Just Found It: Warmachine Tactics

Warmachine Tactics 2015

Warmachine Tactics 2015 Review

I know this game has been out for awhile now, but I just found it!  Warmachine: Tactics is based on a tabletop game system, Warmachine (and Hordes).  Warmachine is a steampunk universe, where Warcasters lead armies of troops, supported by enormous magic driven warjacks.  See above picture for example.  I happen to play the tabletop version of the game, so I thought i’d check this out.  In Warmachine: Tactics, you play as warcaster trainee, Allison Jakes, and battle for Cygnar in the ongoing Iron War.  Each map gives you more and varied units, training you up just as much as Allison Jakes.  I played the demo when it came out early in February 2015 and was mildly intrigued, but not impressed.  After the March 2015  patch, I saw a lot of changes for the better.

A few things worth mentioning before my review:

  • This review is spoiler free.  Enjoy!
  • I haven’t got a lot of experience with turn-based strategy games.
  • I also haven’t played the online, multiplayer portion yet.  PvP review to come!
  • This plays similar to tabletop Warmachine, but is not a direct copy.
  • You don’t miss anything if you aren’t familiar with tabletop Warmachine.

The Worst Of Warmachine Tactics

I want to start with the bad parts because this game has gotten a lot of negative press.  From what I have read from others, and researched myself, it has mostly deserved it.  Mostly.  The biggest negative is the price.  This game is not worth the standard $39.99 price considering there is additional DLC.  The DLC isn’t necessary to play the game.  It just allows you to customize your army with more options.  It would seem to affect the multiplayer side rather heavily, but I can’t offer a good opinion on that yet.  Steam has put it on sale a few times, most recently as low as $19.99.  Even that seems kind of risky given this game’s past.  It’ll need to do build up a little credibility.  These last couple of patches are a good sign, but the next couple are going to be equally important.  Next up is the slightly clunky, but still very playable UI.  It’s not really that bad, but I feel like it needs literally a couple more tweaks to make it ‘good’.  I’d put it on the high end of not quite good.  Occasionally I mis-clicked actions (twice in an hour to give you an idea) trying to select another unit through the odd UI setup.

The Best About Warmachine Tactics

I love the graphics.  I run them on max with no problems (AMD Radeon 7870, Intel i7 4790k, 8 GB RAM).  The UI action-progression is very intuitive.  It has improved a lot from just earlier this year, and I really like it now.  Once you pick it up, you can fly through unit assignments quickly.  The story is engaging.  It’s the story of a young warcaster-in-training, and her father-figure trainer.  Think Star Wars, Luke and Obi-Wan.  Cliche?  Maybe, but I like it.  My favorite faction is in the story spotlight.  Biased?  Yes.  Finally, I want to kinda put the price here.  I finally picked it up when it landed in the Weekly Humble bundle for $13.29 along with some other games.  It is definitely worth $13.29 to me.  I got a few other games in the bundle for my wife, and still have some codes leftover to give away.  And some of the money went to charity!  If you can point out the downside here, you need professional help.

The game also has a good pace.  It’s not slow, long, or confusing.  Everything is pretty straight-forward, and you’re not left with a lot of questions as to what to do or what’s going on.  Even as a newbie Turn-Based player, I picked up the mechanics pretty easily.  If you’re new to TBS games, this feels like a good one to start on.

My Suggestions for Improvement

There are just a few suggestions I would make.  The first is to explain in the tutorial how to quick-select units.  That can avoid some of that clunky-UI aggravation.  It took me almost two hours to figure that out.  I’d also drop the price.  There is a lot of hate for this game in the Warmachine subreddit.  The last few times it’s been brought up though, there have been a significant number of people willing to try it at the lower price point.  Myself included, obviously.  Building goodwill seems important at this juncture of the game.  Some tweaks in the target select/deselect area, and some of the action sub-menus need finishing. There are a few missing buttons.  Nothing that slows you, more of a quality-of-life thing.  Finally, explain the damage better.  I want to play the game, not do math puzzles before every attack!

warmachine tactics movement

I recommend Warmachine: Tactics*

I like the game overall, and look forward to playing more.  I’m even considering streaming.  The changes made in the last two patches alone are very reassuring.  I just can’t straight recommend it at $39.99 hence the * in the heading. There needs to be a huge price drop before I can give a blanket recommendation.  There’s still a lot of past baggage for this game to get through, and more promising patches like the last couple to ensure a bright future.  Still though, I think the game is worthwhile under certain circumstances.  If you’re a turn-based-strategy fan, or just a huge WarmaHordes fan, the $20 sale range every few months may make it worth it to you.  Experience may give you a better handle on the game, and it plays quite similarly to the tabletop.  If you’re a new player, i’d wait until another drop to $15 or less.  I think any more is just not worth the risk to your wallet/purse.  You can follow me on Twitter and Facebook, and i’ll be posting when the price does drop.  Finally, I do recommend trying the free demo on Steam no matter what.  If you’re even remotely interested in Warmachine: Tactics, or the Warmachine tabletop game, I feel like the demo gives you a good feel for both games.  So if you like the demo, you’ll probably like the whole game(s).  Check out the game for yourself, and come back to leave your thoughts in the comments.

What do you think of Warmachine: Tactics today?

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