WARTILE (developed by Playwood Project Aps) is a game currently in alpha that had caught my eye. At first glance it seemed like your standard hex-based tabletop game. As I read on through the press release, it turned out that it was a hybrid of tabletop and RTS games. I just had to jump into it and give it a try.
WARTILE begins with a simple tutorial level that runs you through all of the basics of the game. You start by choosing which of your pieces to bring into combat from a reserve much like how you would build your army in any tabletop wargame. You also have the option to cosmetically customize them if you so desire. There was very little in the way of choices for cosmetics and different units, but this will likely be greatly expanded upon as WARTILE progresses along its development.
Once you've chosen your pieces, you enter into the map itself. Each level has the appearance of a finely constructed diorama for wargames. For instance, the final map in the Press Alpha has a crashing wave of water breaking against the rocks as if time had completely stopped. The camera pans over the entire map showing you where the enemies and your objectives are located, and then you're set to begin.
Movement consists of simply picking up a piece and dropping it on another tile within range. Combat automatically starts when two opposing units are in range of one another. Each unit's health is represented by a colored circle underneath the character that grows ever smaller as a unit sustains damage. Once you've moved, you also have to deal with a cooldown until you can move again (represented by a white circle that counts down around the base of the figure).
I had some initial trouble playing WARTILE. Not because of any technical difficulties, but because it was quite challenging. I lost the first level a couple of times before I had a good grasp on how to move and position myself strategically. I rotated figures off the combat lines to spread out the damage, and I took advantage of the different strengths my characters had. I eventually managed to get through the tutorial and two levels in the Press Alpha in a little under three hours.
Positioning is not your only concern. You also can call on special powers represented by cards in the bottom right of the screen. These consume points that you can only collect by completing objectives or killing enemies so you have to be judicious with them. Blow all of your powers early and you might not be able to survive until the end of the level.
The powers themselves were quite simple. You could damage an opponent, heal an ally, or buff a character. These were randomly dealt to you at the outset of a mission.
The game was easy enough to pick up overall from the little bit that I've seen. Only a handful of units and powers were provided. That said, WARTILE has a lot of room to expand its versatility by adding more levels, characters, powers, units, and customization.
I also want to make particular note of the aesthetics. The general theme of the Press Alpha levels in WARTILE was that of a band of Vikings raiding the English countryside. The music track felt appropriately epic for the setting, and the battle cries of my figures got my barbarian blood boiling. The Press Alpha didn't have much in the way of graphics options or settings yet - indeed, there were quite a few placeholder graphics for the moment - but the underlying base of the map and figure design revealed a talented development team that put a lot of care into their work. The diorama-like maps were especially gorgeous to my eyes.
WARTILE also comes equipped with multiplayer, but I got into the game rather late in the Press Alpha due to illness on my part. I wasn't able to find much in the way of a multiplayer game despite trying over several days. I can't speak of the netcode or how well it ran in a multiplayer environment, but I'm of the opinion that I think the gameplay style of WARTILE would be interesting to try out in both competitive and cooperative multiplayer environments.
That leaves us to the last question - when can you get WARTILE yourself? Well, they had a Kickstarter running in March, but the development team decided to cancel it three days before it would be completed. They were at £23,735 of a £55,000 goal and it looked unlikely that they would reach it.
It's quite unfortunate that their Kickstarter wasn't successful. We hear about the successes, but we so rarely pay attention to the failures. However, it seems to me that Playwood Project Aps is treating development of their game just like a Viking party would treat an unsuccessful raid: dust yourself off, regroup, and charge into battle again. I do hope they can sort things out and continue with development of WARTILE. It's an interesting combination of RTS and Tabletop that I thoroughly enjoyed and it would be an awful shame if it never saw the light of day.
What do you think of the idea of a game that combines RTS and Tabletop-style gameplay? Does WARTILE look like the sort of game that would interest you? Let us know in the comments below!