Review RPG Strategy

Wargroove – Review | The Art of War

Getting War-Groovy With It

Let’s get groovy baby! Today we’re taking a look at Wargroove, developed and published by Chucklefish Games. The game was initially available for Windows, Nintendo Switch and Xbox One on the first of February 2019, with a PS4 version coming out the same year. A free DLC, Double Trouble, was unveiled near the end of 2019 – containing a new faction known as the “Outlaws.” Wargroove won the TIGA award for best strategy game that same year, and was nominated for other awards. Nice Pedigree eh? Well here’s why it earned those accolades.

Cheeky Commentary and Tactical Overview: Playing Wargroove

Games built on turn-based tactics are a guilty pleasure of mine; I’ve been obsessed with the genre since I first got my hands on the Fire Emblem series long… long ago. To me, Wargroove looked and felt like a spiritual successor to Advance Wars (which, unfortunately, hasn’t seen the light of day since 2008) – it was like a distraught mother discovering her orphaned children. I welcomed Wargroove home into my warm bosom. 

But… like any stern mother I was determined to determine whether Wargroove lived up to its predecessors and carried the torch with honor – or whether it would trip and let that noble flame extinguish. Grab your guns (or whatever instrument of war you fancy), we’re heading straight to the battlefield to find out!

Wargroove - Map

Somewhere, In A Land Far, Far Away… There are Vampires.

Wargroove’s story kicks off with you assuming control of high vampire Sigrid of the Felheim Legion. You control her directly as you invade a castle, aiming to assassinate Mercival, king of Cherrystone. While getting used to the mechanics, you notice that the King plans to tell his daughter something, only to have his designs cut short as your Sigird fells him. However, the King refuses to relinquish the object which she seeks. He dispatched it somewhere far from the castle… which figures.

Before the news of her father’s death can even set in, the princess Mercia has the crown of Cherrygrove thrust upon her, becoming the queen of the realm. Luckily, she has the help of her loyal canine Caesar, his equippable dog armor, and her mentor Emeric. Months pass and Mercia slowly becomes accustomed to the role of queen, but now new threats arise. The Felheim Legion has declared all-out war on the empire and has invaded the border. Naturally, the Cherrystone empire musters to defend their territory and quell this foreign invasion.

If you’re rolling your eyes, bored, or unengaged – I don’t blame you. The story is as cliche as it gets, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The dialogue has a ton of charm, and the character interactions are enjoyable, and only become more so as you recruit more allies during your journey. Which, yes – is to defeat evil once and for all.

Mercia is certainly a simple protagonist, trusting and naive in a world she was thrust into unexpectedly. You grow with her, overcoming all the worldly threats she didn’t expect – thanks to your own wits and Emeric’s handy dandy tutorials, er I mean, training – you master the gameplay mechanics and start to have some fun.

Boat Battle

Stratagems, Chess, And Dragons – Going To War In Wargroove

Speaking of those mechanics, let’s dive into ‘em. Since not everyone is a tactical mastermind like me, I’ll cover the basics of the genre first. The game functions on a chessboard, essentially, with your units deployed on the map along with your enemy’s troops. However, much like chess, each unit is unique in its capabilities. These consist of:

  • Perks
  • Movement
  • Location

Location you say? What do you mean grandmaster? Well – this isn’t any game of chess, it’s 3D-underwater-sky-chess. Actually. You have units spread across Sea, Land, and Sky. On the good Earth, you can count on a levy of:

  • Archers
  • Mercenaries
  • Spearmen
  • Mercenaries
  • Dogs

Of course, I don’t like seeing dogs get hurt, so I never use them. Pikemen also are an excellent case study in the unique capabilities of each unit. Instead of every troop on land being some variation of “slashy-guy” and “shooty-guy,” your warriors have synergies and opportunities for situational optimization. Much like real life Pikemen, formation is integral to this unit, as Pikemen will land a critical hit when adjacent to another Pikeman. As an aside, I love this implementation of the crit mechanic. It takes something that’s generally left up to luck in other games and transforms it into yet another aspect of your grand strategy.

Returning to our tour-de-force, you may also rule the skies with creatures and contraptions like:

  • Balloons
  • Dragons
  • Air Riders

These units move quickly across the map and are excellent for skirmishing, harassing, and scouting. Finally, in the deep blue sea, you’ll find a variety of nautical naughties, such as:

  • Amphibians
  • Warships
  • Turtles

Yes, you can use turtles as minions of your dominion. What a game. This is just a sample of the variety present in Wargroove, and each unit has different costs and uses. Thankfully, they’re all “generic,” meaning that if one dies – it’s easily replaced with another. Unlike Fire Emblem: Awakening and other permadeath titles, you don’t have to suffer from anxiety every time you commit your characters to battle.

In addition to the basic units, there’s a special character called the Commander, who’s the protagonist you’re employing for this particular battle. They have special skills, which can activate to assist other units. They can give extra actions and other huge boosts, but if you let that Commander die… say bye-bye to the 40 minutes of your life you just spent on that mission. Sadly, you can’t choose your commanders, so make sure you double-check their abilities before you jump straight into battle.

Your enemies benefit from this variety of units as well, so put some time into learning their habits, weaknesses, and strengths so you can properly counter them. And trust me, you need to learn some counters – the AI in this game is good, really good. It’s so good that it understands attrition and will play the long game with wounding your units and executing and attacking retreat. It’s no joke. Seriously. It’s not funny. I got mad a couple of times, but in a good way.

Wargroove - Money

More Than Mere Battle: Exploring Game Modes And Content

The game has a wide range of modes you can access, probably the most I’ve ever seen in a while. Single-player has the standard campaign, and you can also choose to download custom campaigns made by other players – but we will get more into that later. There’s also an arcade mode, which includes a small quest looking for a weapon where you choose a commander and face a wave of enemies. Plus, there’s a puzzle mode in which you are thrown into specific scenarios and must accomplish a certain objective. 

In Multiplayer, there are local games up to 4 players in each faction available, and online mode for quick play – or even host maps for others to join. You can mess with the settings to customize it as you see fit. The game honestly blows my mind with the amount of content available, with cross-play available between all platforms and being able to download maps made by any player. It’s like a Super Advance Wars Maker within a normal RPG story; t’s an amazing amount of flexibility for the amount the game costs

Sun Tzu Says: Appreciate The Art of Warzone

Besides gameplay, something that must be praised is the pixel art. Most games nowadays unfortunately tend towards the “better graphics is better” which, despite looking amazing, leave the market scarce for games that still use pixel art to tell their tale, and I am glad Wargroove bucks the trend. 

The pixel art looks detailed and high quality even on “nameless” units. The animations are quite fluid as well, though I would enjoy it more if you could simply accelerate the animation in lieu of skipping or waiting for it to pan out. The music was simple, like the story that accompanied it, but it had plenty of hype during battles and toned it down appropriately during cutscenes. In other words, it got the job done.


Overall, this game has everything I want to see in RPGs, most of which I haven’t experienced in a long time: great pixel art, simple stories with fun gameplay, and plenty of replayability. This game is worth it simply due to the theoretically infinite levels to make or download. Plus, the nostalgic feeling of embarking on a simple journey to save the world while leading an army is enough for me to relax with on a weekend. Oh, and if Caesar plushies are ever made, I will send my P.O Box to anyone who wants to send me one because he’s just too cute for me to handle (and he can protect the house while I’m away!).


Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, XBox One
Purchase Link: Humble (PC/Steam)

If you would like to see more Strategy games, you may be interested in Utawarerumono: Prelude to the Fallen

Many thanks go to Chucklefish for a PC review code for this title.

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