What’s Gus Playing? Northgard!

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A wise man once wrote that ‘sometimes love just ain’t enough.’ Tragic, but true.

I looked forward to playing Northgard for a long time since I got the complete game at a deep discount a few months ago (there have been several DLCs dropped since it’s release). A city builder set at the beginning of the Viking Age (around 800 AD), Northgard gives the player a dozen different clans to choose from in sandbox mode, along with options for a story mode (sort of a long tutorial) and multiplayer.

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By: Lloyd Sabin

What’s Gus Playing? Order of Battle – Red Steel!

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Looking out my window I see the woods and the hill behind my house covered in about 2.5 feet of snow. There’s barely any color out there besides gray and white and it’s about 25 degrees. The warmth and love in my home can’t overcome the chill.

What is not difficult to imagine on this cold February morning is the vast, freezing steppe of the eastern front during World War II, and to bring it further into focus I just fired up Order of Battle: Red Steel, a set of scenarios placing the player in the boots of a Soviet commander taking charge of the titanic effort of continuously pushing back the invading Germans just after they were stopped outside of Moscow in late 1941.
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By: Lloyd Sabin,

Grogheads Sunday Morning Musings!

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Red Dead Redemption 2 is incredibly well-regarded for its immersive rendition of the American West in 1899.  Rockstar Games created an open world that logically reacts to the player’s deeds and misdeeds.  If you commit heinous crimes in a little town, you can always pay off your bounty – but even so, the local sheriff’s office maintains a description of your character’s appearance.  If you come back with the same clothes and facial hair, the locals are prone to remember you as that jerk who shot their cousin a few weeks back.  On the other hand, if you cover your face when you commit crimes and strategically swap outfits when nobody’s watching, not only can you get away with plain-sight robberies, but you can follow them up by casually chatting with the lawmen investigating your crimes.  The depth of the bounty system is arcane and not particularly well explained in tooltips or tutorials, but once you understand it, it’s equally delightful and frustrating to try and manipulate.

This strength of the game is exactly why many players hate Chapter V – the “Guarma” section where the main characters are stranded on a tropical island embattled by civil war.

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By: James Maxwell

What’s Gus Playing? Wolfenstein – Youngblood!

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Due to customer demand – namely one dude in the forums who shall remain nameless who asked ‘Hey what happened to the What’s Gus Playing thing you used to do? – I am back to tell you all about What I Am Playing. Right now I am actually playing through three games – Panzer Corps 2, Order of Battle – Red Steel, and Wolfenstein: Youngblood. Since I don’t know how much time I have until my power goes out again from the fourth foot of snow we are receiving as I type this – I’ll be quick.

Wolfenstein: Youngblood, developer Arkane and publisher Bethesda, have all taken a ton of flak (pun intended) in online forums since the game’s release. Why? Most likely because it’s two playable protagonists, Jess and Sophia Blazkowicz, daughters of Wolfenstein hero BJ, are young women. Many of the NPCs are women as well, and their computer nerd assistant who maps out Paris for them, finds them side missions and generally helps them along is also a woman. The majority of the enemies they fight are men, and also Nazis. I didn’t have a problem with this set up, other than the girls’ banter back and forth occasionally got a little irritating, the same way the banter between my own daughters gets irritating. And I found a whole lot more to like in Wolfenstein: Youngblood to offset any annoying chatter.

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By: Lloyd Sabin,

Grogheads AAR – Combat Mission Black Sea!

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When in 2009 Battlefront began to develop Black Sea, the next title in the Combat Mission series involving a modern fictional Russian invasion of the Ukraine, they couldn’t possibly have imagined that in less than five short years, Russian combat units would be storming across the border into Ukrainian territory making the scenario much less of a hypothetical.  Despite exerting every effort to avoid the portrayal of an ongoing, undecided conflict, it is nearly impossible to avoid comparisons to the violent confrontation that is still raging across the Donbass.  

Combat Mission Black Sea (“CMBS”) is described by Battlefront as a “military grade simulation” depicting a fictional armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine which results in open combat in the summer of 2017. “As Russian forces move into Ukrainian territory the Ukrainians do their best to defend their country against a numerically and technologically superior adversary. Events surrounding the invasion cause NATO to send its advanced rapid deployment forces to check the Russian advance. A brutal scenario, for sure, but one which allows you to get a glimpse of what full spectrum contemporary near-peer tactical warfare is all about.”

Although CMBS has been available directly from Battlefront since November 2014, it has recently been released on Steam in partnership with Slitherine Ltd., significantly broadening its audience and reinvigorating interest in the source material.  So, grab your AK and join Grogheads on the frontline of this brutal modern confrontation as Russian and Ukrainian mechanized troops clash over a small government complex.  Ura!!!

By: Craig Handler

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