Total War has built a name for itself as a historical real-time battlefield game with strategic elements. The Napoleonic Wars, ancient Rome, Shogunate Japan, and the conquest of Attila were all some of the authentic warfronts players could take command of. But still, one question remained—what if orcs were hit by fireballs? Thankfully, Total War: Warhammer has arrived to answer that question.
Licensing the world of Games Workshop’s Warhammer series, Total War enters the world of fantasy. It make sense—Warhammer started as a tabletop wargame, with led miniatures moving across fields of foam landscapes. But how will this meld with a game that’s made its bones on historically accurate battles?
Really, really, incredibly well. Warhammer may be an intentional mishmash of genres, but at its heart it’s a well-established and balanced game of armies. Total War: Warhammer respects both these rules and the backstory of the game without breaking its own method of play.
A little background. Warhammer is not so much a battle between Good and Evil as Order vs. Chaos, with extremes on both sides. The Germanic human Empire has as much animosity to the punk-rock Goblin Greenskins as it does for the steampunk Dwarves and the Arthurian humans of Bretonnia. The vampire counts of the Von Carstein family have a family feud going on, while the Beastmen seek to plunder. Meanwhile, the horrible, mutating Chaos forces seek to wipe out everyone.
There are two forms of play. The first is on the battlefield, where you control each of your units in real time (with the ability to pause and give new orders for those who prefer something akin to turn-based play). Here, the player’s good generalship can turn the tide against overwhelming odds, and you get the thrill of seeing your troops wipe out an enemy (or see them break and run away like scurvy cowards). In the larger “campaign” map, you control your cities, researching new technologies, buying units, and moving your armies across the landscape. Units win battles, but proper management of cities wins the world.
The beauty of the game is that the designers really respect the history of Warhammer. Each civilization has its own unique structure beyond the individual units. The Dwarves, for example, have two research structures: one for improving the strength of their units, and one for improving the strength of their society and economy by building the Dwarven guilds that are the backbone of their economy, but the Vampire Counts study their dark books to enhance their undead followers. The human Empire, on the other hand, appoints noblemen to offices (like Treasurer), while another human Empire with Bretonnia gains bonuses by completing chivalrous acts.
It’s possible to play most of the game in Campaign mode—if you hate commanding armies in real-time, you can choose to auto-resolve battles. Have a huge army, and you can crush a smaller one without having to go through the rigamarole of commanding units. The only exception is on Quest Events which advance your individual storyline (and give you big bonuses). For those, you have to take command, and there, the strength of the Total War interface comes into play.
The battlefield interface gives you a complete, flyover experience of commanding your army. You can command individual units or groups, and take advantage of the high ground and concealment. Each civilization has its own advantages and unique units, of course, but they all break down to some basic types: heroes, infantry, missile, cavalry, and flying. Learning the strengths of each unit, and how to use them, is crucial. The ill-informed commander who simply marches his entire army towards the enemy is going to lose.
So Here It Is:
Warhammer is a violent, dark gaming world that is perhaps uniquely built to take advantage of the Total War gaming system. If you miss the old days of tabletop gaming (or just don’t want to paint 200 figurines by hand and haul them across town), Warhammer: Total War is a perfect blend of the two franchises.
Genre: Turn-based and real-time strategy
Developer: Creative Assembly
Publisher: Feral Interactive
Minimum Requirements: OS X v10.12.4, 2.0 Ghz Intel Core i5, 8 GB RAM, any AMD graphics cards released from 2014 onwards or any Nvidia cards with 2GB+ VRAM released from 2012 onwards, (MacBookPro only) Intel Iris Graphics 540 & 550 cards released from 2016 onwards, 37 GB available disk space
Price: $59.99 on Steam; $49.99 on the Mac App Store