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Everything posted by ilitarist

  1. The thing about strategy game where there's "be the last man standing" victory condition - this elimination play becomes optimal, no way around it. The game might punish me with internal instability, other players hating me and so on - but there won't be anyone to hate me or to exploit my internal problem if everyone else is dead. An approach like Stellaris helps: there's an end-game crisis and diverse prospering galactic community might be better suited to to handle it but I don't think it quite works. Another issue I always see in historical games (and the episode touches on that) is presenting historical actions of the empire as beneficial to the player and the country even if the game acknowledges them as unethical. Usually it's stuff abstracted as stability or prestige. You have to fight dissent or your prestige and stability go down. Crusader Kings or Old World model of showing you real people helps with both issues. You are never alone in the world and so internal threats might be existential. And various decisions donct just benefit the nation by raising numbers, they benefit specific people.
  2. Interesting thoughts. With obfuscated mechanics it's often a oroblem when the nature of obfuscation is obfuscated, if you know what I mean. AFAIK FTL random outcomes are pure chance. Having an experienced crew or specific upgrade doesn't affect those chances. In a situation where crewman or upgrade can affect the situation you get a special option giving a guaranteed good outcome. I have only seen King of Dragon Pass briefly but I got an impression that there's no way to know what affects what. That's probably the idea: you're supposed to imagine everything affects everythin just like those tribal people probably imagined their rituals and past deeds affected their fate. But from gameplay perspective it's not great and may make the illusion break when you realize the real math behind it all. It you know that the chance that minotaurs come is only based on your diplomacy score or something it's more disappointing than being told about it directly by the game. Crusader Kings 3 is a good approach, I feel. It often tells you something like "you have 89% to succeed in this doplomacy challenge" and you're told if some traits affect that chance. But sometimes you get a decision with hidden chances, like in duels or character interactions: you're supposed to make a guess based on a character background. It's usually clear what is the scope of things that affect the outcome
  3. There's a term "comfort food games"! Someone mentioned Android version and sadly there's only Conquest of Elysium 3.
  4. Three Moves Ahead 535: Deck Builders

    Sal is clearly meant to be a tutorial character with only basic mechanics and clear deck archetypes (your battle deck is either Combo or Bleed, your negotiation deck is either Persuasion or Threaten). Others are much more interesting. Prestige levels work fine... for some time. I've won Prestige 6 as Sal and I don't like that Prestige 7 just turns off character progression system. I haven't even gained most of those bonuses, feels wrong to cut it out. More importantly, there are 6 different Prestige ranks in the game. I like Brawl mode and I've played it once as Sal on Prestige 1. Now Prestige 2 is available to me but after I've beaten the main game on Prestige 6 it's boring and straightforward. And it's the same for every other character. I would probably play Prestige 1 for each to learn their mechanics, but after that I'll have to play 4 more games to get to Prestige 6. Same for their brawl. So I'm probably done with Griftlands cause I'll have to put as much time I've already put into it to play other characters on a suitable difficulty level.
  5. Three Moves Ahead 533: Old World

    It's fine now.
  6. I think they meant a lot of conveniences and technical upgrades you can't live without once you've tried them. Like widescreen and high-resolution support, customizable and generally better UI.
  7. A small and useless pedantic correction: in USSR you mostly left your car outside of your house, in the courtyard, between front door and playground. Garage in the very same courtyard is a Soviet male fantasy, and you need a garage cause the car needs constant maintenance.
  8. Usually, I'm not into wargame episodes. I haven't played any tabletop wargames and in general, this hobby is not popular in Eastern Europe. So I rarely understand any references. Which of course doesn't mean those are bad episodes, just not for me. But this talk going to the roots of the hobby and general ideas was great. Rob & Bruce talks added on top were a great addition too. Looking forward for more episodes like this.
  9. Three Moves Ahead 515: Faction Design

    What a great episode! One thing that irritates me about this trend that you didn't mention is opponent faction differences not playing enough into your strategy. A lot of it transforms into solitaire games. In TWWH2 you probably care that high elves use a lot of archers in combat. But High Elves have a lot of other strategic map game mechanics you might never care about or even notice if you're not playing as them. Like in Civ6 I will never care about any special mechanics of AI, period. From what I saw Diety players don't too. I'll only care about their special unit if I fight them in a specific era. But anyway Rowan and Rob touch on an interesting subject about old-school faction differences. It's similar in Age of Empires 2, Heroes 2-3, and even Europa Universalis 4, I'd say. You look at those factions and think they're palette swaps with some minor differences. With Heroes 3 specifically all the creatures are tiered and in a fair fight, a higher tier melee unit will always lose to a lower tier unit. All the magic is available to all factions. Even more so, starting as a faction doesn't mean you're stuck with it, you can use towns you capture, hire heroes from other factions, and so on. I remember when I was a kid it felt not different enough to me, I wanted to play games like Disciples 2 or StarCraft, and WarCraft 3 where factions had proudly presented their differences. Later I realized that Heroes 3 did something very clever by allowing you to play every faction the same way till you notice their strength and weaknesses. Something that looked like a small thing might blow up big. Everybody knows how unique Necromancers are, but then you look at Inferno and realize they have a building allowing teleporting between Inferno towns. Wizard town has a tier-one ranged unit which makes them perfect for rushing low-level neutrals. Human Knights feel vanilla till you realize that their troops benefit from upgrades the most and thus are perfect for the economic game - even if they don't have anything to help with the economy specifically. So really those troop, buildings, and hero differences are all in "cheaper archers" territory but when you're mastering the systems you realize that those differences emphasize different strategies. Everyone can cast Fireball and Armageddon but Inferno benefits from it the most cause they have units with fire invulnerability, that kind of thing. And I understand why is this kind of faction differentiation is dying out. Most players won't go deeper than I did as a kid, they'd think those differences are superfluous. Heroes 5 and later ones tried to add big important features to factions to differentiate them, even if in reality those features weren't any more important than troop/buildings/hero skills differences in previous games. But it gives players a promise of depth. Endless Legend is the best example of this. Every faction has a flagship feature like they don't declare war ever or only have one city. And those are important but just a part of faction identity. Really all the factions in EL are more similar than TWWH factions. They all have the same buildings, have access to a variety of mechanics even if they have some of their own mechanics added on top. When you play Wood Elves in TWWH you listen to a completely new folk-rock album which might be good or not. In Heroes 3 or EL forest factions release a cover album for the base game mechanics. Know what I mean? Very different factions can play similarly in EL if they ignore their special mechanics and just concentrate on some basic strategies affected by their unit roster and hero skills. Just like TWWH2 EL promises you 8 games for the price of one, but it tricks you by selling 1 good game with 8 playstyles, not 8 games that include a freaking Chaos campaign. In EL playing a new faction feels like mastering systems, in TWWH2 and other modern games it's more like playing a tutorial campaign again, probably for just one time without ever returning. (Really, after Rowan speech I'm starting to suspect I don't like TWWH2 because I've only really played Chaos and Fantasy Joan of Arc campaign, both of which were boring)
  10. Three Moves Ahead 513: 2020 in Review

    Great discussion about all of those smaller tectics/roguelike games. It's true they feel exhausting. And it's funny how you talk about them as "casual". A lot of complex tactics I've played gave me a lot of busywork or trap choices boiling it all down to an easier game that Into the Breach. Say, Disgaea uses a lot of numbers, but it's not a hard game, especially cause it doesn't have ItB forced iron man all the time. Rowan mentioned Final Fantasy X and those games knew how to balance those exhausting all-or-nothing puzzle fights with a relaxing grind. Dao is the goal, not just the way, so in a good JRPG combat is interesting as in what skills your characters use and develop, what items they "steal" or if they can use some other mechanics like eating or taming monsters during the battle. It's never stressful cause you can always grind more. But it turns a trashfight into something more than a nuisance on your way to victory screen with loot and xp.
  11. Three Moves Ahead 511: Wingspan

    I can confirm thay Twilight Struggle is not a great video game adaptation. I spent several hours with it after playing the tutorial and I'm still not quite sure how to play it. Also it's very plain looking. Standard fonts, lots of empty space. Feels like it was developed for phones and for people who already know how to play the game.
  12. Troy did a great job explaining the game this time. Sometimes those reviews sound aimed at people who have already played the game or closely followed it, and with wargames it's often hard to understand what happens from the episode. But this time it was great. Nice listen. I too find it extremely strange that Zachtronics would make something that sounds so generic.
  13. That episode was cool and thought-provoking. I watched both movies for the first time before listening to it. Those movies reminded me why Hollywood doesn't do a lot of slow thoughtful movies about law or journalism. When I watch a movie about badass cop who does what has to be done even if he has to lose his badge I can understand the motivation and morals of the characters. But those movies, while fascinating, feel deeply alien to me. At the moment in my Belarus people are killed on the street and instead of investigating police jails journalists who do investigate the murder. But everybody sees this as something temporary. Meanwhile, a lot of details in this movie seem insane. In Insider early on you learn that tobacco companies never lose a trial even though everybody knows they're in the wrong. Everyone understands that ex-researcher of tobacco company definitely knows some dirt about the company. And this is not a problem in the movie, it's not even regarded as something wrong. Maybe I should understand that this is wrong and judge character behavior accordingly, but I'm not sure what the movie assumes I know or feel. It's much worse in All the President's Men. I'm glad you guys have said that the plot is incomprehensible to you. Insider at least shows you some bad guys, here most of the characters are voices on the phone, most of the film they investigate people you never see. But the real issue for me was understanding moral and law framework everyone operates in. There is a clearly illegal break-in in this movie, but beyond that I don't know what's illegal, what's legal but amoral, what's illegal but everyone knows about it and does nothing, what's illegal but no one dares to prove it. Is campaign fund usage governed by some law? Is "rat-fucking" legal? The lawyer suggests it is but it's hard to believe. I still liked All the President's Men more cause it shows some real investigative journalism. Insider, like the recent The Post is more about presenting trolley problems instead of investigating them. Also Insider is weird to me. Crowe plays an unlikeable guy nicely, as you say. But it seems the movie really wants me to feel for him. And his great tragedy is that he has to leave a huge house he's been living in for years and go live into a slightly smaller house with a huge backyard?.. His daughter has asthma and what, in USA only rich people can get a treatment for it?..
  14. I was delighted to hear Rowan restoring historical accuracy by talking about Wizardry.
  15. Three Moves Ahead 505: Crusader Kings 3

    Yep, it was the same in CK2. Paradox games in general have very limited trade. I think only Stellaris gives you an ability to give something in exchange for other thing. And even there most of the agreements can't be traded. Two thoughts about it that may help: 1) The AI and the way it thinks is pretty open. So you can see that AI thinks, say, "I score this proposal of alliance/marriage -2. +10 cause I like you, -12 cause your army is small, +5 cause we have common rivals, -5 cause you're wrong religion" (not real numbers). Instead of paying for the privilege of alliance you can influence a lot of thing. Have an additional common rival, raise their opinion by throwing money at them, get bigger army etc. Yes, this approach means you spend a lot of time to get a deal instead of seeing what exactly they want. But on the other hand you influence the state of the game by a variety of tools to influence the deal instead of just taking options from the list. 2) See it as an indirect control element. I know that in EU4 many people don't like the fact that in addition to other countries having an opinion on yours, your country has an opinion on others too. If your country doesn't like another one you can't propose an alliance. And you can sometimes even see AI deciding they have to fight you and consciously working to lower their opinion on you so that they can attack with no stability hit. In CK3 it's not as direct but you can clearly see that you aren't actually your character, your character sometimes does things beyond your control. You nudge and influence everything. You create a world where alliance or marriage are created, not just writing a suitable terms of transaction.
  16. Now that players basically expect strategy games to have a long lifespan with a lot of transformations manuals don't seem relevant to me. With Age of Wonders Planetfall or Imperator Rome - both are relatively recent games! - reading a manual today might give me info about the setting, maybe explain developer intention and stuff but even the very basic definitions would all be wrong today.
  17. Love those shows. I've recently watched Troy Director's Cut and I was surprised about how... average it is. All of its subversion feel very much a child of its time. I'd like to see honest by the book recreation of Illiad, maybe Netflix TV show Troy mentioned is better. But here there are no gods and it's all down to earth. The siege is very short and it's really about geopolitics, not a stolen wife. I see everything Troy says about Achilles but I just can't take him seriously. My biggest issue with both Troy and Kingdom of Heaven is those films try to tell us that back then almost all people were just like us and people who seriously talk about faith and honor are either dumb or hypocritical. Kingdom of Heaven is a proud STEM master race, of course he doesn't really believe in holy wars and church in general, and so doesn't Saladin. He's like someone from the future. Same for Achilles, he's an edgy atheist and it's bizzare. I agree that Priam and Achilles dialogue is good but outside of it I don't see the emotions I expect from Achilles. There's little rage in him, he's always a modern bad cop archetype. Subdued emotions. When he fights it's a dance, his style is to concentrate on movements with no emotions. I don't get it.
  18. I've made peace with TW problems with balance between battles and strategic map mostly cause 3K got it right. I was optimistic about Troy cause I thought it would be just like 3K but with characters I knew before that game. But as you've said the combat is extremely confusing. Colors are very hard to read for a person with even light color blindness. Icons show you unit type except they don't; defensive shielded cannon fodder spear units have the same icon as elite striking force with two-handed spears. Shields and armor might be the most important qualities of a unit but you don't see it in icons. You have to mostly rely on the shape of an icon to know if the unit is heavy or light. I liked strategic map better but it has the same problems as all TW games before 3K: I actually win the game in a middle of the campaign, then I have to go around and auto resolve dozens of battles. And those are not curb-stomp battles, I still need to replenish my armies so I'm sitting there waiting for all the Greeks to move. Agent spam is back too. Your peaceful envoys have to spread influence just to get levelups for passive bonuses to resource production. A pair of spies can cripple both defending army and city garrison making it viable to be obliterated by a single army. Most of those battles are not enjoyable to play manually cause sieges are always boring in TW. Especially now that you can't shoot a hole in enemy wall. Another thing I've noticed is that since Rome 2 there's a deep contradiction in game mechanics. Empire added built-in garrisons to every city so that you can't send your hussars capturing towns behind the front line. However Rome 2 severly limited number of available armies. You can send a couple of units alone anymore. Especially in Troy having more than 3 armies means you're in endgame. So those big garrisons are somewhat moot. They only make sense when enemy army is present in the city. Otherwise they exist just to give you an easy autoresolve battle, something that would probably be better represented by attrition.
  19. Three Moves Ahead 501: Othercide

    I like how they start hesitant to discuss first boss mechanics because spoilers and then proceed to discuss the ending "without spelling everything out".
  20. Three Moves Ahead 500: Origins

    Troy Goodfellow, Tom Chick, Bruce Geryk, and Julian Murdoch record the first 3MA episode, 2009.
  21. Three Moves Ahead 500: Origins

    Tom Chick has his own podcast. Plus he has some health issues probably limiting his availability.
  22. Three Moves Ahead Episode 495: Sports

    As a sociologist would say, a crisis doesn't change things, a crisis accelerates things. Interesting to see how "real" sport is eager to share with e-sports.
  23. Rowan speaks the truth. It's fine. It's not great. I too tried Stellaris after this update. People speak about boring endgame but they talk about it as if it's about events and exploration coming to an end. It's not just that. Before you hit midgame and see big alliances and wars you get all the traditions and all the technology. This choice between early traditions (or Civ5 cultural ideas or whatever they are called) is only there to affect early game. By the time you bump into other empires and run out of space to expand you finish them all. And offensive wars are limited by the same resource you use to expand peacefully, so if you conquer you don't expand peacefully, it's hard to combine the two. With technologies it's the same, it's worse than any other 4X: in midgame you only get "+5% to mineral production #6" tech and the like. That midgame comes after 20 hours of play but the game itself says it's midgame, you're supposed to play long after that to bump into an endgame crisis. The economy has something interesting going for it, but all the rest is still boring. Endless Space 2 is mentioned and I'm puzzled why isn't it regarded as a better 4X game. It has an elegant design, it's not bloated with boring nodes like Stellaris. When it has a unique star system you care about it because you don't have 200 other star systems. When you have a choice in planet development it's something interesting and important instead of building housing district #12. ES2 AI doesn't know how to play the game but neither does Stellaris AI. Then again I rant about how ES2 is a much better game yet I don't launch it from time to time to check out if it's good. I come back to Stellaris too. Paradox has me.
  24. Episode 491: Master of Magic

    Wasn't MoO just more popular than MoM thus spawning more successors? Also yeah, there are plenty of great successors. They've mentioned Age of Wonders but it seems like they aren't that found of the series. Both AoW and Heroes do what Troy talks about - through all the fantasy stuff into the mix. Heroes more so before 5, since 5 they are more similar to AoW in world building. Before Heroes 5 every fantasy creature is its own unit. If there's an elf it's a specific unit (elf archer). Since Heroes 5 they have an elf with swords, an elf who casts spells, an elf with a bow and so own, much more similar to AoW. Still, AoW3 has a lot of types of units. Plus there's great commander customization both with stats and appearance. I still agree with Rowan and Sid that they shouldn't have made a separate tactical battle but that brings me to the love for Total War Warhammer. For some reason all those reviewers like it more than AoW3. It's clear they've played AoW3 too. They saw it has real tactical battles while TWWH are pretty straightforward. They saw how you can play the grand campaign without waiting for end turns for hours. Still AoW3 is a footnote in discussions like this and TWWH is one of the most discussed games on 3MA.
  25. Fun episode and an interesting dive into the genre. Usually, when there's talk about microstrategy I think about something like Into the Breach and other turn-based games, but those seem to be different beasts. Also a great guest. His Baldur's Gate epic is worth a watch!