Armageddon Empires: Cults of the Wasteland

Woo! Vic sends up proper sized art. Attractive Armageddon Empires article at last.
Perhaps appropriately in the week when we’ve been talking about Scientology, Cryptic Comet release their Cults Of The Wasteland free mini-add-on for our favourite turn-based strategy game of 2007. That is, the ever-lovin’ child of Vic Davis, Armageddon Empires. I love it. It was Tom Chick’s fourth favourite game of 2007, despite the fact it only has one hot-key. It was strategy-specialist Troy Goodfellow’s favourite independent game of the year. Jim – questioned as he’s bringing me more tea – describes it as “a fun time”. Hell, even Alec loves it, and Alec doesn’t like orgasms.

Now, there’s a load of links for you to explore the game if you don’t know it yet – The Demo’s here – and we still haven’t talked about what’s in the pack. Better do that, perhaps enlivened by a little “describe a game I’ve just played”ism.

Well, Vic talks about it over here. The Cults are basically spanners in the works of the major empires, generally causing trouble. They need to be wiped out before you can win the game. While there were NPCs in the game before, they were static entites. The Cults generally get out there and fuck shit up. The five detailed are designed to be introduced in the first five games you play with the pack, before giving you the ability to select which one you’d want thrown into the mix (or a random one).

I’ve had a quick game to see what I could find. And then did an ultra-quick write-up thingie. Clearly, spoilers for the first cult you’ll face…

Sexy menu screenshot.

Little box at the bottom. It’s got a button. Hurrah for buttons.

I decided playing Mutants, with one of the standard decks. My mandate really was to get out there and cause trouble. Everything was normal – though there was a really worryingly lack of human resources on the map, which caused all sorts of development problems for my forces throughout the game – until my scouts brought back a message.

They immediately attacked. The gits.

Bloody Fist of the Wasteland. I hate that guy!

Pretty much immediately his armies descend upon my scouts, which leaves to swift, brutal engagements…
Doom sayers they say doom.

Sadly for my dino-chaps, the “Submit or die” thing wasn’t really what he meant. He means “Die or… well, die”. They’re annihilated before I can even have a chance to examine their character sheets to see what these power-suited men are like.

There’s several more encounters like this before I get some luck and hit some nomad and refugee camps, giving us some manpower to turn into some troops. Namely one of the best-cards-in-the-deck, the Mauler. This is the first battle I really have a chance to properly play them…
Doom shake the room.

The Doomsayers all have Shock Attack, which means that if they manage to hit someone, they lose their attack if they haven’t struck already. Since most of them appear to be in groups of 4, it’s possible that they could tie down an entire front row if you’re unlucky. I win, narrowly, mainly because I’ve got a leader so I get an initiative bonus, and strike first – also, the Razors are upgraded with a flamethrower which gives them Shock Attack, so I can play their trick on them.

The war continues, with the proper-side Machine Empire causing some trouble too – my stealthed-characters have discoevred they’ve managed to find a Behemoth. They actually lay siege to my capital, but by assassinating their leader and having carefully merged my forces before trying to break the siege, I crush the bots with my big mutant feet. That Mauler really is brutal.

The cult raids are still hitting some of my production camps, one of which leads to the following disturbing discovery…

Doom goes boom.

They can have tac-nukes. The bastards!

I march my main army North, leaving some skeleton defences on my capital. There really has to be some manpower out there somewhere, eh? I figure by clearing some of the NPCs I may be able to find it. When I’m doing so, one of my scouts actually finds the cult’s headquarters, which looks like this.

A doom with a view.

Yeah, I’ve got your number, Mr The Fist. Mark my works.

It turns out I was wrong. He had mine.


One of his advance Doomsayers forces had attacked my base, wiping it out and with it my chances. While I was playing fairly fast-and-loosely, it’s still the first game I’ve lost in a dozen or so, which I suspect shows the pack ups the difficulty of the game a tad. This is welcome. Also, I clearly have to go through another four games so I can unlock the pick-a-cult mode, so I can go back in and BREAK THE FIST’S FINGERS ONE BY ONE.

Get the patch here.


  1. Dinger says:

    Awesome. AE is one of those games you can’t speak ill of, and seeing zero comments just makes me feel wrong. I only wish it had some cheezy combat animation (That is, Military Madness in place of die rolls — a silly semiabstraction in place of an absolute abstraction.). Of course, the artwork on the cards is just awesome. It reminds me of the classic Dune game, only it doesn’t seek to copy anyone’s imagination.

  2. Jockie says:

    Going to try the demo now. RPS certainly have done a good job of promoting this game, i never got around to playing it previously. Thanks for the timely reminder.

  3. darkripper says:

    Guys, I downloaded the demo and.. no tutorial, starting campaign and premade decks? Just an option to start a game or create a deck.
    I hope the full game got some kind of tutorial, because I really can’t stand manuals and I don’t think I’m the only one.

  4. Mitch Small says:

    I really, really want to love this game, but I’m with Darkripper here. It’s tough — tough, I say! — to get into a game without a real tutorial. Maybe if I buy the full version and smash my head against it until fun comes out…

  5. Jockie says:

    It’s confusing at first, but so are most realtime strategy games with complex tech trees- especially when you come to an rts with little experience of the genre. It’s just about learning the mechanics and core ideas of the game and then looking at which units do what, from there your can develop your strategies.

    I briefly skimmed the manual and then jumped in and have enjoyed both my play throughs of the demo so far.

  6. Pidesco says:

    So, Alec does not like orgasms, you say? *jots down for future use in a stalkerish way*

  7. mystic sika says:

    Vic Davis is a genuis, can we clone him and get him spewing out a zillion games and add-ons like this.

  8. Grandstone says:

    There’s a good tutorial just off of their website that explains most of the idiosyncrasies of the interface, but you’ll have to read it all before loading up a game and it’s six parts long. It’s worth the time, though, because the 30-turn demo has me hooked. I just wish the full game wasn’t $30.

  9. Kieron Gillen says:

    There’s a link to Bill Harris’ tutorials over here.

    The way I advise learning Armageddon Empires is to just kind of relax. You play a full game in an hour, so play until you realise something that you’re missing, then restart. Since it’s such a short game, you don’t need to over-stress it.


  10. KingMob says:

    Seconding Kieron’s comments – this game does not have a tutorial and some basic game mechanics are nonintuitive, such as setting up armies.
    Heck, creating collectors, stealth-and-perceiving-stealthed-units, air support, extending supply lines, none of these mechanics are intuitive.
    If you don’t mind losing you can learn by playing successive games and looking things up when you feel frustrated.
    If you do mind losing you’ll have to read the manual and Bill Harris’s tutorials first and you’ll probably lose at first as well.

    Finally there’s a great forum here and the people there are pretty helpful, or you may want to skim entries to find help for your situation.

    Finally I do want to emphasize that all the good press for this game is justified. Once you figure out what you’re doing the game is deep and crunchy, with just enough randomness to make every play interesting. This new update should make the games even more interesting for experienced players that were looking for a new challenge.

  11. Kieron Gillen says:

    KingMob: I don’t think I understand percieving stealthed units even now. I just move recon units near them and pray.


  12. Sören Höglund says:

    “I don’t think I understand percieving stealthed units even now. I just move recon units near them and pray.”

    That’s pretty much all you can do, unless you have a counter-intel favility to upgrade into a sniffer, which negates stealth abilities altogether.

    Just beat my first Cults game, and The Fist really is an *utter* bastard.

  13. alco75 says:

    Sniffer doesn’t negate stealth (unless Vic’s changed it since I last played). ‘Sniffer’ merely provides the equivalent of a unit’s ‘Recce’ ability to facility HQs and outposts. Whenever a hostile stealthed unit moves into a hex with a facility HQ or outpost with the Sniffer ability, that facility gets an Observation check against the stealthed unit. The facility may fail this check leaving the stealthed unit undetected. (If Sniffer were a binary switch in the way you’re talking about, then it wouldn’t have different levels of ability.)

  14. Kieron Gillen says:

    God, I want to play another game, but have to review a rubbish FPS.



  15. Sören Höglund says:

    alco75: I was being unclear. Stealthed units units usually get the amount of die in observation checks against them cut in half, but they don’t have that advantage against a sniffer. They still have a chance of going undetected obviously, but it’s a straight roll of recc vs. stealth level.

  16. Vic Davis says:

    Soren has it correct. The sniffer is a one hex anti covert ops type special ability. I actually play the game like Kieron move and pray. But there is a rule set to the whole thing like Soren was describing based on dice rolls for “observation checks.” One good strategy is to make an army with a single recce capable card and patrol him around your HQ. The AI has a whole series of patrol goals to do this so he can spot your units.

    Just a bit of trivia as well. The Palace of Love aka The Love Cult was modeled on RPS. :)

  17. Segal says:

    On TBS note: have you guys tried Fantasy Wars? It is actually best TBS of the 2007 :)

    Haven’t played Armageddon Empires though, thanks for link.

  18. Kieron Gillen says:

    Vic: Blimey.

    Segal: Played the demo. Quite fun, was my impression.


  19. Kieron Gillen says:

    Managed to play another game. Plague Mother = Totally Monstrous.


  20. Omnibus: March 16th - 22nd | Rock, Paper, Shotgun: Pretentious, moi? says:

    […] Graveyard. Poignant art “game”. Free Armageddon Empires expansion. Just deserts. The Hangover Sick-making indie game. Questionaut. Ace […]

  21. fluffy bunny says:

    Can this game be played in hotseat mode?

    Edit: Nevermind, I see there’s no multiplayer. A pity, I like to play turn based strategy games with a friend of mine, and this one seemed very interesting.

  22. The Greatest Game In the World, Ever (Today) | Rock, Paper, Shotgun: We Will Rise Again says:

    […] (The fact there’s so much fan-service is the reason why I haven’t played the new Smash Bros yet. I just can’t be bothered. And – y’know – I have two more Armageddon Empires cults to defeat.) […]

  23. Hypocee says:

    ‘Tis a pity indeed, but let’s just forestall the usual suggestion/request by noting that the game’s fundamental design uses certain interrupt mechanics which can’t be done reasonably in any form of multiplayer.

    Also, that Mr. Davis’ next game is designed from the ground up for multiplayer!

  24. themanclaw says:

    The first image is totally a warhammer 40k ripoff