Flash of Steel header image 2

Three Moves Ahead Episode 19 — Looking back, looking forward 2009

June 30th, 2009 by Troy Goodfellow · 19 Comments · Podcast, Three Moves Ahead


Troy, Tom and Julian look at the year so far and look ahead to see what games they liked and what they are anticipating. Detours into diving, naval warfare and whether Starcraft 2 will appeal to the masses.

Stay tuned to the end for a look at who chose which race for their Dominions 3 multiplayer match and why. (Troy butchers his race name over and over, too. It’s very stupid.)

Listen here.
RSS here.
Subscribe on iTunes.

Fourmageddon Map for Dominions 3
Tom comments on Starcraft’s single player plans
Bill Abner’s “Blood Bowl” Blog
Troy’s Half Year Round Up


19 Comments so far ↓

  • Morkilus

    Good luck guys, against Bruce. You’re going to need it.

    It’s Lanka, and Vanheim has no giants. But I’m sure you’ll have fun.

  • vendolis

    Agricola won the Game of the Year (“Spiel des Jahres”) special award for complexity last year.

  • bill abner

    Don’t poo poo viral marketers. We get paid well.

  • spelk

    I’ve had a lot of trouble liking Demigod, and it’s all based on the single player aspect of the game. I felt I had to learn the game first, before I attempted any online multiplayer with it. So, I put in some time with the single player, and the game just comes across as a rather quirky war of attrition, that just doesn’t seem to grab me in anyway whatsoever.

    The maps I’ve played on, and there were only a couple I’ve tried, seemed very one dimensional, and too symmetrical. Since your summonable minions follow you around, I couldn’t see any way to hold and fortify, whilst applying an attack at another key area. The Demigod tech tree did provide me with some enjoyment in terms of exploring different approaches, but most of them involved boosting what was already unique about the Demigod, rather than customising each Demigod into different styles of play. I got tired of the charge and capture, wait and defend, chase to the next arbitrary waypoint. There didn’t seem to be many bottlenecks and locational aspects to the games I’ve had. So I’m having a hard time seeing the love for Demigod.

    Normally an RTS with strong RPG characteristics would be on the top of my list of exciting games to play, but with Demigod, after a game or two I’d have had enough. Seemed all too one dimensional to me. I guess perhaps in the framework of an organised-with-friends multiplayer scenario it could be thrilling to see each Demigod play out as part of a team, but as a single player thriller its very shallow and ultimately devoid of excitement. Perhaps I haven’t played the game in the best way to bring out all its glory, but from the taster I’ve had it just didn’t provide the motivational drive for me to play it.

    Trying to come up with three strategy games of the half year was difficult for me, because of the nature of strategy games and their longevity. I spent a good chunk of my gaming time this year exploring strategy titles I’d missed over the years, the likes of Majesty, Rise of Nations, Crusader Kings, Dominions 3, and Advanced War: Tactics. The most recent titles I’ve played, Demigod (which I explain above as leaving me cold) and Empire Total War which even with all its elaborate trappings ultimately failed on the tactical level for me, and I’d much rather play something like Cossacks II because tactical control is so much more manageable. I was disappointed with Halo Wars and Battle Forge, again the RTS was weak sauce on both accounts – in fact I can proclaim that I enjoyed the very “broken” (and now abandoned) Stormrise a lot more than the highly polished but ultimately banal Halo Wars.

    So assembling my three would be something like:

    3rd – Stormrise [1], flawed contrary scifi version of Endwar, with the ability to take the conflict into the third dimension (“Verticality”).

    2nd – Dawn of War II, enjoyed the small scale squad based conflict and the unit differentiation and diversity.

    1st – AI War: Fleet Command [2], indie co-op 2d space exploration and conquest with a devilishly clever AI.

    Looking to the future I’m getting excited about Majesty2 [3], RUSE [4], Order of War [5], ArcMagi [6], War3D Gettysburg [7]

    It would be interesting to hear the panel’s thoughts on the following indie strategy titles released this year:

    Light of Altair [8], Conquest: Medieval Realms [9], Zatikon [10], Tradewinds Odyssey [11]

    Anyway, another good podcast folks, missing Bruce’s input though, apologies for the large number of associated links (11! that must be a record for a comments section post)… now I really must go and “bluy bud blowl”. ;)

    [1] http://www.stormrisers.com/

    [2] http://www.arcengames.com/aiwar_features.php

    [3] http://www.majesty2.com/

    [4] http://ruse.uk.ubi.com/

    [5] http://www.orderofwar.com/

    [6] http://getmagi.com/news.php#news20

    [7] http://www.norbsoftware.com/Gettysburg/

    [8] http://www.saintxi.com/

    [9] http://www.slitherine.com/games/conquest_pc

    [10] http://www.zatikon.com/

    [11] http://www.sandlotgames.com/w4/tradewindsodyssey.aspx

    P.S. waiting with baited breath for the ‘spank the monkey’ jokes to follow based on Troy’s choice of monkey soldiers in the Dominions 3 game. Let the spanking begin!

  • cheeba

    Hmm. I’m getting a “500 – Internal Server Error” when trying to download the podcast.

  • Troy

    Works for me.

  • LintMan

    I’m having a hard time getting excited about Starcraft 2 also – it feels to me their intent is to modernize the original game and add some new units, and that’s about it. I’m sure the hardcore Starcraft multiplayers will love it, but… yawn. Supreme Commander 2 has me more excited.

    The recent preview of Majesty 2 in PC Gamer caught my attention. They described it as almost a reverse Dungeon Keeper I didn’t play the original and haven’t really followed this game before, but that sounds promising.

    As for the lists of best strategy games so far this year, I found DoW2 disappointing – the single player campaign didn’t nearly measure up to the ones in Dark Crusade or Soulstorm.

    I’m a hardcore single-player-only guy, but I have to admit that Demigod is pretty fun (I purchased it before I knew it was essentially MP only). If only they had bothered to make some real single player content, this could easily have been my game of the year so far.

  • Astromarine

    You SHOULD be playing Battleforge, you thingy. I didn’t know there was anyone else on QT3 still playing.

  • Tom Chick

    Urk, Vanheim isn’t the one with the giants! I’m accidentally playing the stupid Vikings. On a map with no water, to boot!

    Also, we forgot to mention Tropico 3.! The folks at Haemimont are finally getting out of Rome to do a banana republic. And they’re even doing it on the Xbox 360.

  • Tom Chick

    Spelk needs regular guest spots on Flash of Steel. Dude, great work. And thanks for bringing up AI War. I keep meaning to take a look at that.

  • cheeba

    Ah, working fine now. Must’ve been some regional thing.

  • Benjamin Ferrari

    I feel like promoting Starcraft 2 here a bit. Partly because I’m pretty excited about it myself, and partly because I just participated in pretty long discussion on rockpapershotgun a few days ago, so I already have all my arguments ready anyway ;)

    There are three modules in any Blizzard RTS: A single player campaign, a multiplayer/skirmish game, and a software platform for real time games.

    In the multiplayer/skirmish sector, we have seen lot of great gameplay ideas in the last decade. Relic for example implemented some very interesting ideas into its games, like a new resource model or squads. But because all these features so fundamentally change how a match is played, I don’t think of them as improvements. It’s more like creating a new subgenre.

    For example, the “strategic point” resource model in Relic’s games means that each player has at any time the information he needs about the state of the game and the condition of his opponent. Scouting is a huge part of Starcraft, but it is almost non existent in Dawn of War 2.

    The same thing can be said about base building, squads, heroes, random calculators etc. These things all work very well in introducing new strategies, but they also take away many cool elements from the genre.

    The only modern versions of the “classic real time strategy game” I know of are Starcraft and the Command & Conquer series. And I personally don’t like the newer C&C games very much.

    So that’s what I like about Starcraft 2: It really seems to be Starcraft, Part 2. If they had done something else it would have felt like the “death” of the classic RTS genre to me.

    Then I’m really excited about the Editor.
    I think many people forget that Starcraft 2 is not only the successor to Starcraft, but also to Warcraft 3. Warcraft 3 was the platform that brought us lots of great scenarios and games, from tower defense games and new multiplayer genres (like DotA) to Diablo style hack&slash adventures and custom RTS campaigns.

    From what I read there are numerous significant improvements in the new editor. I hear it will also feature everything that was possible in W3, like heroes and skills.

    Last but not least, I liked the campaign in Starcraft, and I liked even more what they did in Warcraft 3. W3 has such a diverse campaign and there was a lot of content too. I’m looking forward to see what they come up with in the next game.

  • LintMan

    @Benjamin Ferrari: Are the Warcraft 3 features like leveling up heroes, hero items, and “creeping” going to be in Starcraft 2? I hadn’t gotten that impression at all. Starcraft 2 would have more interest for me if it looked like they were willing to deviate from the original gameplay beyond twiddling with the units.

    How is a game like Supreme Commander not in the “classic RTS” genre? It’s got base building, resource collecting, etc, and even has a heritage dating back to the same time as Starcraft.

    I liked the campaign in Starcraft also, and even more the one in Warcraft 3. I even expect to enjoy the one in Starcraft 2. But to me, it feels like this might as well be “Brood Wars 2” with a graphics overhaul.

  • Benjamin Ferrari


    Heroes & Items are not in the multiplayer/skirmish part of the game, but they are part of the editor and maybe we see some of this stuff in the campaign.

    “How is a game like Supreme Commander not in the “classic RTS” genre?”
    Don’t know, I heared only good things about TA/Supreme Commander, but never played any of them. I just made up the term “classic RTS genre” so I can differenciate Starcraft from games like Dawn of War or World Of Conflict, which play very different. So if Supreme Commander has all that stuff it should be in the list of course.

    ““Brood Wars 2″ with a graphics overhaul.”

    I think I see it the other way around: Imho Relic should have given Dawn of War 2 a different name, because it is not very similar to Dawn of War. I remember Relic had lots of annoying angry people screaming in the beta because the gameplay was so different. They could have avoided that if they had simply chosen a different name for the new game.

    Anyway, that’s just names. I would be exited about Brood War 2 as well ;).

  • legowarrior

    I’m curious, are the Lanka the demon summoning Monkeys or the normal monkeys.
    And I was annoyed that no one in the podcast talk about which Era you were playing in. This really seems to make a huge difference in the game play I found.
    Good luck to everyone.

  • Troy

    Yeah, the demon summoners that have monkey soldiers and demon summoning monkey priests. Lanka have it all.

    Early Ages, so we have magic being more important.

  • John

    I noticed that no one mentioned Tales of Valor on the podcast as (what I would assume to be) a major disappointment. I was really looking forward to it since it was the third installment in my favorite RTS series. I guess the omission was in itself a statement on the state of the game. Your thoughts?

  • Dectilon

    Personally I’m excited about Starcraft 2 BECAUSE it’s more of the same. Perhaps I’m simply nostalgic, but Starcraft 1 is one of the few strategy games I actually played regularly (I finished all the campaigns; I didn’t even do that with Red Alert).

    To me, this is simply a chance to play Starcraft with better graphics, a far superior UI and an even greater focus on the competitive side. Sure, it’s a bit cheap to make the same game twice, but Blizzard is nowhere near the worst offender.

    Will we be able to follow the Dominions-game somewhere? I’m currently reading this LP (http://dom3.servegame.com/wiki/User:Matryx/Guides/Dominions_3_Newbie_Game), originally posted on the Somethingawful forums, but I’m coming towards the end of it and I need more! Seeing as how you guys don’t seem very well-versed with the game, but at the same time highly competitive it seems like it could turn out great, in every respect.

  • Erez

    “L’esprit de l’escalier” is what Tom is looking for at about 16:20. Stairwell, uh, wit? thought?