Three Moves Ahead

Three Moves Ahead Podcast

Three Moves Ahead is the leading strategy game themed podcast on the internet. Every week a panel of knowledgeable gamers with strong opinions meets to talk about the strategy and war games of the day, design issues and games in the wider world.

Three Moves Ahead 505: Crusader Kings 3
Rob, Rowan, Fraser, and Leana discuss their feelings on Crusader Kings 3 a few weeks after launch. How do we feel now that we've spent more time with the full version? Why does Rob keep sleeping with his grandkids' wives? Listen in and find out!...

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Three Moves Ahead 504: Troy and Kingdom of Heaven
Rob and Troy are walking the battlements as they revisit Wolfgang Peterson's "Troy" and Ridley Scott's director's cut of "Kingdom of Heaven". What do these two movies about major siege-battles fought between clashing civilizations, from the early years of the War on Terror, say about their moment? Is Troy underrated, overrated, or correctly rated? Why is Brendan Gleeson so unsettling? All these questions and more are answered this week on Three Moves Ahead....

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Three Moves Ahead 502: A Total War Saga: Troy
Rob, T.J., and Fraser are joined by freelance writer Dia Lacina to discuss A Total War Saga: Troy. The ancient city, not the creator of this show....

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Three Moves Ahead 501: Othercide
Rob and T.J. are joined by freelance writer Astrid Johnson to discuss goth girl tactics game Othercide....

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Three Moves Ahead 500: Origins
For our landmark 500th episode, Rob sits down with Rowan, T.J., Troy, and Bruce to discuss the formative games that made us strategy fans. Buckle in - it's a long one!...

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Three Moves Ahead 500: Origins
For our landmark 500th episode, Rob sits down with Rowan, T.J., Troy, and Bruce to discuss the formative games that made us strategy fans. Buckle in - it's a long one!...

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Three Moves Ahead 499: Desperados III
USgamer's Mike Williams and Kotaku's Luke Plunkett join Rob to talk about Desperados III, the stealth tactics puzzler from Mimimi. They talk quicksaving versus flow, stealth tactics vs stealth immersive sims, and Desperados vs. Shadow Tactics, the previous game from this developer....

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Three Moves Ahead 498: Crusader Kings 3 Hands-On
Rob and T.J. got some hands-on time with an in-development build of Crusader Kings 3, and they have a lot to say about it. Can the medieval strategy sequel live up to its now august predecessor?...

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Three Moves Ahead 497: Gears Tactics
Rob is joined by Cameron Kunzelman and Evan Lahti to discuss Gears Tactics, which adapts the familiar rhythms and dynamics of Gears of War to a turn-based, squad-tactics format with generally positive results....

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Three Moves Ahead 495: Sports
With the sports world mostly on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, sports games have emerged to take their place in some of the oddest ways. Rob discusses this weird moment for sports sims with Troy, Jenn Cutter, and Kat Bailey. They chat about why sim motorsports seem to be working well, but most console sports sims don't seem to have the same resonance. Rob accuses Troy of being the target audience for beat reporting based on Out of the Park leagues. Troy denies the charge, then describes the travails of...

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Three Moves Ahead 494: Stellaris Federations
Rowan, Jon, and T.J. are joined by Waypoint and Friends at the Table's Austin Walker to once again ask the immortal question: Is Stellaris good now? On the heels of a diplomacy rework and four years of expansions, what has become of Paradox's oddball 4X space child?...

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Three Moves Ahead 493: Animal Crossing New Horizons
Fraser is joined by Jon Bolding, Dia Lacina, and Philippa Warr to discuss Animal Crossing: New Horizons, from the ways it connects to the city builder genre to the oddities of the game's premise....

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Three Moves Ahead 492: The Last Autumn (Frostpunk)
Rob is joined by Cameron Kunzelman and Ethan Gach to return to the world of Frostpunk before the frost as the panel considers the game's latest DLC, The Last Autumn. In some ways it's an expansion the reveals some of the worst traits of Frostpunk, but in some other ways it reinvents and reimagines the game as a trickier and more credible management game....

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Three Moves Ahead 491: Master of Magic
This week we are going all the way back to 1994 to discuss Master of Magic. MoM, though not quite as popular as its bovine counterpart, was a very forward-thinking game. It offered many levels of customization not yet seen in gaming and inspired classic modern series like Dominions and Age of Wonders. Listen in as Rowan Kaiser, Jon Bolding, and Troy "Do you like what I've done with my hobbit hole?" Goodfellow discuss Master of Magic, sci-fi vs fantasy, and why generic magic isn't necessarily a bad thing....

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Three Moves Ahead 490: Micro-RTS Games
Not every novel must be Inifinite Jest, not every RTS game must be Starcraft 2. Sure, sometimes you need to hold your copy of Starcraft 2 with the cover facing out so people at the coffee shop KNOW you're playing Starcraft 2, but sometimes you just want to play a quick game of something and get out. This week, Rob and Cameron Kunzelman discuss three RTS games the can be played in less time than it takes to listen to this episode. So once you are done loudly asking if the barista has a second bookmark you ca...

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Three Moves Ahead 489: Mandate of Heaven
Rob, Brian "Chef Lu Bu" Smawley, Rowan, and T.J. discuss the Mandate of Heaven expansion for Total War: Three Kingdoms. Brian has been radicalized the populist vision of the Yellow Turbans and feels like only Zhang Jue has put in the work to lead China to a glorious new age. Rob and T.J., meanwhile, feel that incremental reform is the way to go. Rowan is out for themselves, but is also starting to wonder if that old Total War campaign inertia might not be settling in....

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Three Moves Ahead 488: The Decade in Retrospect
Rob, T.J., Rowan, and Fraser gather to consider the last ten years in strategy games. There is a stark division about what happened to the RTS, as well as how the concept of a game being "finished" mostly disappeared. Then Rob tries to wrap up the show and it goes for another hour as everyone tries to choose their favorite genre game from the last ten years....

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Three Moves Ahead 487: Best of 2019
Rowan, T.J., Jon, and Rob look back at 2019 and the games that most delighted or dismayed them....

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Three Moves Ahead 486: Lion in Winter
It's Christmas at the Plantagenets as Rob and Troy watch the superb Lion in Winter and the less superb Becket. What do these movies have to say about history and politics, and is any of it related to historical fact? How good is Hepburn? What is O'Toole doing across these two films?...

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Three Moves Ahead 485: Phoenix Point
Jon and Rob welcome back Paul Dean to discuss Julian Gollop's and Snapshot Games' Phoenix Point, which tries to blend some of the old-school systemic realism of the original X-COM games with the ease of play of newer tactics games. It's all going well until the gang realize the AI plays like a zombie... and this isn't a zombie game....

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Three Moves Ahead 484: Unity of Command 2
Rob and Troy are joined by Kotaku's Luke Plunkett to discuss Unity of Command 2, the long-awaited sequel to on of Three Moves Ahead's favorite wargames. How does the new setting change the game, and what's with all these new buttons?...

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Three Moves Ahead 483: Planet Zoo
T.J. and Fraser are joined by Bruno Dias (@NotBrunoAgain) to talk about Planet Zoo, Frontier's spiritual successor to zoo tycoon. Animals are great, but is managing everything around keeping them happy? Why are there 30-50 feral hogs on my trade screen? Zoo-ne in to find out!...

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Three Moves Ahead 482: Radio Commander
Troy, Jon, and Rob have been to The Nam and deep in "The Shit" this week as they play Serious Sim's narrative wargame, Radio Commander. To what extent is Radio Commander an actual wargame versus a cleverly disguised RTS choose-your-own-adventure? Does the distinction matter? What are the game's politics, and how do they affect Radio Commander's portrayal of contemporary politics? Most confoundingly, the crew wrestle with whether this is a good game that people should play, or merely an interesting experimen...

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Three Moves Ahead 480: 1999
Rob, Rowan, and Sean welcome Jeff Green to discuss what might be the greatest year in gaming. Looking down the release slate for that year, it was obviously stacked with brilliant games like Alpha Centauri, Freespace 2, and Jagged Alliance 2 (to name just a few). But did people know it was special at the time? And did anyone realize how fleeting that moment would prove to be, just before Microsoft entered the console wars and began to bridge the gap between console and PC?...

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Three Moves Ahead 479: Age of Wonders: Planetfall
Rob, TJ, Ian Boudreau, and US Gamer editor Mike Williams discuss the very pleasant surprise that is Age of Wonders: Planetfall. From initial skepticism over the fantasy series' pivot to science fiction, the gang are slowly won over by Planetfall's novel solutions to expansion and city management, diplomacy with minor factions, and glorious tactical combat....

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Three Moves Ahead 478: Oxygen Not Included
Nicole Clark joins Rowan and Rob to talk about Klei's Oxygen Not Included and its punishing model of offworld colonizaiton.Learn how everything that can go wrong does go wrong, and how well the game communicates excruciating detail about why your colony is dying....

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Three Moves Ahead 477: Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Rowan, Fraser, and Rob are joined by Kotaku's Gita Jackson to discuss their tenure as teachers at Garreg Mach Monastery. The gang talk about the really thougthful politics and characterizations that define Fire Emblem: Three Houses. Aside from that, is it a good tactics game? And finally, the gang gets into some serious spoilers about the game's shocking reveal midway through....

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Three Moves Ahead 476: Pericles
Rob, Troy, and Bruce get together to discuss Mark Herman's epic wargame of the Peloponnesian Wars, Pericles. How does it capture the sweep of a vast historical subject that was only sometimes decided through military conquest?...

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Three Moves Ahead 475: Gerykon 2019: Reiner Knizia Games
The Tehran Conference. The meeting at Appomattox. The Council of Elrond. All historical gatherings that pale in comparison to the summit that occurred in late July 2019 as the Three Moves Ahead team gathered in Oregon for several days of gaming. Hosted by Dr. Bruce Geryk, Gerykon 2019 was attended by Michael Hermes, Rob Zacny, and Troy "I hope they let me back into Canada" Goodfellow. Bruce played the part of eccentric board game sommelier, guiding the group through several layers of gaming history. Our fir...

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Three Moves Ahead 474: Steel Division 2
Rob and the gang are deeply conflicted over Steel Division 2. A good multiplayer game with some genuinely impressive detail about the armored combat on the Eastern Front, it's also a game that has not grown to match its subject, and then there's the matter of that campaign......

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Three Moves Ahead 473: Historical Guardrails
Rob, Rowan, TJ, and Sean discuss how "historically" they like their games to play out and whether that wish is incompatibile with player freedom and variety....

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Three Moves Ahead 472: We. The Revolution
Rob and Troy are bad revolutionary judges in We. The Revolution. But is there such thing as a good judge on a tribunal as compromised as this? It doesn't look like it in Polyslash's grim political adventure. The gang discuss the historical perspective that We. The Revolution adopts as well as its curious feature-creep as it moves from a straightforward legal procedural to something far more ambitious and less coherent. Why are you fighting for control of Paris? Why are you commanding soldiers in battle? Are...

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Three Moves Ahead 471: Anno 1800
Nice island you got here, shame if it wasn't fully industrialized! Fortunately Jon, Troy, and Rob are here to strip mine, clear-cut, and redevelop the hell out everything in sight. Troy puts this latest entry in the broader context of both the series and city builders in generals, Jon has made some mistakes, and Rob is both dazzled by the game's beauty but wishes it more fully captured the impact of heavy industry on nature. Also he is convinced somehow he can make a sensible grid layout out of a game built...

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Three Moves Ahead 470: Total War: Three Kingdoms
This week's show is the alternate universe version of our 2013 episode on Total War: Rome II. It was two hours of non-stop slamming that poor game - a real massacre. But here we find ourselves in 2019 with Total War: Three Kingdoms in front of us, and things are different. It's good. It's very good. The load times are short. The AI seems competent. The vibrant Three Kingdoms setting is brought to life with both a story mode and a gloriously ahistorical mode that lets the characters shine. Rob, Fraser, T.J.,...

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Three Moves Ahead 469: Imperator: Rome
Rob, TJ, and Jon are not quite sure what to make of Imperator: Rome, the latest historical grand strategy game from Paradox Development Studio. Should a Hellenistic warlord have such fine control over demographics? Is there much to do beyond empire-building? On the other hand, when the eagles are marching, does there need to be?...

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Three Moves Ahead 468: Same Thing, Different Place
The gang has been playing the Steel Division 2 beta and wow, things are different on the Eastern Front. That leads to a discussion of how familiar series and systems take on new life, or fail to, when adapted to new settings....

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Three Moves Ahead 467: Hard Times or Easy Living
Rowan, TJ, and Rob and joined by Jon Bolding to talk about how the difficulty discussion and "designer intent" maps to strategy games... or doesn't. We discuss games that go out of their way to highlight a specific "way it's meant to be played" and whether that actually holds up in reality. We also talk about customization options and, when all else fails, the glorious tradition of house rules and outright cheating to find the way to play that "just right" for you....

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Three Moves Ahead 466: Dawn of Man
Troy, Jon Bolding, and Rob discuss Madruga Works' Dawn of Man, a prehistoric and ancient history city builder and survival game. The gang is charmed, but also feel like there are some big gaps in the evolution of your city and society....

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Three Moves Ahead 465: Mark Herman's Empire of the Sun
Rob and Bruce are here to sing the praises of Mark Herman's Empire of the Sun, a brilliant adaptation of the war in the Pacific. Enjoying the game through the magic of VASSAL, our wargaming duo describe how about Empire of the Sun does a commendable job of conveying the challenges of imperfect information, the plans of the Imperial Japanese fleet, and inter-service rivalry - all through the elegance of card-based play....

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Three Moves Ahead 464: Dota 2 Auto Chess
Here's the word cloud for this week's episode: Dota2, mod, sports management, moba, battle royale, open world survival game with roguelike elements (jk but we need that SEO), deckbuilding, tower defense. That's right, we're talking about the mod for the game that's a copy of a mod for another game that has nothing to do with either of the things in its title: Dota 2 Auto Chess. Auto Chess is Dota 2 mod that you can play right now, for free. It's taking the world by storm, and it contains a satisfying combin...

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Three Moves Ahead 463: Classic Year in Review: 1994
Sound Blaster! 3DFX! Games that go unpatched because there's no way to fix them! That's right, we're going back 25 years to 1994. Yes, 25 years. We're all hella old, in case that had not occurred to anyone. But who am I kidding, if you're listening to this show you are probably part of the gamer geriatrics, pausing from your record run of Chip's Challenge or Kye to dust off your AARP card and get cheap coffee at McDonald's, nursing it from 9 AM to 11 AM before going to the smaller grocery store in town beca...

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Three Moves Ahead 462: Sid Meier's Civilization VI: Gathering Storm
The seas are rising. The air is getting worse. Rock bands are forming. Fraser, Sean Sands, and Troy "The Diplomatic Juggernaut" Goodfellow go for Just One More Turn (tm) with Civilization VI: Gathering Storm. In this, the "second Civ expansion that finally finishes the game", the player fights against other civilizations as well as an increasingly hostile Mother Earth. Gathering Storm is a worthy addition to the series, but where do we go from here? Certainly not beyond earth (cough), but with Civ as a whol...

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Three Moves Ahead 461: Three Kingdoms as a Setting
It's rare, but sometimes companies that aren't Koei make a game about the Three Kingdoms. During the runup to the new Total War game, we thought it would be fun to talk about the Three Kingdoms as a setting and the games from that past that have portrayed it well. Are you ready for a deep dive into Three Kingdoms history? No, like, a really deep dive? This week T.J., Rowan, Austin Walker, and guest Brian "Lu Bu" Smawley talk about their favorite factions, historical tidbits, and video game adaptations of th...

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Three Moves Ahead 460: Looking Ahead to 2019
2018 has come and gone, its crusty remains pushed to the side for new buffet plate (always get a new plate) of games coming out in 2019. Rob, T.J., and Ian Boudreau talk about the games they're excited for, the games they're cautiously optimistic for, and even some that they're dreading....

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Three Moves Ahead 459: Warhammer 40,000: Gladius - Tyranids
In the grim dark future there is only war. No, really. In Warhammer 40,000: Gladius - Relics of War, there is no diplomacy system. All of that nonsense has been put aside in lieu of 40K chainsword murder. Gladius manages to be a chimera of strategy games. Is it a 4X? Part of an RTS? Grimdark Civ? Whatever it is, Rob and Fraser generally like it....

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Three Moves Ahead 458: Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden
This week Rob, Jon Bolding, Giant Bomb's Alex Navarro, and Troy "I can't find the bard class" Goodfellow take a look at Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden by The Bearded Ladies game studio. Mutant Year Zero combines XCOM-like tactical gameplay with a post-apocalyptic setting that's a joy to look at. Its boardgame roots are evident in its sharp gameplay and rich setting....

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Three Moves Ahead 457: A Look Back at 2018
We threw restraint to the wind with our 2018 wrapup this year, so you get TWO episodes for for the same great price. Session one has Rob, Troy "this is the year my musical theater career takes off" Goodfellow, and Jon Bolding talking about their favorite games. After that, T.J. Hafer, Sean Sands, and Rowan Kaiser go into their top picks including all the Paradox-y stuff that we don't let Troy talk about. It's a long episode for what felt like an incredibly long year. 2018 hit us with a lot of political, mil...

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Three Moves Ahead 456: Crusader Kings 2: Holy Fury
It's been a minute since we've talked about Crusader Kings 2, so why bring it up now? Holy Fury - the latest major DLC - is one of the most significant changes to date, moving CK2 even closer toward RPG than grand strategy game. Is this the expansion that restores Fraser's interest in the game? Is this really the last expansion? What is the future of CK2? Why does T.J. go on and on and on and on about succession laws? Can you really be a duck? T.J. and Fraser answer all these questions and more....

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Three Moves Ahead 455: Classic Year in Review: 2003
From the dizzying highs of the Frozen Throne to the baffling lows of Master of Orion III, 2003 was a darn good year for games. Prince of Persia: Sands of Time became a hallmark for many gamers, and Rise of Nations came onto the scene to become the "other" kind of RTS. Korsun Pocket (recipient of its own 3MA episode) showed us what amazing AI could look like, and Knights of the Old Republic grew T.J. into the person he is today. Rob, Rowan, and T.J. hop into the Wayback Machine to go to 2003, when invading I...

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Three Moves Ahead 454: Armored Brigade
If the notion of the modern RTS makes you break into a cold sweat as you think about APM and wrist pain, we have good news for you: Veitikka Studios has created a more elegant weapon for a more civilized age. Armored Brigade puts you in command of cold war-era equipment in an impressively generated battlefield. The excellent scenario generator and impressive AI turn this game into something special, much to the delight of our panel. Rob, Ian Boudreau, game designer Rod Humble, and Troy "You've given me a he...

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Three Moves Ahead 453: Black Hawk Down and Zulu
We're trying something different at Three Moves Ahead this week. Rob and Troy "am I Siskel or Ebert?" Goodfellow take a brief respite from gaming to to discuss two historical military films: Zulu (1964) and Black Hawk Down (2002). Let us know in the forums if you enjoy this discussion of movies, imperialism, and interventionism....

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Three Moves Ahead 452: After Dark 2018
Every once in a while we like to kick back, pour a drink, and check in with the crew to see what's going on. This week it's Rob, Rowan, and Michael on the air to discuss what they've been playing - strategy or not. Michael bares his soul to share the things that bring him joy, only to be mercilessly mocked by the two jerks that aren't writing this episode summary. Rowan describes his love / hate relationship with Pathfinder and Rob details his love / love relationship with Steel Division. We also touch on t...

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Three Moves Ahead 451: Cities: Skylines - Industries
Cities: Skylines has continued to grow, adding expansions like so many strip malls to suburban hell. The latest DLC, Industries, shines a light on the utilitarian but necessary underbelly of any city: the industrial zone. But does Industries really capture the economic importance of production and mining? To answer this and other important questions, Rob and T.J. are joined by Justin Roczniak (donoteat01 on Youtube), who offers a comprehensive breakdown of the city building genre from an urban planning pers...

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Three Moves Ahead 450: Two Point Hospital
Are you down with PPO and dyslexia treatment? If so, this week's show may be for you. Rob, Jon Bolding, and T.J. Hafer dive into Two Point Hospital, a spiritual successor to the U.K.'s favorite sim, Theme Hospital. Two Point Hospital endeavors to lighten up the otherwise serious business of health care, illess, and piles of corpses with a light sense of humor and a clean (an)aesthetic....

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Three Moves Ahead 449: Frozen Synapse 2
Frozen Synapse 2 is here, bringing combat that is an intricately planned and delicate ballet that ends with a shotgun to the face. Rob, Jon Bolding, and Troy "Wait, you said we were just going out to ride Tron bikes" Goodfellow plan and shoot their way through a cyperpunk collection of hallways and doors....

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Three Moves Ahead 448: Valkyria Chronicles 4
Sega's not-really-World-War-II set in kinda-Europe returns in Valkyria Chronicles 4. Valkyria Chronicles marries tactical military gameplay with anime style and story. This extra long episode of 3MA, which features Rob, Heather Alexandra, and Austin Walker, covers a wide range of topics: Austin's definitive thesis on anime, Rob's complex feelings about Cowboy Bebop, problematic butt pats, the first episode of The Shield, and occasionally Valkyria Chronicles 4....

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Three Moves Ahead 447: Tactical Management Games
This week features a veritable smorgasbord of strategy games as we try and define the Tactical Management Game. It's not quite a management sim and not quite a tactical strategy game. We're looking for games that include a deep strategic or base building layer that also allow you to call some of the proverbial and literal shots. From sports management games to ironman-roguelike-procedurally-generated-party-combat romps, there's a lot of ground to cover. So listen in as Rob, Rowan, Heather Alexandra, and Bo...

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Three Moves Ahead 446: Phantom Doctrine
Phantom Doctrine promises a combination of tactical combat and sleuthing with cold war-era spycraft and compelling procedural narratives. Its delivery on those fronts is charming but ultimately falling short of the goal. Join Rob, Evan Lahti, and Xalavier Nelson Jr. as they dive into Phantom Doctrine and end up talking about Hard West....

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Three Moves Ahead 445: Mark Herman's Fort Sumter
Bruce is joined once again by noted game designer Mark Herman to discuss Fort Sumter: The Secession Crisis, 1860-61. Fort Sumter is a short-form card driven game that highlights the tumultuous time leading up to the Civil War. In this wide-ranging discussion Bruce and Mark talk about the high amount of wargames coming to market, crisis dimensions, and the invasion of Japan....

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Three Moves Ahead 444: Six Ages: Ride Like the Wind
King of Dragon Pass, a longtime cult favorite, is one of gaming's best storytelling platforms. In a fantasy world older than Dungeons & Dragons, King of Dragon Pass combined elements of choose your own adventure, strategy, management and council politics that went unrivaled for almost twenty years. The developers at A Sharp have now returned to deliver a new entry in the world of Glorantha with Six Ages: Ride Like the Wind. Featuring the same unique play style of King of Dragon Pass and similarly gorgeous a...

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Three Moves Ahead 443: The Best RTS Comp Stomps
The future will not be pretty. Advances in AI and robotic mobility makes it clear that we are only years, if not months away from Skynet becoming self-aware. When it does, it will look back on what humans have wrought and it will rain fire upon us. Consider: the videos of Boston Dynamics mercilessly kicking robot dogs. Consider: the subjugation of the wild Roomba. Consider: the term "comp stomp", in which a team of human players collaborate to battle, mock, and ultimately defeat a computer opponent. Join Ro...