SpaceChem’s Successor: A Civil War Robot Card Game

This would've made Civil War re-enactments so much more interesting.

We have, in the past, said some very nice things about brainosaurusly brilliant puzzler SpaceChem. For instance, things like “straight up genius.” Also, “brainosaurusly brilliant.” That’s technically the past now. But Zachtronic Industries – booming center of commerce that it/he is – refuses to stick to the straight-and-narrow. Which brings us to Ironclad Tactics, a “real-time, card-based tactics game set in an alternate history Civil War – with steam-powered military robots.” To which I reply by gathering a studio audience, teaching them to cry on command, and then having them give a standing ovation for 45 minutes.

From the sound of things, cards are only part of the equation. The official, sadly vague (for now) line is “a unique gameplay experience, blending the precision of tactics and card games with the spontaneous decision making of a real-time strategy game.” I like pretty much everything about that sentence, but can’t even begin to render a verdict until I see it in action.

A story told by way of a giant in-game graphic novel is also in the cards, as is a “Nemesis” multiplayer mode – which allows you to play as the baddies from the campaign. Beyond that, there’s not much info available at this point. SpaceChem was, however, so consistently brilliant that doubting Zachtronics would be nothing short of an apocalyptic folly, so my hopes are pretty high for this one. Apparently, I’ll be able to see it at PAX, so expect impressions soon-ish. Until then, here’s a trailer taken straight from an alternate history steam-powered Civil-War-era version of YouTube.


  1. Dan Griliopoulos says:

    A bit… Normal for Zachtronics. Unless it’s all about carefully maintaining a head of steam in an ambulatory tank. (Still excited though.)

  2. ChainsawCharlie says:

    Infiminer – Minecraft
    Ironclad Tactics – Scrolls

  3. yandexx says:

    There are some screenshots in the PCGamer article: link to

    The cards look interesting, while the backdrop is kinda ugly, but I’m sure those backgrounds are not final.

    • Zeewolf says:

      Urk, yeah, it doesn’t look very nice.

      Doesn’t really sound like my kind of game, though SpaceChem was so awesome that I’ll have to keep an eye on this regardless.

    • Bluefox says:

      Interesting. Looks like a steampunk Swords & Stars, or Trouble with Robots.

      Could be interesting.

  4. Gothnak says:

    Card Based – Yay
    Strategy – Yay
    Alternate History Civil War with Robots – Yay

    Real Time – Bum… :(

  5. kurtensen says:

    Real-time? :'(

  6. TheTourist314 says:

    Will I be able to get an RPS autograph at PAX?

  7. mrwonko says:

    Sounds a little like Battleforge.

  8. JackShandy says:

    A real-time card game? Like… snap?

  9. Hoaxfish says:

    Trying to play through Spacechem right now…

    I knew I wasn’t smart enough for the game, since I’ve constantly failed all his other “engineering” games… but I bought it (that pyramid logo kept enticing me), and It’s confirming that I’m not smart enough to play his games.

    • Vicho says:

      There is no shame in looking at other people solutions online.
      Most of the time when I got stuck it was more because I was too narrow in my thinking. Watching some of the elegant solutions people have come up with inspires me to start the puzzle fresh and attack from a completely different tack.
      So yeah my advice, get creative! And as we all know half of creating is imitating/stealing ideas.

      • drewski says:

        Yeah, I’ve had a few “…..ooooooh” moments from looking at solutions online.

        I still don’t copy them when I do my solution, but it’s interesting to see what other ideas people have and it makes you change the way you think about your own designs.

  10. Vorrin says:

    Trailer tells me nothing at all about the game, but who cares, I think I’ll buy whatever the creators of Spacechem do, from now ’till infinity.

    • MD says:

      Same here, but not infinitely. One dud and I’ll start thinking before I buy :)

  11. Tuco says:

    I was sold just when “…with robots” came in.

  12. picaroon says:

    How could the headline not incorporate “Robot E. Lee”?

  13. MythArcana says:

    I’m not sure about the real-time part and the redundant cartoon art once again. Gleam kiddies won’t buy it unless it offers cartoons I guess. The devs are pretty clever, so we’ll see where this one ends up…

  14. spectone says:

    Colour me confused.

  15. StAUG says:

    Has anyone beaten the full game of SpaceChem? I’m a bit over halfway, but Jesus H… it’s an unforgiving mistress.

    • GrantNZ says:

      Yep. I found the difficulty comes and goes as you learn new skills. You just need that lightbulb moment to get you through another set of stages. Keep at it!

      But the last level was so so so hard – I had to walk away and come back to the game a few weeks later with fresh inspiration. Gorram it felt good when I finally beat it! :)

    • Twisted says:

      I made it to the final level. Holy shit did I feel good, knowing that I could take it on and with only a couple of hours of solid concentration finally complete the game. But it was on my work computer, and lunchtime was simply not enough to get into the mindset required. And then I switched jobs. And lost my savegames *scream of rage*
      But it’s ok! I got it on Android a couple of weeks ago and have started going through it again. It is SO GOOD.

      I looked at other solutions on youtube just to figure out how in the hell people managed to complete some levels with such fast times/low reactors etc.