Armageddon Empires

Anyone tried this yet:


I’m a sucker for card-based mechanics and turn based hex strategy games but thought I’d see if anyone else had messed around with it first…

Have you tried the demo? It does look kind of interesting.

Wow, that looks potentially great. I’ll grab the demo when I get home.

Downloading the demo now.

Downloading as well but won’t see it until tomorrow. It’s “movie night.”

Looks interesting. Downloading the demo now.

I’m gonna have to (gulp) read the instructions. Doesn’t necessarily mean it’s an overly complicated game; this is just a new creature to me–a card/hex wargame hybrid. The five minutes I’ve spent with it so far seem promising, though.

Wow, that does look interesting. It better be friggin’ great for 30 bucks, however. I’ll give it a go.

Like, Empire of Magic great, or actually great?


That does looks pretty sweet. Downloading the demo now.

I played through one run of the Demo (20 turn limit), which is about how long it took me to figure out the basics. Here’s a rundown that’s probably both missing important pieces of information as well as being occasionally wrong. First impressions and all of that. Onward.

Resources and Action Points
There are four types of resources that you’ll need various amounts of in order to play your cards. Your Stronghold gives you one of each per turn, but you can get more by conquering ruins and probably other sites (I’ve only seen ruins/destroyed cities). On top of that, everything you do, including drawing new cards, costs Action Points. You’ll either get 6 or 12 AP’s per turn depending how you do on your turn initiative roll. You can spend resources to get more dice for this roll, but that only helps for that turn. There are probably other ways to get more turn dice (cards? locations?), but I haven’t seen them yet. Deploying stronger cards costs more than 6 AP, so you’ll need the initiative for those.

Units and Armies
To venture out of your Stronghold, you need to create an army. Each unit card has a move distance as well as attack/defense scores, attack range, hit points, and resistances (nuclear/biological/chemical/psi). Some units also have special abilities, which can give you more strategic options. A couple that I had were stealth and recon, but I’m sure there are more. There are also combat bonuses, which do all sorts of different things once you’re in the shit. Generals lead your armies, and add their own bonuses and abilities to an army which are primarily tactical. Unlike normal units, General cards are pretty cheap to deploy, but offer some interesting effects and abilities. Some examples were +2 to Supply range, Combat retreat options, Assassination, and Sabotage.

Damn the Torpedoes!
Combat I really enjoyed, and it has surprising depth. First, you arrange your units, the front line being where most of the action is. Then you play through successive combat rounds until someone either retreats or loses. Each round has an initiative roll, then combat plays through one phase per unit with you choosing when each unit attacks. There’s no downside to attacking since there aren’t counterattacks. It’s IGO/UGO, attack vs. defense, with each player deciding which unit attacks when and where each phase. Units only get one attack/move per round, so the round goes on until every unit has moved. You get one attack die per point of attack strength, and one defense die per point of defense strength. They’re not actually dice, though, it’s a success/fail system. If you get more successes that your opponent, you either hit or he misses.

Facilities and other Stuff
There are a bunch of other things I don’t even want to go into much until I play around with them some more. Facilities that can add functions to your base as well as resources. For example, I had a General with the Tactics ability at my base which had a War College (or Academy or something). He sat there making Tactics cards, which go into a universal pool and can be played in combat by any General. Basic 1 AP cards were pretty easy to make, and gave bonuses like +2 attack dice or +3 Fate (Fate can be spent to influence dice rolls). The +2 AP cards were trickier, and gave slightly better bonuses like reroll 3 opponent’s successes. The +3 AP cards were really hard to make, but gave great bonuses which I don’t remember offhand. Anyway, apart from Tactics cards, there are also cards that can be created by Technologists or Geneticists with the appropriate facility. You can also upgrade your Stronghold and facilities, but I’m not sure what that does.

The Good, the Bad, and the Interface
There are some aspects of the game that could stand to be brought up to speed. I keep trying to do things like grab the terrain to move the map, the interface is kind of 1980’s-ish. It’s functional, just neither pretty nor intuitive. I did like the unit art and the terrain, and there is definitely meat to the game once you work out what you’re doing and what things mean. I have no idea how the AI is, I didn’t even see him. I only fought zombies and things in the ruined cities around my base. The game was interesting and entertaining enough for me to buy it, but YMMV.

Yeah, I liked the demo enough to buy the full version as soon as my budget allows. All of your criticisms are spot on, and there are some areas that could use some optimizing, but overall I really like a lot of the stuff he’s done. Armageddon Empires really seems like a labor of love.

Incidentally, the developer is one Vic Davis, erstwhile member of the Qt3 community since 2003. He’s written some interesting stuff in his blog about designing the game and trying to create non-cheating AI opponents.


There goes 30 bucks.

There is a really fantastic game here that is really brought down by some basic execution failures, unfortunately.

– Can’t change resolution or play windowed.
– Hitting ESC instantly exits to desktop with no save prompt or anything.
– No tutorial or online help for what abilities mean, etc.
– Basic interface design failures like seeing only 5 cards at a time out of an 8 card hand, not being able to see bottom hex row with cards up.
– Needs a little more game structure… before you can play a game you have to make a deck, which involves a number of arcane rules that are not explained anywhere. Starter decks for each race would help IMMENSELY, as would rolling out cards to you in a campaign.
– All dice rolls require sitting through a 5 second animation. For both you and your opponent. Ugh.

So basically if this game were really finished, I would be very, very addicted. As it is, I think it’s a lot of mostly squandered great potential. It’s so frustrating to me to see this sort of thing come so close but fail, much more frustrating than just a bad game.

Unlike a game like Dwarf Fortress, which is playable through the pain, I’m not sure AE is. I did buy the full version just to support more games like this in the future that hopefully suck less. :)

Yes, it’s extremely unpolished. Yet, I’m finding that fighting through the interface is worth it. The game is fantastic.

So many of these things could be easily patched. Windowed mode please! Tooltips would be extremely helpful. Widescreen mode (yesss). Mouse-grab scrolling of the map.

One thing I can’t figure out is how to look at a card fully when it’s in your hand. Like, see all it’s stats. Is there a way to do this?

Also, how does harvesting resources work? Do you have to just leave a hero on it that can mine that type of resource, for instance a scientist on a hex with science stuff?

Finally, is there a universal “acknowledge” hot key? Enter and space don’t seem to do the trick. I hate having to drag my hand all over the screen during combat.

I bought it as well. Definitely worth $30 to support this kind of incredibly unique indy game development.

(I kind of like the Escape kills it off completely. It’s like the ultimate boss key! Having it on ESC is totally boneheaded though. That’s the first thing you instinctively press when you want an interface window off you screen)

Like Jason said I’m going to have to own up to this one. There is going to be a lot of valid criticism of this game. Some of it is on a still long to do list. Some of it is a result of the limitations of the development tools and some of it is just my quirky design preferences. Xemu’s list is pretty good and Jason already let me in on the dice roll annoyance. I’m going to be doing updates so I’ll see how much I can manage. Can’t make any promises that all your wildest desires will be implemented.

Armageddon Empires is I think a diamond in the rough like Dominions. It won’t be a pretender to the throne because you simply can’t match the depth of gameplay the Dom offers and of course there isn’t any stabbing your friends in the back in multiplayer. It’s really meant as a solitaire experience…almost like a puzzle/rpg story generator hiding in a panzer general suit. Also, like Dominions it seems overwhelming at first. There is a pdf rule book included in the game and downloadable from the web site. A tutorial section at the website tries to answer some of the basic questions about game mechanics.

Lots of good stuff. Resolution is sadly fixed because it’s an Adobe/Macromedia Director created app. Don’t titter and laugh. Seriously for this 2D game it was perfect. Plus the pros use it to mock up ifaces…read that on Gamasutra

Esc Key is intentional as a quick way to get rid of the app. But it should definately be documented. I was actually worried about people complaining they were “stuck” in the game.

The card hand issue was a real thorn in my side. I finally settled on the servo pad approach but I agree it ends up cluttering those key bottom rows where your stronghold is.

Starter Decks is a great idea. I included an Imperial Demo Deck for a quick start and my idea was that half the fun was building your own and exploring the cards and interactions but a couple more variants might be nice

Dice rolls I’m going to look at. Part of my idea was the tension of watching the roll when you need a bunch of successes. I’m going to see if I can add an option for quick rolls if it doesn’t bork the animation code.

You have to move a hero or engineer unit to the hex and right click on the card. Then you select the type of collector. It gets placed on the board as a facility. It has to be in supply to add the resource to your stockpile every turn.

Hot Keys are on a to do list. You can use the arrow keys to scroll the map. I’m just hoping that with my spaghetti code that some of the interface has become it isn’t to hard to implement.

Thanks Guys.

Raife did a better job of summing up the basics than I did in the manual.

I think the game’s pretty fantastic. I don’t have the hate for the interface some others do because it harks back to an earlier age when designers made their damn game and part of the fun for players was figuring it out. I like that sense of freedom and quirkiness much more than I’m aggravated by non-standard “features.”

I do agree that a starter deck would be helpful, as the number of units and the information that must be absorbed in order to build an intelligent deck is too overwhelming for us noobs. I’d like to see maybe the first 75 points worth of cards already provided as a kind of pointer or template, with the option of changing those out for more experienced players.

The bottom row where your cards are held should be shrunk down to half size in order to expose the bottom of the board. The cards could expand to full size when moused over or something to allow for easier inspection.

The Esc key should perhaps immediately minimize the app without actually killing it?

I don’t mind the dice rolls. As I say, they hearken back to another age, which appeals to me. They also serve to soothe players’ fears about being cheated, as it makes it obvious what the method is for choosing who gets the initiative.

I had a quick go at the demo. I enjoyed it, though part of that might be that I’m a sucker for post-apoc settings. I’ll have to try it again after reading the manual. For instance, I didn’t realize you had to do something to set up resource harvesting, I just noticed that I probably wasn’t.

One minor gripe I have about the interface is that it seems like there should be some indication on the battle screen of the division between the two sides, like slightly heavier line or something. Once you’ve done a battle you know what happens, but initially I had no idea which was the front line, or why it was giving me errors about placing units in the top half of the screen.

First of all Vic, congratulations on actually shipping this thing – there are lots of very nice gameplay ideas there. Not sure if this is your first major game or not but if so, it’s got a lot more in it that I want to play than 90% of what I see out there. :)

I wish I knew some Macromedia so I could help you with things like changing resolution, because it’s maddening to have a game with so much information have to run non widescreen, low res. My google-fu turned up a few threads like this:,25282,25294#msg-25294

That seem to imply you can do so, but I’ve done nary a lick of Director programming so I’ve probably posted a completely irrelevant link.

The thing about the dice rolling is that it makes the game play slow. One of the nice things about turn based is that I can play it at my own speed, and that speed is not watching 10 sec of dice rolls every turn, every round of combat. A simple option for fast dice rolls (or a hotkey I can hold down to accelerate them) would be fine in my book if you want to keep the default aesthetic. Or even having the dice rolls always take that amount of time but reveal over the time window… so it always takes the 4-5 sec it does now but with the standard 3 die initiative you get the drama of seeing each die come up linearly in parallel with the Nth die of your opponent.

The ESC thing is what made me actually stop playing. It effectively looks like a total program crash. It made me lose hours of progress in a game. If you step back a sec I don’t think it’s a very defensible feature. At least having a confirmation dialog or something… really a “quit” button from a sub menu and supporting alt-f4 would be much more user friendly.

The suggestion for having even more minimized cards but a way you could right-click on them for the “full card” view you get in the deck editor or after deploying would be perfect. The problem with “8 cards, see 5” is that with no animation and duplicate cards, it can be actually very difficult to know what the new card you just drew is. As long as I can get at the full card details, seeing a smaller card representation normally so I get a reminder of my overall hand would be fine.

Another wish list feature I’d have would be a log of activities. Especially when you are learning it’s almost impossible to tell what you actually did, with all the very non standard right-clicking and left-clicking interface mechanics. For example, it took me quite a while to realize what the card drawing button actually did, and I’m not exactly a total novice when it comes to complex game interfaces. Anyways, a simple log would be a great teaching tool to reinforce AP expenditure, solve some usability problems like “what card did I draw”, and get some info that is buried now (resource incomes) somewhere more accessible.

Overall I’d have to say the dice issue and the card issue are what are hard-blocking me from playing more of the game. If those two were solved I personally would find it worth working around some of the rest.

Thanks Xemu! It’s a one man show for design and programming but the artists are talented and competent. I was intent on having great art to make up for other shortcomings that a niche game like this is going to have.

The resolution is a sticky issue because all the assets are 2D bitmaps. The program tries to detect that 1024 x 768 is supported and then changes the screen resolution and returns it at the end of the program to the original resolution. Is the program not showing up full screen? If that’s the case the change resolution call is failing for some reason. I can’t really support anything other than 1024 because you can’t scale anything…the frame for the UI, all the buttons are set by the program when you create the environment. The wide screen issue can be a bummer if you have the stretching enabled via the video card app. Most laptops I tested on you had to go to the nvidia/ati api and uncheck the stretch option.

I’m going to take stock of all the input I get and see what is feasible and what isn’t. Thanks again