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Three Moves Ahead

Three Moves Ahead

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.

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Three Moves Ahead 572: Forever Games

This week, Len and Jon discuss the concept of the Forever Game: the strategy game you could keep playing from now until the end of time. Do they even really exist? What has come closest for us? And has the trend of continuous development brought them into existence only recently?
2022-10-15
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Three Moves Ahead 571: Terra Invicta

SPOILER WARNING! Skip from 44:00 to 58:43 if you want to experience your first playthrough blind to the truths behind the alien threat. Len and Jon take to the stars with Terra Invicta: a wildly ambitious, solar-system-spanning, alien invasion grand strategy games from the makers of XCOM and XCOM 2's Long War mods. The ambition is incredible, but with ambition comes hubris. Is this even a working video game? And if so, who is it for?
2022-09-30
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Three Moves Ahead 570: Grand Tactician: The Civil War

The promise of the Civil War game that does everything is enticing but elusive. Now that it's out of early access, is Grand Tactician: The Civil War that game? Is it even close? Rowan and Rob get into the weeds on its officer promotion system, AI, brilliant little touches, and missed opportunities.
2022-09-16
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Three Moves Ahead 569: Immortal Empires

Len, Rowan, Jon, and Kotaku's Luke Plunkett take the plunge into Total War: Warhammer 3's Immortal Empires beta. It's the fullest realization of the promise Creative Assembly made six years ago and one of the most ambitious strategy campaigns of all time. Did the madlads actually pull it off?
2022-08-31
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Three Moves Ahead 568: Farthest Frontier

Len and Jon are joined again by UNC Chapel Hill's Dr. Bret Devereaux to discuss Farthest Frontier, a survival city-builder with an uncommon level of historical authenticity. From clearing brush to crop blights, the attention the devs have given to inflicting realistic suffering on our villagers captured our imagination. But does it hold up at this early stage of early access?
2022-08-26
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Three Moves Ahead 567: Two Point Campus

Len and Jon are joined once again by Fanbyte's Mike Williams to talk about their semester abroad in Two Point Campus. Is the humor a bonus or a drawback? How is it, really, as a management game? And what exactly does the Scientography machine... do? We have written a thesis on all of these topics and are ready to defend it.
2022-08-13
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Three Moves Ahead 566: RTS Esports and Stormgate

Len is joined by two special guests, Strategy Lead at Vortex Games Trent Murray and Head of Esports at Frost Giant Studios, Trevor "TorcH" Housten. From the glory days of Brood War in Korea to the modern era of "ded gaem", we go over the history of RTS esports, why it was overshadowed by other genres, and what the future may hold. In particular, Trevor has some insights to share on what Frost Giant is doing to create the first "social RTS."
2022-07-30
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Three Moves Ahead 565: Strategic Command: American Civil War

Rowan, Troy, and Ian Boudreau dig into Strategic Command: American Civil War. Taking a very high-level look at the conflict, the focus is much more on the operation than individual battles. It's an ambitious approach for a relatively small studio. Does it pass muster from serious Civil War buffs? And what about Ian?
2022-07-23
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Three Moves Ahead 564: Company of Heroes 3 North Africa Interview

Rob sits down with Company of Heroes 3 Lead Gameplay Designer Matt Philip and Senior Designer Will Ward to talk about the recently-released North Africa alpha, which you can play from today until July 19. The Deutsch Afrika Korps is the second German faction to be announced, so what sets them apart from the Wehrmacht? And how do you balance around player attention in a game where you're supposed to zoom in and admire the detail?
2022-07-13
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Three Moves Ahead 563: Starship Troopers: Terran Command

Len is joined by Sin Vega to discuss Starship Troopers: Terran Command, a bug-splattering RTS that happens to be the first licensed Starship Troopers game in far longer than you may realize. And there's a bit more to it than just StarCraft or Dawn of War with a cult hit sci fi license tagged on, too. I feel like I can't make the "Would you like to know more?" joke again so I'll spare you all that.
2022-07-01
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Three Moves Ahead 562: Songs of Conquest

Len and 3MA Radar Technician Mike are joined by Sports Business Journal's Jason Wilson to talk about Songs of Conquest, an early access aspiring successor to Heroes of Might and Magic. We've got frog men. We've got zombies. We've got Generic Human Fantasy Kingdom. Is it worth a look?
2022-06-25
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Three Moves Ahead 561: Warhammer: 40,000: Chaos Gate: Daemonhunters

Len and Rowan are joined by Kotaku's Luke Plunkett and Twitch streamer Casey Explosion to talk about Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate: Daemonhunters, and also more than a little bit of Mechanicus since we seem to have slept on that one. Is this just XCOM with space marines? And why should you be paying attention to this, the 40,000th Warhammer 40,000 game to release just in the last decade alone?
2022-05-29
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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.
2022-05-20
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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. If you enjoyed the show this month, we always really appreciate your support over at Patreon.com/3ma
2022-05-15
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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.
2022-05-01
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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.
2022-04-30
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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?
2022-04-25
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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?
2022-04-15
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Three Moves Ahead 555: Triangle Strategy

This week, Rowan recruits Fanbyte's Mike Williams, freelance writer Kendal Erickson, and 3MA's Correspondent for All Things Three-Sided, Brian Smawley, to discuss Triangle Strategy. The Switch has had some sleeper strategy hits, and we're here to let you know if this one belongs among them. Beware of salt.
2022-04-01
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Three Moves Ahead 554: Empires and Imperialism with Bret Devereaux

Len and Mike are joined once again by Dr. Bret Devereaux (@BretDevereaux), Visiting Lecturer in the Department of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and author of the blog A Collection of Unmitigated Pedantry (acoup.blog). The topic this time around is Empires and Imperialism. What exactly makes an empire? How do strategy games model empires and the process of imperialism, and how could they potentially do better? Header Image: The "Ozymandias Collossus", Ramesseum, Luxor, Egypt by Charlie Phillips via Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0
2022-03-14
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Three Moves Ahead 553: Total War: Warhammer 3

Len, Rowan, Fraser, and Jon join forces on one episode for the first time in a long time to talk about Total War: Warhammer 3. With nine new factions, a new story-driven campaign, and a customizable daemon protagonist, it's an ambitious capstone to the trilogy. Pledge yourself to Podcast Undivided and find out how we think it stacks up.
2022-03-01
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Three Moves Ahead 552: Crusader Kings 3: Royal Court

Len and Ian take a look at the first full expansion for Crusader Kings 3, and it's a chunky one. Royal Court adds a full 3D throne room and the ability to interact with your subjects at eye level for the first time. Forging new family heirlooms and new cultures. Has it reignited our interest in CK3?
2022-02-22
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Three Moves Ahead 551: HighFleet

This week, Jon and Rob dig in to what Rob has dubbed "yet another entry in the crowded Lunar Lander Bullet Hell Naval Wargame Roguelike Visual Novel genre." It's not an easy game to get into, so how did our boi go from cursing its very name to absolutely adoring it? What exactly is this game, anyway? And why should every good fleet commander read the manual?
2022-02-12
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Three Moves Ahead 550: Expeditions: Rome

Len and Troy plunge gladius-first into the Late Republic to win victories on the tactical and strategic scale in Expeditions: Rome. The third installment in the series has more going on than ever before, but is it /too/ much? And what is the correct way to pronounce Cicero, anyhow? We came. We played. We did a podcast about it.
2022-02-01
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Three Moves Ahead 549: The Strategy Outlook for 2022

Len and Rowan come in for a low glide over 2022's calendar of strategy game releases to discuss what excites us, what worries us, and what smaller stuff we're keeping an eye on. Will Victoria 3 live up to the hype? Can Marvel's Midnight Suns satisfy our in-house X-Mean aficionado? Will Dwarf Fortress ever actually come out? We don't know the answers to any of these questions, but we can certainly discuss them over a few drinks.
2022-01-21
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Three Moves Ahead 548: 2021 Recap

Troy and Len are joined by PCGamesN's Ian Boudreau and Fanbyte's Mike Williams to look back on a year that's a bit hard to summarize. Why can't we find a theme to slap on 2021? What were some of the biggest surprises, good and bad? And what were our favorite strategy games in what was, if nothing else, kind of a weird year for them?
2022-01-15
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Three Moves Ahead 547: Hearts of Iron IV: No Step Back

Len and Kotaku's Luke Plunkett dig into the logistics-laden recent expansion and patch for Hearts of Iron 4 with No Step Back and the Barbarossa Update. How has it changed how we play, and how does HoI4 feel different now compared to launch? We also go into the joys of playing wacky scenarios with historical focuses switched off and making the dumbest tanks the engine will allow.
2021-12-24
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Three Moves Ahead 546: Company of Heroes 3 Multiplayer Interview

Rob got to check out a pre-alpha build of Company of Heroes 3's multiplayer, and now he's sitting down with lead gameplay designer Matt Philip and map designer Will Ward. Among the topics on the docket are how the flow and pacing of battles has changed from previous games in the series, keeping familiar factions fresh without betraying their identities, and the challenges of creating maps that appeal to high-level competitive players as well as casual weekend warriors.
2021-12-04
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Three Moves Ahead 545: Against the Storm

Rowan, Jon, and Ian Boudreau talk about Against the Storm, an early access city-builder that forces you to abandon your cities after a set amount of time. How do these shorter runs affect how we approach the genre? What does a beaver need, on a deeper level, to be happy? And why were we so eager to do an episode on this when early access city-builders are thick on the ground these days?
2021-11-19
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Three Moves Ahead 544: Darkest Dungeon II Early Access

Rowan recruits Fanbyte's Steven Strom and long-lost guest Jason Wilson to take a look at Darkest Dungeon II in early access. That's right, five years later we finally put out an episode with Darkest Dungeon in the title. How does it differ from its predecessor? And which of the changes do we actually like? How do we feel about the fact that they can kiss now? How do we feel about a sequel that is deliberately smaller in scope than the original?
2021-11-12
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Three Moves Ahead 543: Age of Empires 4

Len and Ian Boudreau discuss Age of Empires 4, the long-awaited return of one of the RTS genre's defining franchises. What's new and what's been kept the same? And where would we like to see it go in the future? Okay, okay, I'll say the thing: wololo. Get it? It's funny because I said a thing you remember. Humor is when someone says a thing you remember.
2021-11-05
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Three Moves Ahead 542: The State with Bret Devereaux

Len, Rowan, and Mike are joined by Dr. Bret Devereaux (@BretDevereaux), Visiting Lecturer in the Department of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and author of the blog A Collection of Unmitigated Pedantry (https://acoup.blog/). The topic is The State in strategy games. What is a state? What are the advantages and disadvantages of making a game about states, and seeing history through a lens of state action? We talk in particular about how this question applies to Europa Universalis IV.
2021-10-29
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Three Moves Ahead 541: Strategy Games As A Service

Len and Rowan discuss the concept of "games as a service" as it relates to the strategy space. Is it a good thing? Has it always been around and we just called it something different? Can you ever really trust a game studio? Are the post-Kripke seasons of Supernatural actually worth your time? Listen to the episode, then check out the Season Pass over on Patreon.com/3ma
2021-10-22
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Three Moves Ahead 540: A Send Off to Civilization 6

Troy, Len, and Jon sit down to discuss the Civilization 6 New Frontiers DLC pass and where the king of 4X stands in 2021. How does Civ 6 now compare to launch five years ago? How have its modern competitors changed our perception of and relationship with it? Is Sid still the gold standard to beat?
2021-10-08
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Three Moves Ahead 539: Conquest of Elysium 5

Jon and Ian Boudreau talk Conquest of Elysium 5, a lo-fi fantasy tactics game with Dwarf Fortress-like procedural world generation. Lead armies of moose, visit other planes of existence that are doing their own thing while you're not looking, and try to make it as a Senator in an era with no Senate. Do you like to control archers with your numpad? We know you do!
2021-09-18
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Three Moves Ahead 538: Hell Let Loose

This week Rob is joined by Ranged Touch's Cameron Kunzelman and PCGamesN's Ian Boudreau to discuss an unusual World War II military shooter that feels more like a tactics game: Hell Let Loose. Hear the stirring tale of trying to explain how to drive a manual transmission to someone who has only ever been in his 2006 Honda Civic during the middle of a war. Find out which war movie officer Rob would be. And by the end, probably have a pretty good idea of whether or not this would be your thing or not.
2021-09-04
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Three Moves Ahead 537: Humankind

Len, Rowan, and Fraser gather to discuss Amplitude's Humankind, the Civ competitor that has been looming large over our release radar for the past couple years. How does it compare to Sid Meier's finest work, and even this studio's previous 4X forays? Will it reignite the spark for those who have lost their love for the turn-based march through history? And aside from all that, is this game even done?
2021-08-20
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Three Moves Ahead 536: Slipways

Len, Jon, and Mike discuss the indie space "4X without two and a half of the Xes" Slipways. We dig into the benefits of games designed with very strict rules that eventually let you break most of them, as well as having challenging microstrategy games you can finish in about an hour but aren't totally mindless.
2021-08-13
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Three Moves Ahead 535: Deck Builders

Rob is joined by Nicole Clark and Cameron Kunzelman to discuss two recent deck builders: Klei's Griftlands and Abrakam's Roguebook. What do we like and what brings us dismay about each? How do they stack up against other recent paragons of the genre? Where do these types of games fit into the strategy ecosystem? Is boxed macaroni and cheese really that much better if you drop some unsalted butter in there? That's not relevant to the episode. It's just me, Len, asking a cooking question.
2021-08-06
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Three Moves Ahead 534: Dark Deity

Rob and Rowan are joined by PCMag's Mike Williams to discuss Dark Deity, a JRPG-inspired indie tactical RPG. What lies beneath the outward riffing on Fire Emblem? What kind of characters will we be bringing to battle, and can we make them kiss? Are numbers even real? Why can Len never come up with a clean way to wrap these episode descriptions up? Is she really just going to let it go out like this?
2021-08-01
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Three Moves Ahead 533: Old World

Troy, Len, and Jon gather by the fire to discuss Old World, the new ancient world 4X from Civilization IV designer and prolific 3ma guest Soren Johnson. Does the tighter timeframe help or hinder it? Is it just ancient Civ? Is that even a bad thing? How many more questions can I come up with? Does this description still look too short? This is probably a good place to stop, right?
2021-07-23
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Three Moves Ahead 532: Company of Heroes 3 Interview

Relic has announced Company of Heroes 3! Rob and Len were given a chance to give a bit of the new dynamic campaign map a go. Now they're joined by Relic's David Littman and Matt Philip to discuss what we saw and how this long-awaited sequel is coming together. You can check out the pre-alpha preview yourself by heading over to companyofheroes.com.
2021-07-13
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Three Moves Ahead 531: Siege Survival: Gloria Victis

Rob, Troy, and Fraser have only a curtain wall and a micromanagement puzzle between them and the invading hordes as they discuss Siege Survival: Gloria Victis. Who will hold out, and who will secretly leave the postern gate open to put an end to the suffering? When are we going to do a show on Going Medieval? What is a siege, if not a larder persevering?
2021-07-02
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Three Moves Ahead 530: Total War: Three Kingdoms: Endgame

Rob and Rowan are joined once again by Three Kingdoms opinion-haver Brian "Chef Lu Bu" Smawley to discuss Creative Assembly's very odd pronouncement of ending support for Total War: Three Kingdoms. Where did it land and how do we feel about the state it's in? What do we wish had made it in? And what the hell is going on with gates?
2021-06-28
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Three Moves Ahead 529: Early Access City Builders

In one of our biggest panels ever, Rowan, Fraser, Len, Jon, and Mike are joined by Sin Vega to discuss the many city builders currently stewing in Early Access, or which had a long tenure there. What is the role of Early Access for this genre, and why does it seem to be such a popular starting point? Also, what would we like to see in the next generation of city builders?
2021-06-20
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Three Moves Ahead 528: Hundred Days - Winemaking Simulator

Rob and Len are joined by behind-the-scenes mastermind Mike to pursue some millennial agriculture fantasies, step on some grapes, and grit their teeth through a bit of sus localization. Will they taste victory, or find themselves sprawled in an alley with a bottle of $8 chardonnay wondering why they thought they could drop out of school and join a punk band? Are these hypotheticals getting more weirdly specific all the time? Does anyone even read the description anyway?
2021-05-30
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Three Moves Ahead 527: Ultimate Admiral: Age of Sail

Michael Hermes makes a port of call as Rob, Nick Capozzoli, and Matt Flanigan take to the high seas in Ultimate Admiral: Age of Sail. Rob hates the land combat, Matt hates the way the ships behave like sports cars, Capo greets both with measured approval, and Michael thinks we're all being a bunch of picky jerks looking a gift-horse in the mouth.
2021-05-25
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Three Moves Ahead 526: Total War: Rome Remastered

Rob, Jon, and Len have taken up their swords and strapped on their sandals to party like it's 2004. What did the original Total War: Rome do right that the series hasn't since? And does it hold up beside its younger, prettier siblings? And why is no one talking about Lone Star? Seriously. It's a great movie.
2021-05-08
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Three Moves Ahead 525: Unity of Command II - Barbarossa

Troy and Rob are joined by Kotaku's Luke Plunkett to discuss Unity of Command II's Barbarossa expansion. How much of the frustration you feel leading the Germans on the Eastern Front comes from any given game, and how much of it comes from the mere situation of leading the Germans on the Eastern Front?
2021-04-30
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Three Moves Ahead 524: The Total War: Rome Remastered Interview

This week, as we prepare for the release of Total War: Rome Remastered, Rob welcomes Creative Assembly's Kevin McDowell and Guy Davidson, who both worked on the original Rome. They talk about the studio's early days and precarious finances, the surprisingly slow-burn success of Rome, and the long development hangover that resulted from CA's old culture of crunch. Producer's note: We weren't able to get an isolated vocal track for one of our guests and there are a few places where there's a definite echo. Apologies for the inconvenience.
2021-04-23
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