Hand of Fate

by Adam Rochford 28. January 2016 06:23

Mix a board/card game with fast skilled based action combat with randomized loot and you get this.  The amount of cards they have added for free is awesome.  I find myself logging in after a month or two and it seems there are always more cards to unlock.  At the time of writing I have 26 hours in game and still only have about 75% of the cards.  The more cards you get the more challenging the game becomes, but the better loot you will find as well.

You'll find yourself trying to beat the one card in the dealers deck to get more gear, blessings and gain cards for your later runs.  But as the dealer says, you'll unlock many cards, some you wish you hadn't.  You can set your own challenge as you go or just go all in.  Build up to beat that one card so you can get more cards for the next run or try and beat the story line or try the endless mode.  

The games of chance can even be tipped in your favor.  The cards are shuffled, sometimes more quickly based on the event or curses or more slowly based on blessings.  You can attempt to watch the card be shuffled and attempt to choose the correct one.  It's an extremely effective system surprisingly.

The combat has dodging, parrying and blocking and they are absolutely necessary to get good at in order to move forward in the game.  The combat has been balanced immensely since release and is now a really solid challenge.  THIS IS NOT JUST A CARD GAME.  There is action based combat which requires real skill, reaction speed and practice to proceed.

Absolutely worth the money if you like rogue-like, fast paced and brutal yet balanced game with mechanics that allows you to achieve more every run.  The game balances the new cards with new difficult encounters and curses that can do all sorts of mildly irritating things.  But it is a 'rogue-like', you will have frustrating runs.  However when you succeed in getting that difficult encounter and you gain new things, it makes it all the more satisfying.

One of the best parts of playing this game is the atmosphere and the dealer's excellent voice acting.  The setting in which you play the card game is perfect for playing in the dark in a relaxed setting.  While it can be a frustrating game at moments, when you come out of the action combat you are in a nice calm atmosphere simply playing cards.  This has some unusual mood affect which seems to strangely calm your inevitable frustration.  The game mixes two genres together that really aren't meant to be together, but Hand of Fate pulls it off flawlessly.  There is only one con I can think of about the game, the shops sometimes take a strangely long time to load.  Other than that I can't think of much more that could be added to the game to make it better, other than new card encounters, monsters and gear of which there

This was certainly one of my favorite single player games of 2015 and I hope they keep adding more content either for free, DLC, expansion or a new game all around.  Highly recommend you play with a controller and only with a controller.  Steam controller works great as well and is a great game to play with Steam Streaming.  The game fits very well on a big screen in the living room.


Gank Mode

by Adam Rochford 27. July 2014 00:55

I have started a website dedicated to full loot multiplayer games. Be sure to check out Gank Mode.



Eclipse IPad Released

by Adam Rochford 30. April 2013 19:00

Finally a real strategy game has come to the IPad. The now popular board game has now come to digital form and is in the app store. The game is a turn based galactic conquest game. It include research and ship building! For a board game it is complex, but it's complexity take a certain form of streamlined simplicity. It's limited to 9 rounds but you have many actions during each round, including explore, research, building ships and orbitals, upgrading your ships and moving your ships. It's an example of extremely straight intuitive and immersive game design.  Thank of a civilization game that can be played in about an hour once you really get into the game. The tutorial is excellent for getting started as well. Did I mention multiplayer? If you have an IPad I highly recommend this game. According to the developer they are currently just behind Minecraft in 5th place in sales on the ITunes store.

Eclipse ITunes

Big Daddy Creation - Eclipse Done



by Adam Rochford 25. April 2013 01:51

This is another game that crept up on us.  It's a game called Banished and it's a realistic simulator for probably what would be something similar to an early 19th century town.  It features realistic population growth and food gathering.  It's slated for a mid to late 2013 release.  There are more videos and pictures available on www.shiningrocksoftware.com



Total War: Rome II

by Adam Rochford 24. April 2013 01:22

Gamespot released this video of Total War: Rome 2.  I've always enjoyed the Total War series as it always mixes realistic battles with a sandbox campaign mode allowing to run your country through a grand map.  The Total War series finally comes full circle back to the time period that brought us Total War.  I for one cannot wait to rule Rome and command it's armies.  The only thing Total War: Rome needed was a better UI, better AI and a bit of polish.  This tech demo shows what we have been waiting for all this time.



Gunpoint Beta on Steam

by Adam Rochford 23. April 2013 22:03

This is an example of what a great action adventure puzzle game should be like.  It's sandboxy and hilarious.  The beta is on Steam but you need an access code.  I'm not sure if they are still giving out beta keys but if you are interested I recommend signing up for the newsletter at gunpoint.com.  The video above doesn't do the game justice.



Leviathan: Warships

by Adam Rochford 17. April 2013 20:57

Paradox Interactive has officially gone mobile and funky.  Soon after it's Magicka IOS release, it's now releasing Leviathan: Warships a tactical turn-based fleet management game.  It's cross-platform multiplayer is beyond innovative.  Most gaming companies are too scared to try.  This game boasts multiplayer between all major platforms PC, MAC, Android and IOS.  That is extremely impressive and risky move.  You customize your fleet and arm your ships with your weapons of choice.  It will release April 30th, 2013.  Check out this funky trailer.


Civilization V: Brave New World Preview

by Adam Rochford 11. April 2013 22:06

Civilization V: Brave New World will bring about a much needed improvement to the culture and diplomatic victory.  Policy Adoption will play a more important role with conflicting ideologies becoming more important in how you interact with other civilizations.  The emphasis is to improve the late game experience and make the culture and diplomatic victories more viable and more interesting.  A type of archaeology system will be added to the game.  Trade will become more important bringing about a new unit called the caravan.  A world congress will be featured.  Nine new civilizations and 2 new scenarios and new units and buildings.  This new expansions is slated for release this summer.



Most Anticipated Releases of 2013

by Adam Rochford 8. April 2013 13:16

Day Z - TBA

Day Z Game Official Site

I am not one of those zombie loving hipsters.  I'm not even a fan of post apocalyptic horror films and games.  I don't really like them, I'm not into the theme.  But Day Z has capitivated me.  I'm a fan of simulations, I'm a fan of realism.  Day Z gives a chance to experience what life could really be like in a zombie apocalypse.  With humans fighting together and against each other in an endless war for beans, ammunition and survival.  Dubbed Hiking Simulator 2013 by some, the great moments come when you meet face to face with another human and must decide weather to try and talk to them or shoot them and steal there stuff.  Looking online you can find some spectacular moments that have been found in the Arma 2 Mod version of this game.  Day Z is truly deserving of it's standalone version and we are all hoping the fews bugs will be few and there will hopefully be far less hacking.  This game has more potential than most games coming out 2013.

The game has been delayed, and understandably so.  The game is ambitious and the technological problems they face are vast.  My guess is we will know more by summer and we can probably expect some kind of beta by Q3 2013.

Arma III - Q3 2013

Arma 3 Steam

The world's premier military simulator is already available on Steam in a Alpha version.  We're all hoping that Arma 3 brings the needed polish and user friendliness that Arma 2 so badly needed.  The Arma series has been notoriously difficult to get into, primarily because it is a military sandbox.  

Europa Universalis IV - Q3 2013

Feature List of Paradox Forum

What are we going to do tonight Brain?  The same thing we do every night Pinky... try and take over the world.  Come on you know you want to.  Pick your favorite country, and go from there.  With a new trade system involving your navy, a revised combat system, revised religion, revised map and everything any Europa fanboy could want.  This is my most anticipated game of the year.

Civilization Brave New World - Summer 2013

This new expansion set to release this summer will feature new much needed diplomatic features and revised trade system.  It will also feature a sort of cultural mini game, featuring ideological wars.  Not a lot of information is out, but it sounds like cultural victories may be more viable and more interesting.  Think cold war scenario.

Stardrive - May 2013, Beta availabe now

Stardrive on Steam

Featuring tons of 4x features, the beta version is out on Steam and the full version is on it's way.  It's 4x space empire game that features the usual ship building and research trees.  The combat system will probably set this game apart from the others.  It features crew boarding and ground forces into the genre, something that has been largely been ignored or abstracted away in other games like Endless Space.  The twist is that it's real time and you can even control one of your ships with WASD.  It's a strange game, something that hasn't really been done before.  I am torn between playing this and Endless Space.

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game - August 2013

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game

I have never waited so patiently in anticipation of a board game before.  In the genre of the new "living card games" made somewhat popular by Fantasy Flight.  Paizo Publishing, publisher of the now popular D&D reboot Pathfinder is creating a card game version of Pathfinder.  Instead of having the dungeon master tell you what is happening in your adventure, the game tells you what's happening and all of the items, characters, locations and adventure lie within hundreds of cards.  The base set will be released in August 2013 at GenCon in Indianapolis.  Subsequently more and more of the adventure will be released on a monthly basis, adding more and more cards to the game.  Something like a 1000 cards will released by the end of the first adventure.  It's a persistent card, something which hasn't been done hardly at all.  You level up, you find loot and defeat monsters and you keep going until you die.  It's a cooperative game that can even be played solo.

Eclipse IOS - Probably May 2013

Big Daddy Creations

The board game is a hugely successful space empire building game that is complex, yet streamlined.  It includes ship building and tech trees.  However the game is getting even more streamlined and being put onto the iPad with AI.

Eminent Domain Escalation - December 2013

Eminent Domain Escalation Kickstarter

As of right now there are 57 hours left in the Kickstart campaign for the board game expansion for Eminent Domain.  Eminent Domain is an excellent new twist on deck building strategy and the expansion will probably prove to be just as innovative.  I love playing this game and I am looking for to this expansion.  You can get the original game through the Kickstarter as well.  I highly recommend this game.

Warhammer Quest (IOS) - April 2013

Rodeo Games

Warhammer Quest is one of those unique board games made a long time ago by Games Workshop.  It wasn't initially all that successful, but the world changes and people came to realize how great the game was.  Now the board game sells for $400 on Ebay and there is still no talk of a reprint.  The board game is dungeon tile questing game in which you continue playing and exploring the dungeons leveling up your character.  So the game doesn't end just like every other dungeon crawling game, it keeps going.  You visit towns, get items, fight monsters and level up.  Now the game is coming to IPads and IPhones.  It's being made by the same people that made Hunters which is there own custom strategic fighting game that would probably fit well in the realm of Warhammer 40,000.  I recommend checking out Rode Games



Age of Empires II HD Coming to Steam

by Adam Rochford 7. March 2013 16:57

I have hoped this day would come for years.  A digital download of Age of Empires II (1999) is coming to Steam and not only that it's going to support modern native resolutions and multiple monitors!  No longer will you have to resort to Amazon, adventuring or pirating just to find a copy of this glorious game.  I can't say how many times I have bought a copy of this game, but it's been more than twice.  Incidentally I somehow still have my copy of Age of Empires I with the massive manual that came with it.  However it just goes to show how timeless this game really is.

Finally Microsoft found the lost screw and got one there of many heads properly attached to the body of the mighty hydra beast that is Microsoft. This game needed a digital download because it's a big fat giant pinata filled with money.  Microsoft is going to finally cash in as the game will be available on Steam for $19.99, currently $17.99 before release.  That's a mighty big profit considering the game has already paid for itself and the development being put into it is not some kind of massive rewrite or expansion.

The game is getting a lot of great features that are going to make the age of AOE less obvious and with the Forbidden Empires mod which improves AI, the game will be a beast that will transcend it's own age.  If you already have the game and haven't tried out the Forbidden Empires mod, then you are missing out on the best improvement to the game, the only improvement it really needed, better AI.  This is a glorious day.

I shouldn't have to tell anyone reading this how good Age of Empires II is, if so you are on the wrong blog.  You can be sure when I finally finish my best strategy games of all times list, this will be in the top 3 if not number one.

Here are the features:

  • Native Resolution Support
  • Multiple Monitor Support (No word on how many monitors)
  • Texture Revision (No more running into the notorious 256 color bug)
  • Steam Multiplayer Support
  • Steam Workshop Support
  • Game will be complete with campaigns and all features from the Conquerors Expansion.

Forgotten Empires
Age of Empires II HD on Steam



Blizzard's PR problems are deeply rooted.

by Adam Rochford 5. February 2013 17:37

Diablo III has had a lot of stumbles.  The game isn't really bad, in fact it does a lot right.  I have about 700 hours in game.  The combat is fun, but the itemization is a bit off.  The auction house creates an environment that causes rare loot be far more rare than would normally exist.  However these aren't deeply rooted problems that can't be fixed.  Combat is the thing you do most, and combat is sheer fun.  The actual problem at Blizzard is a PR problem.

Blizzard has long used it's ambiguity to create a shroud of secrecy that creates the whispering rumors in nerd forums that creates a good launch environment.  This has helped make Diablo III one of the biggest PC launches of all time.  Even though the launch was rocky, the sales had already gone through and the auction house was buzzing with an unknown godly amount of money.  Diablo III is a monetary success for Blizzard, however it's longevity has been in danger for some time because the veil of secrecy Blizzard is known for has been taken to a level that is unhealthy for the Diablo community.

The 1.07 patch is a much anticipated patch.  Then Diablo announces a downtime and thousands of people sit around speculating.  Is it the patch?  Should I plan a big game day?  Nobody knows, because Blizzard tries so hard to create this veil of secrecy that breeds anticipation.  However as the game is already out and people know what the game is like.  The veil of secrecy around a somewhat major but publicly tested patch is completely ridiculous and over the top.  The only thing Blizzard accomplishes is alienating it's audience by simply not announcing what the downtime is for.

I was hoping for a better PR stance and a more open environment from Blizzard after Jay Wilson leaving.  I know if this was my game and my baby, PR would run differently.  Somebody needs to tell there community relations department (There actually is one!) at Blizzard that keeping people in the dark about things that should simply be public information is not creating the type of veil of secrecy that they are looking for.  They are simply being inconsiderate to it's userbase that needs flat simple information about the basic status of the game.  Some of us do have lives and plans outside of the world of Diablo.  You can have secrecy that breeds anticipation without cutting off the entire line of communication to your audience.  I have only one piece of advice for whomever becomes the new game director, fire somebody in community relations and make an example out of them because alienating your audience is a completely unacceptable business practice and you are losing users and money because of it.

I've been gaming a while and I have never seen such a large horde of angry fans over a video game, except for maybe the short lived War Z fiasco.  Jay Wilson will for better or worse be the butt of every game manager joke from here until the next big game PR disaster.  Much of it is undeserved really, but a lot it is simply anger over the perceived lack of respect for your audience.  In short Blizzard, get your PR shit together.


Why there are no good Android strategy games.

by Adam Rochford 13. January 2013 19:22

Let's face it, the world of Android games suck.  When it comes to strategy games, you are pretty much reduced down to a handful of decent tower defender games.  Developers have a hard time justifying development of a game for a system that generally requires a complete rewrite of an app the was written for IOS.  That and the fact that most people own an IOS device, not Android.  On top of that there are a million Android devices with tons of different hardware and screen sizes.  With Apple there just a few devices and a few screen sizes, easing the development process a bit.

Strategy games don't generally sell well, especially on mobile devices.  Even when you do find one it's often some sort of pay to win money pit.  I bought my Android tablet about 6 months hoping to see a larger influx of strategy games come in.  I don't like Apple, I don't like there restrictions and I don't like how they overcharge for every single device and service they sell, just because it is almighty Apple.  They have a couple things going for them though, they have huge demand and a huge amount of users, this translates to good apps and good variety.  While I have problems with the restrictiveness of there App Store, it does a couple things.  It ensures the quality of apps and increase security.  All these things combined have created a good ecosystem for Apps in the IOS world.

However if you go over to the Android Google Play store, you find an endless pile of steaming crap.  There are crappy apps in the IOS store as well, but not the seemingly endless mile of crap you find in the Android store.  Mix that with no real category sorting and bad search filtering and you can't even find the good games because they are drowned in an endless maze of crap.  It's pretty terrible that search is so bad on Google Play, considering Google is considered the best with search.  If Google can't begin to get developers developing quality titles for Android, then Apple will remain on top of the gaming market, and Sony PSP Vita and Nintendo DS will continue to actually do pretty well in mobile gaming when a few well timed changes could put Android on top.  Right now Nintendo DS has better strategy titles than Android, see Civilization, Anno and Age of Empires all actually pretty great games for strategy gamers on a mobile device.

I bought an Android device because I wanted to "fight the power" that is Apple, I didn't want to cave in.  However if nothing changes in the next 6 months, I'll be buying a damned IPad, because that is where are all the good boardgames and strategy games are being developed.  Google needs to do something about the App Store to start filtering out the crap.  A few steps have been taken but nothing that will definitively drive development.  If you want good strategy games on your tablet or phone, I would not recommend Android devices. 


Best Strategy Games of 2012

by Adam Rochford 27. December 2012 11:26

I've been away for a while, playing video games of course.  Here is my list of the best strategy games of 2012.

Best Co-op: Orcs Must Die 2

Official Site

Hands down one of the best co-op games of all time.  This game can only be described as pure joy.  A mix of 3rd person shooter and tower defense.  You will slaughter Orcs by the hundreds as they attempt to run through your gauntlet or traps while you shoot and maim them.  I can't recommend this game enough.

Best Indie: FTL

Official Site

You'll feel like Captain Picard on the bridge of the Enterprise with this rogue-like spaceship simulator.  You'll command crew, upgrade your ship, target weapons at shields, engines, engineering and crew all the while protecting your crew, engines, venting fires and making sure your oxygen tanks don't explode.  Your commands will be the essential decisions needed to keep your crew alive and your ship in one piece.  This is a great little game for any aspiring ship captain.  Also it's JefMajor approved.

Best Epic Strategy: Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion

Official Site

Sins of a Solar Empire is back with epic space battles, planet bombing, giant starbases and giant tech trees.  Just with any epic strategy game, there is a fairly steep learning curve, but Rebellion's great AI tuning will get you in the game at a pace you can enjoy.  While the improvements in Rebellion aren't all that vast, this already great epic strategy game has been improved and made into a standalone game so more can enjoy and jump into what is a great strategy game.

Best Turn-Based Strategy: XCOM: Enemy Unknown

Official Site

Remakes don't generally turn out well or remain true to there ancestor's but the new XCOM is a refreshing take on an old favorite.  It may be more storyline driven than the original, but this doesn't really detract from it's openness and it's turned based tactical combat is refreshingly new and exciting.  You run your secret black project alien annihilation station managing research and engineering projects from your underground bunker, organizing alien interceptions and managing your relationship with world powers.  This part of XCOM resembles city building strategy which then seemless stream into combat scenarios where your recruits that may have been alive for many missions put there lives and skills on the line in nail biting tactical combat.  Usually turn based combat isn't known for putting you on the edge of your seat, but it gets tense when you have veteran soldiers that have been alive since the beginning of your game could die at any moment, the combat situation gets tense.

Most Innovative: Endless Space

Official Site

Endless Space has taken a combination of things that have proven to work well together: turn based civilization game, resource management, research, ship and fleet design and thrown in a dose of refreshing combat mechanics into an epic turn based space civilization game.  It takes a certain amount of patience to learn and play a game like Endless Space, but if you're like me, sitting back and meticulously planning your enemies demise is your favorite part of any game, then this game is for you.  You design your own ships and fleets and manage every single planet and solar system from micro to macro and somehow it doesn't feel tedious on a grand scale.  Throw in a an interesting card based combat mechanic that I have never seen in any other game and you have a streamlined epic strategy game known as Endless Space.

Most Anticipated: Europa Universalis IV

Of course I can't wait for Paradox Interactive's Europa Universalis IV, PC's premier historically accurate grand strategy game.

Honorable Mentions:

Tropico 4

Tropico remains one of the greatest city building games, but it's somewhat lost track of what made the game popular in the first place.

Jagged Alliance: Back in Action

With Tactical Mode now in the game, this game is actually pretty good.  I only wish there was either some sort of coop or multiplayer mode, but obviously such a mode would present difficulties in a game like this.

Dishonorable Mentions:

Legends of Pegasus

Phenominal score of 35/100 metacritic, I regret ever previewing it on this site or getting hyped about it at all.  Kalypso's reputation took a big hit on this one.

Sword of the Star II

A very buggy release, and even after several issues have been fixed, the game has been overshadowed by Endless Space with it's streamlined gameplay and interface and simplified combat system.  For the extremely hardcore masochist strategy gamer, Sword of the Stars II could be for you?



Planetside 2

by Adam Rochford 16. September 2012 00:37

If you haven't signed up for the greatest MMOFPS ever made then you are missing out.  Sign up for Planetside 2 over at planetside2.com



Castle Story reaches $250,000 on Kickstarter

by Adam Rochford 29. July 2012 18:56

About a year ago I posted a video about a game in development called Castle Story.  The engine looked promising and the gameplay looked awesome.  To push a long the game into final development stages and for publishing.  The programmers behind Castle Story started a Kickstarter to fund the game to be published.  They asked the Kickstarter community for $80,000 and so far they have gotten $250,000 and they still have a whopping 27 days to go.  The fund currently has over 9,400 backers.

The Kickstarter will expire on August 27 in which the project will be fully funded and then some.  I highly recommend putting up some money towards it just to get some early access to the game.  They also have T-Shirts and posters and the ability to get your name in the credits.  It's nice to hard work for game with a lot of promise being rewarded.  These guys deserve it.

Follow to the link below to help fund them even more.  There is great video there with some new and interesting gameplay.

Kickstarter - Castle Story

Update 8/9/2012 - Castle Story has reached over $420,000 with 17 days to go!

Update 9/7/2012 - Castle Story Kickstarter campaign has finished with over $700,000.




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