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May 28, 2022 Len and Rowan are joined by Kotaku's Luke Plunkett and Twitch streamer Casey Explosion to talk about Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate: Daemonhunters, and also more than a little bit of Mechanicus since we seem to have slept on that one. Is this just XCOM with space marines? And why should you be paying attention to this, the 40,000th Warhammer 40,000 game to release just in the last decade alone?
Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate: Daemonhunters, Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus, XCOM: Enemy Unknown, XCOM 2
May 20, 2022 Len and Jon are joined by Leyla and Soren Johnson to talk about Old World's Steam launch and its first big expansion. We got their thoughts on the Early Access process, figuring out how to depict historical cultures like the Hittites when sources are sparse, and where the ancient era 4X might go next.
Old World, Civilization, Crusader Kings II
May 15, 2022 Len and Rowan are joined by Fanbyte's Steven Strom to test fly a new episode format. Our usual episodes covering a specific game or digging deep on a single topic aren't going anywhere, but this week we're just sitting down to have a chat about what we've been playing and what's on our minds relating to the world of strategy games. Steven needs a new management game to sink their teeth into. Rowan has been moving and putting Civ through its paces on the Nintendo Switch. And Len has some good and bad news about class warfare. If you enjoyed the show this month, we always really appreciate your support over at Patreon.com/3ma
Oh all kinds of stuff
May 1, 2022 Over on Waypoint I’ve spent about a month looking back at Sid Meier’s Gettysburg and teaching the game to the rest of the crew (with varying levels of success). But since I was already hip-deep in 90s Civil War culture, Troy and I decided it was time to tackle one of the films that we’ve been intending to discuss for years: 1993’s Gettysburg, directed by Ron Maxwell and bankrolled by Ted Turner. There are a lot of issues with Gettysburg. It’s evasive on the subject of slavery, wanting both to ennoble is white Union heroes by reminding us that theirs was an army of liberation but to not think too deeply on who was being liberated or from what. Because it is also a product of Lost Cause traditions where the conflict was predominantly one about culture, or as the foppish British observer in this story declares, the root of the conflict is the “different dreams” of its antagonists. Not pictured: the Confederate dream. It’s also a very incomplete military history of the battle of Gettysburg but this really stems from the decisions author Michael Shaara made with his novel The Killer Angels, which finds its central narrative drama in James Longstreets’ prescience that Robert E. Lee is marching the army into a decisive defeat while on the Union side the story is told from the perspective of characters who do recognize the stakes and the dangers and have the agency to rise to the moment. It’s the stuff of a great war novel but not of a comprehensive military history, and so Gettysburg ends up being a film where Union command is effectively invisible. However, within those choices Gettysburg remains, as Troy says, one of the all-time great battle films. The murkiness in which decisions are made, the clarity of a commander’s intentions to his subordinates, the places where the rubber of generalship meets the road of combat… all of this is brilliantly rendered in Gettysburg and, for me and Troy, maintains it as a favorite even for all of its manifest flaws. We also decided that this episode, because it’s so directly in dialogue with a ton of work I’m doing over at Waypoint and on streams there, is one we’d just make public instead of reserving it for the Patreon. Troy and I love having these monthly chats for our backers (and our last one on Knight’s Tale and Marie Antoinette was another favorite) but here it felt like a useful place to show how we set these discussion about history movies in the context of all the other work we do as critics and professional strategy nerds. And by the way, after having tackled some heavier films of late, next month we’re giving ourselves a break with Branagh’s Death on the Nile as well as the 1978 version. Troy is trying to convince me to watch the Suchet one was well, and while Suchet is basically to Poirot what Jeremy Brett is to Sherlock Holmes, I’ve been warned that version is not one of the better Suchet adaptations. But we will at least be alluding to it in that conversation, even if we are focusing on the 2021 and ‘78 versions.
April 30, 2022 Len, Fraser, and Jon take a look at Shiro Games' Dune: Spice Wars, which just launched into early access. Is this the modern Dune RTS we've been waiting decades for? As it so happens, it ends up igniting an entirely different kind of war in our own ranks.
Dune: Spice Wars, Dune your mom
April 25, 2022 We explore our impact on the strategy game world as Jon sits down with creative director Kyle Kukshtel to talk about Cantata, an indie space tactics game directly inspired by a conversation we had on this very show almost a decade ago. So how exactly did our kvetching inspire the design of this project? How do you make a tactics game that isn't secretly just a puzzle game? And what was the thinking behind the very off-the-wall art style that got Cantata turned down by at least one publisher?
April 15, 2022 Rob and Rowan are joined this week by freelance writer Ruth Cassidy, whose article, "Ethically designing unethical worlds" (https://www.gamedeveloper.com/design/ethically-designing-unethical-worlds) inspired this week's topic. From eugenics in Crusader Kings to choosing between fundamentalism and fascism in Frostpunk, the games we play often put us in the position of someone who has to make some pretty horrifying decisions. How can designers best depict these elements in a way that lends them gravity, but doesn't seem to implicitly condone them? Is it even possible?
Frostpunk, Crusader Kings 3, Darkest Dungeon, Alpha Centauri, Civilization, Space Warlord Organ Trading Simulator, a bunch of other ones
April 1, 2022 This week, Rowan recruits Fanbyte's Mike Williams, freelance writer Kendal Erickson, and 3MA's Correspondent for All Things Three-Sided, Brian Smawley, to discuss Triangle Strategy. The Switch has had some sleeper strategy hits, and we're here to let you know if this one belongs among them. Beware of salt.
March 14, 2022 Len and Mike are joined once again by Dr. Bret Devereaux (@BretDevereaux), Visiting Lecturer in the Department of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and author of the blog A Collection of Unmitigated Pedantry (acoup.blog). The topic this time around is Empires and Imperialism. What exactly makes an empire? How do strategy games model empires and the process of imperialism, and how could they potentially do better? Header Image: The "Ozymandias Collossus", Ramesseum, Luxor, Egypt by Charlie Phillips via Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0
Europa Universalis IV, Victoria II, Civilization, Total War: Warhammer 3
March 1, 2022 Len, Rowan, Fraser, and Jon join forces on one episode for the first time in a long time to talk about Total War: Warhammer 3. With nine new factions, a new story-driven campaign, and a customizable daemon protagonist, it's an ambitious capstone to the trilogy. Pledge yourself to Podcast Undivided and find out how we think it stacks up.
Total War: Warhammer 3
February 22, 2022 Len and Ian take a look at the first full expansion for Crusader Kings 3, and it's a chunky one. Royal Court adds a full 3D throne room and the ability to interact with your subjects at eye level for the first time. Forging new family heirlooms and new cultures. Has it reignited our interest in CK3?
Crusader Kings 3: Royal Court
February 12, 2022 This week, Jon and Rob dig in to what Rob has dubbed "yet another entry in the crowded Lunar Lander Bullet Hell Naval Wargame Roguelike Visual Novel genre." It's not an easy game to get into, so how did our boi go from cursing its very name to absolutely adoring it? What exactly is this game, anyway? And why should every good fleet commander read the manual?
February 1, 2022 Len and Troy plunge gladius-first into the Late Republic to win victories on the tactical and strategic scale in Expeditions: Rome. The third installment in the series has more going on than ever before, but is it /too/ much? And what is the correct way to pronounce Cicero, anyhow? We came. We played. We did a podcast about it.
January 21, 2022 Len and Rowan come in for a low glide over 2022's calendar of strategy game releases to discuss what excites us, what worries us, and what smaller stuff we're keeping an eye on. Will Victoria 3 live up to the hype? Can Marvel's Midnight Suns satisfy our in-house X-Mean aficionado? Will Dwarf Fortress ever actually come out? We don't know the answers to any of these questions, but we can certainly discuss them over a few drinks.
January 15, 2022 Troy and Len are joined by PCGamesN's Ian Boudreau and Fanbyte's Mike Williams to look back on a year that's a bit hard to summarize. Why can't we find a theme to slap on 2021? What were some of the biggest surprises, good and bad? And what were our favorite strategy games in what was, if nothing else, kind of a weird year for them?
Lots of games I forgot to write down while I was editing it