Exciting Tug of War Battles Blaze in Warpips

Tower defense games are tons of fun, providing a good balance between strategic and tactical thinking, and they are especially good for those players who (like me) love to play as defensive specialists. But even the best of them can get a little bit repetitive. Warpips alleviates that problem by adding in both offensive and defensive elements, combining a tug of war type of mechanic with the chaotic combat.

Warpips is a deceptively simple-looking game. It’s available on the Steam platform for about $10, and is more than worth it for anyone who enjoys fast-paced wargaming against the computer. There is no multiplayer however, so your war will just be against the game’s artificial intelligence. Thankfully, the AI of Warpips is fairly intelligent, and the simplicity of the game’s objectives also helps. The AI does not have to operate at a genius level to try and march straight across the map.

In fact, both your army and the enemy one will be marching on their own. You don’t directly control most units in the game. There are a few support elements like a base turret or a suicide drone that you either control yourself or at least designate targets for, but for the most part all you are doing is spawning your army and letting them try and get the job done.

The overall objective for each skirmish is always the same. Your troops need to march across a map littered with various obstacles, fight and destroy whatever enemy army units stand or spawn in your way, and eventually destroy an enemy base on the far side of the field. Meanwhile, the enemy is spawning an army that is trying to march across the same field to destroy your base. Whichever side kills their opponent’s base wins the day.

There are three modes to play in Warpips. The first has you engaging in random battles. Both your loadout and the enemy one is random, so you really don’t know what you will get. The second mode is endless warfare, which is where you just keep fighting for as long as you can. And the final one is a campaign mode, where gamers will likely be spending most of their time.

Campaign mode is interesting because it tasks you with conquering a series of islands, sector by sector, where you fight a battle in each one as you crisscross the island toward the final battle at the far side. This mode also adds an additional mechanic and consideration to the game. Each time you conquer a sector, you are awarded different troop types that you can use in future battles. Sometimes you might want to attack a sector specifically because of the rewards a victory will offer, like an especially powerful unit or a handful of lower-tier units that you enjoy having in your army. That might temp you to deviate from the shortest path across the island towards the enemy base so that you can stock up on troops for future fights, even ones that might be fought on other islands. However, every time you make a move, the enemy grows stronger (which you can see by a graph at the end of each battle). So if you deviate from your path, you have to compensate for harder battles ahead with a stronger enemy. Most of the time however, going for those extra units seems to be worth it.

Each battlefield itself is linear, moving from left to right across the field. Many of them also have chokepoints like bridges which you can use to your advantage on defense, but which you probably also need to cross under fire. Before each skirmish, you can choose which units you want to use from your earned supply. So, for example, if you want to employ a heavy gunner, you have to load their card into the loadout section for that battle. You can spawn as many as you like within the skirmish, but the ability to use that type is spent when you load up the card. If that was the last heavy gunner card in your inventory, then you cant use them again in future fights until you earn more of their cards. Keeping a good hand of unit choices in your supply is one of the main reasons that you will be attacking optional sectors. A good strategy is trying to win battles with a few low-level troops and then earning better units as a reward, which can make future battles much easier.

Once the fight begins, you will earn a set amount of money every few seconds which you can spend on whatever unit types you loaded up in the pre-fight stage, assuming you can afford them. Most units also take up a “pip” which is basically a unit counter, and where the game gets its name. You start with only a few open pips. However, as you kill enemy units you earn experience which can be spent to buy more pips, increase the speed which your money rolls in, or used to improve your units. Experience can also be spent to give a one-time influx of cash if you need to spawn a bunch of new units in a hurry.

It sounds like a lot to try and control, but it’s really not too bad. Your army units know how to fight, with certain specialist units, like those who can call in artillery, waiting until other frontline type troops are available before marching forward with them. You don’t control how your army attacks, just when they spawn. If you become a true master of Warpips, you might be able to do things like spawn slower units first and then quicker ones, so that they will come together as a group on the far end of the field to fight an enemy unit or even attack their base. Over time, you will likely get a feel for the flow of the combat so that knowing when and how to spawn things becomes second nature. The fact that the difficulty as well as the number of available unit types ramps up slowly really helps players learn the mechanics at a good pace.

There is also a very good tutorial in Warpips that basically takes you all the way through the first island fight in campaign mode. It does a very good job of explaining all of the basic and advanced concepts of Warpips, so no armchair general should feel lost when playing.

The one feature I really wish the game had was the ability to create your own battle scenarios. The random battles are fun, but I would like to try things out like a tanks versus turret type of quick game, or one with a lot of air power or artillery. It would be pretty fun to have access to most units in a kind of battlefield creation mode, and then go on to fight based on what you made. But that is a minor gripe, and it’s not like this $10 game is hurting for content. It’s a really good value.

Warpips is a lot of fun. It’s one of those games that can be played for hours in campaign mode (I lost track of time more than once). Or, if you only have a few minutes to devote to wargaming, then a quick skirmish will certainly do the trick. No matter how much time you have, or whatever your level of battlefield skill, Warpips is a game that can scratch that itch for a little tactical combat, or just when you want to really blow stuff up. The game is well worth the price.

Warpips earns 4.5 GiN Gems out of 5.

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