Category Archives: Games

Quick impressions: Victory and Glory: Napoleon

Victory and Glory: Napoleon is a simple, elegant PC strategy game that places players in charge of France during the Napoleonic Wars. It bears a heavy boardgame influence, namely a design philosophy that emphasises clever abstraction over detailed simulation. The … Continue reading

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Classifying the Total War games

Two different emperors prepare to defend their worlds. In Western Europe, circa 400 AD, a Roman emperor inspects his comitatenses and scholae, the successors to Caesar’s legions. A universe away, a different emperor raises his magic hammer, and beckons his … Continue reading

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A plethora of PC strategy game companies

Strategy gaming is vibrant and multi-faceted; that’s my take-away from mapping out selected strategy game publishers, developers, and games. Here are three observations: The first is what a broad tent the chart represents. Some of these publishers (Paradox, Slitherine) have … Continue reading

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Westerado: a short, sweet journey into the Wild West

Short, clever homage to Westerns. Westerado: Double Barrelled uses a simple premise — find the gunman who murdered your family — to take the player on a romp through the genre’s tropes: bandits, six-shooters, a crooked tycoon, a cowardly sheriff, … Continue reading

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Stellaris, one year on

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Stellaris

Amidst the brightly shining stars, the Mushroom Domain’s legacy shall endure. The Mushrooms were not the galaxy’s most populous species. They did not control its largest empire. Yet they were its most influential. It was a Mushroom-created federation that brought … Continue reading

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In search of Cathay: exploring historical strategy games set in China

This post discusses some of the notable games that explore the history of China – a fascinating subject crying out for more attention. Romance of the Three Kingdoms Any discussion of strategy games set in China must begin with KOEI’s … Continue reading

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My gaming year: 2016

Hello, and welcome to my gaming wrap for 2016. For me, the year was defined by five new PC strategy games — Stellaris, XCOM 2, Total War: Warhammer, Civilization VI, and Hearts of Iron IV, each of which I really … Continue reading

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EB Expo 2016: Dishonored 2, Gravity Rush 2, More Lego

I attended the EB Expo using a media pass supplied by the organisers. This year’s EB Expo continued the event’s shift away from gaming-specific content towards being a general pop-culture fair. It included the usual big-name video gaming exhibitors – … Continue reading

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A world at arms: thoughts on Hearts of Iron IV

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Hearts of Iron

Vive l’Entente! My first “proper” game of Hearts of Iron IV was a journey from desperation, through grind, to eventual triumph. Playing as Britain, World War II began a year early, in 1938, when I backed Czechoslovakia at Munich. This … Continue reading

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Shield of civilisation: Thoughts on Total Warhammer

This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series Total War: Warhammer

I am the shield that guards the realms of man. When the Vampire Counts marched west into the fragmented, bickering human principalities, it was the recently crowned Emperor, Karl Franz, who came to the rescue. And when the battle hung … Continue reading

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Space Opera, Act I: Thoughts on Stellaris

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Stellaris

Humanity triumphant! My first game of Stellaris was a short one, as my fledgling humans were ground to dust by a nearby computer player. My second was more successful. Under the banner of the Empire of the Shimmering Stars, humanity … Continue reading

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Arcadian Atlas Q&A, with Taylor Bair

Update: Arcadian Atlas‘ Kickstarter campaign is now live and can be accessed here. Arcadian Atlas is an upcoming indie tactical RPG inspired by two of the greats – Final Fantasy Tactics and Tactics Ogre. Read on for a Q&A with … Continue reading

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Thoughts on XCOM 2

This entry is part 12 of 12 in the series XCOM: Enemy Unknown/XCOM 2

Worthy successor. XCOM 2 is game of the year material for me, building on what worked in XCOM: Enemy Unknown and Enemy Within. I look forward to what Jake Solomon and team do next! More detailed thoughts below: – This … Continue reading

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XCOM2 first impressions: Good luck, Commander. You’ll need it!

This entry is part 11 of 12 in the series XCOM: Enemy Unknown/XCOM 2

I did it! I finally did it! At the start of my third campaign, I finally beat the aliens with no fatalities — on ironman “Commander” difficulty, the new name for “Classic”, no less! The stars aligned, the aliens walked … Continue reading

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Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter Q&A, with Wael Amr

2016 is due to see the release of Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter, the next entry in Frogwares’ long-running series of Sherlock Holmes adventure games. As a fan of 2014’s Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishments — which I called an … Continue reading

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My games (and memorable moments) of 2015

This entry is part 6 of 6 in the series Game of the Year Awards

Welcome back to my Games of the Year list. This year, I’ve highlighted notable achievements, as well as favourite moments from games old and new. Favourite aesthetics: Several games deserve a mention: Apotheon, for sheer uniqueness (below); the vibrant, colourful … Continue reading

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Nobunaga’s Ambition: late-game observations (and reflections on AI automation)

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Nobunaga's Ambition: Sphere of Influence

Surprisingly satisfying. Now that I’ve finished my campaign, I thought I’d comment on the late game of Nobunaga’s Ambition: Sphere of Influence, a topic on which I initially reserved judgment. Strategy endgames are plagued with two problems, (1) snowballing and … Continue reading

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Kim Q&A, with Jeremy Hogan

Rudyard Kipling’s Kim is one of my favourite classic novels, a picaresque set in nineteenth-century India. When the Secret Games Company launched a Kickstarter for a video game adaptation, I was keen to find out more. Read on for my … Continue reading

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Shining in the darkness: playing the Eastern Romans in Attila

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series Total War: Attila

The East endures. I closed out 2015 by returning to the grand campaign of Total War: Attila, this time as the Eastern Roman Empire. Like its Western sibling, the ERE is beset with enemies. Unlike my WRE game, I’ve been … Continue reading

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Age of Charlemagne – a worthy complement to Attila

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series Total War: Attila

Age of Charlemagne offers the basics, done right. If Rome II was about conquering a huge empire, and Attila was about defending it, Age of Charlemagne offers a tight, focused campaign that can be finished in a reasonable time. In … Continue reading

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Fallout 4: Early impressions

This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series Fallout 4

The deal was done. The merchant would trade me a stimpak; I would trade junk and a handful of cash. We agreed. The goods changed hands. And moments later, gunfire ripped through the night sky. Something flared red. Was that … Continue reading

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A Return to Adventure: Thoughts on Conquest of Elysium 4

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Conquest of Elysium

When the giant demon attacked my fortress, I cursed. The fort was my newest and proudest conquest, wrested from a nearby computer player. I left a small garrison, stiffened by two ballistae, to hold the walls while my main army … Continue reading

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From the archives: Tactics X-COM: Jagged Ogre Chronicles, or a guide to squad-level strategy/tactics/RPGs

I originally wrote this post in 2012 during the lead-up to Firaxis’ XCOM: Enemy Unknown, proposing a classification system for squad-based games and tactical RPGs across PC and consoles. Since then, to my delight, the genre has gone from strength … Continue reading

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From the archives: What five games say about violence

I originally wrote this in 2013, contrasting the approach taken by five big-name games towards violence. Arguably, recent years have seen greater awareness of what’s possible for a non-violent game, such as “walking simulators”, a renaissance in adventure games, the … Continue reading

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Friends in Need: Diplomacy in Nobunaga’s Ambition

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Nobunaga's Ambition: Sphere of Influence

Akechi Mitsuhide did not have long to gloat. After he betrayed and killed Oda Nobunaga – per historical event – I rallied a coalition of Nobunaga’s generals and surviving sons against him. From the west came Hashiba Hideyoshi, the man … Continue reading

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Nobunaga’s Ambition: Strong First Impressions

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Nobunaga's Ambition: Sphere of Influence

In Nobunaga’s Ambition: Sphere of Influence, opportunity comes in many forms. When my Tokugawa clan was small and insignificant, sandwiched between the rival Imagawa clan and our mutual ally Oda Nobunaga, opportunity came when the Imagawa let their alliance with … Continue reading

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EB Expo 2015: Lego Steals the Show

The EB Expo is an annual gaming event held at Sydney Olympic Park, traditionally featuring a mix of AAA games and local indies. For me, that makes it a great opportunity to venture beyond my traditional stomping ground, PC strategy … Continue reading

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Crisis of the Confederation Q&A, with Gregory Hayes

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series Crusader Kings II

I am pleased to present an interview with Gregory “Galle” Hayes, project lead for Crisis of the Confederation – the “Crusader Kings II in space” mod I recently covered. Below, we discuss COTC‘s inspirations, the interplay between game mechanics and … Continue reading

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The OTHER space grand strategy game: Crisis of the Confederation

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series Crusader Kings II

Grand Admiral Wei Luo is about to betray everything for which he’s fought. For the last fifteen years, the Admiral has headed Confederate Space Command – the crowning glory of a life devoted to the Terran Confederation. He stood by … Continue reading

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