Saturday, January 30, 2016

The strategic choice of factions

About a week ago, I re-bought Warlords Battlecry III, which came out on Steam recently. While I did still have my CD, it had a notorious bug that made it not work on my more modern computer (invisible units and buildings are not much fun), so I'm glad I was able to get it.

I personally have always preferred it to the other RTS games I've played. Why? That's actually a good question, one I had to stop and think about while it was downloading. While there were a couple of other points, the main one was how they handled factions.

The thing is, when it comes to strategy games I feel like choosing which faction you play as should be a meaningful choice. In other words, each faction plays significantly differently from the other factions. While a common core can remain (in WBCIII that core is controlling resource buildings like mines), beyond that choosing a faction influences your strategy.

There's also the personal element of the hero units, which adds another layer of what I like to call "preparational choices", or decisions made before actively encountering your opponent (be it A.I. or another player). A lot of this boils down to how much you are willing and able to risk your hero, dependent on how tough or fragile that hero is. This "situational choice" feeds back into what race and class you picked for your hero, and the skill points you spend as he/she levels up. This kind

This stands in contrast to other RTS games like the Age of Empires series (particularly the first two games), or strategy games in other genres like the 4X Civilization games. In those cases, the central core of what you have to do every game takes up too much of your efforts, and almost every game plays out the same way based solely on what victory condition you go for.

Things can go too far the other way, though, which is how I feel about the earlier games in the Warlords Battlecry series. Both the factions and the heroes fill just a little too pigeon-holed to make situational choices in-game particularly relevant or engaging.

It doesn't make WBCIII a perfect game, but it's one where the overall gameplay stands the test of time, and one I'd highly recommend. While RTS games are a dying breed, it's good to look back at the best of them; and hope that future RTS games learn from games like it.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I might just go power through another map with my wood elf warrior and her armies. (Treants backed by druids are cool and effective, what can I say?)

Wednesday, January 27, 2016


Hello, my name is Chris Mitchell, and this is my brand-new video game blog.

I know one or two of you may be aware of my other blog, which I intend to continue to operate sporadically as I write. (The link to it is in the sidebar.) I neglected it all of last year, but this year I decided to not only pick it back up, but start this blog as well as a way of keeping me focused.

As for what this blog is: this is not a review blog, nor is it a rambling "what have I been playing" blog. (I'm saving that kind of thing for Twitter.) Instead, I'd like to take a deeper look at what I enjoy in video games, and just how many games live up to my unique standards. Here's a hint: not many.

I do plan on updating this blog at least once a week, which is a lot better than I've done in the past. Tough, I know, but I've got to get better with my work habits. Hopefully, this will help keep me motivated to keep my nose to the wheel...or whatever metaphor works best here. I think you get the idea.

Updates will be posted on Twitter (link to that is also in the sidebar), so feel free to follow me for those and my other insights.

My first significant post should be going up this Saturday, so stick around. I hope you all will enjoy this.