About every six months there’s a little section of my brain that lights up, firing familiar neurons out towards my question centers. “Why,” they thunder, “in the name of the holy keyboard, mouse and monitor trinity hasn’t somebody ripped off Advance Wars yet?” Usually this statement takes fly on twitter and various half-measures are pointed out to me. In the end I forget the whole thing and go back to playing with a piece of string. I’m reminded again, however, by sci-fi Sword of the Stars spin-off and hex-based strategy kickstarter Ground Pounders. The two don’t even really share that much in common – wargames of the six sided variety far pre-date the greatest handheld series of all time. But the surprisingly long alpha demo I just played and trailer after the drop-zone do scratch that same itch.
Despite my meandering thought process, the complexity of Ground Pounders really does put it out of the realms of Advance Wars and very much into the hardcore regions. There’s supply routes to maintain, dice to assign and special cards to consider. After the initial information overload (and I began to vaguely understood what the hell I was doing), enjoyment surfaced rather rapidly. I’m not exactly a strategy buff, but the pure sensation of moving troops around, outflanking and out-thinking even an AI is addictive. The demo was far more massive than I was expecting and an hour slipped away before I’d really noticed.
Battles are played out on a simplistic interface of two sides firing at one another, as seen in the trailer. It’s not going to excite the more octane-addicted among you, but the flavour of the sci-fi universe and my unfamiliarity with the genre kept me interested. In their own way, successful defenses and annihilating strikes were exhilarating, but in a brandy and cigars way rather than a bombastic one. With a bit of patience for rather wordy tutorial, I’d recommend anyone check it out. Then, if it’s your gunpowder-filled jam, chip in.