Real-time tactics: Wikis


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Real-time tactics (abbreviated RTT[1] and less commonly referred to as fixed-unit real-time strategy[2]) is a subgenre of tactical wargames played in real-time simulating the considerations and circumstances of operational warfare and military tactics. It is also sometimes considered a subgenre of real-time strategy, and thus may in this context exist as an element of gameplay or as a basis for the whole game. It is differentiated from real-time strategy gameplay by the lack of resource micromanagement and base or unit building, as well as the greater importance of individual units[1][3] and a focus on complex battlefield tactics.



Real-time tactics games generally endeavor to present a realistic experience of battlefield tactics.

Two factions fight a battle in Medieval: Total War.

Typical real-time strategy titles generally encourage the player to focus on logistics and production as much as or more than combat, whereas real-time tactics games more commonly do not feature resource-gathering, production, base-building or economic management[2], instead focusing on tactical and operational aspects of warfare such as unit formations or the exploitation of terrain for tactical advantage.

Real-time tactical gameplay is characterized by the expectation of players to complete their tasks using only the combat forces provided to them,[3][2] and usually by the provision of a realistic (or at least believable) representation of military tactics and operations. This contrasts with other current wargame genres. For instance, in large-scale turn-based strategy games battles are generally abstracted and the gameplay close to that of related board games. Real-time strategy games de-emphasize realism and focus on the collection and conversion of resources into production capacities which manufacture combat units thereafter used in generally highly stylized confrontations. In contrast, real-time tactics games' military tactical and realistic focus and comparatively short risk/reward cycle usually provide a distinctly more immediate, intense and accessible experience of battlefield tactics and mêlée than strategy games of other genres.

As suggested by the genre's name, also fundamental to real-time tactics is real-time gameplay. The genre has its roots in tactical and miniature wargaming, the recreation of battle scenarios using miniatures or even simple paper chits. These board and table-top games were out of necessity turn-based: Only with computer support was turn-based play and strategy successfully transposed into real-time. Turn-based strategy and turn-based tactics were obvious candidates for computer implementation. As computer implementation eventually allowed for ever more complex rule sets, some games became less timeslice-focused and more continuous until eventually "realtime" play was achieved.

Genre classification

While some publications do refer to "RTT" as a genre[4 ][5 ] others consider it to be a sub-genre of real-time strategy[1][6][7], there are also publications that do not make such distinctions. Nonetheless, there are often efforts to distinguish these games from the classic perceptions of the "RTS" denomination; titles of the genre has been described as "real-time combat simulators" and "military strategy" games, Nexus: The Jupiter Incident was called a "tactical fleet simulator" by its developers, and Blitzkrieg II was somewhat verbosely called a "real time simulator of WWII battles on company regimental level" rather than "real-time strategy" in a review.[8]

Relatively few developers or publishers use the terms "RTT" or "real-time tactics" in marketing, though one example is Massive Entertainment, which explicitly described its game Ground Control II: Operation Exodus as real-time tactics rather than a real-time strategy title[9] (which is ironic in that the title veered toward a real-time strategy mode by introducing resources and in-battle reinforcements unlike its predecessor); David Heart of Matrix Games describes the Close Combat series as "the overall tone emphasized realism, and modelled the emotional state of the units under your command, including panic, desertion, and surrender. Close Combat was never an RTS in the classic sense since resource gathering and other typical factors played no part in the game. Close Combat was far more of a tactical simulation and would be better described as a RTTS (Real Time Tactical Simulation)"[10] and f.i. Close Combat: Modern Tactics is sold as a "real time tactical warfare" game on their site[11]; and Namco Bandai announced the "Battle March" expansion to their 2006 title Warhammer: Mark of Chaos as "tactical real-time".[12 ]

Brief history and background

Wargaming with items or figurines representing soldiers or units for training or entertainment has been common for as long as organised conflicts: Chess, for example, is based on essentialised battlefield movements of medieval unit types and, beyond its entertainment value, is intended to instill in players a rudimentary sense of tactical considerations. Today, miniature wargaming, where players mount armies of miniature figurines to battle each other, has become popular (e.g., Warhammer Fantasy Battle and Warhammer 40000). Though similar to conventional modern board wargames (e.g. Axis & Allies), in the sense of simulating war and being turn-based, the rules for miniature wargames tend to lean heavily towards the minutiae of military combat rather than anything at a strategic scale.

Though popular as table-top games, tactical wargames were relatively late in coming to computers, largely due to game mechanics calling for large numbers of units and individual soldiers, as well as advanced rules that would have required hardware capacities and interface designs beyond the capabilities of older hardware and software. Since most established rule sets were for turn-based table-top games, the conceptual leap to translate these categories to real-time was also a problem that required time to overcome.

Avalon Hill's 1982 release Legionaire for the Atari 8-bit was a real-time wargame of Romans versus Barbarians with game play reminiscent of the current real-time tactics template, called by one review a "real-time simulation of tactical combat".[13] Likewise, Free Fall Associates' 1983 title Archon can be considered an early real-time tactics game, built upon Chess but including real-time battle sequences. Archon was highly influential, and, for instance, Silicon Knights, Inc.'s 1994 game Dark Legions was virtually identical to it, adding only to Archon's concept that the player, as in many table-top wargames, purchases his army before committing to battle. Another predecessor was Bits of Magic's Centurion: Defender of Rome (published for the PC by Electronic Arts in 1990), in which, similar to the recent Rome: Total War game, the game took place on a strategic map interspersed by battle sequences. However, though the battles were in real-time they were of small scope and player interaction was limited to deciding the initial troop disposition.


Establishing the genre: the late-nineties rise in popularity

Around 1995, computer hardware and developer support systems had developed enough to facilitate the requirements of large-scale real-time tactical games. It was in 1995 that the regimentally focused wargame Warhammer: Shadow of the Horned Rat was released, groundbreaking not only in that it focused purely on the operational aspects of combat (with all aspects pertaining: regimental manoeuvring and formations, support tactics, terrain, etc.), nor only in that it was entirely real-time, but also that it introduced zoomable and rotatable 3D terrain. In 1997 Firaxis Games' released Sid Meier's Gettysburg!, a detailed and faithful recreation of some of the most significant battles of the American Civil War that introduced large scale tactical battlefield command using 3D.

3D visuals only became established in the real-time strategy genre around eight years after their advent in real-time tactics; it could be argued that the nature of real-time tactics games and the genre's focus lends more naturally to 3D representation, for instance to check line of sight, while the faster pace, rapid-click, highly stylized nature of real-time strategy games were better presented in 2D. Real-time tactics games need not be in 3D however: the Close Combat series as well as Sudden Strike, both successful titles, functioned in two dimensions. Released in 1996 by Atomic Games, Close Combat is a simulation of squad- and platoon-type World War II combat tactics which introduced a higher degree of operational realism than seen before. Combat Mission went even further. Further, as Warhammer: Shadow of the Horned Rat was a translation of the Warhammer Fantasy Battle table-top system, FASA Studios' MechCommander from 1998 was a translation of the BattleTech boardgame into a 2D computer game format.

In 1997, Bungie released Myth, which introduced radically larger battlefields than ever before and included a realistic (at the time) physics engine. In 2000, Creative Assembly created Shogun: Total War taking map sizes even further as well as introducing historical and tactical realism on levels until then unheard of in real-time computer games. Ground Control was also released in 2000, gaining much attention for its luscious visuals but earning developers Massive Entertainment few sales. In 2007 World in Conflict, also made by Massive Entertainment was released and is currently the last game made in this genre.

Eastern Europe

The 2000s have seen a number of tactical simulations developed in Eastern Europe. Examples include real-time tactics games such as the Blitzkrieg series, the Sudden Strike series, the UFO series by ALTAR Interactive (not to be confused with UFO: Enemy Unknown by Microprose, the first title in the X-COM series), Nexus: The Jupiter Incident, Joint Task Force, and Codename: Panzers; as well as turn-based tactics games such as the Silent Storm series, UFO: Extraterrestrials (by Chaos Concept), Jagged Alliance 3 (currently in development) and Combat Mission: Barbarossa to Berlin. These sorts of games have been described as difficult to develop in the West in recent years.[14]


Historical and Contemporary settings

Real-time tactics games with historical or contemporary settings generally try to recreate the tactical environment of their selected period, the most common eras and situations being the North American Civil War and European Napoleonic warfare, though ancient warfare and World War II settings are also common. Numerically they make up the bulk of the genre.

While the degree of realism is uniform, the scale of command and precise mechanics differ radically according to the period setting in keeping with the tactics of that period. So for instance, titles set in the Napoleonic Wars are often played at a company or battalion level, with players controlling groups of sometimes hundreds of soldiers as a single unit, whereas recreations of modern conflicts (such as the Iraq War) tend to offer control down to squad or even individual level.

  • The Total War series by The Creative Assembly, as exemplified by the first title, Shogun: Total War (2000), is widely-recognised for its large-scale tactical recreations of battles. Units are organised and controlled in regiments, frequently of several hundred soldiers, and the games are built to encourage the use of authentic tactics. Rome: Total War (2004), has however been criticised for violating realism and several mods have been made to correct this). Battles are freeform and generally take place in open country; there are no plotted side-missions like in the Warhammer games discussed below.
  • Sid Meier's Gettysburg! (1997) and its sequel Sid Meier's Antietam! (1998) (by Firaxis Games) set in the American Civil War are the most well known examples of Napoleonic style simulations. Common to these games is the recreation in detail and scale of a particular set of significant or well known battles. Using the same engine Firaxis and BreakAway Games also released Waterloo: Napoleon's Last Battle which recreates Napoleon Bonaparte's last and most famous battle of 1815. Also noteworthy is Imperial Glory (2005) by Pyro Studios which recreates the multi-polar conflicts of Europe between 1789 and 1830.
  • The Close Combat series (1995–) (by Atomic Games) are tactical battle simulations set in WWII known for a very high degree of realism taking into account limited ammunition, severity of wounds and the psychology and mental welfare of individual soldiers.
  • TalonSoft's Age of Sail (1996) and Age of Sail II (2001) are 3D naval real-time tactics games where you command sailing vessels in high sea and coastal battles. Beyond heading, aspects such as amount of sails and cannon ordinance can be ordered.
  • Sudden Strike (2000) (by Fireglow Games). In contrast to the Close Combat series, this title focuses on larger-scale operations and mechanised tactics rather than low-level details.
  • Faces of War (2006) (Ubisoft) is similar to Close Combat also being set in WWII. It offers individual units with greater autonomy as well as 3D graphics.
  • The Full Spectrum Warrior series (2004–) (by Pandemic Studios) is set in a fictional country for all practical purposes identical to Iraq. The games revolve around a maximum of two fireteams of four soldiers each and offers engagements at a far more intimate level than the Total War series, and indeed the genre at large, and also emphasise story more than most real-time tactics titles. Despite a visual appearance similar to first person shooters the player does not directly control any character, instead only issuing orders to his troops and as such qualifies as a real-time tactical game. It is also distinct from the sub-genre of first person shooters known as tactical shooters that incorporate some tactical aspects, such as Ubisoft's Rainbow Six series or Gearbox Software's Brothers in Arms).
  • Cossacks 2 (2005) is based on the Napoleonic Wars and supports battles of up to 64000 soldiers involved. It has a high degree of realism with its morale system, the fact that the player controls companies of certain number of individual units, and its damage calculation. Morale serves as a hit points-type component, which increases or decreases upon some events (soldiers being fired at, or firing on the enemy) and deprives the player of control over the company whenever it falls under a certain level. Soldiers in the Napoleonic wars used muskets, which do little damage over long distances and take a lot to reload, and this is incorporated into the gameplay as it takes a long time for a company to reload before it can produce another volley. Also, reloading costs resources and the food resource is constantly drained, depending on how many soldiers the player controls. The game has a "pause" button (~).
  • World in Conflict (2007) is based in 1989 as the Soviet Union invades Western Europe and the United States west coast to hold onto power when economic troubles threaten to cripple the country.
  • Tom Clancy's EndWar (2008) is based on a fictional World War III in 2020 where nuclear weapons are obsolete and conventional warfare makes up the bulk of the gameplay.
  • XIII Century: Gold Edition (2009) is a game in TW series style but with a more complex battle resolution engine; the game has 9 campaigns (48 battles) in single and a multiplayer area with own server with lobby and ladder. The game has also a automatic map generator.

Fantastical settings

While most fantasy titles bear some resemblance to a historical period (usually medieval), they also incorporate fictional creatures, areas, and/or magic and suffer from few historical constraints.

The leading High Fantasy real-time tactics games are Warhammer Fantasy Battle titles. The loose series began with one of the earliest mainstream real-time tactics games, Warhammer: Shadow of the Horned Rat (1995). While the games' depth of tactical simulation is similar to that of Total War it leans towards skirmishes over epic battles and features both unique hero characters and a tightly authored story. The very influential video game Myth: The Fallen Lords (1997) emphasised formation cohesion less than the Warhammer games and introduced extensive maps. In 2006, Warhammer: Mark of Chaos was released; a game of similar kind to the two preceding Warhammer titles, but taking game play away from their realistic focus and fidelity to the Warhammer rules to a more arcade- and micromanagement-oriented form. Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders and its sequel are complex and difficult games made in Korea mixing both elements of RTT and Dynasty Warriors-like action.[15 ]

Futuristic settings

Games set in outer space are not limited simply to fighting ground battles.

A colony support ship with destroyer escort in Nexus: The Jupiter Incident.

Games set in the future often combining elements of science fiction obviously are not constrained by historical accuracy or even limitations in current technology or physics. Games set in outer space can also add new tactical dimensions by adding a third, vertical movement axis.

  • Ground Control's (2000) setting allowed innovative use of air units.
  • Starship Troopers: Terran Ascendancy (2000) is an action oriented game based on Robert A. Heinlein's book Starship Troopers. It is characteristic for the smaller and more autonomous units.
  • MechCommander 2 (2001) is notable for implementing a lightweight resource acquisition system without becoming an RTS. A player could earn 'Resource Points' during a mission, in addition to those awarded at the start, but they could only be expended on support tasks; save for repairs and plucky on-field salvage operations the system did not affect the player's combat force.
  • Soldiers of Anarchy (2002) is a post-apocalyptic, squad-level game which emphasised a realistic environment scale, vehicles, and scavenging in the aftermath of battles.
  • Nexus: The Jupiter Incident (2004) is set in space and replaces as a result most genre conventions (not least of which terrain) with its own.
  • Star Wolves (2004) is focused on small-scale space fighter wing battles around fighter carriers. Notable for the distinct pilots under your command and for incorporating elements of role-playing games (character attribute development with experience).

See also


  1. ^ a b c "The State of the RTS". IGN. 7 April 2006. Retrieved 14 September 2006.  (Article at IGN discussing their perception of RTS and related genres as of 2006. RTT is discussed as a new and not yet established genre from the publisher's perspective.)
  2. ^ a b c Walker, Mark. "Strategy Gaming: Part II". GameSpy. Retrieved 2007-10-28.  
  3. ^ a b "Point - CounterPoint: Resource Collection vs. Fixed Units". StrategyPlanet. Retrieved 2007-11-04.  
  4. ^ "Valkyria Chronicles Review HD". GameTrailers. 25 November 2008. Retrieved 26 November 2008.  In the video review the game Valkyria Chronicles was describes as "combining elements of strategy, RPG and real-time tactics games."
  5. ^ "Empire:Total War Review HD". GameTrailers. 17 April 2009.  Video review of Empire: Total War in which the game is described as consisting of turn-based strategy planning phases and real-time tactical battles.
  6. ^ "Review - Warhammer: Mark Of Chaos". Eurogamer. 23 November 2006. Retrieved 23 November 2006.   (Review of Warhammer: Mark of Chaos explicitly calling the game a "RTT" as compared to a "RTS" game and discussing the difference)
  7. ^ "Exclusive : Warhammer Mark Of Chaos: How is the RTS game shaping up?". HEXUS gaming. 24 July 2006. Retrieved 2 September 2006.   (uses "strategy game", "real-time strategy", and "real-time tactics" in the same article)
  8. ^ "Blitzkrieg II Review". Strategyinformer. 4 November 2006. Retrieved 4 November 2006.   (Review of Blitzkrieg II as an example of intentially and obviously avoiding the real-time strategy.)
  9. ^ "Tactical Combat and an Ongoing Online Experience are the focus of “Ground Control II”". Gamezone. Retrieved 16 December 2006.  (Massive Entertainment's Henrik Sebring, lead developer for Ground Control II: Operation Exodus, describes the game as real-time tactics)
  10. ^ "Interview: Close Combat Series Redux". armchairgeneral. Retrieved 19 March 2007.  
  11. ^ "Close Combat - Modern Tactics". Matrix Games. Retrieved 13 January 2008.  
  12. ^ "Namco Bandai Games press release for Warhammer: Battle March". Retrieved 22 August 2007.  
  13. ^ Personal Computing. v.6 1982. Personal Computing Magazine. 1982.  
  14. ^ "Jagged Alliance 3 Interview". RPG Vault. October 16, 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-19. "When choosing a team to develop a project of this type and scale, it was obvious that we needed Russian developers, the same people that created games with similarities to Jagged Alliance 2, both in genre and the time setting. I'm referring to releases like Silent Storm, Night Watch, Brigade E5 and others. Such projects have not been created in western countries for a long time, which can make development more difficult."  
  15. ^ The creators at Blueside admit the Xbox 360 version Circle of Doom was only meant to test the ability of the 360 and is in no way considered an RTT version of the series. They plan on releasing an MMO A-RTT in 08'-09'.

External links

Strategy wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010
(Redirected to Category:Real-time tactics article)

From StrategyWiki, the free strategy guide and walkthrough wiki

Games that are similar to RTSs, but more tactics-oriented, and thus usually focus on military tactics, rather than empire strategy.

An entry on RTTs can be found on Wikipedia.

Pages in category "Real-time tactics"

The following 11 pages are in this category, out of 11 total.


B cont.

  • Battlestations: Pacific


M cont.

  • Medieval: Total War - Viking Invasion


  • Rome: Total War: Alexander


  • Shogun: Total War
  • Star Trek Starfleet Command: Orion Pirates


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