very similar principle, it’s just set in space.

I think Frostpunk - especially if you play the expansion first would probably be closest it what you are thinking. There’s Survivng the Aftermath as well but the apocalypse has already happened, you’re rebuilding in the ashes.

Top_Shelf wrote:

Question:
Where is the game that puts a player at a point in time during the height of a civilization and requires them to 4X their way on the back down as their society collapses on itself?

Am looking for a way to experience both the implications of entropy as well as how to manage collapse on a massive scale...

TLDR:
Is there any game that forces the player to play Bizarro-Civ where the tech tree flows backwards and you kind of have to play The Postman on a societal level?

jdzappa wrote:

Hiya Top Shelf welcome! I’m not an expert at all the strategy titles out there, but Attila Total War and Rome Total War Barbarian Invasions both had that feel. You start out with massive empires and maxed out troop types if you play the Western Romans or Byzantines but have to hold out against nearly unbeatable waves of barbarians, slowly trying to stop the bleeding. That might be worth exploring for next month - I’ll mention it in the main thread.

Seconding jdzappa's recommendation of Total War: Attila. I think it's tailor-made for what you want:

- an overall "apocalyptic" experience, as barbarians invade, generals mutiny, and climate change gradually reduces farm yields.
- the Romans lose technology over the course of the game.
- the strategic level really matters (making sure there's enough food for the cities and money for the legions, while trying to avoid multi-front wars).

I wrote up my thoughts on my blog back when the game came out, if you're interested.

I really like Shadow Empire but I don't quite think it's what you're after - it's a "post-post-apocalyptic" game about rebuilding civilisation centuries after the fall. Same issue with the classic Emperor of the Fading Suns.

Oh one more thing while I have everyone's attention - if you want ranks let me know the following:

How many titles you played (3 so far):
How many titles you beat:

You'll get 1 rank for each so a possible of 6 total at this point (aka you'd be a corporal).

Outstanding recommendations, all. Looks like several are available via Geforce Now, which is my only conduit for PC games.

Will be checking a couple of these out.

The Marius update for Imperator: Rome came out today, along with a paid "Heirs of Alexander" content pack. The game and most DLC is on deep discount: you could get the whole set pretty inexpensively. $10 for the base game.

Look forward to trying out Imperator! Reviews / word of mouth are positive about the new update:

https://www.wargamer.com/imperator-r...
https://www.pcgamesn.com/imperator-r... (that URL says it all)

Have not dived in yet; just started a game and looked around. But it does look like fun!

Thanks for the reminder on Imperator. I'm sure this will be a prime candidate for the club's next game.

Robear wrote:

The Marius update for Imperator: Rome came out today, along with a paid "Heirs of Alexander" content pack. The game and most DLC is on deep discount: you could get the whole set pretty inexpensively. $10 for the base game.

Nice! At lunch I’ll open the voting for our next game on the main thread.

Just realized it’s time to open up voting for March-April. Please post your first three suggestions.

Personally I’d love to either go fantasy or a historical to mix things up a bit hence my pics:

EU 4
Warhammer Total War
Shogun Total War 2

Well, the big patch for Imperator: Rome just dropped, and I got a copy from the key giveaway thread, so....

Shogun Total War 2
Imperator: Rome
Company of Heroes 2

Imperator: Rome
Frostpunk
Stellaris (sorry if this has already been done)

Voting:

Imperator
Shogun Total War 2
Stellaris

As far as ranks go, I've played through all 3 titles we've tried so far, only one I wasn't able to complete/win was Planetfall

I only started playing AoW Planetfall this month but still enjoying it so far. I'll have a think about my nominations, is there a list of previous group games played?

Imperator Rome
Dominions 5
Total War: 3 Kingdoms

I just got the DLC for Imperator and am all amped up to dig in. So, I’ll go...

Imperator
EU4
Hearts of Iron 4

If I had to go for a non sci-Fi vote I would go for

Company of Heroes 2
Unity of Command
Total War: Warhammer

Imperator: Rome

Shogun 2

Dominions 5

Desperados 3

Exepditions: Vikings

Imperator
EU4
Anno 1404

My votes:
Anno 1800
Hearts of Iron 4
Frostpunk

Rank info:
So far I've played Battletech and AoW: Planetfall - haven't beaten either (yet)

Thanks for the great suggestions everyone! I’m giving it till noon tomorrow (Feb 23) to make initial suggestions then we will vote!

Imperator
Into the Breach
Shadow Empire

So far I've played Battletech and Planetfall, and finished neither.

I have finished Battletech; still working on Planetfall.

I finished Battletech and ES2, only started on Planetfall.