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Three Moves Ahead Episode 3

March 11th, 2009 by Troy Goodfellow · 17 Comments · Podcast, Three Moves Ahead


This week, host Troy Goodfellow and panelists Tom Chick and Bruce Geryk spend most of their time talking about Empire: Total War, with a lot of armchair game design. Tom challenges the very premise of the Creative Assembly design philosophy, Bruce rejects Tom’s premise and Troy tries to get a word in edgewise. Listen for Tom’s “perfect strategy game”, Bruce’s love of Dominions 3 and Troy’s memories of Dagestan.

Listen to the podcast Here

Troy’s review of Empire: Total War
Tom’s interview with Blair Fraser of Ironclad Studios
Dominions mod forum
Tom discovers Dominions on Usenet

Have a question? Email me at troy DOT goodfellow AT gmail DOT com. And pick Bruce’s homework assignment in the comments.


17 Comments so far ↓

  • Morkilus

    I love all the Dominions talk, and you’re absolutely on about what made the strategy map/tactical battles work in that game and MOO. But weren’t you guys supposed to play Puzzle Quest: Galactrix?

  • Troy

    Sometimes you run out of time. We can squeeze it in next week, maybe.

    Stupid game…

  • Sexpansion Pack

    Did Tom notice the difficulty options for Empire:Total War?

    His ideas on the lack of continuity between tactical and strategic aspects of the game is interesting, but for me the Total War series are very fun despite that disconnect, and in some ways they are great because of it and because there aren’t a lot of games that are willing to shove two completely different shaped genres into the same square box.

  • Sexpansion Pack

    It also occurs to me that tactical games with strategic wrappings are really common – as Bruce said, they give context to what otherwise might be a meaningless parade of tactical battles. Take X-Com, for instance, which is clearly centered around the tactical aspect, and yet the strategic wrapping is really quite deep and important to the game.

    Perhaps the Total War series isn’t all that unique, then, in combining the two genres.

  • SwiftRanger

    Yeah, I think I saw the turnbased campaign with real-time battles combo for the first time in 1997 in Birthright: The Gorgon’s Alliance (it had a rather simplified real-time tactical part though) and that game even added a dungeon crawler option on top of that. :)

  • Michael A.

    Hmm… Centurion, anyone? Actually mentioned on this blog, IIRC. ;-)

  • Nathan

    I disagree about X-COM. Speaking as someone who is currently experiencing it for the first time, I’d say there is equal importance on both the tactical and strategic mode. The tactical mode determines how well you do in a given mission, which for Battleship Assaults, Base Assaults, and the Final Mission, are very important to winning or losing in the grand scale of things, while the medium, small and very small assaults not so much. The strategic mode however, has much more effect on your game. The decisions you make hiring personnel, equipping crafts, when to build a new base, what to research or manufacture literally determine whether you win or lose.

    If you fail one mission, as long as you get someone back to the ship, it’s not that big of a deal. If you build a base in a wrong place/before you are ready to, or fail to adequately patrol a given area of the world, the consequences are much more dire.

    I do agree that you spend more time on the tactical field than you do on the strategic globe, but I’d say that the focus of the game was a 50-50 split between the two. And it works beautifully.

  • Sexpansion Pack


    As a counterpoint, the Total War series is pretty much the same. I imagine people generally spend far more time in the strategic portion of the game, but the tactical battles are the major emphasis.

    (I should add that this has been the case with all of the TW games so far, I haven’t played Empire yet).

  • FhnuZoag

    Total War brought a lot more to the table than just Myth with more units – don’t forget that Shogun was one of the earliest RTS games with a morale based combat model, rather than a pure damage based model.

  • FhnuZoag

    And I’d suggest that in that, it’s actually fairly unique.

  • Jake Mix

    So which Dominions are we supposed to be playing here? 1, 2, or 3?

  • Troy

    Three. Definitely three.

  • Michael A.

    No – Shogun:TW was not one of the earliest RTS games with a morale based combat model. Close Combat had been doing extremely complex morale based combat for years by the time STW turned up.

    Lords of the Realm (Impressions) predates STW by half a decade and pretty much implemented most of the notable features of the TW series + castle building. The morale model in that game was arguably more advanced, I would say, as the happiness of a province directly impacted on the morale of the troops you’d raise (and raising troops would lower happiness). Sadly, the game suffered from one of the same problems as ETW… lousy AI.

  • Destrin

    I couldnt agree less om your brief discussion on the Empire:TW multiplayer campaign. Empire is the first Total War game I bought since Shogun explicitly because of it’s promised multiplayer campaign. I have never understood why so many turn based games have neglected to include multiplayer. For a start the whole parabola argument regarding AI goes away once you have a human opponent to contend with. My biggest complaint with the feature is that they are limiting it to only two players.

    Given a stable save system to split the game times up, I see no reason why you shouldn’t have fully multiplayer Total War at the strategy level, hasn’t Civ IV proved that this model can work?

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  • Hudson

    Just wondering what your thoughts were on how EU3 does combat and CoG (the newest version) does combat, and how they rate together. I am really torn as to which game to sink my money into.

    Crown of Glory just looks so muddled and complex and like I would have no idea what I was doing, but man the battle system looks sweet.

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