Flash of Steel header image 2

Three Moves Ahead Episode 115 – Bolshy Balderdash

May 5th, 2011 by Rob Zacny · 19 Comments · Podcast, Three Moves Ahead


Rob is pleasantly surprised by Revolution Under Siege and rounds up Troy Goodfellow and Broken Toys‘ Scott Jennings to talk about it. What is the context for a Russian Revolution game, and how does Revolution Under Siege communicate that? Is the AGE system a good one for this kind of game, and why is it such a turn-off for some people? Most importantly, how the hell does an armored train work? Why wouldn’t you just stay away from the tracks? Seriously guys, what the hell?

Listen here.
RSS here.
Subscribe on iTunes.


19 Comments so far ↓

  • Zardoz

    Ah yes… the armoured train… Really a little bit of steampunk that should pop up in more wargaming contexts. I’m pretty certain there’s a scene in Warren Beatty’s Reds where cavalry leap out from the box cars and ride off chasing the enemy.

  • Clay

    Love the consternation at the armored train. Seems useful only in extremely rare situations.

  • AGD

    Does anyone have a recommendation for an AGEOD starter game? I was turned off by the effort it would have taken to learn the game’s engine when I tried the demo, but the podcast has me interested again. However, it seems to me that based on Rob’s statements, that knowing the AGEOD system really helped to get to the good things the game has to offer.

  • phunkee

    Now this game is a prime example of truly horrible tutorial. Lots of text to read and you’ll need to click “next” arrows instead of the game recognizing when you’re ready. And that disturbing music…argh! So once you get tired of reading (since we want to play the game, not read a bunch of text) it even gets hard to follow the instructions.

    When you have a game like this, with a rather unintuitive UI and lots of things to learn a good tutorial is crucial so players don’t quit after 10-15 minutes. If they could just:

    – Record the instructions and play that instead of the music
    – Highlight important parts of the UI(when the voice actor speaks of the elements and when the player should click on a particular button)
    – Text should be limited to short easy objectives
    – Don’t allow the player to do “illegal” stuff (like open other screens, send units to the wrong area and so on)

    It’s sad to see so many games that doesn’t have a satisfying tutorial. When the a new player comes he wants to play the game and feel like he is mastering some parts rather quickly. There’s no purpose in a game if the player puts it back on the shelf even before he has really experienced it.

  • RW117

    re:AGD: my bet would be to start with Birth of America, the very first game from ageod to learn the basics, on its own a very enjoyable game. frankly my favourite since it contains the essence of the gaming system

  • Jason Lefkowitz

    Ease up on the armored trains, guys! In the historical context they were used in, they make total sense.

    In the era we’re talking about, before motor transport and aviation were ubiquitous, there were four ways to get from one point to to another: on foot, on horse, on water, or on rail. Russia is/was huge, and mostly empty, so traveling from point to point the first two ways was sloooow, and it lacks internal waterways, so the third is impractical. That leaves rails.

    In a situation like that, commerce and supply is going to flow over the rail lines. Which means whoever controls the rail lines controls the economic life of the nation. Which means armored trains start making sense, because a huge mission for anyone who wants to run the country is to keep the rail lines open to their traffic and closed to anyone else’s. Which an armored train can do quite effectively.

    Sure, you could avoid the armored trains by just running away from the rails. But if you do that you concede control of the country’s economic arteries to your opponent. He would be perfectly thrilled if you chose to hide your troops away from the cities and railways and just bivouac somewhere out in the vast empty steppe. It would save him the effort of rounding you all up and locking you in a POW camp somewhere, as you would essentially have built your own POW camp and locked yourselves in.

  • Bruce

    I agree with Jason. All games from this period have armored trains. Russo-Polish War games have them also.

  • Happy Hour – May 6 | RobZacny.com

    […] to figure out what I want to do with myself over these next few, crucial years. This week’s Three Moves Ahead covers Revolution Under Siege, a surprisingly solid wargame about the Russian Civil War. And […]

  • Rob Zacny

    I just find it interesting that armored trains were able to fight effectively and not become sitting ducks due to their size and limited mobility. For me the point of comparison is an immobilized tank, which is often dead meat in a tactical WWII game.

    AGD, I second the recommendation of starting with Birth of America. The core mechanics are in place with that game, and some of the initially baffling higher-level concerns that define Revolution or Rise of Prussia are absent.

    Besides, I’ve always thought the AGE system is at its best with that kind of war: lots of small and medium sized detachments fighting over a broad, loosely-defined front. Revolution Under Siege works because it’s similar in that regard. When the armies get too big, and the theater of operations too constraining, the AGE system kind of loses its reason for being.

  • RW117

    could we maybe have a show on PC games about 30 years war? i am exhausted looking for those games on the web :D

  • spelk

    It’s fortuitous that this episode landed now, I’m in the middle of studying the Russian Civil War, simply because its a era/area I know very little about. I’m intrigued how this conflict spanned the two World Wars and how its effects touched both and shaped the future even past WW2.

    I bought the Osprey Campaign book and have been looking towards playing RUS, taking baby steps with the Ice March scenario – one day soon I hope to get a beginners AAR out on my blog.

    The AGEOD games have always baffled me, even the earlier incarnations, however I spent a good few days delving deep into the American Civil War game (and documented it as an AAR) and I was able to appreciate the beauty that lies within. If you want to learn the very basics of the AGE engine, from a very green rookie’s perspective then have a look at my AAR. I often find writing an AAR is very good at focusing your gaming and having to attempt to explain things to others makes you become familiar with the system so much keener than just playing tutorials again and again and hoping for the best.

    More than ever RUS seems paints a backdrop of the history and allows you to take part in it, but (from the Ice March scenario) you are incredible constrained by historical events in the early turns. The production is quite limited early on. Its like a game infrastructure to appreciate the history, and let you dabble a bit in it. If you have no interest in the specific history period, I can see RUS being incredibly frustrating to both wargamers an Grand strategy gamers.

    Anyway, thanks for a very interesting episode, and I’d love to hear more about impressions of the AGE system across the breadth of history their titles they cover. Also, fingers crossed, I’m hoping Rob or Troy can wangle a preview TMA episode looking at Pride of Nations.

  • Jason Lefkowitz

    @Rob: Sure, an immobilized tank in WW2 was a sitting duck, because the battlefield was full of motorized vehicles with big tank-killing cannons mounted on them that could capitalize on its immobility by scooting around behind it and blasting it.

    An armored train in the late 19th/early 20th century didn’t have that problem, because the only way to get a cannon big enough to blow it away in a position to do that would be to limber it up to a team of horses. And a train is more mobile than horse-drawn artillery, especially when the artillery in question is big and heavy; even though the train can’t determine its direction, it can get up a head of steam and leave the horses in the dust. Same goes if you try to ambush it with your cannon somewhere along the line; the train can go backwards as fast as it goes forwards.

  • Jon Shafer

    Really enjoyed this episode. Show has remained consistently excellent through the ownerships switch. :) My only advice would be to have more straightforward names for the episodes. Some of the recent ones have been a bit hard to parse, and I could imagine that turning away some of the less hardcore followers.


  • Hell-Mikey

    Mr. Shafer:
    Surely you realize that it is the destiny of every strategy game or podcast to cater to its hardcore followers. Those who would alienate the hardcore are cast upon the Tarpeian Rocks, as is right and just.
    I entertain the thought that you are poking Mr. Zacny, in the hopes of a red rage, and the clever invective that would issue therewith. This is acceptable, and does not merit a rocking.

  • Jon Shafer

    Nope, being serious… I find titles like “Paradox design and expansion strategy with Johan Andersson” more informative than “Bolshy Balderdash.” Just my opinion of course. :) Like I said, I really liked the episode and hope for more like it. Mixing in a bit of historical info about the revolution was really interesting.


  • Peter S (Mind Elemental)

    Regarding episode titles–

    Robb, could you please include the full episode title, including subject matter (“Episode XYZ: The Panel Strikes Back”) in the “title” field of the MP3 file? Troy used to do this with the later 3MA episodes (see any one of the 90s). It makes it much easier to keep track of episodes for people like me who use a player that shows the MP3 title, not the file name.


  • Who are you? What do you want? Why are you here?

    […] on Three Moves Ahead Episode 116 – Creeps and TowersPeter S (Mind Elemental) on Three Moves Ahead Episode 115 – Bolshy BalderdashPeter S (Mind Elemental) on Three Moves Ahead Episode 115 – Bolshy […]

  • men watches online

    It is really a nice post, it is always great reading such posts, this post is good in regards of both knowledge as well as information. Very fascinating read, thanks for sharing this post here.