My theory regarding a successful expansion is that they usually do one of two things: Deepen or Grow. The Depth expansions take a system that was already in the base game and flesh it out even more, adding features that build on what was already established.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, Growth Expansions add something that wasn’t in the base game, avoiding the already established formula for the addition of something new entirely. Neither of these options is necessarily correct, both have been used for countless games to varying degrees of success. Bear in mind this is all a personal hypothesis, I haven’t conducted extensive research into the field of expansion packs.
I am but a humble critic, wise in the ephemeral sense rather than a scientific one. So when I say that Wargroove’s Double Trouble expansion is one of the few that I’ve played that succeeds at both deepening and growing the base game, you should have already realised that the co-op campaign added to what was already a phenomenal strategy game just makes for an experience that is above and beyond what I expected.
What surprises me most is just how well Double Trouble works. Turn-based strategy is a genre that I wouldn’t usually associate with cooperative gameplay but rather elongated stretches of single-player thinking and competitive shouting at the person who somehow has been able to predict all of your moves before they happen.
Teamwork seems like an almost foreign concept to most strategy games, thus having Wargroove display how well it can work is a real treat. It’s baked into the actual story of the campaign, taking on the role of huggable mountain Wulfar and Outlaw twins Errol and Orla working together to steal copious amounts of gold from the already established factions to pay off a ransom.
The premise lends itself to teamwork over competition; Double Trouble isn’t about conquering and defeating your enemies, it’s about pulling off several massive heists. Every level sees Wulfar and the twins establishing a grand plan that requires some level of coordination from both players to prove successful with the solution never being as simple as “charge in and kill everyone”. Freeing prisoners, fake charges and full-scale military distractions are served up in Double Trouble, transitioning Wargroove into something more akin to Espionage-Groove.
The emphasis on “together by apart” gameplay is reinforced by the excellent level design on offer in Double Trouble. Rather than simply re-utilising the existing maps, developer Chucklefish has gone to great lengths to design maps which physically divide the Outlaws’ armies, ensuring they both play separately but are still united towards achieving a common goal.
Not only that, many of the new units such as the Marksmen seem purposefully designed to only benefit the other player’s side of the fight, making for an added layer of strategy as players are required to not only develop units for themselves. It’s an added layer of depth especially when playing solo, something made possible by merely playing both Outlaw gangs one after the other. Just remember when you do so, the game becomes a real kick in the teeth.
I don’t profess to being a genius at tactical games. Far from it in fact. Yet Double Trouble made me sit back and reflect on just how terrible I actually am. While the expansion is obviously more enjoyable with another player locally, I also have to imagine it’s slightly easier as you’ll both have your attention focused on your side of the confrontation.
Playing solo, however, was a challenge beyond what I was ever expecting. Beyond the adorable pixels and vibrant designs, Double Trouble is tough if you don’t have a partner. Which isn’t a bad thing at all, don’t get me wrong. Splitting your attention and strategies between two fronts while simultaneously working together was more than my poor brain could handle at times, forcing numerous resets and a speeding up on the animations just to get through it all. Yet when you pull off that grand heist, yoinking a pile of gold right out from Caesar, the Chief Warpup’s adorable nose, the feeling of satisfaction is so deliciously golden. Having said that, the “pass-the-controller” style of gameplay is sure to lead to a great deal of backseat-playing, like any good game of Solitaire. I bring this up as a warning, not a fault.
I couldn’t give up on Double Trouble, no matter how taxing it became. To step away from Wulfar, Errol and Orla in their time of need would have been cruel. While the story is not the main draw for Double Trouble I can’t deny really enjoying the dynamic between the three protagonists. It’s something we’ve seen before, the blocky, stoic leader attempting to teach and protect his “weans” just starting to figure out who they are in a gang of Outlaws isn’t original, but what is these days?
Yet their interactions and quips thrown out between the three were charming to the point I became invested in their attempts to rescue their beloved Enid. It’s wonderfully heartfelt with some genuinely funny and warm conversations taking place between battles. Despite spending less time with The Outlaws than I did with Mercia and her kingdom in the base game, I’ll freely admit that I found Wulfar and the gang more compelling and enjoyable, turning out to be a surprising highlight of the expansion.
Which all goes back to my original hypothesis of Depth and Growth and how Double Trouble bucks the norm and majestically succeeds on both fronts. A totally new campaign and gameplay mode that establishes a new trend beyond the Wargroove formula while at the same taking that very same formula and growing it out with units and heroes that fundamentally change the game, especially in a competitive sense. Double Trouble feels less like an expansion and more like a full-blown game that’s been stitched onto the original. The content on offer is well designed, generous at the price of free and adds so much to a strategy game that was already one of the best examples of the genre on the market today.
Last Updated: January 30, 2020