‘A War Transformed’, an upcoming miniature wargame from Osprey Games, begins with the human tragedy of World War One, then adds thirsting gods and human sacrifice more at home in the grimdark Warhammer 40k universe. This folk horror WW1 wargame will be released on September 28.
Osprey Games has provided Wargamer with a review copy of A War Transformed, which we’re currently working our way through. It’s much too early to give a verdict on it as a game, but we can talk about its premise, and why it has us excited to be painting miniatures from an often-neglected theatre of war.
While we can recommend plenty of WW1 games on PC and WW1 board games, it’s not a hugely popular period for wargames, particularly not at 28mm miniature scale. A combination of technology and economics made much of the war very static.
Rail transport made it possible to supply a front hundreds of miles long with men and materiel. Here’s YouTube channel “The Great War” explaining the importance of trains in industrialised war:
At the same time, the machine gun ensured that no matter how many people were thrown at the front line, it would never move. The grand manoeuvre warfare of the Napoleonic era was dead, and the era of the tank had yet to fully emerge.
A War Transformed’s setting changes the rules of WW1. In 1916, even as the Great War in Europe settles into its miserable stalemate, a huge asteroid collides with the moon, rocking it in its orbit. The tides are suddenly thrown into turmoil, ravaging coastal cities across the globe, and causing the long lost landmass of Doggerland to rise between Britain and the continent.
At the same time, ancient gods and spirits wake from aeons of slumber. Where science once ruled, now deities of fertility demand human sacrifice to ensure the harvest grows. The veil between the physical and magical world is thinned, growing weaker wherever blood is spilt.
Such a huge shift in the natural order changes the way war is fought. Overtly, the inclusion of Witches, magic rituals, and supernatural manifestations allow all sorts of impossible things to happen in the game, granting the forces combat capabilities in excess of their technology.
On a more subtle level, the setting upends the material conditions which guaranteed the stalemate in Europe. Doggerland is a new, enormous front that fills much of the North Sea. The warring Empires’ economies have been damaged by catastrophe and the upheaval of the rational world. The era of continuous trenches, constant supply, and rapid reinforcement is over.
This set-up allows you to field patrol-level forces, rather than battalions, while still playing with the technology of World War One. Given that the tanks and guns of WW1 are so gnarly and weird looking that whole Warhammer 40k factions have been based on them (looking at you, Astra Militarum), it’s nice to have an excuse to get them to the table, while making some weird horror conversions as well.
If you’re interested in horror themed wargaming but aren’t sure about the WW1 crossover, check out our ‘The Doomed’ review. We’re still playing it, and it’s a reliable engine for chaos, laughter, and ridiculous moments.