Warhammer 40,000: Regicide is the thematic reimagining of one of humanity’s oldest games.
Warhammer 40,000: Regicide on PC
If nothing else, I’ve gotta give points for creativity when it comes to the Warhammer 40,000 franchise. With a towering history built on miniature-based tabletop gaming, detailed novel history, and plenty more, it’s become a mainstay in the world of games, both digital and otherwise. Mixing things up a bit from their standard strategy set, the folks behind this well-known universe have come forward with genre-bending games that break all the rules, to include first-person shooters, sports, and now board games. Warhammer 40,000: Regicide is, in essence, a reimagined version of one of the world’s oldest games: chess. With a unique Warhammer twist, can Hammerfall Publishing reinvent a classic while staying true to the source? Let’s find out.
In Regicide, players are given control over an army in a chess-style battle against either an AI-controlled or online opponent. The game’s Classic mode stays pretty true to its name, with a chess-style starting layout and pieces that are analogous to the ‘game of kings’ traditional approach. Players will command their army in simple turn-based movement, with each piece in play matching to one of the traditional chess pieces in terms of movement. It’s a great way to get a feel for the game, and serves as a well-animated and updated Battle Chess style experience, with animations for each movement and attack to flesh things out. Players may skip animations at any time, at least when playing offline, but it’s fun to watch from time to time if only for the detailed violence and gore that your minions unleash.
Of course, the truly unique piece comes from the game’s signature mode, aptly named Regicide. Here, the player’s turn is now broken into two phases. In the movement phase, players can select one of their pieces to move on the board, following standard chess move-patterns. The tactical phase is where things truly deviate, allowing players the chance to use powerful play-altering abilities or unit skills to lay waste to the field. These range from simple ranged attacks against enemy forces to devastating Area of Effect strikes, defensive boosts, and much more. The aim, of course, is the same as it ever was: trap the enemy king in checkmate, eliminating any possible escape from defeat. Since each piece still has its traditional moves that essentially serve as automatic victory over an opposing piece, traditional strategies still play a part in how you’ll want to proceed.
What’s interesting about Warhammer 40,000: Regicide is that the entire basis of play is still in-theme for the source material. In the world of Warhammer 40,000, “Regicide” is the name given to what is essentially the evolution of chess — now a game that mankind has been playing for some thirty-eight thousand years. By keeping this tie-in to the world from which it draws, Regicide stands out a bit from the typical shoehorned way that some games have forced themselves into unusual genres or takes on the experience. While it may not have much to do with the gameplay, I felt that this detail is worth mentioning because it gives some important framing for fans of the Warhammer universe, and is something that might escape the uninitiated who may mistake this for a forced-feeling retreading of old material.
Regicide is, perhaps, a bit lacking in ambition by using a well-known, popular setting and ubiquitous game as its framework, but it does present an interesting twist. Longtime chess players may not find anything interesting in the game’s Classic mode, which does little beyond adding a shiny veneer to the experience, but the Regicide mode really does shine. By adding in elements of turn-based strategy gaming, the unique take on a centuries-old game is freshened up a bit, if not entirely overhauled. There’s been no shortage of attempts over the years to ‘modernize’ or re-invent chess, but Regicide doesn’t bother changing the basic rules so much as it simply adds to them, giving players new ways to approach their play and entirely unheard-of means of victory. This may be notable if only because many prior attempts at bringing chess up-to-date have largely fallen flat.
Ultimately, though, Warhammer 40,000: Regicide is exactly what you’d expect. It’s chess with Space Marines and Orks, and a few twists in the title game mode. If you’re a hardcore Warhammer 40,000 fan who’s looking for the next time-killer after Blood Bowl 2’s recent release, you can pick up Regicide for a fair $14.99 on Steam. There’s plenty of polish, online leaderboards, and good old-fashioned Warhammer action for fans to lap up. If you don’t have a history with the source material, there may not be much appeal as many of the pieces, armies, and other toss-ins rely somewhat on a bit of foreknowledge. Of course, if you’re just in it to find a new, interesting take on arguably the most classic game in (Eurpoean) history, you may yet find something here as well — just know that it’s going to be painted in a world you may not fully appreciate.