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As I’m sure is the case with a lot of us, I dabbled in Chess as a kid and remember loving the strategic gameplay a lot. In fact, I was even a part of a Chess Club at one point and have fond memories of it. Sometime between then and waking up to adulthood, that passion for Chess seems to have slowly, covertly faded away into oblivion. Except it didn’t, not really. Without realizing it, I naturally gravitated toward turn-based tactics games like Fire Emblem: Awakening and XCOM: Enemy Unknown that have their roots in Chess, though I never really made the connection until recently. That didn’t prevent me from having so, so many hours of fun with them of course.

Though I’ve played XCOM and Fire Emblem extensively, and more recently Wargroove as well, I’ve never considered myself more than a novice or at best, ‘okay’ at the games. I’ve always felt like I wasn’t good enough at them, wasn’t smart enough, and ended up getting frustrated with myself as well as the game when things didn’t go my way. I was never happy with just a victory, I always needed to play in the most optimized, efficient manner possible, not losing a single one of my units unless absolutely necessary.

As a result, I inevitably kept bouncing off of the game and coming back to it a few months later to just bounce off of it once more when things went wrong. When I first saw Warborn on Steam, it had such a pleasant, welcoming vibe to it that I wanted to give turn-based tactics another chance, and try and stick with it this time, until the end, and not take it super seriously. So that’s just what I did, and I’m happy to say had a lot of fun in doing so.

Gameplay & Mechanics

This is a tricky one

Warborn pretty much plays like what you’d expect it to, being a turn-based tactics game: You take command of various types of mecha and move them into strategic, tactically advantageous positions on the chessboard-like map in order to gain the upper hand and defeat the enemy units while also taking over their base or structures. 


What differentiates it from other similar games is the hexagonal tilemap which allows most units to attack only in certain directions, based on the hexagons. This is a fun, inventive twist that provides a different flavor of strategy and forces you to think in a slightly different way when approaching the enemy. Like Wargroove, the map consists of multiple types of terrain some of which provide different kinds of cover. There are three attack types in Warborn: Kinetic, Explosive, and Energy, and cover that gives the unit an additional bonus defense in one or more of these areas. Forest tiles offer extra kinetic defense for example.

Mecha variety!

Coming to the mecha units themselves, there is quite a good variety of them, each one with its own set of advantages and disadvantages in regards to how many units it can move per turn, the attack range and damage type, and defenses against the 3 damage types.

The Havoc is most suitable for mid-range combat and has the ability to capture enemy structures as well as throw grenades (which aren’t, as you’d expect, AoE). The Pathfinder is best used as a scout since it has the ability to detect mines as well as the highest movement range. The Aegis can buff and heal allies, and the Insight is a sniper-type so has incredible range.

So some of these unit types, like the Invader, can also inflict status effects – buffs on friendly units for extra attack/defense or heal; and debuffs on enemy ones to immobilize them, jam their weapons, reduce their armor, etc.

I do wish the attacks and the buffs/debuffs were made more clear, or there were a glossary of attacks with their descriptions because it wasn’t immediately clear which debuffs did what.

Some missions also allow you to call in reinforcements through a base, and that’s when it gets interesting. There are two types of currencies: Strategy Points (SP) and Commander Points (CP). You earn SP by taking over enemy structures, each of which gives you 10SP at the start of every turn. These points are used to call for reinforcements, with the basic Havoc units costing only 20SP to more powerful units that can cost up to 100SP. Then there’s CP, which is more like a meter than a currency and gradually builds up with each individual conflict of the battle, and when full, it can be used to either deploy an over-powered mecha or to use a Commander Power.

Over the course of Warborn, you gain access to 4 commanders in total, each with around 10 missions. Each of these commanders represents a different faction and brings with them their own unique traits and play style so the game stays fresh and interesting to a certain degree. Along with various passive bonuses that you unlock over that commander’s campaign, each commander also has a ‘Commander Power’ that can be used once or twice a mission by depleting your CP meter. Each commander specializes in a different strategy: one specializes in close combat while another relies on healing for example. So there’s a commander to suit almost every type of player, which promises a lot of potential for the multiplayer scene.

Easy-to-use map editor!

A couple of minor things about Warborn that bothered me: I do wish there was an undo-last-move button as I frequently found myself regretting the previous move and wanting to change it. And while you can save in the middle of a mission, I would still have liked a quicksave option and to be able to make multiple saves within a single mission. Grenades are not AoE which is kinda strange and unintuitive and goes against what grenades stand for. It’s not a big deal and you’ll probably get used to it quickly but that was a little thorn in my side that annoyed me for a long time.

Difficulty & Replayability

The difficulty on ‘Normal’ is absolutely perfect – while it forces you to think tactically, the gameplay remains overall casual and not too taxing. It’s something you can play after a long day’s work to relax because though it requires you to think, the scope remains small and doesn’t get too overwhelming like an XCOM game. There is, of course, a ‘Hard’ difficulty if you’re looking for more of a challenge as well as an ‘Easy’ one if you’re a newcomer to TBTs. 

There’s definitely some replayability to Warborn thanks to the grading system – you’re awarded a grade, S being the best one, at the end of each mission. So completionists will definitely want to pursue the best grade and best K/D ratio in each mission. Plus, the addition of the easy-to-use intuitive map editor can definitely keep you busy if you’re in that. However the lack of split-screen/shared-screen multiplayer is unfortunate. I’d have really liked to play locally against a friend.

Story & Narrative

Just a bunch of blah

Let’s be real here, no one plays a turn-based tactics game for the story, much like no one bothers to ask about the story in Chess. The plot here is just plain generic and forgettable and you can safely skip all the dialog sequences guilt-free, you’re not missing anything. You play as different factions and fight against other enemy factions, that’s all you need to know.

There are no standout characters or storylines, the story is instead just a vehicle for the gameplay, an excuse to command troops and engage in battle. The pre-mission briefing and the post-mission dialog only serve as a breather between missions, a short reprieve to add some padding between missions before getting right back into the thick of it.

Visuals & Sound

The simplistic but pleasant color palette and the ‘80s anime-style animation are a joy to look at. The whole game is just incredibly pleasant and easy on the eyes and so definitely helps make long play sessions effortless and not tiring like in other similar games. In fact I never really felt like I needed a break from the game, it maintained its inviting and friendly vibe all the way to the very end. The UI is very appealing as well and not overly cluttered or annoying at all.  In fact, I imagine porting Warborn to mobile devices won’t be that much of a challenge. In fact, it’s coming out on the Switch as well, which makes perfect sense.

Music, while there’s not a lot of variety, is still good and cheers you on during battles, keeps you engaged and compelled to play. It’s nothing special but it’s enjoyable and gets the job done.


The 40 missions took me about 25 hours to get through (without striving for all the S grades), which is pretty good value for the asking price of ₹569/$19.99. Add to that the map editor, and the online as well as offline multiplayer, and you get great bang for your buck. The variety of mecha units and the 4 different commanders provide a lot of potential for fun matchups. And the charming art style only adds to the fun, welcoming vibe. Though it isn’t the deepest tactics game of all time, if you’re a fan of turn-based tactics, no matter your level of experience, you definitely won’t be disappointed with Warborn.



  1. Thanks for the honest review. I saw your comment and link at Steamgames and thought I would read your take on the game. I am thinking about buying the game, but what stops me is the “mixed” rating over at SG, maybe the best bet is to wait and see if the developer will be adding new features to the game. I do love strategy games and Robot Anime, and i think this game is one to watch for.

    1. Hey, thanks for checking out the review!
      It’s a pretty fun title if you’re into turn-based strategy but yeah, it’s not really a must-play and it does get repetitive after the first 5-6 hours. It doesn’t look like the devs are planning any updates any time soon so I’d say just wait for a sale if you’re on the fence!

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