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May 21, 2019 Rob, TJ, and Jon are not quite sure what to make of Imperator: Rome, the latest historical grand strategy game from Paradox Development Studio. Should a Hellenistic warlord have such fine control over demographics? Is there much to do beyond empire-building? On the other hand, when the eagles are marching, does there need to be?
May 10, 2019 The gang has been playing the Steel Division 2 beta and wow, things are different on the Eastern Front. That leads to a discussion of how familiar series and systems take on new life, or fail to, when adapted to new settings.
Imperator, Steel Division 2, Sengoku Jidai, Pike and Shot,
April 25, 2019 Rowan, TJ, and Rob and joined by Jon Bolding to talk about how the difficulty discussion and "designer intent" maps to strategy games... or doesn't. We discuss games that go out of their way to highlight a specific "way it's meant to be played" and whether that actually holds up in reality. We also talk about customization options and, when all else fails, the glorious tradition of house rules and outright cheating to find the way to play that "just right" for you.
XCOM, Battle Brothers, Total War, StarCraft,
April 12, 2019 Troy, Jon Bolding, and Rob discuss Madruga Works' Dawn of Man, a prehistoric and ancient history city builder and survival game. The gang is charmed, but also feel like there are some big gaps in the evolution of your city and society.
Dawn of Man, Children of the Nile, Planetbase
April 5, 2019 Rob and Bruce are here to sing the praises of Mark Herman's Empire of the Sun, a brilliant adaptation of the war in the Pacific. Enjoying the game through the magic of VASSAL, our wargaming duo describe how about Empire of the Sun does a commendable job of conveying the challenges of imperfect information, the plans of the Imperial Japanese fleet, and inter-service rivalry - all through the elegance of card-based play.
Empire of the Sun
March 28, 2019 Here's the word cloud for this week's episode: Dota2, mod, sports management, moba, battle royale, open world survival game with roguelike elements (jk but we need that SEO), deckbuilding, tower defense. That's right, we're talking about the mod for the game that's a copy of a mod for another game that has nothing to do with either of the things in its title: Dota 2 Auto Chess. Auto Chess is Dota 2 mod that you can play right now, for free. It's taking the world by storm, and it contains a satisfying combination of team management and long-term strategy. Rob, Rowan, and Taylor Cocke talk us through what the heck it is, how it works, and why Taylor seems to like it so very much. Also, a surprising amount of basketball commentary.
Dota2, Auto Chess
March 19, 2019 Sound Blaster! 3DFX! Games that go unpatched because there's no way to fix them! That's right, we're going back 25 years to 1994. Yes, 25 years. We're all hella old, in case that had not occurred to anyone. But who am I kidding, if you're listening to this show you are probably part of the gamer geriatrics, pausing from your record run of Chip's Challenge or Kye to dust off your AARP card and get cheap coffee at McDonald's, nursing it from 9 AM to 11 AM before going to the smaller grocery store in town because the bigger store just has too many choices and the lights are too bright. Anyway, lots of good games came out in 1994. Rowan correctly names the Overall Game of the Year while Rob and Sean have good intentions but are unfortunately wrong. Art by Carlos Villa.
X-COM: Enemy Unknown, Sid Meier's Colonization, Star Wars: TIE Fighter, Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger, Ultima VIII: Pagan, Outpost, Final Fantasy VI (or III, whatever), Panzer General, Elder Scrolls: Arena, Liberty or Death, Perfect General II, Master of Magic, System Shock, Warcraft, Aces of the Deep, Lords of the Realm, Marathon
March 5, 2019 The seas are rising. The air is getting worse. Rock bands are forming. Fraser, Sean Sands, and Troy "The Diplomatic Juggernaut" Goodfellow go for Just One More Turn (tm) with Civilization VI: Gathering Storm. In this, the "second Civ expansion that finally finishes the game", the player fights against other civilizations as well as an increasingly hostile Mother Earth. Gathering Storm is a worthy addition to the series, but where do we go from here? Certainly not beyond earth (cough), but with Civ as a whole?
Civilization VI, Gathering Storm
February 12, 2019 It's rare, but sometimes companies that aren't Koei make a game about the Three Kingdoms. During the runup to the new Total War game, we thought it would be fun to talk about the Three Kingdoms as a setting and the games from that past that have portrayed it well. Are you ready for a deep dive into Three Kingdoms history? No, like, a really deep dive? This week T.J., Rowan, Austin Walker, and guest Brian "Lu Bu" Smawley talk about their favorite factions, historical tidbits, and video game adaptations of this rich period of history.
Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Dynasty Warriors, Dynasty Tactics, Total War: Three Kingdoms, Kessen II, Strike Force
February 2, 2019 2018 has come and gone, its crusty remains pushed to the side for new buffet plate (always get a new plate) of games coming out in 2019. Rob, T.J., and Ian Boudreau talk about the games they're excited for, the games they're cautiously optimistic for, and even some that they're dreading.
Grand Tactician, General Staff Wargaming System, Total War: Three Kingdoms, Star Wars Armada, Phoenix Point, Xenonauts, Imperator, Bannerlord, Tropico 6, Iron Harvest
January 22, 2019 In the grim dark future there is only war. No, really. In Warhammer 40,000: Gladius - Relics of War, there is no diplomacy system. All of that nonsense has been put aside in lieu of 40K chainsword murder. Gladius manages to be a chimera of strategy games. Is it a 4X? Part of an RTS? Grimdark Civ? Whatever it is, Rob and Fraser generally like it.
Warhammer 40,000: Gladius - Tyranids
January 12, 2019 This week Rob, Jon Bolding, Giant Bomb's Alex Navarro, and Troy "I can't find the bard class" Goodfellow take a look at Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden by The Bearded Ladies game studio. Mutant Year Zero combines XCOM-like tactical gameplay with a post-apocalyptic setting that's a joy to look at. Its boardgame roots are evident in its sharp gameplay and rich setting.
Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden
December 31, 2018 We threw restraint to the wind with our 2018 wrapup this year, so you get TWO episodes for for the same great price. Session one has Rob, Troy "this is the year my musical theater career takes off" Goodfellow, and Jon Bolding talking about their favorite games. After that, T.J. Hafer, Sean Sands, and Rowan Kaiser go into their top picks including all the Paradox-y stuff that we don't let Troy talk about. It's a long episode for what felt like an incredibly long year. 2018 hit us with a lot of political, military, and economic turmoil, so sometimes it's good to kick back with a strategy game and focus instead on political, military, and economic turmoil that we can control. These are our top (and maybe not so top) picks of the year.
Total War: WARHAMMER II - Curse of the Vampire Coast, Dominions 5 (late 2017 but I'll allow it), Armored Brigade, Pike & Shot, Valkyria Chronicles 4, BATTLETECH, Northgard, Root, Brass: Birmingham, Into the Breach, Bad North, Circle Empires, Reigns: Game of Thrones, Six Ages: Ride Like the Wind, Warhammer 40K - Gladius - Mechanicus - Space Hulk Tactics, Two Point Hospital, Frostpunk, Surviving Mars, Civilization VI: Rise and Fall, Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia - Dharma - Golden Century, Crusader Kings 2: Holy Fury, Stellaris: Apocalypse - Megacorp, Hearts of Iron IV: Waking the Tiger, Depth of Extinction, Mutant Year Zero, Banner Saga III, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battles: Donkey Kong Adventure, Pathfinder: Kingmaker, Slay the Spire, Football Manager Touch
December 26, 2018 It's been a minute since we've talked about Crusader Kings 2, so why bring it up now? Holy Fury - the latest major DLC - is one of the most significant changes to date, moving CK2 even closer toward RPG than grand strategy game. Is this the expansion that restores Fraser's interest in the game? Is this really the last expansion? What is the future of CK2? Why does T.J. go on and on and on and on about succession laws? Can you really be a duck? T.J. and Fraser answer all these questions and more.
Crusader Kings 2, Holy Fury
December 20, 2018 From the dizzying highs of the Frozen Throne to the baffling lows of Master of Orion III, 2003 was a darn good year for games. Prince of Persia: Sands of Time became a hallmark for many gamers, and Rise of Nations came onto the scene to become the "other" kind of RTS. Korsun Pocket (recipient of its own 3MA episode) showed us what amazing AI could look like, and Knights of the Old Republic grew T.J. into the person he is today. Rob, Rowan, and T.J. hop into the Wayback Machine to go to 2003, when invading Iraq seemed like a cool idea. In and out war, Morty, 20 minutes tops.
Warcraft III: Frozen Throne, Civilization III: Conquests, Medieval: Total War - Viking Invasion, Rise of Nations, Homeworld 2, Korsun Pocket, Combat Mission: Africa Corps, Simcity 4, Master of Orion 3, Galactic Civilizations, Victoria, Disagaea, Final Fantasy Tactics: Advance, Onimusha Tactics, Knights of the Old Republic, Jedi Academy, Freelancer, Call of Duty, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, Deus Ex: Invisible War