Category Archives: PC 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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Point, Click, Solve Puzzle: Reflections on the Adventure Game

Traditionally, adventure games have been defined by two elements: (1) reliance on narrative; and (2) solving puzzles in order to progress. While the former has always been the genre’s strong suit, I would argue that puzzles have been a mixed … Continue reading

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Quick Impressions: Vietnam ’65

Vietnam ’65 is an iPad/PC strategy game with a deceptively simple concept: patrol villages on a randomly generated map (above) and prevent the Viet Cong & North Vietnamese Army from doing the same. It’s simple, short, and sweet; after two … Continue reading

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Let’s Play EU4: Common Sense! Pt 2: East Meets West

This entry is part 12 of 12 in the series Europa Universalis IV

Report of the Spanish ambassador to Meiguo, 1600 In the three months since I departed Your Majesty’s presence, I have travelled first to our colony of New Spain, then thousands of miles north overland. I write to you now from … Continue reading

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Oriental Empires Q&A, with Bob Smith

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Oriental Empires

Oriental Empires is an upcoming 4X strategy game that will cover most of Chinese history, from 1500 BC to 1500 AD. My interest piqued, I conducted an email Q&A with developer Bob Smith. Read on:   About the developers 1. … Continue reading

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Let’s Play EU4: Common Sense! Part 1: Welcome to Meiguo

This entry is part 11 of 12 in the series Europa Universalis IV

In 1402, the Ming Emperor’s uncle usurped the throne. The imperial palace burned. According to one legend, the Emperor survived, and fled overseas; Zheng He’s fleets were dispatched to hunt him down. What if the Emperor made it further than … Continue reading

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Very Early Impressions: Battle Academy

This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series Battle Academy

So far1, I’m impressed by Battle Academy, the 2010-vintage World War 2 TBS. The vibrant, comic-book aesthetic charmed me straight away, while the game mechanics present tactical concepts in a clear, elegant manner. Light tanks are zippy and thinly armoured, … Continue reading

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Endless Legend & Age of Wonders 3: One Year On

The two expansions to Age of Wonders 3 have brought new races, a new character class, and (together with patches), assorted features and balance tweaks. They have also addressed my single biggest complaint with the game: the victory conditions (and … Continue reading

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The Roman Experience in Total War: Attila

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series Total War: Attila

After 100 turns, I threw in the towel on my attempt to save the Western Roman Empire. The legions, and my treasury, had finally reached their limit. The barbarians never stopped flooding in, from the north, east, and the hitherto … Continue reading

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Thoughts on Cities: Skylines

This entry is part of 1 in the series Cities: Skylines

My first city made as much sense as a noodle-bowl. At one point, I went nuts building high-rise apartments without ensuring adequate road access. The result was a mess. Commuters clogged the roads. Fire engines, delivery vans, garbage trucks, and … Continue reading

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