• Warhammer 40k Armageddon Review by Rick Moscatello

    Solid as an Ork's Skull...and about as pretty.

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    Warhammer 40k is the lifeblood of many a friendly local gaming store. Almost every weekend, you can find a few guys playing it on a tabletop, rolling handfuls of dice and moving legions of brightly-colored miniatures around. It’s a fun system set in a great, violent, grim universe, with every race perpetually at war with everyone.

    The Warhammer 40k universe probably has the most developed backstory of any gaming world. For those not in the know, here are the basic ideas needed for this particular game, which is based on some pretty famous (if you’re into Warhammer 40k) lore:

    1) Orks are bad guys, constantly invading and attacking everyone.

    2) Humans are, sort of, the good guys, spread out among a million worlds. Although all humans worship/follow a legendary Emperor, the general system of government is sort of a Stalinist Communism. Because humans are so widespread, each planet is basically on its own. That’s ok, as every planet, every city, is heavily militarized, from militias to regular military to the awesome Space Marines. A block in the suburbs isn’t complete unless it has at least one pillbox and an auto-turret, and I imagine even the kindergartens would have double-mounted lascannons on the front door (along with daily mandatory blaster training for the tykes).

    That’s good enough to get you started. For this game, the world, Armageddon (yes, that its name, did I mention the universe was darkgrim grimdark?) is being invaded by orks. You’re a commander of a small army, one of several commanders, responsible for defending the world. After a training mission that serves as tutorial, it’s time for WAR.

    The general design goal of Warhammer 40k: Armageddon (Armageddon) is to bring the tabletop experience to the computer, with a few modifications to make things easier, and using the engine from the great Panzer Corps game. About the only significant change is the game uses a hex system for movement and shooting distance (as opposed to using a ruler for the tabletop miniatures game). Also, you can reinforce/rebuild units in the middle of a battle—there’s nothing like that on the tabletop. Other than that, most everything is faithfully adapted.

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    Tanks and infantry, a good start.

    Because Warhammer 40k is such a huge, long running game, there are a ridiculous number of miniatures available; nobody has the money or the time to buy and paint them all, but Armageddon does a great job of providing as many options as possible. You’ve got dozens of tank options (with possible bulldozer attachments), as well as walkers, infantry (from mobs to elite special forces to mortar squads), aircraft, artillery, and eventually Titans (the giant death robots that are the hallmark of any good sci-fi combat game). Total props to the programmers for providing so much, although I wish they could have done more with the graphics; animations are pretty basic, and even the artwork is often far less garish than appropriate for the Warhammer 40k universe.

    The campaign plays well enough. You have plenty of resources, and get to pick and choose what kind of army you want, right off the bat. For the early game, I recommend lots of armored units, as they’re the most survivable, and reinforcing a damaged unit is far cheaper than building a new unit from scratch. You will need some good infantry, however, as many command points (hexes you need to control to win each scenario) can only be captured by infantry. Later in the game it’ll be all Titans and Terminators (elite Space Marines) for you. That’s if you’re looking for easy wins; it’s probably more fun to just experiment with the many other possible units. I can’t emphasize enough just how much variety there is, although I admit I don’t see a lot of folks taking vigilante militias and such.

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    Titans and terminators, which Orks can't touch

    The battles are rarely challenging or particularly interesting unless you work to make them so. The real issue I have in the campaigns is the orks are more passive than they should be. Orkish units tend to sit still, or wander a bit aimlessly, making it easy for a highly mobile army to just pick off the bad guys in piecemeal. Parts of the game don’t seem to work properly, probably because the designers are stuck on using an engine built for fun WW2 battles…the most grating issue involves air units that can’t share the same hex, or even move over, ground units (or frickin’ buildings). There seems to be an experience point system to the units, which works great in Panzer Corps…but darned if I can figure out what it means here.

    Overall, it’s a playable game if you’re a fan, but otherwise? This is pretty mediocre fare. The story and campaign quickly turns into a tsunami of predictably over-the-top clichés along the lines of “Do this or die trying, you cowardly scum!” and you’ll just click through the dialogue boxes, since none of it really matters. This is a great $5 game, though, so if you’re if you’ve seen Warhammer 40k in the hobby shop and want a basic introduction to the system, this is a much cheaper introduction than buying a box of miniatures and a few rulebooks.

    3.5 of 5 stars.
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. DJ Ms. White's Avatar
      DJ Ms. White -
      Nice review. Answered my questions.