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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!)

Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics – Summoning Shoggoths

February 12, 2018

I thought you might be interested in how we’re going all Shoggoth-y in Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics?

We also thought it might be of interest to share something created (summoned?) a few months ago. The setting for Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics is earlier in the timeline of the Forest of Fear campaign. We’ll be revealing more about that soon. What we wanted though was – of course – Shoggoths. These protoplasmic tendriled creatures are being used by the Nazis much as the Elder Things also once did; a disposable slave labour. At least that’s the plan. So how might a Shoggoths work in-game? We started off early on building Shoggoth-Tech to allow us to represent them on a grid-based game but also to keep the more protoplasmic and unformed nature of them. So we needed tech that summon and reform their bodies within the grid as they move down narrow spaces, expand into a wider room, extend to attack or lose sections of body from combat damage. Anyhow here’s one of the test video we created while exploring the concept…

Plus we’ve unlocked some new starter pledge levels! (Which are a BARGAIN!)

Introductory One Player Starter Set for a pledge of £75 (Around $104/€84 – But worth an amazing £127!)
This gives you – A Digital PC copy the game, PLUS A starter set for the Achtung! Cthulhu Skirmish game: The Skirmish Commanders Box set which includes the printed rulebook, card deck, dice, counters and templates, A set of 3 Section M Investigators (Badger Harris, Akhee Singh and Arianne Dubois) and 10 Badgers Commandos OR 3 Black Sun Villains (A sorcerous Black Sun Canon, Master and a Die Tote elite guard) and 10 Black Sun Troopers PLUS All the unlocked PDFs and your name in the credits.

Introductory Two Player Skirmish Set t for a pledge of £140 (Around $193/€157 – But worth an amazing £173!) 
A Digital PC copy the game, PLUS A starter set for the Achtung! Cthulhu Skirmish game: A Digital PC copy the game, PLUS A starter set for the Achtung! Cthulhu Skirmish game: The Skirmish Commanders Box set which includes the printed rulebook, card deck, dice, counters and templates PLUS Rise of the Black Sun Campaign Book PLUS 3 Section M Investigators (Badger Harris, Akhee Singh and Arianne Dubois), 10 Badger’s Commandos, 3 Black Sun Villains (A sorcerous Black Sun Canon, Master and a Die Tote elite guard), 10 Servitor of Nyarlathotep Horde Miniatures PLUS All the unlocked PDFs PLUS the Achtung! Cthulhu PDF Collection (see Ally Pledge) and your name in the credits.

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#CthulhuThursday! It’s got to be Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics.

February 8, 2018

So I’ve not had the time to post as much as I would have liked. That’s not because I’ve not been immersed in all things Cthulhu – but because I’ve had too much!  So yesterday we launched the news of Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics – a project close to my tentacled heart!

Join the Secret War as the WW2 Allies Fight for Humanity’s Survival in: Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics

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We all know what was at stake during World War II – civilisation had to stop a tyrannical and murderous enemy whose crimes still shock over half a century later.

But what if the terror  of the Nazis was not the most demonic in that awful conflict?

It is well known that the Nazis had an obsession with the occult. What if their secret missions to ancient sites had found more than just broken pottery? What if there was something out in the darkness, waiting… and when the Nazis called… it answered? This is the terrifying premise of Achtung! Cthulhu – where WW2 meets the Cthulhu Mythos to form an axis of evil that must be stopped at all costs!

Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics is a World War II-themed strategic role-playing game in which the Nazis have turned to other-worldly beings to bolster their war effort. In this universe, the Nazi’s well-known obsession with the occult has yielded results, with their discovery that the creatures of the Cthulhu Mythos are real.

Thus begins The Secret War where covert allied operators fight desperate battles against an unholy alliance of Nazi science and Mythos sorcery. Featuring Shoggoth-powered Panzers, HMG-armed investigators, mutated Nazi super soldiers, secret bunkers filled with mysterious research, and alien artifact-powered wonder weapons – Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics has it all!

Achtung! Cthulhu originally debuted five years ago as a Kickstarter project by the then-nascent Modiphius. It smashed its original funding goal many times over and has expanded to include a wide range of tabletop products including expansions to the RPG, a skirmish miniatures game, novels, audio dramas, and multiple crossovers with other licences. It has wowed critics and players with its sweeping apocalyptic narrative arc and inventive monstrous creations, winning multiple awards since its release.

To celebrate the five year anniversary of the original launch and this new announcement, Achtung! Cthulhu makes a triumphant return to Kickstarter, giving existing fans a chance to bolster their forces early in advance of the main assault, and helping to fund the Kickstarter campaign for additional content in the video game, on top of what Ripstone has fully funded for the core game.

Some funding tiers include copies of the Achtung! Cthulhu RPG or skirmish miniatures game, plus exclusive rewards yet to be unveiled.  

I do so hope you’ll join us in The Secret War!

(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!)

Details on Gamesforum London & PC Connects 2018…

January 15, 2018

Hello! Just a quick note to say that I’m going to be attending Games Forum, and I’m really pleased to have been asked to speak at it’s 1st event. It’s on 24th/25th Jan 2018. My talk is on how games connect to the real world. (So ovs, something we’ve done a lot of!) I did a Q&A with the kind people at Gamesforum here:

Gamesforum: Auroch Digital is known for its news games project from a number of years ago. Why did the company work on games that could be considered political?

Rawlings: I’d always felt that, as a gamer and a game designer, games were my natural medium to express how I felt about events around me. I just took that idea and ran with it. I’d argue as a counter all games are political – the question is more around if you see the politics. Even games that try to be apolitical are in effect taking a political stance.

Take a basic question like coop or vs in multiplayer – they are rooted in different ideas of how its fun for humans to interact. Cooperation vs competition is a core political idea and the degree to which our societies should/do reflect those aspects is the subject of huge debate. That’s not to say one is better than the other, more we argue about the degree and nuance…

I’m speaking on the 25th at 3.30pm in the County Suite One – if you want to come and listen and ask questions!

Also I’m there on 24th too – so feel free to ping me to hook up!

Plus I’m not the only Auroch there! My colleagues Peter and Nina are also in London this week. Details here.

I’m also going to be at PC Connects too on 22nd. So if your there too and want to chat, let me know. Also others from our team are going to be there too at both events speaking too on various things.

Thanks 🙂

PS. How I sound when I bang on about a thing…