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 560: Old World Interview
Len and Jon are joined by Leyla and Soren Johnson to talk about Old World's Steam launch and its first big expansion. We got their thoughts on the Early Access process, figuring out how to depict historical cultures like the Hittites when sources are sparse, and where the ancient era 4X might go next.
Three Moves Ahead 559: Off Duty - May 2022
Len and Rowan are joined by Fanbyte's Steven Strom to test fly a new episode format. Our usual episodes covering a specific game or digging deep on a single topic aren't going anywhere, but this week we're just sitting down to have a chat about what we've been playing and what's on our minds relating to the world of strategy games. Steven needs a new management game to sink their teeth into. Rowan has been moving and putting Civ through its paces on the Nintendo Switch. And Len has some good and bad news about class warfare.
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Three Moves Ahead 558.5: Movie Night: Gettysburg (Patreon Preview)
Over on Waypoint I’ve spent about a month looking back at Sid Meier’s Gettysburg and teaching the game to the rest of the crew (with varying levels of success). But since I was already hip-deep in 90s Civil War culture, Troy and I decided it was time to tackle one of the films that we’ve been intending to discuss for years: 1993’s Gettysburg, directed by Ron Maxwell and bankrolled by Ted Turner.
There are a lot of issues with Gettysburg. It’s evasive on the subject of slavery, wanting both to ennoble is white Union heroes by reminding us that theirs was an army of liberation but to not think too deeply on who was being liberated or from what. Because it is also a product of Lost Cause traditions where the conflict was predominantly one about culture, or as the foppish British observer in this story declares, the root of the conflict is the “different dreams” of its antagonists. Not pictured: the Confederate dream.
It’s also a very incomplete military history of the battle of Gettysburg but this really stems from the decisions author Michael Shaara made with his novel The Killer Angels, which finds its central narrative drama in James Longstreets’ prescience that Robert E. Lee is marching the army into a decisive defeat while on the Union side the story is told from the perspective of characters who do recognize the stakes and the dangers and have the agency to rise to the moment. It’s the stuff of a great war novel but not of a comprehensive military history, and so Gettysburg ends up being a film where Union command is effectively invisible.
However, within those choices Gettysburg remains, as Troy says, one of the all-time great battle films. The murkiness in which decisions are made, the clarity of a commander’s intentions to his subordinates, the places where the rubber of generalship meets the road of combat… all of this is brilliantly rendered in Gettysburg and, for me and Troy, maintains it as a favorite even for all of its manifest flaws.
We also decided that this episode, because it’s so directly in dialogue with a ton of work I’m doing over at Waypoint and on streams there, is one we’d just make public instead of reserving it for the Patreon. Troy and I love having these monthly chats for our backers (and our last one on Knight’s Tale and Marie Antoinette was another favorite) but here it felt like a useful place to show how we set these discussion about history movies in the context of all the other work we do as critics and professional strategy nerds.
And by the way, after having tackled some heavier films of late, next month we’re giving ourselves a break with Branagh’s Death on the Nile as well as the 1978 version. Troy is trying to convince me to watch the Suchet one was well, and while Suchet is basically to Poirot what Jeremy Brett is to Sherlock Holmes, I’ve been warned that version is not one of the better Suchet adaptations. But we will at least be alluding to it in that conversation, even if we are focusing on the 2021 and ‘78 versions.
Three Moves Ahead 558: Dune: Spice Wars Early Access
Len, Fraser, and Jon take a look at Shiro Games' Dune: Spice Wars, which just launched into early access. Is this the modern Dune RTS we've been waiting decades for? As it so happens, it ends up igniting an entirely different kind of war in our own ranks.
Three Moves Ahead 557: Cantata Interview
We explore our impact on the strategy game world as Jon sits down with creative director Kyle Kukshtel to talk about Cantata, an indie space tactics game directly inspired by a conversation we had on this very show almost a decade ago. So how exactly did our kvetching inspire the design of this project? How do you make a tactics game that isn't secretly just a puzzle game? And what was the thinking behind the very off-the-wall art style that got Cantata turned down by at least one publisher?
Three Moves Ahead 556: Ethics in Strategy Games
Rob and Rowan are joined this week by freelance writer Ruth Cassidy, whose article, "Ethically designing unethical worlds" (https://www.gamedeveloper.com/design/ethically-designing-unethical-worlds) inspired this week's topic. From eugenics in Crusader Kings to choosing between fundamentalism and fascism in Frostpunk, the games we play often put us in the position of someone who has to make some pretty horrifying decisions. How can designers best depict these elements in a way that lends them gravity, but doesn't seem to implicitly condone them? Is it even possible?
I don't even like strat games that much
But I can't really find insightful game podcasts other than this and they sometimes cover stuff I care about.
Keep the communist politics out of it
Keep your evil politics out of discussing strategy games (ep. 549 was insufferable).
Good Subject/OK hosts
This is a long running podcast covering strategy games. The subject matter is fantastic, and you're not likely to find another podcast offering as deep a dive into this type of gaming anywhere online. However, the hosts are hit and miss. Some of them seem to over-reach with their use of the English language a bit, which often results in "word salad" as opposed to a clear point. And if you're not a fan of vocal fry or progressive politics agendas, steer clear. Fraser is the best co-host; unfortunately he's not on all the time. If they made a super cut of just Fraser moaning about strat games, I'd give it five stars.