Wartile Early Access Preview

Posted May 23, 2017 by John Clark in Video Games

Developer: Playwood Project

Publisher:  Playwood Project

Release Date: TBA

Platforms: PC

Price: $20


I didn’t really know what to expect from Wartile going into it. As someone who hadn’t heard much about the game before booting it up, and had no experience with tabletop gaming, the idea of a tile-based, real-time digital boardgame was an equally strange and fascinating. After spending some time exploring the myriad systems of Playwood Project’s Early Access title, I came away with a lot of thoughts, not all of them positive.

The objective of a mission in Wartile is usually pretty simple. Moving their units across the map, players battle enemies and retrieve important objects, destroy bosses, and cross from point A to point B. Traversal is as easy as just moving a soldier from one tile to another, but once combat starts, things get significantly more difficult. Because Wartile is real-timed and not turn-based, a battle can turn ugly quickly without correct positioning and preparation. Some soldiers excel up close while others, for example, can attack with a spear from a couple of tiles behind, and it’s important not to let yourself get flanked, or you’ll quickly start losing your more delicate characters.

Cards can be used to provide powerful abilities and buffs.

Honestly, while it’s mostly executed well, I’m not convinced that real-time combat suits the structure of the game. The abilities feel a bit clunky to activate spontaneously, and while you can pause if you need a moment to consider your options or queue up abilities, it’s not as intuitive as a dedicated turn-based system might be. That said, those accustomed to real-time-with-pause systems like Baldur’s Gate or Pillars of Eternity should be very comfortable here; it’s quite like a simplified version of those.

The real meet of the game, from what I can tell in its early stage, is in modifying and equipping your pieces. Serving as a digital equivalent of painting and customizing figurines, Wartile‘s character progression system allows you to hire, train, and equip heroes with loot found during missions. In the game’s early state, there’s only a few meaningful options per hero, but it’s clearly got the groundwork laid for an interesting and varied system if the developers put the work in.

The ‘If’ is the big takeaway here, though. Wartile is a game of potential, like many Early Access titles. The game’s interesting, but it’s also bare bones; whether or not the twenty dollar asking price is worth your time is entirely dependent on how much trust you have in the process. I have to be honest: I didn’t really enjoy my time with it. I didn’t like the real-time-with-pause combat, and the aesthetics, while very well-done, didn’t mean anything to me. However, if you’re a tabletop fan who really wants to see figurines come to life, you might love Wartile. If nothing else, it stands out in the current gaming landscape, and that alone is worth at least looking into it.

About the Author

John Clark