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Last update: 2013-06-28

Episode 222: Wargame: See Deep, Think Deeper


Bruce and Tom join Rob for a late-night chat about Wargame: AirLand Battle, Cold War tactics and politics, and Rob's overwhelming awfulness at this game.


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Episode 221: Binding With Iron

Length: 1s

Troy and Bruce team up to discuss the track record of railroad games through strategy history, from 1830 through Railroad Tycoon and Rails Across America and beyond. How do these games distinguish themselves from each other? What is the attraction? Does Ticket to Ride count?


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Episode 220: Expanding the Company of Heroes

Length: 1s

Relic's Quinn Duffy and former Relic producer and friend of the show Shane Neville join Rob to talk about Company of Heroes past and future.


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Episode 219: Meeting of the Minds

Length: 1s

Rob talks to the Paradox brain trust of CEO Fred Wester and VP Shams Jorjani to discuss publishing, Paradox's approach to the business, and whether reviewers are the enemy.


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Episode 218: The War in Europa

Length: 1s

EU IV lead Thomas Johansson and freelance writer Joe Robinson join Rob to talk about their recent adventures with a massive EU IV multiplayer session.EU IV lead Thomas Johansson and freelance writer Joe Robinson join Rob to talk about their recent adventures with a massive EU IV multiplayer session.EU IV lead Thomas Johansson and freelance writer Joe Robinson join Rob to talk about their recent adventures with a massive EU IV multiplayer session.


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Episode 217: Victoria Day

Length: 1s

3MA Producer Michael Hermes and GWJ editor Erik Hanson joins Rob and Tom to talk about Victoria II: Heart of Darkness. Rob is reconsidering some of his earlier, harsher views on Victoria while Tom argues that it is a towering achievement of game design that speaks to real-world politics in a way few others have ever attempted.


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Episode 216: Lost in Space

Length: 1s

Paul Dean joins Rob to talk about their shared frustration with the state of strategy games among the stars.


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Episode 215: Early Access

Length: 1s

Tom Chick and Rob talk about the rise of early access programs, whether it's a good thing, and what it means for their work.


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Episode 214: We <3 the Swarm

Length: 1s

Andrew Groen and Sean Sands join Rob to discuss how Heart of the Swarm has changed StarCraft 2, and the evolving competitive landscape.


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Episode 213: On Campaign

Length: 1s

Tom joins Rob and Troy to talk about campaigns in RTS games, particularly StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm.


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Episode 212: Set Disruptors to Acts of God

Length: 1s

Troy, Julian, Dave Heron, and Rob talk about the role of extraordinary disruptions in strategy games. From acts of God to the acts of Khan, why don't more strategy games include disruptions? And should they?


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Episode 211: Worth a Thousand Words, the PAX East Panel

Length: 58s

PAX East Panel


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Episode 210: A Silly Place

Length: 1s

Chris Remo and Rowan Kaiser join Rob to dissect SimCity and its many quirks.


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Episode 209: Desktop to Table Top

Length: 1s

Bruce and Troy welcome Paul Rohrbaugh from High Flying Dice Games to the show to talk about what it means to be a desktop wargame publisher? Why do desktop games support greater variety in conflicts? Is there a limit on what can and cannot be done? What does a desktop consumer look like? And stay tuned to the end for a pretty cool wargame story.


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Episode 208: Social Gaming

Length: 51s

Rob Daviau joins Julian, Rob, and Troy to talk about games that are more about social interaction than mechanics. Traitor games, party games, and negotiation games.


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Episode 207: Eagles Marching

Length: 1s

Awesome Out of Ten's Fraser Brown and PC Gamer's T.J. Hafer join Rob to talk about Paradox's March of the Eagles.


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Episode 206: Cold Warriors

Length: 1s

It's just Troy and Rob this week as they reflect on Cold War strategy games and the unique challenges and temptations of that setting.


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Episode 205: A Final Unity

Length: 1s

2x2's Tomislav Uzelac joins Bruce and Rob to talk about designing Unity of Command, scenario design versus systems design, and where the series goes from here.


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Episode 204: Gate-Crashing the Roman Empire

Length: 1s

Jon Shafer joins Rob and Troy to talk about his new project, At the Gates, and the role of map evolution.


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Episode 203: Classic Career Analysis with Chris Taylor

Length: 1s

Gas Powered Games' Chris Taylor joins Rob, Troy, and Julian to talk about Total Annihilation and the Supreme Commander series, as well the problems currently facing Gas Powered and their Wildman Kickstarter.


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Episode 202: Best of the Best 2012

Length: 1s

It's old home week on Three Moves Ahead as the full panel assembles to talk about their favorite games and trends of 2012, and Tom Chick crashes the party to bury the hexagon, not to praise it.


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Episode 201: Best of the Guests 2012

Length: 1s

Our most frequent guets in 2012, designers Soren Johnson, Jon Shafer, and Dave Heron return to 3MA to talk to Rob about their favorite experiences of the year.


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Episode 200: Tapping Past Bastogne

Length: 57s

2013 opens with a look at Shenandoah Studios' Battle of the Bulge for iPad. Everyone agrees that it is shiny and beautiful, but does it work as it should? Is it even a Bulge game at all? Listen as Troy, Bruce and Julian work out what makes Battle of the Bulge a near perfect match of design and platform.


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Episode 199: Some Assembly Required

Length: 56s

Troy and Julian welcome freelance writer and co-proprietor of the Shut Up, Sit Down Show, Paul Dean, to talk about house rules and modding in board games. Why do we do it? What counts as a mod of a board game? And how do you get other people to play them? Creativity, design, drinking - Troy is good at one of these things, but a fine chat is had.


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Episode 198: The Kessel Run

Length: 1s

Rowan Kaiser rejoins Rob and Bruce to talk about War in the East, while Bruce has been busy with the Don to the Danube expansion. Rowan has thoughts about approaching the hardest of the hardcore wargames from a newcomer's perspective, while Rob is laboring under the most epic misconception in 3MA history. Bruce is a little bit disappointed in the new scenarios, and he and Rob discuss their ideal Eastern front scenarios. Then the panel talk about Matrix prices, and what they mean for the genre.


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Episode 197: All By Myself

Length: 1s

Troy and Bruce welcome original panelist Tom Chick back to the show to talk about solitaire boardgames, starting with the new Phantom Leader for iPad and then roaming through Nemo's War, Levee En Masse, some Lovecraftian thing and Ambush. What makes a solitaire board game distinct from a computer game played against an AI? When do theme and production values matter? Plus the return of the Geryk outro tunes.


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Episode 196: Grunt's Eye View

Length: 1s

Rob is joined by Shawn Andrich, Evan Lahti, and Phill Cameron to talk about Planetside 2 and the past and future of the large-scale shooter. At what point does the scale start to turn a shooter into a strategy game, and does Planetside hit that level? Everyone suspects that Planetside would be more strategic if only there were a commander role, and Rob and Shawn are reminded of the old Battlezone games. Evan is impressed by how diverse the experiences and battlefields are in Planetside 2, but everyone has doubts about the F2P economy and the progression system. The group also talk about the ArmA series and Natural Selection 2's blend of RTS and FPS.


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Episode 195: Classic Game Analysis - Age of Mythology

Length: 1s

Rob and Troy welcome freelancer John Peter Grant to the show to talk about one of the greatest real-time strategy games ever made - Ensemble's Age of Mythology. The art, the story, the balance, the structure -- everything is examined in a deep and wide-ranging conversation about why this game still stands as a landmark title with a lot to teach the modern RTS developer and player.


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Episode 194: Checking In With Arcen

Length: 58s

Last seen way back in Episode 37, Chris Park from Arcen Games returns to the show to talk to Troy, Michael Hermes and Shannon Quesnel about AI War: Fleet Command on the occasion of the release of Version 6.0. Chris talks about how theme and vision dictate patching, the particular skills that a hardcore niche audience can bring to an indie game and how Steam is the best promotional tool they have.


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Episode 193: A Million Little Plastic Pieces

Length: 1s

Rob Daviau joins Rob and Julian to talk about components, game enchancements, and theme. How does component quality factor in design decisions, and how much should they support theme? Why do we get so attached to the sensations that accompany a game, to the point where it can profoundly affect the quality of our experience? Why did War of the Ring nearly get Rob Zacny pulled over at the border?


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Episode 192: Fallen Enchantress with Derek Paxton

Length: 1s

Derek Paxton comes back to the show to talk with Tom, Rob, Bruce, and Troy about Fallen Enchantress, his massive revision of 2010's Elemental: War of Magic. He explains how he started reshaping Elemental, and how the project grew along the way. Tom is already a big fan, and even suggests that Fallen Enchantress may be close to Master of Magic-levels of greatness. Rob and Troy are a bit more reserved, and some arguments break out over diplomacy, the early game, and the tactical combat. Derek details his thinking on each of those points, and goes a long way to explaining why Fallen Enchantress works the way it does.


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Episode 191: Return to Summoner's Rift

Length: 1s

In a perhaps dangerously detailed discussion of League of Legends, Rob and Julian talk to Rhea "Ashelia" Monique and Julian Williams about the recent League of Legends championship. They talk about the new ways pro teams are playing the game, and the connection between the pro game and the regular ranked play. They also talk about the importance of casual play and bringing in new players, and discuss the different ways StarCraft 2 and League of Legends approach that issue.


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Fatality!: The XCom Review Show

Length: 55s

Dave Heron and Jon Shafer return to the show to talk about XCom: Enemy Unknown with Julian and Troy. They talk about the streamlining Firaxis has done to the franchise and how it has paid off. How do the strategic and tactical levels meld? Is the voice acting any good? How replayable is it? And listen to their inevitable list of nitpicks. Apologies for the sound quality - internet kicked out making the master recording a bit of a jumble.

Troy's thoughts on XCom, Rob and Joe Robinson talk XCom and Rob argues in favour of its simpler design


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Episode 189: Through a Glass, Darkly

Length: 1s

Klei's Nels Anderson and Firaxis' Scott Lewis join Rob and Troy to talk about fog of war and hidden information in game design. They talk about Mark of the Ninja and how information-gathering becomes a key game phase, and how games like Civilization use fog of war as a way to keep the player focused on a small, manageable area at the start of the game. The group discuss other ways to represent information-gathering, touching on games like Wargame, XCOM, Panzer Corps, and even 2006's Chromehounds.

Apologies for any audio issues. We lost Scott Lewis' audio track to a glitch.


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Episode 188: We Will Be Watching, Commander

Length: 1s

Bruce and Rob welcome Jake Solomon, lead designer of Firaxis' new XCOM, and interrogate him mercilessly. Jake explains his design choices and the trade-offs he faced in adapting and updating X-COM.


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Episode 187

Length: 1s

Michael Hermes joins Rob, Troy, and Julian to talk about FTL. Why FTL understands why we like space, its lovely simplicity, and why unfairness is cool.


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Episode 186: Playing at the World

Length: 54s

This week, Troy and Bruce talk to Jon Peterson, author of the epic gaming history tome, Playing at the World. They talk about the turning points in the evolution of wargames, when a wargame becomes a role playing game and the important task of collecting and compliling gaming's long and often small scale history. 


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Episode 185: Class is in Session

Length: 1s

This week, Troy, Julian and Bruce welcome back frequent guests Rob Daviau and Bill Abner to talk about the touchy subject of trying to teach games. Though the focus is on board gaming, there are useful lessons about how to approach communication, building the right mindset for the pupil and the challenges of trying to read, teach, play and compete all at once


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Episode 184: Best-Case Scenario

Length: 1s

Julian and Rob are wrapping up their vacation when they realize they should probably record a show. An underwhelming board game and their simmering frustration with long campaigns leads to a discussion of what they want from scenario design. They consider the tension between their desire a self-contained, quick-playing scenario and their resentment of puzzles and narrow solutions.


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Episode 183: Taking Command for Bull Run 2: Run Harder

Length: 1s

Bruce, Troy, and Rob discuss Take Command: 2nd Manassas and why it is one of the best tactical Civil War games ever made. Along the way they discuss what they want from wargames, mission structure, and how few games really address the real challenges of battlefield command. The group lapse into a Tim Stone-induced reverie as they discuss games that have dealt with command and control from the perspective of a Napoleon or Lee. Apologies for sound quality issues: Rob's microphone was having a disastrous day.


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Episode 182: Three's a Crowdsourcing

Length: 1s

Bruce, Troy, and Rob discuss the changing landscape of game financing, or at least they try to. The end up discussing Kickstarter almost exclusively, the return of Tom vs. Bruce, and their feelings of optimism about what crowd-funding can mean. Troy douses them with the cold water of reality. They also contemplate the strange meta-game of Kickstarters, and Ian Bogost's skepticism. Nobody can pronounce OUYA.


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Episode 181: Blendo Games

Length: 1s

Blendo Games' Brendon Chung joins Rob and Julian to talk about Flotilla, Atom Zombie Smasher, Gravity Bone, and his approach to design. Rob and Julian are fascinated by his willingness to conclude a game when it is at its best, and Brendon explains why that is and the things from his own games that he wants to revisit. Rob is crushed to hear of the lost, X-COM style metagame for Atom Zombie Smasher.


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Episode 180: Thinking Machines

Length: 1s

Soren Johnson and Cryptic Comet's Vic Davis return to talk about artificial intelligence, its limitations, and their changing views on what to do about it.


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Episode 179: Spy Games

Length: 1s

Soren Johnson returns to talk spies, espionage, and covert action with Rob and Julian. They then subject espionage mechanics to forty minutes of interrogation, torture, and unkind words. Then they remember the one game they've played that has spies and espionage that they don't hate. Suspiciously, Rob's microphone fails midway through the show. Happenstance or sabotage from an enemy agent?


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Episode 178: Unit Customization and Game Design

Length: 51s

Sixth Beatle Soren Johnson returns along with new guest, Cliff Harris from Positech - designer of Gratuitous Space Battles and the new Gratuitous Tank Battles. This week, how does the idea of unit customization fit with general design principles? At what point is this mechanic an intrusion into good 4x game design? Where do designer and player expectations collide?


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Episode 177: Pokemon Conquest

Length: 42s

With everyone very busy and very tired, a shorter and smaller show than usual this week. Troy welcomes Pokemon trainer and DS guru Nadia Oxford to the show to talk about the weird mixture of Pokemon and Nobunaga's Ambition in Pokemon Conquest. How does it differ from other Pokemon games? Do the strategic and tactical levels work? As the 3DS slowly pushes the original out of the way, what is legacy of the DS as a strategy platform?


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Episode 176: We're Making a Better World

Length: 1s

Cory Banks joins Julian, Troy, and Rob to talk about fiction and world-building in strategy games. They talk a lot about Endless Space and whether or not its fiction is undercooked, and how it affects the rest of the game. Does having an interesting world make for a better strategy game? Is Civilization just abstracting human history, or is it doing world-building of its own? The gang considers Alpha Centauri, and what its fiction added to the game, and what the poor fiction of Rise of Legends and Kohan took away. Julian explains why Warhammer's fiction works so brilliantly.


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Episode 175: Gods and Kings

Length: 1s

Popcap's Jeff Green joins returning guest David Heron, Troy, and Rob for a discussion of the Civilization V expansion Gods and Kings. Together, they discuss why Civ V was so controversial, how G&K changes it, and whether its major changes seem quite as meaningful now that they've put some time into it. Be sure to listen to the episode for details on a little contest to give away some spare Sins: Rebellion keys. Which we should have done last week, but we forgot. Because we're disgraceful. But still pretty great.


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Episode 174: For I Have Sinned

Length: 1s

Ironclad's Blair Fraser and Stardock's Chris Bray join Rob, Julian, and freelance writer Kat Bailey to discuss the new Rebellion stand-alone expansion to Sins of a Solar: Empire. Kat wants to know what the hell to do about Advent culture. Rob wants to know why Rebellion looks so good. Blair wants everyone to know that the story of SoaSE guides its ongoing direction. Then Blair and Chris tease us with the greatest idea in the history of gaming.


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Episode 173: Going Pro

Length: 1s

Rod "Slasher" Breslau, eSports correspondent for GameSpot and a panelist on Live on Three, joins Julian and Rob to help them with their recent conversion to the cause of eSports and pro gaming. They discuss the difficulties of getting into the pro gaming scene, how it evolved, and the different forms of success embodied by StarCraft 2 and League of Legends. They also describe why eSports appeal to them, and how it speaks to them as strategy gamers.


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Episode 172: I AM WARLOCKED

Length: 1s

Better late than never, freelance friends Jason Wilson and Rowan Kaiser join Rob for a love-in on Warlock: Master of the Arcane. They discuss how much it improved with patches, how its trans-dimensional map is both amazing and wasted, and how it solves classic problems of the fantasy strategy game. Big thanks to Jonathan Downin for taking on production duties this week.


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Episode 171: Fun with 3MA

Length: 1s

Tom Chick, SMG studios designer David Heron, and Jon Shafer join Rob to reflect on their various issues with "fun" and how we relate to games. It's a rambling discussion about what we want from games, how we want to talk about them, and whether enjoyment is possible without fun.


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Episode 170: Classic Game Analysis - Kohan

Length: 1s

Tom Chick comes back to the show to join Rob and Troy for a look back at one of the great real time strategy series – Timegate’s Kohan games. What made Kohan unique and what games, if any, have followed on its original ideas? Is Kohan 2: Kings of War really an inferior sequel? Cities as offensive weapons, the tricks around force posture and the mysteries of who the Kohan are are explored. Also, another one of Tom’s stupid quizzes.


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Episode 169: Out of the Park Baseball and Managing Things

Length: 1s

This week, Bill Abner from No High Scores returns to the show along with new guest Dirk Knemeyer from Conquistador Games. What do they have in common? Both have better OOTP league teams than Troy does. The trio talk about the improvements in OOTP 13, what makes the OOTP series so special and enduring – if sometimes confusing, and why sports management games are some of the purest strategy games available. Bill sets Dirk straight on some things, Dirk complains about not finding stuff and Troy owns up to the worst free agent signing in baseball history.


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Episode 168: Bomber Command

Length: 1s

Lee Brimmicombe-Wood returns to the podcast so Bruce Geryk can talk more about bombers and commanding in them, in the recently released board game Bomber Command. And this time, we let them talk it all the way through! More on design decisions, simulating the air war and balancing history and play.


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Episode 167 - Naval War: Arctic Circle

Length: 57s

Jan Haugland from Turbotape Games drops by to talk to Rob about the art and science of designing a modern naval sim. Radars, ships, scenarios...is Naval War: Arctic Circle the spiritual successor to Harpoon that I have been waiting for?


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Episode 166: Strategic Tee Ball

Length: 1s

Jon Shafer joins Rob, Troy, and Julian to talk about challenge in strategy games. What kind of challenges do we want from strategy games, and how does it get botched? Why are people still surprised when AI opponents aren't very clever? Why are they so hesitant to take on multiplayer? What's the difference between good scenario design and unfair scenario design? How amazing is Unity of Command? Seriously, you guys.


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Episode 165: Beware of Falling Samurai

Length: 1s

PC Gamer staff writer Tom Senior and freelance writer Phill Cameron come to Rob's podcasting island, bringing with them rifles and steam-powered ironclads. Things swiftly turn violent as they discuss Shogun 2: Fall of the Samurai, and some of the Total War series' longstanding contradictions. How does balance function in Fall of the Samurai, and how does the campaign structure let down the setting? Why does the AI behave as if it's not sure if it's in a game, or a history sim? How does Fall of the Samurai change the role of gunpowder weapons?


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Episode 164: PAX East 2012 Panel: Strategy - What's Changing, What Needs To

Length: 1s

We heard the people, and we brought Three Moves Ahead directly to the masses who gathered at PAX East. But what if you missed it? Will we punish you for your lack of dedication? Yes, but you can still listen to this episode. Listen to Rob forget to introduce himself or the panel, a panel that includes Troy, Julian, Paradox's Chris King (Victoria II), Stardock's Jon Shafer (Civ V), and Hasbro's Rob Daviau (Risk Legacy). Why is this such a good time to be a strategy gamer, and how can we make it better?


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Episode 163: Fifty, Alive, and King

Length: 1s

Rob welcomes freelancer Rowan Kaiser and designer Jon Shafer to talk about Crusader Kings 2. They swap stories, discuss the impact of making a family-based strategy game, and question whether there's all that much crusading going on here.


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Episode 162: Guess Who's Coming to Podcast?

Length: 1s

Idle Thumbs visits Three Moves Ahead to start discussing plans. As Sean Vanaman mandates a Far Cry 2 episode quota, Troy and Rob begin to realize they have made a deal with a Kickstarter devil. Still, there is more that unites the podcasts the divide them. The panel discusses what their respective podcasts are really about, and what they hope to achieve with a podcast network. Idle Thumbs discusses the surprising cost of running a successful Kickstarter.

Honestly, this is more a conversation between new partners than a proper episode. There is a lot of thinking out-loud about our intentions, rather than a cohesive topic. It's kind of what you might expect from this group of people. Don't worry, though, regular programming resumes next week.


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Episode 161: Safety in Numbers

Length: 1s

As is appropriate for a week where you join a group of podcasting super-friends, the regular panel of Bruce, Troy, Rob, and Julian gets together to discuss co-op gaming. They share old war stories, co-op and learning, what they want from co-op, and how co-op games employ adversarial and story elements. Julian tells a story about collaborative board gaming, Bruce strangles him.


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Special Announcement: Three Moves Ahead Is All Thumbs

Length: 10s

Rob and Troy look at the Idle Thumbs Kickstarter and conclude that maybe these crazy kids know what they are doing. Maybe Rob and Troy are crazy kids themselves, and maybe they have a plan so crazy it just might work. They have partnered up with Idle Thumbs, finally giving Three Moves Ahead and its community the home they deserve as a part of the Idle Thumbs network.

You have questions, and Rob and Troy have some answers! But never forget that Three Moves Ahead remains an independent podcast. It's like it joined an awesome podcast commune led by our talented, brilliant friends. Friends who love 3MA as much as we do, and who have some great plans to help it grow. Don't forget to retweet, and ask us questions via email and Twitter. We'll do a proper introduction to the Idle Thumbs network next week!


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Episode 160: No Standing on the European Escalator to War

Length: 1s

The Russians are coming, and they're bringing Tom Chick with them to talk about Wargame: European Escalation. Bruce, Troy, and Rob take the field to share their enthusiasm for Wargame and how it makes some smart revisions to its predecessor, RUSE. They discuss its clever approach to LOS rules and unit spotting, how it blends wargaming with RTS, and the orgy of period detail it includes.


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Episode 159: Bruce and Julian's iPad Adventure

Length: 1s

Hold onto your black t-shirts and skim lattes! It's all iPad, all the time on 3MA, as Bruce declares the iPad the greatest platform for strategy games, and Julian explains why the real story of the iPad announcement is the iPad 2 price drop. Then, this being Bruce and Julian, they fall to arguing minutiae about specific games, like Titan. Rob wants to know whether the iPad will ultimately move in the same complex direction as a lot of PC strategy games did, but Bruce and Julian think the iPad interface limits complexity. Then Bruce admits he's sick of board game conversions.


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Episode 158: Conquest of Elysium 3

Length: 1s

Rob Zacny gets a well earned week off and lets the old people run the show as Troy welcomes Bruce Geryk and Tom Chick to talk about Illwinter's new game Conquest of Elysium 3. It's a strategy game, it's a roguelike, it's an adventure. Tom talks about how the developers can make the game more engaging, Troy is the only person who thinks it's pretty ugly and Bruce demonstrates that only he has an ear for music.

But everyone agrees that they really like Conquest of Elysium 3.


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Episode 157: Not Quite Back in Action

Length: 1s

Darius Kazemi and GameSpy Editor-in-Chief Dan Stapleton return to 3MA to discuss Jagged Alliance: Back in Action. Darius wants to know where the role-playing went, while Dan got heartily sick of the pause-and-go system in larger battles. Rob is going to murder whoever came up with the inventory system. All in all, they had an okay time.


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Episode 156: Homage to Arulco

Length: 1s

PC Gamer's Evan Lahti and game designer Darius Kazemi parachute into 3MA to liberate it from Rob and Bruce. Their only weapon is a frightening knowledge of Jagged Alliance 2, but that just might be enough to get the job done. Darius explains why it is his favorite game, and makes a good case for it being the coolest game ever. Evan sees Jagged Alliance 2 as a game the defines 1990s' design, typifying the mix of ambition, quirkiness, and technical simplicity characteristic of the era's best offerings. Rob loves its portrayal of guerrilla warfare, and how Jagged Alliance was willing to punish hubris. Listen to war stories, Easter eggs, and memories of the strange cast of characters that comprise Jagged Alliance 2.


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Episode 155: The (Very) Simple Joys of King Arthur 2

Length: 56s

Freelance writers Andrew Groen and Charlie Hall join Rob for a conversation about King Arthur 2: The Role-Playing Wargame. Everyone digs the setting, but opinions begin to diverge about the quality of the battles, and whether KA2's elements even hang together in a way that makes sense. Rob and Andrew can barely remember losing a battle, but Charlie creates his own challenges by trying to win cleanly. Is King Arthur 2 actually a good game, and is there hope for Neocore to finally get this formula right?


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Episode 154: Unfrozen Caveman Gamers

Length: 46s

Recent Good Old Games releases have gotten Rob thinking about what he wants to rescue from the past (besides Troy, that is). Julian doesn't think the distant past is the big problem, it's the games of the late 90s and early 2000s. Everyone agrees the LucasArts situation is a disgrace. Troy says Alpha Centauri doesn't hold up all that well, and is swiftly nerve-stapled and loaded into the Punishment Sphere.


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Episode 153: Paradox Con Reloaded

Length: 58s

Jenn Cutter and Dan Stapleton return to 3MA to talk about Paradox Con with Rob. They discuss War of the Roses, Gettysburg: Armored Warfare, Arctic Circle, Salem, and Napoleon's Campaigns 2, as well as some prominent no-shows.


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Episode 152: A Few Minutes of Show with Martin Wallace

Length: 1s

Bruce, Julian, and Rob host board game designer Martin Wallace to ask him that timeless question, "How awesome is your game?" The crew discuss A Few Acres of Snow, the card-based board wargame that has consumed their lives, and dissect how it handles its subject: The French and Indian War. Martin explains why a game about 18th-century colonial warfare was originally conceptualized as a game about interstellar warfare. How does Martin approach his various subjects, and why does he think that is distinct from how most wargames are designed?


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Episode 151: If on a winter's night a gamer

Length: 57s

Rob, Julian, and Hasbro's Rob Daviau are marooned in rural Massachusetts. To avert cabin fever, they gather 'round the fireplace with a few microphones to talk about whether gaming gives them any carry-over skills for other activities, like cooking and work. Do games make us better at reasoning and problem analysis? Do they provide the same kind of perspective as an econ or stats course, for example? Julian is convinced he's a better negotiator because of games. Are we talking about gamification as opposed to achievement-ization, and is it helpful to try and perceive an underlying system to everyday tasks?


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Episode 150: The Year in Review

Length: 1s

The original cast, gets together to look at the strategy games they liked in 2011. We focus on the positive and talk about Atom Zombie Smasher, Shogun 2, Unity of Command, Men of War and lots of other names are dropped. Also a preview of the games we are looking forward to in 2012.


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Episode 149: On the Care and Feeding of BattleMechs

Length: 1s

Rob hosts a conversation with Catalyst Game Labs' Randall Bills and Piranha Games' Russ Bullock and Bryan Ekman. Such a group can only mean one thing: BattleTech discussion. Does the BattleTech board game hold up after all these years? Do the various BattleTech and MechWarrior games and books create difficult expectations for what a mech game "should" be? What are the benefits of having a gameworld with so much history, and how do BattleTech-related games tap into it? How do the board games influence the upcoming MechWarrior Online?


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Episode 148: Unity of Command

Length: 48s

Rob and Troy talk about 2x2's new entry-level wargame, Unity of Command, and why it is such a huge success. How does it stack up against Panzer Corps, and why is it more a wargame than a puzzle game? Why is its treatment of supply so important? Can you make a really challenging wargame without implying puzzle-like solutions?


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Episode 147: Fire No Guns, Shed No Tears

Length: 59s

A heavily medicated Rob hosts Julian, Troy, and Bruce to explain what's so boring about peace, love, and understanding. Why does strategy gaming usually come back to armed conflict, with the exception of city-builders? Do most people really even want games about other subjects, and can designers make good games out of them? What ever happened to A Force More Powerful, and why does it make Bruce want to punch Troy? How do board games handle these subjects, and do Eurogames get them right?


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Episode 146: On the Air

Length: 1s

It’s more a fancy lecture and masterwork design class than a bunch of guys guessing about what works when board game desiger Lee Brimmicombe-Wood sits down with Troy and Bruce to talk about his history of making games about air power, the challenges in getting all the cool technical bits down and the difficulties in making the bombing of civilians a game factor you cannot ignore. Can you make a strategic game about an air war still be about flying? What limits do you put on the player to make Luftwaffe raids roughly historical?


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Three Moves Ahead Episode 145: Q&A with R&T

Length: 1s

When you're too busy for a real topic, it's good to have listeners that are ready with questions. Rob and Troy take some time to answer your queries. Games we hate, the definition of RTS, whether Paradox has a subgenre monopoly and much more.


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Episode 144: Risky Business with Rob Daviau

Length: 1s

Friend of the show and returning guest Rob Daviau joins Rob and Julian to talk about his new game, Risk: Legacy. They talk about how Legacy uses unlocks and persistent changes to deepen the standard Risk experience. Daviau describes lessons learned during playtesting about how players learn games and fail to make good long-term decisions. Why have some gamers been so resistant to the changes in Legacy? Does Legacy suggest a line of development for board gaming? Is it all a nefarious plot to make people buy more games?

Risk: Legacy is available right now at game stores, and on Amazon next week.


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Episode 143: The Personal Touch

Length: 1s

Phill Cameron comes back for a conversation with Rob, Troy, and Julian about how personality and persistence change our relationship to strategy games. Troy reveals the depths of his callousness to tiny, computerized men. Julian points out that Dwarf Fortress is the pinnacle of this approach, but Troy explains why it frustrates him. Rob is stunned to learn that he is apparently the only one who had a pet dwarf in the Myth games.

Toronto FoS meetup

Chicago Loot Drop


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Episode 142: For the LoLs

Length: 56s

Julian hosts Bruce and editor-podcaster extraordinaire, Ryan Scott, of Geekbox and Comedy Button internet fame. They talk about the lure of League of Legends, whether these DotA / MoBA games are even strategy games, and how Valve's and Blizzard's attempts at the DotA genre will fare against the LoL powerhouse.


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Episode 141: Failing Basic

Length: 51s

Rob summon Troy and Julian for an emergency therapy session about how many strategy games simply cannot get their acts together when it comes to basic standards. The panel discusses busted cameras and mouse controls, disastrous campaigns, and nonexistent endgames.

The beginning of the Subversion saga


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Episode 140: Three Turns Ahead

Length: 1s

Jenn Cutter comes back for a discussion of F1 2011 with Rob and Troy. Learn about exciting rules changes, the difference between a racing game and a motorsports game, and some of Codemasters crucial fumbles that keep F1 2011 from being a clear-cut improvement over its predecessor. Also, tire strategy means F1 2011 is a strategy game, and is therefore a totally valid topic, and not pure self-indulgence from Rob.


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Episode 139: One for the Memoirs

Length: 53s

A well-rested Bruce rounds out a full panel of Rob, Troy, and Julian as they discuss Memoir '44 Online, convenience, and the simple pleasures of light board gaming. It's a straightforward episode with the regulars at the top of their game.

Federation & Empire

Star Fleet Battles

Command and Colors System


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Episode 138: Your Lying Eyes

Length: 1s

The Escapist's Greg Tito joins Rob and Troy to talk about A Game of Thrones: Genesis and to tell us about the Escapist's epic Napoleon in Europe match. In the first half of they show they talk about how AGOT's deception and diplomacy mechanics succeed in channeling aspects of Martin's novels, and in the second half they get into the ways that Napoleon in Europe models the cycles of war, peace, and negotiation that marked Napoleonic Europe. Troy then tells Greg that the Escapist should be a wargame site. Then he explains why you should give 3MA money.

Rob's AGOT review Greg AGOT review

Troy's AGOT impressions

BGG's Napoleon in Europe page


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Episode 137

Length: 1s

Richard Cobbett bravely joins Rob for a conversation with Achron creator Chris Hazard, despite the fact that Richard is weak as a kitten and sick as a dog. They talk about the difficulties indies face in the RTS genre, whether reviewers should make allowances for coarse but inspired games, and how Hazardous software has reacted to weak reviews. They also dig deep on Achron's mechanics and how they developed over the course of the project. Along the way, they prove once again that Achron is one of 2011's most fascinating RTS games.

This is kind of a "deep-end of the pool" discussion. You might find these resources helpful:

Giant Bomb's "quick look" video

Richard's RPS review


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Episode 136: Franchises and Fumbles

Length: 1s

Soren Johnson quits in a huff and leaves podcasting so he can try his hand at making games. But first, Soren, Rob, Julian, and Troy talk about franchises and how they develop, or don't. Rob tries to make the case for considering Paradox-developed games as a single franchise, but Troy explains why that doesn't work. Soren talks about the Civilization series, and why it has evolved the way it has. The panel considers franchise exploitation, and the Blizzard model.


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Episode 135: Board Game Lessons

Length: 1s

Computer and boardgame designer Paul Sottosanti joins up Soren, Julian, and Rob to discuss how board games are evolving, and how their design philosophies differ from computer games. Is the popular success of games like Catan something that will lead to wider acceptance of board games in general? Why do Julian and Paul love drafting mechanics so much? How does the transparency of board games change our relationship to them in comparison to computer games?


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Episode 134: The Alpha Centauri Show

Length: 1s

Zynga's Brian Reynolds makes Planetfall on Three Moves Ahead and, along with Soren, Troy, and Rob, founds a discussion of Alpha Centauri. He explains what went wrong with the "Civ in space" idea, and the role of the game's fiction. He and Soren talk about how Alpha Centauri changed the Civilization series, and take a look at some of its strange features, like the design workshop and climate change. Brian reveals he used the cast album of Les Miserables for inspiration as he wrote for the game, and Troy immediately proposes marriage.


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Episode 133: We Built This City

Length: 1s

Tropico 4 gets Rob, Troy, and Julian talking about city-builders and their quirks. Why are their politics so artificial? Troy notices that videogames say the business of cities is business, but at least they give strategy gamers something to look at. Soren joins midway through, because he can't stay away, and Julian wonders where the genre should go.

Rob's Tropico 4 Wot I Think


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Episode 132: Age of Level-Grinding Empires

Length: 1s

Soren Johnson and Tom Chick join Rob for a discussion of Age of Empires Online. Tom opens by short-listing the game for "worst RTS ever made" and it's rough-sailing from there. Soren marvels at the disastrous interface, while Rob wants to napalm those cutesy Smurf villages. Then the panel talks about how AoEO could be redeemed, and finds there are some simple changes that could make AoEO a very good game.

Tom's GameSpy review

Rob's GamePro impressions and additional notes


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Episode 131: Splendid Little Wars

Length: 57s

Soren Johnson kicks off an extended visit to 3MA by joining Rob, Julian, and Bruce to talk about smaller-scale strategy games, and how they compare to their more traditional cousins. Julian thinks they let developers play to their strengths, while Soren worries about their potential to be ephemeral. Bruce suspects that if great games are ephemeral, that says a lot more about gamers than it does about games. Rob wants to like "big" strategy games more than he does, but likes the more contained experience that smaller games, and board games, increasingly offer. Bruce reveals that his gaming habits are stranger than anyone imagined.


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Episode 130: Character Issues

Length: 1s

Troy takes a victory lap after finishing his National Character series, and together with Rob delves deeper into some of the themes he brought up in the series, and considers some stray ideas that didn't quite make the final cut. Can stereotypes ever really be escaped, and do we even want to escape them when they provide such a reliable shorthand in strategy games? How would national character be portrayed by someone other than Anglo-American game designers, and does national character find a compelling expression in peaceful pursuits?


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Episode 129: The Combat Missions

Length: 1s

Irrational Games' Ken Levine join Rob and Troy for a discussion of the Combat Mission series, realism, WEGO turns versus continuous time, and what we'd bring back to the future.

Tim Stone on "Ignorance Is Bliss"


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Episode 128: Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Topics

Length: 1s

Freelance writer Phill Cameron joins Rob and Troy for a discussion of the games they've been playing that haven't quite fit into recent writings or podcasts. New Men of War DLC, Troy and Rob's changing views on Panzer Corps, RTS time-traveler Achron, high-level Blood Bowl, Out of the Park 11, and racing games all come up for discussion in this open-ended discussion.


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Episode 127: Baby's First Panzer

Length: 58s

GWJ's Cory Banks finally dips his toes in the waters of turn-based wargaming with Matrix / Slitherine's new Panzer General remake, Panzer Corps. He joins Julian and Rob to talk about wargaming-lite, whether this really improves on Panzer General, and Panzer Corps' puzzle-based approach to scenario design. Rob realizes a newfound appreciation for daunting complexity.


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Episode 126: Contemporary Antiques

Length: 1s

PC Gamer EIC Logan Decker joins Rob and Julian for a discussion of Christoph Hartmann's comments that strategy is not a contemporary genre. They dig into his interview, and what he meant. They also cover other publishing models, and how they stack up to what game publishers do, and discuss how Hartmann's comments reflect a much broader struggle to figure out what people want in a new media landscape. Does being relegated to a smaller market actually make strategy healthier for those of us who still enjoy it?


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Episode 125: The Friendliest Philippic

Length: 58s

Troy and Rob are over the moon about Longbow's Hegemony: Philip of Macedon, and invite programmer and writer Rick Yorgason to the show so they can ask that timeless question: "How awesome is your game?" The three go into detail on the game's simplicity, its superb camera controls and artwork, its integrated and effective tutorial, and the compromises and adjustments Longbow made to the design along the way. Then Rick says there are two copies of the game available to loyal 3MA listeners, and Troy promises to award them randomly to two people who leave comments on this episode. Deadline for comments is Wednesday, July 20th.


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Episode 124: The Show Must Go On

Length: 1s

Taking a moment from their respective vacations, Rob and Julian pick up the pieces after a couple show ideas fall apart at the last minute. Julian wants to talk about card mechanics and why he likes them so much. Rob wonders if most PC games eschew cards because they tend to symbolize and abstract concepts, and the PC tends to place a premium on the literal. Julian also theorizes that poker's popularity changed games.


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Episode 123: Reviewers on Revue

Length: 1s

Ars Technica's Ben Kuchera visits Three Moves Ahead to continue a discussion he started about reviewing standards and practices. Troy and Rob try to keep up as the panel discusses how writers' relationships with their readers can affect their approach to reviews, what are a reviewer's obligations, and the value of genre expertise.


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Episode 122: Refreezing Synapses

Length: 1s

Mode 7's Paul Taylor visits with Julian, Rob, and PC Gamer's Dan Stapleton to talk about Frozen Synapse. They discuss the game's development, its lengthy beta process and how that has contributed to the game's success, and the decision to sell the game as a 2-for-1 package. Paul gets into the fiction a little bit, and how it has been received.

Apologies for any audio issues. Some interference got onto Paul's audio track, and there were nearby lumberjacks chopping down trees with chainsaws.


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Episode 121: Pride of Nations and Philippe Thibaut

Length: 1s

Paradox France's Philippe Thibaut and GWJ's Erik Hanson colonize 3MA this week to talk about Pride of Nations, Paradox France's new grand-strategy game of imperialism. Erik and Rob are intrigued by Pride's cynical view of colonial competition and its novel mechanics. Philippe explains the game's origins and how it is at once a departure for Paradox France and a natural extension of their work as AGEOD. The Victoria II comparison comes up for discussion, and Erik and Philippe discuss the game design challenges of the Civil War.


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Episode 120: Drawing Down on Vic "Six Gun" Davis

Length: 1s

Vic Davis rides back into town to talk about Six Gun Saga, his new solitaire card-based strategy game. Julian is mighty fond of it, but wants to play with the rest of his posse. Rob is curious how Vic's Armageddon Empires and Solium Infernum fans have greeted this unusual game, and where Vic is headed next.


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Episode 119: What I Did for My Rabbitcon Vacation

Length: 56s

An exhausted Julian and Rob welcome Cory Banks back to the show to go over what they played at Julian's board gaming retreat. Could Agricola's position be threatened by young up-and-comer 7 Wonders? Why is Battleship Galaxies the best space game since Sins of a Solar Empire? Is Castle Ravenloft a baby game, or an appropriate introduction to strategy and wargaming for children and novices? On the other hand, why would you play that when Last Night on Earth and Invasion from Outer Space are so much better? All these questions and more will be answered for those who are... Three Moves Ahead.


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Episode 118: This Fully Operational Art of War

Length: 1s

Ralph Trickey takes a break from updating and improving The Operational Art of War III to talk about the series with Rob, Troy, and Bruce. They discuss how the game is changing through patches, and then debate whether TOAW is a game so much as it is a set of tools. They also talk about how scenario designers have put those tools to use, and what shortcomings afflict the system. Everyone shares his favorite scenario, but Rob cannot contain himself and names three. Ralph mentions plans for The Operational Art of War IV, but it'll be hard to sell that if he keeps making TOAW III better and better.


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Episode 117: Patchwork

Length: 57s

Elemental and Civilization V come in for a follow-up appointment with Julian, Troy, and Rob. Have the major changes that have been patched into these games translated into major improvements for the player? How much post-release support should players reasonably expect, and what can developers accomplish with it? What flawed games have become great with patching?


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Episode 116: Creeps and Towers

Length: 1s

Here come the creeps, led by Rob and Rock, Paper, Shotgun's Quintin Smith! Fortunately, they encounter a maze of discussion and towers of topics. Inspired by first-person tower defender Sanctum and tower attacker Anomaly: Warzone Earth, Quinns and Rob explore how these games change the tower defense formula, and what about that formula needed changing? Are we doing a disservice to a neat mechanic by insisting that it is a genre? Why are we continually drawn in by games we often find shallow and unsatisfying? Is tower defense really about destruction, or is there an under-served creative aspect to these games?

A lot of games and pieces come up for discussion here, so brace yourself for a link attack.

Quinns' Sanctum Wot I Think

Troy's reactions to Anomaly: Warzone Earth

Rob, two years ago, on tower defense games

Quinns on Ace of Spades 3MA on AI War

Rob's "excessively positive" Dungeons review

The Verdun game Rob couldn't remember is The Trench

Kieron Gillen on Warfare: 1917


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Episode 115: Bolshy Balderdash

Length: 48s

Rob is pleasantly surprised by Revolution Under Siege and rounds up Troy Goodfellow and Broken Toys' Scott Jennings to talk about it. What is the context for a Russian Revolution game, and how does Revolution Under Siege communicate that? Is the AGE system a good one for this kind of game, and why is it such a turn-off for some people? Most importantly, how the hell does an armored train work? Why wouldn't you just stay away from the tracks? Seriously guys, what the hell?


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Episode 114: Patents, Progress, and Rogue Puffins

Length: 1s

Gamers With Jobs continues colonizing 3MA, but the natives still welcome Cory Banks because he brings whiskey and podcast topics. Fantasy Flight games is upset about an iOS game that bears a significant resemblance to Richard Borg's Command & Colors system, and Bruce, Cory, and Rob wonder what it all means. Before they reveal themselves as ignoramuses yet again, William Flachsbart, intellectual property expert, arrives to tell them what it all means. How carefully must new products tread around the innovations of old ones? When does borrowing mechanics turn into theft? Is there any way we can send Troy to jail? What about the Vancouver Canucks?

Here is Bill Abner's original No High Scores story, and the interview to which Wil is referring in this episode.

Big thanks to Michael Hermes for helping us sort out numerous audio problems this week.


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Episode 113: CGA: The Panzer General Series

Length: 55s

Ah, good day, Herr General. The General Staff have prepared this podcast analyzing the strength and dispositions of the Panzer General series. You will have access to some new units for this mission. Bruce will shatter its defenses with an explanation of why he is not very fond of it, and Julian and Rob will go through the gap with an argument for its simplicity and refinement. Troy can provide air cover by placing the series in a wider context of genre and gaming history, but be careful. He consumes alcohol at twice the rate of a normal unit.

Brilliant victory: Complete the podcast in 55:39

Victory: Read Rob's love-letter to PG2 in the May issue of PC Gamer

Tactical victory: Comment and re-tweet


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Episode 112: A Special Secession Session

Length: 1s

On the 150th anniversary of the attack on Fort Sumter, Troy and Rob rally around the bonnie blue flag and find Gamers With Jobs' Erik Hanson waiting for them there. Then they march off to discuss the American Civil War and its gaming legacy. They discuss how changes in a game's scale also change how the war is presented, why the war has such a hold on the imagination, and what were its defining features. A

Along the way, Rob calls the Shenandoah campaign the Cumberland campaign, incorrectly places Cutler in command of the Iron Brigade at 2nd Manassas, and leaves his window open to let listeners hear the sounds of the Cambridge police. Embarrassing errors, or a subtle homage to Burnside?


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Episode 111: Golden Voices for a Golden Throne

Length: 1s

Bill Abner and Dan Stapleton arrive to help Rob sort out the long-delayed Dawn of War II: Retribution episode. Rob isn't wild about the campaign for a few reasons, and eventually he starts to figure out why. Bill dislikes Chaos Marines wailing on electric guitars, and he thinks that's indicative of the direction the 40K universe has gone. Everything goes brilliantly until the show ends and Dan asks, "Wait, was I supposed to be recording?" Then Rob executes him, inspiring everyone to greater feats of podcasting next week.

Bill's Retribution review


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Episode 110: Three Daimyo and a Baby Mori Clan

Length: 47s

GameShark's Bill Abner joins Troy and Rob to discuss Shogun 2, mortality rates among Japanese generals, and Bill's enchanted copy of Shogun 2, in which everything awesome that can happen, does.

Rob's Gamepro series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Bill's GameShark review


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Episode 109: The Contractual Obligation Album

Length: 50s

After the panel completely falls apart on the eve of recording a Dawn of War 2: Retribution episode, Troy and Rob soldier on by themselves. Troy hasn't played Retribution, but he is happy to announce his upcoming marriage to Field of Glory. Rob forgets that he's on a podcast and just starts talking with Troy, and along the way he mangles a great Provost Zakharov quote and explains why he thinks refinement is undervalued compared to innovation.

At the end, Troy talks about his upcoming meet-up, and Rob asks for listener input on a 3MA website. Then Audacity eats his audio file and the episode is produced from a Skype recording.

The Zakharov quote:

"There are two kinds of scientific progress: the methodical experimentation and categorization which gradually extend the boundaries of knowledge, and the revolutionary leap of genius which redefines and transcends those boundaries. Acknowledging our debt to the former, we yearn, nonetheless, for the latter." - Academician Prokhor Zakharov, "Address to the Faculty"


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Episode 108: Three Men of War

Length: 1s

Julian and Rob are at death's door following PAX East and a week of cruel beatings at the hands of Men of War: Assault Squad. Rock, Paper, Shotgun's Jim Rossignol, author of This Gaming Life, comes to their rescue, and together they try to figure out why this genre-breaking, rule-defying battlefield simulator exerts such a tremendous fascination.

Wot Alec Meer Thot of the original Men of War

Jim, in The Escapist, on Men of War and heroism

Jim on Men of War: Red Tide

Jim on Assault Squad


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Episode 107: Hail, Hail, the (GDC) Gang's All Here

Length: 1s

During GDC, Tom Chick and Soren Johnson hosted a talk that was so good that a single panel couldn't contain them. They have invaded Three Moves Ahead to talk to Rob and Bruce about why strategy gaming is in a platinum age, how the business of development is changing, and the relative importance of AI in the development process. Then Tom, Bruce, and Soren freak out over League of Legends, although Bruce is convinced it's Land of Legends. Whatever it is, it sounds pretty good.


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Episode 106: An Expansive Discussion with Johan Andersson

Length: 44s

Paradox's Johan Andersson talks to Rob about EU3: Divine Wind, expansions, the design process at Paradox, and the newly-announced Sengoku.

Johan's Q&A with GameShark


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Episode 105: Sometimes You Gotta Roll the Hard Six

Length: 1s

In the wake of another successful Rabbitcon, Lara Crigger and Rob Daviau join Julian and Rob to talk about good luck, bad luck, and fun luck. Rob and Lara discuss her first wargaming experience, Hold the Line, and how it came down to a photo finish despite some unspeakably bad luck for her American forces at the start. Rob Daviau explains how luck aids the storyteller, and shapes game narratives. Then the panel considers why the sort of luck in a deck of cards is often more interesting than the luck in a roll of the dice, and how luck can shake up repetitive gameplay.

Rob (Red) vs. Lara (Blue) at the Battle of Long Island


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Episode 104: What Would Manstein Do?

Length: 1s

Bruce and Rob welcome Troy back to the show by monopolizing conversation as they describe their reactions to War in the East. Bruce consults von Manstein's Lost Victories in the hopes of discovering where they went, but Rob is pretty sure the Germans dropped them somewhere in the Pripyat Marshes. All Troy knows for sure is that 2by3 scored a big win with this game. Then Rob takes a trip into Dungeons and finds a pleasant surprise, while Bruce is pleased by an invasion of Poland wargame with a marvelously bad interface.

Show links:

Battle of Smolensk (1941) - The map may help you enjoy the show Rob's Dungeons review September 1939


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Episode 103: Community

Length: 1s

Rob turtles up for a free-for-all discussion of RTS multiplayer gaming with Tom Chick and Chris Remo. What really powers the Starcraft II community, and why can't other RTS games match it? It looks unstoppable, but does a challenger arise with League of Legends? 3MA favorites Supreme Commander II and RUSE depress the panel with their multiplayer front-end, but Chris cheers himself up by building a cathedral in Dawn of Discovery.


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Episode 102: Online Board Gaming

Length: 54s

Game Table Online's Robert Eng joins Bruce, Julian, and Rob for a discussion about online board gaming. Topics include business models, what goes into a successful conversion, and what these services mean for the board gaming hobby.

Game Table Online


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Episode 101: A Most Ingenious Paradox

Length: 1s

Rob and returning guest Jenn Cutter discuss what they saw at the Paradox convention in New York. The Escapist's Greg Tito helps out with some good questions and pro-tips on how to make a game presentation awkward for journalists. Troy Goodfellow just can't quit you, and refuses to leave until you understand how great Crusader Kings 2 looks. Games discussed: Naval War, Magicka, Pride of Nations, Salem, Pirates of Black Cove, Gettysburg Armored Warfare, Crusader Kings 2

Production: Michael Hermes

Greg Tito's previews from the Paradox Convention:

Magicka Mount and Blade: Fire and Sword Salem

Jenn Cutter's previews from the Paradox event:

Magicka Pride of Nations

Rob's thoughts for Gamers With Jobs.


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Episode 100: The Reboot

Length: 53s

Troy makes a shocking announcement that leaves the podcast in shambles.


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Episode 99: War in the East

Length: 1s

Scott Jennings (Lum the Mad) fills in for an ailing Rob as he and Bruce and Troy welcome Joel Billings (2by3 Games) and Erik Rutins (Matrix Games) to talk about what Gary Grigsby's War in the East means for wargame design, scale, realism and detail and marketing of wargames.

Pardon some of the sound issues from time to time.


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Episode 98: 2010 in Review and Looking Ahead

Length: 54s

PCGamer's Dan Stapleton returns to help Troy and Rob make sense of 2010. Why Starcraft 2 matters, why Troy resents DLC, the magic of Achtung Panzer and why Rob has no idea what is coming out this year.


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Episode 97: Bronze with Alex Kutsenok

Length: 49s

If you chat with me about strategy or board games, I have mentioned <em>Bronze</em> to you. Alex Kutsenok is the lead designer of Bronze and he sits down with me and Julian to talk about the development and inspirations for this deep but easy to learn computer/board/strategy game. Prepare for a love fest.

I also give shout outs to all the people who helped make Three Moves Ahead in the past year.


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Episode 96: Shafer, Patches, Holiday Wishes

Length: 56s

On the night before the day before Christmas, Troy and Rob and Julian sit down to talk about Jon Shafer leaving Firaxis, mega patches for turn based games Civ 5 and Elemental and then we wrap up with seasonal reflections including New Year's resolutions for the podcast.


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Episode 95: End Game Moves

Length: 59s

In response to a listener/reader question, Troy and Rob talk about end games that work and end games that don't. What do we mean by the "end game"? What role do strictly defined victory conditions play in making an end game appealing? Can you avoid the late game drag?

Apologies for the duet show. That time of the year.


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Episode 94: Home for the Holidays

Length: 42s

We were on a good run and it couldn't last forever. A pleasant light little seasonal chat about how to cope with the gaming constraints of visiting our families went off the rails when we realized that that topic would only last us about forty minutes.

I made the mistake of pushing us forward and then things got a little weird and stupid.

I cut that bit - saving it for an outtakes show where it belongs; trust me you do not want to hear how unfocused it got until you are in the mood for it. Note to self: If you run out of things to say after 30 minutes, it is OK to stop there.

Shorter than usual, but we talk about how board games can bring families together, what games keep us sane on our own when we retreat to a quiet corner.


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Episode 93: Theme, Mechanics and Meaning

Length: 1s

GWJ's Lara Crigger and JTS's Todd Brakke join Troy and special guest Soren Johnson in a wide ranging talk about how how theme and mechanics work together or fight each other. What is <em>Left for Dead</em> really about? Why are themes so important to Lara? How do mechanics translate meaning? Why is Civilization so ahistorical? Do only game designers care about this stuff?

Lara loses her train of thought for the first time ever, Todd makes some sense and Soren is his usual impressive self. And more on X-Com.


Theme is Not Meaning Part 1, Part 2

Redistricting Game

Soren's GDC talk as summarized by Destructoid


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Episode 92: Classic Game Analysis - X-Com

Length: 1s

PCGamer's Dan Stapleton joins Troy, Rob and Bruce to talk about what made 1994's <em>X-Com</em> one of the best strategy/tactics games ever made. Tension, atmosphere, UI, level blending, real time v turn baed and indie efforts to bring the magic back.

<a href="http://www.mobygames.com/game/x-com-ufo-defense/cover-art/gameCoverId,63595/">Hideous UK Box Art</a>
<a href="http://www.xenonauts.com/">Xenonauts</a>
<a href="http://ufotts.ninex.info/">UFO: The Two Sides</a>
<a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/2010/07/13/new-x-com-revival-is-playable-and-awesome/">Dan vs Evan in The Two Sides</a>
<a href="http://pc.ign.com/articles/084/084420p1.html">Tom Chick on X-Com</a>


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Episode 91: Licensed Behavior

Length: 50s

Troy almost fires Rob and Julian on this episode as a conversation about licensed strategy games. Bruce Geryk holds forth on why War of the Rings is like Stratomatic Baseball, Julian sings of Starfleet Battles and Rob talks about his experiences in another board game. What makes a license succeed or fail? Can either Star Wars or Star Trek really work as a licensed strategy game? Martin vs Erikson - who wins? Is Troy the only person who likes Babylon 5?

It is a loud and fun show. Listen to it.

Also, info on the upcoming 3MA/FOS meetup.


<a href="http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/9609/war-of-the-ring">War of the Ring</a>
<a href="http://princeofcairo.livejournal.com/45080.html">War of the Ring article (Bruce is the final two comments)</a>
<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Fleet_Battles">Starfleet Battles</a>


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Episode 90: Order, Order

Length: 51s

News that <a href="http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2010/11/02/genetic-algorithms-find-build-order-from-hell/">a genetic algorithm has cracked the Starcraft code</a> prompts Troy to ask the panel about the place of build orders and in-stone strategies in the genre. Julian talks about chess and <a href="http://fidgit.com/archives/2010/11/forgetin_hoard_its_good_to_be.php">Hoard</a>, Rob talks about the beauty of a game that opens up and Troy sucks at everything.

Also news on the upcoming DC area fall meetup. November 20th, btw.


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Episode 89: Elections and Campaigning

Length: 57s

No one was in much of a mood to talk about anything this week, but we did it anyway and it was almost topical. Gameshark's Bill Abner joins Troy and Rob for a rambling chat about election games they've played, election games they haven't played and whether the dream election game they imagine is even possible.

Bill also gets mysterious messages from a lost soldier.


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Episode 88: Ethics, Morality and Motivation

Length: 1s

Bruce Geryk returns to the show to give special guest <a href="http://brainygamer.com">Michael Abbot</a> a hard time in a discussion that is intended to focus on the ethical and moral dimension of wargames and wargaming, but ranges all over the place, including a sidetrack into why people get into wargames to begin with. Rob Zacny tries to keep things on topic and Julian Murdoch explains why Defcon makes him cry and his daughter says the smartest thing in the hour.


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Episode 87: Borrowing and Personalization

Length: 56s

<a href="http://hellmode.com">Hellmode</a>'s Ashelia (aka Rhea Monique) joins Rob and Julian for a discussion of how strategy games can learn from other genres.

Rob also coins the Old Country Buffet approach to strategy game design.


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Episode 86: Logistics, Supply and News

Length: 48s

Troy and Rob start the show with a talk about what Derek Paxton's move to Stardock means for <em>Elemental</em> and the future of Stardock.

They then segue into a discussion about logistics and supply rules constrain the player in interesting ways. Rob tells another wargame anecdote, we debate whether an AI really understands supply rules and again talk about the best RTS ever made.

This is the October pledge drive, as well, so stay tuned to the end for another plea for money. Not for beer.


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Episode 85: Betrayal and Manipulation

Length: 1s

Julian and Rob are joined by Rob Daviau (Hasbro) and Chris Remo (Irrational) to talk about how games let us give in to our worst impulses and betray our friends. Neptune's Pride, Risk, Weinhandler, Starcraft and a dozen other games come up.


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Episode 84: Civilization V with Todd Brakke

Length: 1s

One guest cancels, but his shoes are ably filled by Gameshark's Todd Brakke as Troy, Julian and Rob hold forth on the game that has already eaten Troy's life - and he has to keep writing about it for at least another month.

Listen as the team talks about their favorite innovations in Civ 5, how the map brings the game to life, why the AI's failures are so disappointing, social policy vs civics and hopes for the future.

And Julian is on drugs.


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Episode 83: RUSE

Length: 50s

This week, Rob takes the lead and sings the praises of RUSE, the new WW2 RTS from Ubisoft and Eugen Systems. Troy and Julian push him on the differences between the single and multiplayer components, whether it uses real deception and some rambling bits about World War 2 games in general.


Rob's review at Gameshark

Rock Paper Shotgun RUSE discussion


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Episode 82: Chris King and more Victoria 2

Length: 50s

Unavailable when we needed him, but still game for a show, Victoria 2's lead designer Chris King joins Troy and Rob for a discussion of Marxist economic models, why they are so many rebels and why he bothered redesigning Vicky in the first place.


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Episode 81: Elemental Post Mortem with Brad Wardell

Length: 55s

A terrible launch of a game I wanted to love turns what should have been a "WOW" show into another opportunity for Brad Wardell to explain how Stardock screwed up. Listen how imperfect QA practices, overconfidence, groupthink and not taking every beta crash report seriously turned one of the years most anticipated new IPs into a lesson for developers

And also, how Stardock commits to make things right - including refunds. (Ask them. I have no idea what the mechanics are.)


Rob's review

Troy's review

Tom's review


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Episode 80: Question Time

Length: 1s

This week, the sound is terrible again mostly because my wireless refuses to cooperate. Big promise to fix this next week - I thought I had the problem solved.

But if you bear with us, you will hear Troy and Rob answer some questions from listeners about logistics, making losing fun, why games are released unfinished and a dozen other topics.


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Episode 79: Victoria 2

Length: 55s

Rob Zacny's sound goes in and out, but when it works you can hear him, Troy and Julian talk about the latest grand strategy game from Paradox. Why does it make Julian angry? Do you have to force the politics to make them interesting? What does the game get right and wrong about the nineteenth century?

A reminder about the upcoming question show and a preview of coming attractions.


Rob's review at Gameshark


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Episode 78: Forgettable Games, Memorable Ideas

Length: 53s

Troy and Rob dig through their histories to recall bad games that had tiny moments of genius. What happens when a game gets one thing right? Can forgotten games still have a legacy beyond their failures? Can a good idea overshadow a bad game's legacy?

Also reminders of the Question show coming up in a couple of week's time.


"Noble Junk" post

Epic Fails podcast

Rob's Making History 2 review


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Episode 77: Starcraft 2 and Chris Remo

Length: 1s

Troy - suffering from a splitting headache - is joined by Rob Zacny, Tom Chick (hooray) and Idle Thumbs/Gamasutra star Chris Remo before he heads off to join Irrational Games. The topic: Starcraft 2. Why does such a competitive, sports structured game like SC2 have such wide appeal? Is the single player campaign really that different from other campaigns? And how about that writing? What are the great joys and great disappointments? Finally, what does Starcraft 2 mean for the future of the PC RTS?


Troy's Starcraft 2 review

Tom's Starcraft 2 review

Rob's thoughts

Idle Thumbs podcast


FoS/TMA Meetup details


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Episode 76: Modding

Length: 55s

Troy, Julian and Rob are joined by Maxis Games' Soren Johnson and Fall From Heaven 2 lead Derek Paxton in a chat about modding. How do you assemble a mod team? What are the trade offs for developers and publishers in supporting mods? Scope and ambition and talent poaching and creativity.

Also news on our upcoming question and answer show and the TMA/FoS meetup.


Fall From Heaven 2

Strategy Station

Meet Up Discussion


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Episode 75: The Strategy Syllabus

Length: 1s

This week, with the rest of the TMA crew (i.e., me) off gallivanting around California or saving lives or something, Rob and Julian decided to have a real show. They dig deep into the perfect strategy gaming syllabus, and come up with some obvious and startling conclusions. At least, that's what they tell me. I haven't listened to it yet. I hope there's pie.




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Episode 74: Classic Game Analysis - Freedom Force w/ Ken Levine

Length: 56s

Ken Levine from Irrational Games drops by the show to talk about what made Freedom Force so special. Is it an RPG or a strategy game? We discuss the virtues of pausable real time play, the fine line between homage and parody and learn about what games Ken plays when he is not writing kick ass game stories.


Freedom Reborn - a fan community


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Episode 73: What Made You?

Length: 54s

This week, Troy and Rob are joined by Jenn Cutter in a trip down memory lane. The topic: How did you end up the gamer you've become? When did Rob and Troy learn they were strategy gamers? How do games fit into the rest of your life? How do you deal with being the only gamer in a social circle? Which games poke which aspects of our character? Troy and Jenn also explain BBSes to Rob.

Also, a date is set for the Washington DC area Flash of Steel/Three Moves Ahead meet up.


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Episode 72: Technological Innovation

Length: 58s

This week, hardware expert and long time strategy gamer Loyd Case joins Troy, Julian and Rob in a chat about how various advances and changes in the technological environment have changed how see and approach strategy games.


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Episode 71: Disciples 3, HoMM and Games Like This

Length: 59s

Gameshark's Editor in Chief Bill Abner joins Troy, Rob and Bruce to talk about Disciples 3, Heroes of Might and Magic, Jagged Alliance, King's Bounty - strategy games with tactical components. To what extent are these RPGs? What differentiates a good one from a bad one? Bruce mentions Odium again.

The good doctor also promises to write something.…


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Episode 70: E3 Recap, Risk and 1C

Length: 52s

With E3 2010 in the books, Troy talks about what he saw and is generally concerned about "everything fits together". Julian gives us a preview of Risk: Factions and Rob runs down what 1C has coming your way, based on what he saw in San Francisco.

Also, bonus tip on how not to prepare vodka.…


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Episode 69: E3 Special Short with Jon Shafer

Length: 14s

Promises to listeners are not kept, so Troy flies solo for an interview with Jon Shafer, the lead designer of Civilization 5. 15 minutes of Hex Based Strategy Gaming.…


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Episode 68: Selling Strategy

Length: 48s

This week, Troy, Julian and Rob are joined by PR pros Joe Ziemer (Triple Point PR, Paradox shill) and Stephanie Schopp (Tinsley PR, Stardock water carrier) to talk about marketing strategy games in this gaming and business environment. Is strategy gaming really dead? How do you find new audiences and keep the old ones? How do PR people deal with media and developers?…


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Three Moves Ahead Episode 67: Experimenting With RPGs at Rabbitcon

Length: 55s

Oy. Troy breaks his computer and therefore sounds like he’s calling in from a submarine. But the rest of show is a long discussion about Games Masters experimenting with RPG and miniature mechanics. Julian and Rob discuss a fascinating game session before the team digresses onto iterative learning in game design and whether games do a good job of teaching through systems at all.

Promised images will have to wait until I have a computer that can resize them properly. Stupid netbook.


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Episode 66: The SimTex Legacy

Length: 59s

Good Old Games has made the classic SimTex games Master of Orion, Master of Orion 2 and Master of Magic available for low, low prices. So Troy, Tom, Bruce and Rob spend an hour talking about what made SimTex special. What do we mean by personality in strategy games? Does the UI hold up? Which of these games has aged the most poorly? When is tactical combat an impediment in a turn based 4x game?

We answer these questions and more in this new analysis of classic game design.

Troy’s Revisionist History on SimTex
Tom’s Retroview on Master of Orion II
Buy Master of Orion 1 & 2 and Master of Magic at Good Old Games.
Master of Magic Intro


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Episode 65: Tutorials and Training

Length: 48s

Tom Chick returns after a month away from the podcast to join Troy and Rob in a discussion about designing tutorials for strategy games. Is the failure of tutorial design a root of the decline in strategy gaming? Can you really integrate a tutorial into a story based campaign? What are the responsibilities of the gamer to learn what he/she is doing on a battlefield?


Dave Perkins’s tutorials for Solium Infernum


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Episode 64: Forgotten Fronts

Length: 52s

Just Troy, Julian and Rob again as they ad hoc a podcast about types of games and settings that they would like to see in the strategy arena. Is there a really good Tolkien strategy game? Where is our fort game? Can we fill in our history a little more? Pack the comment section with your own suggestions.


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Episode 63: Frozen Synapse

Length: 58s

Tom and Bruce are absent again while Troy, Julian and Rob dissect the still in beta Frozen Synapse, a small team tactics game from Mode 7. Troy finds it too difficult, Rob loves the potential for story telling, and Julian digs the puzzles. Listen as we talk about tactical games, the union of art and design, indie game marketing, a digression on Ancient Trader and an apology from Troy on his terrible mailing skills.


Frozen Synapse
Rob Zacny on The Hunter (Escapist), Sins of a Solar Empire (Game, Set Watch) and Birth of America (UGO)


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Episode 62: Gettysburg Scourge of War

Length: 59s

Another wargame show! Troy, Julian and Rob are joined by NorbSoft’s Norb Timpko and Jim Weaver to talk about Gettysburg: Scourge of War. Learn more than you ever wanted to know about how to make a civil war game. Why is the AI so recalcitrant? What are the lessons of leadership here? How do you make a map like this? And where do history and gameplay collide when the AI hasn’t read the books you have?



Scourge of War: Gettysburg
The Maps of Gettysburg : An Atlas of the Gettysburg Campaign, June 3 – July 13, 1863
Buy Take Command 2nd Manassas


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Episode 61: Imperialism

Length: 59s

Troy, Tom and Bruce look at the classic Frog City/SSI games Imperialism and Imperialism 2. What makes this series one of the greatest grand strategy experiences of all time? Can a game this difficult and time intensive be made again? Bruce has a theory, Tom keeps calling Colonization the wrong name, and Troy is focused on diplomacy.



Bruce’s Revisionist History on Imperialism
Troy’s essay on Imperialism’s maps
Tom vs Bruce: Imperialism 2


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Episode 60: Achtung Panzer and WW2 Tactics

Length: 53s

Troy, Rob and Bruce participate in the wonkiest Three Moves Ahead ever, as Dr. Geryk makes up for weeks of absences with another tour de force rant. How does Achtung Panzer compare to Combat Mission? What do we expect from a WW2 tactical game, and how do these expectations mesh with reality? Turn based, real time and replay – how do they fit together? Bruce also recommends a bunch of books.


Achtung Panzer
Tom vs Bruce: Combat Mission
David Glantz’s BARBAROSSA DERAILED: The Battles for Smolensk, July-August 1941
David Glantz’s Armageddon in Stalingrad: September-November 1942 (The Stalingrad Trilogy, Volume 2) (Modern War Studies) and To the Gates of Stalingrad: Soviet-German Combat Operations, April-August 1942 (Modern War Studies)
David Glantz’s The Siege of Leningrad: 900 Days of Terror (Cassell Military Paperbacks)
John Erickson’s The Road to Stalingrad (Cassell Military Paperbacks)


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Episode 59: Distant Worlds – Space is Big

Length: 51s

Troy, Tom and Rob talk about Code Force’s Distant Worlds, a 4x Space RTS that tries to tackle the challenge of ceding control. How can a game get past player paranoia about letting the AI handle things? When does a player choose to intervene? How can the AI failure at basic tasks undermine your confidence in everything else? Why and when does Distant Worlds work?

Also, last chance to win one of two copies of Making History.



My first crack at the virtual viceroy problem
Distant Worlds at Matrix Games


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Episode 58: Phoning it In About Pax

Length: 47s

With the post con exhaustion, panelists running around like crazy and Julian Murdoch fighting some sort of bug, it’s sort of a wonder we got a show together at all this week. Rob, Julian and I talk about why we loved PAX East. What makes a fan con different from a trade show? Is Microsoft Surface the future of board games? What strategy game was my surprise of the show? Probably one of our shortest and slowest shows, but we promise a stronger one next week.

Listen to win a prize.



My thoughts on PAX East Julian’s Thoughts Rob’s Thoughts


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Episode 57: Supreme Commander 2 and Command & Conquer 4

Length: 1s

Troy, Tom and Julian devote the hour to dissecting the surprisingly good Supreme Commander 2 and the disappointing Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight.

Why does SupCom 2’s deviation from the franchise formula make the game better? Why is it like Sins of a Solar Empire and Demigod? Do we want to gain experience points in our RTSes? When good design meets bad design in the same package, what wins?

And come hear how disorganized we are for PAX!



Tom Chick’s review of SupCom 2
Tom Chick’s review of C&C 4
Troy Goodfellow’s review of SupCom 2
Quarter to Three Community podcast on SupCom 2
The Flash of Steel Store


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Episode 56: Civ 5, Sid Meier and Farmville

Length: 55s

We throw together a show on some of the strategy gaming news and ideas coming out of this year’s GDC. What do we know and not know about Civilization 5? Is Sid Meier coddling players in his psychological approach? And why is Julian on the side of evil in the Facebook wars?

We announce the winner of the King Arthur steam code and begin planning for PAX East.



Fear and Loathing in Farmville
Gamasutra on Meier’s Keynote
Julian’s article on Facebook games
Chris Hecker on the rewarding boring activities
A Theory of Fun for Game Design
Pre-order Sid Meier’s Civilization V
Rob Zacny on the bias against strategy games
Match Defense: Toy Soldiers


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Episode 55: Starcraft 2 Beta and Napoleon Total War

Length: 55s

Two games this week.

First, Tom Chick and Troy Goodfellow report on their experiences in the Starcraft II beta. It’s an old school RTS that eschews fifteen years of evolution in favor of keeping things as they were in 1998. What do we like so far? What do we not like? Meanwhile, Rob Zacny asks questions about Blizzard’s continued relevance in the genre.

Then, Rob leaps to the defense of Napoleon: Total War. Hear why he will be probably be giving it a very positive review and why Tom still thinks Creative Assembly should be embarrassed.

Stay tuned to the end for a reminder to enter the game draw for a special prize.


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Episode 54: Introversion

Length: 53s

Troy, Julian and Rob wax rhapsodical about the glories of indie strategy game developer Introversion. What makes Darwinia a “different” RTS? Is Defcon the best multiplayer game ever made? And can you make a game about terrorism?

Listen to the end and learn how you can win a prize. Seriously. I have one for you.



Gamers With Jobs talks to Chris Delay
Introversion’s Tough 2008


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Episode 53: The One Year Anniversary Show

Length: 57s

No agenda this week beyond a few of my favorite clips, some chat about the podcast’s high and low points and what we’d like to see in the coming year of podcasts. Learn about Tom’s other podcasts, Bruce Geryk’s origin story, whether or not Julian is a game reviewer and how Rob makes his girlfriend cry.

Lots of self congratulation, too, so if you don’t like that sort of thing, maybe you shouldn’t listen.


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Episode 52 - Sins of a Solar Empire Diplomacy

Length: 57s

Troy is joined by Tom, Julian and Rob to talk about the new expansion for Sins of a Solar Empire. How does Diplomacy work in a multiplayer game? Does it add more personality to a game with rather bland sides? Does Tom cheat? How should Rob refer to his significant other? Where does Julian go when the podcast is over?

Listen to the final podcast to find out why this is expansion made all of us fall in love with Sins again.


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Episode 51 - Science and Technology

Length: 50s

Troy is joined by Tom, Bruce and Rob as they counter December’s religion show with a talk about how strategy games treat science. How do you link technology to other game mechanics? Is there a risk of runaway games if you emphasize science too much? Dead ends, blind research, science of observation and whether you can actually have hard science in a strategy game.

And Bruce replies to comments about his thoughts on Hearts of Iron 3’s infantry weapon research model.


Heisenberg’s War: The Secret History Of The German Bomb Three Moves Ahead Episode 20 on The Snowball Effect in Game Design Tom and Miriam Sitting in a Tree (Wayback Machine – very slow)


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Episode 50 - Designing Government and Debating Detail

Length: 53s

Having not seen each other in weeks, Tom and Bruce giggle like schoolgirls reunited after summer break before getting into their usual sparring. Troy just tries to keep people on topic – futilely. The putative topic: How do you design a game that makes the management of a government as interesting as the issues of war and peace? There’s a side trip into questions about abstraction and the problem of irrelevant detail.


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Episode 49 - Strategy Games and Story Telling

Length: 48s

This week, Troy, Julian and Rob talk about the limitations and possibilities of story telling in strategy games. Can you have an authorial perspective in a system driven genre? Is the RTS campaign story irrevocably broken? Is there anything on the horizon that might give us hope? And stay tuned to the end where I ask for feedback for our anniversary show.…


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Episode 48 - The Gaming Gender Gap

Length: 1s

This week, Troy and Tom welcome Lara Crigger, Jenn Cutter and Tiffany Martin to the show to talk about the gender gap in strategy gaming. Well, that’s where it starts. It turns into an almost 90 minute discussion of the place of women in gaming, their portrayal in games, the importance of peer groups, more Brutal Legend and the coming demographic shift.

So less strategy wonkery than usual, but you guys can deal for a week, right?

Tiffany Martin’s blog
Tiffany’s thoughts on classes in Borderlands
Lara Crigger on her changing gaming habits
Hire Lara Crigger
Jenn Cutter’s Open Alpha
Jenn Plugs Flash of Steel and TMA and says nice things about me
Tabula Rasa
Pure Pwnage
Battle for Wesnoth


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Episode 47 - Looking forward to 2010

Length: 45s

Troy, Tom and Rob look at the big 4 RTSes coming out this year (Command & Conquer 4, Starcraft 2, Supreme Commander 2 and RUSE) as well as the return of Norb Timpko, the future of Facebook games, the battle between Victorian Age games. And Tom makes Troy sing.

Apologies for the sound issues. It was a bad connection that we tried to fix a couple of times without much success.

Greed Corp
Scourge of War: Gettysburg
Sid Meier talks to Julian Murdoch
Paradox buys AGEod
Vainglory of Nations
Victoria Developer’s Diaries


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Episode 46 - EU3 and Heir to the Throne

Length: 1s

Troy, Tom and Rob Zacny talk about Europa Universalis 3, the new Heir to the Throne expansion and how the series rewards different play styles. Has the new expansion compromised the importance of stability? How does the new system change our favorite nations' development? Can Tom keep all the changes in every expansion straight? (Spoiler: No, he cannot.)…


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Episode 45 - 2009 in Review

Length: 59s

Tom and Troy spend the hour looking back at 2009, including insight into how to make a Best of the Year list, why Tom finally joined Facebook and the state of the genre in the last year. Dawn of Discovery, Brutal Legend, Heir to the Throne, UniWar, and even Evony.

Bruce is also there, in body if not spirit, but he finds time to complain about why Uniwar is the worst game ever.

Tom Chick’s RTS Round Up at Crispy Gamer
Tom’s Top Ten Games at Fidgit
The Flash of Steel Year End Summary
HPS Squad Battles at NWS Online Store


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Episode 44 - Religion

Length: 55s

A subtle shifting of the guard as Julian Murdoch is back after hiatus, but Troy Goodfellow is off for a week, leaving Julian at the mercy of the far more stable Tom Chick and Bruce Geryk. The topic is religion: does it work in a strategy game as a mechanic? Has anyone done it better than Civ IV? Bruce argues for Dominions and random boardgames about the reformation nobody's ever heard of. Tom revisits the Sims and Europa Universalis, and Julian goes off-topic and spoils all of Assassins Creed 2 (You've been warned.)…


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Episode 43

Length: 56s

This week, Tom Chick makes the case that strategy gamers need to have a console to truly appreciate the range of games out there. He calls Bruce and Troy “dinosaurs” for clinging bitterly to a fading gaming platform, even though it is at the moment best suited to the deep games that all three love. What is the present condition of strategy gaming in the console arena? Are independent strategy game designers making a mistake by focusing on the PC?…


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Episode 42 - Epic Fails

Length: 1s

Rob Zacny comes to the plate as a pinch hitter, but we still manage to get three original panelists together for a long discussion about strategy games gone wrong. Ascendancy, MOO3, Road to Moscow, and other favorites.

Road to Moscow preview at IGN
Bruce’s Review of Squad Leader
Tom’s review of Axis and Allies
Troy’s Diplomacy Review
Rob’s love of the old Total War games
Troy’s review of SupCom for the 360
Chris Remo’s Top 5 PC Games of 2009
Jim Rossignol on ArmA
Tom’s Review of Empire: Total War


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Episode 41 - Solium Infernum

Length: 1s

Our first ever guest, Vic Davis, returns for an episode that will not be lost to the ether. Solium Infernum gets invited to a love in as Tom, Troy and Bruce try to explain why it is one of the best games of the year. We can an inside look at game design, how an game about unbalancing your opponents stays balanced and what Vic has up his sleeve for the expansion.

Ameritrash Games
Cryptic Comet
Quarter to Three Games Forum – Full of AARs
Penny Arcade’s Tycho loves Solium Infernum and links to Tom’s Fidgit diaries so I don’t have to


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Episode 40

Length: 56s

Troy, Bruce and Julian deal with a few questioners listeners brought to the panel. Can noobs and experts play together? What is the place of AI in current game design? Why do we keep doing this? And where is Tom?

Thanks for your questions, and keep them coming. We might do this again some time soon.

<a href="http://www.quartertothree.com/columns/geryk_analysis/MOO3_1.shtml">Bruce Geryk on MOO3</a>
<a href="http://www.gamerswithjobs.com/node/47883">Julian on Populous</a>
<a href="http://flashofsteel.com/index.php/2009/11/17/decade-feature-2001-black-white/">Rob Zacny on Black & White</a>
<a href="http://www.quartertothree.com/game-talk/showthread.php?t=56090">Solium Infernum Live Blogging</a>


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Episode 39

Length: 48s

Another guest this week as Ntronium Studios lead Bob Smith talks to Troy and Tom about the imminent release of Armada 2526. Bob is a veteran of Creative Assembly and has been making games for over a quarter century. Is there room for another 4x sci-fi game? And how do you differentiate one title from another?

Armada 2526 at Ntronium Studios

One week left to send in questions to the TMA crew at troy DOT goodfellow AT gmail.com


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Episode 38

Length: 51s

This week’s show begins with a business chat as we talk about the changing revenue models in all gaming as downloadable content begins to supplant or supplement the traditional retail expansion pack. Be sure to stay tuned for Bruce’s Nietzsche moment in which he declares that gameplay is dead.

The last half of the show is spent celebrating expansions that were good, denigrating those that were bad and mourning those that never happened. Lots of Big Huge love – kind of standard operating procedure.


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Episode 37

Length: 1s

Chris Park from Arcen Games joins us this week to talk about independent game development and how his sci-fi RTS AI War: Fleet Command saw the light of day. Park talks about the design process, the challenge of modeling risk and reward and the difficult part of difficulty levels. It’s also one of our longest podcasts ever.

Arcen Games
Tom’s column on AI War: Fleet Command
Feature Series: The Decade
Quarter to Three, where you can find Tom’s movie podcast

Send your questions for Episode 40 to troy.goodfellow AT gmail.com


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Episode 36

Length: 50s

We try to make up some ground this week with a little chat about Panzer General: Allied Assault (via Julian), Eufloria (via Tom) and, our main topic, Tropico 3 (via me). When is a remake enough? Am I trust too critical of a game that I actually like parts of? Can you cautiously recommend a game with major gameplay problems?

Tom’s Dragon Age diaries
Troy’s Tropico 3 review (link to come)


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Episode 35

Length: 1s

Skip a night and the inmates take over the asylum. Tom and Julian decide to talk about Brutal Legend, especially its strategy components. Why is BL Tom’s favorite game of the year? Are there different strategies for the RTS component? Is it an RTS at all?

Also, Bruce makes a cameo appearance in the intro.


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Episode 34

Length: 54s

Ubisoft’s Michael de Plater joins us for a fanboy grilling from Tom Chick. Why EndWar worked, its relative success and why Bruce never got to actually play EndWar for very long.

Apologies in advance for Michael’s sound. His plug-in mic was not working for some reason so he talked to his laptop. Through a tin can. From the distant future. While in a submarine. Fighting robots. He’s that good.

Michael de Plater’s rap sheet
Tom’s great EndWar column
Tom’s review of Brutal Legend – yet another game he thinks is an RTS


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Episode 33

Length: 54s

Sometimes Bruce misses a show he really needs to be on – like the one where we pronounced the death of the Dominions 3 game. This week, Dr. Geryk won’t give up and he makes a compelling argument along the way. Bruce admits to a new way of thinking about games, we talk about reviving our board game blogging (but we need help!) and we talk about wargames we like and don’t like.

We both say mean things that we should take back.

Our Twilight Struggle game
Republic of Rome Rulebook
1805: Sea of Glory


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Episode 32

Length: 49s

So what do you do when your guest doesn't show and your schedule for the rest of the week is shot to hell? You go ahead, press record and make it up as you go along.

A beloved friend of the show is on his deathbed and no doctor is in sight to save it. Tom calls Section 8 "the shooter from the Kohan guys" and fights with Julian over whether or not the game is very good or just good.…


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Episode 31

Length: 1s

Majesty 2 becomes the starting point about the pluses and minuses of surrendering control. Troy, Tom and Bruce talk about the origins of Majesty, other games with the detached czar motif and whether or not the game is repetitive. Listen as Bruce schools Tom on the subtleties of his new favorite game and find out which game Tom thinks is about sex and death.

Also, listen to the worst contest ever.

Bruce Geryk’s original Majesty review
Erik Wolpaw’s rebuttal
Troy’s Majesty 2 review
Tom’s Majesty 2 review
Dwarf Fortress
Tom on Halo 3:ODST’s Campaign and on the firefight mode.


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Episode 30

Length: 51s

Ever wonder what would happen to a show where Tom Chick didn’t show up to ask annoying questions? This is the answer.

PCGamer’s role playing game authority Desslock sits in with the remaining panelists to talk about how RPGs and strategy games overlap. Where is character advancement more important than story? Does Dominions 3 count as an RPG? It’s a low key and low energy discussion with only a little bit of nagging to Julian to get his turn in.


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Episode 29

Length: 1s

This week, a full panel deals with the question of getting started in strategy gaming. Should people approach the genre from first principles (The Murdoch Method) or through a topic they are interested in (The Goodfellow Approach)? How important is the visual immersion compared to the mechanics?

Bonus: Everyone is called an idiot by someone else at least once.

The Qt3 thread that inspired this chat
Tom’s column on RTSes for newcomers


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Episode 28

Length: 1s

The smallest podcast ever! Scheduling confusion means that just Tom and Troy are on hand to talk about naval tactics in strategy games. High on nostalgia, low on insight and yet another plug for Crown of Glory: Emperor’s Edition’s tactical naval engine.

You do get a moment where Tom fancies himself to be Da Vinci.

Lost Admiral
Perfect General
Crown of Glory: Emperor’s Edition
The Battle of Lepanto


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Episode 27

Length: 1s

The panel welcomes Mark H. Walker to the round table for a bruising discussion of his upcoming squad based wargame Lock N Load: Heroes of Stalingrad. Bruce and Julian dominate an unusually combative conversation, which only shows how much we care. What is the place of narrative in war games? Do designers overestimate how intuitive their designs are?

Apologies for the sound quality here. In spite of a perfect sound test earlier in the day, Mark’s satellite internet was not up to the task later that night so he had to phone in. Then the recording somehow made Troy’s comments appear three seconds later than they actually happened, making editing a real pain in the ass and borking the Dominions 3 discussion altogether. (Short version, Bruce didn’t send his turn but notice he was attacked by Julian’s deer men.)

Lock N Load
Matrix Games


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Episode 26

Length: 1s

Troy, Tom and Bruce spend an hour talking about city builders as ant farm games. Why didn’t they talk about Dawn of Discovery two weeks ago? What’s up with Cities XL? Is SimCity Societies a neglected classic or a misfire of epic proportions?

And, most importantly, does Bruce know any games made after 1984?


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Episode 25

Length: 1s

Troy, Tom and Julian start with Hearts of Iron 3, detour through a bunch of other WW2 games and somehow end up making less sense than usual. Learn why Thin Red Line is Tom’s favorite WW2 movie, why Julian thinks everyone who bailed on Axis & Allies in college should give it another chance, why our Dominions 3 game has stalled and what Troy sounds like after a long train trip and a couple of pints.

Troy’s Hearts of Iron 3 review
Tom’s single post on HoI 3 so far
Scott Jennings’ early thoughts on the game
Time of Wrath
Making History
Commander: Europe at War
War Plan Pacific


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Episode 24

Length: 58s

East India Company and other trading themed games take center stage this week. Listen as a full panel talks about where Nitro’s sailing business sim stands and falls. Is it possible to make cargo interesting? Are trading games pointless with a computer opponent?

Tom’s final Fidgit diary on East India Company


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Episode 23

Length: 1s

Sometimes a last minute topic change actually goes somewhere. Troy, Tom and Bruce have a long and detailed conversation about the challenges wargame and strategy game designers face when they try to capture the essence of an historical moment. How do you model insurgency? What makes WW2 the default combat model if not the default topic? Why are Tom and Bruce still scarred by Combat Mission Shock Force? Also a discussion of reading material, how Twilight Struggle works, and whether Balance of Power is a terrible game.

Troy also manages to confuse two Middle East themed games. (Here’s the one Tom was talking about, here the one Troy was thinking of.)

Then a long update on Dominions 3 and why Bruce is afraid.

Norm Koger’s current project
The new version of Dragoon
GDW’s Assault
Tom’s Call of Duty 4 review


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Episode 22

Length: 1s

After a month of absences, Bruce Geryk more than makes up for it in a tour de force conversation with special guest Bill Abner as they relive the fun of 1970s baseball simulation games. We open with a discussion of Blood Bowl, which Julian finds too difficult and Troy finds too easy. Then Tom, Julian and Troy sort of fade into the background for an hour.

Listen to learn what kind of person replays historical seasons, why Blood Bowl is really a wargame, and whether sports simulations can ever measure up to the beauty of Championship Manager.

Also an update on our Dominions 3 game, a promise to eventually get Bruce's side of the story, a quiz game from Tom Chick and a hip hop conclusion.…


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Episode 21

Length: 1s

Soren Johnson drops by to talk to Troy, Tom and Julian about how the future of strategy games is online - whether you like it or not. He drops some hints about what he is working on at EA, talks a little bit about Civ and why RTSes have to die in order to be reborn. Julian sells iPhones to everyone, too.

We also conclude with our regular Dominions 3 update - there could be a war a-brewin'. Tom predicts the future course of the game.

Quarantine 2019
Nile Online
League of Legends
Soren's Blog


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Episode 20

Length: 57s

The panel returns to game design territory with a discussion of the problem of runaway winners in strategy games. Can you design around it? Should you? How do you keep a game interesting for everyone?

Also, a progress report on our Dominions 3 game.…


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Episode 19

Length: 56s

Troy, Tom and Julian look at the year so far and look ahead to see what games they liked and what they are anticipating. Detours into diving, naval warfare and whether Starcraft 2 will appeal to the masses.

Stay tuned to the end for a look at who chose which race for their Dominions 3 multiplayer match and why. (Troy butchers his race name over and over, too. It's very stupid.)

Fourmageddon Map for Dominions 3
Tom comments on Starcraft's single player plans
Bill Abner's "Blood Bowl" Blog
Troy's Half Year Round Up


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Episode 18

Length: 1s

This week, the panel takes the pulse of strategy franchises. What makes you strong? What makes you weak? And is any particular franchise in trouble?

We also give you a preview of our next epic multiplayer gaming experience. Will Tom and Julian redeem themselves after such a terrible showing last time? Not with this game.


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<a href="http://www.podcastalley.com/"> My Podcast Alley feed!</a> {pca-bd0b7c85a9b03240a591c261a77eac89}…


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Episode 17

Length: 1s

This week is all about Bruce as he goes on and on about how hard it was to write the manual for Dominions 3. The panel talks about how a manual is not the same as documentation, how even good games could be better with a paper friend and lots of other commentary that only reveals just how old we four actually are.

Rome on 640K
My thoughts on the Dominions 3 manual
GMT Games
Bill Harris on Dwarf Fortress
Bill Harris on Armageddon Empires


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Episode 16

Length: 1s

Bruce shows up late, but we do get a full panel to talk about The Sims 3 and the franchise in general. Tom gets all artsy, Julian makes an odd comparison and Troy is a cheater.

One of the four panelists hates The Sims, by the way. No prize for guessing who.

And be sure to check out Crispy Gamer for Tom's Sims 3 RTS Challenge. Can you turn his loser into a success?

Robin Burkinshaw's sad story of Alice and Kev


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Episode 15

Length: 50s

Tom and I sit down with Johan Andersson of Paradox Interactive and Kim Soares of Nitro Studios to talk about Hearts of Iron 3, East India Company and what it's like for a hardcore strategy publisher at the new E3.

Please excuse the background noise. E3 is a noisy place and Paradox had no ceiling on their meeting room.

Context important links to follow.


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Episode 14

Length: 1s

The panel jumps the gun a little bit and talks about maps before Troy can finish quite his series, but they have good reason. The team goes over an hour this time so Bruce can call Civilization IV's map dead, so Tom can regale you with his wilderness adventures and so Troy can listen to his colleagues say nice things about him.

Source of the Nile on Board Game Geek
Troy's Map Series from the beginning.


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Episode 13

Length: 48s

Four men enter, two men leave as Tom and Bruce welcome their podcast partners into the oldest continuous rivalry in strategy gaming. In the first official multiplayer recap session in TMA history, the panel talks about Dawn of War 2, how the multiplayer experience holds up under the pressures of age and infirmity.

Bonus files include a replay you can load into Dawn of War 2 to see us flail about and an audio of us setting up the game and playing.


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Episode 12

Length: 53s

So what happens when an emergency derails a scheduled topic for a podcast? People scramble, that's what. Listen as Troy, Tom and Julian spend half the podcast debating and discussing how diplomacy is best represented in strategy games, and the other half catching up with topics previously covered, with shoutouts to a Flash of Steel commenter, a Qt3 poster and Julian's daughter. Also, bonus references to 17th century English philosophers, JRPGs and the time Tom sulked because he was a poor loser.

Troy's Crispy Gamer article on games and foreign policy
Dokapon Kingdom at Qt3
Free Realms
Dawn of War II patch notes


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Episode 11

Length: 51s

This week, the panel uses Popcap's Plants vs Zombies as a jumping off point to talk about defensive games in general - tower defense, grid defense and wargames. Bruce hates playing the Reds, Julian talks about his iPhone, Tom comes with another list and Troy is probably stressing the wrong syllable in Omdurman. We also announce the winner of the Demigod CE.

Desktop Tower Defence
Julian's Plants vs Zombies article at GWJ
More from Tom at Fidgit
Downtown at Board Game Geek
Ambush at Board Game Geek
Carrier at Board Game Geek
RAF at Board Game Geek


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Episode 10

Length: 1s

A disorganized and rambling panel deals with multiplayer gaming in general and some war stories is specific. Bruce and Tom give the not-so-secret history of Tom vs Bruce. Julian sings the praises of the Gamers With Jobs community. Troy explains how he and Bruce used to spend lazy Sunday mornings.

And Tom outs himself as a cheater. A dirty, no good, cheater.

The Story of the Crispy Gamer Fiasco
Quarter to Three
Gamers With Jobs


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Episode 9 - Brad Wardell, Demigod, Elemental and a Prize

Length: 55s

This week, the panel has a special guest. Stardock's Brad Wardell joins Troy, Tom, Bruce and Julian to explain just what was up with Demigod's botched multiplayer launch. We also get a little bit of information on Stardock's upcoming fantasy turn based strategy game, Elemental: War of Magic.

And stay tuned to the end, where we give the details for a prize drawing.…


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Episode 8

Length: 55s

A full panel today as the experts ramble about symmetry and asymmetry in strategy game design. What do we even mean by an asymmetrical game? When is asymmetry just a cheat to hide poor game design? Listen as Julian poses hypothetical questions, Tom praise the King of Asymmetry, Troy challenges Tom's logic and Bruce tries to stay on the sidelines.

Tom's first Demigod diary
Bruce's first article on board games vs computer games


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Episode 7

Length: 54s

The full panel is on hand this week and Troy is way out of his element as they talk about Collectible Card Games as strategy games, starting with Battleforge and moving through Star Chamber, Culdcept Saga and Magic. Should Bruce by a PSP? Who uses the phrase "synergy of modalities of gameplay"? And what game does Tom absolutely not want any of you to buy this week?

Listen here as these and more questions are answered.

Troy's Battleforge review
Star Chamber
Pox Nora


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Episode 6 - The Demigod Episode

Length: 58s

This week, Troy, Tom and Bruce devote the entire show to Demigod, the upcoming RTS from Gas Powered Games and Stardock. Bruce reaches into the past for a boardgame comparison, Tom is annoyed by everyone and Troy likes most of what he sees.



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Three Moves Ahead Episode 5

Length: 51s

This week, Troy Goodfellow, Tom Chick and Julian Murdoch discuss what a strategy game is. In a world of genre blending titles, what is core nature of strategy gaming? Listen as Tom sells the panel on his new Japanese child game, Julian dismisses Settlers of Catan and Troy searches for a sponsor.…


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Three Moves Ahead Episode 4

Length: 58s

This week it's all about wargaming as John Hawkins from KE Studios comes in to talk about  War Plan Pacific. Julian Murdoch returns to explain why he doesn't understand anything, Bruce Geryk would rather talk about Victory in the Pacific, Tom Chick almost rediscovers his love of wargames and Troy Goodfellow resorts to Star Trek Voyager to make a point.

And stay for the end, where John Hawkins unveils his new project!

(Some weather problems at Mr. Hawkins' end caused a little bit of feedback in places. Be patient.)

KE Studios home page
Victory in the Pacific at Board Game Geek
Troy's review of War Plan Pacific
The perfect strategy podcast?

Have a question for the panel? Email me at troy DOT goodfellow AT gmail DOT com.…


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Three Moves Ahead Episode 3

Length: 56s

This week, host Troy Goodfellow and panelists Tom Chick and Bruce Geryk spend most of their time talking about <em>Empire: Total War</em>, with a lot of armchair game design. Tom challenges the very premise of the Creative Assembly design philosophy, Bruce rejects Tom's premise and Troy tries to get a word in edgewise. Learn for Tom's "perfect strategy game", Bruce's love of Dominions 3 and Troy's memories of Dagestan.

Troy's review of Empire: Total War
Tom's interview with Brian Fraser of Ironclad Studios
Dominions mod forum
Tom discovers Dominions on Usenet

Have a question? Email me at troy DOT goodfellow AT gmail DOT com. And pick Bruce's homework assignment in the comments.…


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Three Moves Ahead Episode 2

Length: 52s

Three Moves Ahead: Episode Two

Host: Troy Goodfellow
Panel: Tom Chick, Bruce Geryk, Julian Murdoch

The second episode of TMA talks about Halo Wars, Demigod, Sins of a Solar Empire and Empire: Total War, with slight detours into Lord of the Rings Online and whether or not it is cool to use Google while podcasting.


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Three Moves Ahead

A podcast about strategy and war games, with some of the most knowledgeable gaming journalists in the business.

Three Moves Ahead

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