Tooth and Tail Articles RSS Feed | Tooth and Tail RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network RTS Games to Play While Waiting for Warcraft 3 Reforged Tue, 14 Jan 2020 11:57:06 -0500 Ty Arthur


What's your favorite RTS game to chill out with while waiting on Warcraft 3: Reforged? Sound off in the comments below, and we'll see you in the lobby when it finally lands January 28!


Of course, with the remake coming soon, we're left wondering: is a true successor ever going to come from Blizzard? Will we ever get Warcraft 4


Knowing Blizzard's track record with canceling anticipated projects and the timeline on the company actually releasing follow-ups to major franchises, we won't hold our breath.


Sins Of A Solar Empire: Rebellion


Love both turn-based 4X expansion games and fast-paced RTS titles? You get both with Sins Of A Solar Empire, and its a winning combination.


Even before diving into the modding community, the replayability available here is simply huge, and somehow, Rebellion is still getting new patches, updates, and events from the development team eight years after its initial launch.


This is an old one, but one that should be at the top of your list if you've never played it. 


A Year Of Rain


When looking for an experience very similar to the original Warcraft 3: Reign Of Chaos, it doesn't get much closer than A Year Of Rain. The influence and inspiration it takes from Warcraft 3 is very clear, but the twist here is that you can play co-op as a team of two.


The only thing to keep in mind before jumping into A Year Of Rain is that this is an Early Access and unfinished release. There's a lot of potential here, but you have to see it. There's still lots of room for improvement overall.


Seven Kingdoms Ancient Adversaries


There aren't many super-old-school games that manage to effectively work in espionage and diplomacy to the standard RTS conquer formula. But Ancient Adversaries pulls it off.


Managing your population and morale is just as important as amassing overwhelming force, and you've actually have to think about what you will do with a conquered area after taking it over.


As a game that came out in the late 1990s, Ancient Adversaries is a little clunky due to an aging UI, but it's still worth it for fans of old-school RTS titles.


Creeper World 3: Arc Eternal


A mix of tower defense and RTS, Creeper World 3 is radically different than the rest of the games on our list, but still well worth playing if you want to try something new.


Instead of hordes of orcs or stormtroopers, here, you are basically fighting a spilled liquid that terraforms the terrain. Your goal is to stop its relentless advance and eventually fight back to take out the source. It's somewhat like Plague Inc., with a nefarious virus-like substance polluting the land. 


There's a lot more strategy to it than you might think, though, and the number of levels and playthrough styles on offer are staggering. With a level editor included, you could easily sink a very silly number of hours into mastering every aspect of Creeper World 3.


The Tone Rebellion


Since releasing back in 1997, there has never been an RTS quite like this one, and it baffles me there's never been a remake or sequel in all that time.


Very much a product of its time, The Tone Rebellion features a quasi-3D style that will bring to mind contemporaries like Alien Legacy or Septerra Core.


As a leader of the jellyfish-style Floaters, your goal is to free your people from the tentacles of the mighty Leviathan. With light RPG elements and a totally different faction selection than your typical RTS, this is a game that deserved more attention than it ever got.


Sadly, this is one of those classic games that never made it to digital outlets. Your only options now are to find a disc floating around somewhere or hit up an abandonware site. Make sure to give it a vote on the GOG community wishlist page if you want to see it make a proper digital return!


Age Of Empires 3


Plenty of gamers still look with rose-colored glasses at Age Of Empires 2 as the pinnacle of the series. And yeah, it had a lot going for it back in the day. Hell, the game's been re-released twice, with the latest Definitive Edition bringing brand-new campaigns and civs to the game. 


For something a little different, though, I recommend hitting up the sequel if you haven't played it yet or just want a historical game in the RTS genre.


The time periods and locations on display here aren't often explored in the real-time strategy genre, skipping around from Spanish knights in the 16th Century to various First Nations conflicts, the American Revolution, and even the Indian Rebellion in the 1850s.


That's not to mention several new series' mechanics make AoE 3 well-worth checking out. 


Tooth and Tail


Ready for a tale of riots, revolution, and meat, my furry comrade? Imagine if Fievel Mousekewitz and his clan decided to stay home and devour their oppressors while overthrowing the bourgeois instead of moving to America and you've got Tooth & Tail.


Many of the traditional RTS base building elements are turned on their heads here, resulting in fast-paced matches as the Longcoats, Commonfolk, KSR, and Civilized factions engage in a war of supremacy to discover who gets to eat tonight. 


If you dig anthropomorphic mice fighting for justice (whether Mouse Guard or Redwall), you'll have a good time here.


Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2


If you like the ship-to-ship combat of Empire At War and want to skip the ground-based skirmishes altogether, then the Battlefleet Gothic series is the way to go.


While most of the Warhammer 40K games are based around space marines or various alien factions engaged in wars of attrition on various planets, these titles finally give the Imperial Navy its proper due.


From the killer ship designs to the unique space-based maps, there's a ton to love for Games Workshop fans here, although the PvP and skirmish modes are probably more fun than the campaign in the longterm.


Star Wars: Empire At War


If you somehow missed it, yes, there is in fact a proper real time strategy Star Wars title set during the rebellion era, and it is absolutely as awesome as that sounds like it would be.


Whether moving resistance soldiers through the rainy wilderness to take down a shield generator or commanding a fleet of Star Destroyers to destroy rebel X-Wing scum, Empire At War is pretty much everything you could want from an RTS Star Wars game.


While the base campaign is fun, the real goods are found in the modding community. Devoted fans have painstakingly recreated the Clone Wars and other famous eras of franchise history, which vastly increases your potential play time.




Viking-themed RTS? Sign me up! The fact that this one is from the indie developer behind the clever Evoland titles is just icing on the cake.


Northgard has less micromanagement than other fast-paced strategy entries, and it has a more "board-game" feel to it. But it's still most definitely a real-time game that can blow away large chunks of your time. 


In another fun twist, Northgard works in some interesting Catan-style elements for a different economy and resource management system. It also has some decent "expansions" worth checking out. 


Company Of Heroes 2


A unique take on historical strategy, Company Of Heroes 2 offers a slightly different focus than most of the other RTS games on our list.


Starting as the Russian army moves in to break the German forces, this tactical look at WWII features an infantry creation and management system that has been shifted and streamlined from the typical strategy game. 


CoH2 has a solid balance of objective-based gameplay and RTS front-line conquering. While extremely intense because of the subject matter, Company Of Heroes 2 still has enough entertaining gameplay elements to keep you hooked and playing for hours. It, like Dawn of War, is often part of quarterly sales on Steam and GoG. 


Dawn Of War


Somehow, the Games Workshop license still hasn't managed to produce a better 40K real-time strategy game than this ancient (and let's be honest, kinda' ugly) entry from Relic Entertainment.


While a lot of fans were enamored in the first few days, the luster of Dawn Of War 3 wore off pretty quickly. Between bugs in the campaign and the fact that the single-player mode was basically a tutorial for the game's mutliplayer component, things went downhill fast.


Skip that title in the series and come back to this hallowed classic instead. The story campaign of the original Dawn Of War is still incredibly solid for its age.


If you just want to jump into some RTS action and take over territory, though, both the standalone Dark Crusade and/or Soulstorm "expansions" are the way to go. You can grab all of them at Steam or GOG for a very reasonable price these days.


Ready for the re-imagined Warcraft 3: Reforged to finally hit the launcher? We've only been waiting 18 years for a proper return to Azeroth in all its RTS glory. And now, it's nearly here!


After Starcraft: Remastered arrived back in 2017, it shouldn't have been much of a shock that Warcraft 3: Reign Of Chaos would get an overhaul next. Frankly, it needed one. While the cut scenes were gritty look and the mechanics solid, the actual gameplay featured a cartoonish graphical aesthetic that didn't quite match the dark story set in the world of Azeroth. 


We still have a few weeks until we can finally return to fight for orcish independence, though, so in the meantime, you might want to polish your classic RTS skills with a few rounds of skirmishes. With that in mind, we've rounded up all the top real-time strategy games to play if you just can't wait for Reforged to arrive at the end of January.


We're going with mostly classic titles here either because they came out decades ago, or just emulate that old-school style with a few more modern entries as well to round things out.


Let's command and conquer! 

Redwall Is Finally Getting a Video Game, but You Probably Shouldn't Be Happy About It Thu, 11 Jan 2018 11:23:11 -0500 Ty Arthur

It's weird to think about, but my entire career has essentially been dependent on a talking mouse going on a quest for an ancient sword.

I've spent the last 10 years working as a freelance writer covering everything from underground black metal to Call Of Duty guides, and even released my own fantasy fiction ... and I can say without hesitation that I wouldn't have done any of that if it wasn't for discovering Redwall as a nine-year-old at the school library.

While other series would eclipse it in my list of personal favorites, Redwall is unquestionably what got me started in the fantasy realm and would spur me on to D&D, Final Fantasy, and beyond.

In retrospect, it's not a perfect series. There are plot problems, overly recurrent themes, and some thorny issues of racial bias you don't notice as a kid (why are all mice good and all ferrets evil?), but as a preteen just discovering the fantasy genre, I was hooked.

 Thanks, Brian. I owe you one.

The Long Wait for a Redwall Game

Later on as an adult, the criminally unknown Mouse Guard graphic novels would step in to rekindle that fire with a very similar style and subject matter. Mouse Guard would go on to inspire a stellar pen-and-paper RPG that really evokes the feel of the story (with mechanics way outside the typical d20 system) and lets the grown-ups who adored Redwall as kids roleplay in a very similar universe.

While Mouse Guard has us covered on the tabletop setting, fans have been left out in the cold on the video game front. If you do some digging across the web, you can find some unofficial, fan-made Redwall games in various stages of completion. As far as official, licensed games, there really hasn't been anything to date.

That's not to say the notion of talking mice living in quiet abbeys in the woods hasn't managed to invade games, however. Several developers have already given us high-quality games with anthropomorphic animals that are clearly meant to be in line with Redwall's aesthetic.

There's been the turned-based Game Of Thrones-meets-Redwall game Armello, the old-school RTS battle title Tooth And Tail, the Early Access (but already promising) stealth-action RPG Ghost Of A Tale, and the upcoming VR game Moss, which looks about as Redwall-ish as you can get without actually having the name.


Despite all those interesting offerings, there hasn't actually been anything legitimately released in Brian Jacques' famous fantasy world ... until now.

Just a few days back, a post for the very first Redwall video game randomly hit my feed thanks to the vagaries of the great unknowable Facebook algorithm. It's called Redwall: The Warrior Reborn and is launching in Early Access with a first episode titled The Scout.

To say I was merely excited would be the understatement of the century. Ecstatic? Over the motha-friggin' moon? Those are all a lot closer. Based on the Facebook comments, it seems a lot of other fans are feeling the same way and can't wait for the finished product.

Bumps Along the Road to Redwall

The episodic nature of the release, coupled with what is sure to be a long Early Access, put a bit of a damper on my initial excitement, bringing to mind the abandoned development of After Reset and many, many other episodic games that saw crowdfunding success but were never finished.

Despite those misgivings, I devoured the early screenshots and concept art, which looked pretty good (even if it didn't seem to exude the feel of Redwall as I'd conceived it as a kid), and started digging in deeper to see what had been done so far.

At the Steam page, it seemed the next logical step was to browse through other titles by the developer to know what sort of game to expect, and that's when the first red flag popped up. 

To my dismay, Soma Games has a grand total of one other game under its belt: a slingshot puzzle entry called G Prime that has all of three reviews on Steam. A development team with next to nothing else to its name being given a major IP is already bringing to mind all those terrible Warhammer 40,000 titles that Game Workshops hands out like gross candy.

So how exactly did we get here, rather than seeing Redwall be handed out to a bigger name?

This is where things get a little confusing. There was a Kickstarter for a game called Redwall: The Warrior Reborn by Soma Games back in 2013, but strangely it wasn't actually for the Early Access Steam game out now. Rather, it was for a Minecraft entry called Abbeycraft, which really wasn't clear just by reading through the Kickstarter page.

That crowdfunding success was used as a jumping-off point for the next step, which is the Early Access beta period being used to actually develop the full game.

 It's got potential, even if the team is untested.

Realizing they may not be the first name you'd think of to tackle Redwall, Soma put up the Project Mouseworks page describing the history of how they got hooked up with the franchise, and my heart sank reading each successive paragraph.

Easily the biggest issue is that the author of that page hadn't even read the books until after author Brian Jacques died. Since the team had been actively pursuing the IP before his death, the gravity of that problem should be readily apparent.

If the Telltale crew had never read any of the Game Of Thrones books before pitching George R.R. Martin and HBO, would you have wanted them to tackle the series?

Flaming Potholes to Hell on the Road to Redwall

That Project Mouseworks article only gets more alarming from there, and my concern grew when the author said he didn't think the ghost of Brian Jacques was involved in granting them the license, but "coincidence is the language of the Spirit."

Something very not in tune with the spirit of Redwall was clearly going on there, which was really confirmed with this next statement from the developer:

For long-time Soma Games fans another point seems worth mentioning. We thought a lot about whether or not Redwall was a fit with the core values and mission of Soma Games. Answering that required a lot of thought and prayer. We take our voice and mission very, very seriously. 

Wait, what mission, and why would you need to pray about whether Redwall fit with that mission? 

As it turns out, Soma Games is a Christian development team, although to their credit, they go out of their way to explain they are Christian developers, but they aren't necessarily making explicitly Christian games that are meant to proselytize at the players.

While I appreciate that distinction, the issue still raises another pretty big red flag. Redwall isn't a religious series in any way. It's not even fantasy tinged with religion like Narnia. So why did an explicitly religious company get the license for a game that isn't explicitly religious?

It's a decision that doesn't make any sense. Would you seek out the team responsible for the Left Behind games or Bible Adventures to turn the Wheel Of Time or Mistborn novels into a new game series?

In most cases the religious beliefs of the developers wouldn't matter. I'm sure Christians, Muslims, Wiccans, Scientologists, Cthulhu cultists, and atheists have all worked on awesome games in the past. But then we get to this little statement from Soma: 

The fact that they think Diablo is somehow an inherently "evil" game, or that their core demographic wouldn't want to play the most lauded ARPG of all time ... well, that's concerning. That tells us we're going to get something that's toned down quite a bit from where it probably should be, and that concessions to religious concerns are going to be made where none are even needed in the first place.

It's Not All Doom and Gloom

If you look past the lack of developer pedigree, their unfamiliarity with the source material until after starting development, and the potential religious issues, there's still reason to be cautiously optimistic for Redwall's leap to the digital gaming age.

Most notably, Soma is actually active on the Facebook page with regular updates, and the developers take the the time to talk to potential players or respond to feedback. That's huge, as open communication is a must for an Early Access project.

It's also worth noting that the developers clearly get that Redwall was as much about the abbey and the lengthy food descriptions as it was the heroic mice and foul stoats. There's hope there that this team understands the material, even if they came late to the party.

 Half the series is this sort of thing rather than combat, and I'm glad they acknowledged that fact.

A Plea 

The first Redwall game deserves a development team that is absolutely in love with the source material and has the resources, time, staffing, and ability to make something worth playing that both does the series justice and gives the fans what they've been waiting for these past two decades.

Maybe that's Soma Games, and maybe it isn't. Indie, unknown developers have released unbelievably awesome material in the past, and Kickstarter successes are less unknown these days, so there's always a chance Soma will defy the odds and give us the definitive Redwall game.

Wisdom earned by harsh experience would indicate otherwise, however. Redwall isn't just a cheap paperback to grab at the airport. This series means something to the longtime fans, and we'd rather have nothing at all than get something sub-par.

Soma folks, if you're reading this, it's my sincerest hope that you knock it out of the park and succeed, but at the same time, I'm absolutely begging you -- if you can't give us something better than Armello or Ghost Of A Tale, please do the right thing and hand the franchise over to someone else.

What do you all think -- are you excited for a Redwall game to finally arrive, or would you prefer to see a bigger developer take the reins sometime down the line? 

Let us know your thoughts in the comments! For now, you can check out some Early Access footage below, and you can follow the latest on the game's development over here.

Tooth and Tail Review: An Enjoyable Game with Mild Distemper Thu, 21 Sep 2017 11:19:43 -0400 Skrain

Pocketwatch Games -- the studio behind the cult hit Monaco -- recently launched its second game. Dubbed Tooth and Tail, it's a casual RTS with simplified features. 

In Tooth and Tail, four animal factions are fighting for control over an important decision that will determine who gets eaten. With a cute art style and a story that's simultaneously grim yet lighthearted, there's a lot to love about this fresh take on the strategy genre. But unfortunately, the game falls back on itself hard in terms of RTS management. 

Wheat is for Swine, Meat is for Animals

Tooth and Tail takes place in a world where civilized animals (excluding pigs) have decided that they would rather eat meat, and that all other foods are for Swine. These Swine are depicted mostly as unintelligent sources of meat -- and their only purpose is to survive until "harvest" and feed the other animals. 

However, Swine isn't the only meat that this animal society eats. During hard times, religious Civilized faction, lead by Archimedes, controls a lottery that determines who gets eaten when the Swine aren't enough to sustain everyone. Recently, this lottery claimed the life of Bellafide's son -- which sparked a revolutionary fire that leads him to found the Longcoats faction with the intent to fight back against the Civilized. 

Fighting alongside the Longcoats are the Commoners, lead by the beloved Hopper -- a hero to the everyanimal, who gave up her own arm so her people could eat. And fighting for the sake of ending the war are the KSR, led by a quartermaster who was pressed into the conflict. 

An Interesting "Lite" RTS

Tooth and Tail is described as a "popcorn" RTS where you control your commander directly, and indirectly give orders to your units as you play. In the single-player campaign, you often have anywhere between 2-6 units to build or utilize depending on the mission itself and the faction. You'll also need to control Gristmills, the primary source of meat. In these Gristmills, your swine will fatten themselves up for the harvest. As the single-player campaign progresses, you'll play through each faction in the continuing war for meat and dominance. 

An interesting feature in Tooth and Tail is that all maps, including the single-player story missions, are randomly generated. So playing through the campaign multiple times yields different maps with the same objectives.

Matches generally last 5-15 minutes, and your general strategy revolves around managing a single resource for meat while defending your own production buildings and attacking your opponents. You'll do this with a variety of units -- including drunken squirrels, self-exploding toads, medical pigeons, flamethrowing boars, and much more. 

Multiplayer matches are relatively straightforward, with standard 1v1, 2v1, and 2v2 matches. Each player picks a limited number of units that they can use throughout the match, and then it sets off and plays out accordingly. Like the single-player campaign, these maps are randomized for maximum replayability.


Fluffy Mechanics

One of Tooth and Tail's best qualities is undeniably its art style, from the vaguely retro in-game graphics to the charming artwork for the characters. The game was visually engaging, and the variety of environments because of the randomized maps went a long way in making sure things felt fresh most of the time. 

Being a "popcorn" RTS also has its benefits, because you don't have to worry as much about time constraints if you want to sit down and play for a while. With most strategy games, you have to take a moment and decide whether or not you can dump two hours into an online match. But with the average Tooth and Tail match time being between 5-15 minutes of non-stop action, it's a great game to pick up and play for short intervals. 

The meat of Tooth and Tail, however, is its simple control scheme and easy-to-learn mechanics. RTS games have a reputation for being hard to learn, and even harder to master (and rightfully so). But T&T doesn't suffer from this mechanical learning curve, so it allows newcomers to the genre to enjoy themselves just as much as veterans. 

Multiple people can also play from the same computer at the same time. That's right -- Tooth and Tail is one of the few PC games that supports split screen. So cute animals murdering each other can be made even better with up to four friends in split screen couch co-op. 

The Wrench in the Machine

Unfortunately Tooth and Tails' greatest feature is also its greatest drawback. Simplicity can be beneficial to a certain point, but has adverse effects when it's taken too far. And those familiar with the RTS genre might find that to be true for this game. 

The game removes many of the unit control features that make RTS games enjoyable -- like complex unit pathing, patrols, direct unit control for precise orders, inability to split units of a single type into multiple groups, and many others. So there's no way to handle your Tooth and Tail unit in a granular, strategic way. You're forced to group all units of all types together, or every unit of a single type together. There is no middle ground. And the only orders you can give to these overreaching groups are "attack," "follow," or "stay". 


The randomized maps are also a huge drawback when it comes to strategic development, in spite of the replay value they add. In the Steam description for Tooth and Tail, Pocketwatch Games describes these maps as follows:

"With procedurally generated maps and customizable factions, no two conflicts will be the same, forcing players to strategize rather than memorize."

While adaptability is definitely part of good strategizing, I believe that Tooth and Tail has taken it too far, while claiming it's something that it's not. In most cases, strategy has been outright replaced with adaptability in both single-player and multiplayer modes.

Eventually, you reach a point in the game where the difficulty of your encounters is not determined by your skill level or the AI's skill level, but by your randomly generated start position and your foes. There were multiple matches I played where the AI would get the high-ground advantage with hills that blocked my unit vision and gave them an angle to fire down on my units -- with no possibility of going around. In this case, "strategy" would have been using ranged units to overcome the obstacle, or simply moving to a new vantage point. However, the random maps don't lend themselves well to these actions in the single-player campaign. So instead, I had to slam dozens of units at an immovable wall.

This sort of gameplay doesn't encourage strategy or really even adaptability -- it just demands that you play into the few options that you have for approaching a situation, whether or not doing so makes any strategic sense. And of course, restarting a single-player match in hopes of getting a better randomized map isn't very strategic, either.

The procedural generation isn't as bad in multiplayer mode, since for the most part things seemed at least semi-symmetrical. However, I have had times where I've run into multiple choke points against enemy players with simply no way to overcome them due to how hills, bunkers, and line of sight works. These types of issues were further aggravated by my inability to issue complex orders to my units in order to compensate.

Verdict: A Little Flat, But Enjoyable

Despite it lacking in the strategic depth I'm used to (and fond of) in RTS games, I enjoyed my time with Tooth and Tail. The story was engaging, and the frantic pace the game sets right out of the game kept me immersed in its world. It's a solid game overall, in spite of a few minor misrepresentations in its marketing. 

In spite of a few hangups, Tooth and Tail is a good casual RTS game for those who want some strategy but don't want learning a game to be a second job. If you're interested in Tooth and Tail, you can head over to Steam and pick it up for $19.99.

[Note: A copy of the game was provided by Pocketwatch for this review.]