If you follow me or Rob Zacny or the podcast on Twitter than you’ve probably already seen that we have a Patreon. You can follow the link here for more information, and I’ve embedded the video we’ve done.
So why Patreon?
First, it’s important to keep in mind that 3MA makes no money and was never really designed to. Sure, we did a couple of donation drives over the last six years, but we’re not big enough to attract advertisers and it was, at its birth, more a companion to flourishing writing careers. It was a way to leverage and popularize our reviews and criticism, and expand on things we’d written elsewhere.
Also, for years now, many listeners have asked how they can support us. We have no subscription program, no merchandise, Idle Thumbs helps with mundane costs like hosting. Spreading the word and sending suggestions have really been all we’ve asked or expected. Patreon gives listeners a way to pay for content that they appreciate or value. It is, I think, a Good Thing.
3MA is getting big. Not Serial big, but tens of thousands of downloads every week, steady growth in listeners. It’s bigger than I ever anticipated. And it has to be done well or we risk losing the respect of our audience. But the show takes time – a lot more time than people realize. Many strategy games take forever to play and it’s not like 2009 when there were maybe eight or nine interesting strategy games a year. We can get six games worth playing in a month now.
Rob is a fulltime freelancer, with all the freedom and financial horrors that that job represents. He has never let the podcast drop from the top of his priorities, but paying work is paying work. Patreon funds will allow him to not worry that an extra hour or two fitting a full panel onto a schedule is costing him time better spent pitching another article for food or watching more Hearthstone matches for research.
Michael Hermes, our sound engineer, has gotten very little from us in the years he has done this, even though he makes the podcast a joy to listen to. He’s intimately involved in scheduling, and his technical skills mean that the rest of us can mostly relax on that front. But he is a professional and should be compensated for using his skills.
Patreon funds will also, we hope, give us more flexibility in trying new things with the show. At conventions we can organize meetups. We can think about fitting more multiplayer games into our schedule. We can look at the broader game space and again see Three Moves Ahead as a vigorous innovative game podcast and not just something we keep doing because we love doing it. (Though that’s fine, too!)
This Patreon is about making sure that the people central to making 3MA what it is today can breathe a little easier and the show can start thinking about the show’s future. So click over to the Patreon and support us.
If you’re relatively new to the show or are trying to find a good way to explain to friends what 3MA brings to the table, I’ve put together a list of, what I think, are thirteen of our most interesting shows from the last two years. This is my list – I’m sure Bruce and Rob and Fraser all have very different lists. But I think that these show encapsulate 3MA at its best.
Episode 325: Nobunaga’s Ambition – Sphere of Influence: We just did this show a few weeks ago, and it’s already one of my all-time favorites. I’ve often said that one of my favorite things we do on 3MA is give developers a chance to talk about other people’s games. Ken Levine’s Combat Mission episode (129) is another good example. Nicholas Vining from Gaslamp Games is a funny guy, razor smart and someone who had pointed out on Twitter that he’d be up for a Romance of the Three Kingdoms show. Well, we did Nobunaga instead, but it allowed the three of us to go long and deep into the oddness of Koei games, how even mediocre games have amazing parts and how to make very foreign histories (to the West) more welcoming.
Episode 314: Massive Chalice: Tom Chick is a founding member of 3MA and his generosity in letting me use his forum at Quarter to Three for early promotion of the show was vital when we started. He then left to do his own game podcast, but he’s still someone we rely on at times. David Heron is a friend and developer with equally strong opinions on everything. So listening to this show where the two join Rob in talking about whether there are easy tricks or cheesy tactics in the loveably weird tactical strategy game Massive Chalice demonstrates why we keep these two high in the rolodex.
Episode 296: Sunless Sea: A weird game, but a full panel of Rob, Bruce, Julian and newest regular Fraser Brown tackle this pseudo-roguelike with a Lovecraftian Steampunk aesthetic as well as I think anybody could. I never really fell in love with Sunless Sea, but this episode, I think, helped me understand why it’s a game that I like a great deal, but am not too invested in committing much time to.
Episode 284: Pike and Shot: This is more a vanity show for me, because I got a chance to show off with what I knew about the Thirty Years’ War. But this slow wargame also let me, Bruce and Rob talk about leadership in wargames, the value of good graphics, repetition, value of novelty and so on. This is a game I still play, and I think this chat confirmed in my head that I wasn’t loony for really getting into it.
Episode 312: Historical Accuracy: Man, is Ananda Gupta smart. We’re blessed by the quality of our guests and he really steps up here since this is a topic that comes up again and again on the show in odd way. What does it mean to say a game is “accurate”? What is history for? Are we after outcomes or learning or fancy dress? Plausibility or destiny? So many good questions and having Bruce and Ananda talk about tabletop games in this context and then bring it around to digital games is a great time for everyone. This is a heavy show, and one I’ve listened to more than once.
Episode 299: Early Access: This is a business show, and we don’t do a lot of industry business on 3MA. But since one friend, Soren Johnson, did Early Access, and another friend, Jon Shafer, did not, this episode had to happen eventually. A lot of chat about expectations, beta builds, the process, consumer demands and so on.
Episode 287: Leadership: After the Pike and Shot show, this one had to happen. Who is the general on a battlefield? How do games represent Leadership as a game value, a mechanic and a personal trait. Like many of our theme shows, there is a lot of throwing around of titles and series that not everyone will be familiar with, and sometimes I want to slow everyone down so the audience can catch up. We do need transcripts someday, with annotations…Fraser and Julian bring up so many good points in this show.
Episode 264: Building vs Battle: Another Soren Johnson show, since he was building an economics focused RTS. And he’s joined by another one of the super-geniuses we have on hand, boardgame designer Rob Daviau. The dichotomy we lay out is stark, since few games strategy games are either/or unless they are city-builders at one end or wargames at the other. Still, a handy outline of the differences and design considerations when dealing with the archetypal foundations of the strategy genre.
Episode 292: Advanced Squad Leader: Hearing Bruce and Julian have two ASL podcasters on the show to gush about the board wargame that changed everything was a delight. We don’t have Julian on the show nearly enough anymore, because he is very busy and Gamers With Jobs is his top priority. But he always brings a special kind of joy to the show, and when he and Bruce can just nerd out about boardgames, then it’s amazing to hear.
Episode 282: Final Fantasy Tactics: Michael Hermes doesn’t get enough credit for being a great panelist as well as a great audio engineer. Jenn Cutter doesn’t play many strategy games, but what she knows (and she knows oh so many things) she knows super deeply. So I walk in here as the noob and bounce my experiences off of two people full of love for this classic SRPG. Michael is involved in a lot of our planning chats, and Jenn has been on the show five or six times. I think we need more women on 3MA in general, but if Jenn ever drops fighting games or racing games and takes up Civilization, she will do nicely. Both of these people should be on more often, somehow.
Episode 271: The Last Express: Our World War I August 2014 theme never really got where I wanted it to mostly because there are so few really top notch World War I games. And The Last Express isn’t even a strategy game. This a super fun (and long) show. Our Idle Thumbs colleague Chris Remo is so erudite and the fact that we could look at how Last Express plays with history and time in a literary way showed some of our hidden strengths as podcasters, I think. Great game, and a wonderful, exhausting conversation.
Episode 247: Korsun Pocket: I love Winter of Wargaming. Probably one of the best long term focused things Rob has introduced to the show. Wargames often take far too long to just play in a week, digest and record a show about. This show on the classic Korsun Pocket game from SSG was an early Winter of Wargaming episode and I still think one of the best. Rob hadn’t played the game before, Bruce reviewed it over a decade ago. It’s a deep discussion about why wargames enchant, how they capture history and how interfaces and information have to keep up.
Episode 305: Kim Kanger: I am also very glad that we make time on Three Moves Ahead for Bruce Geryk to his special thing: interviewing boardgame and table wargame designers. I suspect these episodes have limited appeal outside of our own audience, but I don’t care. This episode, I think, is my favorite of these types of shows. Kim Kanger had made games that Bruce was playing for his own wargame project, so it makes sense for him to just record a conversation and say “Here’s a show for you.” This episode has insight into iteration, learning, updates, historical accuracy, the French Colonial collapse in the 1950s and 1960s…very rich and deep show.
So there’s thirteen of my favorites from the last hundred shows or so. If you want to introduce friends to Three Moves Ahead, consider this a crib sheet you can use.
I would appreciate it, of course, if this list pushed you to contribute to the Patreon. Money is always tight, and if I could just buy Rob all the games that PR flacks won’t send him (yes, we get rejected sometimes) then I would. But this money is about keeping 3MA on its current trajectory. Audience is growing rapidly, our ambitions for the show are growing as well, and the games media landscape is shifting under us at breakneck speed.