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Three Moves Ahead Episode 131 – Splendid Little Wars

August 25th, 2011 by Rob Zacny · 7 Comments · Podcast, Three Moves Ahead


Soren Johnson kicks off an extended visit to 3MA by joining Rob, Julian, and Bruce to talk about smaller-scale strategy games, and how they compare to their more traditional cousins. Julian thinks they let developers play to their strengths, while Soren worries about their potential to be ephemeral. Bruce suspects that if great games are ephemeral, that says a lot more about gamers than it does about games. Rob wants to like “big” strategy games more than he does, but likes the more contained experience that smaller games, and board games, increasingly offer. Bruce reveals that his gaming habits are stranger than anyone imagined.

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7 Comments so far ↓

  • Prof. Loewy-Brueller

    Hurrah for Bruce and his peculiarity.

  • Troy Goodfellow

    I was sitting in the airport cheering for him all the way. When I wasn’t yelling at him.

  • Michael A.

    “Is it because the entry level for gaming is young enough that people don’t have a memory…”


  • MikeO

    Great show. I love Soren when he’s on the show….almost every comment he makes on games is interesting and thought provoking (and informed). I think everyone made some good points, though.

    Could not agree more with Bruce when he makes the point that games are often about creating a story, or a narrative. This is very true even in abstract games, such as Go or Chess, but especially so in solitaire games (whether playing Civ against the AI, or playing monster board wargames solitaire, as I did growing up). I really think these single player type games really appeal to the imagination in the players, and allows them to sort of merge into the game.

    As to the question of scale, I like both types of games. I like games like War in the East, but super complex games like EU don’t really appeal to me. I think Soren made the point that in that type of game it’s very difficult to understand the consequences of your play — could not agree more. I think sometime less is more (and yeah, I did say I like WitE!).

  • Ginger Yellow

    A tip for Soren and EU3: start out with a small, focused nation with a clear historical path, so you can get a handle on a subset of the mechanics and work toward a clear goal. Then try it again with a different nation working on different mechanics. I’d recommend Portugal, as you can more or less ignore land combat if you keep Spain on your side, which is pretty easy. That way you can learn about colonialism, trade and if you like naval combat without worrying about manpower, annexation or bad boy.

  • Brad

    I love Defcon too. And Atom Zombie Smasher. And even Plants vs. Zombies.

    Great show though. And I think I agree with Rob(?) that board games have altered my taste in pc strategy games towards tightly designed games with a tiny handful of ideas/mechanics. I’m not always convinced that is a good thing though, I sometimes miss the big sprawling epics.