Rise of Nations may have the most tragic history of any of the games in my list. Released in 2003 to critical acclaim, RoN had everything I had ever wanted in a real time strategy game: a deep economic model, a large tech tree, and a sense that you were making your own world history over the course of an hour or so.
Unfortunately, RoN never seemed to catch on quite enough to transform it into a perennial franchise on the level of games like Command and Conquer, Age of Empires, or Warcraft. And Big Huges Games, maker of RoN, has now been bought out and transformed into a developer for computer role playing games.
I will miss the chance to play RoN II, but – if the RPG that is in the works at BHG is as innovative as RoN – it will be well worth playing.
My preferred tactic in real-time strategy games is economic guerilla warfare. I like to strike at my opponent early in the game, not at the heart of their civilization, but on the fringes where – normally – vital resource gathering is taking place. Once the opposing economy is slowed, it becomes much easier to boom your own economy and then strike with overwhelmingly superior force.
I had more fun doing that in RoN than in any other game. And – for you Blizzard fans out there – yes, that includes Starcraft.