This article was originally posted on Old Grizzled Gamers. Unfortunately, that website has gone the way of the dinosaurs, so I’ve reposted it here. Also, I received a free review copy of this game.
Post Human W.A.R is one of those games that sounds fantastic on paper. Tactical turn-based combat, three distinct campaign modes, lots of humour, and, most importantly, online battles. For the most part Studio Chahut has succeeded in these areas. There aren’t enough games in this genre, and Post Human W.A.R is a welcomed addition.
This is a difficult game to recommend for reasons that will become evident in this review. However, if you enjoy tactical turn-based battlers, then you could do a lot worse than Post Human W.A.R.
In Post Human W.A.R you take charge of one of three distinct factions: Wraak, Anthropist or R-PATCH. Each has faction specific units, and while they share the same classes (e.g. flying), they do not have the same stats. Certain factions will have better scouting units or better ranged attackers and so on. This makes each faction unique and at the same time keeps the game balanced.
Killing the enemy’s champion unit is the goal of each battle. This might be the first unit you defeat, or it might be the last. Champions are not different from a regular unit. However, a player can reveal their champion at an opportune moment for some impressive stat bonuses. Deciding when and where to reveal your champion is an important part of the strategy in Post Human W.A.R. Each person also has their totem which, if destroyed, will cause their units to take damage each turn, ultimately speeding up their defeat.
I recommend that you do the tutorial and then a few of the campaign missions before jumping into multiplayer as the game has surprising complexity and depth. While you are aiming for the same goal of ‘kill things’ all time, how you go about it can vary. Each unit has several different statistics that dictate what they can do. These include attack, defence, movement, range, and health. For each attack, you deal damage equal to the difference between your attack and your target’s defence. This makes high defence units hard to kill and allows the game to vary the types and uses of each unit.
Certain units also have a special characteristic. This might be flying, avoiding ranged damage, attacking twice or healing other units. Every faction also has a couple of units with unique abilities. For example, the Wraak have The Massiah which is a giant rat that attacks every surrounding hex whereas the R-PATCH have the T.E.S.L.A which attacks in a long line. These special powers shape how you construct your army and where you place your units.
Speaking of constructing an army, this is probably the hardest thing for any new player to grasp. In both the multiplayer and campaign matches, you have free reign to choose which units you want to use. The game does a bad job of explaining the benefits of each, and it would have made learning the game far easier if some of the early campaign missions gave you a set army. This can cause army composition to be trial and error as you won’t fully grasp each unit’s potential. You can read about each unit and some advanced techniques but if you want to check some of the more ‘basic’ rules you are forced to replay the tutorial. This is incredibly annoying as there is a lot of minutia in the game such as gaining bonus attack when standing near an enemy totem.
Scattered across each map are resources that allow you to buff your units. You can temporarily increase their attack, enable them to move farther, heal or place down a barrier. Each unit is worth a certain number of resources when putting together your army and making one below the resource limit allows you to start a match with some resources spare. These can help in a pinch and are often the first thing you clash over with an enemy.
All of this comes together to make an alright game. It isn’t anything particularly special. However, I haven’t gotten to the best part yet. As I mentioned, if your champion dies then you lose. So where do you place your champion? Where does your opponent think you will put your champion? It is a tricky decision.
When I first looked at how this worked, it didn’t blow me away. One unit is a champion, and if it dies, then you lose the entire game. I didn’t see it as that big of a deal. However, after a few games, the implications of this mechanic slowly dawned on me. I need to defend this unit otherwise I lose.
If I make it obvious which unit is the champion, then my opponent will beeline to the unit, beat it up and win. So what if I put it on the frontline? My opponent won’t suspect a frontline unit is my champion. Instead, they would probably inadvertently kill it on their way to my base and where they suspect it is. So do I make it an expensive, durable unit that is hard to kill? Maybe, but I don’t want to be worried about whether I should put it in harm’s way. If I do then I waste all those points on an expensive but timid unit. However, a cheap unit can die quickly.
I have spent a long time just thinking about which unit to pick as a champion, nevermind where to place it and use it in battle. It is such a simple, yet elegant design choice that elevates this seemingly standard turn-based battler into something akin to playing poker with robots and sentient animals.
This brings me to one of the issues I have with Post Human W.A.R. The campaign is missing this fantastic idea. You still have champion units, but there isn’t any of the finesse involved in protecting your own or trying to uncover your opponent’s. Instead, they are just stronger units. This makes the campaigns useful for learning the ropes, but they feel lacking because they don’t have this game’s defining the feature.
There is a campaign for each faction, and each one explores the motivations and helps to build the world of Post Human W.A.R. They can be quite funny. However, a lot of the writing is relatively bland and merely in the vein of “we want you dead.” This is such a shame because the developers have carefully crafted each unit with a distinct personality and there is some brilliant humour in this game.
I was not expecting to laugh and within the first few minutes, I laughed several times. Each unit has some dialogue each time they move or use an action, and they are all amusing. The animations for attacking and dying are also hilarious. Killing the chicken unit and having them turn into a roast chicken is genius. Having a flying fridge freezer that attacks with a massive icicle is equally fantastic. So too is the fact that the robot dishwasher is French and activates by says things like “Do you have what it takes to be the best dishwasher?”
Each unit becomes a distinct character that you grow to like. I love the voice acting and things they say as they cause havoc across the map. They fit perfectly into this weird and wonderful post-human landscape and have unique motivations. The R-PATCH want to preserve the human cities for vital reasons like their ability to make the best vacuum cleaners. The Wraaks are mutated animals that hate anything and everything human. Whereas, the Anthropists adopt human characteristics including their weaponry and ideas. Each one is at odds with the other giving the game narrative reasons why things are happening.
If you are looking for a decent turn-based tactical game with some superbly implemented psychological elements, then you should definitely jump into Post Human W.A.R. You will enjoy every single second and won’t have any regrets. The matchmaking is quick, and there is an online leaderboard to progress through. However, if you are after a campaign experience, then you might find Post Human W.A.R lacking and feel a bit disappointed.
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