Command & Conquer bit the dust hard last year, and Total War's not been on the sharpest form of late, but 2014 saw some brilliant strategy games come to the fore. Whether you're a tower defence buff, an RTS fan, or addicted to turn-based tactics, there was something for you this year...
What we said: Age Of Wonders III focuses on eXploration and eXtermination in an unpredictable and customisable fantasy world that constantly reveals new secrets. A few issues and controversial mechanics might irk some genre veterans, but following the first major patch, Triumph's triumph is easily one of the most compelling strategy hybrids we've seen in recent years, and an enjoyably stern challenge for fans of tactical turn-based combat.
What we said: It’s Civ, but not as we know it… and that’s a good thing. The focus on choice and adaptability on the alien world allows players to deal with new challenges on the way to taming this new frontier. It’s not a flawless effort, but provided you can overcome the slower pacing of progress, the addiction of going yet another turn is absolutely there, making Beyond Earth a highly enjoyable entry in the Civilization series.
What we said: Probably the best tower defence game that there is. Nothing more, nothing less.
What we said: Dungeon Of The Endless is the best Real-Time Turn-Based Strategic 4X Tower Defence Sci-Fi Roguelike RPG hybrid you'll play this week. And easily one of the very best games you'll play this year. Absolutely unmissable.
What we said: One of the most addictive games of the year. Card-collecting games can be a niche proposition, but Hearthstone proved that anyone and everyone could get involved this year. And they did. In droves.
What we said: The Last Federation lets us become the shadowy puppet master behind a simulated galaxy, which we can unify or destroy at our whim. Whether applying political pressure from behind the scenes or blasting pirate fleets with energy cannon fire, this recklessly innovative indie gem has the polish, fun factor and sticking power to match its big ambitions.
Winner: Dungeon Of The Endless
Don't call it a Roguelike. Dungeon Of The Endless may feature permadeath and dungeon crawling, but one word can't do justice to this extraordinary genre-defying beast. To take a stab at pigeonholing it, I suppose that 'Real-Time Turn-Based Strategic 4X Tower Defence Roguelike RPG hybrid' is probably the closest I can get.
So the first thing you need to know is that Dungeon Of The Endless uses traditional Roguelike genre staples as a launchpad for a totally fresh and unique Sci-Fi experience that continually switches up the pace and challenge in exciting new ways.
The second and most important thing you need to know, however, is that it's absolutely bloody fantastic. Dungeon Of The Endless was already impressive when Ampltude Studios released the alpha last year, and has only grown stronger due to user feedback and honest painstaking hard work. I'm having trouble finding anything remotely wrong with it, but explaining how all of its crazy genre-blending systems interlock will take some doing.