Weekly eXchange #204 – Total Drama!

Join Nate, Troy and Joshua as they bring you all the important information on all of your favorite 4X and strategy games! This week they talk about Endless Space 2, Stellaris, Galactic Dominion, Star Zeal, Children of the Galaxy, WH40K Gladius: Relics of War, Age of Wonders: Planetfall, Driftland: the Magic Revival, Thea 2: the Shattering, Total War: Three Kingdoms, Deity Empires, Total War: Rome 2 and much much more. As well as continued coverage for your other favorite 4X and strategy games!

Music for eXplorminate by Mangadrive

Show Notes:

  1. Endless Space 2 update – 01:07
  2. Stellaris update – 04:06
  3. Galactic Dominion update – 10:44
  4. Star Zeal 4x update – 13:01
  5. Children of the Galaxy Update – 14:59
  6. Wh40K Gladius update – 17:25
  7. Age of Wonders: Planetfall update and a new FAQ – 20:14
  8. Driftland update and the Steam game page – 27:08
  9. Thea 2 update – 30:18
  10. Total War: Three Kingdoms update – 32:04
  11. Star Control: Origins update – 33:50
  12. Battletech update and Linux Beta release notes – 37:46
  13. Surviving Mars update – 41:35
  14. What is Deity Empires 4X? – 45:54
  15. What is Foundation? – 49:21
  16. Total War: Rome 2 drama and review bomb – 51:53
  17. Paradox Interactive GDPR compliance, say what? – 1:14:25

Games played – 1:17:19

  1. Star Control: Origins Steam page
  2. Marvel’s Spider-Man
  3. Hearthstone webpage
  4. World of Tanks Blitz Steam page
  5. Thea 2: The Shattering Steam page
  6. Aggressors: Ancient Rome Steam page
  7. Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
  8. Armello Steam page


40 thoughts on “Weekly eXchange #204 – Total Drama!

      1. Do you guys have a list of past polls?
        New poll, what should the next poll be about?
        I’m sure the community could come up with some better than that :)


      2. Any interesting statistic you can discuss afterward would be good. Maybe something about reviews?

        Something like:

        Do you decide to buy games based on reviews?
        > I care about reviews on major gaming sites
        > I care about reviews on eXplorminate
        > I care about Steam review scores
        > I always preorder so reviews are irrelevant
        > I get all my games for free
        > No

        Could also be something else, like how much people estimate they spend on games each year, what genres other than strategy they like, how old their PCs are on average, what platform they game on most of the time, you name it.


  1. Well the whole Rome 2 + 3 Kingdoms Day 1 DLC drama is interesting.

    1. I don’t think initial outrage was reasonable. Most likely after implementing new patch into already existing games or just by RNGesus people were under assumptions that spawn rates for female characters were out of control. Happens all the time with Total Wars Patches since Shogun 2 at least.

    2. I can believe posted screenshot was fabricated for getting certain reaction out of others.

    3. Announcing DLC almost half a year before game is released is cunning. Well it’s the whole day 1 dlc debate. I would consider it smaller outrage that what was with Rome2/Warhammer day 1 DLC when it comes to faction popularity/importance to game though. Still I’m angry because they decided to drop this “bomb” on us way earlier counting that time will make us forget. On other hand there is still 1 week grace period between game launch and end of preorder which is generous on their part.
    That said I’m more worried as so far Day 1 DLC faction aren’t thought out enough. I often find that their unique mechanics aren’t fully developed which would allow for game altering experience. It was a case for each game I played/observed (Shogun 2, Rome 2, Warhammer). In other words maybe because they are developed earlier and some mechanics change but upon release they just don’t bloody work as they were marketed to work (there is always some point at which you have to revert to basic principles because you can’t progress and win via unique mechanic). What’s worse I didn’t heard about a single time that after release they were revisited and polished…

    4. Whole incident was handled poorly on CA part. I heard that they have problem with employes retention and it would explain this. There was a distinct lack of experience when it comes to PR managment. Not everything which is reasonable is also polite to say to your customers. I would argue that saying any of your customers that he can stop using/purchasing your product is rude. I can understand that this role is stresful but because of that someone with proper qualification should handle it. And it isn’t exactly the new case – we heard about review bombing for more than a year now? Or Even more? So it should be totally preventable from happening.

    5. I’m with Nate on subject of CA having to deal with problem. Yea Valve should do something. Truth of the matter is that they will or won’t do anything about it. In the end of the day it is CA livelihood which is at the line and they are most interested in review bombing stopping. They can stay on the principle and win – all the more power to them. But if that strategy should fail they will have tarnished reputation for a long time, and we already seen on stock market that big companies like EA have paid heavy price for their actions. From just pragmatist standpoint CA should do something, And in my opinion they can help themselves far better than any 3rd party would help them. Even improve their reputation in general opinion.

    6. I’m kinda amazed that more and more western companies decide for such business directions. Nothing wrong with that for me but so far it seems (from cases I know) that such endeavours ended in failures from business standpoint. I believe there is an english proverb among the likes: “You don’t bite the hand that feeds you”. I can understand the logic between such decision – ” let’s signal our proggresive gender equality virtue to attract new customers and improve our brand”. What I don’t understand is going all-out (in some cases even kamikaze) on it without knowledge if the treat is worth the walk and how to walk. Hell – from what I gathered so far it isn’t. Going just by example with some others hobbys dominated by masculine audience. From cases I heard and studied it doesn’t seem that there is target group big enough to just ditch majority of your old customer base and still profit more.

    7. I’m not biased and I hope that there is other way to market those products to wider audience if other genders feel it is interesting but is lacking in something specific. I just can’t bloody come to terms with approach of attacking majority of customerbase and calling them all the names for sake of groups which are openly admiting to not be interested in purchasing said products EVER. It doesn’t add up logic wise. I would rather see more polite process of trying to attract other audiences to strategy genre as a whole because it seems to be mostly non explored area for everyone. Without alienating anyone in the process and bankrupting companies.

    8. I’m not happy with how women are implemented in Rome 2 when it comes to DLC units. Usually I have to go out of my way to unlock their recruitment and they are mediocre which results in feeling that they really are afterthought rather than essential part of game. I would rather have some % of each unit for certain factions be compromised of women models rather than having all women units. Then you could have faction with higher or lower % and it would cater to all and still make a business out of it. That said there could be few all-women units.

    I opt for that partly because it is more authentic (for me) but also I predict another genius feminist will claim that CA is creating Women slaughter simulators in few years. Why? Because she will make army of all low tier feminine units go toe to toe with high tier masculine units and the results will be bloody. Sounds outreagous for 4X/Strategy veterans? But it doesn’t for average human. There was a feminist gamer few years ago who made a career from showing that the main objective of Hitman series is torturing women.

    9. Joshua came out really strongly about this topic. Which make me wonder because I assume that this difference comes from cultural upbringing and educational system. It’s interesting how there is such a big gap between two people from western civilizations. Wanted to ask about Joshua’s stance regarding his defence of that CA Mod/PR Manager who came under heavy fire – would you defend that person if it was a man?
    I’m certainly would still blame him/her regardless of gender for lack of profesionalism.
    And I’m trying to wrap my mind around this issue that in some countries it is ok to fire someone of specific gender for thing that person of other gender wouldn’t be. It boggles my mind as even upon further inspection I couldn’t hear any explanation and it starts to seems as some non visible cultural trait related to value hierarchy.

    Best Regards!


    1. Hi Sanvone, thanks for your thoughtful response.

      You and I obviously disagree on a few points, but I won’t rehash my argument here. I would defend the PR Manager’s actions regardless of gender, race, religious background, etc. I believe that the person was perfectly professional and just in their actions. If more people stood firmly against bigotry, regardless of context, I think this would be a far better world.

      As for cultural upbringing, I think it’s far too simplistic to take all education/background/culture and put it under an umbrella as wide as “Western.” Even filing that down to something like “New England” or Massachusetts” or “Northwestern Suburbs of Boston” is an overgeneralization that leads to dangerous assumptions. Even the person living across the street from me may have a very different set of beliefs than I do.

      That actually speaks to the heart of what I’m advocating for: less generalization of people as groups and more acceptance/celebration of people as unique individuals who each bring different perspectives/value.

      – Joshua

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Doesn’t have anything, and I mean ANYTHING with ‘bigotry’. It has to do with anyone, anywhere, with any company who says ‘If you don’t like our product, don’t buy it, in fact, we don’t want people like you to buy it’ should be FIRED FOR INCOMPETENCE ON THE SPOT.


      2. Thanks for response.

        I respect you Sir for the assertive way you expressed yourself.

        Full agreement on generalizing people. Actually from what I heard from some outraged community members is that they were called bad names when they didn’t do anything wrong. Can’t say if it is true, yet I can believe it could be the case as person responsible for such remarks could have a slip of tongue.

        Best Regards

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I have silently listened to explorminate for more than a year now. But Joshua went off the walls on this one and I wanted to leave my thoughts.

        I want to start by saying that how they implemented the female generals sounds awesome, although I haven’t actually booted up the game so I don’t know if the variation is too huge.
        However it can definitely be seen as a political message, and IS indeed probably pandering to some aspect of popular political / ethical stances. (Despite the fact that I agree with this particular stance, it is important to realise that it IS INDEED a political /ethical stance)
        In my opinion, the fact it is culturally adjusted is a touch to add the historical authenticity that the community manager mentioned. However people can easily feel it is not enough.

        However I think Joshua was being a huge hypocrite here, you say you want people to generalise people as groups less, but you are are generalising all the commentators who disagree with the PR staff as a group who “does not belong in society” and should “fuck off”. Obviously that was hyperbolic, but how does that differ from the commentators.

        The main difference seems to be that you strongly disagree with them. But the fact you judge them so confidently and so harshly as a group suggest that you actually have not considered the situation and their individual opinions properly at all since you grouped them all into extreme misogynist.

        While I don’t mind the female generals, I actually agree with Nate, triggered is the right language here, because it implies fault on both sides. The community manager IS DEFINITELY at fault, and shows she may have not really tried to listen to the community at all. Which is at least outwardly her job. I didn’t have a bone to pick at all, and I think she failed in her job. So angry people saying she should be fired is actually on the right track, although harsh as its from one interaction.

        The “don’t play” line is actually really offensive. Think about what she is: trying to appear like saying; what she said (with full implications); and what she conveyed of her thoughts (to the people who disagree with her).

        1/ What she is trying to appear like saying:
        If you do not enjoy the premise of this totally optional activity, you can opt out.
        (This would be somewhat appropriate if there was a option to opt out of the feature in the game)

        2/ What she actually said with full implications:
        This thing you perceive to be a political message is working as intended and fits with my understanding of the world and thus it doesn’t break my immersion (if i even play).
        In order to play the game without what you perceive to be a political message and which you think breaks immersion, you must mod the game.
        If you cannot mod the game, we will not allow you to play this game without the political message.
        Your only other option is to stop playing this game whose premise you did and still do overall enjoy.
        And no we are not offering refunds if you stop playing.

        3/ What she is conveying of her thoughts:
        I disagree with your opinion that this is a political message / issue at all. I’m right, you’re wrong. I don’t want to tell you why. I don’t want to talk to you, but its my job and I want you to shut up.

        (The reason she conveys this is because the line: “if you don’t like it don’t play”, can be applied to all feedback. But if one really mean it, then why have a negative comments section at all. Due to point 2, its use should only be limited when someone disagrees with the entire premise of a product that they do not have other incentives to use (eg, already paid money, monopolies, forced by law)).

        I find analogies often help.
        You buy an apartment in a nice complex which requires the use of stairs or an elevator.
        Some time later, the elevator is changed to play some message that you don’t agree with, (eg. proselytising religious messages or marriage equality or polygamy or nuclear enegery) (in this case, female generals).
        You cannot use the stairs as you are disabled (not computer savvy enough to mod).
        You write a message to building management. You or some other people are already angry.
        Management tells you that they are just informing you of the truth in those messages, but that if you don’t like it you can use the stairs or live elsewhere and abandon your apartment which you are not allowed to sell.


    2. Thank you for the measured response. I really really appreciate it. I want us to have conversations about hot-button topics like this without anyone losing their cool. These conversations are very important.

      During the recording of that segment of the podcast, I had 3 main concerns:

      1) That our message wouldn’t be lost or misinterpreted
      2) That all sides involved would do so with cool heads and open ears/hearts
      3) That Joshua wouldn’t crawl out of my laptop and kill me… (J/K sorta), but seriously, that people wouldn’t take what he said and feel offended because he felt strongly about the subject matter (I do that all too often by the way – feel strongly about something and want to shake the cage and curse)

      So, having put a lot of thought into it, here’s how I would handle it moving forward if I was a CA PR person.

      I would do a better job explaining the probability of female generals being generated for each culture/faction. Several cultures/factions actually had known female leaders, notorious female generals and warriors that stood out.

      I would also add an option, like a FLC (Free DLC) that increased the frequency of spawning female generals (since they already did that 6+ months ago on the down-low). Now, as it stands, there is a paid DLC called Blood & Gore (https://store.steampowered.com/app/259800/Total_War_ROME_II__Blood__Gore/) that makes all kills bloody as hell, for those that want it. Now if they did something like that with the increased spawn rates for female generals (for those that want it), it might help mitigate the hostility.

      Right now, they have a paid DLC called Daughters of Mars that does this –


      My other point had little to do with this specific flare-up, and more to do with how PR people (Female/Male/Every other designation) being nasty to the community (deserved or not).

      I want to make this clear, and I speak for myself here, and not eXplorminate or any other staffer here, but if someone told me what to do with a product I own (that I paid for) because I don’t like something they said or did, which I did not appreciate? I would probably stop supporting them, their studio, their publisher, and any future product they made.

      I will give you an example – I am a HUGE fan of the XCOM franchise, and Firaxis in general, but if they starting treating me like garbage? Especially if I didn’t do anything to deserve said treatment, I wouldn’t buy their products again. Now, notice how Civilization Beyond Earth went. Was it a perfect game? No. Do I feel like I didn’t get what I expected? Yea. But that’s just a matter of taste. All the interactions I’ve had with Firaxis, be they personal or professional, have always been on the up and up. Even when we’ve had disagreements and misunderstandings, there was always a way back. At no point has anyone from the Dev/PR/Publisher team told me to deal with it and if I don’t like it, to not play the game.

      A better example – I have been a fan of Stardock and their products for almost 25 years. Shortly after the release of Elemental: War of Magic, I was posting on their official forums and said some things that were borderline trollish. Not offensive or insulting, but trollish just the same. I got banned for a week or two by Brad to chill out. He didn’t say anything mean to me. He wasn’t nasty to me. Island Dog contacted me and explained to me why I was banned. I could have turned around and made a scene and started drama, but I didn’t. At no point did either of them or anyone at Stardock tell me to quit playing their game if I didn’t like it. But, again, this is my personal experience.

      Now, as far as how powerful the male vs female units are? That’s something that I can’t really address because I don’t play TW: Rome 2, so I have no idea. Also, as to how someone else will use this disparity to create their own narrative? Yea, I have no clue, but I know I wouldn’t. TO use XCOM again, there is very little difference that I have noticed between male and female characters in their stats and upgrade paths. So, I just don’t know.

      I hope that explains stuff a bit.


      1. TBH I had second thoughts and doubts moments before clicking post button. It’s such a risky topic which can quickly devolve into something nasty. Still I choose to avoid being overly nice and just tackle the subject. I think that one has to be willing to take risk of offending people if we are to truly exchange opinions So we put up with uncomfortability of process. Because through that we can achieve something valuable and new. That’s freedom of speech for me.

        Additionally I feel kinda detached from this drama. I was weighting for long time if it is even worth for me to start such a topic in comments section because I’m not exactly outraged by this.

        Even though I complained about Rome 2/Three Kingdoms overall I would say overall I’m happy with both products so far. Even though I’m not hyped about day 1 DLC I most likely will preorder and play the crap out of a game. Because there is just so few Asia based strategy games and I want to play them a lot ( almost 1000h in Shogun 2 and 500h in Oriental Empires so far :) ). That’s why I’m most interested in Win-Win scenario for both company and it’s community so they can keep making as good games as possible without bankrupting themselves.

        So I can have my TW-fix every few years in which I will indulge for entertainment and relaxation. To take a brief respite from all the real-life problems and politics in particular. That’s why I’m unhappy when unexpectedly such things start invading all of my hobbys at the same time.

        On the topic of moderation I’m on the same page as you. That’s what they are for. That’s why I don’t it is wise to be as profesional as possible. Because everyone gains from such stance.

        Whem it comes to my pessimist theory – I know you wouldn’t. So I wouldn’t do it too. But there are some people who will create such scenario as a proof for their claim. I tend to believe there are people who will stop at nothing to achieve success/popularity. But it’s because they care about their objectives. But so I do care about my interest in this case. Which is to not see CA hit with the Karma which could lead it into ruin. Because of that I think companies should exhibit business wisdom when it comes to such things.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. So much for a family friendly episode! Joshua – love the passion but try not to interrupt so much.

    I have to wonder what the definition of trigger is… I always thought a trigger was someone who suffered a trauma and then was reminded of it causing a strong perhaps out of context emotional response. But it seems that trigger is being used to mean merely some emotional response to something they don’t like. The former is a not consciously under anyones control while the later is. Being angry, upset, disturbed is OK but acting in a disparaging way is not appropriate by adults. That these may be kids makes it more understandable but no less acceptable. There is a great story about teen male elephants without adult supervision that exemplifies the behavior with TW Rome 2. Valve needs a way to introduce “adult” moderators to teach good behavior.

    Just one more thought, from my biology background, while we often want everyone to agree and act the same, the real strength of populations (and probably societies) comes from the diversity within them. And while there are many ideas that are repulsive or seem counter productive, there may be times or places where they work or they may be linked to other behaviors that are valuable. This isn’t to excuse bad behavior, but just to say that people can be complex, bad in some ways, good in others, and that it isn’t a great idea to demonize or make an enemy of any group of people. Just set clear guidelines for what is acceptable and hold people to them.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I thought Joshua was very overwrought and resorting to the kind of extreme rhetoric the review bombers might use – demanding they be banned from Steam and excluded from society – really!
    I think the coordinated review bombing of games by right wing racists and homophobes and misogynists is part of the culture wars currently raging in the US and the West generally between conservatives and progressives; and there are extremist loonies on both sides.
    I find the racism and misogyny displayed in the R2 forums and reviews obnoxious but I dont want to apply a final solution to the issue.
    IMO the CA person Ella definitely mishandled the situation. Telling their customers to either like it or lump it is pretty clumsy at best. Downright insulting according to thousands; even many who jumped in with a positive review to defended CA and Rome 2.
    Also dont blame Valve. What are they to do? Shut down the review system? Just to silence a raucous minority? We all lose freedom of speech because we don’t like what some idiots have to say!
    Both sides in this culture war are loudly defending freedom speech by demanding the other side be censored and shut down. Hypocrisy.
    There have been a number of firestorms in the gaming world recently due to woefully incompetent PR representatives shooting their mouths off and alienating customers. I think that is something developers and publishers need to address and take responsibility for.
    Back to the culture wars….it is just the way it is at this time in Western history and society. I think the growth of the internet has played a key role in unleashing and enabling these conflicts; but they originate and exist in the population; in beliefs and ethos of communities and in the minds of individuals; who have radically different perspectives on the world. We cannot ban sections of the population because we dont like the kind of world they want. Somehow we all have to live together and get along.
    The fires are still burning on the R2 Steam forums but gradually they will run out of fuel (if CA and others dont throw any more gas on the fire). Let them rage.


    1. You bet I’m gonna blame Valve. All the other professional tech companies that allow ratings for productions and/or businesses have some way to deal with review bombing. Steam needs to catch up with Amazon, Yelp, Trip Advisor, Google, etc. Steam tried last year to do something, but it’s clear that just making it so only people who bought the game can have their reviews count wasn’t enough of a step. Valve can address this, or it can lose the interest and good will of its publishers and purchasers.


  4. Can you imagine the outrage that would have erupted if some PR flak from Paradox had said, “Like it or leave it” when they released their 2.0 update for Stellaris?


    1. Or if Johan said that if you didn’t like EU4 or, recently, I:R then don’t buy it?
      Oh, that’s right, they all happened, but no one cared because you couldn’t oppress anyone by shouting.


  5. I applaud the Explorminate discussion on the Total War Rome 2 issue to show that this in unacceptable behavior by a small fraction of the gaming community. The clear attempt at blackmailing Creative Assembly through review bombing is despicable.

    My opinion is that there is nothing wrong with the stance that Creative Assembly took on the issue. https://twitter.com/totalwar/status/1044548704777252864/photo/1 No need for an excuse, they went high where the other side went low. Which can be clearly seen by the outrageous response to the CA community managers comments.

    As on the free DLC idea Nate came up with to appease the review bombers. NO! You don’t give people that do wrong what they want, because doing so you would give them legitimacy for their awful behavior.
    What you do make clear is that they are wrong. Even if that means your company takes a temporary hit. You do not appease a focal minority if their reasoning is vile and misogynistic. In this instance that is VERY clear.

    The gaming community has to be better than this!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. “Doesn’t have anything, and I mean ANYTHING with ‘bigotry’. It has to do with anyone, anywhere, with any company who says ‘If you don’t like our product, don’t buy it, in fact, we don’t want people like you to buy it’ should be FIRED FOR INCOMPETENCE ON THE SPOT.”

    Didn’t EA tell a bunch of women haters to get fucked regarding the BF5 controversy?

    Seems to have worked well for them.


    1. BLOODYBATTLEBRAIN, I view the BF5 situation a little differently. While I don’t necessarily agree, I believe someone could make the argument that was EA did with BF5 might ruin the verisimilitude of the game for some players. In that case, adding Nate’s “switch” to turn off certain character models would make some sense. However, what CA did with TW:R2 was to more accurately reflect history by adding female military leaders for factions that actually had them in ancient times. I don’t understand the argument against that. Why would it be desirable for a historical strategy game to be less historically correct?


  7. “I will give you an example – I am a HUGE fan of the XCOM franchise, and Firaxis in general, but if they starting treating me like garbage? Especially if I didn’t do anything to deserve said treatment, I wouldn’t buy their products again. ”

    While I get where you’re coming from, what if:

    YOU were taking the company to task because of a fabricated screenshot, a manufactured outrage, and they said to you: These are our values – if you don’t like the base game, you can mod it, or just not play?

    I hardly think that counts as treating you like garbage.

    Anyway, my perspective on this is that it is a bit odd for the fanbase to be so demanding.

    On the other hand, everyone knows the internet is a febrile mess of bullshit, astroturfing, fake news, manufactured outrage, trolling and sockpuppets, certainly when it comes to discussing things online (which reminds me, how do we know Nasarog isn’t a Russian SPY?:S :S :S :S )

    so you’d think companies larger than 3 people might have dedicated employees whose job it is to, if noty appease, then to at least not anger stuff. Maybe the CA employee should have had a supervisor check out her response.

    While I think her response is pretty tame, I recognise the potential for rabid, delusional, entitled people to take offence.

    I think as a culture, online and off, we are far too thin skinned and weak, and this reflects itself online, with so much angry lashing out from behind a screen.


    My perspective changes by the day because I haven’t played a game in weeks…and have no desire to do so. When you take a break, the drama starts to seem…well, silly really.


    1. Right, right, but here’s the thing. I’m not mad at her (Dev/PR person at CA). I understand her response, and I think the outrage is… Outrageous. So, the reason I used XCOM is because there are times where I get female squads and mostly female recruits. There are tools right there, provided by Firaxis, that I can use to re-sex the trooper, if I so chose.

      But if I complained to them about the hit chances, and then they made a change that was crazy (in secret six months prior), in my opinion that is, and I complained further and got a response like that? Yea, I might stop playing the game and consider taking my business elsewhere, but I certainly wouldn’t harass and/or insult the dev/PR person that said that. That’s just how I see it.

      In the current gaming environment, games are becoming less a game and more a service. So, the game we have now, isn’t always the game we started with. It’s nice to have mods to fix things we don’t like or be able to revert to an earlier version. But the outrage, I get/understand some of it, but not the vitriol and I certainly don’t condone it. You will get further in life by talking/discussing things like adults that lashing out. If you want to resort to violence (virtual or otherwise), you need to examine why you game. Better yet, don’t support that product anymore, but don’t attack people. There are enough problems as it is.

      Does that make more sense?

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Yes that makes more sense.

    I’m not a huge fan of CA (used to be) and they lost my loyalty through the Rome2 debacle, the endless (and imho “bad”) dlc…all of which I could have tolerated….no they really lost me when I realised the battles were still more or less the same and they had spent millions of dollars and many years making things flashier but not addressing the battlefield issues, which is why we have the same technically limted battlefield we had for Rome 1.

    I´m referring to how few soldiers there are in an army, 20 unit stack limit etc.

    Basically, there´s something wrong when your more recent games are arguably a step backwards…and that 3 Kingdoms looks so….overwrought and …silly :(

    So, not a fan of CA, but I don´t think they deserve this review bombing BS right now.

    And it makes any potentially valid point there may have been about games being changed without user consent or notification get lost under the blah blah blah of outrage.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Imagine that, another podcast which has become totally converged. Calling your listeners/readers and supporters “misogynistic”, “homophobic”, “Nazis” who should “fuck off” and “not listen to the webcast” for not having the same point of view is ridiculous and the worst form of logical argumentation.

    Why cant someone criticize a shitty game because its ahistorical? Its ahististorical because there is little to no historical evidence of a commander/general, in the field, being led by a woman. Those are facts. The commander in chief of many nations have been led by women, no doubt, but not commanders in the field. You called out those people who critiqued the game as “fucking misogynists” and Troy says that he feels “disgust at our species.”

    I have been listening since episode one when Rob and Nate first started the show. I wont be listening any longer because of the ignorance and despicable name calling contained herein. I know you are probably happy to see another misogynist and woman hater leaving.

    Nate, you tried to reel them in – you couldn’t and it didn’t help. In the process you lost a long-time listener.


    1. Hey Phil, I’m sorry it hit this point and I was/am worried about this exact thing happening.

      On the one hand, we don’t want to alienate listeners (old/new) and group members but it happens for time to time. The strong language was not intentional, but when people get emotional, it happens. That’s actually why I don’t record stuff for YouTube (I’m bad when I game). But Troy and Joshua’s message/meaning/ideas are no more/less valid than yours, mine or anyone elses. Though they have a point. In our politicized environment (real life stuff) everything is becoming us vs. them and it’s a shame. I’m always trying to look at both/all sides and it this case, someone’s poorly worded (CA dev/pr) response has set off the community.

      So, if we look at the situation, could the original complaint been a photoshop troll attempt? Yes. Could it actually have also been legit? Yes. Are there historical instances of female leaders leading armies as generals? Absolutely. Did every nation have them? No, most didn’t. Did CA backdoor something back in March? Maybe. Does the community need to overreact? Probably not.
      Did Troy, Joshua or I go overboard? Maybe. Am I apologizing or backtracking? No. For better or worse, I stand by what was said.

      What makes explorminate great is that we are a collective of gamers that come together to discuss our hobby and talk, commiserate and sometimes argue with one another. It happens. Our differing opinions and perspectives is what makes our content unique.

      I hope we can win you back and thanks for reading this long wall of text.



      P. S. – Phil or anyone else, if you want to talk to me further but not air out things in the comments, drop me an email at the main explorminate account.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Yeah….I’m going to try not to go into TOO long a spill on all this, because for one thing, to be perfectly honest, I don’t really care all that much about it. I don’t even play Total War: Rome 2, or any of the other Total War games, and never have. I will play Devil’s Advocate, though, and say that I do think it’s perfectly “rational” to criticize a game for not being historically accurate if the game uses historical accuracy as a selling point and has a long standing reputation for it. If you advertise a game as being historically accurate and I buy and play and enjoy it largely for that reason, because it’s historically accurate, maybe you’re the one not being rational when you accuse ME of being irrational because I don’t like it when fantastical elements are introduced into the game. And in fact, at least as best I can remember from those ancient history courses I took many years ago, women were not allowed to serve in the Roman army. It’s not misogyny to point out a fact, and it would in fact be historically inaccurate if the game introduced women generals in the Roman army. Maybe in some of the Germanic tribes, etc., and sure, maybe you can just mod it all out anyway, whatever, but…. Anyway, you get the point. Having said all that, though, there is of course polite ways to voice one’s criticisms, and I definitely don’t condone all the name calling and general bad behavior and overreaction. But… when people DO voice their criticisms in a polite way, using fact-based arguments to back up their criticism, don’t have an angry knee-jerk reaction that leads you to accusing them of being irrational or misogynists or whatever just because they don’t fully embrace your liberal agenda. (I’m a Trump hating liberal myself, but I’m gonna call it as I see it.)


      1. Frank, you wrote this:

        “And in fact, at least as best I can remember from those ancient history courses I took many years ago, women were not allowed to serve in the Roman army. It’s not misogyny to point out a fact, and it would in fact be historically inaccurate if the game introduced women generals in the Roman army.”

        What you said there leads me to believe you are under the impression that players can get female generals in the Roman armies in TW:R2.

        Here is CA’s announcement about the odds of getting a female commander:

        “Female characters appear throughout the game, but have between a 10 to 15 per cent chance of appearing as recruitable generals for some of the playable factions. The exceptions are the Greek States, Rome, Carthage and some Eastern factions, which have a 0 per cent chance, and Kush which has a 50 per cent chance. This is to broadly represent the cultural differences in those factions during the time the game is set.”

        Here’s the link: https://steamcommunity.com/app/214950/discussions/0/1735465524721186900/

        As you can see, Rome cannot have female generals. I feel there is a lot of misunderstanding about female commanders in TW:R2. It is my impression is that this misunderstanding is caused by a lot of gamers not investigating the details of the situation for themselves and getting caught up in a mob mentality that leads to angry posts on forums and websites and review bombs on Steam.

        When I said I was embarrassed for my species in the podcast, this is exactly what I was talking about. I’m embarrassed that 1) this became such a huge issue in the first place when the changes happened 6 months ago to a game that launched 5 years ago and 2) the outrage seems to be against a company that did its research and altered a game to better reflect history.

        Now, if someone can show that CA got their research wrong or that the percentages are somehow incorrect, I think that would be a very reasonable criticism of the game. But when I read people asserting that CA is pushing a political agenda by allowing female Roman generals, my mind boggles. It appears to me to simply be a nonsensical and untrue statement perpetuated by either people who have not done their research or are intentionally spreading misinformation to fan the flames of outrage.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Nate – thanks for the reply. I, myself, assuredly over-reacted after listening to the show. In my defense, I just get so sick of being labelled a troll sub-human for having certain immutable characteristics – e.g.being a male.

    The modern day Internet argument is all about identity not about the content of the criticism. “You dont like ahistorical events in the game – dont buy it then.” I wonder if that flippant attitude when applied elsewhere would piss people off. “You dont like mustard on your hamburger – dont buy it then.”

    How long would that person work in any other real-life job with that attitude? But because its about identity and not about what was said or critiqued we can label the critics “misogynistic Nazis who dont deserve to live in society.” All this stuff about identity politics is like two pigs arguing in the mud. Eventually you realize the pigs like it.

    Going forward – I am sure I will listen to the show – a small joy in life is putting on the the podcast while cutting my grass, on the train going to work, or driving somewhere – the kids arent screaming and i can focus on strategy gaming, which is cool. So thanks again for the reply, and I will be listening.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Troy, as I said in my comment, I never played the game. In case I wasn’t clear about it (it was after midnight and I was tired), my only real point was that it would have in fact been historically inaccurate of the game to introduce women generals in the Roman army IF the game did indeed do that. Which is why I mentioned in passing that it might NOT be inaccurate to have some women military leaders among the Germanic/Goth tribes, etc. (however uncommon). So sorry if you misunderstood me – which, again, was probably my own fault. Having said that, though, I suspect that even if women generals in the Roman army HAD been introduced into the game, there would still have been some vitriol directed at anyone opposed to it. Ranting diatribes are, unfortunately, also common with people with good intentions.

      Anyway, as you already mentioned, the whole thing is kind of ridiculous considering that the changes happened months ago and people are just now getting around to being outraged about it. Which probably goes to show that most of the people outraged about it aren’t even playing the game, if they ever did, and are probably just jumping on to the latest outrage bandwagon. In other words, most of them probably aren’t REALLY all that outraged. ;)


  11. Once upon a time there was a popular thing called “backward compatibility”. One of the principals of the backward compatibility was that new features where set off upon upgrade, and users needed to turn them on if they wanted them. It’s a good idea anyway to make potentially controversial options (easily) on/off switchblade, even if you personally believe in the ideas behind them.


  12. I find review bombing to be low-brow, distasteful, and a microcosm of the “I’m right, you’re wrong, and I can do and say anything because my position is just and the ends overcome the means” mentality that is infecting this country right now.

    Reviews exist to inform potential customers about the quality of a product. To use it in any other way does a disservice to consumers that are trying to make an informed decision about a purchase.

    But Joshua, your language, attitude, and combativeness further contribute to the internet cesspool in a very negative way. While I generally agree with the spirit of your argument you undermined it by being crass. I hope the next time you take exception to something you can express it in a more cogent and mature way.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Outrage culture is at the very least a blight on civilization and civilized discourse. Josh’s outrage at other people’s outrage, for example, caused him to continually and rudely interrupt Nate and say some pretty extreme things about the group of people he was outraged about, not one of whom he even knew personally. I’m not saying we don’t all lose it once in a while, and one tirade by itself isn’t going to make me think any less of Josh, but it makes me wonder when and why it seems going full nuclear at the slightest offense has become grounds for agreement instead of ridicule. That would be a longer conversation, I suppose.

    My sole contribution to this is to say that the CA employee is lucky she hasn’t been sacked. My job role requires frequent interaction with upset customers and if I ever told one — no matter how rude, factually incorrect, or misanthropic they were acting — that they could “just not use it if they didn’t like it”, I am 97.8% sure I would lose my job. And it wasn’t like she was in a verbal conversation and said something in the heat of the moment — she had time to compose and review a written reply, and she sent it anyway.


    1. Hey Amber, who was the question directed to? If it’s to me, my answer is… I don’t get it either. I understand the outrage that the dev/pr person felt that elicited her response. I understand the reaction from the community due to her response. I don’t like either. Drama for the sake of drama is bad, but at the same time, Joshua let loose and that started different drama, so I/we aren’t innocent of that either. I address that aspect of the podcast in this week’s WeX.

      Does that answer your question?


  14. Who really believes Steam reviews anymore because of various levels of abuse over the last few years.

    I don’t have a dog in this fight but I do know several games that have been bombed for reasons less compelling than this one.


  15. Finally listened to it. First of all, thank you, Joshua. I love you now.
    I could he say he should tone it down, but what’s the point? We’re not arguing against rational people, otherwise we wouldn’t be talking about a historical change in a not-so-historical game.
    Of course it’s a political stance, but it would also be a political action to not say anything and normalize this crap. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” and all that. It would be the same political stance of acceptance to have CA do a mod for the special snowflakes. Because, really, are they going to stop playing TW and go to the non-existing competition then? Boycotts don’t even work for good causes, they sure as hell ain’t gonna work for this nonsense.
    And attacking the lonely proletariat just doing her job is a very brave thing for these courageous defenders of virtue to do, while, as usual, missing the point that it’s not the rights of minorities that are worsening their lives at all but an economic system that is made to keep them down fighting windmills.
    Valve has an obligation to demand more of user reviews and filter/remove/… a lot of them, but don’t expect any miracles. AI isn’t magical and hasn’t stopped shitty reviews and astroturfing anywhere else either.

    Liked by 2 people


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