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About ilitarist

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  1. Episode 409: Field of Glory II

    I'm extremely late to the party, but I've only recently tried this game after buying it a long time ago. And I think it's a first wargame I really dig. Previously I've tried to play other entry-level wargames, like Panzercorps or Unity of Command, even Commander Great War. And those looked like boring yet challenging math problems. Units have very basic stats - attack, defense, range, movement. There are special attacks against armor or maybe air. Every unit behaves exactly the same even if they're supposed to play different roles. Every unit is a killer. And it's your job to make your killers meet their victims till it's enemy turn and now it's important for your victims to meet as few murderers as possible. You concentrate fire, you use ineffective killers to soften enemies. But even though those games are different it feels like their rulesets were written for some abstract chess-like battlefields, they could be applied to fantasy or Warhammer 40K settings - and Panzercorps, naturally, got WH40K clone. It felt like a grand sudoku puzzle or something. From all of those wargames I only ever liked fantasy ones because they felt like I make decisions not based solely on remembering attack tables. Elven Legacy is Panzer General clone, but it has casters, scouts who can develop skills for poison attacks or hit & run, elves that shoot farther away when they're in the hills, knights who always attack instantly when there's an enemy nearby and so on and so on. Those still felt like puzzles because in all of them you fight not against an army but against a timer. Field of Glory 2 feels like a representation of an ancient battle on the other hand. Here heavy infantry or light cavalry doesn't just mean "slow but lots of HP" or "quick and weak", it doesn't even mean bonuses vs special units. It really means specific roles. When I imagine commander thinking about battlefield I can't connect it to the usual wargame picture of "let our weak unit attack them and then strong finish them off if there is less of 80% of them left", but this approach of "our heavy infantry should hold till our chariots regroup and attack their opponent from behind, let's make sure their flanks are defended by skirmishers who will run away but still draw enemy away" looks like a real deal. Skirmishers are not just weak infantry you use the same way as you'd use weakened heavy infantry, they skirmish. Light cavalry isn't just fast infantry, it's incapable of doing non-cavalry thing and just runs away when you attack it. And those battles are not about clearing the map on a timer, those battles are won when you think it's won. Half of the enemy army runs away, therefore, it's done. I am now very skeptical of the term "entry-level wargame". Cause those wargames were ineffective to draw me in even when they talked about events and times that really draw me in.
  2. Episode 453: Black Hawk Down and Zulu

    Come and See is certainly something but it shouldn't be seen as a Soviet take on the war. After all, it was made at the time when people got tired from Socialist Realism and all that jazz. Soviet movies about war are actually much more similar to Enemy at the Gates, I think. Or Zulu. Of course, Enemy at the Gates is explicitly anti-communist (commissaire in the movie says that monogamy exists, therefore, communism is impossible) but the general story is about a poor talented kid who fights for the motherland, beats rich old aristocratic German guy and finds his true love in the process. It may feel more like an adventure movie because the war itself is out of focus, you don't learn much about people outside of the hero's love triangle. At the same time, it may be one of the most important war movies because it codified modern view on the biggest armed conflict in history. Anyway, the point is that typical Soviet movie about war is relatively light-hearted. Even POW camps do not look threatening in those movies. Usually, it's about a diverse band of soldiers who do heroic things, many of them die but the rest remembers so you should too. Like Only Old Men Are Going to Battle which is about young and inexperienced pilots - including a guy from the Caucasus and some girls - replacing older ones. It's tragic but not too tragic, PG-13 tragic.
  3. Episode 453: Black Hawk Down and Zulu

    Oh yes, I've liked the episode and would be glad to see more! An easy target would be Enemy at the Gates as well as 300. And general idea of mythical doctrines. You've touched on it a long time ago with an episode about a magic hill, I think. But it's curious how stereotypes portray warring factions. In EatG good guys are weak masses and in 300 elite guys are good guys, though the hero of both is an elite dude. That's an interesting theme. You can also call Shafer to talk about Enemy at the Gates.
  4. Episode 453: Black Hawk Down and Zulu

    Black Hawk Down is a movie I haven't thought of about for a very long time. I was 14 or 15 when I saw it. Being an edgy Eastern European teen I had little interest in or knowledge of world politics. So naturally, I was cynical and woke, being above the mindless masses who do not realize that evil Americans wage wars for oil. But this movie made me confused about what does it try to say. I vividly remember a scene with some American pilot lying down in the dirt without means to defend. He's surrounded by dozens if not hundreds of Somalian guys. They do not look like soldiers, they're in rags. They shout at soldier but they do not harm him, they want him alive. The soldier is a healthy pretty guy with some cool equipment but he's powerless. Somalians are supposed to be scary but I saw them killed by the dozens by Americans. They're mindless masses, they're Zerg rushing elite American troops. I looked at it and thought: is this supposed to be a Starship Troopers thing? Am I supposed to realize now that those poor malnourished guys are defending themselves in a very benign way from that rich lucky bastard who came to their country for some reason and flies there in powerful machines shooting at them from expensive weapons? Of course, now I realize that the conflict is more complex but the movie did a poor job of explaining what the conflict was about. It jumped right into the action. And it looked like our heroes are piloting Death Stars while Somalians are trying to swarm them in their small heroic X-wings.
  5. Episode 452: After Dark 2018

    It's really weird to see Civ6 getting environmentalism expansion. Because this series is increasingly about celebrating human achievements. Look at those buildings, armies, wonders, techs - how cool is that! There's only a way up from here! Those nukes aren't nice but no big deal, the important thing is that the map is covered with districts full of joyful people. Communists are just people who like big buildings and factories, fascists like bigger guns and more glory. It's all great. It's impossible to imagine any mature representation of climate change problems here. It will all be about human genius inventing a couple of buildings that you have to put near your factories to come clean. And maybe couple wonders that will make cities on the same continent environmentally clean in an instant. Also Grimoire is bad.
  6. I'm a little confused. From what I saw this game from the very beginning was a sandbox, a toybox. There's no real goal apart from get big. It's not like Impression Games citybuilders where there is threat, special conditions, special goal. You can't lose. If you're in trouble you can demolish half of the city and start anew, right? And people on a panel seem to complain about that. New expansion didn't bring meaningful gameplay. It's a weird criticism.
  7. Episode 447: Tactical Management Games

    They didn't say that particular exploit was still there. But I did the same thing with scouts in the first game. It's so obvious so you can't call it exploit. Your scouts run around and can get into the back of any tank. There's an order that gives magical properties to your scout rifle. And here you have magical scout killing tanks. You can't miss that tactic. You could maybe ignore that but there's timer. The game wants you to end battle ASAP.
  8. Episode 448: Valkyria Chronicles 4

    Never thought Rob would be so intolerant to tankophiles. Anyway I am too irritated by the ranking system of the game. It's mitigated by the fact that rank... doesn't mean much. You get less XP and money but does it really affect anything? You'll probably have to play one quick skirmish to compensate for several missions not getting an A and you still might want to do some of those to test your soldiers. Still it's a strange choice, especially if they do it for the 4th game in the series.
  9. It's funny how LoX developers didn't anticipate that what they thought of as grind turned out to be almost necessary sidequest. IIRC clearing out the location from monsters gives you some sort of bonus and you'll do part of it anyway while you do your business in the location. Plus there's always something in the game you could spend money on. You don't have to be a psychology major to know that a lot of people would want to clear out those locations. And I still think that addition of real grind - an infinite ability to fight enemies for stable rewards - would solve this problem just by demonstrating that money and XP is an infinite resource. Even if devs would put ten times as much resources in the game as you need as long as it's obvious that those resources are finite as they are in LoX people would regard them as precious. I am currently playing Avernum and there I'm OK with the lack of grind. I don't know if those roaming monsters respawn but in any case it feels like less of a problem in a semi-open world game. I didn't miss any XP around SIlvar, I'll probably return there later couple of times to check out those locked doors or deliver something, it's not like a leave an "unvolmpleted" location behind.
  10. A little explanation of how it works. In JRPGs as well as some Western blobbers (think Wizardry) the grind is more than just a way to get resources. You usually travel the dungeon solving some sort of puzzle or finding the way to your destination. Maybe there's a save point where you can rest, maybe there's still some space between it and boss. And those monsters do not exhaust. So you need to find a way to fight through them *effecitvely*. You may get some special skills that won't help much in real hard battles but will help with grindning - like healing that is applied after combat, it won't help you to fight the boss but it will make walking around easier. So finding a good place where your kind of party can grind with little danger and big effect is sort of a puzzle and it affects the way your develop your party. Infinity Engine games do not have respawning monsters (unless you count weaklings that interrupt your rest) and you can usually rest after each combat so it has a different philosophy, each combat is self-contained affair. You sometimes have negative effects that force you to use some sort of consumable but that's about it. In later games like Dragon Age Origins/2 they reinforced this by autohealing your party after each fight. Interestingly, Dragon Age Inquisition goes back to Wizardry/Might & Magic model - there's no easy healing in the game and you're supposed to run around for a while and then return to a resting point, and enemies also respawn all the time. So it's more strategic in focus, less tactical. Lords of Xulima looks like Wizardry but in fact you can (and should) kill all the monsters in the area. So it sort of has grind as in there's a lot of combat, but you're also supposed to murder everyone and then you can just walk around solving puzzles. It's just the same as with food, you can theoretically skip clearing out locations but you know it's wrong. Those JRPGs or other games with focus on managing your party between fights are more strategic in that regard, it's your own decision when and how should you do all the optional fighting. In that regard it's not unlike a curb-stomp strategy game where AI is benevolent enough to allow you to just come with whatever army you have. If you're skilled player you'll come at him on minute 10, if you're not so good you'll train a big army and crash him on minute 25 - both players will probably have some fun playing the game on exact same difficulty. Side-quests help with that in Pillars of Eternity 2 but you may be compelled to do them anyway if you're completionist; pause helps more. I like Divinity Original Sin much more as a game. This tactical turn-based combat is great. But I remember that it least in the first game it became much easier by the end. So did PoE1&2. But in PoE1&2 this resulted in me pausing and using consumables less often so that I could get through the fight quickly. I still wasn't really bored. In Divinity OS1 I just struggled through the last act because there were hour-long fights when I felt no danger but was forced to cut through armored regenerating enemies. And I couldn't just rush through it, the pacing of the fight was the same as in first act interesting fights, but there was no pressure or thinking at all. So turn-based system might be more interesting when it works, but eventually it doesn't work and then RTwP works. And as I argue that most people playing RPGs are not really that interested in deep combat - RTwP is a nice compromise.
  11. Well @Kordanor I, for one, had seen your thoughts. The part about the pause affecting the difficulty does work well with an important quality of a good RPG - stretchable difficulty. In almost all RPGs you can already directly affect your difficulty by the time spent. Many modern RPGs even tell you this almost directly placing many quests into "non-story stuff that you only do for resources" tab. So if you get a good understanding of mechanics you can ignore a lot of side activities and go murder special enemies that you can to skip; if you're bad at the game you grind. If you play action game with an insufficient difficulty you get bored, if the difficulty is too high you become frustrated from constant retries. Pause adds to that. By the end of many RPGs they feel trivial because devs don't want you to get stuck if you didn't optimize your characters right. In an RPG like PoE you just use pause less in those later fights and they still have some challenge. I think PoE Path of the Damned difficulty is designed for a player who wants to use everything in the game - pause all the time, use consumables and abilities all the time. In this regard it works well unlike many other similar games.
  12. Episode 447: Tactical Management Games

    There are plenty of those and I was surprised Rowan doesn't know any beyond XCOM Apocalypse. But there were few great ones, if any. First there's that whole UFO series, which tried to reinvent XCOM before Firaxis did it. It was more similar to XCOM2 story-wise and it has nice story ideas. For the first part of the game you only fought mutated humans, then you fought few aliens - some even joined you. Then aliense started terraforming the planet and even stranger mutants appeared. It had a nice weapon variety, research and character progression, air fight was abstracted and you controlled only one of the teams, there were others who helped your cause too. Then there was a lot of stuff like E5. Basically realtime Jagged Alliance.
  13. Episode 447: Tactical Management Games

    As always Rob is right about XCOM2 being schizophrenic. There are so many options for improving bad situation, there's memorial for the fallen - but in reality you should just reload when you lose someone. First encounter with Mimic or that duplicating digital thing will almost certainly cost you whole game if you don't know what's coming. Because you'll have a very good chance of getting sudden death and a whole in your defense, then panic kicks in and everything is on fire. Massive Chalice, for example, was much better as an Iron Man game. Because it knew it's mostly strategy, and the whole bloodline system was about people dying whatever you do, the idea of acceptable losses was central to the experience. It didn't just tease you with an idea of comeback the way XCOM2 does. Maybe it's an inferior game but it feels made for players, not for streamers who already know the game and either spectacularly fail or juggle all the elements to win for the enjoyment of the audience.
  14. Episode 446: Phantom Doctrine

    Elerium is much better investment than ethirium. I've tried Hard West (GOG gave it away some time ago) after listening to the sho and it was meh. Looked like a much simpler XCOM - for the first couple of hours you only have a single fight of 3 people, usually fewer. So it felt simplistic and clunky. Character progression doesn't look interesting, you can assign weapons and magic abilities to them in any order you want so no one has any personality. Metagame gets old fast. Anyway, from your description Phantom Doctrine sounds like it fails thematically. Beyond those random events you've mentioned it's less of a spy game than XCOM 2 it seems. All of your agents can instamelee anyone and shoot with 100% accuracy. I know it happened in Alpha Protocol too - your character could be a murderous killing machine - but at least you had an option of being invisible or rely on gadgets without being so good with weapons. And you had a lot of dialogue and investigation to do. Invisible Inc is more of a cyberpunk industrial espionage story but mechanically it too sounds more like a cold war game. Your agents are themed as Cold War spies and, most importantly, they're not soldiers. Most of them can only fight a weak basic guard only when they attack from behind with a shocker, very few of them are able of murdering anyone. You have dedicated missions on gathering info for future missions and you are never safe - what's more to wish for in a spy game?
  15. Episode 445: Mark Herman's Fort Sumter

    I've only seen the picture and am sad cause it is not fort Boyard.