Dogs of war online is a free to play online tactical turn based strategy game developed by Cyanide studios. Cyanide studios themselves are a French developer based in Paris France and are some what of a hit or miss company in my opinion. While they have developed great games like blood bowl, confrontation and the highly underrated of Orcs and Men. They are also the ones responsible for the terrible game of thrones game. Please note a the time of making this review, the game although mostly complete is in open BETA and as such there are quite the few bugs and glitches to be had.
Dogs of war is heavily inspired by the confrontation boardgame by Rackham, as was their previous confrontation game. The game is set in the world of Aarklash which as you can imagine is in a state of war. Three factions vie for power, the forces of light, darkness and destiny. Seeing this as a grand opportunity mercenary companies have started to spring up and as you can imagine your going to set of these companies up.
Each of your units has a number of attributes such as attack, damage and parry as well as a AP value. AP stands for Army points, the way that battles work in Dogs of war is similar to popular table top games. Each battle has an AP limit value for example a death match battle with a limit of 200 AP. This means you can you'll only be able to deploy units that match or go under that score collectively. For example I can deploy my predator of blood, a Wolfen crossbowmen and a lone wolf-man unit which adds up to 167, however I cannot deploy my fang warrior as adding him to the selection goes over the 200 AP limit
So lets get down to the main focus of the game which is its combat. There are currently three types of player vs player game mode available. You have your straight up death match mode, Elimination VIP which is where you are given a unit to protect while trying to kill the enemies VIP and last is king of the hill, where you need to place units in a selected area and hold it until the timer runs out. When your not killing real peoples mercenaries, you have the option of training missions. These training missions have varying difficulties and place you against an AI.
The combat itself is your very traditional turn based strategy, the movement grid is a hexed grid and the game shows you your movement options clearly. The green area around a unit is where you can move and still do actions like attack, you also have the option to move further by going into the orange highlighted area at the expense of any form of attacking action.
Attacking works on a basic formula, your units accuracy versus the enemies parry. Should you succeed damage is then worked out by your units damage versus the enemies toughness rating. There are a variety of factors governing your units attributes in a battle, things like terrain, cover, injuries, and other status' can affect the rolls.
Speaking of terrain and cover, the maps are beautifully crafted. You can make use of walls, hedges and more to take cover from ranged enemies or shoot from hedges thus making your character covered while attacking. There are also blocks of terrain that have rubble on them, these areas are classed as heavy terrain and units standing on them incur defensive penalties.
Two really useful mechanics in combat are the charge and pursuit movement mechanics. Charge is exactly as it sounds, your unit can charge an enemy. A successful charge will not only engage the enemy in close combat but also inflict a stun state which incurs a -1 to all their attributes. Pursuit movement occurs when a unit defeats an enemy, your able to take another action be it movement or attack another close enemy.
You also have orders at your disposal in combat, orders are essentially consumable abilities that you can use on any of your units. Some orders are faction specific for example as you can see I play as the Wolfen, their faction specific order is natural selection which gives a +2 to damage to the unit for the rest of the turn. Orders are crucial to victory in Dogs of war and can be the difference between a win or a loss.
Any fan of turn based strategy will be straight at home with dogs of war, even newcomers to the genre will pick up the mechanics of the game quickly and without much pain. The games tutorial explains everything nicely by actually letting you play the mechanics rather than just show you.
Dogs of war is no where near perfect, Cyanide still have a lot of work to do to not only bug fix but to also ensure the correct balancing for the units as some currently do feel over powered. Combat is solid and it is a good framework for cyanide to build on as the game progresses, luckily it is a completely self published title and cyanide own the IP meaning they can tweak to their hearts content. If your a big turn based strategy fan, you'll find real enjoyment here as I did. It is also a good place for newcomers to the genre to find their bearings as the game is not too difficult and you can just play with friends until you feel ready for more challenging foes.
As free to play games go, Dogs of war is by no means pay to win, though progression solely through ducats is slow and sometimes tedious, its easily done. While its a definite work in progress, there is certainly potential to build upon and I'd have no qualms about recommending this to anyone looking to play a turn based strategy.
Posted: February 7th, 2014