Review: Laser Squad Nemesis

Odds are, you haven’t heard of this game. You won’t find it on the shelves of your local retailer and you won’t see see 16 year olds lugging it to LAN parties for death matches. Laser Squad Nemesis is a turn-based, tactical, squad- oriented game played via email. It has a real-time feel to it though - this isn’t like most hex-oriented turn-based war games.

The game is very light weight and approachable. The client is free to download and you can get started quickly with the tutorials. In a LSN game you are pitted against a single opponent - each can play one of four races (Marines, Machina, Spawn, or Greys). There are a variety of maps to choose from and a flexible map editor is included with the game.

Once you have tried the tutorials, you can play up to three games against a real opponent before paying for a subscription, though you are limited to playing the Marines on just a few maps. This try before you buy philosophy is very attractive, and subscriptions are low-risk if you want to get your feet wet playing the full game ($7 for 1 month, $15 for 3 months).

A Laser Squad game begins with force deployment - each player has a number of force points and an area on the map on which they can deploy their forces. This is a key strategic element to the game - which units to use, where to deploy them - decision based on both the map and the race of your opponent.

Gameplay involves controlling individual units in an attempt to either wipe out the opponents units or destroy the opponent’s headquarters. The central LSN server resolves each turn and emails the turn results to each player. I won’t go into strategy here (you wouldn’t to follow my advice any way - I’m still a rank amateur), but there are great guides published and a continuous stream of community participation. The masterpiece of strategy guides is the Grenadier’s Bible.

I’ve had no problems finding random opponents and recruiting friends - this community has critical mass and the game is here to stay. If you are a fan of X-COM, Squad Leader, or would just like a break from the frenetic pace of RTS or FPS, try this game.