While card and board games continue to dominate the Nintendo platform, it’s unusual to see recreation or inspiration from the world of board games translate to the genre as well. The Wartile achieves this by having us place our Viking game pieces in Norse mythology, all wrapped up in a fully realized table top installation. Can this title help us get the most out of these games today, or will it just kick up dust after a while?

In Wartile you take control of a small military group of Viking raiders and complete various quests. For starters, some of these goals include making offerings to the gods, setting bear traps, or even splitting pumpkins for a Halloween-inspired event during this review. While the game does its best with contextual tutorials while you’re on board, you’ll probably be a little confused about the purpose of this game. Since your character’s units are mostly static until they are moved or in combat, it seems like it’s a turn-based strategy game, but that’s not really the case. Rather, it’s an active combat system with units that can reload quickly, which affects strategy somewhat. I eventually discovered in the first few minutes of the game that I needed to break through the visual and static barrier and play more like an RTS, moving from a military group of three warriors together and actively moving them through various tactical fields on hex and tile levels.

Once you’ve done a few introductory quests, the rest of the game really starts to open up. The main menu is visually pretty cool because it represents your table, and at the top of the table is a map with some water effects running through it. On the sides are drawers with your skill cards and a shelf with miniatures. During the game you unlock a total of seven Viking miniatures, but as far as I know only three succeed in the adventure. Each room you enter is a microtableau and a diorama that is very artistic in its sculpture and use of texture. Seeing the Yggdrasil tribe with the cliff around it was pretty hard, but I wish some of the scenes had been a bit larger to provide a greater choice of paths for my military group. Instead, despite some duplication, you will travel through each of these dioramas in a fairly linear fashion to complete your quests. At least I didn’t feel lost in a quest, which is always a welcome feature.

When it comes to strategy and betting, with the Wartileseveral important factors come into play. First: As you complete tasks and quests, you unlock more skill cards that can be used by your Vikings. There are five to choose from and a set of locking handles to help you develop your strategies. My biggest complaint about this map-based ability system is that I felt like I didn’t really understand some of the maps I had used before, and in fact some of them seemed a bit useless given the way my quests went and the factions of enemies I encountered. However, I’m sure others will benefit from it more than I will.

Each Viking can also be equipped, either by searching for equipment in chests during the quest, or by buying equipment from a local merchant in the main menu. The dealer feature seems a bit incomplete, with only visually shifted equipment on a split table, and contextual pop-ups aren’t really helpful. The same goes for the Viking’s installation screen, where the comparison of equipment and inventory turned out to be a little more spongy and almost incomplete than I had imagined, making it a little more confusing than I had imagined.

The choice of quest is another obscure aspect. The campaign map shows you where to go and offers level recommendations, but your characters have no experience points or higher levels. Instead, it seemed to me that you could get levels simply by completing a new quest. This mechanic confused me even more, because while I got new equipment and made my Viking team potentially stronger in part, I felt a little random knowing that I had better move on to the next quest of the campaign.

For me, quest progression is another minor omission, as the boards you travel on are limited, and you are also forced to repeat the same quest up to three times, but with a higher difficulty. I really didn’t feel like playing Tears of Eir, the introductory quest, over and over again. What’s even more frustrating is the fact that unfortunately, even while playing in TV mode, I still encountered game blocks after successfully completing the task and playing through the results screen. One time I gave up in a hurry after planning everything carefully, and barely managed to complete a fairly difficult mission on difficulty level 3 that took me 20 minutes of my time, but the game froze on the results screen and I lost my progression, forcing me to start all over again.

Still, the overall gameplay is pretty decent. Sometimes there are simple puzzles to solve, but for the most part you’ll find yourself in tactical and active combat with skeletons, cult leaders and other warriors. The animations are decent, and it’s really easy to see health, but you don’t always know how much damage someone has done. So you’ll find yourself playing with your characters hoping they’ll take one last shot before you take it back. Since the game is more of an active combat system that can lead to fighting frustration, there is also a slow down button that allows you to breathe a little more so you can consider your strategies, which I appreciate.

Wartile brings a very interesting gaming experience to the platform, and there are many mechanisms and presentation elements that do the job for the game. On the contrary, the game seemed a bit unfinished and more like a beta version. I wish I had more merchants and a stronger bond with the Viking warrior gang. The objectives were also not always clear and there seemed to be a need for more guidance. I can’t say how the Switch port compares to its PC counterpart, which was released on Steam in 2018, but there’s something different about this game that I’d like to see in action.

Combat Readiness Check
  • Charts – 7.5/10
  • Sound – 6.5/10
  • Gameplay – 6/10
  • Late complaint – 5,5/10

6/10

Final thoughts : WARNINGS

Wartile brings diorama-based board games to Nintendo Switch with a fictional theme of Viking and Norse mythology. While the game is very creative and has unique graphics, many of its features appeared to be somewhat incomplete, which was exacerbated by the lack of clear gameplay progression and a missed opportunity to increase the level of character detail. But once you get used to it, the game goes pretty well and the thematic settings are excellent. If you’re in the mood for a digital micro-computing experience, Wartile may be something to try, despite its drawbacks.

Alex has been involved in the gaming industry since the release of Nintendo. He’s turned his hobby into a career, spending just over a decade developing games and now serving as creative director of the studio.

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