Massacre Effect: Chainsaw Warrior

There are three immediate things to note about Chainsaw Warrior:

1) Despite claims that they are violent, computerised games have managed to exist for ages without Chainsaw Warrior becoming a best-selling franchise. Gears of War doesn’t count.
2) The game is a digital adaptation of a 1987 Games Workshop boardgame for one player. I have never heard of that game but I did adapt Cluedo for solo play when I was a youngster. It was rubbish. If I had a time machine, I’d risk some sort of paradoxsplosion in order to introduce my younger self to Chainsaw Warrior.
3) Killing monsters with a chainsaw is a good thing to do.

We’ve established that I’d like to be a heroic lumberjack and had an odd childhood, but what is Chainsaw Warrior?

Here’s what Auroch Digital, the developers of the new version, have to say about the boardgame:

The original 80s game was a notable rarity in that it was a solo board game that pitted the player not against others but against the clock. The game saw New York balancing on the precipice of darkness as twisted forces from another reality attempted to rip the city from this world into theirs. Standing between them and the destruction of the city was a lone figure, the brutal and mysterious Chainsaw Warrior. As the eponymous hero, the player had to delve into a zombie infested New York tenement to locate the source of the evil spewing through the spatial rift and destroy it before he was destroyed.

I enjoy solo boardgames, so much so that I have been known to take up half of my apartment’s floorspace with my super-expanded Arkham Horror while people step around me attempting to continue with their daily routine. They haven’t been invited to play. It’s my game. I’m the one who’s going to lose, all on my own.

Tomas Rawlings, design and production director at Auroch, had this to say:

It’s a game I played as a kid and loved. I see it as the pre-cursor of First Person Shooters when video games technology could not really do the first person or the shooting. For me this is not only a great game, but a classic of board game design – a solo shooter that really challenges the player. When we spoke to Games Workshop about developing a game this was the top of my list. I loved the 80s style of the game and we’ve kept much of that in our design as well as faithfully translating the gameplay. Don’t expect to win the game easily. This was the Dark Souls or Super Meat Boy of its day. Players didn’t want to buy the game and run out of challenge at first play. The game has many ways to kill you and is unafraid to use them – which makes it all the sweeter when you finally win.

I don’t doubt Tomas’ love of Chainsaw Warrior but if this came higher on his list than Necromunda, I am willing to battle him in a chainsaw duel for the honour of House Delaque.

Chainsaw Warrior is coming to portable pokescreens at the end of summer, with desktop versions following shortly. Judging by the colour of the sky, the rising humidity and the gusts of winds assailing my face, I’d say summer will end about 7.12PM tonight.


  1. Snids says:


  2. Sparkasaurusmex says:

    Does that art come from the original board game, or is it concept/cover art for the new game?
    Looks awesome, either way.

    This isn’t about a computer game though, right? It’s about cardboard and plastic stuff?

  3. Premium User Badge

    distantlurker says:

    Hope they fix the legacy issue exhibited in these old GW titles.

    Painfully evident in the recent Warhammer Quest; games from this era were 10% skill, 90% dice rolls.

    You want your game to noticeably benefit (and on rare occasion, absolutely and desperately require) a lucky roll.

    You don’t want to feel that all of your efforts are for naught in the face of overwhelming random chance.

    • Tacroy says:

      Pfft, if everyone thought like you do, Candy Land and Snakes and Ladders would never exist!

  4. Runty McTall says:

    I want a proper computer game version of Necromunda (with co-op play versus AI – how my brother and I played it after one to many real life fights when playing against each other).

    I also sort of want a proper version of Warhammer Quest (the iOS thing that came out recently very much does not count) but I’ve been making said game for about seven years without getting anywhere at all (I couldn’t programme when I decided to make it and, uh, I still really can’t) and I live in terror of someone actually making it and rendering all my efforts for naught.

  5. Taidan says:

    I used to have a copy of Chainsaw Warrior back in the day. While it was a pretty cool concept, I always thought they could do a little more with it.

    If I recall correctly, Advanced HeroQuest used to have a single-player option, too.

  6. e2me2t says:

    I’ll be dusting off my old game then ;) they where wrong its coming back in Vogue just like cords ;)

  7. RogueJello says:

    There used to be a pretty cool version on the web a few years back before GW changed their mind, and forced the developer to take it down. I wonder if this is the reason, or if the same guy got permission to do this new version and make some money on it.

    • Baines says:

      GW shut down pretty much everything a few years back. Sites like Boardgamegeek had to pull most of their GW material at the time. From rules files to images to even stuff like player-made mods.

      GW even went after some online stores that showed “unapproved” pictures of the GW products that the stores were selling.

      • RogueJello says:

        Right, as they’ve done periodically for years.

        In this case the developer claimed to have official approval from GW. Further it was a pretty much a straight port, using art from the game, in addition to the rules, concepts, etc. He did a really nice job, very professionally done, including some cool sound effects, and a “leaderboard” where you could match up your results with other players. It was listed at, IIRC so it wasn’t “hiding” in a repository on another site like Boardgame Geek.

        Sadly, he had to make a post a few years later essentially saying that GW had removed their approval for the game, and that the site had to close down. FWIW, as much as I disapprove of the way that GW acts, and it’s overreaching IP bullying, in this case they were perfectly within their rights, however misguided that action might have been.

        With another developer releasing a paid version, I wonder if this was the justification for their change of mind. It’s been a couple of years, so it’s not clear, but then that’s the pace legal stuff moves at sometimes.

        EDIT: Looks like Wikipedia lists the site as existing from 1999 to 2008.

        link to

  8. tomasrawlings says:

    It will be a PC version of the board game.

  9. Bloodoflamb says:

    I notice he has a rifle on his back. It’d better shoot chainsaws.

  10. tomasrawlings says:

    It’s not the same developer as the online version (I know as I’m working on it) – I wanted to do this game as I loved playing the original. Thanks.

  11. Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    I wonder if it will include his sidekick, Electric Breadknife Boy.

  12. The Random One says:

    So, will you share your rules for single player Cluedo? For the annals of sadness, naturally.

    • Hillbert says:

      I suppose you could have some sort of hash system on the back of the cards. Anyway, what was I going to say? Oh yes

      HUGE GUTS!

    • Premium User Badge

      Adam Smith says:

      I don’t have a written copy anymore but it was a very different game. The murderer was at large but nobody was dead yet. That character, the one assigned as murderer, was mine and if it managed to be alone in a room with another person, I could start to murder them. It took two turns to kill somebody and the other characters moved around randomly – if they entered the room, they’d flee toward the nearest weapon, pick it up and then try to murder the murderer (obviously).

      The weapons were scattered through the rooms randomly and they all had a dice roll damage chart assigned to them. So the lead pipe could break someone’s leg, slowing down their movement, or knock their brains out of their nostrils killing them outright. Sometimes the damage chart had other effects – someone screams and everybody moves closer next turn, rather than moving randomly, or the gun could run out of bullets and become useless.

      I think there were rules for strangling as well.

      Oh god.

  13. strangeloup says:

    I have not heard of the board game, but it sounds like it could be fun. I assume it dates from the ancient days when Games Workshop had a sense of humour.

    Header image makes me think of Duke Nukem 3D’s cover, a bit. That’s a good thing.

    • tomasrawlings says:

      Glad you like it. Same artist I worked with on Call of Cthulhu:The Wasted Land – his work is amazing!

      • strangeloup says:

        Heard nothing but good things about that too. Really wanted to play it, but due to a misreading on my part, the bundle I got it in only had the phone version, and I don’t have a smartphone.

        Cheap as chips on GamersGate, so I’ll pick it up when funds allow. A turn-based strat-RPG with Cthulhu elements sounds right up my street :)

    • oldfart says:

      Funny, at least to me the image seems a bit closer to the Doom cover.

  14. Duke of Chutney says:

    for reference link to

    never played it. Seen lots of images of it on ebay whilst searching for copies of Dungeonquest or Spacehulk.

  15. tootallpaul67 says:

    I shall be off to search the loft tonight- I have a copy of the original game somewhere up there…

  16. KDR_11k says:

    Gears doesn’t count and sadly Space Marine wasn’t successful enough to get a proper sequel announced.

  17. Kefren says:

    I used to play this a lot – I have some expansion cards too from a White Dwarf. It is on the shelf in my living room still, but I contemplated selling it recently. I once made a side-scrolling version in a £2.99 games C64 construction kit. You could shoot zombies, mutants and Meat Machine – level over when you managed to touch Darkness, since you had a suicide vest on. Tape got corrupted.

  18. Timmytoby says:

    I do the same thing with my Arkham Horror and all the Expansions.
    Then I tower over the tiny insignificant Investigators, just another uncaring god pushing them around in a merciless universe.

    And then I lose the game of course :)

  19. malkav11 says:

    I played the online version a while back. The implementation was great, but the game was basically just rolling a die repeatedly until you lost. (Or theoretically, won. But that never happened.)

  20. mintyjones says:

    Chainsaw Warrior was the first boxed game I purchased from Games Workshop back in the day when things were slightly more affordable. I didn’t really know anyone into RPG’s at that time, and so this game was a lot of good fun. Dunno what my dad thought, though!

    Another old board game that might transfer well to digital was Games Workshop’s ”Block Mania” which was set in Dredd’s world (Mega City One).

    Aahh – memories.

    • aircool says:

      Hell Yeah. A four player block war was great fun, unless you were winning of course, in which case, everyone would gang up on you.

  21. aircool says:

    Wow… I remember this, I even have the citadel miniatures chainsaw warriors around somewhere (there were three I think).

    Just hope you don’t run into the Meat Machine.

  22. sonofsanta says:

    Two things delight me about this story:
    1) Chainsaw Warrior. I still have it on my bookshelf. It is Escape from Zombie LA: The Boardgame and it will murder you. <3
    2) The recognition that House Delaque were the best goddamned house. REPRESENT (but quietly, and from the shadows)