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Three Moves Ahead Episode 83: RUSE

September 23rd, 2010 by Troy Goodfellow · 18 Comments · Podcast, RTS, Three Moves Ahead, WW2


This week, Rob takes the lead and sings the praises of RUSE, the new WW2 RTS from Ubisoft and Eugen Systems. Troy and Julian push him on the differences between the single and multiplayer components, whether it uses real deception and some rambling bits about World War 2 games in general.

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Rob’s review at Gameshark
Rock Paper Shotgun RUSE discussion


18 Comments so far ↓

  • Jorune

    @Rob – I’m with you. My buddy loves to min/max in Starcraft2, and I told him I can’t obsess on a single game. I so want a non-economy RTS game to play that it sounds like RUSE will do just that. The last game I enjoyed in this way was the original Ground Control. You had x-amount of points to choose an army and away you go.

    Having only played the demo, I was also very interested in what it can teach me about warfare during the WW2 era. I HEARD that battleships off the coast could drop artillery fire, but I didn’t understand how it works. With the demo, I saw it in action. You guys are grognard’s, this is old hat to you. But for me, I wasn’t interested in WW2 until Company of Heroes came out. Most RTS games center on small maps with small battles. Even Supreme Commander, with ‘bigger’ maps and more units to control, still felt like your a-typical RTS map. What I liked in the RUSE demo was that feeling that you DO have multiple fronts because there are so many different zones of combat you need to keep an eye on. The maps are much, for lack of a better word, ‘wider and bigger’ in scope. Something that needs to be seen and played to understand.

    I’m very surprised that Julian is lukewarm to it. I understand that he wanted more control over the actual RUSE’s, but I much prefer how they are implemented in the game (they give you an extra EDGE and no more). But an RTS wargame? How does he NOT love it. I haven’t seen anything like this. My gripe is how he than compares the experience to a boardgame (2 boards in separate rooms with a GM), and feels it only wets the appetite for that. And yet he said of Troy’s review of Civ V “Didn’t even look at score until you tweeted. I just feel your judging based on expectations, not on what was delivered.” Could Julian be guilty of that with RUSE? Or maybe he just wanted to get on with Civ V so unconsciously found a reason to put RUSE aside: “Podcasting about R.U.S.E., but really want to be playing Civ V.” -J.M. tweet

    And Rob has the right idea. Everyone would rather play games they are familiar with, ala Starcraft 2 and Civ 5, instead of playing something new and different, like RUSE. For shame. I am so surprised that over at QT3, a gamers forum, no one is talking about RUSE.


  • Tom Chick

    Nice podcast, guys. I thought Rob did a great job articulating what made Ruse special.

    I was glad to hear a shout-out to the “intermediate state of knowledge” in Ruse, but as an RTS wonk, I want to point out it’s not terribly unique among RTSs. It’s a crucial part of Total Annihilation and the Supreme Commander games (in fact, I’m pretty sure there are units in Supreme Commander that create fake sensor readings). It even plays a part in Starcraft II for the Terrans.

    I have to take issue with what you guys were saying about the underwhelming effects of the Ruse cards (although it sounds like you were referencing another discussion). For an example of how the Ruse cards can shift the game balance, consider whether artillery is overpowered. Which was something I initially thought. Ruse lends itself to a classic turtle strategy, where you invest in longer range artillery to destroy the other guy’s base from behind a screen of anti-tank and AA units. It seems foolproof!

    But all you have to do to counter that is spend the occasional point camouflaging your base so artillery can’t shell it. Suddenly, the other guy’s investment in artillery and defenses is effectively invalidated. The cost to the player using the camo ruse? Zero. Because ruse cards aren’t a part of the same resources that he used to buy his artillery.

    There’s a lot of clever stuff like this in Ruse, but it’s not readily apparent. And much of it has to do with the Ruse cards.

  • frags

    I want to buy this game, but no one I know has this and being a multiplayer game, I feel it will eventually be forgotten(if it hasn’t already) due to a lack of interest. Great podcast.

  • Jorune

    I think the only issue I had with the podcast, was that it seemed only Rob played it enough to talk it up (helps that he reviewed it ;-) ). Julian admitted he couldn’t get into it and Troy mentioned that he didn’t spend enough time with the game to pass judgement. Almost seems that the podcast needed to wait.

    But as usual the points mentioned were as insightful as ever and Rob’s opening joke had me laughing for awhile. I hope you guys will play it a little more and eventually be in a position to pass judgment.


  • Chris

    Apologies for forgetting people’s names, and I have to admit that I haven’t played R.U.S.E. myself, but around 16 minutes one of the guys said he couldn’t explain it but the game just wasn’t fun.

    This was a little after yet another snide Starcraft interface comment (yes, that’s what this post is about), and I thought it nicely illustrated the baffling thing about the SC / not-SC polarization in the RTS community, to wit: Why is it that some people think “progress” a) must be narrowly defined and b) is always good? Feeling panicked due to poor multitasking might not be fun for some people, but it’s loads of fun for others.

    I understand that the guys on the ‘cast are reviewers giving their own opinions, but the interface point is a good illustration of how this can become myopic. Since we (apparently) don’t like the Starcraft interface (which has perfectly adequate hotkeys and information readouts, given the mechanics of the game) it stands for everything backwards in games today. Whereas in reality, the interface serves the style of the game perfectly well, and the game itself is absolutely compelling. At that point, the unfavorable comparison between it and the R.U.S.E. interface is uninformative and unhelpful.

    If I may say so.

  • Tad

    I had not heard much about this game until I listened to this podcast – I must say I am now interested in checking it out.

    Also, I am kind of curious as to why you guys seemed to not take Patrician IV that seriously. I’ve never played a Patrician game (including this one), but it seems like it could be fun based on the information I’ve found. What am I missing? Elemental and Civ V are not really doing much for me, so I don’t want to make another poor choice in a game purchase!!

    Thank you for such a great, consistent podcast. You guys are great.

  • Troy


    More making light of the fact that I am the only person I know who is playing Patrician IV. It’s actually quite interesting and I gave it a mostly positive review that I will point to if it gets published.

  • Tad

    Thanks, Troy. Glad to know the confusion was on my on my part. I want to spend a bit more time with Civ V, but will probably give it a go.


  • Michael A.

    I played through the demo of RUSE and was really interested in this game. Then I read the reviews of the single player campaign, realized that the demo mission is actually mission 7 of the campaign, and the game went right back to my maybe purchase if on sale.

    I hate multiplayer focus.

  • Panzeh

    Yeah.. but I can’t imagine how RUSE could be a satisfying singleplayer game over the long haul.

  • Michael A.

    I think the same could be said for COH, but I liked that well enough. Actually, (judging from the demo) I think RUSE is probably better suited to that kind of story campaign than COH.

  • Skyrider

    Is it a reasonable to compare the “ruse” element of this game to something like the influence cards of the older railroad game “Rails Across America”? I remember that as an interesting wrinkle to an otherwise been-there-done-that game theme (in its time).

    Have to admit my interest in picking up this game has increased since hearing the podcast and reading some positive reviews.

  • N_Holder

    Great podcast as always. Rob sold me on RUSE by allaying the last few worries I had about it after the demo.

  • belgerog

    Great episode!

    The talk about incomplete info made me thing of an episode I had in Combat Mission BB.

    My enemy had mostly only T-26s and a infantry, and at some point I saw a T-34, *gasp*. I mobilized two of my four PzKpfw III, from important positions, because they are worse than a T-34. I did this only to find out that I had misidentified a T-26 as a T-34, to my huge relief, and shortly after won the game, but having gone through a pretty scary moment.

  • tangoliber

    I find the Ruse cards to be extremely powerful. They surprised me a little bit in that regard.
    In my first 10 or so matches, I felt I had a decent strategy, but it wasn’t really working. I was getting into a lot of draws and minor victories or minor losses. Then I started to apply the RUSE cards correctly. My favorite is the Decoy Airport and Decoy Air Offensive. Those two RUSE cards turned my previously stalemate strategy into a consistent total victory. My opponent usually invests heavily in anti-air to counter planes that don’t even exist, which ends up giving me a strong economic advantage in most every game I play.
    Decoy offensives are also extremely useful for holding off rushes. There have been cases where I was about to move in on my opponent’s base when I suddenly saw a crazy amount of tanks coming right at me. As a result I backed up my army. Later on, after I realized they were decoys, my opponent had build up a proper defense. That window of opportunity I had to invade was over.

  • spelk

    Managed to catch up on the RUSE podcast finally…

    RUSE is a dream game for the strategy gamer who enjoys macromanagement over micromanagement, and its presented in such a stylish and aesthetically pleasing way. I’d been waiting for the game for what seemed like an eternity, finally a wargame, in real time, with a presentation that affords me a schematic view of the conflict, and an easy “slide and drop” way to implement my tactical manoeuvres. This isn’t about frantically setting up control groups, and frantically trying to shuffle what you want where you want. This is about controlling the flow of a conflict with broad strokes, and then watching in fascination as it plays out. With the proviso that you can react to the unexpected and bring in counters if you can interleave their production and transit to the firefight within time.

    The sweetness to the game is the presentation, slick UI and of course the element of mis-information and deception. The sour aftertaste is tied up with the precision of the UI. On the Xbox 360 during the single player campaign (when exact objectives had to be met, within specific time intervals) I found the wooly console controls to be more of an opponent than the actual enemy units firing at me. Switched over to the PC version and these niggles where soothed quite a bit, simply because precision placing can be done much better with mouse control.

    However, the single player experience seems to be a tutorial of sorts to the games mechanics, more than it is a full exploration of the RUSE setup in a full scale combat situation. Sort of like, small bite size puzzles, rather than the full meal in itself.

    Where RUSE should shine is in the multiplayer, and for me I prefer co-operative ‘comp stomps’, working with another player to overcome the overwhelming odds stacked against us by the AI. After many co-operative games, the shine tended to wear off, the multiplayer maps are incredibly similar, most of them being a basin shape with three or four player points dotted around at the box-corners within the bowl. Theres one map that stands out in my mind, the two islands, where bridges act as chokepoints, but for the majority of it, the maps are very bland.

    I found even with the deceptions, your play becomes very automated very soon. Supply grab, a few of your favourite units, but ultimately to cater for the oncoming rock/paper/scissor attacks, you’ll broaden any sense of specialisation to cover all bases. Then its a gentle expansion with defence policy until you win. The RUSE’s themselves, seemed to gravitate towards ones that open up the information. So Spy’s and Intel are the popular ones. With blitzes and defensive ones playing out infrequently. In the general throng of the battle, there didn’t seem to be a lot of finesse to RUSE use. Some where essential, some were nice, but the interplay of them with your troops, never hit a strategic “sweet spot”.

    I’m a big fan of the game, I’ve played a lot of co-operative multiplayer, and I will get back to finish the single player experience when time permits, but right now – I feel as if I’ve seen most of what RUSE has to offer, and even with the experimental units on, there doesn’t seem to be enough variation in the ways the game plays out. I think this is the main reason why my “perfect game”, which RUSE should be on paper, is not on the top of my play list every week. That “fun” factor Julian mentioned, seems to have waned a little.

    If you like War games, and you want to experience something akin to a real time boardgame, with beautiful visuals, then RUSE is for you. But I’m not sure its got a lot of longevity about it.

    One question I’d like to ask, is why in the single player experience do infantry in forests pop the lids off tanks with relative ease and safety, yet in every multplayer game I’ve had the tanks always have a range advantage and they cut the infantry to ribbons before they’ve even unsheathed their bazookas!?

  • Mystique, Calculation and the Hypermodern in R.U.S.E. | The Last Metaphor

    […] of clues and principles, and of not being completely able to trust what you see, is what the Three Moves Ahead podcast referred to as the intermediate state of knowledge.” There is no fog of war as in […]

  • war gamer

    first time I have listened in to a podcast from here, excellent stuff.