Computer games I've bought

Year   Company Game Comments
2016 Firaxis Games Civilization VI I've preordered this because it looks like a major improvement over Civ 5. Clearly it's still overcomplex and a lousy simulation of history, but nevertheless it might be fun to play. We'll see.
2016 Paradox Interactive Stellaris I preordered this because it looked really promising, a 4X game in space, with a fairly balanced start unlike most Paradox games. Unfortunately it turned out disappointing: feeble as a strategical game, with the distraction of spaceship-design issues that don't interest me.
2015 Slitherine Pike and Shot: Campaigns This is quite a nice little mostly-tactical wargame of the Middle Ages, a computer adaptation of tabletop rules. It works well, and I enjoyed it for a while, but then the battles became rather samey and I got bored with it. The strategical aspect of the game (the Campaigns part) is very perfunctory and minimalist; it exists only to provide some kind of context for the battles.
2015 Colossal Order Cities: Skylines This is a good city-building game, as city-building games go, and I played around with it a bit, but the aimlessness of such games rather bothers me, and I found that a considerable degree of mouse dexterity is required to get the road layout looking good.
2012 Paradox Interactive Crusader Kings II

This is an interesting game, a good (or at least plausible) simulation of the feudal system, in which you play the part of a royal dynasty. At any one time, you play a monarch or lesser aristocrat, but whenever he or she dies, you reincarnate as his or her successor—unless the successor is not a member of the same family, in which case you've lost and the game ends! Marriage, inheritance, and personal relationships are all important in this game, and you also participate in city-building and warfare, although both are represented in a relatively simple way without much attention to realism.

I've spent quite a lot of time playing this game, although that's at least partly because it takes a very long time to play!

The main problem with it is that it's a very slow game, unless you're fighting a war, in which case armies zoom around with alacrity. In peacetime, the player sits for hours, attending to minor chores and waiting for something significant to happen. You're not allowed to go to war without a good reason, and good reasons are rather hard to manufacture—unless your opponent is of a different religion, in which case you can attack him at will! But in any case you have to spend most of your time at peace, otherwise you'd run out of money, goodwill, and soldiers.

2010 Firaxis Games Civilization V This is the first version of Civilization that I never played much, abandoning it after a few months because it just didn't grab me. On the plus side, the graphics are prettier, a hex grid replaces the old square grid at last, and the combat system has been improved—although it's basically a tactical-style combat system in a strategic-level game, which makes no sense at all. I continue to believe it would be a better game if it tried to represent history more accurately but more simply (it is possible to do both).
2007 AGEOD AGEOD's American Civil War Another new game of the whole American Civil War. I suspect that I might like this one better than Forge of Freedom, but I find the complexity and detail of it too intimidating. I want a game of the whole war, but I don't want to fuss around with the leaders and composition and supply problems of every little unit involved. I want to be the supreme commander; I don't want to wear the hat of every officer in the army simultaneously. That's totally unrealistic and it also makes me work too hard.
2006 Western Civilization Forge of Freedom A new game of the whole American Civil War, at last (ten years after Frank Hunter's game!). It seems competently done, but I have some disagreements with the design philosophy. I still haven't got around to playing it.
2005 Firaxis Games Civilization IV In most respects, the best version of Civilization so far. But it still suffers from some of the enduring problems of the whole series: a fundamentally bad combat system, a dreary endgame, and some grossly unrealistic features. It's a good game in the early stages, but it's not a great game and never has been, despite the puzzlingly high ratings it gets in reviews. It would be a better game if it tried to represent history (a) more accurately and (b) more simply. A game can represent reality well enough without going into lots of detail.
2005 PopTop Software Railroad Tycoon 3 What I was really looking for here was a computer version of Railway Rivals, the delightfully simple and elegant railway-building game invented decades ago by David Watts. When I received Railroad Tycoon 3 and starting looking at it, I realized that for me it's way over the top. There's too much detail and too much work for players to do. I'm not that interested in railways and I don't want to have to go to so much trouble to run them. I haven't even tried to play the game. Why are most computer games so huge and over-complicated?
2005 2by3 Games Gary Grigsby's World at War A high-level turn-based game of the Second World War, with a map of the world divided into large areas, and each turn covering three months of real time. Despite the superficial resemblance to Risk, this looks quite a sophisticated and realistic game, and it's presented in a very slick professional manner. Not too difficult to play, despite the extensive manual, but probably difficult to play well. I played one game to the end but felt an odd lack of enthusiasm, and haven't tried again. I think one problem is the subject matter: the Second World War as a whole is a vast and complicated subject and it's very hard to simulate it in any way that I'd feel comfortable with.
2004 Adanac Command Studies Campaigns on the Danube: 1805 & 1809 Another Napoleonic wargame similar to 1806 (see below), but with some improvements. The rules are very well conceived and not too complicated, they simulate Napoleonic strategy very well, the game is easy to play and flows well. But somehow I don't find it addictive. The only significant problem I can identify is that the combat resolution system is complex and undocumented: so, when there's a battle, I don't know what's going on, and when I see the result I don't really understand why I've won or lost.
2003 Maxis SimCity 4 Repetitive, boring, and slow. I liked SimCity 2000 better in 1994. As usual these days, more attention has been given to graphics than to gameplay; but even the graphics aren't as good as I expected.
2002 Adanac Command Studies Campaigns of La Grande Armee: 1806 A Napoleonic wargame. I never got around to playing it.
2002 Digital Eel Strange Adventures in Infinite Space Mildly diverting for a short time.
2002 Chessbase Fritz 7 See my comments on Fritz 6 below.
2001 Firaxis Games Civilization III A game that, in theory, has many improvements compared with Civilization II, and yet I tired of it much more quickly. Above all, like its predecessors, it's FAR TOO LONG; and I found I enjoyed only the beginning of the game, the rest of it was tedious.
2001 Bitmap Brothers/EON Z: Steel Soldiers The sequel to Z (1996). It's quite pretty to look at, but I found the interface hard to handle, and it failed to grab me. These days people seem to think that graphics are more important than gameplay.
2001 Chessbase Fritz 6 This seems to be the most popular chess program among serious chess players. It can play at grandmaster strength and has more facilities than you could imagine. The graphics aren't wonderful but they're fine for the purpose. It has a Friend mode in which it will handicap itself to try to match your own playing strength, and you can see from the size of the handicap how well you're doing. It will also assess your Elo rating, but the lowest grade of opponent you can choose for a rated game has a rating of 1680, equivalent to an experienced club player.
2000 Electronic Arts Need for Speed: Porsche 2000 A realistic car racing game in which you have access to the full range of every Porsche car ever produced, and can race them over a variety of European roads — mostly country roads. The scenery and car handling are simulated well. Recommended accessories: a steering wheel and pedals (though it is possible to play without). The programmed opponents are good enough to challenge just about anyone, and you can also play against human opponents by network, modem, or Internet.
2000 Hasbro Risk 2 New computer version of an old board game that I played as a child. It's a faithful implementation of the board game, although you can choose various alternative rules if you like. I do think it's silly that such a simple game has been inflated to fill a CD by graphical and sound effects and video sequences. This is superfluous and I switch most of it off. The programmed opponents provide some opposition but aren't very good.
1999 W R Hutsell American Civil War,
Napoleonic, World War 2
A set of short and simple shareware wargames (for DOS). The only one I've actually played is the American Civil War, which entertained me for a while.
1999 Infogrames   Anno 1602 A medieval empire-building game. Quite pleasant, but long. Once I'd learnt how to play it competently, it became boring and I stopped playing it.
1998 Sean O'Connor Slay update An improved version of the game I had already (see below).
1997 Microprose Civilization 2 Fantastic Worlds A set of add-on scenarios for Civilization 2 (see below). I've never played these scenarios -- mainly because of the lack of specific documentation for each scenario.
1997 Firaxis Games Sid Meier's Gettysburg! A game of the Battle of Gettysburg — real-time but with a pause facility. A good try, but like all battle games it fails to give a good solution to the command-and-control problem.
1997 Cyberlife Creatures An exercise in artificial intelligence. Unfortunately, the creatures (called Norns) never achieve much intelligence, and this is not really a game. It's more like caring for a roomful of babies who never grow up.
1997 Talonsoft Battleground: Antietam A turn-based game of the Battle of Antietam. I tried it but didn't like it.
1996 Bitmap Brothers Z A fast, real-time game of tactical combat with robots and tanks. Not the sort of game I usually like, but this one had a touch of humour and was quite fun.
1996 Interactive Magic American Civil War A strategic-level game of the War for Southern Independence. Well designed, but too long and rather buggy (though Interactive Magic eventually produced a patch that fixed the major bugs).
1996 Blue Byte Settlers 2 A sort of empire-building game. Quite pleasant to look at, but not a good enough game.
1996 Microprose Civilization II An updated version of Civilization (see below). I was addicted again, and continued playing until the end of 1997. Then in 2001 I installed it again and played some more.
1995 Microprose Master of Orion An empire-building game in space. Popular, but already old when I bought it, and I never got around to playing it.
1995 Avalon Hill Advanced Civilization A computer version of a board game that predates Microprose Civilization and is quite different from it. The board game was popular once, but I don't think it works as a computer game.
1995 Sean O'Connor Slay A small and highly simplified empire-building game, well designed and programmed.
1994 Maxis SimCity 2000 A city-building exercise. Quite fun for a while, but sooner or later it gets boring. It's not really a game: there's no competitive element.
1992 Microprose Civilization An empire-building game, starting in 4000 BC. I thought it looked too complex and didn't try it until 1994, then became addicted. The game is much too long and makes a rather boring wargame, but I liked the exploration and building.
1992 Software Toolworks Chessmaster 3000 A chess program. I played it occasionally in 1992, 1993, and 1996, but don't remember anything about it now.
1991 Microsoft Entertainment Packs 1, 2, 3   A collection of small games. Some of them were OK.
1991 Maxis SimEarth A game about evolution. Quite a good idea, but not a good enough game.
1991 Microsoft Flight Simulator Boring.
1991 Accolade Ishidó A good and original abstract pattern-making game. My mother still plays it.
1990 Chris Crawford Balance of the Planet A poor game about global ecology and pollution.
1986 Borland Turbo Gameworks  Chess, Bridge, and Go-Moku provided as Turbo Pascal source files, so you could modify them yourself. A good idea and quite well done, for the time.