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Armada 2526 Gold Edition Now Also Available on Steam

By on March 1st, 2013 6:14 am

Armada 2526: Gold Edition | Iceberg Interactive - Ntronium Games

Launched on November 2009, Armada 2526, a turn-based space 4X game for the PC with real-time battles, is the product of the Total War veteran game designer and developer R.T. Smith (e.g. Rome: Total War).

Armada 2526 is in fact a sequel to his also sci-fi turn-based game Armada 2525 oldy from 1991. The Gold Edition, the one now also available on Steam, was released by Iceberg Interactive (the same publisher behind the space 4X Endless Space and the coming soon StarDrive), and it features both the original Armada 2526 base game and the Supernova expansion.

Although not brilliant on release, the game showed great potential by then, and it was already quite solid and good fun. But, the true potential was only unleashed, in my view, after Ntronium Games released the Supernova expansion on April 2011. We have a review for the Armada 2526 base game and an hands-on first impressions article for its expansion, Supernova.

Armada 2526: Gold Edition | Real-time space combat

After Distant Worlds: Legends, Armada 2526 plus the Supernova expansion (now bundled as Armada 2526: Gold Edition) was the space 4X game I played the most, and had the most fun with in the past three to four years. And, I highly recommend it to anyone who loved to play Master of Orion and Master of Orion 2, and who doesn’t bother to have real-time combat – probably the least interesting part of the game – and no ship design by the way. Graphics aren’t flashy, but the Supernova expansion brought one of the best trading mechanics I’ve seen to date in a 4X game, and the AI is ok.

Armada 2526: Gold Edition is available on Steam with a temporary discount of 15% for the price of $16.99/€15.29. If you already own the Armada 2526 base game from Steam there’s also good news for you, as there’s some kind of loyalty discount planned for Armada 2526 owners (\edit: you get 80% off on the gold edition). You will need to login to Steam and check the store page for details, says Valve.

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  1. Devildogff says:

    Hmm, while this is a good/almost great game, the only 4X game that Steam our Iceberg should be worried about right now is Stardrive. It’s a shame that there had been so much confusion with its release considering how much awesome this game has. Its potential is limitless, too.

    On topic: Armada is a good game, but you should hold off for Stardrive in my humble opinion. It’s much better.

  2. lammaer says:

    Dunno, I tried this game, but the combat mechanic, especially the panicking (!!!) and retreating spaceships were ridiculous. (if I recall well)

    The strategy gameplay was not bad (not good either), there was noting spectacular in it. And I turned off the tactical combat.

    • Adam Solo says:

      Like with so many 4X games, Armada 2526 suffered an evolution, which in this case culminated in one of the best expansions ever made for a space 4X game: Supernova.

      Armada 2526 base was OK, but with the Supernova expansion the game got much more depth, and much better. The trading mechanic is great and I think the exploration phase experience (and to some extent some of the expansion phase) is one of the best, right after Distant Worlds: Legends perhaps.

      The diplomacy system is good and the races are fine. The AI was also quite good. So, overall it’s a good space 4X game, great in some aspects and even excellent in a few.

      However, the lack of ship design and the somewhat poor tactical combat may turn some people off, especially people who like to have tactical depth. But, if that’s not a problem for you, then I’m sure you will enjoy it.

      I think Armada 2526 Supernova captures the essence of MoO best, even without ship design and lackluster combat.

      Armada 2526 Supernova (aka now as Gold Edition – NOT Armada 2526 vanilla) is one of my favorite space 4X gaming experiences right after Master of Orion, Master of Orion 2, Distant Worlds: Legends and Galactic Civilizations 2. Maybe along or below (not sure) with Imperium Galactica I/II and Star Trek: BOTF (this list excludes other sci-fi and non-space 4X games, like SMAC or Civ).

  3. caekdaemon says:

    I could never get into this game whenever I tried :(

    It’s a shame, too, since it looked quite enjoyable.

    • Adam Solo says:

      Name 3 of your favorite space 4X games :)

      • Devildogff says:

        Master of Orion 2
        Galactic Civilizations 2

        (soon Stardrive will be there)

        I know you weren’t asking me, but I like this game ;)

        • Adam Solo says:

          Ah, it makes perfect sense why you also like it. When GalCiv2 is on your top list you can’t complain about lacking tactical combat ;)

          You don’t love it because it hasn’t ship design (MoO2 and GalCiv2). But you loved Ascendancy, and it didn’t have ship design either, (at least in the beginning) :)

        • Devildogff says:

          I loved Ascendancy because of how differently the races played. Plus, it brought races that no one had even thought of before. Like the space mammoths. Twilight of the Arnor did the same thing for Galactic Civilizations 2. I’m a whore for unique races and solid, if not amazing or unique, mechanics.

        • RandomBlue says:

          Ascendancy had ship design from day one IIRC and I played the original release in the 90’s.

          I like Armada 2526 a little, but really disliked the lack of ship design, the layout of the research trees and the combat. Lack of ship design was one of the reasons I never could get into BotF.

        • Adam Solo says:

          Oh, I had the impression that it didn’t have a ship design component in the original version. Guess I was wrong as the wiki page does seem to support you.

        • Devildogff says:

          Yeah, I played the original PC release in the 90’s, too. Definitely had ship design. It didn’t play as well today on the iPad, in my opinion.

        • RandomBlue says:

          Agreed, they didn’t do enough work on making the UI better and/or up to current UI standards. It was still a hell of a lot of fun though, played many hours of that game on my iPad. More than Starbase Orion.

  4. Zeraan says:

    Bought for “research” purposes :) Since you say it’s a lot similar to MoO 1/2 sans tactical combat/design, I better have a look at it!

    • Adam Solo says:

      Oh yes Brent, as you specialize in Master of Orion (1/2) you definitely should play this game. It doesn’t have ship design and good tactical combat I’m afraid – so glorious aspects of MoO and MoO2 – but to me it’s as close as can get from that exploration feeling that Master of Orion 1/2 was so good at. It has to do with the planet specifications (mineral abundance) and many other planetary types and specials.

      In a way it’s closer to MoO than with MoO2 because each system is a MU (management unit), while in MoO2 each system may have different MUs (different planets). You don’t have race customization and absolutely no story (only a few glimpses of background story for each race) but, again, the exploration (and some part of expansion) feels very much MoO in my opinion.

      Let me know your experiences with it.

  5. Martok says:

    As an admitted Armada 2526 fanboy, I’m glad to see this underrated gem get more exposure. (Huzzah!)

    I agree the tactical combat was poor, and I can understand the lack of ship design being a turn-off for some. However, I really enjoy the strategic elements and the streamlined design. Also, as Adam has noted, the AI is actually quite decent — not brilliant by any means, but it plays more “like a human” than in most strategy games I’ve played.

  6. Kyle says:

    Going to give this a go while I wait for DW:Shadows and Stardrive!

  7. Ashbery76 says:

    Underrated game that has a nice exploration system with lots of planet specials and strategic resources.The game also has racial victory conditions based on race like Distantworlds.

    The tactical combat is actually a good concept with combined arms being important to invade planets.The issue with combat is the horrible camera and engine that is used.Bland art design also hurts the game.

  8. sly ostinato says:

    Ugghhh…Steam. Is this available anywhere else?? GOG, perhaps? But if I get sucked into yet another PC game, the wife might kick me out of the house. :-(

  9. jackswift says:

    I initially passed on this after the mediocre reviews for the base game. Back then I hadn’t heard of Space Sector though, and I trust you guys more than big gaming sites or Metacritic.

    One of the criticisms that always seemed to come up was that the gameplay was stale and “Why would anybody play this game when you can play GalCiv2?” I’m on the fence after reading the reviews/impressions and comments. Does anybody have anything to say that’ll push me over the fence?

    My 4 favorite space 4x games:
    Space Empires IV
    Sword of the Stars
    Endless Space

    I enjoyed GalCiv2, but got bored of it very fast. Yet I can play Endless Space for hours and hours, go figure… the mind is a curious thing.

    • Adam Solo says:

      Hi Jack. I see a pattern there. You seem to enjoy designing your ships a lot since all of those games offer quite a strong ship design component.

      It’s also interesting to see that you didn’t enjoy GalCiv2 too much (got bored). GalCiv2 has ship design but it doesn’t offer tactical combat (it’s only cinematic). And, all of your favorite games (in the list above) offer a good dose of tactical combat (well, except perhaps Endless Space …).

      So, as Armada 2526: Gold doesn’t have ship design, and the tactical combat part is somewhat poor, this may turn out not to be a good experience for you.

      Unless, you tell me that the parts you loved more about MoO2 where related to the exploration phase, and the thrill to find rich and cool planets to expand to. If you get thrilled by that, than I think you can get a good kick out of Armada 2526 Gold, as the diplomacy is good, the AI is ok-good and the exploration part is quite rich.

      • jackswift says:

        That was definitely a part of my MoO2 love. It’s hard to say that’s the part I love more, though. Everything is just done so well. In Endless Space it sure is my favorite part.

        Ship design is certainly a favorite of mine, but I think I find the base-building and planet management parts of games the most compelling. The weakest game in that list on colony management would be SotS, but even that had trade networks, some simple sliders and base/defense management.

        I also happen to love Hegemonia, no ship design there. Just something about sitting back in my chair and watching the whole planet magically transform from a lava planet to a forest planet in a flash of blinding white light. The gameplay wasn’t necessarily deep, but I enjoyed it anyway (like Endless Space).

        • Adam Solo says:

          Ah, base-building/colony management. GalCiv2 is quite strong there… I wonder which parts you didn’t like. SotS (and SotS2) is quite weak there yes. Armada Gold is alright there. There’s lots of buildings to go for in Armada 2526, and the all scheme is deep enough. So, you could enjoy it from that perspective I think. But, after having 15-20 planets to manage you may get into trouble with micro (but that’s probably a general problem in 4X games anyway).

          Research, not talked yet, is “ok” in Armada. Nothing too interesting but not bad either.

          Is good (and pretty) tactical space combat a must for you in 4X games? Like in SotS or Sins? If so, then no Armada Gold for you.

          Is ship design a very important aspect for you to have fun? See your creations in action, that sort of stuff? MoO2’s probably one of the best there? Then skip Armada.

          If you can live well without those two aspects, then I’ll say you have a very good chance to enjoy Armada.

        • jackswift says:

          I think I’m going to go ahead and give it a shot.

          I think I got bored with GalCiv2 in the colony department because I would run out of buildings to build pretty fast and then just do nothing but build constructors all day. I also hated the fact that I had to build one constructor for each base module so it took ~25 constructors to make a fully built base (and the ease in which those bases could be destroyed).

          I know I can enjoy a game if it doesn’t have pretty tactical combat (SEIV) or good combat (Endless Space), but not sure about both at the same time. Closest thing I can think of is Dominions 3… it’s the definition of not pretty and the tactical system is frustrating but I still enjoy it. Should be an interesting experiment.

        • Adam Solo says:

          Let us know how it went for you. Your experiment with Armada 2526 Gold I mean.

        • RandomBlue says:

          The reason I got tired of GC2 was definitely constructors. That seemed to be what you spent 90% of your time doing in late game.

        • jackswift says:

          So I installed it last week and I am having a blast. The trade network system is great and I really like the fact how they have colony management set up… where you really have to sort-of-plan-ahead because it’s going to be really hard to make super colonies out of everything.

          Is there just one planet acting as a bottleneck between you and that neighbor who you really don’t trust and is eyeing your goods? Oh, and that planet is irradiated and mineral poor? Tough patooties, you better pay up either in gold or transport time if you want to outfit that planet with the proper defenses. Not to mention the fact that your enemy are those one eyed lava guys and they love irradiated worlds. You better protect that planet unless you want your soft inner core worlds all speaking lavaman in the next few years.

          This game actually reminds me a lot more of ‘Stars!’ (which I can’t believe I left out of my favorite list before) than anything. You don’t get to design your own ships, but I get the same “vibe” from it. All they need is the ability to fling mineral packets at enemy worlds and I’d be set.

          The bad combat and lack of ship design actually isn’t bothering me all that much. I’m still able to identify with my civilization because I’m build lots of beefy cruisers or fast Merlin ships or whatever my race is good at. The in-combat controls are horrendous though. I can’t believe they actually have a gold edition of a game where you can’t band-box all your ships and tell them to attack at once (or if there’s some special keyboard command I’m missing for “select all”). I know I’d like some more technologies (maybe some race-specific) and some UI improvements as well, but on the whole I’m glad I made the purchase.

        • Adam Solo says:

          It’s wonderful to know that you’re having a good time. Some tough choices there yes, as poor planets can be quite expensive to maintain and the way research works will make you think what you want to specialize into. I also feel that there could be more techs, however you can set the research speed at game setup if I remember well. That’s not the same but it may help.

          Yes, combat controls are terrible and really a big problem for people who like to go hands-on with combat, but I made that part pretty clear from the beginning :) I’m glad that doesn’t trouble you though, as I also think the remaining features help forget that bad aspect.

          Diplomacy is also quite solid, isn’t it? It feels right. I’m sure you’ll have fun for a bit while longer. Late games can be tedious, but mid games, and especially early game, help compensate for that, in my opinion.

  10. Mezmorki says:

    I picked this up from Gamer’s Gate back when they had the holiday sale. I’m really having a good time with this 4X game – in fact I have a few PBEM multiplayer games going on with friends I managed to rope into the game.

    It’s a little rough around the edges, and I can see how the lack of a tech tree and more sophisticated combat would be a turn-off for some. Personally, I find ship design the most tedious aspect of many 4x games, and much prefer the tough choices you face in this game with what ships you have access too depending on your tech tree focus. And the detail/richness in other aspects of the game more than makes up for it.

    Overall, it strikes a nice balance between detail but keeping the attention focused on the big picture. I really like that.

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