Nothing quite captures the spirit of this time of year like the sight of snow falling over a forest, warm lights shining out of houses and the roar of a Maybach V12 diesel engine as a Tiger tank rumbles across the frozen Russian steppe. Yes, it is Christmas again, which for many of us means we will have the time to devote long periods to delving into those strategy games that have lain dormant for most of the year.
For those of you looking for something outside of the AAA titles, here is a look at five of 2011’s best strategy games.A Total War-style turn-based overview/real-time battles game which covers one of the lesser known conflicts of the War in the East – the battle for Kharkov in the winter of 1943. It was made by a small Russian developer based in Kharkov itself and shows why it is a good idea to buy local. The game takes place on an incredibly detailed map of Kharkov and its environs that the developers have modelled by going out and taking photos of the actual battlefields. The result is a huge and detailed map (some 250km square) that the battles ebb and flow over. Coupled with the (now standard for any serious wargame) calculations of bullet trajectories and armour hull thicknesses, you end up with a very realistic simulation of the battle. Being made by some crazy Russians, things like the interface and unit markers are idiosyncratic. Documentation is also sorely lacking, but there is a great little wargame here. The developer’s home page has a demo.