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I like the exploration and expansion parts of 4X games, but inevitably someone will pull ahead and everyone declares war on them. Whether it's Civilization, Endless Space, or Master of Orion, games always revolve around war. I like Crusader Kings 2 and Europa Universalis 4 because there's less the concept of "victory" but only "doing better" because there are so many different countries, but at some point you get big and powerful and then it's not as fun too. I do like war, just not when it must be total, and not when it must be necessary every game.

Also if the game is both viable single-player and multi-player, that would be ideal, because in multiplayer games, well, most people are trying to beat you anyway, being as competitive as they are.

Is there such a game that exists? For any OS, any reasonable price.

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You can set a game in Civilization without 'Domination Victory', so you can't win the game with conquer other civilizations' capitals.

  • I have actually been playing this way for months. However the computers don't change any strategies (they are win-condition-ignorant) and will war and pressure all the same, and the best strategies are still to go to war early and often. – personjerry Jul 25 at 22:19
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While I'm not familiar with previous entries in the series, Total War: Warhammer and Total War: Warhammer II would (almost) perfectly fulfill all the things you're looking for.

I will talk about the features of the second game here since it's basically the first one with a few upgrades.

Win conditions
Each campaign and each faction you play has different win condtions. Most have a short term goal that is unique per faction (Like performin certain rituals, conquering very specific territiories, having a certain amount of trade agreements etc.) and a long term goal which is the classical "kill everyone or gain control over them through diplomacy" ending that's present in most 4X games. There are some exceptions since every faction is unique.

Multiplayer
In multiplayer you can either play battles (short 5-30 minute skirmishes where you can control troops on the battlefield in real-time) or campaign (turn-based grand campaign 4X style)

Price
This is a weak point of the game(s). On Steam both Warhammer one and two are at 60$ each and to get the full experience you should buy both. In addition to that there are a lot of Paid (but also free) DLCs that can pump the total cost of everything up to $200. It's definitely a game you can sink hundreds of hours into but it comes at a price and you have to decide for yourself if it's worth that much to you.

In general I can really recommend the game for grand strategy players despite its hefty price-tag since the gameplay is so diverse and every new faction feels like playing a completely new game.

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