Warpath – First Impressions of Mantic’s upcoming Sci-Fi tabletop wargame

Last night I got the “Beta Rules” of Warpath, Mantic Games’ upcoming Sci-Fi tabletop wargame. I read through them and thought I’d share my thoughts on them in a little blog entry.

Be aware that I will mention Warhammer 40,000 a lot in this little article and that I will be comparing Warpath’s Beta Rules with 40k a lot due to obvious reasons.
My first impression: It’s a very clever product. Warpath is basically what Warhammer 40,000’s 3rd edition would have been in a better world. The designers had a good look at 40k, had a good look at internet forums and then went and made 40k very fast and very clear by the looks of the rules alone.

Here are a few points which to my observations make the main differences to 40k:

.) True Line of Sight is tidied up by increasing the importance of unit leaders in this regard.

.) There are no tables to memorize (like 40k’s to-hit and to-wound tables). What you need to roll to hit/wound is all pretty clearly put in the statlines.

.) If it’s one player’s turn he’s the only one who gets to roll dice.

.) There are modifiers. Not all that many but there are modifiers for hitting with fire arms as well as in melee. Again, a reason why this product seems cleverly done to me. It’s not all that many modifiers but they are there and I have no idea what devil rode GW’s designes to do away with modifiers when the glorious beauty that was 40k was wrecked by its 3rd edition. 😉

.) Flyers are implemented. Another and much more recent mistake (in my opinion) that GW made with 40k was introducing flyers. Now we know why they probably did it (apart from the aim to sell big plastic models) – they probably worked out some nice rules for them for 6th edition 40k. But anyway, I digress. Flyers are handled interestingly – kind of similar to the Forgeworld rules for Flyers but much simpler and faster to execute. So a certain idea of “swooping by a shooting things” is kept but it works very simple and streamlined.

.) Single models don’t really represent “wounds” the squad can take and models are not being removed from play if a unit receives damage. Rather than that, “wound markers” are accumulated and each time a unit takes damage they have to roll a “Nerves” check which works kind of similarly to a Leadership check in 40k. I won’t go into further details but this check basically determines if the squad fights on, is suppressed or destroyed and the higher the number of wounds markers, the higher the chance of being suppressed or destroyed is. We will see what other miniatures ranges are in store for us with Warpath. The lists of allies indicate that we will see the following races added later: Corporation, Rebs, Asterians and “the eigth race”. I speculate that the Corporation will be human, the Rebs will be human (maybe with alien allies), the Asterians will be aliens (elves?) and “the eigth race” will be Mantic’s attempts to so something really unique.

.) There are rules for allies and they are not very restrictive which allows for quite some freedom in these regards.

Sadly, as good as nothing about the background is being revealed in these pdf files, just a few artworks of Mantic’s Space Dwarfs, the Forgefathers, (who look a lot like their Fantasy Dwarfs) and some Space Orcs, called Marauders. Seems like they very much keep in tone with 40k’s “Fantasy in Space” mentality which isn’t surprising because this is basically Mantic’s business – providing alternatives to GW’s products, be it rules or models.

+++Update: We got more information on the background now. By the sound of it it’s rather effective. The Corporation is the big bad faction, Forgefathers, true to their Dwarven ways, are much older than the human-dominated Corporation and are heavily connected to their traditions (and flame weaponry) and generally work together with the Corporation but are willing and able to defend themselves if the Corporation presses charges or tries to overreach. The Marauders were once subdued by the Corporation, trained as shock troops in case of the necessity of hostile takeover but as always with these stories, the Marauders turned against their masters and now work as hired guns/mercenary types. Alessio Cavatore described the setting as “high sci-fi”. I like that background. It’s easy to explain and to get into but has lots of potential for development. Judging from Kings of War and Mantic’s general modus operandi, the background surely isn’t a too essential aspect about the whole thing and I doubt that we’ll see the more classic approach to background as we saw it in past decades (novels, comicbooks, maybe a computer game and so on). We’re talking about a company here who act very effectively, very resourceful, very determined and who have a clear direction.

I haven’t played it yet but just by reading the rules I am fairly sure that this ruleset works pretty well and it’s designed to be simple and inviting to beginners while also being close enough to 40k to get the players from there. In terms of Sci-Fi tabletop wargaming at army level it doesn’t try to be The Other System but rather than that Warpath aims to make people feel at home right away and I am very sure that as soon as this system is being officially launched we will see lots of exchange between 40k and Warpath in terms of rules for 40k armies/units in Warpath and vice versa.

I think that this is a good thing because the market and communities will get shaken up even a bit more which is great in itself. The only problem I can see happening (and it will happen) is that some people will feel the need to start arguing what the “better” system was, 40k or Warpath. They probably do already which is kind of weird. But with Warpath around the corner and very, very promising rumours about 6th edition 40k having shown up online I think that not only classic Fantasy wargaming but also the Space Fantasy genre is in for some very welcome new additions and changes. It’s a great time to be a tabletop wargamer!

This ends my short review of the Beta rules of Warpath. I hope that you enjoyed it and maybe found it interesting. If you agree or disagree with my views and/ or speculations, please let comment!

P.S.: Warpath: “Did we mention that we have Space Dwarfs?”

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