As the name implies, the player controls units on a map divided into hexagons. During a player's turn, they can move their units and attack. When all moves have been made, the player can end the turn, which allows the next player to move. The game has a single-player campaign and multiplayer mode. The player can select one of four races: humans, elves, dwarves, and greenskins.
In the campaign, you can upgrade your castle between missions, recruiting and improving your units and buying spells and potions. Almost every mission has one or more teleporter, which can be used to summon a certain number of units from your castle. The castle's teleporter can be upgraded to increase that limit. Upon completion of a mission, the player is awarded a gem and a certain amount of gold, based on how many units are left alive. Gems are used to upgrade the castle, while gold is used to recruit units, buy scrolls and potions, and to summon units using teleporters. Only hero units can use scrolls and potions. If you have a jeweler building in the castle, you can exchange gold for gems and vice versa.
While units differ from race to race, the basic types are militia (cheap and weak), infantry (strong melee troops), missile (e.g. crossbowmen, archers, riflemen), artillery (e.g. catapults, ballistae, cannons), pikemen (anti-cavalry), cavalry (more damage after a certain number of hexes traveled in a straight line), and mages. Greenskins lack any artillery or cavalry. Human crossbowmen are unique among missile troops in that they can't move and attack on the same turn. They are also the humans' only missile troops, while other races tend to have two types each (e.g. dwarves have axe throwers and riflemen). Humans have only one artillery unit (catapult), elves have two (ballista and scorpion), and dwarves have three (cannon, hellfire, and mortar).
The human story focuses on a knight named Percival Kent, who is suddenly forced to deal with a greenskin invasion. He learns of a powerful orc chief who is rallying the tribes against the Empire. Meanwhile, the Empire has other enemies, who take advantage of the situation and attack, like the elves and the dwarves. At least the dwarves quickly agree to a truce and a temporary alliance, since they hate the elves.
The game provides examples of:
- An Axe to Grind: Thuvrid's weapon of choice. He can switch between a large axe for melee combat or smaller axes to throw. Dwarves also have axe throwers as one of their missile units.
- Bag of Sharing: An interesting case. Not only are the scrolls and potions shared between heroes, they're also shared between campaigns. So there's nothing stopping you from getting a bunch of stuff in one campaign and then use it in another. The same applies to gems and gold.
- Bears Are Bad News: Elves use tamed bears as their shock troops.
- The Berserker: One of the dwarven units are the berserkers. They are a Lightning Bruiser but also go down pretty fast.
- Full-Boar Action: Dwarves use "boars of war", large armored boars with Red Eyes, Take Warning and a Healing Factor, as their cavalry equivalent. Unlike most cavalry units, these are very tough.
- Bribing Your Way to Victory: Players can spend real money for gems, gold, certain upgrades, or unique units. However, none of that is necessary to beat the game. It's also possible to get certain freebies by watching an ad.
- Critical Existence Failure: Zig-zagged. Played straight with each individual soldier, who remain just as strong with 1 HP as they do with max HP, but units composed of multiple soldiers only do as much damage as there are soldiers in the unit, so swordsmen with a full complement of 9 soldiers will do 9x the damage of an individual swordsman, while a unit with only 4 swordsmen left will deal only 4x the damage.
- Dem Bones: Skeletons (either warriors or archers) can be summoned using scrolls. They are also the primary troops of the final bad guy of the human campaign and appear in other campaigns as well.
- Difficulty Levels: Campaign missions are rated "normal", "hard", and "extreme". All missions are first played on the "normal" difficulty. If players wish, they can replay individual missions, but they will be harder with each completion with tougher or more numerous enemies.
- Elves vs. Dwarves: Dwarves don't like elves and vice versa. No surprise here.
- Fantasy Gun Control: Dwarves are the only faction that uses gunpowder. This includes riflemen, cannons, mortars, and hellfire (fires a spread of cannonballs at a shorter range than cannons).
- Geo Effects: Missile and artillery troops get a bonus to range and damage if they have the high ground (either a hill or on a castle wall or tower). Trees provide cover from damage (except against magic attacks) but slow down anyone who isn't an elf. Trees are also impassable to cavalry. Roads increase movement. Trees, rocks, walls, and other tall features block the attacks of missile and artillery troops, with the exception of the mortar. This can be useful to get close to an artillery unit without getting killed.
- Glass Cannon: All artillery units fit the trope. They are easy to destroy but also pack a hell of a punch. The elven campaign has two artisans argue about which is better: ballistae or scorpions. Ballistae have greater range but also can't shoot at anything right next to them. Scorpions can, but their overall range is shorter (they also deal more damage, but the artisans don't mention it). The ballista artisan points out that being able to attack someone right next to it is pointless for a scorpion, as the unit is most likely dead at that point. It's rare for a unit to get close enough to dead melee damage to a scorpion but not kill it in a single turn.
- Healing Factor: Some heroes have this as an optional ability. It can be purchased and enhanced in the castle. It can prove invaluable, especially for non-elves, since they lack healers. Certain units also have that as a natural ability.
- Healing Hands: Elves are the only ones who have a healing unit. Heroes can use healing potions on themselves or friendly units, but those are limited, while a healer can heal someone (including themselves) every turn. Note: this only applies to those in a squad still alive. If 4 archers out of 9 in the squad have been killed, they won't be brought back to life. The elven hero Sylvius can heal allies too, although his healing skill first has to be upgraded. Note: healing applies to both biological and mechanical units.
- Home Base: In the campaign, you can upgrade your castle between missions and recruit units that can be summoned using teleporters in most missions.
- No Campaign for the Wicked: Averted. The four playable races get campaigns of their own, and each one presents their side as the "good guys". In fact, some campaigns appear to take place many years after others, such as the Dwarven campaign, since in it you have to bring back the ghosts of protagonists of two other campaigns.
- Our Dragons Are Different: When playing the greenskin campaign, your primary hero is Ildus, a red dragon. He can fly and breathe fire, which deals continuous damage to the target. Fire spreads to adjacent enemy units upon the death of the primary target.
- Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Dwarves are the most technologically-advanced race. Their missile units are armed with rifles (albeit shorter-ranged than archers of other races), and their artillery is likewise gunpowder-based. Their troops are tough but not as numerous as those of other races.
- Our Goblins Are Different: Goblins are the smaller cousins of the orcs. They tend to use We Have Reserves tactics, since their individual soldiers are weak. Orcs frequently use them as cannon fodder.
- Our Elves Are Different: Most elven foot units have increased movement through forest tiles, treating them as if they were roads. All other races are slowed down by forests.
- Our Orcs Are Different: Orcs are the bigger, badder cousins of the goblins. Their squads typically have fewer soldiers but are also much tougher.
- Player Character: Each campaign has player be represented as a specific hero unit, who can be upgraded in-between missions. Other heroes can be added throughout the campaign.
- Humans have Percival Kent, a mounted knight.
- Elves have Arcaena, an archer.
- Dwarves have Thuvrid, a mercenary with a preference for axes.
- Greenskins have a dragon named Ildus.
- Savage Wolves: The greenskins have tamed wolves and use them as attack dogs.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: In many missions, enemy heroes will flee if sufficiently damaged. When fleeing, they can no longer be attacked.
- Siege Engines: Three of the four playable races have artillery units. As a rule, artillery units can't move and fire on the same turn. Humans only have the catapult. Elves have the ballista (functions basically the same as the catapult) and the scorpion (a shorter-range anti-personnel machine that fires a spread of bolts). Dwarves have the cannon (functions like the catapult), the hellfire (the dwarven version of the scorpion but fires a spread of cannonballs), and the mortar (shorter range than the cannon but can fire over obstacles). Except for the mortar, artillery can't shoot over walls or trees.
- Storming the Castle: A number of campaign missions involve attacking a fortified enemy, frequently with ranged, magic, or artillery units on towers (which gives them additional range, protection, and damage). In order to enter a castle, a gate first has to be destroyed, although the goal is usually to kill all defenders rather than enter the castle. Just as often, the mission requires the player to defend a castle against an enemy attack.
- Unicorn: Elves use unicorns as their cavalry troops. They hit hard, especially after a charge, but aren't particularly tough. They are the only cavalry unit capable of moving through forests. They also treat forests as roads.
- We Cannot Go On Without You: In all campaign missions, the Player Character must survive.