|Wargame published by
|No. of Players||2|
|Session Time||A few hours|
|Authors||Stewart Gibbs, Matt Hobday, Jake Thornton|
|Essential Books||Warpath, Warpath: Firefight, Warpath Sourcebook, Deadzone, Dreadball|
"It is the third millennium after the great merger (GCPS timeline), and there is only war....and consumerism, and trade cartels, and sports, and rat men, and squats, and fish people - scratch that, there are a lot of things to be discovered and wealth to be gained, time is money, and money means war."
- – Scholars thinking about the troubled state of the Galactic Co Prosperity Sphere
Warpath is a relatively new 28mm scale tabletop game from the upstart UK-based miniatures publisher Mantic Games. The miniatures are slightly cheaper than the established competitors (Games Workshop and Privateer Press), and are highly detailed, if wide-headed.
Warpath was initially released several years ago, but the game released then bears little resemblance to the game we have today. Mantic had had some initial success with their Kings of War fantasy wargame and were keen to release a sci-fi counterpart. A limited range of miniatures were released for four out of eight promised factions, but general consensus in the community was that the rules were not up to scratch and Warpath almost dropped off the radar. In the meantime, Mantic released two other sci-fi games set in the same universe, Dreadball and Deadzone, which helped develop both the background and the range of miniatures. 2015 was the year Warpath finally came to the fore, with a set of alpha test rules unveiled at the Mantic Open Day in May and a highly-successful Kickstarter campaign to fund the full release of the game, which hit retail in April 2017.
A smaller version of Warpath was created at the same time, called Warpath: Firefight, using the same minis, and largely the same rules and flow, but designed to be the size of Bolt Action or 40k 2nd, with just a few dozen soldiers and a vehicle. This is done with different points and force construction, by shifting down to squads of individuals as the basic unit, as opposed to Warpath which uses teams of squads (set in a movement tray if you want) as the basic building block. The skirmish game Deadzone breaks this down again, by making the individuals in the squad the basic unit, and dispensing with the heavy vehicles. Really, with this three tiered approach, Mantic has you covered no matter how big or small you like your battles.
The models are currently made of hard plastic sprues (basic and heavy infantry, large vehicles), resin (some light vehicles and characters), metal (one Asterian unit, some heroes, and numerous alternate weapon kits for walkers), and PVC (light vehicles, characters, and elite units), with hard-plastic vehicle kits coming courtesy of the latest Kickstarter. The starter rules for Warpath, Firefight, and Deadzone are available for free in corresponding section of Mantic's website, as well as a novel called 'First Strike' and additional material.
As of 2021, Warpath (the large-scale wargame) is receiving little support from Mantic Games. Despite a successful Kickstarter, the game never really took off. Models are available on Mantic's online store and from some other retailers, but no supplements or new units have appeared for some time.
However, the Warpath Universe is alive and well. Deadzone (the skirmish game in the same setting) is proving very popular and saw the release of its 3rd edition in October 2021 with many new releases planned over the next year. Firefight, which sits somewhere between Deadzone and Warpath in offering 'platoon-level' combat, has undergone an extended open beta test in preparation for the current release from March 2022 and shows definite promise. Free beta rules and army lists can be downloaded from Mantic's website and Firefight Open Public Beta Playtest Group on Facebook.
Warpath is a D6 based system which uses alternating activation of units. When a unit is activated it can typically perform two 'actions' (the most common being Move and Shoot). These actions can be in any order, so you can shoot and then move, giving your units a lot of tactical flexibility. Firefight 2nd edition has switched to d8 dices mainly to appeal Deadzone players.
'Suppression' is a key game mechanic in Warpath, and can be just as important as killing enemy soldiers. When units are fired upon they will acquire suppression tokens. If they accumulate too many they will become suppressed (where they fight less effectively) or even grounded (where they cannot do anything and may flee the battlefield). Units can shed suppression tokens by performing certain actions (Rally or Regroup). Certain weapons such as autocannon and HMGs deal out additional suppression, and units can also perform a 'Blaze Away' action (i.e. spray the general area with firepower) for the sole purpose of adding suppression tokens.
Warpath also has a Command system which uses specially marked 8-sided dice. Character models in Warpath are generally nothing special in terms of fighting ability, but they do add command dice to your pool and can issue orders. Orders can be extremely effective if used correctly, and allow your units to perform a variety of special actions. Examples include moving a unit at triple their speed, bringing in reserves, re-rolling failed hits, activating two units simultaneously and allowing a unit to activate twice in the same turn.
- Asterians: Space elves and their army of drones. Amazing leadership and shooting abilities with every drone able to release a smoke screen of poisonous gas, and have hovering weapon platforms that do things like shoot exploding balls of plasma. Also have a faction of naturists who ride large beasts and wield swords and bows and arrows made out of futuristic polymers, and take Arthur C. Clarke's "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" as a personal mantra. Also they are tri sexual, which means the elves androginity is finally somewhat justified.
- Matsudan: Already available as Dreadball team the samurai-sumo-esque space lizards will join the Asterians in their struggle for balance against dishonorable mankind.
- Corporation: The main human faction and the bad guys of the setting, along with a number of incorporated alien species who are
wageslaves in perpetual capitalist servitude who along with all the human poors are not permitted on the wealthy human worldsprosperous and welcomed members of galactic society. The armies are all private military contractors, since technically no state exists to have a government army, meaning you could field the first brigade of the Taco Bell Division and reenact the final climactic battle 'The Scouring of Kentucky'. Minis very much inspired by the current 'war on terror' forces crossed with various recent 'Future Soldier' programs.
- Mazon Labs: A sub list of the Corporation constructed using the minis and characters found in the Star Saga box, for Deadzone only.Sinister scientists, guards and their experiments, Umbrella Corporation in Spaacee!
- GCPS: The ordinary troops of the Corporation. In Warpath they can cooperate with Marauders.
- Enforcers: The Corporation's special forces, in service to the Council of Seven, the unified will of the seven mega-corporations that are the true power behind the GCPS, and used to intervene against enemies foreign and domestic. They wear armour that looks a bit like Iron Man's suit and have access to a variety of high tech gadgets, and are created with physical and psychological modifications and training not dissimilar from the Spartans in HALO. The armour is slightly older Forge Father technology, sold as black box units (crack it open to see how it ticks and it self destructs) to the Council in way to keep the fragile peace through trade, which is why they're almost as tough as the Forge Fathers themselves.
- Forge Fathers: The space dwarves with lots of high tech toys. Guns in this faction either melt through armor like butter or spray bullets like it's going out of style. The tough faction unsurprisingly. They are also a faction which manages surpression very well.
- Marauders: Orcs and goblins in spaaaace. Whilst they might appear to be brutal savages the Marauders are actually highly disciplined, professional soldiers for hire. In Warpath, they are a sub-list of the GCPS, meaning you get to add GCPS tanks and flyers to your greenskins without needing ally rules, and likewise can use Orcs as shock troops in front of your humans. Marauders are unique in the galaxy in that they are totally immune to the Plague mutagen. Used to be called Orx and Stunts until someone finally realised that was stupid, now referred to as Orcs and Goblins (and Hobgoblins and Hulks), or Gorans collectively (from the planet Gora).
- Nameless: A confederation of squid, octopus, and other aquatic cephalopod species living far beyond corporate space, allegedly already laying the ground work for an inevitable war. Basically the army we would have if Tyranids were sentient species. First minis came with Star Saga (actually Dreadball had an interesting catalog before that)(ok first minis specifically for the skirmish game aside from the merc Oberon), along with a Deadzone list in the Outbreak supplement, while Warpath lists are still to follow. Also Dreadball's most powerful team ever, probably.
- Plague: Ordinary citizens turned into vicious killing machines by an ancient alien mutagen, created by an unknown party and stored in tempting archaeological artifacts, last defeated in the dawn time by an early Asterian empire. They are the most combat-orientated of all the factions.
- Rebs: A rag tag army of anarchists and freedom fighters. Although humans have a strong presence, the Rebels can field a variety of alien species such as the Yndij (cat-people), Sorak (which walks on its arms and shoots with it's feet. Seriously!), Sphyr (shark people who had their ocean world accidentally turned into a desert by a human navigational error, woops!), Zees (because EVERYTHING is better with monkeys), and the almighty Teraton (massive teleporting space-dinosaurs!). Nowadays they have been rebelling for almost 300 years, so they could be considered a state in their own right. Also their first rebellion was over Taxes and lack of representation (you know what to do internet). Currently Deadzone only.
- Veer-Myn: Space Skaven. Literally every skaven invention turned up to eleven is available to them, so their weapons make great replacement for the expensive GW toys. Also they have giant Drill vehicles, for all you poor DkoK enthusiasts
- Z'zor: Bug people. Still only a Dreadball team at this stage.
- Mercenaries: Not a faction per se, but there are around 20 specialist mercenaries in the game that can be used with any of your factions, with some limitations ie some can only be used with a set list of factions. Mantic's mascot character, the Intergalactic Trans-dimensional mercenary Blaine, is one of these (he also appears as a merc in the fantasy universe, in Mars Attacks, and as a coach and player in Dreadball)
- Assorted other aliens: Between Dreadball teams and MVPs, and Deadzone mercenaries, there are so many different alien species with fluff and miniatures in the games that it makes a certain Grimdark universe look like upstate Maine.
See Space Hulk to get an idea of what the game is about, except instead of power-armored Space Marines against insect-like Genestealers, you have Imperial Guard-like human soldiers fighting mutant rat-men Veer'myn on their own space ship. Now out of print, and replaced in the lineup by
A scifi dungeon crawler using a 2.0 version of the rules from the fantasy game Dungeon Saga, kickstarted and released to backers and retail in late 2017 with expansion campaigns due in 2018, set to introduce a number of new characters/mercs, and the first minis for the Nameless faction outside of the Dreadball team, and one merc.
A spin-off game set in the Warpath universe, Dreadball is like Blood Bowl, but is set in space, uses aliens, is played on a hex grid, isn't based on American football and has completely different game mechanics. Dreadball has become something of a runaway success for Mantic, with plenty of leagues and regional tournaments springing up in the UK and beyond. The fluff is subversive, and explains how the GCPS use the sport for huge propaganda and public distraction value, like desensitizing the public to alien threats by showing them as beatable sportsball athletes who may or may not be highly sophisticated total fakes (Weekend at Bernies Z'Zor, humans surgically altered to look like something that could be Asterian), while famous incorporated alien players are treated like WWE stars.
Dreadball 2.0 was released in March 2018, and continued the Mantic tradition of taking a popular, but slightly squirrelly first edition, and through play testing really nailing the gameplay and balance with the second edition.
Deadzone is an urban skirmish game which pits small 'strike teams' of around 5-10 models against each other. Some comparisons between Deadzone and Necromunda are inevitable and it will appeal to a similar market, but Deadzone is significantly distinctive from Necromunda (or Kill Team) in terms of gameplay, aesthetic and background. Some players compare Deadzone as 3d chess with dies, long range weapons & terrain. Also Deadzone can be considered as a solid gateway game for board gamers.
Deadzone is played on a gridded 2'x2' mat with modular scenery tiles which allow players to construct 3D gaming environments (in the fluff, most Corporation colony buildings are built from these mass-produced flat-pack tiles and connectors produced by a futuristic version of Ikea). No tape measures are required because all distances are related to the grid; a rifle, for example, has a range of 6 squares, a normal model can move up to two squares in a turn.
To check an hability (shoot, fight, survive, etc) you roll 3d8 and try to score successes opposed to adversary successes or a fixed number, difficulty, with circunstances adding or substracting dices but not changing the hability value. As the 8 success "explodes", generating a new dice to roll, there is always an option to success. There is a separated d6 dice pool (between 3 and 5, mostly) for the "tacticians" (leaders) of the band to roll each round to generate a set of special actions to spend: activate another miniatures, move/shoot/attack twice, add a dice and a "special" that it is miniature dependent.
A second edition was released in mid 2016, and the several expansions released afterwards have introduced the GCPS, the Mazon Labs corporation (think PMCs, but with Plague experiment beasties), and the Nameless (It Came From The Deep).
Also noteworthy: the game system gets mainly positive feedback since 2nd Edition released.Though eclipsed by other skirmish games like Necromunda, Kill Team, or even Stargrave, the reviews highlight the streamlined rules balanced vs tactical diversity of factions (although the reports are mainly centered around the more popular factions: Enforcers, Veer-Myns, Plague and Rebs).
A third Edition was announced and released on October 25th, 2021. It mainly polishs the system, making it more comprehensive by reworking some abilities, keywords and miniatures profiles and equipment options. An online app to make lists is available at https://mantic.easyarmy.com/ (for 2nd edition, battlescribe is still viable).
Unlikely prequel to 40k
Gamewise warpath has become its own creation a long time ago, even though firefight seems a little similar to actual warhammer 40k though with much less fat AND alternate activation, which is awesome every single day.
Lore Wise, it could be said that warpath is a prequel to warhammer 40k actually, since corporation technology does seem to be similar to 30k tech, and also orcs are pretty similar in that they are both bred for war species of pirates. The Asterians could be interpreted as pre fall Eldar who have yet to develop soulstone technology, remember that slaanesh was born in the 20th millennium, hence warpath could be placed before that.
Overall the corporation does look like the Imperium, though with much less focus on religion and much more focus on consumerism.
The main difference would be the alien population, but that could be worked out, after all in this joint timeline the Asterians/Eldar royally would have fucked up the universe TWICE (since in-universe it was the Asterians who allowed the Plague to succeed) AND the corporation is already at war with a ton of alien races already (many even within corporation space). So a post age of strife humanity would have devolved into a big(ger) state of xenophobia than they were during the corporation era.
Another thing that could help the joint timeline theory would be the similarities between Tau and Judwan, with peaceful judwan probably being the precursors to still moderately peaceful but necessarily aggressive Tau (if by "necessary" one means "without provocation"). Besides the nature, Judwan like Tau are mostly incorruptible by the forces of Chaos (but Tau are not remotely incorruptible, just hard for daemons to actually see due to having weak and camouflaged souls), with only 1 Judwan (Wrath) being prone to violence and only after extensive experimentation by the GCPS bastards. In other words, Tau are Judwan adapted to the grimdarkness of the 41st millenium.
There is now some "fluff" articles at the official blog of mantic page, Thursday fluff. They are short and quite fragmented, but overall they confirm that Warpath is its own thing and it is very unlikely a 40k prequel. Lack of depth of Warpath somewhat make it less attractive (there is almost more Dreadball lore than Warpath itself), but, perhaps unintendedly (surely...), it at least is consistent with the in-universe status quo of the factions.