Finally getting to play Dawn of War - then my hard drive died

By: 
Joshua Waddles
Staff Writer

I just downloaded a few awesome games off of Steam and guess who’s hard drive died?

Well before I had to start dealing with that, I did get a good amount of time with these new games. Well, I say new. I bought old games because they’re the only ones that will work on my stone age laptop. (That’s why I’m not too broken up about the hard drive. Almost all of my writing was backed up and I’ve been meaning to get a better computer anyway.)

But another advantage of older games is that they’re cheaper, especially during a holiday sale. So I finally got a chance to start playing Dawn of War, a game I’ve had my eye on since it first came out in 2004.

I love Warhammer 40,000, the backdrop of this game. I don’t play the miniatures game, which is the main thing for Warhammer and Warhammer 40K fans, but I’m addicted to the books and the grimdark setting.

I also absolutely love strategy games, both turn-based strategy and real-time strategy. I almost died of suspense waiting for the release of Warcraft III, which kept getting delayed, and then I almost died of relief when I finally got my hands on a copy.

I was delighted that the Dawn of War gameplay worked much like Starcraft. It differentiated in resource management. Instead of mining for crystals, gold or building materials, you capture strategic points in Dawn of War and that automatically increases your rate of resource growth. (Not power. For power you build generators.) This way is a little different and I can’t really say it’s better or worse than Starcraft or Warcraft.

Now the size of armies in Dawn of War are probably about half the size of the armies you can field in Starcraft (the original, I don’t know about Starcraft II.) This limited army size isn’t 100 percent consistent with the Warhammer 40K setting. In the novels, they put thousands of boots on the ground. But it is more in keeping with the table top games where no one can afford that. (One commissar figure was $10 when I thought about getting into that and that was in 2004.)

The smaller armies also give an advantage of better micro management. In Starcraft, you such massive armies that the only sort of strategy going on was building and leveling them up as quickly as possible, then sending them to the enemy base and fighting a war of attrition. Armies were so big that you couldn’t even select all of the soldiers at once. By the time you got the entire army marching in the right direction, the battle was pretty much decided.

But Dawn of War’s smaller armies requires a bit more strategy. Micro managing is much more likely to turn the tide of a battle than it was in the original Starcraft.

After spending probably about 18 years reading the novels, it’s a thrill to finally get to play games based on these armies. I bought all the expansions after I found out that the Necrons and Sisters of Battle were included. I later found out that I probably could have just bought the last game of the series and still had access to the content of all the other games, but I decided not to get mad about that. Because of the sale, I still saved money.

Although it’s a little irritating that I can’t play it this weekend over that dead hard drive, I’m not too broken up about it. I’ve needed a new computer since forever, but I kept using that slow piece of junk laptop because I just plain didn’t want to spend the money on it. No choice now. This time around, I’m going to do my research and get something decent.

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