We are die-hard 4X and strategy game fans interested in all things 4X and strategy. We’ll be featuring Podcasts, Let’s Plays, Reviews, Previews, Q&A’s and news of our favorite genres, 4X and Strategy!
Rob “The 4Xplorer” Honaker
Rob is the initial founder, having decided that he really wanted to bring the 4X community together. He is responsible for the website, so if you love it or hate it, blame him! He was responsible for article writing, Let’s Plays, Twitch streaming and the Twitter and Facebook accounts, too. He’s on every 4X forum he can find and has been passionately playing the genre since the original Civilization. He’s also an avid beta tester and loves participating in any 4X beta he can get his hands on! When he’s not playing 4X, he’s usually making his way through a classic RPG or the occasional adventure game!
Nate “Nasarog” Lobos
Nate co-founded eXplorminate and has many responsibilities at the site that he shares with Rob. Some of his responsibilities include: recruiting, brainstorming podcast ideas, Steam group managing, review writing/editing, website maintenance, podcast curation, PR man and all around general organizer. Nasarog is involved in all the administrative stuff. He’s been playing 4X games since he first discovered Civilization 1. He has been an avid fan ever since. His favorites include: the Civilization franchise, Star Control series, Master of Orion series, Ascendancy, Sword of the Stars 1, Galactic Civilizations 2, Endless Space, Endless Legend and Age of Wonders 3. He tends to focus on one or two games at a time and has accrued hundreds of hours on many of the best in the genre. He is currently eXplorminate’s native Mac gamer.
Current & Active eXplorminate Staffers
Micah “Marlowe” Dutro
Micah is an eXplorminate word-smith, regular podcast contributor, and a budding YouTube Let’s Player. Micah began his 4X journey in the mid-1990s with Master of Orion 2. He enjoys good tactical combat and an immersive world in a 4X game. Micah is our resident retro gamer and is our main Let’s Player for our Classics eXcavation series of videos, where we dive in to games from the first golden era of 4X gaming. When he is not playing 4X games, you can catch Marlowe enjoying his guilty pleasures: adventure games, action-RPGs, and Space Simulators.
Ben “Warmacblu” Sollins
Ben is currently a co-streamer on Twitch. He was exposed to the strategy genre early on with titles such as StarCraft and Warlords Battlecry. As he grew, so did his interest in strategy and role-playing games, which explains why his all-time favorite game series is Age of Wonders. Besides being an avid strategy gamer, Ben enjoys all kinds of RPGs from Star Wars: KoToR to Divinity: Original Sin. Recently, he has taken interest in the multitude of indie and less widely-known games which usually contain some sort of strategy or RPG element. As a contributor to eXplorminate, Ben was one of the first co-hosts of the Weekly eXchange podcast series and also created content for YouTube.
Dallin “Kearon” Holden
Dallin is eXplorminate’s YouTube producer, Twitch channel producer and Civilization franchise lover. He has always been drawn to strategy games of various types beginning with the original Warcraft and Starcraft. While he continues to enjoy RTS games to this day, his initiation into 4X genre began with Civilization III. Though the Civilization games were the extent of his 4X exposure until a few years ago, he hasn’t stopped playing the series. Kearon now bounces between many different 4X games, he is a sucker open world games and virtually anything by Blizzard. He’s also been able to sink a lot of hours in to both Age of Wonders 3 and Galactic Civilizations 3 and we consider him the resident expert of sorts on both titles.
Oliver “Mezmorki” Kiley
Oliver is a perpetual dabbler of all-things gaming. This includes: game playing, game theory-crafting, game designing, game blogging, game criticizing, and of course game gaming. His interests span from strategy to FPS games, from tabletop miniature and boardgames to PC and mobile games. Oliver was first bitten by the 4X bug with Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri, although other 4X favorites include Armada 2526, Starbase Orion (on iOS), and Age of Wonders III.
Oliver loves games where relative simplicity creates opportunities for deep and emergent strategic decisions. He considers immersion, challenge, and narrative to be central to enduring and memorable games. He does what we can to advocate against the dumbing down of games (and the dumbing down of everything in general). He combats this trend by writing extraordinarily lost articles whenever he can as a staff contributor to eXplorminate, on his own blog Big Game Theory!, and throughout the gaming communities he touches.
Troy “TC” Costisick
Troy is an eXplorminate reviewer, occasional podcaster, newest YouTube contributor, assistant administrator, and old-school gaming enthusiast who joined the team when he was called upon to help.
When Civilization 1 came out, Troy bought it on a whim due to his love of history. He became hooked on 4X games immediately and added Master of Magic, Colonization, Age of Wonders, and several other titles to his collection. He took some time off from 4X games during the MMORPG craze of the 2000’s, but is back now and loving games like Worlds of Magic, Sorcerer King, and Civilization 5.
Troy also has experience in developing tabletop role-playing games. To date, he’s self-published six titles, though with his 4X addiction returning, it is doubtful we’ll see much from him in the future.
Joshua “Gwydion” Jacobs
Joshua is an eXplorminate reviewer and editor. He has been playing 4X games since the days when it was all big grey squares and thin brown lines. He entered the genre through the gateway of Civilization (the original), but truly fell in love with it after Master of Magic(also the original. Sadly, also the only). When Joshua isn’t taking over the universe in Civilization V or Endless Legend, he’s playing games like Mario Kart and Galak-Z on the consoles and Forbidden Stars and Splendor on the boards. When he’s not gaming, he’s writing. Usually about gaming.
His Steam name is a reference to one of his favorite book series of all time, The Chronicles of Prydain, by Lloyd Alexander.
Mark “Army Pea” Marksson
Mark has a videogame resume that reads like an extreme collage of different genres. Mark started out with games like Civilization, Warcraft, Doom, Wolfenstein, X-Com and King’s/Space Quest, leading to a life long appreciation of PC gaming.
In the succeeding years, as the industry developed, Mark found himself in competitive Starcraft ladder matches, playing (too much) Counter-Strike beta, and eventually allocated a rather scary amount of time to World of Warcraft. Through all of these different genres there was one that always remained constant throughout his life: 4X. Civilization (Including every sequel) started it all but what followed was a long list of classic 4X games like Master of Magic, Master of Orion 1/2, Imperium Galactica 1/2 and several others.
Mark eventually found his way to eXplorminate’s Steam page and discovered an amazing community that shared his passion for playing games that made you scream “ONE MORE TURN….” Army Pea now contributes to eXplorminate’s YouTube section and hopes to make great content for everyone to enjoy.
Matt “Nonsense” Gittleson
Matt started his gaming addiction in the late ‘80s with Commodore 64, Amiga, Atari 2600, Nintendo, some random .exes on a 386, and the original Macintosh. His first experience with 4X was Spaceward Ho! followed by Civilization and MOO2. After all these years, he’s still doing the “one more turn” thing at 4AM on occasion (especially when there’s a tactical battle to be fought). Though his first love has always been 4X, Matt enjoys FPS, RTS (all the way back to Dune II), MOBA, and even had a serious (embarrassing?) MMO/WoW habit for a time. His gaming doesn’t stop with electronic games, though–he also enjoys board gaming, as well as board game design and testing.
For Matt, the most memorable games have simple mechanics that effortlessly mesh to spawn emergent gameplay and narrative. He laments that too many games are “on rails” these days, and he is in constant search for innovative games from developers that let players break stuff. He hopes you will join him in his search!
Joe “SloJoe” Kundlak
Joe, from Slovakia in Central Europe, has been an avid gamer his whole life. Starting on a cassette-loaded ZX Spectrum, which his father brought home who-knows-when, he slowly progressed through the first PC computers at school, still owns the cartridge-powered Sega Megadrive and now enjoys the current handheld/tablet gaming era. He remembers games like the first Civilization or SimCity, even some of those ZX Spectrum classics like Raid over Moscow (which was awesomesauce!), Elite or Atic Atac.
Since 2008 he is also huge into board games, you can meet him on BoardGameGeek as “joeyeti”. He also likes to “organize” and collate things in terms of summaries or tables and he likes “maintenance work” required to update available information on a topic (like updating Wikis or creating rule summaries for board games). Hence, since late 2017 he is the current Show Notes creator of eXplorminate. Oh, and he translates a lot, from/into English and German mainly, again mostly for board games and the local communities.
Among game genres he likes strategy games, especially WW2-era ones (Battle Academy 1/2, Command Ops 2, the Graviteam Tactics series, Commandos 1 and 2, Men of War), 4X games (Master of Orion, Stars!, Endless Space, Endless Legend and Thea…), space games (X2: The Threat, Nexus: The Jupiter Incident, Elite: First Encounters), some FPS titles (Star Trek Voyager Elite Force, Medal of Honor…), simulators (a bit of Falcon 4 back in the day, Flight Simulator, Freespace 2) and also other more or less casual games.”
Former and Inactive Staff
Dave “Daveheart” Gywnne (Emeritus)
Dave was an eXplorminate reviewer, article editor, occasional podcast contributor, and the site’s token Scotsman. He’s a born and bred Scot, now living in the USA. Davey’s first experience with 4X gaming was with the genre-defining classic, Master of Orion 2. After that, he was hooked. Some of his favorite titles include Ascendancy, Imperium Galactica, Star Trek: Birth of the Federation, and Amplitude Studios’ Endless Space & Endless Legend.
Ben “rogue_LOVE” Martin† (Emeritus)
Ben was an eXplorminate editor and content contributor. He is also a self-conscious Minnesotan, reluctant hipster, and lover of puns. A lifelong gamer, he cut his teeth on Sega Genesis and early Apple classics (see? hipster), and discovered his love of strategy gaming with the release of Civilization II for Macintosh. He also enjoys games with strong narratives, particularly adventure and RPGs, with a special soft spot for Roguelikes (hence: name). Some of his favorites include Exile II, Alpha Centauri, Escape Velocity, Baldur’s Gate, Morrowind, Mass Effect, Distant Worlds, Tales of Maj’Eyal, and Dominions 4.
Brittany “BirdyBot” Chell (Emeritus)
Brittany was eXplominate’s newest and first female staffer. She’ll be focusing on Youtube Let’s Plays, but you’ll see her showing up in reviews and the occasional podcast. Brittany has been fascinated by 4X strategy games, ever since her first exposure playing Lords of the Realm II and the Heroes of Might and Magic series. She delights in the narrative that can be created between the player and the game.
Chris “sgtshaggy” Massey (Emeritus)
Chris was an eXplorminate reviewer. He discovered the site through the podcast. After listening to Rob and Nate for a couple of months, Chris decided to knock on the eXplorminate door and offer his pen. Strangely enough, they opened the door and let him walk right in! Chris has been an avid gamer since he was a wee tot, discovering 4x way back in the day when Civilization was rocking his 486 SLC50. However, it was the original Master of Orionthat reeled him in. Nowadays, he plays most everything, on every possible system his thin wallet can afford, but the PC is still his bread and butter. Some of his current favorites include Heroes of the Storm, Destiny, Beyond Earth, XCOM ’12, World of WarCraft, Company of Heroes, Age of Wonders III and too much more.
Ben “TIltedAxis” Slonkier (Emeritus)
Ben was an eXplorminate reviewer. He got into gaming later in life on a boredom-induced whim between grad school and getting married. Endless Space opened his eyes to the wild menagerie of 4X, and he’s been one-more-turning ever since. He has also become a Paradox grand strategy fanboy as well as a devotee of city builders and other simulations. Mostly, he just wants to play a game, sit back, point to a screenshot and say LOOK WHAT I HAVE CREATED! After an enjoyable, but incredibly time-consuming, foray into YouTube obscurity, Ben joined eXplorminate as a way to stay connected to our fabulous strategy gaming community, have an excuse to continue playing, and practice writing.