You could read a book in the time it takes for Rome 2 to calculate AI movements between turns. Our Chris Thursten has made good progress with Game of Thrones. I, meanwhile, tend to make a cup of tea every end-turn event, and then run my empire with the urgency and recklessness of a hyper-stimulated general with a permanently full bladder. To the delight of my internal organs, CA are trying to trim those long AI thinking times down. They've posted a list of fixes made by a beta version of the second patch, which went into testing on Friday, of which "campaign performance optimisations" and "AI round time improvements" are the most welcome. There are also GPU optimisation tweaks listed alongside significant in-game changes to unit speed and morale-battering flank charges. The fix-list is here for your perusal.
Turn based strategy
I'm starting to worry about Klei, you guys. Between new Mark of the Ninja DLC, continued development on Don't Starve, and now the turn-based spy-'em-up Incongnita, they're pumping out an incredible number of games. Has anyone checked to make sure their office isn't full of developers chained to computers; forced to code strategic espionage-based interactions and draw gorgeously stylistic art? They've just opened Incognita for pre-order purchase, giving buyers instant alpha access to the game. Maybe they need to raise funds for some thicker restraints?
Arcen's been pumping out the indie goods this year, with A Valley Without Wind 2 and Shattered Haven and the recent Skyward Collapse threatening our shame-piles with another kind of collapse. And that's not it for 2013—Arcen dev Chris Park has revealed that besides numerous expansions for existing games, there is one more full game release on the studio's calendar this year. Bionic Dues is a tactical roguelike thing which will see us playing as legless, hovering mechs called Exos.
Summer might be coming to an end, but there's still time to indulge in that most traditional of holiday pastimes: getting chopped up by a supernatural psycho who's basically a homing missile for promiscuous American teenagers. 80s-horror-inspired turn-based strategy Camp Keepalive had a demo release back in February, and today the full thing has launched on Desura. As a quartet of counselors, you have to defend your campers from a pack of murderous monsters, including clowns, wolfmen, and Jason Voorhees-a-likes.
Thanks to my photographic memory (read: access to the internet), I can point you to the last time we scouted turn-based strategy Battle Worlds: Kronos. That was in March, when the Kickstarter project hit its funding goal. It subsequently went on to more than double the £120,000 target, finishing on $260,235. Now the developers are drawing out their battle plans, and have picked a mid-November date for the game's release.
Here's 10 minutes of Age of Wonders III footage, introducing the dwarven Dreadnought Gustav and his predilection for technological hijinks. Really, the campaign slice we're shown is a magical - and violent - turn-based Ocean's 11. Our narrator gets himself into a tricky tactical situation, before stealing an entire city with a hitherto unrevealed plan: killing everything. That's a film I would watch.
Space is endless. We knew that much, but it turns out legends are endless as well. Or rather, one Legend in particular, and probably not the one where Tom Cruise shares a curry with a guy named Tim (as is my understanding of the film). Not content with just one 4X strategy game, the Endless Space developers are back at it again, this time using those 4 Xs (eXplore, eXploit, eXpand and eXtreme) in a fantasy setting, with no spaceships or anything. You can see some hexy screenshots after the break.
There's something about the word "space" that makes anything that's prefixed with it seem more exciting. Sending Space Marines into a Space Hulk? That sounds tense and dramatic. Sending plain old marines into a regular Hulk? That sounds like a military-ordered endoscopy into Bruce Banner. Also dramatic, but not quite the same as a turn-based tactical adaptation of the Warhammer 40K board game. Probably a good job that it's the latter that's now available.
On August 16 - this Friday - Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes will emerge from the magic interpipes of the World Wide Web and sit on store shelves in a fancy-pants box. In celebration, Stardock have put out a new video showing off Fallen Enchantress' fantasy-flavoured turn based battles, empire-building, dragons and giant evil glowing Python fiends. I hate those guys.
Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes is a standalone expansion for Elemental: Fallen Enchantress, itself a re-worked and polished version of Elemental: War of Magic, which came out back in 2010. It adds two extra factions, reworks the way you hire heroes (formerly they'd loiter on the map like super-powerful hobos), adds more magic, more maps, more monsters. Anything beginning with "M" has received attention. They've even put in a new mevelling mystem!
XCOM: Enemy Unknown has just received a collection of Achievements Unknown. Thirty of them have been added to the game's Steam Global Achievement Page, all showing placeholder names and text. It's another hint that new XCOM content could be on the way, after, last week, a Korean listing appeared for something called "XCOM: Enemy Within".
Welcome to the Game of Thrones diary, in which Rich plays as Ned Stark and tries to stay alive in the excellent Game of Thrones mod for Crusader Kings 2. The diary may contain spoilers for Game of Thrones book one and season one of the TV show. Missed the story so far? Here's part one, part two, part three and part four.
My wife tried to kill me, but that’s OK. I’ve decided Mya Stone – King Robert Baratheon’s bastard daughter, and my new bride who professes to love me – slipped and put the poison in the wrong cup. She must’ve been trying to kill someone else in the castle. An innocent mistake. A totally innocent mistake with absolutely no troubling connotations whatsoever for my rule of the largest bit of Westeros.
Welcome to the Game of Thrones diary, in which Rich plays as Ned Stark and tries to stay alive in the excellent Game of Thrones mod for Crusader Kings 2. The diary may contain spoilers for Game of Thrones book one and season one of the TV show. Missed the start? Here's part one, part two and part three.
My wife is dead and I am sad. Catelyn Stark died last month, and Ned Stark – still ruler of the North of Westeros, and still alive at my hands – is in some serious mourning. Crusader Kings II codifies that mourning in the form of negative character traits: my Ned is now ‘depressed’, ‘chaste’, and a ‘widower’ – traits that conspire to make him about as fertile as a socially awkward panda. That’s a problem when Crusader Kings II’s explicit aim is to create as strong a dynasty as possible, and my eldest son Robb is useless in a fight, diplomatic or otherwise.
Ned’s sad right now but I’m confident, thanks to some Wiki reading, that his malaise will lift. I’ll get over Catelyn, shake off my temporary chasteness and get back to the business of making strong little babies to continue the Stark name. But to do that, I need a new wife.
For the Old Gods’ sake Robert, can you please let someone else have some fun? No sooner have I re-rallied my northern forces (for the second time in as many months) with the express intention of crushing Mace Tyrell’s bid for kingship (also the second in as many months), than Robert beats him up in battle and puts him in his castle. The last time Robert did this, he let Mace go after a stern telling off, patting him on the Tyrell posterior and asking him nicely not to rebel again. Mace, being head of one of Westeros’s most powerful families and ‘Ambitious’ by nature – by character sheet anyway – immediately made another bid for the kingship.
Robert isn’t going to make the same mistake again. Out comes old headlopper, and Mace is no more, executed on Baratheon turf for his repeated treasons. My armies, raised from local peasantry and armed with northern steel – and some sticks and pitchforks – have to once again lay down arms and go back to their respective villages, their swords and pointy objects boringly blood-free. I feel bad. I promised these guys a war – several, really – but my remoteness in comparison to the rest of Westeros means I’m always the warmaid, never the warbastard.
How much do we want another game prefixed with "War"? Very much, apparently. In the case of turn-based game Warmachine Tactics, whose Kickstarter sprung up and seemingly bowled over its $550,000 goal practically overnight, it helps to be based on a much-loved tabletop game of the same name. Wading into battle, says the Kickstarter campaign, will be like holding "the power of a thunderstorm in the palm of your hand."
Turn-based WWII strategy game March of War just hit Steam Early Access, and though it’s still in development, it’s one of the most interesting new directions for the war strategy genre for a long time.
Welcome to the Game of Thrones diary, in which Rich plays as Ned Stark and tries to stay alive in the excellent Game of Thrones mod for Crusader Kings 2. Missed the start? Here's part one.
Ned Stark has killed hundreds of people – including, last week, one of his best mates for a minor transgression. But Ned always stared in their faces as he lopped their heads off, never breaking eye contact as their heads bounced around on the floor like bony footballs. I’m about to make him take a life by nefarious, sneaky means, and I feel bad.
Ned is boss of Westeros’s North, and looks after a vast swathe of land. But I wasn’t happy with the size of his territory. I wanted more for Ned. Last week, I decided he would do whatever it took to increase his holdings – even if that meant taking a life to get at that land.
Welcome to the Game of Thrones diary, in which Rich plays as Ned Stark and tries to stay alive in the excellent Game of Thrones mod for Crusader Kings 2. The diary may contain spoilers for Game of Thrones book one and season one of the TV show. This is part one. Once you're ready, use these links to make your way to part two, part threepart four, part five and part six.
Crusader Kings II is a game about scheming, plotting and advanced nefariousness in a medieval setting. It has a cast of hundreds of characters with observable traits, from tactical geniuses to lackwit blunderers, via lustful philanderers and chaste holy men.
George R R Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire books are about scheming, plotting and advanced nefariousness in a medieval setting. You can probably work out the rest. The two sync up so well, it only was a matter of time before Martin’s low-fantasy setting was ported into Paradox’s strategy game. Pleasingly, that time wasn’t very long: the Game of Thrones mod was released in beta by a group of industrious CKII fans just eight months after the main game. It’s now stable, comprehensive and easy to install. It’s what I’ll be using in this diary, and I heartily recommend you pop over to www.ck2agot.wordpress.com if you’re interested.
A quick note: this series will contain spoilers for the Game of Thrones’ TV series and books. I’ll keep major revelations from the first book onwards under my helm, but if you’ve somehow managed to avoid the novels (first released in 1996, you layabout), and also the HBO series, then pick them up and gobble them down like a juicy capon leg before reading on.
Sid Meier's Civilization V’s newest expansion, Brave New World, doesn’t hit PC until July 9. But the drive of the human spirit to create great things is so indomitable, so profound, that the producers of the launch trailer refused to wait and instead released it today. For freedom! For progress!
On an internet of visual chaff capable of eliciting millions of disingenuous LOLs, the ‘jazzy trailers’ for Leviathan: Warships stood out as being authentically amusing and intriguing teasers for this top-down, turn-based naval strategy game. The good news is that Paradox Interactive have, with their usual creative flair, produced something that’s as entertaining as its advance publicity augured.
CAUTION: After all the whizz-bang pyrotechnics, gushing blood, heavy rock, and urgent shouting from a week long bombardment of E3 trailers, this sedate Civ 5: Brave New World featurette could be a dramatic shock to the system. Don't just play it, ease into it. Maybe make a cup of tea. If you're not British, why not give it a go anyway? They're really rather good.