WarRoom – In depth Review

Some may think the boat has already sailed for this review however after having used the program extensively II’m a lot better placed to give a fair review of it! So lets get to it, This is a review of Privateer Press’ WarRoom app.

iBodger

I know that wasn’t exactly the first title you were expecting right? in reality no review of WarRoom can happen without first mentioning it’s predecessor. iBodger was a app for smartphone that was an almost obligatory download for any aspiring Warmachine/Hordes player. So what was so good about iBodger? Well it was simple and very easy to use, very intuitive and did a lot of things for you, such as removing units you could no longer put in your list because of tiers or points cost, which improved the overall user experience. It didn’t take much battery on your phone and was very quick to load. Included were all the forces in WM/H and was updated regularly. It was also free so instantly popular with the masses. It wasn’t the prettiest of apps but what it did it did well!

What you have to remember when asking people about WarRoom is that the majority WILL compare it back to iBodger and yes it was a good program and yes it was free and yes it did this and that but at the end of the day it is no longer with us as PP requested the project be stopped when they announced WarRoom. All in all it was largely agreed that WarRoom should be a bigger and better version of iBodger…and views still differ into how well they managed that. Either way now you are aware of iBodger (if you were’t already) then you can understand where the basis of WarRoom came from as well as a lot of the arguments for/against it.

WarRoom

WarRoom is a downloadable army builder program for smartphone and tablet. Developped by Privateer Press and TinkerHouse Games it was released in the Autumn.

The program itself is free however comes with no faction elements apart from a few basic cards for each force. You effectively buy faction “decks” for it, these cost £4.99 and include cards for all models currently released and all those that will be released until a new edition of the game comes out. These cards are updated to include any errata that are introduced by Privateer Press.

The Program includes a Card Library, Army Builder, Rules reference and Fight mode. There is also a store section for purchasing faction decks.

Before we go any further WarRoom had a fair few issues when it came out, a lot of these have been fixed and this review focuses on the program as it stands now. I have used the app for a while on a tablet but for the majority of this review It will be from the point of an iPhone user (4S).

As you boot up the program you’ll see the logos of the involved parties which flash up (which does take about 8 secs) and the program has loaded (about 10 secs) we’re presented with a neat main screen. 20 seconds isn’t a terrible boot up time for an app however it is a lot longer then the aforementioned iBodger. The entire program is generally very aesthetically pleasing with the main page looking very crisp and professional. This does have a downside as the app can feel very clunky and slow to react t your input. Loading times are also an issue, these have been improved since launch but improvements in making the program more fluid would do wonders for its usability.

Another major issue for the app is the battery usage once again this is nowhere near as bad now as it was at release where it used to devour your battery however even in its current state you would have a hard time using the program all day during multiple games (think 5 game tournament setting) which does dent its practicality.

  • Card Library

A great little addition to an army builder and definitely something that iBodger did not have. you can review the stat cards of all units in a faction on the go without need to refer to cards, books or Pdfs. All the cards are kept up to date with any erratas and even special units from the seasonal campaigns are included.

You can view stat cards from the army builder section however if you’re just after a quick referral this is an easier option. All in all a very good section that a lot of people don’t give enough credit to.

  • Army Builder

So here we go, the main act, the reason we’re all here, the army building function, now theres a lot to be said about this so lets get cracking!

This is the first screen you get in the army builder section, along with the faction icon it lists all the armies that you’ve built in the order they were created, which is a bit strange if you’re used to the alphabetical system of iBodger which personally seems more efficient but its a minor point. Along with its assigned title you can see any tier list you’ve attributed to it as well as other details such as points used and unit breakdown.

 When you click on an army you can see it assembled as such, war caster at the top with his assigned battle group however after that the application doesn’t seem to class them in any particular order except to put solos at the top so that can be a bit irritating. It still looks good and very neat, clicking on the icons allows you to see that units stat cards and at the top you can change the army name as well as attributing any tier lists to it (although that doesn’t change the list, more on that later), you can also add reinforcements in a separate window if you’ve taken them in the list.

The unit bar at the side takes you to the selection screen where you can add more models, now this is where the program is a bit lacking and probably where most of the improvement work is needed.

Sluggish: Now I know this isn’t the first time I’ve mentioned this but here it’s the most apparent. wether it’s oaring the actual screen, using the drop down lists or just clicking on the add unit button this bit is SLOW. Nothing I can suggest here, this is simply a programming predicament.

Drop down menus: These are annoying, theres no other way to describe it, scrolling between the different sections is a pain and no way near as intuitive or helpful as iBodger was. for example if you only had 5 points left to spend the program would remove all the options that were 6 points or once you chose a character unit it would remove it from the list. A bit of work but will make it so much easier, just get the program to remove units you can no longer use, wether its because of points, FA, character restrictions etcetc.

Attatchments: Now this isn’t a hard one; if I choose a UA Its obviously for that unit right? Wrong, the program still asks you if you want to attach it to your war caster or another unit it can’t legally go with… This is EASY, just when I choose the parent unit ask me if I want to take the UA, it’s that simple. The only time I should be being asked which unit I want to attach it to is if I’m taking multiples of the same unit.

Tier lists: Another disappointment, if you choose a tier list in the army screen it makes no difference to the unit selection screen, no points reductions, no FA allowance, no removing units that can’t be used. As said, make the army builder take into account the list restrictions and bonuses!

Now this isn’t to say that it’s ALL bad. Once again the system looks good, stat cards can be consulted without having to go back and the system is very intuitive if it they could just tune it up a bit then it would be fine and probably stop a lot of the criticism that’s directed at WarRoom.

Honestly, the program works, If you set out to write an army list then you will get it done, its as simple as that however in no way is it nearly as quick and easy as iBodger used to be. This part needs a LOT of work but If it can do the same things as iBodger but with the aesthetics and other inherent advantages that WarRoom has then it will by far surpass its predecessor.

  • Reference 

Essentially this is a rules section and frankly, it’s great. it’s got all the individual rules organized alphabetically and they are kept up to date with errata. It’s that simple and quick to use, really a fantastic addition to this program and allows you to generally do away with your rulebook. A great Idea and works fine.

 This function can also be accessed from other parts of the program, for example if you’re viewing a card and there is a rule on there you want to refresh your memory on then you can just tap the card and it will bring up all the rules relevant to that card.

 

  • Battle

Another innovative part of the app. This section, if used right, allows you to do away with your standard stat cards as the program can keep track of all your stats, damage and rules!

Essentially you can import one of your army lists in and the program will allow you to access the stats, cards and damage tracks of you cards whilst you play.

There are 2 ways you can do this, you can either have your WarRoom act independently or it can link to your opponents WarRoom so you can share your armies, you can see his cards and vice versa.

Now in all honesty this isn’t generally as quick as having your cards on the table as like the rest of the app it can be very slow to load up cards and stats however it must be said that it is more practical. The exception to this is when you need to show cards to your opponent as you don’t generally want to be handing expensive pieces of technology to just anyone.

There is also a Timer that can be used for both timed turn and death clock but its a bit vague and I think something could be done to make it simpler and more up to scratch aesthetically.

A note on Vassal: Now I don’t play Vassal but from what I’ve told this program is great for it as you can link data with your opponent which streamlines the game immensely.

A note on Tablets: It’s less obvious when using the other functions but this part is where having a tablet really shines. With a bigger screen you can look at a units stats, spells, abilities and damage without having to constantly switch between screen which incurs loading times.

Now I personally found this to be quite practical, especially in small or casual games, I’m still on the fence about using it in a competitive environment but I fear without a tablet and a way of making the battery last an entire day of gaming I fear it won’t be seeing any tournaments any time soon.

Conclusion

I’ve had quite a lot of time to ply with WarRoom and I like to think I can give a pretty balanced review of it. You very often get people bashing WarRoom for one reason or another but honestly it’s not as bad as some make it out to be (as per usual on the internet). Most of these proclamations usual start with ” Well iBodger did this…” or “Didn’t have to do that with iBodger” and as mentioned before those arguments are kind of irrelevant as iBodger is no longer around. Now don’t get me wrong WarRoom still has a lot of problems, some that can be ignored and some that REALLY need seeing to before this app can see its full potential.

From a casual standpoint I think its a very nifty little app, you can use it to run one off casual games and not worry too much however as mentioned above due to the battery and loading time issues I would not take it to a tournament unless this was improved upon.

I like to look at it like this. I have currently spent £10 on Faction decks for WarRoom. Now do I feel like I’ve lost out on my money? No but then again I don’t feel completely overwhelmed either, the app does what its meant to do fairly well and I can live with that BUT the app itself has a lot of potential. We’ve all seen technology advance in leaps and bounds over the years and despite it flaws what we may have in our hands is the next generation tool for wargaming. I think a lot of people need to step back and consider this before brazenly casting it down and really think about what we could do with this as a community.

When all is said and done WarRoom is a sufficiently good army building app, it’s come on leaps and bounds since its release and will no doubt continue to improve but if you really want to get all your ones worth you really need to embrace all of it’s functions and see just what it can do with you.

What we have here could be the next big thing for wargaming.

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8 thoughts on “WarRoom – In depth Review

  1. Like the app but can’t understand why they have not programmed the app to let you enter your model owned selection for each faction and allow filters so you can only pick the models you own when building lists. Also the themed lists don’t add subtract point costs. other than that I’m happy I guess.

  2. It was slow, even on the latest phones, tablets. And it still is slow after its latest update (iOS – not mentioning all the smaller and bigger bugs). It simply doesn’t make any fun to use. It’s really sad. I’d love to have a great card reference at least, but well… I keep waiting and hope for a major update during the next year. – My thoughts on the War Room App: http://j.mp/WarRoomApp

  3. Love the review but I have to say that the list builder is the least important part for me.

    I decided to jump all the way in and get the pack of all the factions. It cost $60 US which is the cost of 4 faction decks. Now I can look up any army and they get updated when new books come out, so I don’t have to buy those if I don’t want to. It’s also easier to look things up than juggling cards or books. So to me, it’s a steal as reference material for a competitive player and it’s easier to use. The army builder is just a bonus to me.

    Also, the army is nice in game because you can tap on parts of the card to jump right to those rulings. Forget something about jack marshal? Just tap the icon and it will pop up the rules, very convenient.

    • It’s a very good point mate and its very interesting to see everyone have their different takes on what the app means to them. I think in the end this diversity is one of its strengths and will serve it well in the long run.

  4. Love the review but I see the app a little differently. As a reference tool, it is cheap and awesome. If you want to be able to look up opposing units or research an army, you can get everything for $60 US. Not only is this cheaper than buying faction decks which are $15 each, it constantly updated, so you don’t need to buy the new books to stay up to date. Not only is it cheaper but it is a ton easier than looking through cards or books.

    To me it’s a way to stay up to date and it is both cheaper and easier. Army building is just a bonus.

    • Effectively I didn’t mention that there are reductions on buying all the decks at once and if you’re a budding general wanting to stay in the loop with the entire game then for sure it’s a good investment!

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