Hexa Going, Going, Gon: Greed Corp Out

By Quintin Smith on January 28th, 2011 at 12:44 am.

something Gordon Gecko something something

Rock-solid lightweight strategy title Greed Corp is out now on Steam! Yes. Technically it was out yesterday too, and the day before that, and, er, about another 50 days before that. Actually, this one’s a double-whammy of incompetence because I was informed of this release by an RPS reader who also excitedly told me about a Greed Corp Steam sale which ended about 4 minutes before he sent the email. Anyway. Greed Corp is good, and if you dive across the misty gap that separates the two halves of this post, you’ll find yourself some more info and a goofy PC launch trailer.

The idea that powers Greed Corp is simple and lovely. It’s a turn-based strategy game, with players building factories and sending forth various clunky robot freaks and merciless planes at their enemy and all that jazz, except the world is enormously fragile. Through explosions and mining resources players gradually send each hexagon plummeting downwards, until it eventually cracks and crumbles into nothingness. You spend about as much time facepalming your way through the awful mistakes and situations in a match of Greed Corp as you do using the flimsy terrain to your advantage. It’s neat.

Not to mention the music’s cute, there’s a 10 hour single player campaign and you’ve got plenty of units spread over 4 factions. Take a look!

And while I’m at it, here’s mighty RPS commenter TotalBiscuit doing one of his charming walkthroughs. Ah, TotalBiscuit, you are so dreamy.

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30 Comments »

  1. James G says:

    Any feedback on the quality of the AI? I noticed some somewhat daft behaviour on the part of the computer in totalbiscuit’s video, but that could easily just be to ease the player in.

    The reason I ask, is multi-player scares me. Too few of my real life friends play PC games to make playing with them simple, and if I’m up against strangers I become paranoid.

    • sassy says:

      I’m not that far in but from what I have noticed, A.I isn’t very good. It makes competent decisions but has no real planning ability. It also has no clue how to use destructible terrain to its advantage.

      In one level, it has 3 desperate islands, each island has two opposing sides on it. I figured I would take over my starting island and watch as the A.I destroyed both other islands … sure enough both other islands got reduced to a single hex, which can only support 16 units so I basically couldn’t lost.

    • Bilbo says:

      I’ve played about ten hours of Greed Corp in the last three days. Towards the middle of the campaign, the AI becomes a ruthlessly efficient engine of demise over and over again. Generally a mission will take at least four attempts now. I think part of why the AI seems iffy early in a level is because of the sheer level of destruction involved, but “skilled” and better AI opponents don’t really seem to make mistakes, and are *horrifyingly* efficient at min-maxing the final turns of the game to ensure the win. If you go into the endgame with less than a three-or-four block advantage over the AI, they’ll get you every time.

      In short, the AI is fairly good once you’ve got far enough in. Brutal, in fact.

    • TomSmizzle says:

      Yes, Bilbo’s right. The early campaign levels have the AI set to Beginner mode. In the later chapters where you are facing off against 3 Expert AIs, it gets very difficult indeed.

  2. Xocrates says:

    Man, I agonized all week over whether or not to get this on sale and now you talk about it?

    Anyway, after watching TB’s video it pretty much confirms my expectations of a simple and charming Strategy game. Probably not something I would have bought this week anyway (since I already bought Magicka, and still have some backlog from the Christmas sale) but certainly something to get in the future when there’s less stuff going around.

    I would love a confirmation of the AI capabilities and quality of the campaign though.

    • Bilbo says:

      The campaign’s fairly long (about 24 missions, I think) and by the middle of the campaign I’ve found myself having to retry missions many times before I get them right – the AI steps up its game a lot after the first few missions. Having nerfed AI in the early missions makes sense, as there’s no other way to handle the learning curve – you don’t unlock new units or buildings, for example.

  3. finbikkifin says:

    Relevant spam! Greed Corp actually does make me feel physically sick. It’s not the graphics, it’s the gameplay – there are a few games that do it, for some reason. Geared on the iPhone is another. I have no idea why I react like this – it’s not the graphics or anything. This is nothing at all like Geared, either. Some games just… get to me for no particular reason.

    I played a bit of Greed Corp after after picking it up in the last sale, and it was a pretty neat little game, and I highly recommend it to people who aren’t me and want a bit of light hex-map terrain-destructo-strategy.

  4. Vinraith says:

    “Light weight” is an understatement. It’s not a bad little game, but there’s not much to it. One unit type, a couple of buildings, it’s the TBS equivalent of a game of checkers. It has one good trick (gathering resources destroys map hexes, essentially) but it’s not good for much more than an hour or two of play IMO. Oh, and all four sides are identical, so don’t expect any replay value there.

    That said the one trick it’s got is fairly clever and unique, I wish there were more of a game built around it.

    Oh, and a note of correction. RPS says “various clunky robot freaks and merciless planes,” there is exactly one land unit in the game. Each side has a different paint job, but walkers are walkers and they all behave in exactly the same way. There are aerial transports for these walkers, but no “merciless planes” at all.

    • Arathain says:

      Yeah, Vinraith mirrors my own fairly brief experiences. There really is only one unit. Combat just subtracts the number of units from each side from the other. You can get a cannon that can damage units and land. You can buy a plane that’ll let you move a unit to any square once. That’s it.

      I like elegant concepts that are no more complex than they need to be, I do. I just think this needs to be a touch more complex to sustain interest.

    • Srekel says:

      Yep, about the same impressions that I had. Played a couple of missions and feel like I’ve gotten all that I can out of it.

    • terry says:

      Exactly my thoughts. Not enough there to warrant extended play really.

    • Bilbo says:

      Good design is about what you take away, not what you add, right?

      I’ve really loved my time with this game over the last few days, played for 10 or so hours without really getting tired of it. The purity of the game design on offer is very appealing to me. In fairness though, a few hours of that time is multiplayer – which is where the game really comes into its own. But adding more unit types would be missing the point here – it’s a game of resource management and area control, not of tactical battles.

  5. Sunjumper says:

    Well the AI get’s stronger with each passing mission. And me and my small (greedy) brain startet getting into trouble around level 4. A friend of mine who is obviously equiped with a far better brain said that he thought the game was easy enough right up untill the thrid campaign where things got rather serious.

    Also despite its simplicity the game has a lot of depth to it. Just because it only has three unit types does not mean that it is easily mastered.

    I thought that it was a lot of fun in single player and against human opponents it quickly turns into an incredibly tense duel against your oppnents, the crumbling terrain and your worst enemy hope.

    I should also point out that this is one of the most multi-player friendly games I have ever seen.
    You can play multi player matches against bots, friends over the internet, strangers over the internet and humans with you via hot-seat mode and any possible combination of those. (So you and a friend could sit in front of one computer playing against another friend who sits at the other end of the world in front of his computer and either add a bot or wait for a random player to enter the fray.

  6. cluddles says:

    As Sunjumper says, the AI starts off fairly thick but gets surprisingly devious later on. I found that once I hit the third campaign I was having to think pretty carefully, and I was still getting beaten more often than I’d like to admit.

    Incidentally, there’s a handy key you can press to make the camera zoom out and look at the game top-down. Pretty handy on big maps when there’s multiple computer players moving around all over the place, and I don’t think the game ever bothers to tell you about it either. I’ve got a feeling it was the spacebar, but I could be wrong.

    My biggest issue with the game was the omission of an undo button; there’s no random element to the combat or anything else you could exploit, and it’s incredibly frustrating when you accidentally misclick and botch an otherwise close match.

  7. sassy says:

    I also think that this game is much more complex then people are giving it credit for. The simplicity of the units just makes it more strategic then normal. In many strategy games the victor is the person with the overwhelming army. This game is very different because of the terrain destruction. It quickly becomes about putting mining towers in key spots to either isolate the enemy or destroy the enemy.

    This game has one attribute nobody gives it much credit for. It solves two issues that every strategy game has, the middle section of the game is usually a stalemate and the end is usually just watching one side trample the other. Greed corp doesn’t have either of those problems. An overwhelming army can be brought to it’s knees in a single turn and that is brilliant. That is strategy at it’s most pure form.

    • safetydank says:

      Indeed. The game reminds me of Slay in that a clever turn can make up for a numbers disadvantage.

  8. SirPenguin says:

    I’d go so far as to say this is actually a bad game. As has been mentioned, it’s extremely thin, boasting a single unit and a small variety of buildings. Unlike a game like Risk or Checkers, which makes use of its small amount of tools by introducing a robust and interesting rule set, Greed Corp’s rules are even simpler.

    It’s like they come up with a single neat idea and didn’t really know how to flesh it out. Every battle pretty much ends the same way, with you and the other guy sitting on worthless chunks of land spamming “End Turn” until one you saves up enough money for a flyer. The AI is dumb, even during the 4th (and last) campaign, and multiplayer is empty.

    Oh, and it really bothered me that the game’s one interesting feature – gain money via these resource suckers which also destroy the land – is entirely undermined by the fact that you gain a ton of money per turn for doing absolutely nothing. At the very least they should have drastically increased the money you get per land tile. To put it in perspective, each tile when mined produces +2 gold, whereas money per turn ranges from 15 all the way to 30+. The gatherers did provide a small bonus, but it was short lived.

    I bought it during the Christmas sale, so I don’t feel cheated out of money. But I’d never sink more than $5 into this thing.

    • PodX140 says:

      I have to disagree 100% on that, there are several aspects that I’m not sure you fully grasp.

      The funds you get from harvesters is only 2 per tile, but that is easily enough to fund armies or cannon shells. Also, your gold per turn is only 10, up until around 80% of the map is destroyed, at which point it starts to increase, to make up for the lack of harvestable funds. So you really can’t sit back and watch the funds roll, because its a tiny trickle up until the matches in it’s late game, and not harvesting leads to an unquestionable loss.

      Also, the AI may be dumb for some, but I personally found a few levels to be incredibly difficult (the level where the industrial AI seals itself, allowing for the other two to grab it’s land anyone?), and the difficulty gradually increases, leading for some tight matches. And, honestly, the game is best played against other players, a match can be won at least 10 times in the last few turns of a game, just to realize a key flaw or great idea that the other player figures out.

      The game’s rules and mechanics may be simple, but mastery of them to fully be able to win without question against a rookie is unobtainable, there’s just too many factors to keep track of.

  9. radomaj says:

    I’m in the boat with the people who say that the rules are complex enough. Having said that, I’ve been playing it almost exclusively in multiplayer. I don’t know if the AI is good, but my friends are devious dicks and so the game is a lot of fun. As PodX140 said, “a match can be won at least 10 times in the last few turns of a game”.

  10. Miker says:

    I’ll add to what radomaj and PodX140 say — there really is a bit of complexity to it, especially in multiplayer with friends. The map variety seems decent enough as well, which is a big part of the variety — certain strategies are more viable in certain maps.

  11. RedViv says:

    I still want this as a board game. It’s perfect for it – only one kind of unit, miniature harvesters and cards for your ammo and transport tokens, and little cardboard hexagons that you remove layer per layer each round. Simplicity at its most awesome.

  12. Dominic White says:

    Greed Corp is a board-game, effectively. And it’s a damn fine one. Easily understandable rules, very fast play (matches amongst friends should be best-of-3 at least), lots of potential for clever moves to end up screwing someones entire plan very quickly and generally quite a bit of style.

    The people hating on it seem to have gone in expecting a wildly different experience. Like the factions being anything other than just different unit colours. There seems to have been this huge disconnect between what the game actually is and how it was marketed.

    It’s really good at being what it is, though, and I really can’t praise it highly enough as an argument-starting 4-player board game.

    • safetydank says:

      So true. The gameplay is very euro. But I think it would be too slow and fiddly as a real board game.

    • Dominic White says:

      Yeah, the board-height mechanics would be a bitch to keep track of in physical format, but it works great as a computer game.

    • Warth0g says:

      Oh great, that’s exactly what I’m looking for.. more board games executed well as a computer game. I look forward to giving it a spin as I bought it in the Steam sale…

      On the topic of PC board games, can I recommend Bronze? Definitely plays like a board game but it’s PC only. I haven’t played the full version yet as the demo is exceptionally generous….

    • Arathain says:

      Fair enough. I’m glad the game has fans. Perhaps I should go and give it the time it deserves.

  13. Uglycat says:

    I never made it out of the tutorial as I kept failing it :(

  14. Javier-de-Ass says:

    nice biscuit video

  15. MinisterofDOOM says:

    Lightweight is definitely a generous term. Within a couple of fights you’ll have experienced all it has to offer. Every single match seems to degrade to 1v1 cannon sudden death.

    Simplicity isn’t always bad; in fact if it’s a simple thing done to perfection it can be very good. But Greed Corp ends up feeling incomplete, like you never get out of the training rounds. It needs more depth on every level, from unit options to strategy to actual map height. Play options are so restricted by the mechanics that every battle essentially plays out the same. It loses its appeal in a hurry. Reshaping the maps basically only changes HOW you get down to the 1-Cannon-Apiece stage.

    I actually think the game suffers from OVER balance. Most maps are symmetrical, units are only visually different, it’s all down to straight numbers. It takes away any feel of gamble or alternative strategies. Even if you’re really, really good at the game, the mechanics keep you from doing much with that knowledge and skill.

    Also, the difficulty of obtaining airships seems HUGELY at odds with the idea of a game where your units WILL end up isolated from something they need to get to. I realize they’re a strategic tool, but once again we have the game mechanics getting in the way of the battle actually happening.

  16. lumpy custard says:

    It’s a very well designed game and the minimalism works well. I imagine local multiplayer with a couple of friends would be great fun.

    To address questions about the AI, I’d say most people will find it quite stupid, although this is probably a good design decision as it prevents the game from becoming frustrating. When there are 3-4 players on the board, doing nothing is generally the best move because of the prohibitive cost of taking action. The AI will usually take action however, and seems to be much more likely to go after another AI player. In a 1-on-1 situation the late game often consists of repeating the same moves over and over until someone makes a silly mistake, and thankfully again this is usually the AI.

    I didn’t notice the Expert AI doing any better as I stopped losing entirely by the time I reached the last campaign. Nevertheless, highly recommend this game. Play with friends.