The All Ports Open Network

Playing Precipice

By Athina Skevi

(This review was written before the latest update to the game and may not reflect the most recent changes - Ed.)

Greetings comrade! Have you come to aid glorious USSR? We could use more allies, those capitalist pigs, err eagles, are turning the globe more blue at every turn and we will not stand for it! But don’t worry I will be your guide, and with my help we will soon show the world our superiority and win this cold war!  

At the beginning of each game of Precipice by Little Red Dog Games, each side has its own advantage on the classic map: America has more allies and the USSR has better rockets for space travel. The tutorial immediately shows you how to start funding insurgents in preparation to attempt coup d'etats while skimming over less aggressive tactics like diplomacy. I recommend focusing on enhancing your space program on the first couple of rounds, so that you can launch a satellite, which will give you some added perks. Next, what I like to focus on (and what the tutorial doesn’t really talk about) is trade agreements. Figuring out which trade agreements are most beneficial might be less flashy, however it is very important in the long game. Understanding how trade agreements work and how resources act in this game will save you a lot of confusion later on when countries switch loyalties for seemingly no reason. This is a broader gripe I had with the game as I had no idea that they shifted loyalties until I won a perk after ten or so games that allows the USSR to complete a trade agreement in 7 turns instead of 8.

I’m usually the kind of gamer that hates reading entire rulebooks and going through lengthy tutorials, prefering to learn as I play. This game is not made for that. The tutorial is not enough to really help people comprehend many of its components. It is also visually difficult to understand much of what is going on around the screen. Right after you go through the tutorial I highly recommend you read through the rules. They give a lot more insight, but even they neglect some important information. This game has a steep learning curve. There are a lot of different strategies to consider, as well as the disposition of your opponent. How much are they willing to fight for this or that country? Do they play more aggressively or defensively? Are they a wildcard? 

Another thing to pay attention to that wasn’t very clear until I played a few games is that having the most countries on your side does not translate to victory points. You have to try and gain the loyalty of countries in specific regions. That being said, I wish that the game rewarded the player for overturning their opponents influence over their historically central spheres of influence i.e NATO and Warsaw Pact. Especially since those regions start out overwhelmingly loyal to your opponent.

The theme is interesting and will definitely attract history and war strategy buffs. I liked the simple game mechanics and the crisp art design. The straightforward map design certainly reminded me of a board game. I thought the depiction of the world leaders as animals that were indigenous to each country a clever idea. I found the music to not be tiring even though I was sometimes listening to it for hours on end.

The creators seem to be extremely passionate about this project. They have done an amazing job in the weeks since its launch, listening to feedback and releasing patches that have addressed a lot of issues. A couple notable ones being that the discernable activities of both parties are now prominently shown on the screen and also that the AI is less aggressive and less keen to escalate to a nuclear armageddon at your every move. Right now it’s definitely enjoyable to play, though it does take a bit of time to get the hang of it.

The multiplayer is also live but with the issues it’s been having it can be tough to recommend. For some it seems to work fine. The few times I was able to connect, the server either disconnected right after a couple rounds, or after 25-30 rounds. Those were games going on for 45-50 minutes, that were only then about half way done…down.the.drain. Safe to say the server wasn’t the only thing having a meltdown by then. It was a different experience playing with a real person. The game took longer and we could send snide remarks to each other, so hopefully these issues will get resolved soon. Until then playing with the AI is a lot of fun as it’s unpredictable and there are a few different settings and maps you can mess around with. An average game can take up to an hour to play, or more, depending on how aggressively you play or how long you think out your decisions.

In conclusion, keeping in mind the steep learning curve hardened by the unsubstantial tutorial, and the so far unplayable multiplayer, I do recommend this game. If you are attracted to the simple and brisk art aesthetic and if you love strategy games that require a lot of thinking and time, if you are interested in the history of the cold war and want to recreate the existential fear of an ever looming nuclear holocaust, then you should definitely pick this one up.

Stories    >   Playing Precipice
    5/21/2019 11:35 AM
    Posted by: Athina

    Discuss Playing Precipice here!


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