Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Tactical Insights 2013 Awards

Hi all, welcome to this years awards aka tactics games I thought were pretty good this year.

PC Non-indie

XCOM: Enemy Within takes the original game and adds new maps, resources, weapons, missions, enemies, and allies. I played a few hours on classic normal and it's basically Xcom:EU on steroids. I couldn't spot any glaring balance issues. Overall it's a good improvement that adds variety and depth that I thought was missing from the original, including the 2nd wave options that were patched in after launch.

Winner: XCOM: Enemy Within

Runner up: Battle Academy expansions, Panzer Corps: Allied Corps, Unity of Command: Black Turn

PC Indie

Battle Worlds: Kronos was the best overall indie tactics game this year for me, with some very strong contenders. It's based on the Battle Isle series of games, playing similar to Advance Wars and other WW2 style games.

Skulls of the Shogun is fun and fast paced, Just Tactics is a complex and involving PvP game, and Card Hunter is a cool D&D themed browser game.

The best tactics games this year are pretty much all on PC (with iOS/Android ports), and that isn't likely to change anytime soon. 2014 looks like a great year as well. Of course there are tons of indie tactics games on PC, too many to play and keep track of. Let me know if I missed anything good or great.

Winner: Battle Worlds: Kronos

Runner up: Skulls of the Shogun, Just Tactics, Card Hunter, Shadowrun Returns


There's way too many iOS and Android tactics games out there to keep track of and play. The three big ones this year are Panzer Corps, XCOM, and Frozen Synapse. If I missed some amazing iOS/Android game please let me know.

I'm giving the iOS/Android award to Panzer Corps for iPad this year. Xcom:EU is a strong contender but it's not the newest Enemy Within version. Frozen Synapse is apparently a flawless port and it's a great game if you like fast paced tactics PvP.

Winner: Panzer Corps for iPad

Runner Up: Xcom:EU for iOS, Frozen Synapse iOS, Frozen Synapse Android, Hero Academy Android, Great Big War Game Android


 Tactics games on PS3/360 have always been slim pickings, but this year we got both Skulls of the Shogun and the XCOM: Enemy Within expansion. I'm giving the PS3/360 award to Skulls of the Shogun. It's a fun and fast paced arcade style tactics game with a multiplayer focus, and plays well on a controller. Xcom is okay on consoles, but I recommend playing it on PC with a mouse and keyboard instead.

Winner: Skulls of the Shogun

Runner up: SRW Dark Prison, XCOM: Enemy Within, History: Legends of War


3DS was quite disappointing this year. Fire Emblem: Awakening and Project X Zone are both bad in terms of combat, balance, and level design, and loaded with fanservice to boot. I mean Fire Emblem: Heroes of Light and Shadow had such a great campaign, what happened?

The 3DS remake of Devil Survivor 2 with new content (subtitled Break Record) was delayed into 2014, which likely would've been my pick this year.

PSP/Vita's 2013 lineup is almost entirely imports, and it's similarly disappointing with mostly mediocre or forgettable games. Hopefully 2014 is better!

Winner: None

That's it this year, thanks for reading. Let me know if I didn't mention something you enjoyed.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Dec 2013 News

Happy holidays all. I'm working on an end of year awards article, to be posted in the next day or two. Owing to the huge growth in browser, indie, and iOS/Android tactics games, I'm expanding those categories while shrinking the console categories.

Most news taken from Rui Castro's Facebook page. Makes it very easy for me since I don't need to dig around for news myself. As always if I missed something or you want to comment on the news feel free to post a comment.

What have I been playing lately? Check out this playlist for SRW Dark Prison.

Valkyria Chronicles 3 for PSP has an alpha translation patch available. You'll need a VC3 Extra Edition UMD or PSN digital download to use the patch.

Panzer Corps for iPad is now available.

Super Robot Wars Z3-1 was announced for PS3 and Vita.

Battle Worlds: Kronos demo now available.

Jagged Alliance: Flashback is still getting developer updates on kickstarter.

The Banner Saga single player campaign hands on.

Retaliation: Path of War wargame alpha.

Sting is developing a Neptunia licensed SRPG.

Epic Arena for Android.

Danger Alliance: Battles for iOS.

Latest Telepath Tactics update.

More Natural Doctrine details. It's been delayed to March 19, 2014.

Natural Doctrine 2nd trailer and screenshots.

SRW 2 for NES now has a translation patch.

Heroes Rush: Tactics trailer.

Lionheart Tactics preview.

Daisenryaku Perfect has a new release date of Feb 6, 2014.

Hunted Cow's Russian Front announced.

Tahira: Echoes of the Astral Empire

Crasleen: Drums of War

Interesting article about a SFC tactics game I've never heard of called Genjuu Ryodan.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Oct/Nov 2013 News

Hi all, sorry for the late post. I've mostly been playing Hearthstone, Resogun, and Knack. Not exactly tactics games, but it's good to have some variety sometimes. Believe it or not there's still tons of tactics game news every month, especially on smart phones. Hard to keep up sometimes.

Most links taken from Rui Castro's facebook page.

Slitherine Games holiday sale until Jan 14th.

Battle Worlds: Kronos has officially launched. Congrats guys. New interview here.
XCOM: Enemy Within has launched. Haven't got around to playing it yet.

Details on Natural Doctrine for PS3/PS4/Vita. Link 2. This looks like PS4's first SRPG.

Riftforge on Indiegogo.

Skulls of the Shogun is now on iOS.

A look at Warhammer 40k Space Wolf.

New Incognita (alpha) trailer.

Siltherine has launched a new Battle Academy expansion based on fortress Metz.

Highborn Chapter 3 now on Steam.

Space Hulk seems to have cleaned up most of its bugs and issues and added two new DLC campaigns. Space Hulk for iPad on Dec 5 2013.

Unity of Command has a new campaign coming to Steam on Dec 10 called Black Turn.
Door Kickers preview.

Disgaea 5 in development.

Frozen Front 1941 Android trailer.

Latest Telepath Tactics update.

Julian Gollop's Chaos Reborn will soon be on kickstarter.

Release date for The Banner Saga's single player campaign (not the multiplayer that's already available).

Tactical RPG coverage on indierpgs.com

Rainbow Moon coming to Vita Dec 2013.

SRW Dark Prison for PS3 trailer.

Advance Wars: Days of Ruin has launched in Japan via Nintendo's rewards store. DoR never actually launched in Japan until now. I wouldn't exactly take this as a sign the series is returning, though.

Mighty Tactical Shooter trailer, an interesting realtime w/ pause shoot em up hybrid.

Strategy games on Linux game database.

Browser tactics game on Facebook called Ninja Zet.

Combat Monsters for iOS.

Aerena Clash of Champions.

Complicated operational level game Flashpoint Campaigns: Red Storm

Sardonyx Tactics, an SRPG for iOS/Android by a Korean dev.

Tank Operations: European Campaign

Conflict of Heroes: Storms of Steel

Gary Grigsby's War in the West new expansion. "Each turn lasts one week." I'm taking that statement literally.

Favela Wars, a cover based tactics shooter.

EMPIRE: The Deck Building Strategy Game

New Warhammer Quest content.

Video of a Valkyria Chronicles-like test game engine.

Dajika Tactics.

Battle Isle: Threshold Run. Not sure if this game is cancelled or not.

Ground Breakers.

March of War trailer.

Dark Quest iOS review.

Mutant Gangland indie tactics game trailer.

Arena of Heroes is still going with new patches.

Ultimate Space Commando

Partia: The Broken Lineage is released (or re-released) on iOS. It's pretty close to a Fire Emblem clone.

Civil War II: 1862 review.

Devil Survivor 2: Break Code for 3DS delayed to 2014.

Mech Mice gameplay trailer. This is a very simple tactics game for kids.

Frozen Synapse Red expansion.

Best smartphone turn based strategy games according to appcrawlr.com

Flash based tactical games on Kongregate.com

"The most hardcore android strategy games" according to Hardcoredroid

Frozen Endzone beta launch trailer.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

New Strategy Kickstarters

Here are 3 new strategy game kickstarters to check out. What do you guys think?

"Sword of the Stars: Ground Pounders is a turn-based strategy war game set in an exciting far-future science fiction universe. We've launched this project on Indiegogo because we want to make a fun beer-and-pretzels war game, complete with old school hex maps and strategic thinking."

"Storm the Gates is a new multiplayer turn-based tactical combat game set in a medieval fantasy world playable on PC, Mac, or tablet."

"Comic Conquest is a party-based tactical RPG where players battle through the halls of a comic con gone wrong, defeating enemies and collecting swag along the way. The game is an irreverent and light-hearted take on the awesomeness of comic cons."

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sept 2013 News

Hi all, time for some news this month. I've been playing SRW MK3, completed it, and I'm still working through SRW OE. As usual lots of tactics games and not nearly enough time to play and/or write about them all!

New tactics games not mentioned before:

Natural Doctrine

Fantasy Kommander - Eukarion Wars

Disgaea 4 port for Vita

Halfway, squad based tactics

Templar Assault, another squad based game that looks quite a bit like Space Hulk

2nd Super Robot Wars Dark Prison

Unsung Story

Ultimate Space Commando

Atomic Brawl

Hero Mages

Ancient Battle: Rome

Other news, mostly taken from Rui Castro's facebook page:

Card Hunter is now live and free to play.

Incognita early alpha access. Still meaning to try this one out, it looks good.

XCOM:EU Enemy Within trailer. Enemy Within impressions at PCgamer.

Arma Tactics is coming to PC on Oct 1 2013.

Mecho Wars HD impressions.

Disgaea D2 impressions.

Telepath Tactics updates.

Watching this footage of indie game Transistor, it looks kind of tactics-based. Not really, but it looks fun.

Battle World Kronos in closed beta.

Chaos Reborn updates.

Frozen Endzone impressions.

Warhammer Quest expansion.

Frozen Synapse: Tactics footage.

And that's it for this month. Please leave a comment if there's something new Rui or I missed.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Legions of Steel: The Video Game Kickstarter announced

Legions of Steel is a classic tactical board game, and developer Studio Nyx is creating a video game adaptation for iOS/Android and PC. The kickstarter goal is a modest 25k pounds.

LoS is a squad based shooter with accuracy/movement tradeoffs, unit facing, different modes of fire, and dice rolls. Like most board games, level design is a series of corridors and square rooms. You'll be able to set different modifiers to alter the gameplay, similar to Xcom:EU's second wave options. There will be both a single player campaign and multiplayer.

Unlike the recent Space Hulk, it won't be a 100% rigid adaptation of the board game. We can expect some tweaks that make it more suitable as a video game.

It looks like a solid and well designed squad based shooter, and I appreciate indie devs stepping forward to keep the tactics genre afloat. Head over to the kickstarter to learn more.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

August 2013 News

Hi all, time for some news this month. Gamescom is here and next gen is looking really good.

PS3, 360, and Wii had almost no tactics games worth playing, but with the new indie developer focus on next gen consoles, we might see more cross ports between PC/mobile and console.

New tactics games not mentioned before on this blog:

XCOM: Enemy Within expansion

Steam Marines

Warhammer 40k: Space Wolf

Panzer General Online

Sol Heroes

New Daisenryaku game

Combat Monsters

Ground Pounders

Girl Arms

Stellar Forces

Ground Breakers

Swords & Arrows

Strategic Command 3

Dragon's Dogma Quest

Frost Wars

Other news:

Lots of links taken from Rui Castro's facebook page

Mark of the Old Ones, an action game from the developers of Just Tactics, still in early development

Enhanced Wars kickstarter

Want to donate to Telepath Tactics and get early alpha/beta builds?

Warmachine Tactics on Steam Greenlight

Battle Academy - Rommel in Normandy Released

Rainbow Skies releasing 2014 on PS3/Vita

Star Hammer Tactics remake

Mecho Wars remake

Battle Worlds: Kronos Nov 2013 release

Friday, August 16, 2013

Space Hulk Impressions

Space Hulk was released today on Steam for $30. I know little to nothing about the Warhammer universe. I've never played the board game or collected the overpriced figurines. So I would hope Space Hulk stands up on its own merits as a video game.

In the options, you can thankfully turn off the action cam/shakycam. There's an "input options" section but none of the keys can be remapped. Would be nice to be able to check the manual mid-mission.

There are both autosaves and manual saves, but sometimes the manual save option is locked. The manual doesn't mention limits on saves at all. I'm not knocking limited saves to up the difficulty, but it would be nice to know when you can and can't save.

Hard difficulty is described as normal with 4 max CP and a realtime time limit on player phase. I remember rolling 5-6 CP on hard, though, so maybe it's not working as intended. I don't mind realtime time limits in tactics games for the most part, as long as I'm not being slowed down too much by the combat speed and UI. There's an undo button that lets you spam the RNG if you get a bad roll, although it's not quite as effective on hard mode.

I cleared the 3 prologue missions and 5 main story missions on hard without fail up until mission 6, which seems bugged. The victory conditions state to wake 3 and escape with 2 + librarian, which I did and then some. I woke all terminators, escaped with 6 (1 dead), with the librarian last, and still failed. If I'm wrong feel free to correct me, but that's what the mission conditions say.

Combat speed is about as slow as you'd expect. Your marines move and turn with all the agility of a dump truck, with no way to speed things up. It gets tiring very quickly watching them shuffle around at a snails pace. And yes, the realtime timer on hard mode keeps ticking even as the marines take their sweet time shuffling into position.

Frankly, I don't accept "it's a board game" or "they're meant to be slow" as an excuse. You should be able to fast forward or skip movement/combat animations if desired. The UI is acceptable and responsive, although some of the keyboard shortcuts are on the right hand side of the keyboard, and I had to wrestle with the camera at times to move multiple units at once. It's just the combat animations that are a drag.

Not surprisingly, combat has a very "board game" feel. Combat consists of moving slowly through corridors while saving enough AP/CP to overwatch or guard against incoming hordes of grunts. Every map I played was a series of one square wide corridors with a few 3x3 rooms. There are only two enemy types in the game, a melee grunt and a larger boss sized melee grunt.

There are a few mission objectives to add some variety to the corridor shooting, but it's very repetitive overall. Most of the variety comes in the different weapons you can play with to mow down endless waves of grunts. You get 15 missions total - not a whole lot to chew on unless you plan on replaying for achievements.

Most of the enjoyment of the game will probably come during enemy phase as you watch your well placed marines mow or beat down an endless stream of hapless grunts. If you're a serious Warhammer fan and loved the board game, you'll probably get a kick out of it.

There's a multiplayer mode but it doesn't seem like it translates very well from the board game, which is a local multiplayer match involving dice, board pieces, pizza, and probably beer. You just can't translate some of the board game experience into an online video game, same with online D&D.

They really should add an option to speed up or skip animations and patch the bugs asap, though.

Update: A 1.01 patch was released that fixes the mission 6 bug and speeds up the marines a little bit.