Well, it has been out for some time, and I have done some reading, rereading, thinking about forces, ect in regards to the recently released Warpath beta rules. Here is what I think of what I have seen so far.
- The system will seem familiar to a wide audience, as it does a decently good job of mixing the Kings of War and Wahammer 40K rulesets. Combat works out almost exactly like Kings of War combat, but with individual line of sight becoming for more important.
- The rule system is relatively complete with all things considered. You already have rules for troops, transports, aircraft, vehicles running troops over (Overrun), and a wide range of other rules. All backed up by the Kings of War style special rules like Zap for caster/psychic types.
- With the current rules and forces released, you can easily see the capability for a wide range of races to easily be fitting into the Warpath ruleset, with each being played much differently then the other down the line. As long as Mantic and fan lists stay away from the pit falls of the space marine syndrome and not try to support a hundred different version of the same Forge Fathers list with only minor differences.
- The rules, like Kings of War, being free to download and use. This is a big plus, as I don't have to worry about buying another $75 book with each new edition.
- Still a relatively fast game system to play through, not as fast as Kings of War but not as slow as a normal game of Warhammer 40K.
- Most of the fat from the 40K ruleset has been cut for the most part, once again helping streamline the game process. Something that Mantic has proven good at with Kings of War.
- While I considered it a pro, the fact that Warpath does feel so familiar to Warhammer 40K in a lot of levels will likely go a long way towards turning the less then willing away from the system. The whole 'Why play a cheap knockoff version of what I am already playing'.
- I personally dislike the rules for aircraft, as they seem... cumbersome with the aircraft coming and going at will from the tabletop (not really at will, but just coming and going).Either keep the aircraft on the table or remove them completely I would say. I think it's an unneeded action to have to put the mini on the table, next turn remove then mini, turn ofter that place the mini somewhere else on the table. Just to tedious for me personally.
The Warpath game system is something I am looking forward to see grow. First thing that was going through my head while reading the rules was figuring out the stats for a Warpath version of Tau. Right now they have an Orc race (Called Orx), and a Dwarven race that appears to be far closer to space marines then anything else to me at this time. The rules for hovering vehicles are already in the game system, so Eldar and Tau should be functional, just a matter of getting points lists worked out.
There are already some folks that are trying to break the rules by making it far more like 40K then the system needs to be, things like making units with 7+ defense that really doesn't need to be that hard to hurt, just because they believe it is closer to what terminators should be. Of course I don't agree with this, as you already have to hit them, then roll a 6 on a followup dice, which already give 6+ defense models a huge ability to stay on the field. I am hoping in this regard Mantic does not go this route and make stupidly powerful units, without making them cost a stupidly high amount of points. The focus should be on the combat, not on who can bring the more invulnerable units (and yes, a defense 7+ model is invulnerable to a lot of attacks in the current version of Warpath).
I do think Warpath will be a good tactical skirmish style game for the most part, the issues will get ironed out over time, so not worried about a few annoyances here or there, like aircraft. The game does appear like it will take a bit longer to play then a normal game of Kings of War though, as you are no longer moving entire units at once, instead moving each trooper separately. This of course is a matter of perception, as I imagine the game will still finish quicker then a current game of Warhammer 40K. I haven't played 40K in a good few years now, so no clue exactly how quick a common point level game takes, but I am assuming the standard 2-3 hours still.
Definitely give the game a shot. The rules are free, so what does it hurt?