Measuring Up: Supreme Ruler 1936

By Adam Smith on October 23rd, 2013 at 12:00 pm.

Of all the times to be in charge of one of the world’s nations, 1936 has to be one of the worst. Terrible things are afoot, and even the most noble decisions will likely lead to destruction and death. A terrifying time to be a leader in reality but a perfect setting for “a real time geopolitical strategy game” and that’s precisely what Supreme Ruler 1936 is. With single player and multiplayer campaigns covering the build-up to WWII and the conflict itself, it also has a sandbox mode that allows the player to control almost any nation in the world. Developers BattleGoat have turned to Kickstarter, seeking to raise $60,000 John Candy Coins.*

Quite how I’ve managed to get through this much of my life without playing a Supreme Commander game, I’ll never know. The first, as the Kickstarter page informs me, was “a text-based strategy game in 1982 for the Radio Shack TRS-80 computer”. That’s so old school in gaming terms that it might as well be Plato’s Academy. The developers unsurprisingly claim that the new version will be “the pinnacle of the series, featuring more content, greatly improved performance, better AI, upgraded graphics, and many new game elements.” It certainly looks appealing, particularly given the possibility of conflict avoidance. It’s possible to manage a nation’s resources, research and economy in an effort to improve their standing without joining the war, although other leaders may have their own ideas as to whether you should be left to live a life of peace.

The first update gives an insight into tactical combat and the benefit of having a living world behind the battles.

*also known as Canadian Dollars.

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34 Comments »

  1. yusefsmith says:

    I love getting 3 sentences into a game review before realizing that the game doesn’t exist yet. Long live ‘Kickstarter’.

    • Shinan says:

      That is awesome to comprehend, do you have a link to this review?

    • solidsquid says:

      To be fair, unlike a lot of Kickstarters they seem to have a fairly solid pre-alpha already built. They’re not just selling this on a cool idea, but rather a cool idea they’ve done some work on implementing and have a reasonable idea on how to do

      • BattleGoat says:

        The game is currently approaching “beta”. We have been play testing the 1936, 1940 and 1941 campaigns already. The purpose of the Kickstarter is not to get this project to market, but to increase the scope before we do so. Users often ask us for extra content, this allows us to front-load some of the work and give users more direct influence on the direction of the project.

  2. Premium User Badge

    FunnyB says:

    “Quite how I’ve managed to get through this much of my life without playing a Supreme Commander game, I’ll never know.”

    Supreme Ruler you mean? Supreme Commander is a different series?

    • BattleGoat says:

      For the record, we had the name first :)

    • -Spooky- says:

      Fun Fact:
      Total Annihilation / 1997
      Supreme Ruler 2010 / 2005
      Supreme Commander / 2007

      • BattleGoat says:

        You missed one,

        Supreme Ruler for the TRS-80 – 1982

        There’s a picture of it near the bottom of the Kickstarter page.

  3. Premium User Badge

    Anthile says:

    And hey, watch out for that Adolf Hitler. He’s a bad egg.

  4. Soulstrider says:

    Their other games are mediocre at best though they had some potential, I really don’t have much hopes for this. At least I hope they fix the horrible performance.

    • BattleGoat says:

      As of the last update for Supreme Ruler Cold War, the calls for “more game speed” have dried up completely. We seem to have completely resolved that issue. Supreme Ruler 1936 squeezes out slightly higher game speeds and rebalances the speed settings to create a more balance progression between the settings. And, as always, you can pause time to look around and make decisions without being rushed.

  5. CookPassBabtridge says:

    If they change their cash appeals to a version of “Nurse Taylor wants John Candy (dollars)”, I may donate. Pardon the euphemism.

  6. Novotny says:

    I’d like to see how this compares with HOI3.

    • Yemala says:

      Me too. I asked the dev, but was told that the update video explained the differences.

      IMO, it doesn’t really – I’m still wondering what will set this apart from HoI, really.

      • BattleGoat says:

        Our apologies if the first response wasn’t clear enough. I have a hard time comparing the two games as I have played very little HoI. I just could not get into the game. But again, our goal is to expand the choices in grand strategy more than to compete with them directly.

        There are lots of differences on the surface. We don’t model the individual ministers in the same way, our ministers are generic names. We model the individual unit types in more details, where they use approximate name types to what you’ve researched. They use provinces for the portions you can conquer, we have individual hexes. They focus units into containers, we make it more free form with your unit formations.

        Just after HoI came out, I started a thread on our forums discussing the two games, perhaps you’d like to give that a read for more details;

        http://www.bgforums.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=15425&hilit=Hoi3

  7. Dozer says:

    Ooh. Can you play as the Turks. The mid-30s Turks were easily among the best statesmen of the time; they were the only ones wise enough to call Hitler’s bluff when he started throwing his weight around. There was only one instance where a Turkish politician lost his nerve… dammit I’m going to have to read Don Cameron Watt again.

    • BattleGoat says:

      There is no campaign built around the Turks, but they are playable in the Sandbox mode. I played them in a recent studio test game and found them lots of fun until I angered Stalin and the Soviet army came south.

      If you pledge the top Kickstarter level, you could submit details for a Turkish scenario :)

  8. WinTurkey says:

    Isn’t there also a Supreme Ruler set in the cold war and one in the near future (Supreme Ruler 2020)?

    I heard they’re not very good.

    • Notelpats says:

      Yes, those games do exist. There is also a Supreme Ruler 2010.

      It’s not that they’re not good games, they are quite deep and interesting. However, getting things done is difficult and the learning curve is a fickle bitch. I find them quite enjoyable overall.

      However, I probably won’t play this one, I can’t really imagine it being more fun than Hearts of Iron… but hey, you never know.

    • Arona Daal says:

      I have Supreme Ruler 2020 Gold,and everything in this Video looks like a simple reskin of it.

      As to Sp 2020s Quality,it has some nice Ideas but all in all the Execution is flawed.

      Diplomacy usually leads to everyone indiscriminatly allying with everyone else, as the Nations are all pretty much the same.

      Warfare is either a micromanaging Nightmare,or you can watch your stupid Ai-General slowly suiciderush single Units into Enemy Positions again and again.

      The Interface is a freaking Maze.

      Economy is kind of interesting,but you can always make *Tons* of Money by selling Water to a friendly Saudi Arabia.

    • BattleGoat says:

      Supreme Ruler 2010, 2020 and Cold War have all scored above 60% on Metacritic and scored much higher on most strategy gaming sites. Demos are available for each of the released projects.

      We are also working to improve on the learning curve with a new tutorial system and new game features to keep the player rooted in the ongoing story. Lots of new features have been added to make this more than a reskinning. We do however continue to use many of our successful design elements such as the production, economy, combat and espionage models. These areas have had some balance adjustments but function in a very similar fashion.

    • Bootstraps says:

      I bought Supreme Ruler 2020 and its expansion. It was utterly, utterly dreadful. Non-functional AI, terrible game mechanics, bugs galore, and the simulation ticked over at such a painfully slow rate that you could feel yourself physically decomposing while you waited for it. It was in a worse state at release than HOI3, and honestly it didn’t improve much even with all the patches. I didn’t buy the Cold War iteration, so I can’t comment on that.

      I really hate to say all that, knowing that one of the devs is posting, because it can’t be nice having someone say that about a project you worked on. That is my opinion though, and I know it was shared by lots of people, because they said so both on the dev’s forums and elsewhere. Regardless, I really hope they end up nailing this new one, and I’m genuinely rooting for them. Because it’s a game I’d love to play if it turns out well.

      • BattleGoat says:

        I would like to know more about these “bugs” you encountered. Our games are some of the most stable in the industry. SR2020 at it’s final update (ver. 6.8.1) was no exception. The AI was solid, but certainly had room to be improved in SR Cold War, which we did and continue to improve on. Game speed was an issue and remained so at the release of SR Cold War but we have resolved that now with the latest Cold War update and the calls for “more speed” stopped about 6 months ago.

        I do appreciate your opinion on your experience with the game, I’ve been doing this enough years that if someone didn’t like the game, it’s not a big concern, not everyone is going to like it. But the claim of “bugs” I never hesitate to stand up and challenge the comment because I know what issues could not be resolved for past titles and how much we did achieve.

        Thanks for the good wishes! Hope you’ll be curious enough to try the demo.

  9. Zankmam says:

    From what I’ve seen while watching a Let’s Play series, these games aren’t even *that* complicated.

    There are some issues and flaws, though, so I hope that this new game improves on several fronts.

    Personally, though, I’d be more interested in a new 2020 or 2030 (or something similar) as opposed to a WW2 game… But hey, it was bound to happen.

    You guys should probably consider “Supreme Ruler 2110″ or something along those lines. It would allow you more creative freedom in regards to the content and setting; hell, maybe even set the game on more planets than just Earth!

    • BattleGoat says:

      I agree, the level of complexity is quite manageable. Our goal is to provide a game that’s interesting and challenging without requiring spreadsheets of side data. Unless you really want to do that.

      For Supreme Ruler Cold War, one of our modders created a “Modern Day” mod for those who wanted the benefit of the new features with the modern setting. We have already indicated we will support him again if he wants to recreate this in the new engine. Thankfully, many of his modded data files will still be compatible or easily converted.

  10. Syphus says:

    I have tried to play Supreme Ruler 2010, 2020 and Cold War. I have never been able to deal with the myriad of issues they have. I faily to see what this one would bring to the table to make me change from Hearts of Iron 3.

    • BattleGoat says:

      What kind of issues? And our goal isn’t to encourage people to change from HoI, I can’t imagine there a saturation of grand strategy games in the industry. Some people will like one or the other, some will play both.

  11. Monty845 says:

    The Supreme Ruler series has always had such great potential, but as of yet, just hasn’t delivered. There may be updates to the Cold War one that I haven’t played, but up through the last version I had, (and the previous games) the biggest failing was the tactical AI. The only time the AI is effective on the offense is when it catches you by surprise war, and you don’t have organized defenses. Once you get troops into position, it is easy to hold off AI attacks, even when severely outnumbered. The AI usually sends disorganized waves of units after you, and doesn’t mass forces for attacks, or make effective use of combined arms. Usually it ends up being a stream of mixed units that just plow into your defensive position as they arrive, based on travel speed from its start location, and not in a coordinated attack. The AI also makes little to no use of supply elements, which are a critical element in high intensity conflicts.

    The only chance the AI has of winning is if it so out numbers you that its terrible inefficiency in combat is obscured. In fact, its rare to take anything close to even casualties unless you make a mistake and the AI happens to get lucky and nails you for it. For example, an over extended unit getting cut off, running out of supplies and butchered, but the AI misses far more opportunities for that than it exploits.

    I’ll probably end up buying it, and probably even contribute to the kickstarter based on how badly I want them to get it right, and how great a game it will be if they ever do, but I’m prepared to be disappointed for the 4th time.

    • BattleGoat says:

      It can be said of virtually any game that “once you know how it works, it’s easy to win”. The AI does using things like supply and tracks where players can be cut from them and they do try and position forces to do combined arms attacks. The AI does understand and moves to reinforce positions with AA and Artillery will scouting out with recon units.

      I assume you’ve already adjusted your difficulty to “very hard”? If you haven’t, you’re looking at an AI that is specifically made less capable. Even at normal, many new players have a hard time countering AI tactics so we have to take that into consideration as well.

      You should load up the last update if you really want to see what the AI can do. Commenting on an outdated version of the game isn’t really painting the true picture.

      I won’t argue that we could do more with the AI and appreciate that you recognize backing our project would help. Thanks for your support.

  12. GeneralAdrian says:

    I totally loved Supreme Ruler 2020 Global Crisis and Supreme Ruler Cold War. I will most likely back the project this weekend (25 $).

    There is only one thing that I missed in the previous ones, and that is a easy way to decleare war against all the world. Because in Cold War I used the multiplayer, by hosting and playing by myself. in a save (from singelpayer). I started as USA, declearing war against all of the world (it takes somewhere between 10-15 minutes), then I pushed the slow forward and when war was confirmed I saved. Then I reloaded the game as USSR and did the same with them. This I did with France and Israel too (since France conquered China and I as Israel most of middle east). Now this is a fun scenario because I like to sit back and watch how the computers will fight eachother. It all ended up quite badly for France, USSR and Israel (after a massive invasion in Egypt). And it all ended with the US conquering most of the world. I had a backup of this save (just after all the wars decleared) and I started again as Israel, just to have some real hard gaming experience…

    Anyway, this was something I will do in 1936. Maybe playing for awhile and then, relocating the save file over to the multiplayer file. Then making Germany/US/USSR/Japan at war against eachother and the world.

    My wish is a easier way to declear war against nations, like a list you open and can easily note every nation you want to make war against. If you wont make something like that, I will off course enjoy the game, and maybe use another hour to make a fun save file again.