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Three Moves Ahead Episode 45 – 2009 Year in Review

December 30th, 2009 by Troy Goodfellow · 13 Comments · Podcast, Three Moves Ahead


Tom and Troy spend the hour looking back at 2009, including insight into how to make a Best of the Year list, why Tom finally joined Facebook and the state of the genre in the last year. Dawn of Discovery, Brutal Legend, Heir to the Throne, UniWar, and even Evony.

Bruce is also there, in body if not spirit, but he finds time to complain about why Uniwar is the worst game ever.

Listen here.
RSS here.
Subscribe on iTunes.

Tom Chick’s RTS Round Up at Crispy Gamer
Tom’s Top Ten Games at Fidgit
Tom’s Year in Graphics at Crispy Gamer
The Flash of Steel Year End Summary
HPS Squad Battles at NWS Online Store


13 Comments so far ↓

  • Quinten

    Not to sound like a viral marketer for Men of War, but I think Bruce should play it. I think the long campaign missions will cause him sleep deprivation, it has the feeling of Combat Mission mixed with Company of Heroes. It allows you to control soldiers on an individual basis, and do things that are ridiculous and tactically viable: like killing enemy artillery crews, and then using their artillery pieces to chip away at a building filled with entrenched infantry, causing them to fly out.
    The one thing Bruce may not like is the fact that the Battle of the Bulge is not in it. It would make a good Tom vs. Bruce game, though, since the multi-player is based on tactical deployment with no base building.

  • Ian Bowes (spelk)

    Enjoyed the podcast folks, welcome back Troy! I think poor Bruce needed a bye week on this one, he sounded knackered.

    Its interesting that Stormrise cropped up again in the review of RTS games of 2009, I think I must be only one in a handful of players who saw its real potential, beneath the Whip Select contrariness and the blatant unfinished bugs hampering the games basic tactics.

    I bought into the art style and the mythos behind the main protagonists, I was also sold on the idea of unit level perspective (also championed by Endwar) and the concept of “Verticality”, where you can take RTS units up into the 3rd dimension as well as into tactical combat inside of buildings and complex three dimensional structures.

    I think Stormrise was a proof of concept that the RTS genre can break out of the “top down and 2d” mantra (a lot of 3d modelled RTS games still use only two dimensions in their tactical gameplay!) – although it failed because it attempted to revolutionise a selection method, that just didn’t quite cut the mustard when unit numbers escalated, and it was thrust onto the world in a semi-completed state where basic attack commands had to be almost micro-managed to get them to work. Unit display was also still in a sort of debug version state, where their visual representation wouldn’t reflect the actual numbers present, confusing matters.

    This bright effervescent teenager of a game, was pushed out the door half dressed, with its makeup scrawled across its face and its hair only half crimped, it had to stand toe to toe with the marketing force of the tanned and toned Halo Wars Beauty Queen! Needless to say it was no contest, and even though the Stormrisers community had information that patches were being developed to address these fundamental problems, SEGA pulled the plug presumably as an exercise in damage limitation.

    As I stand on my soapbox, in the middle of an empty field, I’d like the world to know that I enjoyed my time with Stormrise, despite its confounding misgivings, and I saw what they were trying to do with it, and applaud that alone. Truly alone it seems.

    Troy mentioned Slitherine/History Channel’s Great Battles Medieval as being his worst game of the year, and again I’m at odds with the panel. I thought the game was very presentable, viewing the battles at the unit level wasn’t quite Total War, but getting there. However, for me the game had a great leaning towards a more controllable tactical boardgame, where you controlled square plots of land on the map and your units moved around in these fixed positions. My struggle with the Total War series tactically is that the free flow of 3d units on a 3d map often turns into a less precise scrum. With GBM, you move your units as pieces in a boardgame, like a traditional chit moving wargame. I think for simplicity I prefer that sort of abstraction, but with some showy flavoured graphical content. I’d never thought of the game as having a puzzle game mechanic layered on top of it, but I can see that now. Its scenario’s do play out like a scripted single player campaign. I can also see that if you approach the game as a traditional medieval wargame you might be disappointed. I don’t mind the rather cheesey clips of footage from the History Channel’s programmes, because I usually watch that sort of tat on a regular basis anyway.

    I like Slitherine, because they try to release strategic wargame titles that can appeal to more than just the grognards. They have their simulation software at the heart of those cheesey Deadliest Warrior TV series, where you pit a Spartan against a Ninja. As someone who is entranced by military history, and all the trappings of it, I love that sort of stuff, even if its appealing to the more tacky and corny side of things. I have to applaud them on bringing titles like Conquest Medieval Realms, Great Battles Medieval and Field of Glory to a wider gaming public.

    Now onto Field of Glory, I love it, but I struggle with it. I think its because its using a subset of a miniature tabletop gaming rules, and I’ve never delved into tabletop gaming as such, so I’m in unfamiliar territory here. I play it like a traditional wargame, and I lose constantly. I’m trying to get my head around the unit types and how they interact with each other, but I guess its going to take me some time to come to terms with ruleset. I’m quite ashamed of how bad I am at it to be honest. When all I hear from others is that the AI isn’t up to much. I’ve not managed to get a victory in the starter battle between the Carthaginians and the Romans once! And I have a war elephant at my disposal! I think what they tried to do with the graphics was admirable (they took a load of miniatures, and had a school in Scotland photograph them all from different angles, and then they digitised them), but it doesn’t look convincing on screen. I think they’d have been better off crafting pixel perfect miniature representations, sharp and distinct, so that they were discernable from all zoom levels of the game. Most units are just a nebulous mass of colours. Its a real shame, because with some eye catching sprites, this could have been a real beautiful wargame, as it is, its a bit of an amateur mess visually speaking.

    I’m slowly coming to the conclusion that I’m a roleplayer/action gamer with aspirations to be a strategy gamer, rather than being competent in any strategic arena. Most of the AGEOD/Paradox games just plain overwhelm and flummox me. Even simpler abstractions like Field of Glory are giving me a rough ride. I think I’m more apt to want to experience conflict than to master it! I’d love to be able to use the word ‘grok’ in everyday life, but I can’t see it happening any time soon :)

  • driillSGT

    I watched the videos of Field of Glory, but I was wondering how does it compare with Alexandrian Wars? I have an interest in that game as well.

    I can’t really grok how the gameplay works in Alexandrian Wars by reading the descriptions, it sounds almost like a simultaneous turn-based game ala Dominions.

    Which game would be better for a player that only plays single player?


  • Troy

    Field of Glory is much simpler than Alexandrian Wars.

    Alexandrian Wars is closer to being a simulation of ancient warfare, like the rest of the series. It also has all the little annoyances of the HPS games, but Bruffel has done a great job with it.

    FoG is a miniatures game. Many fewer units on a much smaller board, but also more approachable.

  • Doug from Australia

    Another great podcast guys ! :)
    With Evony, you didn’t mention the one big news item about it – the fact they are suing a blogger from the UK in Sydney Australia.
    Or did you feel that this news item had enough coverage alrady ?.

    Happy New Year.

    PS – As they say in Japan – koohii onegai shimasu which translates as coffee please ! ;)

  • Jim

    I listened in closely, but I didn’t hear what game you guys were playing that deals with the Spanish Civil War (at least outside of the top down hex based game you mentioned). Was there another game?

  • Troy


    Bruce was talking about the HPS Sims Squad Battles series, which released a new Spanish Civil War game this year.

    Tom mentioned that he plays the Spanish Civil War as a learning scenario in Hearts of Iron 3.

  • Angry Gamer

    I gotta ask: was Bruce high and drunk during this cast? He had no worthwhile input, talked about Tiller games he brought up BUT DIDN’T EVEN PLAY then mentioned one game he liked that was IN BETA.

    The funniest part was the goodbye message where all he could muster was

    “Goodbye mfhghdfdhfdh” at the end

    Bruce….little input there buddy!

  • Troy

    Actually, he’d just gotten back from yet another 12 hours of saving people’s lives and showed up because he’s a team player who didn’t want to leave us with only two. Doctoring is hard.

    And he did tell Tom what his iPhone was.

    Bruce is really not the voice of “what’s happening now” on the show – more the voice of design and experience. He has little time for new games, but his insight is always valued.

  • Angry Gamer

    Oh I know but I had to poke fun at him. I used to love the Bruce vs Tom column and THAT needs to be brought back. Maybe a little section here on the blog? ;) NUDGE

  • Troy

    If I had the money, I would absolutely bring back TvB. One of the early intents of TMA was to try to find a way to bring back some of that MP action but our schedules just haven’t allowed it.

    Maybe this year.

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