The Rally Point

the-rally-point:-the-battle-for-polytopia-is-this-summer’s-low-intensity-strategy-game Rock,Paper,Shotgun

The Rally Point: The Battle For Polytopia is this summer’s low-intensity strategy game

Strategy games are the go-to option when you’re looking for something to really get your brain working. But they can seem unreachable when your synapses are being melted from without rather than through overuse. Happily, we found an excellent solution last summer, and being a wily fox, I had a plan ready for this year. 2022’s now-traditional Low-Intensity Strategy Game For When Burny Light Make Think Hard is, of course, The Battle For Polytopia. Read more

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The Rally Point: Timberborn breaks the boring “village vs winter” mould

I think I’m tired of winter. It’s not the cold. It’s not even the lack of anything to do. It’s that when your main threat is starvation and hypothermia, and your only real tool is stockpiling, it often feels like your fate is already sealed come October, and waiting around to see if you survived or not carries the same sense of slow inevitability that the average RTS or 4X game does past the opening act. My first village in Timberborn gave me that feeling. Even though its dry season is the opposite of Winter, the ultimate effect was the…

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The Rally Point: End 2021 y/n?

It’s been a busy, kind of mixed year for strategy games. Ever a broad church, 2021’s seen enough releases to keep ten of me busy, from the easy-going Legion War to the month-consuming Shadow Empire. I don’t know about you, but my personal “to play” list is out of control. And yet, while we’ve had plenty to enjoy this year, it’s felt like a period of build-up to something bigger. I’m not one for looking forward. If a game’s not out yet it tends to disappear from my mind, making room for a hundred other recent releases in this age…

the-rally-point:-this-is-the-president-is-light-on-strategy,-but-novel-with-it Rock,Paper,Shotgun

The Rally Point: This Is The President is light on strategy, but novel with it

This Is The President is a game that, partway through, had me worried it wouldn’t really qualify as a strategy game. As you’d expect, it’s about being the US President, and making lots of decisions about running the country and trying not to become too unpopular. But it’s far closer to interactive fiction than a simulation, with a main plot whose demands, if failed, will instantly end the game. It has, however, got me considering what exactly “political strategy game” means. Read more

the-rally-point:-what-do-we-want-from-a-modern-rts? Rock,Paper,Shotgun

The Rally Point: What do we want from a modern RTS?

It’s been a few weeks since I came down on the side of basically liking Age Of Empires 4. Lukewarm praise, perhaps, but it seems to be doing well, and that makes me glad. We’ve needed an RTS revival for ages, right? And this one is good, if a bit safe. For the last few weeks I’ve been puzzling over the lingering feeling that it could have been more ambitious. Why do I think it could have pushed the trireme out further? Is it possible to make a modern RTS that captures the best of the classics without simply rehashing…

rally-point:-how-to-pay-the-deposit-and-enjoy-playing-strategy-games Rock,Paper,Shotgun

Rally Point: how to pay the deposit and enjoy playing strategy games

Strategy games are, as everyone knows, much like moving house. Whether it’s your first, daunting one and you don’t yet know that the whole “most stressful thing in life” line is a total lie, or you stopped counting house moves after your 15th, there’s one obstacle that never stops getting in the way: the deposit. You know you can pay it, theoretically. You could gather together the energy and focus it takes. It is not beyond you to learn how a new game works and take the time to situate yourself within its world. But doing it all at once?…

the-rally-point:-putting-mech-engineer-on-trial-(and-error) Rock,Paper,Shotgun

The Rally Point: Putting Mech Engineer on trial (and error)

When you’ve played a lot of games, or seen a lot of films, or probably eaten at a lot of restaurants or generally oversaturated your life with one subject, it’s easy to start making rules and codes for How It Should Be. I given a lot of games a hard time for being opaque and failing to explain themselves. And yet here I am, finally writing about Mech Engineer after watching and playing it for nine months, waiting for it to hit the point where I can almost, sort of, not exactly recommend it… but share my fascination with it….

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The Rally Point: compromise, or War On The Sea?

I’ve hinted a few times at my dislike of naval antics in strategy games. Since Strategic Mind set me off on a World War 2 kick, this week seemed like a good time to resolve this by picking out a dedicated seaborne war game and making a sincere effort to get over myself. It is time to declare War On The Sea. And thus it is that I gave the order to dive to crush depth with oh wait, no this is a destroyer what have I done. Read more

the-rally-point-–-strategic-mind:-fight-for-freedom-treads-old-ground-with-comfortable-boots Rock,Paper,Shotgun

The Rally Point – Strategic Mind: Fight For Freedom treads old ground with comfortable boots

Kiev-based studio Starni Games have been knocking out the Strategic Mind series since 2019. From a slightly rocky start with The Pacific (rockier still if you count 2018’s Panzer Strategy) they’ve hit their stride with Fight For Freedom, an entry showing off the American and British led chapters of the Great War reboot. The Western front is frankly overdone in any media, not just games, and I’ll admit I was hesitant. How many times have you run around Normandy with tanks and paratroopers? How many Cockneys and Ohio farmboys have you heard yelling about bunkers and stukas, versus exactly zero…

rally-point:-what-20-years-of-tropico-has-left-me-wanting Rock,Paper,Shotgun

Rally Point: What 20 years of Tropico has left me wanting

Having namedropped Tropico in the very last episode, I discovered two things this week: the happy fluke that it coincides with the 20th anniversary of the first game in the series, and that after years of waiting to use “serendipitous”, it reads far too pompously to open an introduction with it. It’s a perfect opportunity to bring up why I love the series, because that should counter-balance all the complaining I’m going to do. And I’m hinging it on this: I don’t want Tropico 7. I want another Tropico 2. Read more

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Creeper World 4 is a triumph of consistency

Consistency. That’s the word that comes to mind. It’s one to use carefully when talking about a sequel. I’m prone to criticising games, particularly long-running series, for iterating gradually rather than taking bigger chances. I’ve bemoaned Tropico’s rehashes. I’ve whinged about everyone copy-pasting XCOM to a fault. I’ve sent guys to show GTA a picture of Saints Row before throwing it through a window. But here’s Creeper World 4, quietly releasing at the end of 2020 in an already busy month. I can’t say anything about it is revolutionary, or even drastically different to the rest of the series. And…

in-the-war-of-strategy-games,-shadow-empire-has-already-won Rock,Paper,Shotgun

In the war of strategy games, Shadow Empire has already won

When Graham asked me to write a strategy games column, my first challenge was of course to think of how to annoy as many people as possible. “I won’t stretch the definition of ‘strategy’”, I thought, “I’ll warp spacetime itself until all points within it are ‘strategy’”. You have to set goals with these things. But what game would irk the most readers? “The hardcore strategy of Among Us“, maybe. Is there a Mario game on PC? I could get dark gags out of lives as strategic resources. Call Of Duty would surely make it too obvious? I left those…