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Epic Warpath will “feel very familiar” to fans of Epic 40k

Mantic Games’ Matt Gilbert and ex-Games Workshop legend Alessio Cavatore talk about Epic Warpath, their new small scale scifi wargame.

Two large armies face off in Warpath, a small scale wargame like Epic 40k

The Kickstarter campaign for Epic Warpath, a sci-fi wargame of tiny miniatures and huge battles in the vein of Epic 40k, launches on Wednesday. The designers, Mantic Games’ Matt Gilbert and independent collaborator Alessio Cavatore, told Wargamer how they’re combining the best parts of classic epic-scale wargames with a distinctive Mantic flavor.

Mantic’s design diaries for Warpath reveal some fundamental similarities with Games Workshop’s classic Epic wargames. At the start of each round players secretly assign orders to their units, revealing them and then alternately resolving them throughout the phases that follow. The same backbone can be found in GW’s recently released Legions Imperialis, which we praised in our Legions Imperialis review.

3D renders of a self-propelled artillery vehicle and an anti-grav tank for Warpath, a small scale wargame like Epic 40k

Gilbert acknowledges the influence: “I came at it from a very nostalgic place, from the games I used to play 30 years ago”. It’s something that playtesters have picked up on: “[We’ve had] people saying ‘This game feels like the games I remember’”. Frankly, it’s no bad thing: pre-programming your orders for the round is a great fit for small scale wargaming, giving you the feeling that you’re commanding a huge, slightly unwieldy army.

While the starting point for Warpath and Legions Imperialis is the same, Gilbert says “I think we’ve gone in very different directions” compared to “our friends down the road”. Command units have a bigger role: the more and better Commanders your force contains, the better chance you’ll have to use Tactical Orders, granting useful rerolls or allowing a unit to activate twice in a phase. Then there are unique, faction-specific Strategic Orders that grant each army a distinctive flavor.

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Gilbert worked on the rules for six months before Alessio Cavatore was brought onto the project. A veteran games designer who worked at Games Workshop in the 90s and 00s, Alessio co-authored classic fantasy wargame Mordheim, wrote the army books for many Warhammer Fantasy factions, and led design on the Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game, before leaving to set up his own design studio in 2010. He’s collaborated with Mantic before, most notably as the author of Kings of War, and writing the first and second editions of Warpath.

Cavatore says: “I’m here to kill as many of Matt’s darlings as I can”. He aims to streamline and simplify rules as much as possible: “I tend to go ‘Do we really need this rule? Kill, kill!’” Cavatore edited the core rules, and put together the army lists for the game based on the planned miniatures: “trying to get the points values to work is always an interesting challenge”.

3D renders of a group of large mechanised walkers from for Warpath, a small scale wargame like Epic 40k

One major difference between Warpath and Legions Imperialis is in the range of armies. While Legions Imperialis has, functionally speaking, a single army list for players to construct their forces from, the Kickstarter for Warpath launches with four factions: the highly advanced Asterians, Space Marine-esque Enforcers, Squat-like Forgefathers, and mutated Plague.

Gilbert is hopeful that “we can go well beyond the original four factions and unlock as much as possible” with stretch goals. What these might be hasn’t yet been confirmed, but Wargamer knows a few people who would definitely go for the Ork-like Marauders, or Warhammer 40k Skaven-esque Veermyn. Check out the Warpath Kickstarter page to find out what they are.

Epic Warpath gives Mantic an opportunity to expand the universe for its Deadzone setting: “It’s given us the opportunity to add some different things in… that might find their way back into the 28mm scale game”, Gilbert explains. The Enforcers are getting the Panther grav tank, a vehicle that can be built as a tank, APC, or artillery piece, plus the Viktor heavy tank, “and we’ve done that sort of thing for all the factions”.

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Cavatore reflects on what it’s like to return to a world that he helped to create. “I didn’t remember how much, in terms of the races and the units, I [had named]”. He adds: “It was like rediscovering something that was lost”. He was even caught out on occasion: “There’s the Galactic Co-Prosperity Sphere, the GCPS, I had to ask ‘What does this stand for’?” He had invented the acronym himself, ten years prior.

The Warpath kickstarter launches on Wednesday 14 January: check back here as we’re sure to cover all the goodies!

If you’re interested in more rulesets and miniatures for tiny-scale wargames, check out Horizon Wars: Midnight Dark, and Full Spectrum Dominance. If you want to get a head start on building a battlefield suitable for small-scale battles, check out our Legions Imperialis terrain guide.