By Chris Picone, 26 February 2023
I totally misunderstood this game. I come from a military background and, looking at screenshots of the game, thought I was going to be in for a deeply realistic strategy game. Actually, Waronoi is much better described as an experimental RTS.
The game's very spartan graphically, but I don't mind this in RTS games because I'm very much focused on the gameplay. And in this case, the graphics are as much an aesthetic choice as anything else; the map and tokens create the sensation that you're moving pieces around in a command post exercise rather than playing a game. Zooming way out gives you control over your over-arching strategy while zooming way in lets you watch the battles unfold.
Surprisingly, Waronoi plays more like Command & Conquer than any historically-focused game - not that it's anything like C&C. The main premise is simple; kill the enemy's HQ to win (while protecting your own). There's no base building in this one though. You just pay to field new units and then pay again to spawn reinforcements into position. In Waronoi you need to balance mobility & power as you manoeuvre around the map chasing strategic checkpoints that bring in extra cash to fuel your war machine. In bigger games, you will also have to handle a bit of rock-paper-scissors and layered strategy as you try to make the most of the synergies between your units. For example, a platoon of tanks will destroy a platoon of mechanised infantry no worries - but the mech. inf are useful for drawing your tanks into positions where howitzers can rain fire on them from afar. A combined arms approach is required; recon units sent to scout ahead, to reveal enemy positions and open firing lanes for your artillery, tanks to bring the hammer down, and attack helicopters or motorised infantry to help provide flanking support. In the middle of this you also get "special weapons" in the form of "air support" that activates on a timed basis; air strikes are amongst these but also "EMP pulses" that stop the enemy from moving and "supply drops" that let your troops reload more quickly for a short time.
Waronoi won't be for everyone. If you're looking for a historical or realistic RTS, give it a miss. But if you're into your more hardcore or retro RTS games and you're open-minded about trying experimental mechanics, give it a go. It has a lot to offer, and more as you get further into the game. Also features multiplayer & skirmish modes - that's where the real fun is!