Posts by: Owen Faraday

Call for writers: Join the Strategy Gamer writers’ dungeon

Service guarantees citizenship.

Service guarantees citizenship.

Pocket Tactics must grow to absorb The Wargamer and to release Strategy Gamer upon an unsuspecting world — which means that we need more writers here in our dank writers’ dungeon at PT HQ high atop Mount Hexmap.

If you want to join Dave and Kelsey and the gang, now’s the time — the first call for writers we’ve put out since 2012. We’re looking for reviewers to do 2 to 3 (paid!) reviews per month. We’re also looking for another news writer, somebody who can write funny, insightful news posts most weekdays — also a paid gig.

Details below.

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Where we’re going next: Strategy Gamer

A defeat device for boredom.

A defeat device for boredom.

It’s been just over two years since we rolled out Pocket Tactics 2.0, and almost four years since this place first started. That’s about three-and-a-half years longer than I ever expected to be doing this. I started Pocket Tactics on a whim, and when it grew into the site it is today I felt like a guy who’d found Nessie on the end of his fishing line. This used to be a blog I wrote for fun, and now it’s a site with a global audience of hundreds of thousands of people and a half-dozen contributors.

What made PT so popular? Was it our commitment to gag captions and pun headlines? Or our shockingly cavalier attitude to games categorization? My highly unethical and unsustainable approach to beard grooming? I’m still not entirely sure — so obviously the most prudent thing to do is to try and do it again.

In a few weeks, you’ll see a brand new Pocket Tactics 3.0 with a refreshed site layout and some neat new futures — including new forums. The expanded Pocket Tactics crew will also fully take the reins over at The Wargamer, which is also getting overhauled from top to bottom. And most importantly, we’re going to be launching Strategy Gamer, a site devoted to covering our brand of games on every platform — from mobile to PC, from console to tabletop, and everything in between. It’s going to be everything you (hopefully?) love about Pocket Tactics, but now free to get down with every games platform.

I’m going to share more details about what we’re planning on in Sunday Almanacs over the next couple of weeks. Thanks for reading Pocket Tactics, and I hope you’ll come with us for the next part of the ride. One thing we’re going to need is a few more writers to join the crew, but I’ll put that in another post.

Only Simogo could have made SPL-T, a new puzzler that you really ought to play

Would you believe that this is an exhilarating screenshot?

Would you believe that this is an exhilarating screenshot?

I’m sure Dave is going to mention this later when he does Out Tonight, but I wanted to very quickly stick my head in the door to say only this: SPL-T is awesome.

SPL-T was announced and released in one neat little flourish today. It’s a new Simogo game, here to redeem a year that we previously believed would have to get by without one. It is an absolutely ingenious puzzle game. My first two goes with it were spent blindly groping around making moves at random — and then it just clicked. It clicked hard.

SPL-T is very simple: I won’t bother attempting to explain it because you will understand it faster through play. But go get it. It’s my favourite puzzle game of 2015 — sorry Dr Croft. I can see SPL-T earning a permanent spot on my devices.

This is a game that only the makers of Device 6 and Year Walk could have made: if these screenshots had turned up in my inbox coming from an email that didn’t end in “”, I would have trashed them so hard Oscar the Grouch would have felt it. This is a game that has fewer animations than the ATM you visited at lunch today. Tio Salamanca from Breaking Bad has a more ambitious sound design. And yet: it is the year’s most elegant puzzle game.

Go get SPL-T. You won’t regret it.

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Be the last one to lose: Sigma Theory’s debut trailer

Spies just love the Greek alphabet.

Spies just love the Greek alphabet.

Out There creators Mi-Clos have pulled the curtain back just a little farther on Sigma Theory, the near-future espionage game whose existence they revealed back in February. The details were sparse then; just some intimations about intrigue and moral ambiguity, but just being the follow-up to one of our favourite games of 2014 was enough to get Sigma Theory on my personal most-wanted list.

Today we learn more about Sigma Theory: it’s a turn-based strategy game where the player is the head of an intelligence agency, recruiting spooks and sending them out into the field to fight a sub-rosa war against your rivals. There’s a bunch of screenshots and a trailer after the jump.

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Divergent plates: Rise of Continents tournament coming to World of Tanks Blitz

I can't believe they didn't go with "Continental Divide".

I can’t believe they didn’t go with “Continental Divide”.

PT‘s favourite online shooter series World of Tanks is developing a charming eccentricity: last Christmas the PC version rolled out an “8-bit” version of the game and the current promotion on desktops is an Indiana Jones-style search for “ancient weapons” — which turn out to be tanks, naturally.

Developers announced the first big World of Tanks Blitz event for the mobile version of the game this morning, and it’s suitably wacky. The Rise of Continents event that kicks off of 28 September will be a four-week-long tournament pitting Europe, North America, Asia, and (oddly) the Russian Commonwealth. It’s sort of a passive tournament — all you have to do to represent your continent is log into the game and play, and Wargaming will tot up which region is doing the best each week, with the winning teams getting in-game swag like premium tanks and IRL swag like Sennheiser headsets.

If you’re new to the game, I burbled an excited newbie guide for World of Tanks Blitz last year that’s still pretty accurate, I reckon.

The video after the jump gives you a (decidedly metaphorical) flavour for what Wargaming are going for. If you’re in Europe and therefore on my team, I would request that you not attempt to play Blitz whilst wearing chain mail gloves. You’re going to let the side down.

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A strange whisper: Six Ages will be 2016’s follow-up to the classic King of Dragon Pass

The Chief is just back from Bergdorf's.

The Chief is just back from Bergdorf’s.

If I were about to be banished to a wifi-less desert island and (through some extraordinary mercy) was granted one game to accompany me for the rest of my lonely, coconut-eating days, I would very probably bring King of Dragon Pass.

There is nothing in the world like King of Dragon Pass. It is part text adventure, part Civilization-style 4X game. It takes place in a low-fantasy world that feels genuinely mysterious; you are the elder of a Bronze Age clan in a land where magic and myths seem very real and your neighbours aren’t always human. This is a game that is big enough to warrant an 800-page wiki of which I have never seen one kilobyte and never will. The mystery of how the game works is too precious to me.

King of Dragon Pass is a game of such intimidating quality and daunting magic that, since its original release back in 1999, no one has ever made a serious attempt to copy or duplicate or “reimagine” it. I wouldn’t trust anyone to do it, anyway. Well, except for one guy: David Dunham, the principal designer of KoDP. And he’s going to do just that.

Six Ages is coming at the end of 2016 (hopefully), a game that Dunham tells me is “a proper successor to King of Dragon Pass”. I’m not sure that the world deserves a follow-up to KoDP. We haven’t exactly been on our best behaviour lately. But I’m not going to try and talk Dunham out of it.

After the jump, everything that King of Dragon Pass creator David Dunham has told me about Six Ages.

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Your moment of Hearthstone zen: Dreadsteed vs Knife Juggler

All the pretty horses.

All the pretty horses.

If your Monday needs a change in ambience, I think you’ll find the video below quite handy.

There’s a card in the new Hearthstone Grand Tournament expansion (did our friend Peter Whalen work on that, I wonder?) called Dreadsteed. The card in question is a moderate-mana but low-HP card with a rather unusual trick: when you kill it, it summons a duplicate of itself. Now there’s an older card in the game called Knife Juggler that randomly damages an enemy every time you play another card to the board. I’ll bet you can see where this is going.

Naturally, a YouTube scamp called The Optimistic Brit has set up a Dreadsteed vs Knife Juggler confrontation that goes on for 15 minutes in a sort of highway-hypnosis-meets-whale-music lullaby. This interplay required a bit of machination to set up, so the chances of seeing this in a live Hearthstone match you might play in are small. But nerfing this might end up on Blizzard’s to-do list right quick.

Watch after the jump and be mesmerised.

Hat-tip to RPS.

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The house that inspired Hitman GO: A conversation with Square Enix’s Thierry Doizon about the art of the GO games

The iconic Kaufmann Desert House, one of SE Montreal's inspirations for the first Hitman GO levels,

The iconic Kaufmann Desert House, one of SE Montreal’s inspirations for the first Hitman GO levels.

Hitman GO was one of last year’s true surprises. A high-quality non-F2P mobile game from a major publisher always elevates eyebrows around here. But Hitman GO was a little stranger than that, even: it swapped Hitman’s trademark third-person wetwork for entirely bloodless puzzles, presented like a executive-kitsch desk toy. At the time it seemed like a one-off experiment, green-lit by Square Enix bosses in after a three-martini lunch, maybe.

But then last month, Square Enix Montreal presented us with a new installment in what’s now looking like an ongoing series of GO titles. In his review, Kelsey called Lara Croft GO a worthy successor to Hitman whose only significant defect was being notably shorter than its predecessor.

Even if you haven’t played Lara Croft GO yet, you might have noticed that it makes some bold deviations from Hitman GO’s aesthetics, fiddling with elements that you might have thought were a core part of the GO look and feel. The new game replaces Hitman’s static chessboard feel with athletic animations of Lara and the giant snakes and spiders she encounters. The cool airport lounge jazz soundtrack is replaced with wispy electronica and creepily immersive ambient sounds.

I had a chance to talk with Thierry Doizon, Studio Art Director at Square-Enix about Lara Croft GO and learned about why it looks and sounds the way that it does.

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