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About varangian

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  1. Three Moves Ahead 533: Old World

    It was (and still is at time or writing) wrong in the RSS feed I use for 3MA, where a designer notes episode seems to have been posted twice, but the direct download from the website is the correct file now.
  2. Episode 453: Black Hawk Down and Zulu

    Just to add my appreciation of this episode, nothing wrong with strategy game talk of course but very pleasant to have a change, you should definitely do more when the games scene is having one of its quieter moments. No need to restrict yourself to films either, plenty of good books to discuss (Professor Bruce Garyk could be called in for that) both fiction and non-fiction. But on the film front elsewhere Enemy at the Gates got a mention and that triggered a couple of thoughts. Firstly it was allegedly based on the book of that name which I had read before seeing the film. Haven't read it since but I'm think I'm on sound ground by saying that the film borrowed the title and the idea of a sniper duel from the book but little else, whilst Black Hawk Down which (I read the book after seeing the film) seemed to track the events of the book (and history so far as I can judge) pretty closely whilst throwing much of the nuance out of the window. The way films based on books treat their source material could be a fruitful source of discussion. Cf The Imitation Game, supposedly based on Turing: The Enigma but actually a complete travesty of his code breaking work. Also it might be interesting to compare how different nations treat the subject of war, Enemy at the Gates was pretty standard Hollywood stuff, the 1993 German film Stalingrad was a pretty realistic depiction of the horror of the battle from the standpoint of the PBI and of the various Russian takes on that war I'd recommend everyone to have a look at Come and See which concerned the German anti-partisan operations in Belorussia and is by turns surreal and horrifying.
  3. Episode 351: Weekend of Wargaming

    Although the same can be said of EU, at least in EU IV and some countries. I loved CK and picked up EU expecting to be able roll my own version of history as CK allows you to do, bar the odd fixed event like the wretched Mongols. But when I played as Castile however I managed things there was an unavoidable (and historically correct) civil war that I couldn't dodge and could never win. The received wisdom on the Steam forums was that I should deliberately lose the civil war as quickly as possible and jump horses to the winning side. Never felt right to me and I stopped playing EU as a consequence.
  4. Episode 313: Listener Mail

    I listened to this a day or so ago so my memory may be wrong but I think it was Rob who said someone should do a kickstarter for an update for Peter Turcan's Waterloo game. I'll second that motion and chuck some money its way if it happens. I think Waterloo must have been the very first strategy game I played on computer - it certainly came out a couple of years earlier than Dune 2 which is the other early memory I have for such games. I've still got it on a 3.5" floppy disk along with a laminated map and manual (those were the days) and I was still able to play it on XP while I had that installed. The text entry command system was pretty intuitive - though you did need either an encyclopaedic knowledge of the battle or the map and OOB from the manual - so the main challenges were timing and chaos. The former because your orders went out via little stick figure horsemen who had to chase down the commander the order was intended for so you had to know where said commander was and how long the courier would take to get there if you wanted to co-ordinate an attack. And chaos because couriers could get delayed by being caught up in routing troops and the like - maybe even killed, not quite sure on that - and commanders would react to local events so might not be where you expect them. Hitting the end turn button and waiting to see how things had played out - it worked in 15 minute segments - was always suspenseful. Rob was right in lamenting that nobody - apart from Turcan himself who did Austerlitz and the Spanish Armada on the same lines - followed up this way of doing the command and control. More powerful PCs allowed real time graphics and after the aforementioned Dune 2 it was pretty much point and click all the way.
  5. Episode 309: Hearts of Iron IV Preview

    Don't know how the folks who have already replied listened to the podcast but when I try to d/l the mp3 file I get a zero bytes file - yesterday and right now. Playing the stream on the page works but as I usually listen to it away from the computer that's not too useful. Perhaps you need to give the server a kicking?
  6. Episode 268: Pickett's Charge

    Thanks for the podcast on UG:G. I'd read about it on RPS and been quite interested as it's a fascinating battle and I missed out on the Sid Meier take on it, but hearing your enthusiasm and learning it was on Steam at the price of a pint and bit of beer (UK prices, other countries may differ) got me hitting the buy button. And as one of your panel said I feel like I've robbed the bank, I've played a couple of Gettysburgs with no obvious bugs bar the odd unit not being sure how to align itself in the face of the enemy (which you can change yourself obviously) and no crashes. Often early access means bugs galore and large chunks of gameplay still to be supplied but there have been AAA titles that have shipped with bigger problems. And most importantly it plays well. I gave up on TW after Empire as the strategic AI was just a joke and the tactical level not much better. The AI in UG:G can actually give you a fight, although I've won so far by playing very defensively and relying on Union numbers to prevail the slightest inattention can have the battleline collapsing in no time as the AI seems pretty good at spotting weak points. And unlike TW where you could march units around for a flank attack without the AI reacting sensibly (or at all sometimes) it reacts intelligently to attacks or counter-attacks by the player. I don't know what's on the developer's roadmap but what I'd like to see, purely to make it more challenging, would be: Corps commanders on the player's side being more independent and meaningful. Right now a corps HQ unit just seems to be something you move around to enhance morale and I have to admit I haven't memorised the OOB for Gettysburg and, as there doesn't appear to be any way of seeing what units belong to what HQ/General, I've probably had an HQ babysitting units that didn't belong to it and I just move units around the map as seems convenient without worrying if I'm splitting up a grouping that would fight better together. Would be nice if keeping command groups together was something that enhanced their performance as this would steer you into deploying more realistically. And, as the AI seems quite capable, it would make the gameplay less predictable if a subordinate corps commander could order an advance/retreat on his own initiative rather than each unit just waiting to be ordered about by the big boss in the sky. The other thing I'd like is order delay. It would be difficult if not impossible to make a viable game where you're view of events was restricted to that of an actual general of the era so the surveillance drone has to stay up there but taking away the satellite phones from the generals should be doable. You could make it so that units only reacted to any movement order after a suitable delay or maybe go a bit turn based and have it that every 15 minutes of game time the battle pauses and you can only issue movement orders at that point. As it is it's way too easy to have units running around from one hotspot to another in a way that would create utter chaos if you tried to issue such a continuous stream of orders via messengers on foot or horse in real life. The drawback of instant commands is most obvious in the scenario where Sickles has planted himself in the Peach Orchard. If you decide not to support him you can just have all his units safely back with the main force long before the Confederates are close enough to even fire on him, let alone wreck his corps.
  7. Episode 198: The Kessel Run

    Maybe so, but I'd reckon there are still useful numbers like me who'd give it a go. I used to play hex based games quite a lot - V for Victory: Velikiye Luki and such - but got distracted by RTS games with shiny graphics so lost touch with that kind of gameplay. My memory is that some of them were a total grind, not because of any particular depth, just poor design or conversion from a board game. Some managed to combine complexity in the gameplay with (relative) simplicity in the actual mechanics of playing though. And whilst WitE may be on the right side of that equation it's difficult to tell. In the podcast, for instance, someone mentioned that the tutorial/manual was essentially a list of what various buttons/keys did in some arbitrary order rather than a logical progression through the levels of gameplay. That kind of thing isn't a great encouragement to shell out for it.
  8. Episode 198: The Kessel Run

    Re the discussion on pricing at the end of an interesting discussion there were a couple of things that weren't mentioned that belong in the area. The first is that as well as being a significant investment of money WitE also sounds like a fairly hefty investment of time as well. Compared to the also mentioned UoC - which I've got, enjoy and was able to get to grips with pretty quickly - WitE has always sounded like it's got a long and steep learning curve. One where it going to take a fair effort just to get to the point of being able to manage things competently let alone get good enough to start winning campaigns. Of course I could be wrong, which brings me to the second point: no demo. At least as far as I know, I've checked a few times but never found any sign of one. The combination of these things has always put me off WitE. If it was cheap I'd buy it on spec and be prepared to write off the time/money if I didn't get along with it. If there was a demo I'd invest the time to find out whether I'd like it. As it is it's a fairly expensive shot in the dark that will soak up time to find out if it's my cup of tea. That's why UoC gets the Eastern Front strategy gig for me, it may not have the scope and depth but I tried the demo, found it worked well and bought it. Of course it's up to the publisher to decide how to price things and whether a demo is worth the effort but I can't help feeling that they're missing out a useful slice of the market by having both a steep(ish) price and no way to try out the game before buying.