January 29th, 2016


Sid Meier's Starships (Hey look, it's a post!)

I decided to go pick up the Firaxis Humble Bundle, despite already owning most of the games.

The two i didn't have were "Starships" and "Beyond Earth", and despite being aware of their flaws i decided it was worth $15 to get both of them.

I think it also got me a couple XCOM packs i didn't have before, and possibly some map packs for Civ5.

(I also think the "Ace Patrol" bundle is new to me, as in i don't know if i've ever heard of it before, i don't think i already owned it, and i'm really not sure if i should care one way or the other.)

I've probably put a dozen or so hours into Starships, and the game seems pretty much like i expected.

Starships is a _very_ simple 4x space game, with tactical turn-based combat.

It's a bit like Master of Orion with a dash of Sins of a Solar Empire, and then all super simplified.

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To be fair, any Civ type game played at normal difficulty can easily devolve into curb-stomp once you know the right tricks to min-max and the AI blindspots to exploit, but because Starships is such a simple and short game it seems like you get to the curb-stomping part really quickly. (Which i suppose could be viewed as either a plus or a minus.)

It's possible i may revise my opinions when when/if i move up to the harder difficulties, but at the moment it doesn't seem like there's a huge amount of replay value. All in all if i want a "simple" 4x game i think i'll just keep playing the original Master of Orion, where the UI and options are fairly simple but the permutations and strategy are a bit more complex.

Sid Meier Stuff Part 2: Beyond Earth

So the reason why i haven't tried Starships on a harder difficulty yet is because i decided to try and pick up as many achievements as possible first. And one of the achievements is starting a Starships game using a Beyond Earth save. Since i got Beyond Earth as part of the same bundle and was going to play it at some point anyways i decided to try giving that a shot.

As usual with a new Civ game i started it out on the easiest mode, just to get an idea of what to watch out for on higher difficulties.

And i've got to say that what i've learned so far is "don't start on a tiny peninsula", because as it is i'm unintentionally playing a One City Challenge game =P

My starting spot seemed fine until i moved west and the spur of land i was on narrowed down to a three tile isthmus.

The middle tile of those three is occupied by one of those NPC settlements, which is fine. Except two tiles past the settlement is an alien nest. Which means there are a ton of aliens swarming on the other side of the settlement, and if i try to move past the settlement the aliens decide i'm getting too close to the nest and start attacking.

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All in all i really hope this an unusual circumstance, because otherwise i am _not_ looking forward to playing the game again on Normal difficulty. Having to deal with a conflict hot point in constrained space using a one unit per tile system is really emphasizing all the things i _don't_ like about the Civ5 engine.

So aside from alien difficulties i've got to say that the tech tree is hella complicated. Not sure if that's a good or bad thing in the long run after i've had a chance to get used to it, but it's certainly a little perplexing right now.

The UI also doesn't really seem optimal. I accidentally sent my initial Explorer on a couple fool's errands before realizing that there's no way to to actually select a terrain hex. I eventually noticed the description appearing in the upper right hand corner when i moused over it, but because of the tiny font size it doesn't really stand out and can be a little difficult to read at times. And now that i try to recall it, i think it may have not had any going of border around it. Definitely larger text in a bordered box in the lower left corner would work a lot better! And a link to the civilopedia would be great! It would be very useful for looking up details about different resource types.

It also took me a long time to figure out how to establish a trade route once i had a caravan. I also can't seem to find any graphs to compare how i'm doing again the other civs in various categories.

All in all i'm sure there will be a lot of "just one more turn" going on, but i definitely don't think it's going to go down as one of my favorite civ type games ever.