Gettysburg: Armored Warfare
Release Date: TBD 2011
Speaking to Danny Green, the President, Lead Programmer, Artist and sole employee of Radioactive-Software, was a lot of fun, and not just because he lives and works less than 20 miles from The Escapist offices in North Carolina. Green is a one-man game-making powerhouse, building the engine, creating all of the art assets and designing the gameplay elements for the futuristic American Civil War game all by his lonesome.
Yes, you heard that right, it's an RTS with steam-punk retro-future vibe set in the Civil War. The story of Gettysburg is that a man from 2060 figures out how to travel back in time to 1860 and introduces all kinds of technology to the conflict between the North and the South. So you have tanks and troops in body armor duking it out on some of the most well-known battlefields of Virginia, Maryland and, of course, Gettysburg, PA. Not all units will possess the best weapons, though, so there will still be rifles and less advanced explosives. It will be interesting to see how that ends up being balanced, but Green already had enough on his plate for me to bother him with pesky questions.
The game I saw was only in an early alpha stage, but the ability to zoom into a single man on the field for some first person shooter action looked slick and seamless. Gettysburg is another title that will be free to play on Paradox Connect, so I'm interested to see what Danny Green does with it to make it work.
Hearts of Iron: The Card Game
Release Date: Q2 2011
Hearts of Iron is a big WW2 strategy franchise for Paradox that sells gobs of copies, so it makes sense that the first collectible card game that Paradox branched out with would be based on that IP. Sitting down with producer Shams Jorjani, a fellow Magic The Gathering fan, for the demo allowed us to geek out on the intricacies of Hearts of Iron: The Card Game. Yet another title that's free to play on Paradox Connect (weird that all three fell next to each other alphabetically), the game will be supported by buying booster packs of digital cards. Thankfully, the price as it stands now doesn't seem too bad: 100 ducats of virtual currency (equal to US $1) for a booster of 15 cards is a lot better than the $3.99 that Wizards of the Coast charges for Magic cards.
But how does it play? Well, first off, you can choose to play an Allies deck, an Axis deck or a Comintern deck. Each faction starts off the match by choosing a doctrine of war from its deck to determine how attacks would be made. For example, an Axis player might use the Blitzkrieg doctrine, in which you will need two armor cards in play in order to start an offensive. After you are dealt the opening hand, you can play up to 3 factory cards such as an Ammunition factory or a Aircraft factory. These facilities are somewhat analogous to land cards in Magic as you need them in play in order to build infantry or planes. Combat is handled in three stages, with long range artillery coming before tanks and finally close combat infantry. There's a lot more to it than that, but from what I saw, Hearts of Iron: The Card Game seems to offer interesting strategic options that feel close to real World War II themes.
Perhaps that's because all of the cards are illustrated with crisp black and white photos of the units and personalities from the era, and Jorjani said that they are always looking to improve the accuracy. General Patton is a rare card that actually functions as a tank in the game (his special ability is to switch places with another tank in the middle of combat), but it's been hard finding an un-copyrighted photo of the vaunted military leader actually riding on a tank. But Jorjani said that that the team won't give up without a fight ... or several thousand Google Image searches.