Everguild is tackling the wide, wonderful, deeply grimdark universe of Warhammer 40,000 in their latest game - Warhammer 40,000 Warpforge, a digital CCG in early access for mobile and PC.
It’s part of an overwhelming wave of Warhammer mobile games, all seeking to capitalise on a lucrative market and massive audience. But is it going to hit hard, or will it be a case of cocked dice for this intriguing card battler?
It's also been a major source of inspiration for video games on virtually all platforms, including mobile. And it seems fitting that, for a setting which started out as a tabletop game, Warpforge brings the game back to its collectible gaming roots with a card battler. Currently, in the version we played, there are six factions available: The Space Marines, Orks, Tyranids, Necrons, Eldar and Chaos, offering players a wide variety of playstyles and faction mechanics.
Before we begin talking about Warpforge in earnest, it’s hard not to draw some comparisons to Marvel Snap, if we’re discussing transforming a franchise into a digital CCG. Although there are hardly any unique mechanics being cribbed, both Warpforge and Snap are similar in that they’re taking their respective IPs into a whole new medium. However, Warpforge lacks some of the elegance of Marvel Snap and other CCGs that have experimented with the formula.
This is particularly notable when it comes to looking at the economy of the two. Where Snap traded on the Marvel branding to present a cosmetics and battle-pass-only monetisation model, Warpforge has all the gems and other gubbins we’ve come to tolerate over the years. It’s a strange thing to go for, especially considering Warhammer 40,000 boasts as many, if not more, opportunities for unique cosmetic characters.
That’s not to say any of these aspects, the booster packs and whatnot, are at all unusual. But it feels as though Warpforge might be settling into simply being a niche game for a niche audience, rather than trying to spread its wings a bit more. Casual fans looking for a fun card game may feel that this is an investment more than a new way to experience the world of 40k.
The diversity of factions is also quite impressive, with the usual spread of Space Marines, Chaos, Orks, Eldar and Necrons, along with a healthy splash of Tyranids that players of Dawn of War or similar games from the setting will already be very familiar with. Sadly, fan favourites such as the Tau, Imperial Guard, Votann Leagues, Dark Eldar or Adeptus Mechanicus remain on the waiting list. However, what we have on offer is still a solid roster with diverse playstyles to boot.
Each faction also feels quite true to both its lore and tabletop counterpart. Factions like the Orks prioritise putting as many cards as possible on the field while drawing other cards which maximise effects based on the overwhelming size of your army (such as dealing damage based on the number of cards in play on your side). The Necrons, meanwhile, have the reanimation trait that’s a key part of their tabletop design, which brings their cards back to life, sometimes with boosted stats.
But, that comes hand in hand with battles feeling a bit TOO brutal sometimes. With troops often being killed on the same turn they are played - and given you can’t use them until your turn it means that strategy often feels a bit pointless. You generally have to play by the seat of your pants and try to adapt on the fly.
Fortunately, that does mean you're encouraged to learn your deck - rather than what would sometimes happen with Marvel Snap where it became a simple matter of building a winning combo and playing it as quickly as possible - and if you're thinking "Well when all you've got is a chainsword you can approach every problem like it's something to be chopped up" you may be in for a rude awakening.
Occasionally you will see recognisable bits of art sprinkled onto certain cards, which is a welcome addition but also feels as if it’s upsetting the standardised art style somewhat. It would be interesting to perhaps see a customisation option, again similar to Marvel Snap, where you can play cards with their own appearance based on previous Warhammer 40,000 art.
Some of the details of the graphics can also be lost if you’re playing on mobile. Readability of cards is still quite easy, so you won’t struggle to know what’s going on. But you will likely miss some of the dynamic backgrounds and other elements.
If you’re a Warhammer fan who’s dead set against microtransactions or mobile game monetisation, Warpforge may turn you away immediately. It doesn’t do much to differentiate itself from other CCGs and lacks the fast-paced innovations that games like Marvel Snap have previously brought to the table.
Since we got it a bit earlier, here is a Warpforge guide that will explain the basics, in case you're willing to give it a go.