I'm a big fan of turn-based strategy, a genre that, like so many others, the mainstream game industry no longer supports because of its insistence on aiming for millions of unit sales, which TBS games never achieved. But games like Jagged Alliance 2 and X-COM UFO are, in their own way, among the greatest strategy games ever created.
In a way, Frozen Synapse is doing what Laser Squad Nemesis did: take the basic dynamics of turn-based strategy into an online, head-to-head multiplayer environment. LSN is, unfortunately, no longer extant, but Frozen Synapse is a worthy alternative.
Sillysoft created Lux Delux in its various incarnations, which is an excellent game -- essentially Risk, but doing just about everything you can imagine doing with Risk to improve it for online play.
Castle Vox is a bit different; it's simultaneous movement rather than IgoUgo, with all players planning their moves at once and a turn update occurring when all moves are in. The demo has only three maps, but the full game contains a plethora of them, and as with Lux, you can anticipate many additional maps over time, for no additional fee, and there's both a map editor and an AI editor, so there will undoubtedly be a huge number of user-created scenarios as well.
Provinces have varying economic values, with "continents" (arbitrary groupings of provinces) providing an additional value, similar to the continents of Risk. As with many such conquest games, this produces a strong positive-reinforcement loop -- initial success allows you to build more units, with a steam-roller effect for the countries doing well. Which is one reason that the multiplayer game here is superior to soloplay against AIs; diplomatic combination of smaller powers provides a countervailing dynamic against the winner-takes-all nature of the underlying game.
Interestingly, Castle Vox also adopts an approach I used in the long-defunct game Fantasy War; you can set up a game in either "epic" mode, with turn updates once a day for a daily game fix, or "blitz" mode, with turn updates every few minutes for a quicker, continuous-play game (the terminology is mine rather than theirs). I like this style of game a great deal, although I'd prefer a game with meatier complexity in terms of trade-offs and resources, but it's a surprisingly rare style online, and we can only hope Sillysoft has as much success with it as they have with the Lux games.
Submitted by sebastian sohn on Fri, 06/04/2010 - 03:11.
When you read reviews about wargames that are turn-based, you often see a reference to a WWII wargame, Panzer General, 1994 by SSI. PG Forever is a fan made remake of both Panzer General and the sequel, Allied General with a bonus, all new WWI scenarios. The game plays like an Avalon Hill war board game of the 80's but is simpler because all the bookkeeping is done by the application.
Submitted by Tof Eklund on Wed, 05/26/2010 - 01:14.
Someday, I will write a review without making reference to Laser Squad Nemesis. Someday, but not today. There is, I am sure, a connection between the games of the Gollup brothers (creators of LSN) and the original Space Hulk. More on that after the break.
I’ve been following the saga of teardown.se and their port of the classic 1989 Games Workshop board/miniature game Space Hulk for over a year now (the first version of the game was released in 2008). This isn’t the first Space Hulk-type game: Electonic Arts put out a shooter/strategy hybrid “Space Hulk” in 1993 (with a sequel in 1996), and there’s a multiplayer-only game called Nethulk still in intermittent development. As far as I can tell, the big mistake the folks at teardown.se made was asking for permission.
Submitted by Tof Eklund on Thu, 05/13/2010 - 23:41.
Flotilla is a charming, quick-playing space combat sim by Blendo Games (aka Brandon Chung), the creator of Gravity Bone. It's a member of the small but growing subgenre of strategy games where you plan a turn's action and then watch it unfold in "real time." Like the signature work of the "turn-based real-time" strategy, Laser Squad Nemesis, Flotilla takes the twitch out of the RTS genre, replacing it with careful planning of each unit's movement. Compared to LSN, Flotilla has a simple command system, with most of the complexity coming out of the game's 3d environment.
I'm a fan of strategic-level World War II games, and I've played any number, starting with the old World War II from SPI.
Like Strategic Command: European Theater, Commander - Europe at War uses a hex map, is turn-based, and is limited to the European theater. In general, I tend to think that hex-based wargames are humorous--we adopted hexes for boardgames because they provide a better tessellation of territory than a square grid, but computers are quite capable of calculating true distances trivially, so to my mind, the use of hexes in digital games has always been a technologically unnecessary homage to an earlier non-digital style. (Of course, one might say the same of provinces.)
Roach Toaster has all the hallmarks of amateur design, including occasionally awkward UI issues (no undo? gah...), art that barely qualifies as more than "programmer art," a readme that is notably unhelpful, and so on. Not that we care about this, really, except to point out that most of the amateur-created games we encounter are also, well, you know, basically imitative drivel -- yet another platformer/third-person shooter/take on Space Invaders/my tedious life as an adventure game. (Actually the last sounds interesting... I actually want to see teen angst in IF, if never again in fanfic.)
Remember a few years ago when there was a spate of animated movies featuring bugs? There's a reason for that, actually; it's fairly easy to animate chitonous creatures in 3D, since the body sections are rigid. And it's also fairly easy even for an indie developer to use 3D, if what they're animating are bugs. Which no doubt was one of the reasons Wahoo/NinjaBee chose insects for the heroes of this title. The choice is a fortuitous one, though, since it lends itself to the developers' light humorous touch -- which was very evident in their earlier (and excellent) tycoon game, Outpost Kaloki.
A long time ago, a great war was fought between a few units composed of three to five individuals. Some of these individuals were dragons, liches, vampires, Dragoons, and level 23 Paladins. If the rebel soldiers fought enemies weaker than them, they became evil, EEEVIL, and people would balk at them efficiently liberating towns. Apparently even level 18 Seraphim will buckle under the horrors of warfare, turning into the pixel art equivilant of Coronel Kurtz. So the leader of the rebellion came up with a genuis political tactic; he'd avoid all combat and just ride a fucking griffin around after the real soldiers constrain the flow of enemies, who apparently all march in a straight line to your base. By the way, this game is a classic.
Largely a remake of the much-loved Amiga game Defender of the Crown (later released for just about every platform available in the late 80s, including the NES), Heroes Live Forever updates the game with better graphics, fully digitized music, and a new gameplay element ("tactics" cards that give you special benefits during battles).
In Defender of the Crown, you play one of several great lords in England, attempting to unify the realm under your own rule. Conquering provinces produces tax revenues that you can use to increase the size of your army (but you have only one "army" which follows you, milord, about, and can purchase new units only at your castle, meaning you become vulnerable over time unless you return home frequently). Battles are fought out on screen; and joust and archery minigames can increase your "fame" (which allows you to earn more taxes and move farther distances). Conquering enemy castles requires (expensive) catapults.
Ergon/Logos is a) quick, and b) so cool you must play it at once. If "play" is the right word: It is, when you come down to it, a surreal, poetic hypertext implemented as an action game, if "game" is the word, too.
Hypertext fiction is not intended to be action-driven, of course, which is one reason why this is so weird and original a thing.
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