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August 19, 2023 Len, Jon, and Ian are joined by Brian "Chef Lu Bu" Smawley to delve into Baldur's Gate 3. We discuss what really makes this a CRPG that can be enthusiastically recommended to tactics fans, what our favorite races, classes, and companions have been, and the ridiculous antics we've gotten up to with Larian's "Yes, and..." engine and quest design. Is this the best version of Dungeons & Dragons you can play on the computer? Give it a listen and roll Insight to find out.
Baldur's Gate 3
July 29, 2023 Rob, Len, and Rowan are in the pipe, five-by-five, to discuss Aliens: Dark Descent. An unconventional squad-based stealth game that brings James Cameron's sci-fi classic to a new (and dare we say better) perspective, we discuss similarities to the likes of Darkest Dungeon and how clever escalation mechanics can dynamically imitate the structure of a horror movie.
Aliens: Dark Descent, Darkest Dungeon, Starship Troopers: Terran Command
July 22, 2023 This week, Len is joined by Sin Vega and Dominic Tarason to discuss Jagged Alliance 3, the long-awaited sequel to one of the greatest tactical games of all time. Did they do a good job of recapturing what made the original so memorable? Is this just another XCOM, or is there more to see here?
Jagged Alliance 3
July 1, 2023 It's the... Summer of Wargaming? When a game comes along that's even too obscure and spreadsheet-y for our normal panel, we light the Grognard Beacon. And this week, first-timers Wesley Livesay and Benjamin Magnus answered the call. The subject? Rule the Waves 3. If you love mid-90s PC productivity software interfaces and big boats of all shapes and sizes, you're in for a treat. We discuss what makes this crunchy Secretary of the Navy simulator so compelling, and why it's worth overcoming the steep barriers to entry.
Rule the Waves 3
June 10, 2023 Len, Rowan, and Jon step through the portal into Age of Wonders 4, the latest fantasy 4X from Triumph and Paradox. We dig deep into the strategic and tactical pacing and why so much of it hits the spot in a world of ultra marathon strategy campaigns. What is so satisfying about its empire customization and progression? And did we actually manage to make an episode about a game we like that's not 75 percent complaining?
Age of Wonders 4, Stellaris, Civilization, Age of Wonders 3
May 22, 2023 Rowan, Len, and Nerium hitch their wagon to Darkest Dungeon 2 and set in for the long haul on this epic-length episode. We discuss some of the ways this sequel is an improvement over one of 3MA's consensus favorite games of all time (that we somehow never did a dedicated episode on), and several ways in which it's not. What kind of parties did we like to roll with? How have things changed since early access? And is there a cooler narrator than Wayne June? By the end, you might even get to hear us have a Meltdown!
Darkest Dungeon, Darkest Dungeon 2, Hades
May 14, 2023 Rowan, Nerium, and Luke set off into the fantasy landscape of Wartales to give a glimpse at one of the most robust tactical management games we've seen in a while. They discuss how it's a counterpoint to – and possibly even a commentary on – Battle Brothers in a couple of interesting ways. You'll also hear perspectives from both of its world scaling settings, to help you decide if you'd rather have everything automatically scale to your current party, or tackle the more dangerous, "MMO-style" version where each region comes with a set level and may be deadlier than you're ready for.
Wartales, Battle Brothers, Darkest Dungeon
April 21, 2023 It's an all-star panel as Len and Mike Williams are joined by Mohawk Games' and Idle Thumbs' own Soren Johnson and Paradox Tinto's Johan Andersson to chip away at a tricky target: the different design goals between a more "Board Gamey" strategy game like Civilization and the "Simulationist" breed exemplified by Europa Universalis. We discuss what we like and don't like about each one, who the audiences are for each, and how to navigate the significant overlap in those audiences. In the end, maybe it's not as adversarial after all...
Hoo boy, a whole bunch, I didn't write them down
April 15, 2023 This week, Len and Ian welcome military historian Brett Devereaux back to the show to talk about The Great War: Western Front. We discuss what it gets right and what it gets wrong about the trenches, artillery bombardments, and innovative tactics that eventually broke the stalemate. But at the end of the day, does the Western Front of World War I just suck as a setting for a strategy game?
The Great War: Western Front
March 31, 2023 This week, Rowan teams up with Fanbyte's Mike Williams and Kotaku's Luke Plunkett to discuss Terra Nil, a "city builder in reverse" about restoring the natural ecosystem of a devastated planet. We break down what makes this concept so compelling, feelgood, and relaxing, as well as what it could have done differently to fill a more simulationist niche.
March 24, 2023 Len and Ian are joined once again by our official unofficial historical consultant, UNC Chapel Hill's Dr. Bret Devereaux, to discuss a couple of interrelated topics: Snowballing in strategy games and the process of industrialization. We take a wide-ranging trek through games and history that touches on different ways developers have tried to put checks on snowballing, what factors prevented real societies from hitting that exponential growth until the 1800s, and which games portray it best. There's also a lot of chat on our exploits in the recent 1.2 patch for Victoria 3, because of course there would be.
March 11, 2023 We have a packed panel this week as Jon is joined by Fanbyte's Mike Williams and Nerium Strom, Waypoint's Renata Price, and Freehold Games' Brian Bucklew to hop into the cockpit on Phantom Brigade. This is far from the first turn-based mech game we've talked about, so why were there so many people excited to talk about it that we couldn't even include them all on one show? What are our biggest criticisms, and why did we end up digging it regardless?
Phantom Brigade, Gundam, Battletech, other mech stuff
February 25, 2023 Rob and Ian are joined by Kotaku's Luke Plunkett to dig in to Company of Heroes 3. The long-awaited World War II RTS left us with mixed feelings, between a dynamic campaign that just doesn't really work and some of the best battle maps the series has ever seen. So how does it all stack up when the smoke clears? And what about that North Africa operation?
Company of Heroes 3
February 18, 2023 Len, Jon, and Ian kick off what is to be an ongoing series revisiting some big ideas in strategy games that we haven't covered since Ye Olde Podcast Days of Yore. This time around, we're taking a fresh look at religion, which we last gave its own show waaay back in 2009. How have strategy games changed their depiction of spiritual practices in the last decade or so, and how are they still stuck in certain ruts? We also discuss some of our favorite non-standard takes on religion like Frostpunk and Terra Invicta, and share some thoughts on what we'd like to see done differently.
Sid Meier's Civilization, Crusader Kings 3, Victoria 3, Terra Invicta, Frostpunk, Pentiment, Workers and Resources: Soviet Republic, Old World
January 28, 2023 It's a NoCBcast semi-reunion as Len is joined by Lambert (https://www.youtube.com/Lambert2191) and Father Lorris (https://www.chapelcomic.com/) to discuss Anbennar, our favorite Europa Universalis IV total conversion mod. Have you ever wondered how elite elven archers would fare against 18th Century line infantry? What if the Protestant Reformation was kicked off by the literal death of a god? It's epic high fantasy meets the early modern world and we can't recommend it enough.
Europa Universalis IV, Anbennar