grand strategy

Total War: Rome II – Emperor Edition releases later this month, is free to all Rome 2 owners

Phil Savage at

After a troubled start, Rome 2 is now in a much better place—its patches and tweaks fixing many, if not all, of the community's major issues. The new "Emperor Edition" is set to bring even more improvements, as well as an add-on that Creative Assembly claim is on the same scale as the base game's main campaign. It'll all be released, free to all existing Rome 2 owners, on 16 September.

Hearts of Iron 4 trailer offers the tiniest first glimpse of game footage

Phil Savage at

Here's a first, brief look at Hearts of Iron 4. And I do mean brief: of the minute-long tour through the beginnings of World War 2, around 12 seconds are given to this latest offering from Paradox's Clausewitz Engine. If you're a veteran grand strategy fan, you already know what to expect. Maps, men and giant arrows.

Europa Universalis 4 targets trade and governance in Res Publica mini-expansion

Phil Savage at

At any moment, your average PC gamer is on the verge of potentially life-threatening excitement. We're constantly in danger of an over-stimulation overdose made of explosions, guns, speed, spaceships and other, bigger explosions. That's why, every now and then, it's important to slow things down. And so, we should take a moment to thank Paradox, who today announced a trade-focused mini-expansion for Europa Universalis IV. Res Publica is the name of this third expansion, and, in addition to additional trade options, it will also introduce new methods of governance.

Procedurally generated grand strategy The Last Federation out now

Tom Sykes at

Arcen Games' The Last Federation only came to light in February, and yesterday the grand-strategy-featuring-turn-based-shmup-combat-bits saw release. One day the secret of Arcen's astounding productivity will leak out - my money's on founder Chris Park owning some sort of Time Turner - but before that dread reveal we have plenty of time to wallow in their copious, innovative, if not always entirely successful output. The Last Federation is now available on the official site or on the Steams, along with your standard slight reduction in price and beautifully impenetrable launch trailer. I have no idea what's going on in the next two minutes, but just look at all the tiny lasers and explosions.

Hearts of Iron 4 first look: a slick return for the veteran World War 2 strategy series

Tom Senior at

Back to World War 2 we go, for some intense, detailed, slow-burn strategy. The Hearts of Iron series has typically been a daunting prospect because, well, look at it, but the fourth entry will be different. A buff 3.0 edition of the Clauswitz engine powers the sandbox. The oppressive grey backgrounds of old have been replaced by muted colours, and an adaptive interface that outlines and shades countries depending on your zoom level. A night/day sine wave washes slowly across the map, separating the brushed iron surface into sunlit and blue moonlit zones. The units are no longer featureless rectangles, but tiny models that can be guided around with multi-phase battle plans. These are sculpted with stretched, curving arrows and broken lines, depicting troop movements and battle lines respectively. I'm surprised Paradox haven't put out any screenshots yet; this is a very inviting strategy game.

Crusader Kings 2: Rajas of India first look - massive map increase, new religions and free features

Tom Senior at

Crusader Kings 2 models the hopes, jealousies and paranoid plotting of around 30,000 unique actors, scattered throughout the troubled hierarchies of medieval Europe. From their varying positions of power, they marry, breed, wage wars and bump each other off with splendid selfishness. It's a pioneering sort of grand strategy soap opera, and it's about to get thousands of extra cast members.

CK2's sixth expansion, Rajas of India, will grow the map by 50% and add 400 new provinces, each with their own cabal of commanders, advisers, vassals children to be traded for political advantage. The rulers of India are mapped to three regional religions, which convey unique socio-economic boons upon their adherents, affecting their war-readiness, stability, and research competence. There's a new set of regional events to reflect the local festivities of the era, new jungle terrain and, inevitably, war elephants. It's plenty to be getting on with, but the most impressive thing about the expansion so far is how much of it Paradox are giving away for free.

Europa Universalis 4 expansion dev diary teaches new Colonial States gameplay

Emanuel Maiberg at

Paradox Interactive today announced that you can pre-purchase the expansion for Europa Universalis 4, Conquest of Paradise, for $15. The expansion, available on January 15, will allow players to explore and conquer a randomly generated New World continent modeled after the Americas, and greatly enhance the way you play as Native American and Colonial States. Paradox Development Studio Manager Johan Andersson delves into the latter in the latest development diary video.

Europa Universalis patch 1.2 released, adds new features and cardinal mortality

Phil Savage at

A fun game is to scour through the patch notes for Paradox's strategies, hunting for things that sound funny out of context. A good time can be had by all. Unfortunately, I've not yet sat down to crack open Europa Universalis IV, so lack the necessary context to even parse this massive list of fixes. "Event 'Conservative Backlash' now requires idea divine_supremacy" might sound funny, but what does it mean?

To be safe we'd better stick to the headline features: new vassal options, new map modes, and an expanded peace interface. Also some key cardinal update: "Cardinals now have a far higher likelihood to die as they grow old," and "Cardinals not yet in the curia can now die." Take that, immortal clergymen!

Europa Universalis IV review

T.J. Hafer at

The developers of Europa Universalis IV set out with an ambitious goal: to make their Renaissance-era strategy flagship accessible and intuitive to newcomers without sacrificing the depth and breadth that existing fans of the series love. The end result of this expedition is not only spectacular, but unlike the similarly ambitious explorers and colonists it portrays, it's not going to give anyone smallpox.

Europa Universalis 4 trailer celebrates launch with historically relevant wishful thinking

Phil Savage at

What's the point of a grand strategy if not to rewrite history? Paradox's launch trailer for Europa Universalis IV has us cowering at the prospect of a mighty Swedish empire, and its plans to secure global domination through a sneaky backstab to the spine of England. Reality may not yet recognise this particular version of the past, but then reality isn't now available to buy on Steam.

Total War: Rome 2 trailer is impressively grand and tactically relevant

Phil Savage at

Creative Assembly have just won trailers, by combining the drama and suspense usually reserved for irrelevant CGI affairs with footage of an actual game being played. Theatrical delivery of the tactical aptitude of Carthaginian general Hannibal Barca and an informative look at the flexibility of Total War: Rome 2's campaign map? What is this dark alchemy?

Total War: Rome II video sails through the Battle of the Nile

Phil Savage at

Creative Assembly's Al Bickham and Joey Williams gather up their elephants in an attempt to show you how to tackle Total War: Rome II's historical Battle of the Nile scenario. Watch on to learn how best to organise your units into a suicidal charge up a heavily defended hill. Or, if you're me, how to then wait patiently and subtly alter plans without resorting to ramping up the unit speed and letting the whole thing descend into slapstick chaos.

Crusader Kings 2 patch 1.10 prepares for The Old Gods

Phil Savage at

Crusader Kings 2's The Old Gods expansion launches tomorrow. In preparation, Paradox have deployed a huge patch list of tweaks, balance changes, fixes and new additions. And that means more funny-out-of-context patch notes. Last time, we got such gems as "tweaked deathdate of Mubashir, Duke of Mallorca, and made him eunuch." This time? Missing children restored, marriages fixed and inbreeding increased.

Crusader Kings 2: The Old Gods contest gives you the chance to create an in-game event

Phil Savage at

Life for the pagan warriors of 867 AD was certainly eventful. You had to decide which of the many gods you'd offer a freshly chopped head, fight over the exact distribution of the spoils of a successful pillage, and endure continuous interruption from the members of Led Zeppelin, who were constantly looking for inspiration for 1970s rock songs.

Now Paradox are offering you the chance to add your own notable pagan conundrums to their upcoming Crusader Kings 2 expansion, The Old Gods.

Why I've spent 260 hours in Crusader Kings 2

T.J. Hafer at

Crusader Kings II. Despite only having owned it for about six months, I've played it for longer than any other Steam game I own. In this video, I explain why I love it so much that I married it and gave it claims on my kingdom. If you know what I mean.

Crusader Kings 2 gets hilarious live action trailer

Tom Hatfield at

Live action trailers have become quite popular lately, with Call of Duty and Skyrim trying their hand. This one for Crusader Kings 2 seems to be poking gentle fun at Bethesda's effort, and also at the megalomaniacal tendencies of most strategy gamers in a very Monty Python and the Holy Grail kind of way.

Poor Duke of Winchester. I know I've often started wars because I've gotten bored with a peaceful victory before, how about you readers?