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DoW2 Strategum Part 1: Before the Mandate of Hyerbiolums

I ended up having a pretty good weekend at home with my Family. It was nice to see my kick-ass new nephew Zander and also fun to teach his older brother Kaiden to not freak out cause he cannot find the pointer on the Wii (btw Wii, I hate you for that. Why do you punish children so?). When I finally got back to Chicago, I ended up plopping down to a play some more DoW2 (Dawn of War 2) and noticed the Beta recently got some updates (after going public). The more I play this game, the more excited I get for the full campaign. I decided I'd share a more detailed experience with those of you that are intersted in how the game plays (which btw, you should just go get on the public beta and mess around).

I've only played as the Space Marines and even then I've only really handled the Techmarine. He is a hero unit that is designed around defense, which matches my style of play. Now when I say defense, I do not mean the classic RTS concept of "Turtling" instead the Techmarine is ideally suited to establishing a forward line and then holding it. He can reinforce the line with turrets that help out your units. He even has several powers that can boost the ranged damage of nearby allies. So far I've tried him out against a Hard AI using the Tyranids.

Starting out, I send out my scouts to capture a nearby power node since most of my Techmarines key abilites need copious amounts of the blue lightning harvested by said nodes. My Techmarine becomes the Rally point for my base and he moves out to start capturing requisition nodes. I usually build a devastator squad first to support him. These are heavy weapon units that use big-ass machine guns to suppress incoming infantry. These guys will move forward and cover wide areas while the tech marine start laying down turrets at key locations. I usually then bring another devastator squad to cover another key point. At this point, I should of grabbed a decent amount of nodes and then try to bring in a Tactical Squad that is more general purpose to accompany my Techmarine around. Then it comes a race to upgrade. Getting to Tier 2 brings up Plasma Devastator Squads which are crucial to taking out heavy infantry. I usually try to get one of these up and keep them centralized so they can quickly support different groups. While my Techmarine and his squad move forward, he will lay down turrets to keep defending different spots. By this point, the line has basically been drawn and now its a matter of holding it.

This has defiantly become one of my favorite aspects of this game. Its not about launching massive assaults on each others bases but instead getting key defensive positions and duking it out. I've already been looking into how other heroes are designed to break these lines or simply go around them. The Tyranids have a hero that can actually burrow behind your lines.

I've come to the realization that DoW2 basically does to Turn-based Tactical Games what Sins of a Solar Empire did to Turn-based 4X games. Where before the turn-based games offered deep but slow paced combat, these newer games offer the same-depth but at a faster pace to keep up with the evolutions in game design.

Here's hoping the campaign is going to be as fun as it sounds.

Dawn of War 2 Beta Impressions

Now that I've officially made a massive return back to my PC for satisfying my gaming needs, I've launched full steam ahead into the amazing offerings that Steam has been providing. This week, the Steam gods offered up access to the Multiplayer Beta to Dawn of War 2 if you bought Soulstorm or pre-ordered DoW2. I finally got setup last night and thought I'd share my thoughts.

I've been a fan of the RTS genre on pc pretty much since I started getting "hardcore" into pc gaming. I always seem to float back to them and it always proves to be the one genre I'm actually decent at competitive wise (compared to friends, etc). The first Dawn of War was pretty neat and I tried it out but have to admit I did not play a lot of it. In fact, its one of those games I regret not going back and getting more into. When I first read about DoW2 and how they were going to add a more character-centric approach to the campaign, I was intrigued. From what I've gathered the game is more about upgrading a core group of characters and using constructed units to support them versus just all out base building / combat. I'm still pretty excited about the single player campaign but the beta was Multiplayer only, so lets get into that.

Dawn Of War 2 strips a ton of stuff out of the standard RTS genre and in turn puts a ridiculous amount of focus on fighting. First off, there is no base building. None. Nada. You start with one building that produces all your units and allows you to move up tech trees. The "base building" actually comes from your units. Almost every single unit has upgrades that can be made and you do those while they are on the move. Secondly, DoW2 only allows you build a relatively small amount of squads. In turn, each squad is given more power and survive longer. The focus then becomes on you micro-managing a smaller army then a normal RTS. To top it off, when you enter a match you select a hero character that becomes the cornerstone of your army. Each of the four factions (Space Marines, Orks, Eldar, and Tyranid) have 3 heroes with each one focusing on a different key strength of that faction. The hero has several powers that can turn the tide of a skirmish along with a plethora of war gear that allows them to be customized.

Since your unit choices are limited and it takes longer to replace lost units, it is obvious that the game is putting a strong emphasis on your army layout. For example, a Force Commander driven space marine army would want to play to his strengths (melee and defense) and would want to bring Assault Marines with some light ranged support. Where the army of a Techmarine would be more about base defense then pure assault. I played a few matches with Raj last night and we already noticed the differences in our commanders and the effect they had. I brought heavy assault troops with my Techmarine who then established a defensive position along with his the turrets that he can create. Raj brought his Force Commander to go one-on-one with a Tyranid Carnifex (a super heavy melee unit) while I kept the swarms of infantry off his back. We held the Victory Point the Tyranids needed with this combination for a few waves.

The game does have it flaws though. Right now a lot of the feedback with the powers is not 100% clear. Certain aura buffs are difficult to reckongize on the field. Units are poorly highlighted especially when you are tabbing through a selected group. This ends up forcing you to click on units to give specific orders which in the end isn't too bad since the game provides a slightly slower pace to allow you actually think. To top it off, some of the wargear icons are hard to differentiate forcing you to always read the helper text.

Overall, I'm pretty excited about this game now. The campaign looks like it will an excellent cross between an RTS and a party-based RPG, which is exactly what I'm looking for (and in some cases already found with Spellforge 2). Sadly (well not so sadly) I'm going home to Indiana this weekend to see my mom before she goes into surgery so I won't have my PC with me. On the positive side, I get to use their nice big tv for all the xbox gaming goodness I could ask for.

Old Art

I found this on my external hd and thought I post it for myself if anything...this is from waaay back in the day:

I use to make a web-comic with 2 of my buddies from college. This was going to be for the re-launch of the comic. I came up with new designs and was getting better at Illustrator (vs using Photoshop). By this point, we ended the comic and I got more into programming.

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