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a wargaming blog (plus some other stuff)

War Room Review

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Privateer Press’ Warmachine app has been available for a while now but I have only recently started playing with it, so time for a review methinks…

About two weeks ago I picked up the Retribution of Scyrah deck in War Room. As standard, all of cards from the Prime rulebooks are available in the app, but to use the program properly, you need to purchase at least one of the faction decks. This also unlocks the reference section of the program which is one of its most useful features.

The Retribution deck includes all of the Retribution of Scyrah cards available to date, plus (quite importantly) the Retribution partisans from the Mercenary and Wrath books. Annoyingly, you do not get access to the very few other Mercenary or Minion options available to Retribution which is a real shame because this only equates to a total of four extra cards; but to get them, you need to purchase two additional decks. Argh!

Tinkerhouse Games have tweaked the interface a bit since War Room was launched last year, allowing you to run a graphics lite version. This is how I have the app setup on my iPad 2 and apart from a few minor glitches, it seems to work very well, although it is not super fast. It also only works in landscape on my device which seems strange when you are use to other apps switching orientation as you turn the device.

This said, the two big selling points of War Room for me are the ability to see all of my cards in one place, and to build armies.

All of the faction cards are available, I can look up related rules related to the cards, and this is all very easy to navigate

The first, War Room does very very well. All of the faction cards are available, I can look up related rules related to the cards, and this is all very easy to navigate. As an added bonus for old folk like myself, the cards are also bigger on an iPad so they are easier to read.

The second, is ok, but I have some issues with PP’s approach. The theory is that War Room is not an army list tool, so they have left it very flexible. This means the app will not tell you when you are attaching the wrong UA to the wrong unit, and it does not enforce theme lists (or calculate point reductions). This is irritating because iBodger did exactly these things and did them very well.

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The third selling point of War Room is the ability to use it in game. If your opponent also has War Room, you can use the app to host games so you can see their cards (and any damage), and if not, you can still record your own damage in the app.

I have used War Room in this second mode once, and it seemed pretty chunky compared to marking damage directly onto cards. This said, the app gives you a nice overview of your models’ stats and damage, and quick access to the cards and rules if you need them.

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The timer functionality is a bit rubbish compared to Battle Clock, but in fairness War Room has a lot of other information to fill the screen space. I think its ok for casual games, but in a tournament setting it is not going to be fast enough and it is a little impractical.

However, is it useful? Yes, definitely, and there’s a very good chance I will pick up one more deck for my next army. In particular it is fantastic when I’m travelling because I always have my iPad with me.

There’s a lot of annoying things, some parts of the interface really need polishing and other parts (such as the rule reference section) need to be easier to read. But if Tinkerhouse Games and PP continue developing War Room, and take a few pointers from how their competition is working with eBooks, and make it faster, they will have an excellent product here.

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