UHR-Warlords is a chess-like tactical combat game with a fantasy viking theme. The game uses a variety of unique units, attack patterns, special abilities and board layouts to create diverse strategic situations.
The game is most like chess, although there are significant changes to the way the game is played which makes me hesitant to even call it a chess variant. It’s more like a blend between chess and trading card games like Magic: the Gathering and Hearthstone, with attack and health values as well as different movement, attack ranges, and abilities.
So it starts out using chess-like movement and attack patterns, but is it just as good a game as chess, or better? Read on to find out…
UHR-Warlords sees two players fighting it out on a flat, square grid of a battlefield with some variable layouts of energy tiles (called Springs) that give you an extra two energy (called Uhrkraft) at the start of your turn if a unit you control is occupying it. Each player controls one edge of the battlefield with a column of Strongholds that have ten health points each. If you manage to destroy an opponent’s Stronghold, it will deal 2 damage to the enemy hero. Each enemy hero starts off with 10 Lifeforce and 10 Uhrkraft each turn.
You have a row of units across the bottom of the screen which you’re able to summon as many of as you like each turn, provided you have the required Uhrkraft cost. You will then summon them on the line in front of your Strongholds, where they’ll be immune to being attacked or targeted for a turn. Only in the following turn can they then move and take actions.
Movement of units has a cost: it starts out cheap at 1 Uhrkraft for one space, but the second space beyond that will cost 2 Uhrkraft, while the third space will cost another 3, and so on. Attacking also has a cost, and if it’s a ranged attack, the further away the target is, the higher the cost will be.
Units have their own unique movement patterns: some can only move diagonal, orthogonal, or can’t move backwards at all. They each have different starting Lifeforce amounts, and will deal damage as either a set value or in a range (such as between 6-8 damage, randomly decided upon attacking). Killing an enemy’s unit will deal 1 damage to their hero’s Lifeforce, so even by maintaining control of the board and ignoring the opponent’s Strongholds you will slowly bring the game to a close.
You can also trigger Runes, which are two hero powers that you’ll have from the start of the game. There are a variety of Runes to pick from before starting the match, and they have different effects like dealing damage, casting protective shields, placing barricades onto the field, and so on. They have an Uhkrcraft cost, with cool down timers as well, so you can’t cast them each turn.
Gameplay consists of summoning units, advancing them towards the enemy’s side, controlling the Springs in the middle of the board while slowly picking away at their units or going in for the kill by attacking Strongholds. It’s extremely tactical and requires a lot of careful thought. It’s a fascinating set of mechanics that ends up feeling only very remotely like chess and much more like a tactical turn-based strategy game.
Modes and Features
UHR-Warlords has a few modes: first is the single-player campaigns, of which there are two. You’ll need to defeat the first to unlock the second, but this is fairly quick and easy. Each campaign game will have some variable objectives required to defeat it, such as destroying at least 3 enemy Strongholds, not summoning more than 5 units, and so on.
The game doesn’t get too difficult until the second campaign, where the victory conditions start to get a little bit more difficult to achieve. Regardless, the AI is not too difficult and you’re going to probably want to play this game against another person for the maximum amount of enjoyment.
To do that, you can play a multiplayer game online through matchmaking, or you can start a local match that lets you set up the parameters for a two player game with both players in the same room. This is probably my favorite thing about this game, because it doesn’t require being online to play and it makes it a good choice for long journeys when travelling with other people.
There’s also a list of achievements you can complete and earn points for, but these are just trophies to give you a personal sense of satisfaction, if you’re into hitting those kinds of in-game milestones. There is no shop and no further unlocks – just unadulterated, one-on-one, brain-busting tactical combat.
A certain kind of game player is drawn to chess particularly because it is a “perfect information” game – players have access to all available strategic information about the game and board state at any given time, just by looking at it. Well, for those that love perfect information games, UHR-Warlords is nearly there, but a couple of its quirks are likely to annoy you.
The attack ranges resolving at a semi-random value will mess with your ability to perfectly calculate how much damage any unit will be able to deal, so you’re not always able to plan an attack with 100% certainty in your ability to deal a killing blow.
Similarly, the fact that all the pieces do not start on the field, but are rather summoned by players will also mess a bit with your ability to predict what pieces will be on the board and where. If you’re that kind of player, rather than get frustrated at this, I suggest you go with the flow and embrace the game’s variance for what it is – a way to keep the game diverse and interesting by using these slightly hidden aspects of gameplay which I really enjoy for the sense of anticipation it creates.
Nevertheless, this is still very much a thinking person’s game, because there is very little randomization to mess with your plans. You’ll always be able to see how much energy your opponent will have to spend next turn, what their movement and attack ranges will be, and so on.
Be cautious of shielded units, especially when they first come into play. They’ll be immune to anything you’re capable of throwing at them for a whole turn, so if you have units up close to the enemy’s first line, then they’re able to quickly summon new units, remain protected for the turn and then attack your unit in their next turn. Similarly, you can use this tactic against the opponent when they have enemies up next to your Strongholds.
It’s very important to control the Uhrkraft tiles in the middle of the board as much as possible, because more Uhrkraft points next turn means more actions available to you – more summoning, more movement, and more attacks. If you’re able to consistently get in a few more actions per turn than your opponent is capable of, you’ll most likely get the edge up over them.
The success of games like UHR-Warlords is down to their timeless inspirations, which in this case appears to be chess and card games like Magic: the Gathering. With such enduring influences, there is no way that a game like this could go wrong. It has everything you could ask for: unique units, with enough stat variations to make it feel more dynamic that chess, and just enough hidden information and randomization to be exciting, introducing a small element of uncertainty into the gameplay.
I really love UHR-Warlords as a game of tactical combat between two real people, as it’s the kind of game that makes you feel like it’s just your mind against your opponent’s, with very little buffer zone in-between. This makes it a great modern update over chess, which many people seem to outgrow or tire of after a certain point due to the purely dry, logical gameplay and heavy memorization of strategies required to become a become a decent player. I am sure there are optimal opening moves for this game as well, but this is mitigated somewhat by the fact that the board starts clean with no units and you can never be certain which units your opponent will summon to the field, and where.
I am pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoy this game even though I’m no longer a fan of chess (despite being a regular tournament player in my youth). It’s got some great art, nicely crafted 3D models and attack animations, and just the right amount of sound design and presentation to make the whole player experience feel more polished than your average mobile / tablet game.
UHR-Warlords is a great game and you should definitely check it out if the premise appeals to you – some truly epic PvP gameplay awaits you ahead!
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