Currently playing: Dawn of War 2.

The original had some novel ideas about replacing resource-gathering with taking and holding territory. I didn’t realise however how much further this one diverges with the RTS formula. It totally dumps the resource managent and base building altogether, and reduces the scale of your army to a small elite team of heroes.

So in any one mission you have the commander, two or three seargants each leading a handful of squaddies, and optionally a big stompy robot thing. As you complete missions your heroes gain experience and become more powerful with new abilities. They also aquire better weapons and armour.

This means a bit of planning how you want to build your guys. Which means it gets a bit RPG. Although really that just means for a couple of guys, deciding if you want them to be more close-quarters or hand-to-hand types. Then before each mission you decide who’s going to be the most useful, and what toys to give them. ie does heavy dude get the anti-infantry machinegun or the rocket launcher.

Then in battle since we’re not sending out combine harvesters to gather unobtanium to build tanks, it’s all about tactics. So cover plays a key role, as do ways of flushing enemies out of it. (flamer is good for this, but not so great in other roles. Decisions decisions!).

Anyway I’ve mostly got the hang of it. I generally like laying down a hail of fire from the shooty dudes then having the commander charge the enemy whilst they’re suppressed. Also the scout, whilst not much use in a straight up fight, can sneak around sniping and bombing stuff.

Or I can just have the dreadnought (robot thing) show up. It looks ridiculous and tends to shuffle around as if a bit confused, knocking over the cover I meant to hide behind. But then it lets rip with its minigun and space-elves go flying. Hurray.

That said the boss fights tend to get a bit messy.
How it should go: Force Commander tanks it, shooty guys let rip from behind cover, sneaky guy throws bombs, assault guys take on any extra baddies that show up

How it tends to go: boss chases heavy weapon guys. They run away. Commander runs after boss. Sneaky guy gets wiped out. Dreadnought stomps in a circle, shoots up some rocks.

Oh and the eldar farseer has a really horrible area of effect attack. Keep everyone apart from the Force Commander well away from her with room to scatter.

btw I’m only playing on the 2nd out of four difficulty levels. It’s the sort of situation where I can tell I’m being let off easy sometimes – I look at bad guys outflanking me and think, that was stupid move I made there, and I really should have gotten wiped out for it. Did I mention the idea of me being a “strategy gamer” is a total charade?

Oh yeah and this is all Warhammer-based, hence the space elves. Also space-orks. And your guys are warrior-monks in powered armour waving chainsaw-swords as they declare FOR THE EMPEROR. I know some of you find the setting totally ridiculous and, well, it is. But it’s more colourful and entertaining, in a GRIMDARK++ way, than most other generic scifi.

Anyways this isn’t exactly retro gaming is it? We should look at the original one day.