The sad state of affairs the World finds itself in right now isn’t going to serve as an excuse to keep on missing Strategy and Wargaming weekly digests. All and all-and I’ve promised myself that I would keep this small piece of the internet absolutely politics-free- the only thing I have to say about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is this: In my short stint as a journalist, I have reported on one of the worst terrorist attacks in Europe, even going as far as actually writing a breaking-news story and interview about the Paris terrorist attacks in 2015. I remember posting that article and describing it to my family as “the news I wished I didn’t have to publish and I hope to never publish something like this ever again”. Even then, amidst that act of cowardice against unarmed civilians, unable to defend themselves, never have I thought I would live long enough to see Europe plunged into a senseless, unjustified conflict such as this. To everyone unfortunate enough to be embroiled in this situation: God speed and stay safe.
On a more positive note: news. Lots and lots of news. In fact, some of the most interesting news in weeks!
Steam Next Fest Is Live and so Is Attack At Dawn: North Africa Demo
The recurrent Steam Next Fest is once more available for the curious lot to try a nearly indescribable amount of videogames in record time, while the demos are still available. Considerably less generous in Strategy and Wargaming videogames, this time around, it’s an all-out “celebration of upcoming games”. If I had a gun pointed to my head and was forced to spur out a recommendation I would advise you to dive right into Attack At Dawn – North Africa. The first game from Tomislav, and possibly, the first real-time hex and counter wargame. I had the pleasure of interviewing Tomi a couple of months back, here’s an excerpt, but you should really go and read the whole thing here!
What motivated you to start working on Attack at Dawn: North Africa?
I wanted to make a real-time operational-level wargame. The idea of seeing the units on an operational scale move and the clash was something I haven’t seen before (or not in a satisfactory way at least). And North African theatre seemed the best place to start since the number of troops was limited, and mobile warfare played a very important role.
How would you describe it and how does it intend to differentiate itself from other games in the genre? What is truly unique and sets it apart?
It is a fast, polished and historical strategy game set in WW2 North African theatre. The game controls are streamlined for ease of use and fast learning. The map is large, easy to read and understand – you get a feeling of the situation in a blink of an eye. The game moves fast, units are constantly in motion and the flow of operations is clear and resembles real-life warfare. It’s as if you had a satellite and watched all those historical battles unravel in front of your eyes. What is unique? For me, that would be the combination of clear and clean maps, accessible and streamlined controls, a mix of real-time and we-go mechanics, and solid AI.
The real-time option sounds amazing and from what I’ve seen you play, it’s really manageable. How did you manage to implement that? And why not keep it traditional, turn-based?
Real-time/we-go is the key that sets this game apart from many other titles set in this period and region. There is some beauty and flow that comes out from playing the game simultaneously with your opponent. That increases the adrenaline rush and can lead to interesting twists and turns. For instance – you can be really surprised when an enemy comes at you from an unforeseen direction, something which wouldn’t be easy to accomplish in a classical turn-based wargame (especially in a tabletop world, where there is no Fog of War). That’s what I wanted to do ever since I’ve seen it in Sid Meier’s Gettysburg more than two decades ago. It was a challenge to implement. I had to keep the controls relatively simple so that the player isn’t too overwhelmed with the number of clicks and switches. Every command had to be logical, necessary, and easy to use. I also had to optimize the game several times since every calculation has to be done in real-time, lightning-fast. And doing extensive AI calculations in real-time was quite some work. But I succeeded.
Sid Meiers Ultimate Collection Is Stupid Cheap Right Now
As the younglings among us would say: Yo dawn, I heard you like cheap games. So I slapped the Ultimate Editions of some Sid Meiers’s games into an Ultimate Collection of 21 games. Unfortunately, this Ultimate Collection isn’t as Ultimate, as Ultimate would imply it is. So much so that if you’re finally considering getting your hands on Sid Meier’s Gettysburg or Sid Meier’s Antietam for the low price of $15, then you’re better off looking elsewhere. So here’s what you get:
Sid Meier’s Civilization VI; Sid Meier’s Civilization VI: Gathering Storm; Sid Meier’s Civilization VI: Rise and Fal; Sid Meier’s Civilization VI- Vikings Scenario Pack; Sid Meier’s Civilization VI- Poland Civilization and Scenario Pack; Sid Meier’s Civilization VI- Australia Civilization and Scenario Pack; Sid Meier’s Civilization VI- Persian and Macedon Civilization and Scenario Pack; Sid Meier’s Civilization VI- Nubia Civilization and Scenario Pack; Sid Meier’s Civilization VI- Khmer and Indonesia Double Civilization and Scenario Pack; A $15 Coupon for New Frontier Pass DLC; Sid Meier’s Civilization Beyond Earth- The Collection; Sid Meier’s Civilization V: The Complete Edition; Sid Meier’s Pirates!; Sid Meier’s Civilization IV: The Complete Edition; Sid Meier’s Civilization III: Complete; Sid Meier’s Starships; Sid Meier’s Railroads; Sid Meier’s Ace Patrol: Pacific Skies; Sid Meier’s Ace Patrol; Sid Meier’s Colonization (Classic); Sid Meier’s Covert Action (Classic).
While my joke in the first paragraph of this entry might come off as rather demeaning, it’s a really good deal if you don’t have any of the Civilization games and are interesting in trying them out. Personally, the series peaked at the fourth entry and it’s all downhill from there- mechanics were simplified, the game lost all of its focus in warfare and opted instead to become a glorified city builder, this being especially egregious in the sixth edition of the series. Beyond Earth is the only game I would go out of my way to recommend, and that’s more due to its esoteric setting than anything else.
Door Kickers 2 Random Mission Generator
So, this was a thing and nobody let me know! Door Kickers 2 is now sporting a new Random Mission Generator, in the same way, the first DK had one. Some of the maps showcased in the GIF in this Steam Developer Update reveal some extremely large maps.
Also, this new update has slapped the possibility of playing both random generated missions and workshop missions in Coop. If you own DK2, the Random Mission Generator panel “has now been moved to the Missions menu”. If you don’t own DK2, you’re missing out and should read “Door Kickers 2- Review: A Classic in the Making“.
WEGO WWII: Stalingrad First Developer Diary
Brian Kelly and John Duquette, the fine gentlemen behind the recently announced WEGO WWII: Stalingrad wargame has unveiled the first details on their up and coming hex-based WEGO wargame about the German Sixth Army’s assault on the city of Stalingrad, from July 1942 to November of the same year.
I’ll be paying close attention to this one, but in the meanwhile go ahead a give this post a read at Matrix Games where the developers describe the base mechanics of the game and some of the intricacies of playing a game in the WEGO format. Fascinating stuff.
Tiny Combat Arena flies Early Access
Tiny Combat Arena is really similar to my cat: adorable, cute-looking, and looks like a fun time. Just forgot to mention it is a really high-intensity creature and extremely vicious. I was lucky enough to get my hands on it a couple of days ago, even before the game hit Early Access and so far, so good, even if it is a little barebone at the moment. The game describes itself as a sim-lite combat game, with a sim-lite combat model that focuses on mixing up both fun and realist, but always looks to the first instead of the latter. Maybe I’ll find some time in the next couple of weeks to write something about it but I think it’s better to wait a couple of months before penning my thoughts on it, not wanting to be unfair to this passion project.
Anyways, that’s all I got for you this week. I’m currently finishing writing up a review for Field of Glory II: Storm of Arrows DLC that should come out sometime during the following days. Right now, I’m going to relax a bit and play some Gears Tactics, an absolute masterpiece that came out nearly two years ago and I never had the chance to give a whirl. If only we could get a good Gears shooter too!