Every Monday, Rob Zacny … Early Access … a worthy in-progress game.
Last Days of Old Earth [official site] has tons of potential to be a great strategy game, in much the way a story outline has the potential to be a literary masterpiece.
RPS Feature Potential but as yet unrealised
RPS Feature Alphabetical wargame and simulation news
A is for annus mirabilis
2016, you’ve an awful lot to live up to. I’ve been computer wargaming for over three decades now, and I can’t recall a better year than the one just gone. Vietnam ’65, Rule the Waves, Pike & Shot: Campaigns, Decisive Campaigns: Barbarossa… for any grognard partial to bold designs, unusual settings, and absorbing, plausible action, the temptations were many. Read the rest of this entry »
Often when I’m in a pub I’ll regail strangers with great tales of how I’ll one day make my millions by pitching game developers great ideas I’ve stolen from board games I once played in a recroom during the ’90s. It’s a great tragedy that Studio Nyx got there ahead of me with Legions of Steel [official site], which if you’re old enough you might recognise as an old tactical board game about saving humanity from mechanical jerks.
The original rule-set has been recreated for its PC release by the French studio – The game’s out now and you can watch in action below:
Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
I put off playing Slitherine’s hexual take on Games Workshop’s reliably ridiculous sci-fi tabletop game for the longest time. On paper, Warhammer 40,000: Armageddon [official site] sounded like exactly the Epic-scale adaptation I’ve long wanted from an Only War simulator, but I feared that it couldn’t possibly live up to it in practice.
I’d be the King Bee in a spelling tournament, even if RPS’ own word management systems do insist on drawing squiggly red lines under my British “favours” and “honours”. It’s imported from the colonies, you see, the RPS machinery. It drinks coffee, we take tea, my dears. Despite my ability to put the right letters in the right order, certain words always have me reaching for the dictionary.com tab. “Bureaucracy” is a common culprit and thanks to strategy and wargame publisher Slitherine, I’ve learned that “sovereignty” is another.
Chances are, it’s a word I’ll be using quite often in the coming months because fantasy strategy game Sovereignty: Crown of Kings has just entered Early Access and demands attention.
Pike And Shot: Tercio To Salvo [official site] is an intimidating name for an expansion. You might know what a pike is, you almost certainly know what a shot is, but what the devil is a Tercio? An abrupt Italian Count? And what about Salvo? A cut-price branded soothing skin ointment?
Fear not. Even if you don’t know a keil from a kurassier, Pike And Shot is a splendid wargame and will help you to familiarise yourself with the intricacies of European warfare from the Italian Wars through to the early 17th century. Tim Stone applied his considerable knowledge to the original release last year and, judging by the too-few hours I’ve spent with it, I’d highly recommend it as well.
Warhammer 40K Armageddon [official site] is a solid wargame – Panzer Corps with Orks and stonking great Titans – and the new ten-mission campaign will make for a pleasant evening of hex-bothering. The Salamanders Chapter of Space Marines are the focus. They’re the ones who use volcanoes as jacuzzis and gulp down magma as if it were fizzy pop. They consider fire such a central part of their faith and philosophy that many members of the Salamanders’ Promethean Cult don’t consider themselves ready to face the day until they’ve taken a blowtorch to their stubble, and then splashed their face with Nocturne-brand Napalm. Invigorating.
RPS Feature Adama Approved
Moving from the earliest steps toward the stars to space operas and sci-fi dreams that could be responsible for an expanded universe of spin-off novels, Distant Worlds has never seen a horizon that it doesn’t want to touch. It copes with the enormous scale by allowing players to pick and choose their responsibilities. Yes, the game was first released four years ago and, yes, it’s an expensive and acquired taste. But this is the most complete version of one of the most unique, enormous and engrossing strategy games ever made.
Adam: They should have sent a poet. And a playwright, and possibly a novelist or two.
RPS Feature There is only Waaagh!
This is the third Warhammer feature I’ve written in since revisiting Space Hulk a couple of weeks ago. If I’m not careful, I’m going to end up actually going into a Games Workshop and spending all of my Christmas shopping money on a pile of codices. I always liked the books more than the figures, truth be told, and as I was playing through the solidly hexy Warhammer 40K: Armageddon, I had almost as much fun taking trips down memory lane as I did strategically picking my way to victory.
RPS Feature Wheels Of Fury
In what other racing game might your three horsepower engine collapse from over-zealous whipping? Qvadriga is a historical chariot simulator that spins stories of bloody rivalries and daring comebacks alongside its quickly spinning wheels, and that’s why we love it.
Adam: Of course our favourite racing game of the year is turn-based. Of COURSE it is.
Games Workshop have been a bit weird with their licensing since the fall of THQ and the end of Relic’s glorious Warhammer 40,000 games, greenlighting an unexpected variety of games. Sure, this has lead to humdrum oddities like WH40K: Storm of Vengeance, but I can’t imagine they’d have given 40K: Armageddon the go-ahead before either.
It’s a serious-looking turn-based strategy game by the folks behind Panzer Corps, recreating the Second War of Armageddon across a big campaign with hundreds of different units and variants. And it’s out now. Come watch some orks get squished in an hour of livestreamed action.
In a world where it’s increasingly likely that game bundles will soon be given away with Happy Meals, people are often flabbered right down to the gasts when they see the prices over on planet Matrix. The wargaming/strategy publisher doesn’t discount its back catalogue as often as some companies discount their front catalogue, so when the annual holiday sale rolls around, it’s worth paying attention to. Lots of titles are discounted by 50%, including the excellent Unity of Command and its expansions. The Gary Grigsby titles are also on sale, as are many others, listed here.
RPS Feature Looks like a roundhead, plays like a cavalier
The Sixteenth Century equivalent of a Tiger tank was called a tercio. With a crew of between 1000 and 2000 souls, it moved extremely slowly, relying on its porcupine bristle of polearms for defence and its buttresses of constantly circulating arquebusiers and musketeers for attack. To have faced one of these ball-spewing, smoke-wreathed behemoths in battle would have been truly terrifying. To have had one (or three – they usually operated in trios) at your disposal as a general, would have been incredibly empowering. Why aren’t tercios as famous and fondly regarded in PC wargaming circles as the iconic Panzerkampfwagen VI? Search me. Pike and Shot proves that they can be every bit as satisfying to steward as their Sherman-savaging descendants.
RPS Feature Wargame & simulation blather
Growing up in the Seventies my favourite comic was probably Meteor, my favourite story within Meteor, Paddy the Pikeman. Paddy the Pikeman was set just after the English Civil War and told the story of an unemployed soldier who travelled round England righting wrongs and solving problems with the aid of an 18 foot-long polearm. One issue he might use his unwieldy weapon to push a burning barque clear of a gunpowder-stacked jetty, or vault over a swollen stream and save a stranded Leveller. In another he might use it to support a sagging washing line in a brothel, or skewer a mewing moggy stuck up a tree. It was inspirational stuff. I found myself thinking of Paddy yesterday while playing the beta of Slitherine’s new 16th/17th Century TBS Pike & Shot. Read the rest of this entry »
RPS Feature Simualtion & wargame blather
At Battle Academy 2 students study Student, Rag Week is known as StuG Week, and mortarboards are made from actual mortars. I’ve spent a few days sampling the syllabus in Slitherine’s upcoming tactical TBS and, thus far, have found very few reasons to reach for my red biro. If you happen to be searching for a pacy WW2 wargame that won’t weary your mouse hand, offend your eye, or insult your intelligence, then this hex-spurning sequel, due in September, definitely warrants a bookmark. Read the rest of this entry »
I’m expecting to be crushed beneath an avalanche of trailers at any moment as the E3 machine grumbles into action. There will be spectacle, there will be slaughter, there will be Molyneux Santa Claus. There is a trailer in this post but it has very little in common with the noise of E3, being the last of the veteran Close Combat series to utilise the ageing engine that has driven the tactical games for many years now. Gateway To Caen is out now and watching the video plucks at my nostalgia nerves as if they were a cherub’s harp.
RPS Feature Simulation & wargame blather
On May 14th this year, Castello di Pavone, one of Northern Italy’s swankiest strongholds, was invaded by an army of conflict-obsessed game developers. Were the devs in question…
a) Laser-scanning the fortress for a level in the soon-to-be-announced Hidden & Dangerous 3?
b) Laser-scanning the fortress for a level in the soon-to-be-announced Commandos 5?
c) Laser-scanning the fortress for a level in the soon-to-be-announced Bella Cantarella*?
d) Attending Home of Wargamers 2014, a Slitherine Group press conference?
*Flare Path Soft’s debut project – a poison-sprinkled serving-wench sim set during the War of the Holy League.
If you crossed your fingers and answered a, b, or c, this week’s column may prove disappointing. Read the rest of this entry »
The last time I mentioned hex-based tactic ’em up Drums Of War, beta signups had opened. We now return to the heavily interactive and changeable battlefields as the game is released on the Slitherine store. Previous comment thread discussion focused on such noble instruments as the Alphorns of Animosity and Sousaphones of Siege, but twig_reads, an RPS commenter and transcriber of trees, refused to join in the the musical merriment and instead chipped in with, “This looks a bit like Battle For Wesnoth“. twig_reads is correct. The main difference, in my experience, is that open source Wesnoth doesn’t have the same focus on destructible map elements. There are so many campaigns and modules for BoW that it’s impossible to generalise, but Drums of War places a stronger emphasis on skirmishes, often won by timely use of unique abilities.
RPS Feature Chariots of Ire
Turn-based games are the best games. With that fact established, let us acknowledge how unfortunate it is that so many turn-based games focus on a small set of activities, mostly involving military squads, or rapidly expanding kingdoms and galactic federations. Conquest and combat. Qvadriga is different. It is, as far as I know, the first turn-based game about chariot racing in the circuses of the Roman Empire. By breaking a complex and unusual scenario down into a series of tense decisions can Qvadriga find the game at the heart of The Games?
RPS Feature Best laid planets
After several months in cryosleep, I finally landed on Pandora, a world teeming with life and ripe for exploitation. The setting and intro movie stirred memories of Alpha Centuari in the muddy pool of my mind, and while it would be unfair to expect any game to live up to that legacy, I was hoping that Pandora would scratch certain troublesome itches. I spent a few hours with the game just after release but only just found the time to plunge in for an entire weekend. Here’s wot I think.