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The Best Strategy Games for Nintendo Switch (a work in progress!)

May 6, 2018

Hey all. As well as being a developer of strategy games (you can find out about our offering here) I’m also a huge player of them! I recently got hold of a Switch to play some games on for research and the like, so I have obviously been checking out Strategy games to play. Here’s my list so far of what is worth your money, on Switch…

Steamworld Heist – So I first came across this gem of a game on PS Vita. It’s a super-smart take on a turn-based strategy. First twist is that it is done 2D rather than 3D, but in a way that less is more, focusing the combat on the 2 planes really works well, making it close quarters and rapid. Second it has this great mechanic of ricochet for some types of attack, that makes the 2D space into a more dynamic combat zone. Layered in to that it uses a more traditional action points system, a cover system and different weapon and attack types. Then there is an RPG layer of character development and equipment selection that also adds skills and the like. Great fun! (Fun fact; this game was developed in part with a grant from the EU Media fund.)

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Darkest Dungeon – Another 2D turn-based strategy and again it uses the 2D nature of the game-space really well. It has this neat system where by the order your characters relative to the enemy and each other has major tactical implications, for example your big fighters prefer to be at the front hitting and taking damage, whereas a magic user may prefer to be at the back. Layered on to this is an amazing ‘sanity’ system (as the game is about the mental attrition of the horror and darkness the characters face). The controls here are much better than the PS Vita version, though I’d say not quite as good as PC. However it’s a great game, provided you are prepartered for the grind of characters and missions.

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Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle – Cute but strategically satisfying. Best thing to check out about this game is the creative director of XCOM talking about how the game expands the turn-based strategy space; “In Kingdom Battle, the stress comes from knowing there is only a narrow band of choices that will lead to victory. Every choice you make could set you down the wrong path, and in later missions, the band of choices narrows even further. Yet the stress of combat is also offset by powerful new innovations to the tactics genre. Movement is surprisingly fun and kinetic, with allies leaping off of each other, sliding through nearby enemies or traveling through pipes to completely different areas of the battlefield.”

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I’ll be updating this list as I go along, and feel free to suggest new ones for me to check out!

He who controls the spice controls the universe.

April 3, 2018

That title quote is from the amazing novel of Dune. And I recently wrote an article on why I love (and I mean Loooove) the game Dune II:

Dune II took this setting as the inspiration for one of the first real-time strategy titles. It pioneered many of the forms and conventions that RTS games (indeed strategy games!) use in ways we still see today. Lest we forget that the children of Dune II have gone on to conquer the world, League of Legends, Dota 2, Clash Royale, Starcraft, Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War, Total War and many, many others still have some DNA from this gem of a game. From the player’s direct control of resources, to tech-trees, to building units, to commanding an emergent army – and doing all of this in the same screen was mind blowing.

And here’s a video of that game:

 

Its #CthulhuThursday As the War Gets Apocalyptic

March 1, 2018

We’re into the final week of our Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics kicksrater campaign. So this week I’m going to be looking at that (ovs).

First we had a visitor to the studio to show off the game 🙂

I’ve also been thinking a lot about Cthulhu in the run-up to the game development and beyond and so from this I wrote this about how mainstream Cthulhu has become

Lovecraft himself would never know the success and cultural impact this or any of his other works would have. When he died in 1937 he would only know that his works had reached a limited audience, never having made enough from his works to make a living as a writer.

Yet over 90 years since he set out the plot of The Call of Cthulhu, the idea, themes, and the eponymous creature has finally reached the mainstream. The majority of us have heard of “The Call of Cthulhu” in one form or another.

We’ve also shown off our Shoggoth tech!

So please do check out the campaign and join the fight for humanity!

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(Cthulhu Thursday is a dose of Mythos to brighten darken your week. More on the idea can be found here and a list of posts thus far, here. Also some upcoming Cthulhu news, sign up to the Auroch Digital’s newsletter. Enjoy!)

XCOM Too – A New Turn-Based Strategy Project to Scratch any XCOM Itch

February 28, 2018

As a games designer I do (and need to) play a wide range of games. However, of the many genres of games out there, the one I most often find myself returning to is turn-based strategy.

There were many years when there was not a huge amount going on with the genre… those were lean years! But this is no longer the case, since the rebooted XCOM games – starting with 2012’s Enemy Unknown – has both re-ignited the mass interest in the turn-based strategy genre but also set a standard of what such a game can be. So as we head further into 2018, here’s what’s on my ‘XCOM Too’ radar…

Into the Breach – This is the new game by the people who made the excellent FTL. FTL was realtime, so it was interesting to me that they’ve got turn-based with their new title. Into the Breach just launched on Steam and, word is, it’s great. Personally I love the simple yet textured art style, and how they’ve made a TBS / puzzle game mash up.

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Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics – This is on my radar because… well, I’m working on it, so it rightly needs a mention here! The game has a simple premise: fight the Nazis AND the spawn of Cthulhu in this exciting action / strategy / RPG game set in the award-winning Achtung! Cthulhu universe. We’ve prototyped this up using pen, dice, and paper and so we know the gameplay is excellent. I’m very much looking forward to it evolving and being released and from the support we’ve had on Kickstarterso are a lot of people.

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Wargroove – I first started seeing this pop-up on my Twitter feed in the form of gorgeous little pixely unit animations. The game looks very much like a spiritual successor to Advance Wars and this is a very good thing, as I loved the series and played all of them for many, many *repeats word ‘many’ several more times* hours. However, despite seeming to reference that series, Wargroove definitely seems to have its own thing going on.

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Phoenix Point – The godfather of turn-based strategy games – Julian Gollop – is back! If you aren’t aware, Julian is the influential designer behind a host of classic games, from Laser Squad to (of course) XCOM itself – though it was originally titled UFO: Enemy Unknown, of course! So the news that he’s funded and working on a new title is welcome to say the least! So far Phoenix Point seems to have many of the classic elements we demand of an XCOM game, but as it’s Julian making it, I’m super excited to see what he adds, changes, and evolves within the framework…

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AVARIAvs (ultrafast Competitive Turn-Based Battles) – I backed this on Kickstarter and happy to see that it was fully-funded. This is a little different to a lot of TBS, in that its main focus is PvP, whereas most TBS games focus on campaign – I know games like XCOM have PvP, but PvP is not what you think of when you think “TBS”. As a studio, we’ve also been experimenting in this area, so it’s a space I’m interested in and, overall, I like how it’s expanding the genre.

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Hope you enjoyed my quick runthough of upcoming TBS titles – did I miss any? Let me know!

The Second Weird War

February 26, 2018
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I wrote a thing for Auroch Digital’s Medium articles looking at supernatural fiction that takes WW2 as the jumping off point…

On the Allied side there is the strange case of Helen Duncan, a Scottish medium who has the dubious honour of being the last person imprisoned under the British Witchcraft Act of 1735. Her arrest came from a seance she conducted where it was alleged she revealed that the HMS Barham had been sunk — a classified snippet of information at that time.

With that background in mind, in this article I’ll examine some selected examples where WW2 has become a canvas for the painting on of a supernatural terror onto the real horror of war…

Do check it out!

 

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An example – Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics

 

Links from @BristolGamesHub Talk

February 23, 2018

I did a talk at Bristol Games Hub about crowdfunding. Its on my mind as we’ve got an ongoing campaign

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From which I talked about a few things which have links, which are here…

Oh and some tweets I referenced; don’t think if a campaign raises a lot of money, that is a magic money tree; campaigns have a lot of costs and development costs too!

The window for launching crowdfunding campaigns…

Thanks!

#CthulhuThursday – Beware the Ides of Cthulhu

February 15, 2018

Hello fellow travelers into the dark… A bundle of links to send you down the evil rabbit hole…

First off, of course, I must report on the progress of Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics – and it is good news!

I’ve also written a huuuge article on how Cthulhu is going mainstream…

Lovecraft himself would never know the success and cultural impact this or any of his other works would have. When he died in 1937 he would only know that his works had reached a limited audience, never having made enough from his works to make a living as a writer.

Yet over 90 years since he set out the plot of The Call of Cthulhu, the idea, themes, and the eponymous creature has finally reached the mainstream. The majority of us have heard of “The Call of Cthulhu” in one form or another.

While you enjoy that article, how’s about some food?

Or perhaps you’d prefer a poem?

See you next time!

(Cthulhu Thursday is a dose of Mythos to brighten darken your week. More on the idea can be found here and a list of posts thus far, here. Also some upcoming Cthulhu news, sign up to the Auroch Digital’s newsletter. Enjoy!)