Autobattler Games

So I have heard about this genre of games where, by my understanding (and please correct me if I am wrong), you essentially program your moves in advance and then let it fly and hope to do better than your opponent.

I think I would love games like this. I have played games like this, I just didn’t really know the blanket term. So what are some good ones I should try? Here’s some caveats:

I would prefer PvE or versus an AI rather than having 12 year olds telling me to “git gud”.

I don’t mind paying for a game but I don’t want to get buried in micro transactions.

Otherwise suggest away! Thanks!

Also called We Go.

The Combat Mission series (hardcore tactical wargame) has used such a system for years now.

The good news is that autobattlers, or at least the ones I’ve played, don’t have chat. You’re playing against people but there’s no direct interaction.

Hearthstone’s Battlegrounds mode is free and has no microtransactions. You can buy a battlepass but it’s completely unnecessary and has a negligible impact on gameplay (you get a choice of 4 random heroes each match instead of 2).

Learning curve is a bit steep but it’s fun, relatively quick, and unlike the base game there’s no concern about deckbuilding and keeping up with new cards.

Sounds like Gratuitous Space Battles would be another example, except there, you also design your spaceships and give them an initial deployment, in addition to giving them some (very general) orders. And then you hit go, and sit back and hope you win. Your opponent’s ships have some total cost, and that’s your maximum possible budget for the battle, and however much you come in under budget (if you win), you accumulate that much to spend on unlocking other ship components, etc.

I seem to remember Punch Club having this element. It’s mostly a grinder RPG and time management game, but the fights themselves you have a limited number of strategy options before and between rounds, and the actual fighting is left entirely up to your character’s stats, and RNG.

The auto-battler game Just King has come out in 1.0 recently for the whopping price of 3 US dollars.

Other games I have watched my favourite Youtuber play are Astronarch, The Last Flame and Despot’s Game.

Some autobattlers are PvP, but only in the sense that your build is competing against someone else’s build in a general pool of opponents. There is no interaction at all between players. Backpack Battles for sure and maybe the Hearthstone autobattler mode.

Some are real PvP though, where you respond and stuff after short rounds. Mechabellum being a prominent one.

Punch Club is a good place to start if you’re looking for true single-player. There is also one about gladiators but its creator went a bit nuts during COVID and it got pulled from most stores. Maybe Loop Hero too, but the line is starting to blur between autobattlers and idle games.

If those games seem too shallow for you, the deepest setup-and-watch game is the Dominions series. Dominions 5 is the current version and Dominions 6 is a few weeks away. It’s basically like the Total War games, but you don’t have any control over the actual battle. Since you’re not burdened by real-time control, it has more systems and mechanics than I can think of. You don’t control the battle, but you do control the units design, type, numbers, starting formation, spells, items, religion… so many elements and interactions going on. Easily comparable to Dwarf Fortress there.

Possibly marginal to the subject, but here’s a blast from the past: The Ancient Art of War (which is basically ancient itself relative to the timeline of computer gaming).

You set up the makeup of your armies, but the actual fighting is done entirely by the computer. You might have had a limited amount of control during battles, but IIRC it was mostly a rock-paper-scissors kind of thing where knights beat barbarians, barbarians beat archers, and archers beat knights. Thing was you didn’t know the makeup of your opponent’s army until they were actually fighting.

This thread has got me trying to remember an old text-based game from way back when. I thought it was called “code wars” but when I try to google that I get results for something completely different.

Basically each player was assigned a range of memory inside a “virtual” computer and wrote scripts with their moves in a sort of assembly language, which were then mapped into that memory space. Then the simulator executed each player’s next move in turn. The objective was to trash your opponent’s memory space so that their next move could not be executed.

I’m sure I’m remembering some of the details wrong, but does that sound familiar to anyone?

That’s Core Wars. The simplest combatant was a one-line program COPY 0 1, in other words take what’s in memory location 0 (the program itself) and move it into memory location 1 (the next location), after which execution would move to that next location, and it’d do it again, until eventually that program overwrote the entire memory (the addresses circled around). Of course, since everyone knew that one, any serious contender would have countermeasures to it, and so on.

That’s it! Code Wars, Core Wars… missed it by one letter. :slightly_smiling_face:

One of my favorite games and the first thing I thought of when I learned about auto-battlers just yesterday.

Regarding the OP, my son likes Super Auto Pets.

It was a pretty sophisticated game for its time. It wasn’t just about units, terrain mattered too, and so did elevation even. Armies with higher ground tended to do better all else being equal, that sort of thing. This was 1984! And War at Sea was even better. There was a third game also that I never played.

Totally agree. PC games were really bad back then.

The programming was top notch too. It was the first game I remember that did a really good job dithering the graphics on loading screens, etc. to appear like they had more than 4 colors. Plus the copy protection was really good. None of my programs could duplicate those floppies successfully.

I had the Sea one too, but never quite got the hang of it for some reason.

The later Panther Games Command Ops operational-level series (Highway to the Reich, etc.) were pretty good. You are a Corps/Division/Brigade commander so you do not necessarily have to start issuing orders to individual units.

GSB was my first thought- it’s surprisingly fun, but it’s not “multiplayer”, in the normal sense of the concept.

AAW is kind of like a ground combat version of GSB. We used to play a LOT of it on my friend’s mom’s original b&w Macintosh back in the day. I don’t know how rock/scissors/paper it was though; formations and facing did seem to count- if you could surround knights with barbarians, you’d win.

Yeah, it wasn’t straight up rock-paper-scissors, there were terrain and other factors that determined the outcomes of battles, but certain units did have a decided advantage over others. But then you’d have situations where a single barbarian destroys an entire line of archers.