Flash of Steel header image 2

Three Moves Ahead Episode 95: End Game Moves

December 16th, 2010 by Troy Goodfellow · 10 Comments · Podcast, Three Moves Ahead


In response to a listener/reader question, Troy and Rob talk about end games that work and end games that don’t. What do we mean by the “end game”? What role do strictly defined victory conditions play in making an end game appealing? Can you avoid the late game drag?

Apologies for the duet show. That time of the year.

Listen here.
RSS here.
Subscribe on iTunes.


10 Comments so far ↓

  • Sarkus

    Interesting discussion as usual. Endgames are tough in strategy games because so many make you play out to the end even when the tide has clearly turned in your direction. The old classic Empire had an AI that would simply offer to surrender at a certain point, which was a clean solution that few strategy games since seem to have considered. Or so it seems when I’m hunting down that last wayward colonist in Civ.

    As for what to do next week, how about a quick revisit to all the strategy games that have expansions or major patches hitting right now? Divine Wind for EU3, the new Distant Worlds expansion, and major patches for both Civ 5 and Elemental are all worth talking about.

  • frags

    Sid Meier’s Colonization. The ultimate ‘Oh Gawd! I’m *bleeped*’ end game.

  • Ian Bowes (spelk)

    On what to do next week… I did an article on the Secret of Operational Wargaming recently, to ask the wargamers over at Wargamer.com what was the conceptual secret to playing these sort of games, the answers I received were very enlightening, and gave me a framework to tackle those sort of games in the future. What I think might be a groovey topic to explore in a similar vein (by the TMA panel and listeners) would be what is the Secret to Grand Strategy Gaming? Perhaps looking at how each member of the panel tackles their gaming on the Grand Strategic scale. The idea being to open the pandora’s box for newer strategy gamers, and to draw them in to the genre.

  • Sam11235

    Good show guys! Thanks for answering my question in a lot more detail than I expected!!

    For a topic suggestion, what about After Action Reports. They are fairly ubiquitous on all strategy forums. Do you read them? (Or written any?)

  • Christopher

    For the Christmas break, I’ve taken up playing SMAC once again, and I do find the end game does drag out somewhat, but this might just be me not really planning out things in advance (I either go for transcendence or diplomatic victory as a builder). My guess is that it’s the narrative elements in the game that make the end game more attractive and interesting, at least in retrospective. I’m thinking particularly of the transcendence sequence.

  • Quinten

    The Dice Tower recently had a top ten list on Board Game Endings. http://www.funagain.com/control/viewblog?id=TDT&fromrd=14605
    It was pretty good, and focused on the experience.

  • Designing victory conditions: lessons from Company of Heroes, Rise of Nations and Sins of a Solar Empire: Diplomacy « Matchsticks for my Eyes

    […] talked about how a strategy game should ideally build to a dramatic climax, a point also made by the most recent episode of Flash of Steel. I gave several examples: Civilization, Emperor of the Fading Suns, and (going by what I’d read) […]

  • Peter S (Mind Elemental)

    Hmm, interesting to hear your thoughts on the topic. One of my key criteria for the endgame is, does it mitigate the active causes of bad endgames: the snowball effect, the mop-up, and micromanagement?

    I actually like the Civ endgame because I’ve had some very tense space races, and because the non-combat victory options mean I don’t have to slaughter every last enemy!

    Emperor of the Fading Suns, on paper, has a fantastic endgame where everyone races for the capital (or, alternately, to run around the map stealing the voting sceptres — think VPs) once someone declares him/herself emperor. Unfortunately I’ve never had the chance to play against another human, and I suspect the AI doesn’t even grasp the victory conditions.

    If we just compare apples to apples and look at the RTS subgenre (the subject of my blog post — see the link immediately above this comment), my single favourite endgame has to be the territorial control model in Company of Heroes. No long stalemates, no slogging matches; just a simple, clean and thematically consistent way to force whoever’s behind to DO SOMETHING, FAST! I also like the diplomacy and Wonder victories in Sins: Diplomacy and RoN, respectively, because they cater to builder playstyles and, again, mean I don’t have to kill ’em all.

    As for what not to do: well, the Total Wars other than Rome suffer terribly from drawn-out endgames — IMHO that’s a big part of why those games have such pronounced Chick Parabolas.

  • Quintenagain

    A very late comment, but it is interesting. Men of War also does the wait for later tech thing RUSE does. Certain weapons are locked off for periods of time, and when you do buy them they are more expensive. It is a pretty good way to stop Tigers from controlling the game at the start, and gives you a reason to buy a Panzer III or Lee tank.

  • So When Are You Finished?

    […] Comments Quintenagain on Three Moves Ahead Episode 95: End Game MovesGunner on Three Moves Ahead Episode 96: Shafer, Patches, Holiday WishesIndignant Desert Birds […]