Do you like written LPs and AARs?

If so, I’d really appreciate your help filling in this survey. I love reading and writing After-Action Reports and Let’s Plays, and I’d like to start a spin-off website collecting them (effectively, Twitch for the written word). The survey will only take a couple of minutes and will help me refine ideas for the website. Results so far can be seen here – thanks for your help!

The site in 2015

Happy New Year!

2015 was a quiet gaming year for me, reflected in the site. In terms of writing, it was a year of two halves. I opened with a Let’s Play of Total War: Shogun 2, followed by coverage of Total War: Attila, Cities: Skylines, and a second look at Endless Legend and Age of Wonders III following the release of their expansions. I also wrote most of a Europa Universalis IV custom nation LP.

During the second half of the year, real-life obligations kept me busy. I did write about adventure games, Nobunaga’s Ambition: Sphere of Influence, the Crisis of the Confederation mod for Crusader Kings 2, and over the holidays, the Age of Charlemagne expansion for Attila.

Over the year, I posted three interviews: one about China-themed 4X Oriental Empires, a follow-up with the developers of Guns of Icarus Online, and in my first modder interview, a discussion about Crisis of the Confederation.

Traffic was largely unchanged during 2015 — the site received around 80,000 page views, versus 77,000 the previous year. The most popular posts remained fairly constant; the top post was my guide to the Wargame series, while another three related to Paradox games (including Crisis of the Confederation) and one was an old post about Tactics Ogre.

In the next week or so, keep an eye out for my 2015 honours list, plus more posts about Nobunaga’s Ambition and Attila. Over 2016, I plan to cover Hearts of Iron IV (pushed back from 2015) and Stellaris; I’ll also observe XCOM 2, Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter, The Last Guardian, No Man’s Sky, Total War: Warhammer, Dishonored 2 and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. And I may well write some retrospectives and Let’s Plays of older games – Valkyrie Profile, Final Fantasy Tactics, Alpha Centauri, and Emperor of the Fading Suns (as a narrative LP) have been on my to-do list for years.

Thank you for reading. I look forward to seeing you around.

Announcing my recommended reading list

Inspired by similar lists created by Tim Stone of RPS and Bruce Geryk, I am very pleased to unveil my recommended reading list for fans of this site! You can access it here, or by clicking the “recommended reading” list at the top of the page.

At this stage, the list is dominated by history and historical fiction, with a bias towards my interests — economic, military, and world histories (by subject), and the early modern period to the present day (by era). Please let me know if you’d like more recommendations on a particular era — I had to prune quite a few books, especially for the early modern period onwards.

Over time, I will add to the list (this will be noted on the front page). I hope you find it useful.

Another year of blogging

Happy New Year!

2014 was a quieter year for the site than 2013. There were 77,000 page views, down from 92,000 the previous year. That’s still a little bit above the 71,000 in 2012. Again, the most popular posts (the top 3, in fact) related to Paradox strategy games. #4 was my guide for Wargame: AirLand Battle and Wargame: Red Dragon – quite pleasing after the work I put into it! And #5 was an old post I wrote about Tactics Ogre. Visitors came from as far afield as Iran, Nepal, and Papua New Guinea.

During 2013, I’d focused on new games, and in particular, new strategy games. For 2014, one of my goals was to write more about everything else — especially my other great love, JRPGs. So while I wrote about several new strategy games (Age of Wonders III, The Banner Saga, Civilization: Beyond Earth, Endless Legend, Warlock 2, and Xenonauts), I spent more time discussing Crusader Kings 2, Europa Universalis 4, Child of Light, Final Fantasy X HD, Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments, The Last Story, Valiant Hearts, Transistor, and Tearaway.

Breaking down content by type, there were no Let’s Plays s this year. I’d thought of writing one for Beyond Earth; when BE turned out to be subpar, I scrapped the idea. I did interview two developers about upcoming strategy games — Soren Johnson about Offworld Trading Company and Dan Lind about Hearts of Iron IV. I wrote my first ever game guide, for Wargame, and wrote a couple of brief pieces about genre problems — JRPG random battles and espionage in strategy games. I even wrote my first ever piece about gaming merchandise — the piano sheet music of Final Fantasy VI.

During 2015, there is one game I will almost certainly cover: Hearts of Iron IV. Whether it’s good or bad, expect me to have a lot to say! I’ll also keep an eye out for the Grim Fandango re-release; No Man’s Sky; Persona 5; Satellite Reign; Total War: Attila; and The Witcher 3.

For now, look forward to my ‘notable achievers of 2014’ honours list, which is about 3/4ths complete. I’m also cooking up a recommended reading list, containing novels, history books, and science fiction that you might find worth a look.

Thank you for reading, and I hope to see you around.

On holiday

Just a quick note that I’ll be on holiday for a few weeks, starting this Friday. The site won’t be dead in that time — I’ll schedule several Musical Mondays, along with links to a few old articles I’m still quite proud of. Two notable games are also scheduled to come out:

  1. Tropico 5 – I’ve just placed my pre-order!
  2. Distant Worlds: Universe – the final expansion pack to one of the most unique strategy games in existence. I really liked DW (as of several expansions ago), and I’m glad it will finally reach a wider audience on Steam.

Have fun while I’m away, and I’ll see you all soon!

2013 in review

Happy New Year! Every year, WordPress prepares a nice little report on this site’s activity, and it’s interesting stuff. Did you know that out of the 5 most popular posts this year, 4 related to Paradox games (and two were guest pieces)? And that I had two hits from Greenland, of all places? It was also the site’s most successful year in terms of traffic, with 92,000 page views – 30% higher than 2012 (71,000) and almost four times the traffic in 2011 (25,000).


2013 was a success in other ways.  It was the year I got serious about interviewing developers, starting with Jon Shafer (At the Gates) in February and culminating in Johan Karlsson and Kristoffer Osterman (Dominions 4) in October. After the success of 2012’s XCOM Let’s Play, I had a lot of fun creating LPs for two of the year’s strategy games, Europa Universalis IV and Wargame: AirLand Battle. And I’m quite proud of my analysis of Total War: Rome II, which used Rome II as a starting point to explore what makes a good strategy game.


That said, this came at a price — some of my most rewarding pieces have been retrospectives and thematic articles, but I was too caught up in new games to write many of those in 2013 (though I did write about how several games approached violence). This means I have several JRPG retrospectives on my to-do list going into the new year — in particular, one about Valkyrie Profile, a classic that I replayed and re-loved during 2013.


Over the next few days, I’ll be posting about my favourite games of 2013. Beyond that, a number of games in 2014 may be worth watching: the first single-player instalment of Banner Saga; the third game in the Longest Journey/Dreamfall series; Elite: Dangerous; Mad Max; Watch Dogs; Tropico 5; The Sims 4; Wargame: Red Dragon; the PS3/Vita versions of Final Fantasy X & X-2; and the Android version of Final Fantasy VI.


Finally, none of this would be possible without you — the readers. Thank you for your time and support, and I look forward to seeing you around!

Any questions for Eugen Systems?

I’m working on another interview, this one with Eugen Systems, developer of Act of War, Ruse and Wargame —  anything you guys would like me to ask? At this stage I have a number of questions written down, mostly general rather than being Wargame-specific — Eugen’s inspirations, the evolution of its games, its future plans, how it sees the industry, that kind of thing. Very happy to take suggestions!

Be part of my Europa Universalis IV / Paradox Dev’t Studio Q&A!

Hi, everyone! I’m very happy to say that the folks at Paradox have agreed to an email interview about the forthcoming Europa Universalis IV, so if there’s anything you’d like to ask them, please chime in.

At this stage, I expect my own questions will be geared towards the big picture — the developers’ vision/ design philosophy, the lessons learned from other games such as CK2, how they plan to pace EU4 through the mid- and late-game (often the weakest part of Paradox games), their approach to history and historical phenomena that don’t appear as lines on a map, such as the diffusion of new crops around the world,  etc.

Be part of my Age of Wonders III Q&A!

Age of Wonders is a long-running and much beloved fantasy strategy game series, and last week, many of you guys would have seen Triumph Studios’ announcement that it should release Age of Wonders III later this year. I reached out to Triumph to secure an interview, and designer Lennart Sas said we can submit up to five questions! I’m coming up with a few of my own, but it’s been a long time since I played an AoW game (notwithstanding I recently reinstalled the most recent, Shadow Magic), so this is your chance. If you have any good questions in mind, please leave them in the comments below, and I’ll pick the best to send across!

Interested in guest writing for the site?

I started Matchsticks for my Eyes in 2010, with a vision of building a hub for good, thoughtful writing about “worlds of wonder” – games, books, anime, and more. Since then, the site’s come a long way: it may not be IGN, but it does have a pretty solid 6,000+ page views per month, rising to over 8,000 for the last couple of months. And that vision hasn’t changed – we’ve earned our success on the back of some very good content.


Note the “we”; several wonderful guests have graced the site with their writing (on topics as varied as how to lose Crusader Kings II and worldbuilding in Final Fantasy XII). Would you like to join their ranks? If so, leave a comment, or drop me a query via email or the contact form, with your idea plus a link to where I can find samples of your writing. :D Unfortunately, I can’t pay for guest posts – those Amazon ads don’t even cover the cost of hosting, let alone paying for all those books and games – but I would be delighted to provide a link back to your website (if any).


Beneath the cut, I’ve listed a few possible topics – but these are merely suggestions! If you think it’s relevant, I’d like to hear about it. :)

Continue reading “Interested in guest writing for the site?”

Match-stats for my Eyes: 2012 Site Statistics

There is something compelling about statistics – especially when they’re our own! I always enjoy seeing what draws you guys here and what makes you stick around; and I thought I’d share the results for last year. See below…


Continue reading “Match-stats for my Eyes: 2012 Site Statistics”

See you in a week’s time!

Hi everyone! Just a quick note to let you know I’ll be travelling — and hence, unable to work on the site — for about a week, starting this Saturday. However, I’ve scheduled Part 3 of the XCOM Let’s Play to go up over the weekend, so look for it then! Have fun and I’ll see you all soon! :)

This Facebook thing seems interesting… / Upcoming content

Hi everyone — I’ve just added a new way to follow the site. For those of you on Facebook, you can keep an eye on the Matchsticks for my Eyes Facebook page (which reprints links to everything that goes up on the mothership), and feel free to drop a “like” or two!


In other site news, it’s been a couple of weeks since the last major update — I’ve been tardy, I know! However, I’ve spent some of that time with a couple of big new strategy releases, Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion and Civilization V: Gods and Kings, so I should be able to give my thoughts on one or both of them soon. Also, stay tuned for a piece on the lessons designers can learn from Armageddon Empires, a 2007 indie game that blends strategy game and CCG influences, and a write-up of the anime series Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, one of the best creative works (in any medium) I’ve encountered. Hope to see you round for those posts!

And We’re Baaaaack

Good news — my computer is back from the service centre, and even more importantly, my backup restored just fine! It’s business as usual again, so stay tuned, over coming weeks, for write-ups of Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion and Civilization V: Gods and Kings. I’ll see you ’round!

Technical Difficulties

I often praise my two-year-old computer’s reliability, but it looks like I tempted fate one too many times. This morning, Windows 7 warned of a “hard disk problem” and when I tried switching on the computer this afternoon, it wouldn’t even boot. Luckily it’s still under warranty, so off to the service centre it’ll go. Until it’s back in action, though, I may be a bit slow to update the site (and in any case, with my gaming rig out of action, I’ll have less to write about). Thanks for your patience until then!

See you in a couple of weeks’ time

Matchsticks for my Eyes will be on holiday for the next couple of weeks. However, I still plan to write a post or two — I’ve just started on a review of Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn, so perhaps that’ll be my next update? — in that time, so keep checking back every so often!

Announcing my short story: The First Sacrifice

Artorius of Cairbrunn hates being dead.


In life, he was a hero, protector to emperors and scourge of the barbarians, before he was betrayed and killed. Now, hundreds of years later, he’s been summoned back to the world of mortals — and telling hero from villain is not as simple as he once thought.


A heroic fantasy short story about right and wrong; fallen kingdoms and rising upstarts; love, loss, and the lengths to which we’ll go for those we care about.


You can buy The First Sacrifice for just US$0.99 or read a free sample at Smashwords ( or at Amazon ( It’s available for Kindle (at Amazon) and in HTML, mobi, epub, PDF, RTF, LRF,  PDB and plain text (at Smashwords).


I also have ten (10) freebie coupons which I’ll email to the first ten people who comment and request them. I currently have nine coupons remaining.


I hope those of you who check out the story will enjoy it enough to recommend it to your friends. And if you’re thinking about ebook self-publishing, or you’re just interested in how it works, check out my fiction website!

Announcing my new non-fiction blog: The Optimist

How has the material wealth of England compared to that of China over the last 2,000 years?


What book would make for a good introduction to the geopolitics of the Indian Ocean?


And what could rainfall have to do with democracy?


Matchsticks for my Eyes’ new sibling blog, The Optimist (, examines these questions and more!  While Matchsticks for my Eyes is about “stories in all their forms”, The Optimist is its non-fiction counterpart where I discuss books or research that has caught my eye.


Join me at The Optimist as I set out to learn more about our wonderful world – one book, article or paper at a time.

Matchsticks for my Eyes moves to a new address – please update bookmarks, RSS feeds, etc

This weekend was a big one for this blog! Matchsticks for my Eyes moved off and to its own site. The new address is


If you came here by typing the old address into your browser, following a link, or by loading a bookmark, you should have been automatically redirected to the new site. In fact, you should not have noticed any differences. Just update your link or bookmark with the new address.


If, however, you came here via RSS or email subscription, you may need to resubscribe at the new address. I will no longer update the old site and posts may not come through on the old feed.

Thanks for all your support! I hope to see you around at the new place.

Matchsticks Can Be Represented By 140 Characters

I’ve had a Twitter account for some time now, but I’ve only recently added a Twitter widget to the right-hand sidebar, so this is as good a time as any to highlight its existence. In addition to the usual “wrote about X topic” tweets, you’ll also find quick thoughts on what I’m currently playing or reading. Check it out! Or, alternately:

Follow matchstickeyes on Twitter

Off on holidays – see you all in a few weeks’ time!

Okay folks, I’m flying out tomorrow for a holiday! Thus, I will not post daily for the next three weeks or so.

That said, I have a few reviews from my archives which will go up on coming weekends. Also, I plan to write a few feature articles and post them when I do have access. If you read my “Storytelling in Dominions 3” post at Flash of Steel, hopefully you’ll enjoy my upcoming articles just as much. So keep checking back every so often, and I’ll see you all at the end of November!

The State of the Matchsticks — October 2010

I’ve been blogging on Matchsticks for my Eyes for about a month and a half, during which time I’ve been updating pretty much daily, usually on games or books but sometimes on anime, movies or TV as well. What’s coming up next for this site?


About a week ago, I added indexes of my reviews and features (see the links at the top of this page) – I do plan to do some more posts in those two areas, and in particular, I’m working on my Storytelling in Games series. Hopefully I’ll be able to add at least one more Storytelling in Games entry over the next week or so. And while I will be away travelling for most of November (starting at the end of next week) and as such, won’t be updating daily during that time, I will do my best to post a longer review or feature each week while I’m away.


Thanks for your support, all! It’s been very encouraging to see my traffic crawling gradually upwards. :D

New icon!

Now that I have a WordPress blog of my own, it was about time that I came up with a unique icon to fit the “matchsticks for my eyes” theme. So I have retired the Miles Vorkosigan gravatar and with assistance from Matchstick Mum and Matchstick Dad, I present the image now visible on the top right-hand corner of this page. :D