Corvus Belli has been promoting Warcrow quite a bit as they develop their foray into fantasy wargaming. But is it any good? Hearing that the first demos in the UK would be at SELWG, which is just up the road from me, I decided to go on an expedition to find out...
The demo set wasn't painted yet, having only arrived on the Wednesday before the show! They were lovely crisp sculpts with plenty of detail and looked like they'd be great to paint. These models are the ones intended for the starter set. I picked the northern tribe faction which is a mix of orcs and elves.
The other side of the starter set are the Embersig faction - which is a human, elf and dwarf faction. The orc faction played with tougher fighters, while Embersig had troops with more morale and discipline.
The demo game was around the control of the central objective. It's alternating activations, but with a mechanic where a unit can push itself to act twice. Embersig took initiative, and headed for the objective.
I used my wizard to buff the orc fighters, over-powering the spell by taking "Stain" on the caster. The demo game has this risk causing you damage, but the wider game is likely to have a more variable mechanic.
The orcs were charged by the humans and took some damage but didn't fall back. When they fought back, they won the fight without causing any casualties, the fear they were causing pushed the Embersig unit back away from the objective.
The Embersig wizard then used a spell to push the orcs off the objective. Rude!
While the northern tribe wizard tried to claim the objective at the end of the turn, the Embersig leader took control of the objective by being better at claiming objectives than the wizard.
I started the last turn by having the orc leader charge in and smush the Embersig leader into the ground. Can't claim an objective when you're cut down, can you?
I was really worried about the Embersig wizard repeating their clever push spell losing me the game, so I reasoned that a northern tribes wizard would punch better than an Embersig wizard. This proved correct and a surprised Embersig wizard fell to the bludgeoning of the northern tribes wizard.
Now the orcs charged into the Embersig Infantry and cut several of them down. It seems that models are more powerful on the charge, so moving so that you get the charge is a big deal!
Cutting down several Embersig solders, the couple of survivors fled the combat, leaving the field in the hands of the northern tribes! Victory for the orcs and their allies!
The game is currently in beta, and the game mechanics may change before publication. That said, the game as it currently stands seems really promising. You get extra move and better attacks if you charge, so there's a motivation to take initiative and manoeuvre to get the charge.
Add to that the ability to push your troops at the risk of them getting exhausted, an over-cast mechanic for magicians, and a morale system that causes you to retreat a significant distance if you fail a morale check in combat. This adds up to me as a game where movement and positioning are going to be incredibly important. I can already see how different factions might focus on different aspects of the game for their strengths and weaknesses. I'm watching with deep interest as to what comes next...