Gog have recently added to their lineup a couple of strategy games based on Warhammer 40k, the famous science-fantasy tabletop wargame. These games are great for those of us us who feel like commanding some space marines against the enemies of the Imperium, but never got around to finding a gaming club. Or can’t paint to save our lives. Or don’t particularly want to be hanging around a Games Workshop full of 12 year olds.

First up there’s Chaos Gate. It handles a bit like the old X-Com games: turn based, with each character allocated a certain amount of action points to move, shoot, reload etc. Your forces in each battle consist of a few squads of marines, facing off against their traitorous Chaos-worshipping counterparts.

I recall finding it a bit slow to start off with, largely due to the weedy standard weapons the marines carry. If you stick with it though, more interesting options are wheeled out. Like the Assault Marines who charge around the battlefield on jetpacks, waving axes and pistols. You also get Librarians which basically Wizards. Genetically engineered super-soldier wizards that is, because 40k rejoices in the outlandishly ridiculous. Also the Terminators, who wear even huger armour than regular huge space marine armour and are armed with a mix of shockingly powerful Gatling guns and giant hammers.

(Some users have reported issues with Chaos Gate crashing, see some advice from gog here).

Then there’s Final Liberation, also turn based but based on the spin-off game Epic, which depicts warfare on a much larger scale. So you have tanks, artillery and even Titans (which is what 40k calls giant mecha). This one pits the armies of the imperium against the green horde of the Orks. I recall it can be pretty challenging, unless you save-scum the hell out of it (who would ever do such a thing), as you have to constantly push forward to capture objectives to win a battle. Can’t just sit back and shoot, despite your massed ranks of heavy guns. Close combat is also a consideration – Orks on motorbikes don’t look like much of a threat at this scale, but they’ll do horrible things to tanks up close.

I have a certain fondness for the full-motion-video cutscenes, which are basically what you’d get if you took your local amateur dramatics society, dressed them up in 40k outfits and put them on top of late-90s CG. So basically a fan-film, I guess. I mock a bit, but they have a certain charm in that low-budget british scifi kind of way. They’re also honestly more enjoyable to watch than that terrible CG space-marine movie released a few years ago.

There’s also Shadow of the Horned Rat , which is based on 40k’s stablemate, Warhammer fantasy battle. So it’s a game of goblins and crossbows instead of tanks and lasers. I’ve never played this one so can’t comment, other than to say it looks like it’s realtime. It’s also having crashing problems, so might want to hold off until gog find a fix.