Toy Tactics is approachable, wobbly miniature-strategy

Toy Tactics is a tabletop twist on real-time tactics, complete with goofy physics, and pieces that wobbly rather than march.

The biggest problem with a game genre having had its heyday a few decades back is that there’s always a massive expectation from veteran players when it comes to new entries. The real-time strategy genre has gone through so many evolutions, but it’s still incredibly easy to pull out milestone series like Command and Conquer or Total War as a foundation to build on, which is maybe a bit of a curse. Toy Tactics is all about short and sweet skirmishes, careful formations and flanking, and goofy humour and giant heroes.

I was lucky enough to spend some time with an early build of Toy Tactics while at GDC this year, as part or the Courage XL mixer, where it was being shown off alongside some other great games.

Tactics games, with their limited numbers of units, always feel a little bit more like a puzzle game than the harvest-generate loop that you find in strategy games. Toy Tactics relishes in that puzzling, with simple positioning puzzles and progress gates serving as the rhythm in most of the levels. This allows the development team to slide in a story, largely delivered through narrators like Sun Tzu. The voiceover work is great (in fact, Spanish Batman voices the Spanish Sun Tzu), so much so that the gulf of historical inaccuracies (or, simply things that were never important to the devs) like… why Sun Tzu is leading a group of legionnaires, can be ignored.

Toy Tactics‘ aim isn’t to reenact fights, or even really to challenge. Instead, it’s an entertaining, gateway tactics game that has fun projectile physics and spells. However, it’s also more than just that because the draw system is really dynamic and fun, with you drag-clicking, or press-dragging, to change the depth and width of your selected groups’ position. That’s really fun, and when you do something cool, like rushing a thin, wide group into a large enemy, surrounding it — or pulling off a cool pincer attack — it feels fantastic.

The best thing of all though is how the little characters rock back and forth on their bases as they move from place to place. It’s like an invisible hand is emulating exaggerated marching, and it never failed to raise a smile from me. Toy Tactics might be too simple for fans of the genre, but it’s a really fun concept and looks beautiful.

Toy Tactics is currently available for Windows PCs through Early Access on Steam.

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