The Role of the Player in Strategic Primer

In my posts about the distinctives of Strategic Primer, I’ve described several features that it, unlike other games, offers players. And a couple of years ago I described the purpose of “AI” players in the game. But I thought it would be a good idea to consider what the role of a human player is in Strategic Primer.

In many other strategy games, the player’s main role is immediate commander of large numbers of units—units with very little initiative or imagination. This is complicated by additional responsibility for managing or micromanaging the economy, building infrastructure, and the like, as well as scientific research, politics, and culture if the game includes those concepts.

Not so in Strategic Primer. Here, the player has three main roles: grand strategy, international relations, and “bootstrapping” his or her organization.

I said “grand strategy.” That’s not quite accurate, at least not at first. The player is actually responsible for strategy at whatever level is then appropriate; at the beginning it looks very similar to the beginning of other strategy games, since each player has so few soldiers that each “unit” can’t be very large at all. But as the manpower and resources available increase, a chain of command develops and the player can delegate handling of the details.

International relations: diplomatic dealings with other players, with “independents”, and to a lesser extent with villages. As with the “grand strategy,” the details can eventually be delegated to subordinates, but the high-level stuff is the province of the player.

And what I called “bootstrapping”: As I mentioned earlier this year in my description of the starting story, the player is an “inserted” commander from a far more advanced society than the “natives”; it’s his or her job to help them advance. And because each player starts with such a small population with such scant resources—in a situation that, in future campaigns, will be designed to be self-sustaining at that level without intervention—he or she has to push them into a trajectory toward improvement and expansion.

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