Rob Zacny

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About Rob Zacny

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    Host: Three Moves Ahead & Esports Today

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  1. Episode 413: Myth

    Three Moves Ahead 413: Myth It's time for another patent-pending Three Moves Ahead Classic Game Analysis as Rob, Gamers with Jobs' Shawn Andrich, and Rock Paper Shotgun's Adam Smith discuss Bungie's Myth series. Myth holds a unique place in strategy's gaming pantheon: in an era of clones and remakes, there's still nothing quite like it out there. Its grim and dark (but not grimdark) fantasy setting and early physics engine set it apart from other games of its day. Take a trip down memory lane before Destiny, before Halo, and into the glory of Myth. Myth: The Fallen Lords, Myth II: Soulblighter Listen on the Episode Page Listen on Soundcloud Listen in iTunes
  2. Three Moves Ahead 412: XCOM 2: War of the Chosen Rob, Rowan, and David Heron take a deep dive on XCOM 2: War of the Chosen. XCOM 2 received a tepid welcome from the Three Moves Ahead panel when it first came out in early 2016, and Three Moves Ahead gave its expansion a good long time to simmer before diving in. War of the Chosen adds more of almost everything, but is that a good thing? The crew also discusses ubermod The Long War. XCOM 2, XCOM 2: War of the Chosen, The Long War Listen on the Episode Page Listen on Soundcloud Listen in iTunes
  3. Three Moves Ahead 411: Total War: WARHAMMER II Are you ready for morehammer? Nah, just kidding, we won't do that bit again. Guest host Rowan Kaiser talks to T.J. Hafer and Kotaku's Luke Plunkett about Total War: WARHAMMER II. The Warhammer train keeps on hammerin' as the dark elves, Skaven, and other grimdark beings storm across the battlefields in the Total War engine once again. This sequel comes hot on the heels of the original game and improves it in many ways, but is it worth picking up? Tune in to find out. Total War: WARHAMMER II Listen on the Episode Page Listen on Soundcloud Listen in iTunes
  4. Three Moves Ahead 410: Franchise Hockey Manager 4 and Motorsport Manager It's time for a racing and hockey double-header as Rob, Michael, and Troy "My favorite movie is 1992's The Cutting Edge" Goodfellow talk about sports management sims. The beginning of a new NHL season is a darn good reason to examine Out of the Park Development's Franchise Hockey Manager 4. The crew also discusses Motorsport Manager, a sports sim game that may be the entry point needed for a non-sim gamer. If you like to boss other people around and not actually DO the thing that the game is about, then sports management sims might be for you! Franchise Hockey Manager 4, Eastside Hockey, Motorsport Manager, Out of the Park Baseball, Football Manager Listen on the Episode Page Listen on Soundcloud Listen in iTunes
  5. Three Moves Ahead 409: Field of Glory II It's an ancients kind of week as Rob, Rowan, and Troy "I'm so good with the elephants my mates call me 'Elephant Man'" Goodfellow talk about Field of Glory II by Byzantine Games. FoG II started as tabletop system that was ported to the PC in the original Field of Glory and its Asian counterpart, Sengoku Jidai. The sequel improves the formula in almost every way and presents an extremely capable engine for designing and playing out tactical battles. The campaign falters a bit, but the crew is pleased overall. Field of Glory II Listen on the Episode Page Listen on Soundcloud Listen in iTunes
  6. Three Moves Ahead 408: Tooth and Tail Tooth and Tail has turned out to be a game of note for several reasons. First, it deftly executes the short-form RTS genre while providing luscious artwork and pleasing visuals. Next, it provides a challenging and thought-provoking story that explores narratives in socioeconomics and societal structures. Finally, it appears to be a game that everyone on the show appears to enjoy. Rob, Rowan, Fraser, and game developer / Waypoint contribute Bruno Dias talk about animals eating each other because in the end, we're all just meat. Tooth and Tail Listen on the Episode Page Listen on Soundcloud Listen in iTunes
  7. Three Moves Ahead 407: Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun Tarou was awake and alert despite the chill and the early hour. Normally, drawing last watch was one of the worst tasks imaginable: a tortuous eight hours of mind-numbing circuits and bitter cold. Tonight was more tolerable, however, for Tarou knew that it was his last night as a guard for the malicious warlord. No more would he risk his life by showing small kindnesses to the prisoners, no more would he have to lay awake at night and wonder how many had died by his master's hand. He would leave and start his life again. His plans were set to meet a hay cart near the edge of the compound at dawn, and he would be free from this hellish existence forever. He would - wait - was that the call of a white-cheeked starling? Normally they had all migrated south by this point of the season. Perhaps the starling was a good omen for the beginning of his new life. Tarou whistled a jaunty tune back as he turned the corner. Rob, Fraser, Rowan, and guest Nick Capozzoli talk about how this and many other stories end in Shadow Tactics, a strategy game about being quiet and killing things. Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun Listen on the Episode Page Listen on Soundcloud Listen in iTunes
  8. Three Moves Ahead 406: Battlestar Galactica Deadlock Rob, Rowan, and Kotaku's Luke Plunkett pull up a space chair and talk about Battlestar Galactica Deadlock. In addition to the admirable lack of colons in the title, Deadlock manages to take a licensed IP and turn it into a faithful and satisfying gaming experience. If the term "broadsides in space" gets your solar sails at half mast, this may be an episode for you. Battlestar Galactica Deadlock Listen on the Episode Page Listen on Soundcloud Listen in iTunes
  9. Three Moves Ahead 405: Lords of Waterdeep This week's Three Moves Ahead stretches the boundaries of the podcast medium to bring you LIVE audio via recording. Rob, Rowan, Fraser, and Troy "always a bardsmaid, never a bard" Goodfellow share their thoughts on the Steam port of Lords of Waterdeep while playing a game together. Lords of Waterdeep started as a popular worker placement board game and eventually made its way to mobile platforms. It recently arrived on the PC via Steam and quickly found a place in Fraser's heart. It's not a good place, but it's firmly embedded there. Like a valve blockage. EXPLICIT CONTENT WARNING: many curse words are uttered, even more than usual. Lords of Waterdeep Listen on the Episode Page Listen on Soundcloud Listen in iTunes
  10. Three Moves Ahead 404: Total War: Warhammer Revisited It's episode 404hammer and Rob, Fraser, and T.J. Hafer revisit Total War: Warhammer. With the sequel fast approaching, Rob had the itch to play some morehammer and see how the series has evolved. Far from being a borehammer, the newest races and expansions seem to have expanded the gameplay and and embraced the lorehammer. Rob's enthusiasm is infectious and everyone on the panel feels the esprit de corpshammer as this game turns out to one of the finest Total War games in the lineup. Warhammer. Total War: Warhammer, Total War series Listen on the Episode Page Listen on Soundcloud Listen in iTunes
  11. Three Moves Ahead 403: Survival Strategy Survival: it's what separates people from animals. How far we've come from punching a tree until it explodes into logs that we can craft into workbenches. What began as humble topiary assault spread through time, Asia, and eventually into strategy games. This week, Rowan, Critical Distance's Zach Alexander, and Troy "Surely I can trade my encyclopedic knowledge of show tunes for food" Goodfellow get together to talk about survival strategy games. From half-RPGs to city builders, game devs like cramming a food clock into any game orifice they can find and the result are normal strategy games with the added fun of starvation and disease. Rimworld, Banished, Dwarf Fortress, Oxygen Not Included, Rogue, Nethack, Skyrim, FTL, Sunless Sea, Minecraft, Spelunky, S.O.S, Survival Kits, Jurassic Park: Trespasser, Rebuild, Atom Zombie Smasher, Impressions Games, SimCity, The Settlers, Children of the Nile, Majesty, Tropico, Aven Colony, The Sims, Baldur's Gate, Crusader Kings 2, Fallout Shelter Listen on the Episode Page Listen on Soundcloud Listen in iTunes
  12. Episode 402: Battle Brothers

    God I would love to see this article or a translation of it. Because this seems like an important point about modern strategy gaming. I mean, EUIV has a lot of mechanics that add up to ethnic cleansing (and a lot of incentives and disincentives for using them) and I do wonder the extent to which these games offer rationales for really awful stuff and normalize it for modern audiences. This isn't confined to games, of course. Most histories of modern China treat Mao's Great Leap Forward as a painful and ugly series of trade-offs: famine, mass death, but also the rise of heavy industry and modernization for large swathes of the country. Whereas the Cultural Revolution is often treated as the moment where Mao crosses over into actual evil, because there's no real rhyme or reason to it. But the idea is that if we can just find a reasonable outcome behind a monstrous policy, then we must somehow treat it as a considered trade-off. Easier to do from the point of the living, and not the people who died on collectives or in gulags.
  13. Episode 402: Battle Brothers

    I didn't forget that aspect of the discussion, I think we talked about that specific issue on the podcast and why that reasoning struck me as insufficient. If I build a house and spend all my money and material on the kitchen and garage, and then don't have anything left over for a decent bedrom, that I don't get to say, "Yeah, but I had to build a really fancy kitchen! It was resource intensive!" That was still a choice. It's the same thing in games: what you decide is acceptable to ignore in order to support other priorities is still an active choice, not something that "just happens". It's worth discussing. Also, that dynamic character art is cute but let's not overstate how impressive it really is. We're talking about the equivalent of a few decals. Nice decals, but not something that makes me sit back in wonder at the resources and care lavished on them. As for the question about what people choose to support or not... that's not for me to say. All of this is personal. Battle Brothers does some things I'm not comfortable with, but I don't find so off-putting that I cannot play the game. I totally think it's fair for another person to look at it and decide it's not for them, for those reasons. I love the Witcher series, but I'm not going to take issue with anyone choosing to pass on it because they feel excluded. People get to decide what offends them or what just turns them off, and make decisions based on that. They also get to discuss that stuff when it comes to critical reactions to the game.
  14. Episode 402: Battle Brothers

    I don't think I'd agree that 3MA necessarily attracts reactionary sentiment, nor that its audience leans that way. I do think strategy games get treated as an apolitical space (in part because the subject matter is often SO charged) that it can catch people off guard when the discussion raises contemporary political topics. Thumbs has a bigger community that's always been in dialogue with the critical conversations across gaming, but in strategy land a lot of those conversations have passed us by. So it might feel like we're breaking an unspoken rule when we tackle this stuff but the truth is just there aren't a ton of games that really engage with modern political debate. Two things I think are changing that: one is the context has changed of late. The politics of 1930s Europe and Asia seemed more like a settled and closed discussion when we started doing this show, but obviously there are a lot of overtones to those subjects nowadays. Second, our own standards and expectations are shifting. I'm not sure Battle Brothers inclusiveness would have felt as obvious to me a few years ago, but now I regularly have those conversations about how games shape the idea of "the default" or "normal:. Also, I'm playing this alongside Darkest Dungeon where similarly simple character art is made to encompass a wide variety of skin tones. When a game omits that inclusivity, and then kind of tips its hand about other iffy positions and perspectives, it's way harder to ignore now. We both want it done better, and there are a lot of games that do. But that's a change and an evolution in how we approach that space, and that's going to seem discordant at times. But I don't think it says too much about 3MA.
  15. Episode 402: Battle Brothers

    In retrospect I think I'd probably recommend the game less forcefully, because my reservations are only getting more pointed. Where women appear in story text, it's often as sex objects. Then when Battle Brothers opens its mouth about marginalized groups, it's often to say something dumb and mean-spirited. It's a great tactics game and does so many things right, but where it's coming from is alternately oblivious or just stupidly cruel in the lazy way that Grimdark for Dumbasses often comes across. Also, any game making a specific comment about refugees in the last couple years is absolutely making a statement about current events. Contrast this with The Witcher series. For all that representational critiques, the Witcher and especially the Witcher 3 is generally very aware of how awful the things it depicts really are. It depicts a war-torn land full of refugees, but never smirks about refugees' plight or what it says about them. It depicts gendered and racial violence, but largely also makes clear that the game's eyes are open to what that violence reflects (though not in all cases, and there are definitely places where the Witcher drops the ball). Also a podcast is not a review, it's a discussion that examines a subject from several different angles. This was one of them. Hopefully this clarifies.