Shadow Empire - Mad Max meets Operation Barbarossa

Spoiler! I’m still at the part where Tom loves the game (though there is some foreshadowing of a later shift).

Sorry. You are right I shall spoilerfy it.

The game doesn’t have an online help system that maybe is updated?

Nope. The manual is the key to playing the game. The ingame help is relatively half-assed and, as near as I can tell, completely untouched since the release. In fact, the ingame reference on logistics is still titled “How works the logistical network”.

So not only have the developer and published failed to update the documentation, but they haven’t even bothered to correct its basic grammar.


No, I’m sorry – I was just joking!

Up until then I was thinking, “I should give this another try this weekend.” And then I remembered why I have continued to decide not to give this another try.

Though I don’t regret listening to the podcast. Tom’s voice was strong like bull.

Some comments i made on a Discord channel explaining why i stopped playing-

I stopped playing after making many valiant attempts. most of the things that bothered me originally are still in the game and I find too many of the systems needlessly complicated (not complex…just overly complicated given what little effect they actually have on game-play once you do understand them) or shallow like diplomacy which is ridiculously simple and easily manipulated to exaggerated effects. The entire Espionage ‘system’ which has absolutely one use, map reveal, which you can leverage to see the entire planets map and unit movements very early game and then has zero application after, or the global market which allows you to sell anything you want for easy money every 3 turns). I also had constant problems with the AI (both bugs and capability issues) with it giving no real challenge either tactically or strategically and constantly demonstrating it had no real ability to play effectively (especially apparent when you have that Spy System global map reveal showing exactly how/when it moves units around every turn…SO much useless shuffling back and forth and back and forth…it apparently has an entrenchment bonus allergy). I eventually just had to step away as i could never finish a game and just ended up grumpy every time i tried.

there is also the ‘created by spreadsheet’ random event ‘system’ that just repeats constantly (making some events ridiculously hard/impossible early game and then the entire ‘system’ becomes an irrelevant waste of mouse clicks as time passes and you train up your inevitably useless initial leaders), the fact that the entire population of the planet never attended school or held a job prior to getting hired by YOU), or the still present random 'Here have a free Mega-Super-Ultra Tank that you can use to completely steamroll every enemy city with so why did you bother spending all that time carefully shepherding an economy and military for the last 10 hours? (why is there still not a world setup button to disable GR units like there is for a few other settings? i really really hate feeling that all my brain-sweat, effort, and agency are irrelevant due to random event stuff like this). and don’t get me started on the whole ‘dumb animals-conquering/controlling’ borders or the ‘pushing a neutral into your neighbors territory so you can get free control by following it and never having to declare war’ thing.

Oh, just remembered another fun one - AFAIK there is absolutely no way to know what a combat bonus artifact actually does before you are forced to assign it to a unit. Only then can you read the info panel for the unit to see what benefit it provides…which leads to you assigning an artillery bonus to an infantry unit and other hilariously useless combinations that cannot be reversed.

Ah, at last, a voice coming from the other side of the Chick Parabola! How’s the weather over there? :)

The thing about a game that makes you rage quit while you’re learning it is that you may never discover its true foibles. Thanks for weighing in, @Vormithrax. And thanks in advance for tempering the inevitable desire to reinstall, which I should feel in a few weeks.


You have a fan Tom!

Still applying. Dude, even if we’re silly gamers, you’re so much better than this Tsundere persona… Yes, I animu’d you!

I love the game but indeed it sucks. But it’s so evocative I don’t really fault for it being unplayable in a way. I’m one to never go for a deep understanding in strategy games that justaguy loves mocking, only enjoying them as toys instead of games (a bit like what Tom described with the watching the planet creation process unfold, which indeed reminded me of my fascination for the Xeen inns).

He’s a one man team and English isn’t his first language. I don’t think I’d put it quite as uncharitably as “haven’t even bothered”.

Fair enough. Really, it’s the publisher who should be dinged for that still being in there. How do you live in the wild for over a year and still have a prominent pop-up message read “How works the logistical network”? That’s just embarrassing and it makes Slitherine/Matrix look bad.


I listened to much of the podcast, and I’m still no closer to pull the trigger (It is almost a function of time and frustration concen) on purchasing. I remember watching a stream of the opening of the game, and it took 15+ minutes just building the world.

Now there is something inherently pretty cool about this, and given my experience in playing KSP, and general space knowledge, I actually understood many of the parameters But this should be an option for advanced players not something you throw beginners into.

I had a brief experience working with Slitherine, on my one game development foray, and they are very much a hands off publisher. You developed it, we’ll distribute it. Unfortunately, I think this is a real dis-service to a game like a shadow empire. Clearly the developer is very talented, and the game is extremely creative. But it is also too ambitious for a single person to do by themselves. Slitherine I think could really help this game by at the very least putting a body on the documentation, the help systems, and making it more accessible.

You can actually skip all that stuff, but I don’t think you’d want to. You get an early screen that let’s you just jump into a game if you’d prefer. Otherwise, the step-by-step planet generation is all pretty hands-off, just dumping numbers on you, with very little information about how or even whether it impacts the game. As I mentioned on the podcast, it’s like a title sequence for your game.


I’ve finished the podcast. So if my patience level is slightly higher than your but less than Jon’s, when would you recommend I try this game. 3months from now, a year, or tomorrow?

I think everyone that enjoys 4X games but find much of the recent releases stale should try this. It really is excellent if you can bear on through the first dozen or so hours of the learning curve wall.

I suspect it’s as good as it’s going to get. If you’re interested in trying it, there’s no reason to wait for more updates or improved documentation, if that’s what you mean.

If you do try it, keep us updated! I’ll be curious to hear what you think.


This video series helped me, and he just randomizes most of that set up and gets right into the game. “It’s really not necessary to know any of this to get started playing the game,” he says.

Thanks that was really helpful.

I did get it played it some yesterday, and skimmed most of the manual I can already see going up the Chick parabola will be the fun portion of what’s sure to be a love-hate relationship with this game.

So first of what I’m sure will be many examples.

Dutifully following the advice of the video. I build a recycling center, with an eye on expand production ASAP. I get 500 metal, and I see I can build a light industry, and with no movement on my borders I do so. Next turn I see I still owe 1,000 metal. The rather cyptic message did say 3 turns. However, I’ve never played 4x game, where production cost were given on per turn bases as opposed to a total basis.Since generally the time required to build something is a function of your industrial output, and possibly accumulating resources.

So the next turn, my prospecting pays off, I find a metal depositing. Since it goes to take a dozen turns or so to get enough metal to build the light industry. I decide to build a mine first. I figure there is some way of either canceling my existing production and getting my resource, or at least putting the industry expansion on hold. Perhaps that exist put not of the standard conventions for queueing up builds are used in this game. Plus canceling makes you lose 1/2 the production. The next turn two minor regime invade me puting some my units out of supply. Now at this point, there is no question that butter can wait. But damned if I can find a way build guns without losing almost two turns of production.

The restart option beckon, not for the last time I’m sure. My other two restarts, in one I was almost totally isolated and it frankly it got kinda of boring and the other just the opposite surrounded and quickly invaded. Game #4 is looking better.

RPS has a new strategy column: