If you grew up in the eighties or any time since then it’s very likely you’ll remember the niche popularity of the Games Workshop family of table top war games. White Dwarf magazine tempted in the daydreaming schoolboy fantasists with visions of exquisitely painted armies of Space Marines, goblins and dwarves. The only problem, apart from having to go into the shops populated by scary bearded or be-zitted denizens dressed only in black, generally wearing heavy metal T-shirts, was you had to assemble and paint your force. This took months, had a steep learning curve, and never came close to the results displayed so smugly in the pages of the glossy bible. Then came the day when you proudly drew up your troops and prepared to do battle with a similarly dedicated friend. After a few hours dutifully measuring distances in inches and rolling oddly shaped dice, you were forced to come to an agreement: this was actually quite boring. Very boring in fact. The painting was, you were appalled to discover, the fun bit.
Many years have passed since then and the advances in RTS gaming on PC have made the tabletop wargame look impossibly primitive. The undeniably imaginative worlds of Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 can now be enjoyed thanks to the dedicated boffins who effectively paint armies and devise rules for all of us to use. Games Workshop products have long been recreated in video games, one memorable early one being the splendid Space Hulk (also their best board game, not least because you only needed to paint about 10 figures to play it).
Last year’s Dawn of War was the culmination of this process, and was deservedly honoured with an RTS game of the year award. Now the acclaimed title is to be augmented with a brand new expansion pack: Winter Assault. Winter Assault features new troops in the form of the Imperial Guard, and new units like Chaplains. As well as that you get 12 more single player missions and more multiplayer maps, and countless neat new touches like terrain features, improved urban terrain and more eye-catching set pieces. A worthy follow-up to a smashing RTS title, and you still get to stay well away from paint, MDF game boards, black nail varnish and funny shaped dice.