Wintermoor Tactics Club Review – A Tactics Game about Tabletop Gaming

Wintermoor Tactics Club Review – A Tactics Game about Tabletop Gaming
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Platforms:

Windows PC, Steam

Game Name:

Wintermoor Tactics Club

Publisher(s):

Versus Evil

Developer(s):

EVC

Genre(s):

Adventure, RPG, Strategy

Release Date:

May 5th, 2020

Wintermoor Tactics Club by EVC

The seemingly benign premise of Wintermoor Tactics Club by EVC is that a principal wants to hold a snowball tournament. Each extracurricular club in Wintermoor High School must compete, and if they lose, their club is disbanded.

You play as Alicia, a member of the Tactics Club, who spend a lot of their time playing a Dungeons & Dragons-inspired fictional game called Curses and Catacombs (C&C). It’s up to your club to compete for survival, uncover the truth surrounding the mysterious principal, and also play a lot of C&C along the way.

Real-World Benefits of Tabletop Role-Playing

Alicia and her fellow Tactics Club members each have their own personal C&C characters modeled after them, so when they play C&C, they enter an imaginary world where they fight all kinds of creatures.

This extends to the aforementioned snowball tournament. When you compete with other clubs, they also have their own C&C characters based on them. It’s a clever way to incorporate combat into an otherwise uneventful snowball tournament.

When the game shifts into C&C mode, the game follows traditional turn-based combat. You can move your party members to certain spaces based on their abilities. The same goes for attacks, as some characters and enemies use close-range or ranged attacks.

It’s up to you how you’re going to tackle each battle. Proper positioning is very important, as enemies can easily surround you if you’re not careful.

The game has a number of characters, each with their own unique move sets. And there are so many to choose from, allowing you to tailor your party the way you want. There are many ways to mix up the combat, thanks to so much character variety, making battles enjoyable and a lot of fun to experiment with.

Rock, Paper, Snowball

Early, Wintermoor Tactics Club doesn’t punish you too much for not thinking too strategically, but as the game progresses, particularly about halfway through, battles become more difficult, and proper strategy is a must.

The combat becomes more complex thanks to more emphasis on physically or magically armored enemies. Physical attacks ignore magical armor, while magical attacks ignore physical armor.

If you’re not careful, characters can die easily, which means a lot of battles involve trial and error. Thankfully, battles are short, so if you lose it’s not as frustrating. Choosing the right party members and playing smart are keys to success. Combat can get tough, but overall it’s a lot of fun.

The game also throws in some environmental hazards like fire and smoke clouds which have detrimental effects on movement or armor. Thankfully, if you’re not too invested in learning or strategically tackling battles, the game has a “No Fail Mode” option that basically makes characters invincible. This lets you enjoy the game’s story instead of stressing over its combat.

A Story-Based Campaign

The narrative is strong and feels like a small-scale Persona game – simulating the life of a teenager in a high school while also incorporating combat into the fold.

Alicia is a relatively shy person who does her best to help others and make new friends. And Wintermoor Tactics Club is very much about interacting with the many other students in school.

This side of the game feels like a visual novel experience. You’ll take on side quests to help others, or even recruit some into your club, thus making them new party members to use in combat. The narrative is fairly linear, but if side quests are taken on, the stories they provide flesh out the world and characters even more.

Side quests in this game are hit or miss. A number of them involve fetch quests or relaying of information. Although they do a good job of world-building, they aren’t as particularly fun or entertaining as I would have liked.

And since a lot of side quests give you items that you can equip for combat, they then become more necessary than optional (there are a number of side quests that involve playing out C&C battles, and these are a must). They can unlock abilities and equipment for characters to use in combat. This can become an issue if you’re not necessarily invested in the game’s setting.

It Started Out as a Setting for My D&D Campaign

One of the game’s strongest aspects is the world-building. It’s a slow build toward a narrative that becomes filled with intrigue and depth.

As Wintermoor Tactics Club progresses, characters become even more fleshed out to the point where you start to care about them. The game does a great job creating unique, believable characters.

Visually, the game nails its simplistically detailed world. Locations are lovingly drawn, each giving off its own lively mood. All the character portraits are fantastic; each character has several portraits showing different expressions. This is a nice touch that always made reading dialogue more entertaining.

I also have to commend the music in this game; I found myself humming the battle theme between play sessions. Tracks are wonderfully composed and catchy, from the upbeat combat music to the more chilled out exploration music. Each track sets a particular mood without feeling like just a mix of randomly composed music.

Wintermoor Tactics Club is a wonderful, charming game that feels like a love letter to Dungeons & Dragons. Its narrative is filled with young adult-themed drama as well as mystical intrigue.

It captures the spirit of tabletop gaming and frames it within a Persona-style game. At times, it can feel like it leans on its combat a bit too much, letting its other elements take a backseat, but with these minor issues aside, I’d still recommend it to fans of the tactical RPG genre.

Wintermoor Tactics Club is available via Steam and GOG.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Watch the official trailer for Wintermoor Tactics Club below: