Space Wolf iPad is a blend of turn based strategy, tabletop squares and collectible card game mechanics.
Games Workshop are turning through the gears at the moment and it feels like the jump from tabletop to desktop went well. Dawn of War 2 was a real highlight of the RTS landscape of the past ten years. However, the transition to iPad and mobile has proven tricky. The latest is Space Wolf iPad.
Space Wolf Review: I used to play the Games Workshop tabletop games and had a friend who was forever collecting more annoying marines. So when Space Wolf popped up as the Editor’s choice on the App Store, I thought it might be my turn to have a go with them. I’d been impressed with the iPad Warhammer Quest from a few years ago, but distinctly under-awed by Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine on the XBox. The fact that Space Wolf was dealing with more interesting source material (the gutsy Space Wolves as opposed to the boredom of the Ultramarines) was a definite plus, but I wasn’t sure what to expect.
Turns out Games Workshop have aimed to land Space Wolf somewhere between the olde worlde Space Hulk positioning and the powerful monetization opportunities of collectible card games, like Hearthstone.
The game mechanic is based on a deck of cards for your squad, with each trooper dealt cards that provide him with actions. Movement, a weapon, a grenade. Simple enough. Except I think the decision to adopt a card based system has removed some of the elements that make the Games Workshop universe addictive. Namely, creating units and individuals with certain skills and definite gear sets. I’ve a love for squad based combat games because I get to see the squad grow up, get new weapons etc. This happens here yes, but out there on the battlefield, it’s all randomised. Not my cup of tea.
Turn Based Strategy & Movement
Space Wolf iPad has a turn based system. It’s a little more faithful to the tabletop version than the giddy RTS rush of Dawn of War.
Movement is a chore that I quickly came to resent
I’m not a fan of how they’ve used the grid system in this game. Movement is a chore that I quickly came to resent rather than enjoy the tactical movements. Especially once you get into the larger squads, there are quite a few bottlenecks where you have to perform fiddly manoeuvres with your marines. Warhammer Quest had a fluidity and excitement of exploration to it, but somehow this was lost to me in this Space Wolf Review. Perhaps it’s that the environments feel restrictive rather than organic.
The combat system is interesting enough, with a variety of different weapons and effects. Flamers, chainswords, bolters and grenades, for example. All standard marine stuff. The effect scenes are fun. The highlight of my time playing Space Wolf iPad was cracking apart the skull of an unfortunate chaos marine with a power fist. Unfortunately the chaos marines are just fodder. Just a bunch of red shirts all doing typical bolter attacks. No deviation.
You pick up new weapons quick and the deck-based squad system is interesting and similar to building CCG decks. You’re given to option to upgrade and combine old weapons into new, which is a nice twist. I felt that if I was to play the game going forward, this deck improvement aspect would be the most interesting area of the game. But that’s just the Hearthstone player talking. I liked the idea of improving the outfit of going into battle, but still the idea of not being able to tailor the squad individually irked me.
Of course, the option to advance in these kind of games falls into two areas: a Paywall or a Patiencewall. Space Wolf has a pretty heady Paywall and this, for me, is the nail in the coffin. Repeating missions doesn’t earn credits and so what you’re up against is a payramp that eventually you pay, or you quit.
Big Plus Points:
- Free to download. Give it a spin.
- Easy to pick up and a very quick curve into more interesting weapons.
- Interesting animations for the combat.
Big Minus Points:
- Clumsy control and positioning system.
- Eventual paywall will grind you to a halt.
- Levels look organic, but are constrictive.
- Chaos marines have never been more boring.