Hark, for the dawn of another wondrous age approaches. Or at least a competent one. Nate and Astrid have both taken a good hard look at Age Of Wonders: Planetfall and have declared: (in different, longer words)'yeah, that's pretty good that is'. It's a 4X game that pans down into small-scale tactical combat, wedding gross imperialist strategy to itty bitty unit bossing through the medium of "buff ladies riding laser dinosaurs".
This is the first Age Of Wonders game since Paradox picked up developers Triumph Studios, an acquisition that goes hand-in-hand with the addition of 'Cassus Bellis' dynamics to diplomacy. I do like that Paradox aren't the only ones to jump on the justified war train, Civilisation 6 hopped aboard too. You can't just invade your enemies, nowadays, you've got to come up with an excuse. It's a fleshing out of diplomacy systems that's grabbed my interest since largely bouncing off Age Of Wonders 3. I've heard from other, nefarious non-treehouse sources that the pace is less ponderous, too, and that was a major sticking point.
It helps that I find sci-fi settings far more appealing. In contrast to the dry and dusty hexes of, Nate found a game brimming with eclectic life:
"With Age Of Wonders: Planetfall (and I’m using its full name to underline the fact that its title doesn’t do any favours in dispelling the ‘generic SF’ vibe), I found the opposite – a glimmering space crystal, including some great story elements, buried under a patina of lowest-common-denominator grime. A lovely bone, full of marrow, specially formulated for growing ogres. Don’t make the mistake I nearly made and disregard it: if you enjoy the tactical and strategic game styles it draws from, you’ll find a game that doesn’t go out of its way to innovate on either front, but one that performs a bloody lovely duet."
Astrid approached Wonders as a relative beginner to 4Xes, assessing it primarily based on how grand an introduction it serves to the genre. It's ultimately a good'un, she says, despite some pitfalls. It's worth bearing in mind she learned more quickly by poking around the campaign for herself than using the tutorial, with its never-ending barrage of tool-tips.