Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Turn Based Strategy War Game : Domination

When checking out new games I hate having to scour the description page and sometimes the player reviews to see what type of game it is. Its often unclear whether it is a Real Time Strategy or Turn Based Strategy.

Sometimes, it seems the publisher is almost embarrassed to be publishing a Turn Based Strategy, when the fashionable thing to be doing is making Real Time Strategy games.

Occasionally, even when I have gone and bought the game and am looking at the packaging, I am bombarded with how the game features "Full 3d Graphic Engine!" or "Realistic Lighting and Explosions!". Occasionally we might be really lucky and be invited to "Enter a visually impressive 3D heroic fantasy universe!"

You know - all those essential things that us Turn Based Strategy Vets really crave for in our games.

Anyway enough ranting, here's another Turn Based Strategy: Domination.

Let me summarise simply:
Sequel to Massive Assault. Elegant simplicity. The new units add a lot of strategy to the already deep strategy of Massive Assault, without adding needless complexity.
Oh and Full 3D Graphic Engine, Realistic Lighting and Explosions! In a visually impressive 3D Heroic Sci-Fi Universe. Review at GameSpot

Will's Rating : 4.5/5

Purchase Domination from Amazon


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Turn Based Strategy War Game : Brasshats

Turn-Based Strategy War Game: Brasshats

Here's another little gem I have been playing recently: Brasshats.

Set in an alternate World War its Allies vs. the Central Armies.
You command the Allied forces over 28 missions to rid Europe of the Central menace.

Let's start with why this game shouldn't work:

There is a small variety of units for each side and they function identically for both sides. Troops gain experience for each kill. Each kill gives them another rank which makes them tougher to kill and meaner. However, they do not carry over from one mission to the next.

There are no upgrades or special items they can find and use.

There is no storyline as such.

There isn't a research tree.

There is just one campaign and a bunch of skirmish maps so it shouldn't take too long to finish it (although the latest version does allow you to design skirmish maps which you can share).

The graphics are simple and almost cartoony, and the battle animations are basic animated gifs.

The sounds and music are basic.

However there is a certain charm to this game that's hard to explain.

I think it all boils down to fun!

They have taken a genre and stripped it down to the basic elements, thrown in a bunch of carefully designed and carefully balanced missions. Structured it into a campaign and allowed you to get on with things.
Its simplicity is part of the charm. Part of its appeal is that it reminds me of my youth.
Evenings spent in front of old Atari ST and Commodore Amiga games (yes I had both).
Or take it even further back: my Spectrum 48K days. Where games were simple but still great fun to play.

Other things in its favour: They have added a key element: Power Cards.
These are awarded in the Campaign game. After each successfully completed mission you are rated for speed of completion and the number of units lost. The quicker you do it whilst sustaining minimal or no losses the more stars you are awarded. Get 5 stars in a mission and you get a new Power Card.

Power Cards can be played once a turn and although none of them are overpowering by themselves, when they are used at the right time they can turn the tide in a battle!

Here are a few:
Mud! (makes enemy ground vehicles miss a turn)
Medic! (heals your troops)
Blitzkrieg! (move twice)
Recruit! (gives you a free infantry unit in any town or factory owned by you)

You can potentially get quite a big deck of powercards although you will not be able to take all of them into a mission so you need to be selective.

I have spent many hours replaying different maps and designing and playing my own maps. Then downloading and playing player-submitted maps.

I have even tried cobbling my maps together to make my own campaign with its own graphics and theme although it isnt quite ready yet.

All in all, a simple, enjoyable, fun little game that fans of Turn-Based Strategy should try!

Will's Rating: 3.6/5

Download Brasshats and try for FREE from Brasshats.com

Download my maps

Download other player maps


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Turn Based Strategy Games :
Fantasy General

Now when one reaches 30-something its time to reflect on one's life.

Success and Failures

Love found and Love Lost.

Joy and Sadness.

etc etc

But I won't do that!

I will instead rabbit on about Fantasy General and how I long for a replacement!

What's Fantasy General you may ask?

Well its a simple but deep game that has everything anyone who would call themselves a strategy gamer could want!

And when I say strategy gamer I mean it in the true sense of the word. Not this new-fangled Real-Time-Strategy nonsense of build build build, mass produce, steamroller nonsense.

A game where you are allowed to take a little more time, ponder the best combination of moves in which to slaughter your opponent.

The mission objectives vary, but there are shrines to explore, towns, and abbeys, where magical artifacts can be found, or troops who join you, or deadly ambushes.

Very varied Research trees for the different races, Solid leaders, Heroes, Upgrades, multibranching campaign scenarios.

If you are still here I assume that these things rock your boat too?

Check out the reviews etc of Fantasy General at gamespot.com

Since finishing Fantasy General and replaying it for the different campaign route variations, I have been on the lookout for more games that combine the simplicity of playing with complexity and depth. In short I have been looking for THE PERFECT TBS (turn based strategy!).

Here's a few that I have enjoyed very much over the years: (in no particular order)

Galactic Assault:

Fabulous game, based on an indecipherable russian novel but the gameplay is the important thing here and it plays very well.

The First Campaign is a extended tutorial that will get you familiar with all your units. Most tutorials like these are really simple and pointless if you are already au fait with these types of games. Here however, the tutorial is essential as you will learn a lot of about your unit capabilities that you will need in future battles.

This game is no walk in the park and although not too difficult, it will make you plan your moves very carefully. Read full reviews at gamespot

Will's Rating: 5/5

Fantasy Wars:

The closest to Fantasy General that I have found so far. You get powerful hero units that gain spells or skills that are unique to that hero. All armies are upgradeable when improved units come along. Magical Artifacts can be found while exploring dungeons or caves , units gain experience and can upgrade skills that are unique to the unit.

In total there are 3 long campaigns playing as the humans, orcs, and elves.

The Difficulty level is set just right although it is harder than many turn based strategy games I have played. Even in Easy Mode, to get a gold rating for missions you really need to focus on the mission objectives and push forward. There is no time to spare!

All in all I think this is an excellent game! Full review from gamespot here

Will's Rating: 5/5

Purchase Fantasy Wars (PC) from Amazon

Massive Assault

Massive Assault looks like a 3D real-time strategy game but plays like a streamlined turn-based wargame--or a souped-up version of chess. While it might look simplistic, at first, it actually requires careful thinking and offers entertaining gameplay. Unfortunately, even though Massive Assault is fairly easy to learn and is very user-friendly, it can be a bit difficult.

Good but the sequel : Galactic Assault is better!

Will's Rating: 4/5

Purchase Massive Assault (PC) from Amazon

War on Folvos:

Fabulous little gem, hard; but good graphics and good little units.

Some missions have turn limits and you will have plan movements and attacks carefully in order to complete the missions on time. This provides quite a challenge.

Designed by a small independent company of 2 designers. I have been petitioning them to produce a sequel but they are reluctant: the rewards are not worth it. Is the Turn-based strategy game dead? Show your support and try the game for free and if you like it, purchase it!

Will's Rating: 5/5

Download War on Folvos and try for FREE from BigFishGames

Shattered Union:

another excellent game released commercially not long ago by PopTop Software.

Gamespot draws the comparison to Advance Wars. There are certainly similarities to Advance Wars. Shattered Union is a turn-based combat game that features simple yet deep mechanics that are easy to pick up but hard to master, just like Advance Wars. But Shattered Union feels more like a spiritual heir to Panzer General: one of the classics of the 90's.

Panzer General was a huge hit because it offered elegant and simple gameplay that belied a considerable amount of strategic depth and replaybility. In other words, it was a game that just about anyone could pick up and enjoy, from the complete newcomer to the grizzled wargame veteran. Shattered Union is the same.

Combat is great, attacks are animated similar to the classic Blue Byte: Battle Isle series where one of the combatants fire on the other unit, and then the other unit retaliates. Very Retro. units start looking battered and heavily damaged units billow in smoke. Graphics are good for a Turn Based game.

Read the full review at Gamespot

Will's Rating: 4.5/5

Purchase Shattered Union (PC CD) from Amazon

Rites of War (warhammer 40000 world)

Can't find through the abandonware sites. Fabulous game with the player controlling the Eldar in campaigns against the Human Imperium, and the Tyranid. Together, these three races are a fascinating bunch, so much so that they clearly influenced their counterparts in Blizzard's wildly popular real-time strategy game Starcraft.

Gamespot didnt like it so here is a gamespot player review.

Will's Rating: 5/5

Purchase Warhammer 40,000: Rites Of War from Amazon

Final Liberation: (warhammer 40000 world)

Superb goldie oldie.

Final Liberation looks and feels like a traditional turn-based wargame, but meticulous gameplay balance and dozens of imaginative units set it apart.Both the Imperium and Orks offer several dozen types of infantry and armored units that must be deployed in careful combinations to succeed. Once the conflict begins, you and your opponent take turns spreading your forces across huge, detailed maps in an attempt to gain ground quickly but remain as safe as possible and hopefully out of your enemy's line of sight. Read the full gamespot review here

Available FREE through the Home of the Underdogs.

Will's Rating: 4/5

Download the FULL version of Final Liberation for FREE!


this was by SCi, by sadly this game has disappeared off the face of the earth. No links or mentions anywhere on gamespot but a quick google revealed that its been resurrected by Home of the Underdogs.

Over 60 missions to complete, with more than 70 playable combat units of the Alliance and the Forces of Darkness.

Units gain experience and gain skills and morale when they get promoted.

Research and development plays an important part making new units and technologies available. In addition you can research upgrades for your existing units giving them better weapons or equipment. You also get promoted up the ranks. Read the full review here

Will's Rating: 5/5

Download the FULL version of SpellCross for FREE!

Fantasy General:

The game that started this whole thing. My review is above. Any question? You want to play it? for free? ok then, here we go.

Available now on www.abandonia.com

Will's Rating: 5/5
Download the FULL version of Fantasy General for FREE