By Jason Parker (Ragachak)
I know I can’t be the only person who remembers Minifig games like Hero Clix, the D&D one, or you know… Warhammer. It’s kind of a minifig game, right? The downside though is that they are incredibly expensive to play. The good pieces are always… always expensive. So what does that have to do with Wartile? Well, that’s a great question! Wartile is part mini-fig game, part 3-D board game! You pick a few minifigs based on Viking badasses, and place them on a board with particular goals, such as “acquire the skull of Hel,” or “destroy all of your foes.” It also has an online multiplayer component to unlock, so you can play against your friends minifigs online, which is just beautiful. It does not appear to have any way to buy pieces online either, you have to earn them, so it will come down to people who invest time and get good. This isn’t a turn-based game either. Don’t be mistaken! Wartile goes down in the real-time. It’s an RTS board game with minifigs! That sounds like a mouthful, but kudos to Playtime Project for spending years creating what is a gorgeous and intriguing game. This is still in Early Access, so bugfixes, updates, more Battle Boards and content is surely on the way.
I have to say also, that these 3D maps are absolutely striking. Each stage is its own Battle Board, and with the mouse you can swing the board around and around, get a good look at all of the wonderful details they put into this game. You can enter caves [which as a side note, bring all of your figures into the cave, which can really save them in a bind], move up and down mountain paths, destroy boats, harvest/destroy resources. They look almost real! When people say “Easy to learn, hard to master,” this is the game they really mean. I have to say, this is one of the hardest games I’ve ever played. As you plot and plan your moves, enemies pieces are moving towards you. It’s even harder when the board spawns more and more figures. It can however become incredibly easy to lose your pieces, or get distracted by moving up and down areas, due to the 3D nature of this game. Not to mention that you have no real control over combat, since they are minfigs. There’s RNG to take into account for, which can be incredibly frustrating. However, each piece you can set their stats, what you want them to focus on. Damage, Health, Avoidance, Attack, etc. And you can reset them! It doesn’t change if they’re ranged, or Axe/Shield/Dual Axe wielders, but it does let you adjust their stats to your liking. You can however, re-equip them with new gear, new shields, axes, polearms, skull-helmets. They also come with a specialty card that they use, one of four that you can select.
Cards, though? What’s that about cards? This is a board game and it has cards too!? Yes! Yes it does! The UI features dice [d4 specifically], but do not appear in the game. You build a deck of cards to go with your team of Vikings, whether they are strategy cards like laying traps, powers of the Gods, hunting horns, or a healing card, you can grab five that you can take into battle with you. As the map progresses you can use them again though; they have a cost that is paid in blood. On the bottom middle of your map you have a Gold counter [which is used to buy mini-figs], and the number next to that has a cool symbol, which will have a number by it. That’s basically your resource, which goes up as you murder other pieces on the field of battle. I do think the Healing Card  is a bit pricey though. There are also cards on the map itself, placed in plain sight. You click on them when you’re close, and it shows you your next destination/goal. I’m glad the decks are kind of small though, and the specialty cards for each unit do not factor in. When you click on a unit or move them, their card is visible, slightly away from the main hand of cards. You can’t just spam casting cards into play, but some of them, your unique cards, do not require a casting cost, for which I am infinitely grateful. That means I can drop a stun ability, then heal, move back, place a shield Viking into the frontline, and resume combat.
These units do not heal as the map goes on, unless you reach an Obelisk [basically a save point], which heals your units that are still alive. It only works once though from what I’ve seen. That is one of the downsides to this game that I’ve seen; the difficulty curve is very very steep. You’re always going to be outnumbered. Always. Except in multiplayer I imagine, that will probably be a lot more balanced, a lot more fair. It’s a game about speed, positioning, playing pieces and moving them into the right spot and letting battle happen. However, enemies only move when you’re in their threat area/when they’re engaged, so that takes some of the tactical aspect out of it. With that in mind, it can also create a feeling of hopelessness, if most of your characters are dead or weak, and you can see the way out: Through an army of pissed-off, full health Vikings. These figures attack with a cooldown too, and you can move between attacks. So if you need to back off, move a different figure into position. The stages are pretty long, and require a great deal of time and thought. I wish you could rotate the map before it starts, when it explains your initial role in it.
I feel like in the early going you’re just going to want to pump your points into Attack/Damage, and obliterate pieces before they can get you. Especially on the maps where you just have one or two pieces altogether. Thankfully you can get some help in the form of the Skull of Hel, which spawns Viking Warriors to help you fight, at least temporarily. I’m so glad you can change your stats outside of battle though; as you go on, your needs/wants will change, and your force will change. I do have an issue with it not having enough descriptions for things. I have no idea on stats/abilities for pieces of equipment, other than a series of circles, which I assume, more circles = more better. Yes, that was on purpose. I had no idea the Skull did that until I equipped it, and was in a desperate situation in battle. And you can go back through old maps if you want to get more coins, more items, to help customize your force. I have a feeling you would want to go back as well, because having more defensive/attack stats will be vital.
Where do Viking Minifigs go? MiniValhalla?
State of the Game: 5/5
This game is bloody fantastic. It’s gorgeous, the figures look like real, genuine figures. You can rotate them, customize them with items. You pick their stats to do what you want them to do. But I don’t think this would work as a real board game, unless it were turn-based. Part of me wishes it were turn-based though, but that would take the challenge out of this game almost completely. I had a very hard time playing this at first, but the more I slowed down, the more time I took in preparing my strategy, retreating pieces, pulling drawbridges to stop foes from coming. Rushing when it was important, slowing down, doing a map over once I figured it out so I can come back without losing pieces. As an aside, I’m so glad that you can keep pieces once they die! I was worried that they’d be gone forever. I can see this game as being free-to-play and heavily monetized. I saw so many monetizing options, but it doesn’t appear that they’re going that route. People would invest in them, but a lot of folks would likely be alienated.
This is a perfect blend of board game and RTS action. It’s hard to reinvent the wheel. But this is a strategy game unlike anything I’ve ever played before, you can play against friends to try and complete quests, or just go full beast-mode, competitive, and murder the other team action. I truthfully don’t have a lot of negatives about this game. It’s hard, sure, but it’s still in early access. Plenty of things to be tuned still. And within a day of me being involved/working on this, at least one patch has gone down. It’s not like other Early Access that I’ve played, where they just want your money early. I do not hand out 5/5s willy-nilly. I can only think of a small handful in my career here, truth be told. While it’s definitely not perfect, they have captured the essence of board games, placed it onto PC, and given it their own spin, creating an RTS that is special, truly special. I’m looking for a few things: More knowledge on what items do, specifically. I have no idea what any of my stuff does! I’d like to see the tutorial tightened up a bit, given a bit more explanation. This is a wonderful game though, and I cannot wait to see what else comes to it. It encapsulates the Viking Mythos into figures, and gives you command of them. It’s equal parts challenging and fun, with a bit of frustration thrown in for flavor. Challenging, but not unforgiving. Once you’ve played a few times and really have a hang of the rules and playstyle, you’ll be sending figures to MiniValhalla in no time!