Taking a light-hearted approach to a normally serious and complex genre, Strategy Defense by Belugerin Games is a casual tactics game along the lines of Ogre Battle or Tactics Arena Online. It's your job to defend the king from the incoming enemy. Move your character on the field, attack enemies, raise your stats and buy new weapons with an easy-to-use interface. It's a bare-bones tactics game that is inviting enough even for non-strategy fans to enjoy.
Each time your turn rolls around you can do one of several actions: move, cast a spell (if available), or use an item/attack. The order doesn't matter, which is actually very important for basic strategies. Take your turn, damage your foes, then wait while each enemy does the same. Depending on the goal of the scenario you might have to eliminate all of the enemies, take out the leader, or simply maneuver yourself to a point on the field. Sometimes your task will have several steps that must be completed in a certain order. Either way, it's never a straightforward job.
As you defeat enemies and complete stages, you earn gold and experience points that allow you to buff up your stats and buy new equipment. There are 24 short scenarios to work your way through, each with its own strategies and goal. You won't have too much trouble felling your foes, but a save feature lets you record your progress to resume at a later time. Just in case.
Analysis: Strategy Defense does a great job drawing in non-tactics-game players thanks to its inviting visuals and clean interface. Once you dive into the game itself you won't be disappointed, either. The simple attack options only get more complex later in the game, giving you plenty of time to become comfortable with the game's mechanics. New items are introduced at a slow pace, though, which is an unfortunate side-effect.
On the down side, Strategy Defense does suffer from a bit of repetition, especially early in the game. Until you buy interesting weapons and magic skills it's mostly click, attack, repeat. Enemy AI is surprisingly good, but don't expect Genghis Khan or Sun Tzu to try and outwit you. And waiting for loads of enemy troops to shuffle around and fire can be a slight nuisance.
Can a serious tactics game be cute? If it's Strategy Defense, it can be. This game does a respectable job translating the thrill and challenge of a strategy game to the world of browser-based casual gameplay.
Cheers to Wouter for sending this one in!