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Telepath Tactics mixes Fire Emblem with... 19th-century Prussian military theory?

Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

Telepath Tactics, the brainchild of Chicago's Craig Stern, is a turn-based role-playing game set in a steampunk universe. Available on Windows PC and Mac, through Steam or directly from developer Sinister Design, it's inspired by such franchises as the Fire Emblem series. But its unique approach to tactical gameplay doesn't stop there.

Most turn-based games depend, to a large extent, on random dice rolls that happen behind the scenes. Telepath Tactics instead takes a deterministic approach, where the result of every move and every attack is known to the player.

The system actually has its roots in 19th-century Prussian wargames.

We sat down with Stern to learn more about his work, and what's actually going on under the hood of his latest game.