I’ve mixed feelings of Creative Assembly’s latest release Total War: Warhammer. It’s the first in the long running Total War series that I’ve played. All I really knew of the games were that they were turn based strategy games with large scale RTS battles. And the game delivered on that with its Warhammer theme.
You have a selection of different races to play as which all play rather similarly, with the exception of Chaos who build through their armies as opposed to settlements. On your turn your turn you can choose to add buildings to your settlements, hire Lords (who lead your armies) and Heroes (powerful combatants with world map abilities), engage in diplomacy and manage your armies and heroes. After which it cycles through all other factions turns, you can choose to wait for the movements of all factions, the movements in your or your allies’ line of sight or just skip waiting for their movement all together.
There are two or three settlements in most provinces with a few having four, occupying all settlements in an area allows you to choose a Commandment, a buff to the whole province. Regardless of you play as though, you won’t be able to occupy all areas of the single map. Each race is essentially confined to the lands of other clans of their race or their rival race e.g. Orc and Dwarf.
It’s this expansion limitation that makes diplomacy more important. For example if you keep destroying vampire settlement only for them to be rebuilt, it may be worth convincing a human faction to take that settlement first so you can move your armies elsewhere with a bit of border comfort.
The diplomacy system is really nothing special, siding with someone there enemies will dislike it and vice versa, grant military access and non-aggression pacts. The most interesting thing is having another faction become your vassal, your allies by default in any of your wars and they also pay you each turn. The interactions are quite basic though and a lot of things are simply a matter of offer more treasure, either at once or as gifts which help general disposition as opposed to just being a one off dealmaker.
The victory conditions are pretty similar for each faction, destroy certain factions and hold certain lands while also making sure that the forces of chaos and undead are only active in their home territories, the head of the Chaos forces being injured is also a common condition to all but Chaos. And of course, the undead and vampires don’t need to be concerned with keeping themselves to one area to win. If you choose to play Dwarf you will also need to complete all objectives in the Book of Grudges, this is a record of the wrong doings against you throughout the game. Hero attacked while exploring? You won’t win until you assassinate someone from the offending faction.
As mentioned above, your armies are led by Lords, powerful units that can gain levels for effects both in battle and on the world map. Such as increasing their fighting prowess or increasing the rate at which their army heals.
Each unit consists of multiple soldiers/creatures with a few exceptions, a unit of goblins will have 40 guys running at you while you only get 20 crossbowmen in a dwarf quarreller unit. Of course the difference in unit sizes isn’t much to mention, it’s worth noting that you can have up to 20 units per army meaning that the battles can get big especially considering any nearby armies will jump into the fight to help too.
The battles can be huge with massive armies clashing and being able to zoom in to watch individual soldiers battling can be satisfying but other than that I’m not too fond. The battles are real-time but prior to the battle proper you can deploy your troops as you want in a designated area and setup groups for easier commanding. The battles can feel slow with it taking quite some time for both armies to reach each other – at times the enemy might just not move or hardly at all as they have the high ground meaning you’ll have to take heavy losses if you don’t want to run out the clock on the fight. And as soon as the fighters engage there’s not much left other than re target your ranged units and then wait to see if you win or lose. It quickly became a matter of auto resolving almost all fights, save for sometimes when I’m confirmed to lose but take a chance at trying to kill one or two units of the enemy army.
Despite this the game does have quite a ‘one more turn’ feel to it, you may want to finish with a session only to see a settlement you’re besieging is only a few turns from surrender or you might just be so close to wiping out another faction. It can be good to play if you want to catch up on podcasts and whatnot.
It’s a decent time waster but it feels like a 4X strategy missing 3 of the Xs.