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Sword of the Stars - What a great space wargame

 
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Sword of the Stars - What a great space wargame - 3/25/2008 7:44:10 PM   
marcusm

 

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This is a game I avoided for a long time due to reviews being lukewarm.
Recently I found it cheap (I am a bit like RH in that I scavenge in bargain bins).

After a few days I can easily say that this is one of my all time favourite space strategy
games and certainly the best space wargame I every played since Norm Kogers old masterpiece(forgot the name). The GUI sucks but once I got past that it was amazing.

I think the main reason why some gave it average reviews was that they expected a traditional 4x game(probably marketing errors). As I see it this is more a wargame set in space. It's all about war and kicking butt, no civ like crap. I always liked MOO1 better and never could understand the thousands of options in some space strategy games. Here you totally focus on typical wargame questions like logistics, weapon design, maneuver etc. I love it.

I heard BoB(expansion) improved this game on all accounts so I am defiantely buying this once I find it. Maybe I can combine the GG version with retail?

This is a genuine example of a totally underrated game. The marketing department of Lighthouse must have been sleeping or something.

I have to put in an extra plus for the scenario concept. Unlike most other games where scenarios are nothing but puzzle like maps (like in GC2), these scenarios are randomized except for the basic premises, making them totally replayable and very challenging. I hope other game designers take a look at this because without being sure I feel this could be one of the more unique ideas I have seen.

< Message edited by marcusm -- 3/25/2008 7:52:35 PM >
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RE: Sword of the Stars - What a great space wargame - 3/25/2008 8:02:41 PM   
ravinhood


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Is it better than say "Reach for the Stars"? which was another get down and dirty space wargame moreso than civilization type research and expand. One thing I find about most games that have a simple structure to them is that the AI plays a much better and challening game. The more stuff developers add for the most part makes the AI that much dumber or less challenging. Warlords III "Dark Lords Rising" and "Warlords IV" after the 1.04a patch show how much better and challenging games can be when the developers just keep things simple. I know the grogs like depth and complexity and details (look at all the nuts over WitP lol), but, I much prefer a simple challenging game against an AI than having to search around for a PBEM opponent and then having to take MONTHS to YEARS to play out just one game.

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WE/I WANT 1:1 or something even 1:2 death animations in the KOIOS PANZER COMMAND SERIES don't forget Erik! ;) and Floating Paratroopers We grew up with Minor, Marginal and Decisive victories why rock the boat with Marginal, Decisive and Legendary?



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RE: Sword of the Stars - What a great space wargame - 3/25/2008 8:14:48 PM   
Grell

 

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Hi Marcusm,

I've never heard of this game before, when was it released?


Regards,

Grell

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RE: Sword of the Stars - What a great space wargame - 3/25/2008 8:30:50 PM   
RedArgo


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Was Norm's game Stellar Crusade? I had that, but I don't remember much about it except the map had a z-axis which I thought was unique for the time.

Maybe I will have to track down SOTS. Where did you find it?

Bill

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RE: Sword of the Stars - What a great space wargame - 3/25/2008 8:31:21 PM   
Zakhal


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Its from the people who made homeworld. I have the upcoming special edition in preorder.

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RE: Sword of the Stars - What a great space wargame - 3/25/2008 8:38:26 PM   
ASHBERY76


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The BOB expansion is a must for this game.It adds more depth to the campaign.I also think this game is underated.The military model is second to none and the A.I is pretty good.

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RE: Sword of the Stars - What a great space wargame - 3/25/2008 8:39:15 PM   
marcusm

 

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I bought it in Gamestop but it can be found in Gamers Gate among others.
Fairly cheap too. Demo is available from gamershell etc. Be sure to choose the updated demo btw. First
demo was quite bad from what I heard.

Good that Reach for the Stars was mentioned because I loved that game on Amiga. I often wondered
why so many space strat games had to complicate matters. In fact I think SSG themselves made the new version worse.

And yes RedArgo, that is the one I meant.

One tricky part about SOTS, is the 3d map. It can be very hard to understand at first but there is a way to get warm in the clothes.
Start by using the cluster maps or spiral arms. The sphere map is very hard and I would avoid it at all costs. BoB has a 2d map as well
to help those who cant stand 3d but I find myself liking 3d now that I understand it, it is after all more realistic.

Some AAR.s and Youtube video links here:

Tarka AAR
Youtube Clip

Btw. This is turn based but the battles themselves are realtime but they FAR from click fests. The pacing is such that
you have plenty of time to maneuver. The tactics play a huge role here and this is where it really begins to feel like a true wargame. You can for instance target parts of ships, there is command and control, positioning, maneuver etc. Really great. I find these battles far more interesting than SINS which I also own.

Btw, wait til you see the Dreadnoughts in action. This is when the real fun begins :). Destroyer combat is a bit lame at first.

Since there are some with the game here. It would be fun to try multiplayer at some point, it is supposed to be really fun.



< Message edited by marcusm -- 3/25/2008 8:44:10 PM >

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RE: Sword of the Stars - What a great space wargame - 3/25/2008 10:06:18 PM   
Hertston


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quote:

ORIGINAL: marcusm

This is a genuine example of a totally underrated game.


It is indeed. SotS/BoB is easily my favourite sci-fi '4X' game and I could never understand why reviews were so luke-warm either. The only stuff it really misses out are the 'spreadsheet' bits. In many ways it's also much more 'realistic' than games like GalCiv, particularly the way movement is handled and the 'feel' of a real space war.

quote:

I heard BoB(expansion) improved this game on all accounts so I am defiantely buying this once I find it. Maybe I can combine the GG version with retail?


Hold up!! Oddly enough, the 'Collectors Edition' Zakhal mentioned is released this week (or might be next). SotS, BoB, a novel, soundtrack and extras CD and some unique content (extra badges and maps). Sensible price, too... although I'm not sure it offers enough extra to buy having BoB already. Smart choice for you, though.





< Message edited by Hertston -- 3/25/2008 10:07:51 PM >

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RE: Sword of the Stars - What a great space wargame - 3/26/2008 12:37:46 AM   
marcusm

 

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Depends on price then :). BoB costs 19 euros at GG.

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RE: Sword of the Stars - What a great space wargame - 3/26/2008 2:15:37 AM   
Zakhal


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quote:

ORIGINAL: marcusm

Depends on price then :). BoB costs 19 euros at GG.


Sword Of The Stars: Collector's Edition is 28€ (includes shipping):
http://www.play.com/Games/PC/4-/5100633/Sword-Of-The-Stars-Collector-Edition/Product.html

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RE: Sword of the Stars - What a great space wargame - 3/26/2008 2:31:32 AM   
Joram

 

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I have a difficult time finding a balanced AI for this game.  It goes from way too easy to way too hard in an instant.  So while I think it's a great game it's hard to keep my interest.  While BOB is a nice improvement, i don't like some of the things like the swarm and what not.  Too much a distraction as you either can beat it easily already or have to completely focus your empire on new tech and ships to be able to beat it.  Once again, there's not a good middle ground in my opinion.

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RE: Sword of the Stars - What a great space wargame - 3/26/2008 3:37:35 AM   
ravinhood


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What's BOB? ;)

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WE/I WANT 1:1 or something even 1:2 death animations in the KOIOS PANZER COMMAND SERIES don't forget Erik! ;) and Floating Paratroopers We grew up with Minor, Marginal and Decisive victories why rock the boat with Marginal, Decisive and Legendary?



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RE: Sword of the Stars - What a great space wargame - 3/26/2008 3:39:47 AM   
Hertston


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'Born of Blood', the Sword of the Stars expansion.

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RE: Sword of the Stars - What a great space wargame - 3/26/2008 12:39:21 PM   
marcusm

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Joram

I have a difficult time finding a balanced AI for this game. It goes from way too easy to way too hard in an instant. So while I think it's a great game it's hard to keep my interest. While BOB is a nice improvement, i don't like some of the things like the swarm and what not. Too much a distraction as you either can beat it easily already or have to completely focus your empire on new tech and ships to be able to beat it. Once again, there's not a good middle ground in my opinion.


There are some great strategy guides in their forum though. I found that expansion is the key to everything, plus countering the AI.s tech.

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RE: Sword of the Stars - What a great space wargame - 3/26/2008 5:36:52 PM   
Erik Rutins

 

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I remember trying the demo for this a couple of years ago and not being that impressed, particularly with the 3D space combat which seemed a bit more like an arcade game than a fleet combat simulation. Has it been improved significantly with all the updates since and with the BOB expansion? Should I give it another look someday?

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RE: Sword of the Stars - What a great space wargame - 3/26/2008 5:42:55 PM   
Joram

 

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For improvement, I don't think you will find it has changed much.  Where the space combat (which is really 2D) becomes interesting is just in all the different techs.  Making sure you have point-defense vs an enemy heavy with missiles or missiles for long range standoff, shields vs enemy lasers and what not, etc. etc. etc.  It's like a grand game of rock-paper-scissors but then most games are.  This part just has a bit more depth than other games.  But if you didn't like that particular portion of the game, I don't think anything they've done will help you like it more unless you're a techie geek like me who just like to see what all the different toys do.

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RE: Sword of the Stars - What a great space wargame - 3/26/2008 5:49:57 PM   
Erik Rutins

 

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Did they improve the results of the "auto-resolution" for combat at all? I recall it basically just told you how many ships were lost per side.

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RE: Sword of the Stars - What a great space wargame - 3/26/2008 6:37:10 PM   
marcusm

 

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Did you have CnC ships? They are vital.
Many who found the battles a bit shallow never got to Cruisers and CnC. This is when
it becomes a different ball game altogether.

There are tons of factors that matters.

Mine Laying for instance.
How about using Asteroids as weapons?
Boarding.
Using the "geography" to your advantage, like hiding behind asteroids and moons.


Here are one example of how creative use of tactics can turn tables.
[Link]http://www.kerberos-productions.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=7083[/Link]

Also read about a cool hit and run tactics with Liir vs Zuul Dreadnoughts. Basically use the faster speed of Liir and turn quickly.

Ships also have sides, it matters what side they are facing and then you also have weapons affecting more than one ship at at time. And of course you can target individual weapon systems.

Personally I found this combat more indepht than say Starfleet Command or any other space strategy game to date.

Obviously it doesn't compare with actual sims like X3 and Freespace2 but it's very indepht for a strategy game.



< Message edited by marcusm -- 3/26/2008 6:52:35 PM >

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RE: Sword of the Stars - What a great space wargame - 3/26/2008 6:51:17 PM   
marcusm

 

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double post

< Message edited by marcusm -- 3/26/2008 6:52:12 PM >

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RE: Sword of the Stars - What a great space wargame - 3/26/2008 7:45:26 PM   
Joram

 

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I don't recall if it was specific to the expansion or not as I got them fairly close together but the combat reporting has improved considerably.  It tells you what you got hit with and how much damage received and given each ship class does.  Also, with a certain tech, you actually can store this information and catalogue enemy ship types as you encounter them.

Someone will need to confirm though if that's just in a patch or if it's part of BoB.   Also, to Marcusm's point, you really need to get into later game tech such as cruisers and dreadnoughts to have a lot of fun with the combat. 

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RE: Sword of the Stars - What a great space wargame - 3/26/2008 7:47:31 PM   
marcusm

 

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Joram, have you tried against human players?

I was thinking of going into that but I am afraid of asking in their forums,  everyone will smash me to pieces :).
Finding casual gamers isn't so easy as one thinks.

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RE: Sword of the Stars - What a great space wargame - 3/26/2008 7:49:54 PM   
Joram

 

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I have not.  Except for FPS games where I can get in and out of at leisure, I rarely have time for human play.  I'm willing to try of course but Sunday afternoons are usually about the only time I can do so. 

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RE: Sword of the Stars - What a great space wargame - 3/26/2008 7:50:13 PM   
Erik Rutins

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: marcusm
Did you have CnC ships? They are vital.
Many who found the battles a bit shallow never got to Cruisers and CnC. This is when
it becomes a different ball game altogether.


Probably not, since I was playing the demo. How do CnC ships and Cruisers change things?

quote:

Mine Laying for instance.
How about using Asteroids as weapons?
Boarding.
Using the "geography" to your advantage, like hiding behind asteroids and moons.


That certainly sounds a lot more interesting than what I remember. This is one of the problems with demos, which I myself am guilty of as a gamer - I gave it a quick look, it didn't grab me and I moved on. Had I bought the game, I probably would have persisted and found it to be a lot better than my first demo impression.

quote:

Personally I found this combat more indepht than say Starfleet Command or any other space strategy game to date.


I loved the Starfleet Command series, so that's saying a lot for me. Can you manage power and fire individual weapon groups when you want in the latest versions of SotS?

Regards,

- Erik

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RE: Sword of the Stars - What a great space wargame - 3/26/2008 7:50:50 PM   
Erik Rutins

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Joram
I don't recall if it was specific to the expansion or not as I got them fairly close together but the combat reporting has improved considerably.  It tells you what you got hit with and how much damage received and given each ship class does.  Also, with a certain tech, you actually can store this information and catalogue enemy ship types as you encounter them.


Ok, that's what I was hoping to hear.

Regards,

- Erik

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RE: Sword of the Stars - What a great space wargame - 3/26/2008 7:57:01 PM   
marcusm

 

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Command and Control ships play a huge role. They allow you to position and set up your fleet layout before the battles (saving the templates).
The CnC ship also allows you to command alot more ships and also control when the reinforcements arrive etc. It's very tough when you lose it in combat.

The first demo sucked badly and may have cost them alot in sales from what I hear but the second is supposed to be much better.
It allows you to get much higher in the tech tree for one and uses the later patches.

Updated demo here.
http://www.gamershell.com/news_33563.html

Btw. I would still want to see a new Reach for the Stars. This time originating from the original one for Amiga. I never saw the
point with the sequel as it looked.

That one was superb and in my opinion still ranks as one of the best space strategy games. Some say it is too simple but
I always prefered simplicty to unnecessary complexity. A game doesn't automatically become better with thousands of options.

Í have Sins of Solar Empire too, while technically very slick and playable I still find the SOTS combat far more interesting when you advance the tech level.




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RE: Sword of the Stars - What a great space wargame - 3/26/2008 8:00:14 PM   
marcusm

 

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Erik and others. I just found this awesome game play description at Something Awful.
Very, very good gameplay and flow post.

http://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=2719394

Btw. They are also working on a Space RPG. It is a sort of tribute to Traveller, the best pen and paper space RPG made. Wonder how it ranks against Mass Effect :).

< Message edited by marcusm -- 3/26/2008 8:28:53 PM >

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RE: Sword of the Stars - What a great space wargame - 3/26/2008 9:36:26 PM   
ravinhood


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I think the better Space simulation game would be Star Control II. ;) I mean cmon who can resist playing the Urquan and "Launch Fighters Launch Fighers" feature? ;)

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WE/I WANT 1:1 or something even 1:2 death animations in the KOIOS PANZER COMMAND SERIES don't forget Erik! ;) and Floating Paratroopers We grew up with Minor, Marginal and Decisive victories why rock the boat with Marginal, Decisive and Legendary?



(in reply to marcusm)
Post #: 27
RE: Sword of the Stars - What a great space wargame - 3/26/2008 10:05:13 PM   
marcusm

 

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If someone made a new version yes.

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RE: Sword of the Stars - What a great space wargame - 3/27/2008 1:29:24 AM   
ravinhood


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Tell me marcusm do you go out and buy the latest NEW version of Monopoly or every new chess set that is created? :)

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WE/I WANT 1:1 or something even 1:2 death animations in the KOIOS PANZER COMMAND SERIES don't forget Erik! ;) and Floating Paratroopers We grew up with Minor, Marginal and Decisive victories why rock the boat with Marginal, Decisive and Legendary?



(in reply to marcusm)
Post #: 29
RE: Sword of the Stars - What a great space wargame - 3/27/2008 11:58:25 AM   
marcusm

 

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Chess boards don't get pixelated ;).

(in reply to ravinhood)
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