The Savage Empire. Man I loved that game, but it wasn’t until I actually started reading the dialogue from other characters and looking at the map (A REAL map, a real frigging printed map you could put on the wall and mark locations and fold up, back when they actually put cool stuff in computer game boxes) that I realized what I was supposed to be doing.
Protip: It’s free on GOG. Seriously. Go get that shit. And Martian Dreams.
In that case, be sure to get Darkest Hour. It’s the most recent and (in my opinion) the best version of HoI2. Made by the community, for the community; similarly to one zombie apocalypse game I know of.
Took me a while to get acquainted with Dwarf Fortress, despite being an experienced roguelike and MUD player.
Cataclysm is very very easy as far as roguelikes go. As are most text games in fact.
The most pointlessly complicated game isn’t even a text game.
(I’m speaking of Battlecruiser 3000AD, et al. But I would have loved it too, if it actually had some content in addition to the overly complicated game mechanics.)
quite agree with edm. DH is the best version out of the box, and has loads of great mods.
You could also try Arsenal of Democracy, just to play the amazing CORE2 mod, that is not available for DH. Imo, AoD is inferior to DH otherwise, though with it i had a blast sinking the US and Royal navies with my Super-Heavy Battlecruisers as zee Germans.
Also fighting the UK, USA, AUS, India, Sov.Union and China single-handedly as Japan, and incorporating everything from Boston to Beiping to Kazan into the greater Japanese co-prosperity sphere. The rest became Germany and then we fought between ourselves for supremacy, at which point the game became unplayable due to massive amounts of units on the screen.
(both DH and AoD are commercial forks of HoI 2)
PS. if you do play HoI2 or DH, be sure to check out the Fallout and Kaiserreich mods.