Warhammer: Arcane Magic is an eminently playable distillation of some of the aspects that make the tabletop game so impressive.
But rather than investing hours in building a force and engaging in enormous terrain-traversing battles, here you're tackling bite-sized magical skirmishes.
There's a resolute fizz to proceedings, and a tactical hum that will keep most players engaged for a good long while.It's a kind of (dark) magic
The game sees you controlling a band of wizards questing through a grim and distorted fantasy setting. Each has their own set of spells that you can add to as you play.
Your team shares a pool of mana which you can spend on spells, and the different wizards can make a move across the gridded maps lower than or equal to their speed value.
The aim of each level is to capture a series of magical nodes. Once you get near these you'll find yourself walled in and set upon by a number of magical beasts. Capture the node, kill the beasts, and move on.
When one of your wizards steps into magical circle you're trying to capture, not only will your mana refill, but that wizard will be given a special cataclysm spell. This deals massive amounts of damage and can be used once per node.
All of your spells are controlled by mathematics. They're represented by numeric values on cards, and when you choose to use one the game rolls a die for you, adds together the roll and your attack score, then calculates the difference between your score and your enemy's defence stat.
Roll a 1 and you miss no matter what. Roll a 6 and you do a bundle more damage. The same goes for your assailants, who range from small harpies to huge creatures of the Chaos Gods who can kill you in a couple of hits.
You need to learn the strengths and weaknesses of your foes, and try and keep out of reach of their more violent and deadly attacks.Pool your (magical) resources
And if you don't learn you'll die. In fact you'll die quite a lot. The healing mechanic here sees you spending gems to revive and repair your wizards. Often that'll mean spending chunks of loot to get more mid-battle.
It's a slightly cumbersome system, but the game makes up for it in other areas. It looks gorgeous, and the amount of tactical depth it ekes out of its small-scale fights is impressive.
The Warhammer trappings layered over everything will make fans of Games Workshop's fantasy battles salivate, but the game underneath is more than entertaining enough on its own.