Burn the heretic. Kill the mutant. Purge the unclean.
It’s been almost a decade since Dawn of War’s release and today it’s still remembered fondly in many hearts. The first entry into a franchise that’s now seeing it’s 3rd main instalment with a slew of expansion packs for the first two games already available. It’s almost a household name in anyone that enjoys sci-fi strategy and before we get into it I’m going to go ahead and say it once and only once.
Warhammer 40k came first. Starcraft came second. DoW came third. Warhammer is still the original idea and DoW is not a ripoff of Starcraft. There, I said it, can we move on now?
Dawn of War saw the fires of passion for toy soldiers light up in many hearts, it bought a whole new wave of players to the tabletop game including myself. The whole experience was unlike any other strategy I’d played before. The variants in races actually had them feeling unique as opposed to simply being different factions of the same species.
Like everyone who has ever played a Dawn of War game, I became a space marine fanboy within about 5 minutes of gameplay. All they do is strut about the galaxy blasting anything and everything that isn’t them and being incredibly manly while doing so. Kind of hard to dislike that right up until you consider the whole genocidal aspect of it. Nevertheless, DoW did an excellent job of both reflecting the sheer power of a Space Marine but also balancing them. If Relic went solely off the established fiction for Space Marines you could essentially train a single squad and win the game. All the same, it was, and is, satisfying to watch their bolters tear through a softer squad such as Eldar guardians or Ork Boyz.
In terms of tactics, DoW really follows the established strategy guide of the time. Protect your base and capture resource points until you can get the biggest, nastiest tank then bring some smaller ones and steam roll the enemy. With the population cap, there isn’t much of an option for anything else. Once you have one or two of most units you’re at the cap. Which is a shame because it would be nice to live out my dream of sending a few hundred Imperial Guard Conscripts into the meat grinder of war without needing to spend $1000 on models.
I’ll admit the game has its faults but it’s a product of the time and a lot of those can be solved with mods. Surprisingly enough for a game coming up on its 10th birthday, the scene is actually quite active and there’s a range of options from adding units and increasing the population cap to the addition of complete races that weren’t included in the expansions.
On the whole Dawn of War holds up well. It plays like Company of Heroes in space only with the slimmest margin of realism present. But you’re not playing for realism, you’re playing to purge in the name of the God-Emperor of Mankind. Or maybe just to loot in the name of Gork (or possibly Mork). So, before Dawn of War proceeds to immensely disappoint long-term fans of the series, let’s all gather around and remember the good old days so when Sega’s latest title drops we can hate it even more.
Former world number 1 in Call of Duty, shows us some of his playing highlight and you can watch them here: