Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War - Winter Assault Review

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War is a great strategy game. It does a great job of capturing the spirit of the Warhammer 40,000 universe, as well as providing a fast-paced and extremely enjoyable RTS experience. Well, as long as you’re not one of those base-building types, that is. Dawn of War is built for aggressive play and players must move out across the map to capture resource nodes as quickly as possible or face being crushed by the opposition. Enter Winter Assault. It’s an expansion game for Dawn of War and like many expansion games for RTS titles that have come before it, it adds a new faction to the fray. Now here’s where things really get interesting: the new faction added to the game is the Imperial Guard. If you’re familiar with the Warhammer 40,000 mythos, then you know that in a universe filled with bio-engineered warriors, demons, and space-faring Orks, the Imperial Guard is the cannon fodder. Their ranks are filled with conscripts who are not too thrilled to be there and are ready to turn tail if things start going south. Think of Pvt. Hudson in Aliens and you’ll get the idea.

Bring out the big guns.
So why the Imperial Guard? Well, and listen up you base-builders out there, it’s because they are unlike the other factions in the game in that they’re built for defense – at least at the start of the game. The Imperial Guard feature defensive structures that makes it safe for them to hole up for a bit while they spend time researching their powerful vehicular and armored weapons. They can get their initial buildings up pretty quickly and have the ability to garrison every structure that they build, so they’re well protected against rush attacks by the other factions. Furthermore, all of their structures are connected by tunnels so they can quickly move men to where they are needed. Enemy factions that spend their time pumping out cheap units and skirmishing all over the map while letting the Imperial Guard bide their time researching will be in for a nasty surprise.

Towards the upper reaches of their tech tree the Imperial Guard gets their hands on some pretty big guns. The Sentinel is a fast-moving walker that can quickly put the hurt on far-flung enemy units and structures. The Hellhound is a flamethrower tank that burns enemy infantry to a crisp while breaking the morale of any survivors witnessing the carnage. The Basilisk is an artillery piece that can bombard distant locations, even those outside its field of view. But the real heavy hitter is the multi-gunned Baneblade assault tank which packs the biggest wallop in the game.

Although the squads of Imperial Guard infantry are pretty weak to begin with, there are things that you can do to make them a more effective fighting force. First of all you can assign leaders to a squad to shore up their morale. A commissar will keep a unit from breaking and can even be ordered to shoot a soldier in the back to give the rest of the squad more motivation to stay and fight. A priest will be able to whip a unit into a blind fury that makes them invulnerable for a short time. You also have the ability to upgrade the weapons of individual members of a squad. Arming a few soldiers with grenade launchers goes a long way towards increasing their effectiveness.