Last Chance to pick up some great strategy games in the 'Best of Paradox' bundle05 Aug 2020 0
I’m not going to lie, I actually quite enjoy taking something like a Humble Bundle and dissecting it to reveal the truth about how much ‘value’ a person is getting by buying in. Paradox Interactive have returned to the Bundle with a ‘Best of Paradox Bundle’ that promises over $350 worth of games for around $14.
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This bundle is running until next week and will finish tomorrow on August 6th. Good value it may be, but is it really the “best” Paradox has to offer? Let’s take a look…
Tier 1 - Pay at least £0.78/$0.99
The opening tiers are always the most fascinating I find, because it’s interesting to see what games publishers are prepared to give away for next-to-nothing (which is what would happen if you stopped at Tier 1’s minimum pricing). This tier is pretty decent as it offers three very different strategy games that any enthusiast should check out.
First up is Warlock: Master of the Arcane. This is a turn-based strategy game released in 2012 that’s a bit of a hidden Gem. Take Civilization V (like, literally - even the UI is pretty similar) and slap a whole bunch of fantasy tropes on top and you basically have Warlock. But then it has other features such as opening portals to whole other dimensions that you can explore and colonise, and the world is filled with magical creatures that probably want to kill you. And that’s not to mention all the OTHER major factions who you’re competing with. An excellent Civ-alternative if you fancy injecting some magic into your game. This one has some expansions you can look at.
The same is true for the next game, Age of Wonders III. Unlike Warlock, this fuses the strategic, civilization-management of Civ and then adds in a touch of something like Heroes of Might & Magic. Armies comprise of stacks of units with a hero, and battles take place in a separate turn-based tactical layer (that’s pretty good, if a bit hardcore). Like Warlock though, it’s not just about building up your civilization - you can go exploring underground, ‘raid’ dungeon-like map nodes and more. This one also has a couple of expansions.
Last but not least, Europa Universalis IV. It doesn’t need much of an introduction - personally I prefer it to Crusader Kings 2, but only because CK2 got incredibly bloated over time whereas EU4 has charted a more consistent development course. The only thing that it struggled with was dividing up premium and DLC features. Speaking of DLC, this one has plenty of add-ons you can explore once you’ve had your fill of the base game. You can read our EU4 DLC Guide here.
Tier 2 - Pay above the Average (Currently £5.78/$7.35)
This is a weird tier, although undoubtedly still a great price especially considering the three games you’re already getting above.
Stellaris is of course another one of Paradox’s Grand Strategy games, and a pretty good one to boot. You’ll hear some conflicting tales about it, but this is mainly down to a change of development direction a couple of years ago that upset many of the ‘original’ fans. It blends grand-strategy and 4X design into a sci-fi space opera that will more than pay-back the investment at this price. Very enjoyable if you’re into Sci-fi. It also has a lot of DLC so next time a sale comes around make sure you check out our Steallris DLC Guide to figure out which add-ons to get first.
If you follow Paradox fandom at all, you’ll be aware that the current ‘meme’ is for Paradox to announce Victoria 3. If you’ve ever been curious as to why, well now you can find out because Victoria 2 and it’s expansion are available as part of this bundle at Tier 2. Now, I was playing this again quite recently and compared to modern grand-strategy titles like EU4 and Stellaris, it hasn’t aged well. This game covers the Victorian era, from 1830’s through to just after when World War 1 would have taken place (the nature of GSG means that an event like this probably won’t happen in the same way at the same time).
This means this game is full of mechanics that tackle subjects such as industrialisation, the colonialism in Africa & the Far East, the evolution in military technology and the great political ‘game’ between the major powers and the smaller nations who end up being moved around as pawns. Not to mention a population mechanic that tries to chart the evolution of basic social rights and the rise in democracy & suffrage. It’s a bit hard-to-read (no one Paradox actually understands the economy system anymore) and even harder to navigate at times, but it’s still an interesting title if you have any interest in the era.
I didn’t actually know Necropolis was a Paradox game, but looking at it it appears to be one of Harebrained Schemes (BATTLETECH) older titles, which Paradox now publish because they own the studio. It’s an action-roguelike, so not something we’d really cover here and Steam reviews as ‘Mixed’ so not really sure on this one.
Tier 3 - Pay at least £9.44
This is a simple tier as it only offers two titles.
BATTLETECH is a great turn-based tactics game that puts you in charge of a mercenary company in the iconic BattleTech/Mechwarrior universe. You must fund and outfit a lance of four mechs to take on a variety of missions, all with the goal of keeping yourself in the black and getting bigger and better mechs.
The game has completely transformed since it originally launched and now sports a sandbox ‘career’ mode as well as the narrative driven campaign mode. It also sports some of the best 2D art I’ve seen in any game. Development of BattleTech has officially finished now, but the game did get three good expansions - Flashpoint, Urban Warfare & Heavy Metal. There is also a pretty active mod scene you can check out as well.
The second game is Tyranny. This game was released a little before Strategy Gamer was around, so we never reviewed this ourselves. It’s mainly an RPG, but one with tactical real-time combat (that you can pause). It was created by Obsidian and puts the player into a world ravaged by war where ‘Evil’ has already won. It has a good reputation although I think it’s largely slipped under the radar, but worth checking out perhaps.
Tier 4 - Pay at least £13.37
It’s been a while since we’ve seen a bundle with a fourth tier, and this tier only has one game in it - Imperator: Rome.
Until Crusader Kings 3 releases in September, this stands as Paradox’s newest grand-strategy title. It’s also quite a controversial one - it didn’t launch in a great state, quite frankly, but rumour has it Paradox didn’t really give it the same kind of resources and attention they’ve been giving something like CK3. Still, the team has done a great job turning the game around, as you can see in our one-year one article we published.
It’s set in the ancient world where Rome is not yet the master of the Mediterranean, and tries to blend some of the character dynamics of CK, the population management of Victoria 2 and the general map-based gameplay of EU4. It’s still got some issues and some gaps that need plugging, but it’s no worse off than the other GSG games were when they first launched. £13 is a decent price for it, especially considering everything else you get by going up to this tier but if you’re not already sold on the idea of Imperator then this tier is a very tough sell. All we can say is, like all GSGs, this is going to get better over time. Whether it’s there yet or not depends on who you ask.
I think it’s worth pointing out that this 'best of Paradox' bundle doesn't wholly represent the ‘Best' Paradox has to offer, there are other great games that haven't been included. But it’s still got some pretty decent titles in it and it IS a good price for those titles, so we're nit-picking. The first two tiers are definitely worth it… Tier 3 & 4 are situational.
Let us know in the comments if you end up picking this up!