Musical Wednesday: Big Iron (Fallout: New Vegas), by Marty Robbins

And we’re back! This week’s song is Marty Robbins’ 1959 country ballad “Big Iron”, featured in Fallout: New Vegas. Including it in the game was an inspired choice! Not only does the song help establish the game’s pseudo-Western atmosphere, but its lyrics — about a gunslinger who rides into town with a “big iron on his hip” — could easily have been about your exploits as an RPG hero. Enjoy!


Fallout: New Vegas: a post-nuclear Western (?)

This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series Fallout: New Vegas
Howdy Pardner
Howdy Pardner


(With apologies to every writer, director, and star of the Wild West)




The one-horse town of Goodsprings bakes, silent, in the Nevada heat. One after the other, we see several POWDER GANG BANDITS approach, cradling baseball bats and crude firearms. The Powder Gangers are in high spirits, looking forward to the plunder of the town.



POWDER GANGER #1: Pardner, I do reckon that there town be as easy as liquor flowing at the saloon.


POWDER GANGER #2: Yee-haw!


The Powder Gangers laugh, twirl their moustaches. Suddenly, they hear a yell.


An armoured figure – not one of the townspeople, but our hero, THE COURIER – charges out from between two houses. The Courier winds back his arm and for a moment, time seems to freeze. When it flows again, something red and fizzing has landed at the Powder Gangers’ feet.


POWDER GANGER #1: … Is that… dynamite?




I’m ten hours into Fallout: New Vegas, the most unique-feeling entry in the venerable Fallout line of RPGs. Its predecessors (#1 and #3 in particular) revelled in their post-apocalyptic setting: their mohawked raiders could have come straight out of a Mad Max movie, and their civilisation was a precarious, hardscrabble thing – ersatz Bartertowns scattered around the wastes, each surviving as best as it could.

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Choose your own adventure IN SPAAACE: The Fleet

The Fleet is a CYOA-esque piece of interactive  fiction from indie outfit Choice of Games (I wrote about Choice of Broadsides, one of their earlier releases, last week). The Fleet trades in Broadsides’ sailing ships for space cruisers, and costs money ($3) whereas Broadsides was free, but in mechanical terms, the two are very similar. Both take about 30-60 minutes to play through, and both are about making choices that play to the main character’s strengths. (For instance, attempting fancy manoeuvres in Broadsides will lead to disaster if the player character has a low Sailing stat.)


Fleet’s greatest failing is that it lacks Broadsides’ charm – Fleet’s setting isn’t just  space opera, it’s stock standard space opera. It will contain nothing new to anyone who’s read or watched much science fiction. Still, its plot – dealing with the trials and tribulations of a refugee fleet fighting to reclaim its homeworld – is serviceable, and I was thoroughly satisfied with the ending I achieved: I finished as a true statesman, someone who’d led his people – and the galaxy – to a better tomorrow. There are other endings out there, but I’m reluctant to replay the game to discover them – I don’t want to mar my first ending! Overall, a decent time-killer.


If you’d like more detailed looks at The Fleet, Pocket Tactics and Jay Is Games both have helpful reviews!

All aboard! Ticket to Ride: The Verdict

Ticket to Ride PC: clean, colourful, and attractive
Ticket to Ride PC: clean, colourful, and attractive


The railroad must get through. Chicago must connect to Santa Fe. But I’m almost out of locomotives, my rivals are muscling in, and can I get three cards of the same colour?


Welcome to Ticket to Ride, the PC adaptation of a highly regarded board game (which I have not yet played). In Ticket, players claim train routes by playing cards – six yellow cards to connect Seattle to Helena in the above screenshot, for instance, or five blue cards to connect Atlanta to Miami. Long routes are worth more than short routes, but are correspondingly harder to claim. Furthermore, each player begins with a certain number of “tickets” – routes (Chicago to Santa Fe, in my above example) that reward the player if they are completed, and impose a penalty if they are not. Again, long-haul tickets are worth more – both on the upside and on the downside! – than their short-haul counterparts. Lastly, each route can only be claimed by one player at a time (although the game does provide some duplicate routes). So for example, I couldn’t go Denver -> Santa Fe in the above screenshot, but neither could the other players go Denver -> Omaha, or Chicago -> Pittsburgh, or Pittsburgh -> New York.

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Choose your own seafaring adventure: Choice of Broadsides

“Fire the starboard broadside!” shouts the Captain.


Cannons roar as H.M.S. Courageous attacks the enemy frigate. As one of the junior officers–really, more of an officer in training–you command three guns on Courageous’s main gun deck. The guns of the battery next to yours fire, leaping back against the heavy ropes that prevent them from smashing across the ship. Clouds of white smoke billow about you as you give your gun crew the commands to ready your battery’s cannons: “Swab! Powder! Wadding! Shot! Run out the guns!”


The Captain yells out, “Fire as the guns bear!” You give your gun crews orders to load and fire as quickly as they can, without waiting for the rest of the broadside.


They swab out the bore, push in a charge of powder, push wadding down on the powder, load the shot, push the gun out through the gunport, and fire the cannon, with you commanding each step of the process. “Swab, powder, wadding, shot, fire! Swab, powder, wadding, shot–”


The world turns upside down as the enemy’s broadside rips through the hull some ten feet away.


As the enemy cannonball tears through the side of the ship, giant splinters of wood fly through the air. One of the splinters, perhaps a yard long, rips through the stomach of Davies, a sailor under your command. A fragment of a cannon ball smashes Fisher’s arm, mangling it horribly. Your sailors seem stunned by the carnage, standing in shock while Davies and Fisher scream in agony.


What do you do?


A.           Attend to the wounded personally–the safety of my sailors is my top concern.

B.            Give some quick orders for them to be taken to the surgeon in the cockpit, then turn back to my duty in commanding the guns.

C.            With a gut wound like that, Davies is done for, but Fisher can still be saved. I order some sailors to take Fisher to the cockpit but leave Davies on the deck to die. I need the extra sailors to use the guns effectively.

D.           My duty to the ship outweighs my duty to two sailors. I ignore the wounded and concentrate on firing my guns as quickly and accurately as I can.


That is the opening of Choice of Broadsides, a free, short (30-60 minutes), and very good “choose your own adventure”-type game for Web, Android, and iOS. If you have ever read CS Forester, Patrick O’Brian, or one of their ilk, you will be right at home here: Broadsides chronicles your adventures as an officer in the Royal Navy of Great Britain Albion, during war against Napoleonic France Gaul. You start as a lowly midshipman, but you won’t stay that way! By the end of the game, I’d retired as an admiral, laden with honours – though not quite as much prize money as I’d hoped… Continue reading “Choose your own seafaring adventure: Choice of Broadsides”

One of the greatest games of all time, Dominions 3, is now $30 at Desura & Gamersgate

First Aubrey & Maturin sailed into the digital world, and now one of my all-time favourite games, Illwinter’s strategy masterpiece Dominions 3, has finally made its way to digital download shops Desura (edit: and Gamersgate)! It’s also reasonably priced, at $30. Why is it one of my favourites?


1. It brings mythology/dark fantasy alive in a way that so few games – and almost no games outside RPGs – have managed. Elves? Orcs? Balrogs, even? Phooey. Dominions serves up titans plucked from Tartarus, queens of the air with clouds for bodies and lightning for fists, glamour-casting faery knights, and more. And in between scurry the poor human conscripts, so hopelessly outmatched as to underscore just how significant magic — and divinity — are to this world. (If you’d like to read more, a few years ago I wrote a guest piece on this very subject over at Flash of Steel.)

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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…


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The Best Games of 2012

This entry is part 3 of 7 in the series Game of the Year Awards

Happy Ne1st Place Award Ribbonw Year, everyone!


2013 has dawned, and it’s time to review the best of last year’s games (that I played). This year I’ve opted to break from the traditional “best RPG”, “best strategy”, etc format normally used in Game of the Year rankings. For one, it papers over the vast differences that exist within any genre: Dark Souls is not Skyrim is not Mass Effect. For another, there are sometimes multiple standout games within the same genre. So instead, I’ve opted to recognise games for their special achievements. Here are 2012’s exemplars:


Continue reading “The Best Games of 2012”

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