“I would highly recommend backing the project if you are a PC and tabletop gaming fan”
Wartile is a PC-based tabletop strategy game being crowdfunded via Kickstarter by indie developers Playwood Project. The game is an exciting endeavour, which takes on board the ideas behind popular tabletop games and combines them with the capabilities of modern PC gaming. For the tabletop fan who is looking to find a more casual and single player way to enjoy their favourite pastime, Wartile will certainly be of interest, and it definitely deserves strategy gaming fans’ attention. I was invited to try a pre-alpha demo build of the game and to give my thoughts on the project at this early stage.
From my initial reactions, you can tell that I liked what I saw. Whilst some elements of the game are crude in its current form, and sadly the multiplayer segment was not possible to try out at the time of writing due to low traffic, the concept of the game is clear. The basic principles involve moving one to four specialist character pieces around the playing board with a view to completing set objectives. This can involve attempting to capture an objective, loot a chest or save some prisoners among other things, and offer variety to the game beyond the changes of locations and enemies.
Each of your characters in the game has the ability to fight and move in a different way, with different boosts available to them as well. Using said boosts requires points to be collected from combat or objectives, but you must use these wisely. Most only last for a certain amount of time, but beyond this the same points can also be used to activate special powers from the cards in your hand. These can change the tide of the battle, offering both global and local effects which can enhance your army or damage the opponents. Choosing how to spend your points in a battle and when to do so brings a unique form of strategy to Wartile, on top of the simple tactics of movement and combat.
Standard rules from traditional tabletop games apply in Wartile too. Each character can move a set number of spaces, often leaving heavy attackers with less moves than lighter ones. Each also has its own range for attacking enemies, which is another key strategic point to consider. After moving a character, you must wait for a cooldown period before moving them again. This creates a perfect hybrid between a slower turn based system and a full on RTS, keeping the action alive whilst not detracting from the tabletop theme of the game. It is also difficult to move past enemies adjacent to you, meaning if you want to get around a group then you will also need a distraction.
The levels available in this demo were the real standout feature. Their design was beautifully drawn and the spaces were laid out smartly to allow for options but at the same time confine the field of play. The only issue which I encountered was that on occasions it was difficult to see all of my pieces through the built up landscapes, even when rotating the board and zooming in and out. If a feature was included to more intuitively cut away any view-obstructing scenery it would make the pace of the game and the ease of playing far better for the player.
One final factor which Wartile deserves praise for is bringing customisation to the game. Not only is this crucial for the tabletop strategy style, but it also allows a wider range of strategies to be employed and worked with on the field of play. Weapons and armour can be collected and applied to characters, enhancing their skills and attributes. The opportunity to change your squad for each mission also allows you to play your strongest team based on the objectives in front of you. Naturally you can customise the cards in your hand each time too.
My first impressions of Wartile at this very early, pre-alpha and pre-crowdfunding stage were very good indeed. The game shows a solid base from which to work already, and I am in little doubt that with the necessary expansions and improvements it has potential to see great popularity and success. My key point at this stage would be the aforementioned cutaway feature for the environments during play. If this is employed it would clean up the demo nicely for others to enjoy. I would highly recommend backing the project if you are a PC and tabletop gaming fan, but should the project not meet its target I would equally urge the developers to stick with the project nonetheless. I for one look forward to seeing what the future holds for Wartile.