Weekly eXchange #62 – Are MOBAs Strategy?

Join Rob and his happy co-host, Nate as they discuss all the news related to 4X and strategy games that you want to know about. Latest poll results, 4X news and strategic arguments.

Music by Mangadrive for eXplorminate

Categories: Staff, Weekly eXchange

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7 replies »

  1. Well, any game, especially games that have PvP will always have strategy, so in a broader sense it has strategic elements to it. But that does not make it a strategy game, you always need to see on what the game focuses on. In the case of CS GO it’s muscle memory (aim, movement, knowing angles etc.), which is the core of a FPS game. A MOBA is focusing heavily on map awareness, timing. The strategy is found in the tactics, choosing talents and buying items to counter your opponent. (HoTS has even less strategy because you can’t buy items at all). It all boils down to one question to determine if a game is a strategy game or a “insert genre here”. Can you beat your opponent on strategy alone? In a Shooter, you will never beat someone with insane aim. In a MOBA, you will never beat someone on choosing the right talents alone. It requires a lot more mechanical skills.

    Then, in my humble opinion, to know whether I am eating the best sushi in the world, I don’t need to know how pizza, burger etc. taste. I need to compare all sushi available to me and then I can make an educated decision which tastes the best. So, in order to say which 4X is the best out of all I need to research 4X, not Shooter, or MOBA they are totally independent. Yes, they are games, but their focus is so different it makes no difference whether I know about their strengths and weaknesses compared to a 4X. Just like the taste of Pizza does not make me decide which sushi is the best.

    Thanks for the cast. :)


  2. Sure thing Jin, but one caveat – To be able to tell sushi apart, you use ginger to cleanse your palette. FrieX is a palette cleaner mixed with other games we’re playing. If you compare a 4X titles and a FrieX, you’ll notice many differences. We don’t review non-4X titles.

    Thanks for listening.



  3. I have some thoughts about the strategy vs non-strategy discussion from a sort of an engineering perspective. If you take chess, there are computer programs that can compete with the greatest chess players simply because computer can build a tree of possible moves dozens and dozens of moves deep very very fast. Computer doesn’t come up with the new strategies, it “mechanically” calculates possible moves. Now, lets look at the Starcraft for example. The AI in SC can be beaten by an average player. But why is it so bad? Because the “space” of possible moves in SC is so large, it is impossible to iterate through all these possibilities in a reasonable amount of time. However, to be a competitive SC player you have to be extremely fast. So what? Does it mean that the Korean SC players are faster than computers? I don’t think so. I think there is a lot of strategy in how to apply these, so called, “mechanical skills”. For such types of games as RTS or MOBA, at certain level, these two sets of skills become not just equally important but basically emerge from each other. Again in SC, the players who are fast enough and good at micro can allow themselves a whole bunch of advanced strategies and micro specific build orders that slower players simply can’t do.

    Now, lets put ourselves in the place of an AI designer. I’m sure in order to design a reasonable AI for a MOBA game there are a lot of strategic and logical decisions that must be made. It means, in order to account for all possible player’s decisions, the AI has to implement a number strategies. The more complex the game is, the more complex these strategies have to be. In other words, hypothetically, if a game has no strategic elements to it, you can design an AI that is impossible to beat. This is exactly why there are so many complains about the AIs in the 4X games. So I believe, you can decide on how much “strategy” is in a particular game by how hard it is to program its AI. Since we are gamers and don’t do programming :), for us it becomes “how hard it is to beat the AI”.

    Yes, the strategic elements in MOBAs are different from the turn base strategies, but they still require thinking. You will still find yourself thinking about what you can do differently next game apart from just being faster and having more muscle memory. Even communicating with your teammates in an efficient way can be a part of a strategic approach.

    Finally, since the food analogies seem to be so popular these days, I would like to add the following: if I were a die-hard sushi fan, and than some one gave me a slice of a really good pizza for free I would gladly eat it and say thank you :)

    So thank you eXplorminate!

    Liked by 2 people

    • These are good points.

      If you look at other genres (e.g. MOBA’s or competitive FPS games like CS:GO) strategy does play a large part of the competitive game space. At a certain point, everyone’s physical skills are quite exceptional and sound strategy and teamwork becomes perhaps the more element. Deciding which bomb site to push, when to have a save round, which lanes to press, etc. are all in the tactical/strategic decision making realm and are hugely important to your success.

      I think when people (our readers?) think “4X and Strategy Games” they are thinking of games that have some combination of the following factors:

      (1) Primarily single-player
      (2) Generally turn-based or slow-time RTS (pausable RTS, etc.)
      (3) Emphasis on decision making (e.g. planning, sequencing, optimizing) rather than physical execution (i.e. dexterity, twitch).

      The further away you/we get from those points, even if the game is still a strategy game or a game with strong strategic elements, is probably not going to be perceived as strategy. That’s fine. And FrieX’s were always intended to deviate away from core strategy titles anyways. But it is why you might see a review for a XCOM 2 or a Massive Chalice, but probably not a proper MOBA or RTS.


  4. WeX #62 Notes
    Oh, wow! I missed this WeX. I am so sorry! :(
    I blame it on my RSS feed that filled me with too much junk yesterday. Also, for some reason this one didn’t show up on the iTunes website, so I wasn’t informed of a new podcast by my music player. So sorry for how late I am. But here it is now…

    0:00 – Intro, music by Mangadrive


    0:53 – Galactic Civilization II

    Galactic Civilizations II got a huge patch. That’s right, II, not Gal Civ III. Just as Stardock is working on making Gal Civ III a better game, they shown they aren’t neglecting the Gal Civ II community and released this immense patch that incorporates changes to the game from the mod community. Listen to Rob and Nate discuss this amazing story of a company that just knows how to make their customers happy. The “No Game Left Behind” patch, puts Gal Civ II at version 2.20 and has a very large change log.

    Galactic Civilizations II new patch:

    3:57 – XCOM 2

    XCOM 2 has slums. But more importantly Firaxis revealed XCOM 2 strategy layer, which will change the game in many and interesting new ways. Nate and Rob go into detail about the strategy layer and many other new revelations about the game. Nate has been following this game very closely.

    XCOM 2 Strategy Layer (with videos):

    10:18 – Shalloww Space

    Nate talks about this upcoming strategy game with some of the best art out there for space games. There’s new art for the game and art effects. You really should take a look at it, if you haven’t already.


    11:12 – Planar Conquest (aka Worlds of Magic)

    Planar Conquest has a launch date. This is the iPad version of Worlds of Magic for the PC. Nate explains what you can expect from this version that has many changes from the PC version. Apparently the iPad game improves a lot over the previous game and in fact iPad owners may get the better deal out of this game, which got mixed reviews on the PC by both critics and players.

    Planar Conquest (iPad):
    World of Magic (PC):

    13:08 – GalaColider

    GalaCollider is still in development and there are some news. New art and mechanics for this upcoming to this strategy-meets-card-game. Nate talks about it and promises an interview with the developers for sometime in the near future. Cool!

    Development Blog:

    15:34 – /r/4xGamming Reddit channel

    Nate and Rob get it out of their chests and try to explain, once again, who they are and what’s their motivation in this Reddit channel. You should listen to this if you subscribed to that channel or plan to.


    18:43 – AMA with Romain De Waubert

    Still on /r/4xGamming, Rob has put up an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on this Reddit channel for users to post questions to the lead developer of Amplitude Studios (makers of Endless Space, Dungeons of the Endless and Endless Legends) that has been collecting questions for the past week. Today — in fact right now — Romain is answering those questions live. You can’t miss it! And ask your own questions.

    AMA with Romain De Waulbert:
    Amplitude Studios:

    22:07 – New Poll at eXplorminate website

    There’s a new poll up at the eXplorminate site. Listen to Rob has he explains its rationale. And then put your vote in. I actually forgot to put mine, which I am going to do now. Nate and Rob also discuss the previous pool. Listen to it.

    eXplorminate home page:

    25:17 – Friday eXcursions

    Rob and Nate go on an interesting talk about the Friday eXcursion feature at eXplorminate website. They explain what is its purpose and why you can expect this feature to discuss games that are not 4x strategy games, that may not even be strategy games, and that may in fact not even be games at all.

    It’s quite an interesting conversations and you should listen to it. In particular if you are a bit critical of the idea of a 4x Strategy gaming website occasionally discussing other genres.

    Past Friday eXcursions:

    32:30 – The End, Music by Mangadrive

    Support eXplorminate:

    Liked by 2 people


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