Ground Pounders is a turn-based, strategy wargame. Inspired by classic strategy games like Panzer General, and steeped in the lore of the Sword of the Stars universe, Ground Pounders offers a new generation of gamers an updated taste of turn-based strategic warfare.
User reviews:
Overall:
Mixed (28 reviews) - 46% of the 28 user reviews for this game are positive.
Release Date: Jul 15, 2014

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Reviews

“The pure sensation of moving troops around, outflanking and out-thinking even an AI is addictive.”
Rock Paper Shotgun

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About This Game

Ground Pounders is a hex-based, turn-based strategy wargame. Inspired by classic strategy games like Panzer General, and steeped in the lore of the Sword of the Stars universe, Ground Pounders offers a new generation of gamers an updated taste of turn-based strategic warfare. Best of all, you can play it cross platform between desktop machine and mobile devices.

Ground Pounders lets players control an army from one of two factions. Each army is comprised of dozens of different unit types. You will lead your ground pounders across a variety of worlds, increase their experience levels and abilities over the course of two campaigns, and use them to unlock special action cards that can add special effects to single-player games, or to up the stakes in your cross-platform multi-player battles.

FEATURES
  • Control one of 2 armies – Human and Hivers
  • 80+ units covering land, sea, and air
  • Battle across alien worlds on exotic battlefields, including airless moons, lava plains, and meteor-blasted wastelands
  • Seize orbital superiority and call down bombardment on your foes
  • Build airfields, fortify areas, and repair or destroy bridges
  • Improve your unit’s experience and abilities over 2 campaigns
  • Unlock and collect combat cards, including faction-unique cards!
  • Build unique combat card decks and even tune them for specific battles
  • Ten scenarios to play in skirmish mode or cross-platform multi-player
  • Enjoy a SotSdex filled with Lore details on famous units, personalities, battles and weapon systems

System Requirements

Windows
Mac OS X
SteamOS + Linux
    Minimum:
    • OS: Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8
    • Processor: Core 2 Duo or equivalent
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Memory:512MB Minimum Resolution:1280x800
    • Storage: 1 GB available space
    • Sound Card: Any Windows compatible sound device, stereo speakers or head phones
    • Additional Notes: Valid email address and Internet connection (broadband not required) required for multiplayer
    Minimum:
    • OS: 10.8 Mountain Lion
    • Processor: Core 2 Duo or equivalent
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Memory:512MB Minimum Resolution:1280x800
    • Storage: 1 GB available space
    • Sound Card: Any Mac compatible sound device, stereo speakers or head phones
    • Additional Notes: Valid email address and Internet connection (broadband not required) required for multiplayer
    Minimum:
    • OS: Ubuntu 12, Fedora 20, etc
    • Processor: Core 2 Duo or equivalent
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Memory:512MB Minimum Resolution:1280x800
    • Storage: 1 GB available space
    • Sound Card: Any Linux compatible sound device, stereo speakers or head phones
    • Additional Notes: Valid email address and Internet connection (broadband not required) required for multiplayer
Helpful customer reviews
13 of 13 people (100%) found this review helpful
64.4 hrs on record
Posted: March 11
Although marketed as a Panzer General-style game, Ground pounders is more similar to modern table-top wargames than it is to Panzer General. Here is what Ground Pounders has:

1.Supply lines.

2.Transport units

3.Replacements

4.Units with 1-5 steps

5.Supply zones and Victory hexes

6.CRT (Combat Results Table)

7.Artillery, AA Guns, Command Units, Scouts, Engineers and of course Tanks, Mobile Infantry etc.

8.Scanning & signatures create a Fog of War. Quiet units are harder to see.

9.Units have lots of stats. Attack, Defence, die pool, range, movement points etc.

10.Terrain effects.

11. ZOC

Sounds a bit like a wargame, doesn’t it?

The main game has two campaigns to play through, Human and Hiver. There is also multiplayer (good luck getting that to work) and skirmish mode. In the campaign your small core will travel from battle to battle, so it is important to try to keep it intact. There are plenty of turns in most missions, so the game rewards tactical play as opposed to charging everything headfirst at the enemy.

Each turn has 3 main phases, Supply & replacements, command, and move/combat. (You also draw cards to replenish your hand at the beginning of the turn). The game is Igo/Ugo so players take turns completing the phases.

The supply phase checks all your units for supply. Units out of supply will lose stats and, if they remain out of supply for a few turns will begin to lose steps. Each scenario has a replacement pool which limits the number of replacement steps you can allocate to damaged units.

The command phase is the most unique phase, which wouldn’t work on a tabletop wargame. You roll a bucket of dice which is determined by the number/quality of your command units. You then pre-assign these dice to your units. If your unit is in combat, instead of rolling a die, you will use the pre-assigned die. Different units can be assigned a different number of dice. When attacking, supporting units and artillery need to expend their own dice (value doesn’t matter, they just need to spend one). This limits the number of attacks an artillery unit can support. You can allocate all or none of your dice manually. There is an option to automatically remaining dice. So if you expect little or no combat, hitting “auto” and skipping this phase is fine. When you have a detailed plan and you want your two “6”s on the right units, you can allocate every die if you wish.

During the move/combat phase the player can move units and attack in whatever order they wish. Once a unit attacks it can no longer be moved. Although units can support and still move. Combat is resolved on a CRT with your die being added and the enemy’s die being subtracted to create the DRM (Die Roll Modifier). Odds are determined by attack:defense ratio. Supporting units add half their attack value, artillery adds its full attack value. A typical combat result is A1D2R. If you’ve played any tabletop wargames, you would read that as “Attacker loses 1 step, defender loses 2 steps and retreats”. Supporting non-artillery can also sometimes lose steps depending on the result. So the result can be A1s0a D3s1r, which would be Attacking unit loses a step and may advance. Defending unit loses a step and retreats, defending supporting non-artillery units also lose a step.

After the player has finished moving and attacking, it is time to assign defensive support. Again, you can click on every unit and select which units will expend dice to support it if is attacked. Or you can just hit “auto” if you don’t have many concerns. Again, how much time you spend is up to you.

One other thing I should mention is the cards. Before battle you can create your deck of 32 cards from your card pool (or use the random one generated). What I have done after a few missions is I’ve built my “best deck suited to my play style” and I just use that one. The initial card pool is random so it will be different for each player. Also you can “win” random cards when victorious in a scenario. If you like the card you win, it is pretty simple to tweak your deck and add the card.

Cards can do a variety of things from adding movement points, +attack value, DRM, odds shift, increase artillery range, isolate enemies, lower signature, add AA to a unit, shorten enemy supply lines etc. I don’t know how many cards there are but there are lots. Almost everything appears to have a card that can affect it. Used cards are replenished back to your hand size (3-5) at the beginning of the turn. I presume it is possible to run out your deck, but it hasn’t happened to me yet.

Cards also have a “Space Superiority” (SS) number on them. At the beginning of the scenario you can discard 1-5 cards (take them out of the game). The highest total determines who has space superiority for the scenario. If you have SS you get additional powerful cards that you can re-use every 2-4 turns. These bonus cards can reduce steps (orbital strike), scan an area, reduce enemy supply range, or increase a units attack/defence for a turn.

And that, in a nutshell, is Ground Pounders!


The Good, The Bad and The Ugly:

The Good:

Two big* campaigns provide plenty of scenarios covering a wide variety of situations. I’m actually quite impressed with the big variety of situations that are offered. Flanking manoeuvres, amphibious landings, head on assaults, fighting withdrawals and protecting fleeing civilians from the advancing horde are just a sampling of the different situations offered. (*Refer The Ugly.)

Tactical play is rewarded. This game requires careful play and is not just a tank rush. This is a real wargame. Most missions take 1-2 hours to complete.

Units gain experience through missions. When they reach a certain level they get a +drm. Also, they can choose a special ability when they reach veteran and elite status. These are little bonuses, such as “urban fighter”, “AA gun attachment”, “extra movement” etc. There are about 6 different choices at each experience level which varies to unit type. A nice little addition and preferable over the random leaders of Panzer General/Corps as you can tailor your units to your own play style.


The Bad:

The tutorial is poor and hardly explains anything. It took me about 3-4 scenarios to finally grok the majority of the game’s mechanics and situations. This game doesn’t have the slow learning curve of more streamline “wargames” but is instead pretty steep. UI isn’t always intuitive and it took me a while just to figure out how to assign Defensive Support.

Don’t be surprised by the “cartoon” sci-fi graphics. Although taking place in the Sword in the Stars setting, this is a real wargame.

The maps are drab, dull and difficult. There are different terrain effects, but it is difficult to tell what terrain each hex is on the washed out colour maps. Just because this is “another planet” doesn’t mean you couldn’t have had distinctively coloured maps with forests, rough, plains etc. clearly identifiable. A consolidated TEC (Terrain Effects Chart) would also be useful. It is very difficult to plan one’s advance when one is unsure how far your units can move across the different terrains. (You can get the information with a few clicks, but this is tedious and not intuitive).

Space Superiority should have been done differently. It becomes a no-brainer to discard 5 cards and hope you get it. The “free” SS cards are very powerful and reusable with a cooldown of a few turns. This affects deck construction a little as I am using some “inferior” cards with a high SS rating. If you lose SS there is the possibility (and temptation) to just forfeit and retry the scenario.

I recommend Ground Pounders. It’s not perfect, but scratches the itch in the right places. A good wargame marred by bugs and lack of support. 6/10
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63 of 72 people (88%) found this review helpful
3 people found this review funny
29.1 hrs on record
Posted: August 22, 2014
Just going to start out by saying that, from my experience, this is not a normal hex-based strategy game. If you are looking for something resembling, say, Advance Wars or Civ, then this game is not for you. If you are looking for something consistent and easy in which you can figure out the rules in ten minutes and breeze through the rest of the game, then you should spam the back button until you reach something completely different. This game has a lot of less-than-obvious mechanics and an absurdly steep learning curve for at least the first few hours (or, dare I say it, days) of play, and to top it off, the tutorial is honestly not that great. You will spend your first few sessions replaying the same mission over and over again, quite possibly screaming, trying to figure out how your main battle tanks were destroyed by a company of infantry at what the computer claimed were 10-1 odds in your favor, and then you will move on to the second mission and try to figure out how you're supposed to beat an enemy with about 3 or 4 times as many troops as you, but I will tell you that it is possible.

Once you get past the complete insanity of trying to figure out how this game works, you will actually (miraculously) discover an amazingly intricate, engaging, and still almost stupidly hard strategy game, because you will be going up with 6 squads against 18 squads of tanks, but if you literally play your cards right, deploy your forces well, and have just a bit of luck, you will find that there are subtle patterns and rules that you can use to hold the line and push the enemy back. The dice system adds a pleasant element of chance which you can and must use to think about where you'll need power which interacts well (if peculiarly and not necessarily nicely) with the defensive support mechanic and the different unit types in order to force you to think about what you're doing on the battlefield.

Again, if I didn't say it strongly enough in the first paragraph, if you are looking for an easy, simple, lazy, or idle game which you can pick up on Friday afternoon and master by lunch on Saturday, you would be better off dropping your money on the sidewalk in the rain, because this isn't that type of game. It's hard to learn and harder to "master," and if you're not interested in committing a lot of time to learn a game then you will not enjoy yourself. If, however, you are a slightly obsessive person who likes challenges and is interested in analyzing systems, then I can say that I've never encountered a better game for it and that you might be worse off donating your money to a charity.
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161 of 248 people (65%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
8.7 hrs on record
Posted: May 30, 2014
Update:
This game must not be doing well: 8 weeks after launching on steam it was in an 80% off sale on an internet store; 9 weeks after launch it was in a cheap game bundle. I would guess that we are not going to see long-term support with this game, since it looks like it sold badly.

Updated review because of game leaving Early Access:
Everything in the review is still relevant. Only change is increased thread locking and post deleting in the forums. Here's a post I made about the Early Access price supposed to be lower than the release price before my reply was deleted and the thread locked:

http://imgur.com/FNe0Pdy

MAIN REVIEW FOLLOWS:
----------------------------------------

I have been holding off writing this review because the game could be so good and I was hoping it would change.

This is a hex-based wargame in the SotS universe and that's exciting stuff. (I just realized that will sound like a joke to non-wargame fans, but it's true).

Based on the screenshots you would think was a cool, deep, fun game. The information in the encyclopedia in game is a nice touch.

Try to play the game though and you'll find a confusing, fiddly mess. There are far too many phases and lots of fiddly things you have to keep doing. The user interface is really bad both in usability and in showing you what's going on. A lot of this is because of the developers making the bad decision to have a "unified user interface" on mobile and PC, which means no tooltips, only one button used and no scrolling when you get your mouse to the edge of the screen. This cripples the PC UI and the developers flat-out refuse to change it to make the PC version easier to use.

The tutorial has been through a few changes but still remains awful at teaching you the game. This is both due to the content of the tutorial and the way it is presented, which makes it hard to tie together the UI with what the flash-card like windows are telling you.

I bought the game at the start of the Early Access on Steam and I was disappointed to find out that the game was not as finished as I thought it would be. From the store page it seemed like the only thing missing were some campaign missions, and the ironing out of the last few bugs:

"With this Early Access release, Ground Pounders is feature complete, and the main differences between now and final release - besides a few last minute cards and units - is there is only 1 campaign (instead of 2) and 5 scenarios (instead of ten)."

It turned out that early adopters really were unpaid beta testers and only by assiduously playing when it wasn't fun and giving feedback could we turn the game into the good game it had the potential to be. I mean, it wasn't just bug fixing, there were actually changes to how the game worked, and there was really the feeling that the game hadn't been tested at all before putting it on steam.

I did this for a short while but then I just couldn't be bothered any more- it was just not fun. I decided to put the game down until they finished it and see how it was. As of today the game is still in Early Access but is 66% off on a certain online game store. Because the Steam store page went out of its way to point out that we were saving money by buying into the Early Access game at the start vs. buying when it launched I felt a bit betrayed by this; I also took it as a sign that the studio may be in some sort of trouble. The game was planned to be released in March according to the Steam store page and it's almost June now with no release so maybe that's why.

Anyway, I suppose if you do get a deep discount on this or even get it in a bundle (there have been a lot of Early Access games in bundles recently) then it may turn out to be the game you expect, but at the moment it's unlikely that it is.

edited to say something positive: The music is good. That's the only thing to like about it though really.
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A developer has responded on Jun 6, 2014 @ 1:58pm
(view response)
19 of 23 people (83%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
33.9 hrs on record
Posted: December 14, 2014
This game was in rough shape during EA, but they somehow managed to push it over the top by release. So the most recent reviews are going to be much more accurate. I don't care about SOTS lore, and you probably don't either. But if you are looking for a tactical challenge - Panzer Corps x 5 - then this might meet your expectations. I actually quit during EA, as the AI was too tough for me (not saying much), but I think they've adjusted it so you can have some fun and learn the game on "easy."

If you like games where you are presented with a variety of possible tactical solutions - due to the subtlety and number of different units and their characteristics - you will be challenged. Also, it's not just "bam, you're dead." Even with the odds clearly in your favor, battles are rarely one-off affairs. The game and AI make good use of concentration of force, flanking and the battle cards (consider them off board support). In most games, you're only able to use two or three, so they don't intrude or overpower an engagement.

The "skirmishes" are actually just scenarios, but there's plenty of content, along with the campaigns, where your units gain experience, etc. Because of a shaky start in terms of the interface and tutorials, the game got underrated pretty quick. But the most complicated moves, that of using your transports and air units, are pretty easy to understand now. But you'll probably need to play the "air" power tutorial at least once.

Anyway, it's worth what they're asking, and doubly so if and when it goes on sale come Christmas 2014.
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14 of 15 people (93%) found this review helpful
8.4 hrs on record
Posted: October 22, 2015
IF YOU MUST TRY THIS GAME, GET IT ON THE APP STORE OR GOOGLE PLAY. IT'S FREE THERE.

I've given this game as many chances as I care to. While it's fun and wildly addictive, the rules are extremely complex and inconsistent, always favoring the AI. You'll always be vastly outnumbered, and usually outmanuevered. Your ability to heal your units is restricted to some arbitrary number that occasionally gains points for absolutely no reason, and always stops as you make the final push needing it the most. This on top of only being allowed to heal each unit by one each turn make things needlessly aggravating to say the least. Every campaign mission gives you an extremely tight time limit, and throws everything it can at you. For the sake of argument, let me walk you through the last straw.

Campaign mission 1: Hold the ports. You start off with a limited force in the north and a small force of your choosing in the south, with air support. Honestly, this one isn't that difficult. Just keep everyone alive and the enemy away from the left of the screen, which they never really go to anyway.

Campaign Mission 2: Capture the cities. Small force in the east, single helicopter, your force, and transport boats capable of missing the mountains in the west. There's a gimmick to this one, as the time limit isn't counting down to your win. In order to clear this one, you have to pick up a troop in the east with your chopper in the west, and take him north while you use the boats to attack the northern city. Use your helicopter troop to capture the central area and bleed the enemy dry so they can't defend the city (or even attack, since their supply lines are cut). Then move the pinned down east troops north for a win. There's literally no other way to do it. I've tried everything I can think of and this all that works.

Campaign Mission 3: Reinforcements are coming from the east. You get a full deployment in the west, and are tasked with moving them through a narrow canyon, clearing hotspots along the way. You get 30 turns. Now even in the best of circumstances, this would be tricky as vehicles aren't effective if they leave the road. Regardless, I was able to push all the way to the east, where I met with a significant enemy force on top of the damage that had been done already. Despite having higher rolls, better tech levels, and better units, I was pushed back HARD and the largest part of my effective force was decimated. Then I timed out, failing the mission and having wasted a half hour of my time, at least. In what universe is an APC with no support able to take out a tank?

Honestly, the entire thing seems like it was made with freemium in mind, to sell you more reinforcement points or more time for your missions, or just more units in general. But there's not even than option. It's all the frustration of barely passable missions without paying, without the option of paying for the satisfaction of razing the map with nuclear orbital barrages in hatred for your enemy. I honestly have no idea how the skirmish mode or multiplayer modes play, but I have to assume that multiplayer is passable, but skirmish suffers from the same ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥t roll fudging and stat decimation the campaign does.
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