- Warhammer Fantasy Battle
title = Warhammer
subtitle = The Game of Fantasy Battles
image_caption = "Warhammer Fantasy Battle" 7th edition rulebook
Bryan Ansell, Richard Halliwell, Rick Priestley
publisher = Games Workshop
years = 1983 — present
players = 2 or more
complexity = medium-high
random_chance = Dice rolling
skills, Money =
web = [http://uk.games-workshop.com/warhammer/ UK home page]
"Warhammer: The Game of Fantasy Battles", formerly "Warhammer Fantasy Battle" and often abbreviated to "Warhammer, WFB or WHFB", is a tabletop wargame created by
Games Workshopand the origin of the "Warhammer Fantasy" setting.
The game is played with 'regiments' of fantasy miniatures. It uses stock fantasy races such as
humans (The Empire, Bretonnia), Elves, Dwarfs, Undead, Orcs and Goblins, Vampires, as well as some more unusual types such as Lizardmen, Skaven, etc. Each race has its own unique strengths and flaws; Wood Elves, for example, have the most powerful archers in the game but have poor overall defence and Bretonnia have the strongest cavalrybut weak peasants.
Since first appearing in 1983, "Warhammer" has been periodically updated and re-released with changes to the gaming system and army lists. The current official version is the seventh edition, released on
9 September 2006.
"Warhammer" is a tabletop wargame where two or more players compete against each other with "armies" of 25 mm - 28 mm heroic scale miniatures. The rules of the game have been published in a series of books, which describe how to move miniatures around the game surface and simulate combat in a balanced and fair manner. Games may be played on any appropriate surface, although the standard is a 6 ft by 4 ft tabletop decorated with model scenery in scale with the miniatures. Any individual or group of miniatures in the game is called a "unit", whether represented by a single model, or group of similar troops.
The current core game rules are supplied in a single book, with supplemental "Warhammer Armies" texts giving guidelines and background for army-specific rules. Movement about the playing surface is generally measured in inches and combat between troops or units given a random element with the use of six-sided dice. Army supplements also assign points values to each unit and option in the game, giving players the ability to play on even terms. An average game will have armies of 750 to 3,000 points, although smaller and larger values are quite possible. There are also different rules for games called a skirmish that consist of 500 point armies.
Game play follows a turn structure in which one player completes all movement for troops, then simulates casting spells (when spell-using units are available), uses all ranged or missile weapons in the army such as bows and handguns, then any units touching fight in melee or close-combat. After finishing, the second player does the same. This repeats for a number of equal turns, generally six, although occasionally to a time limit or until no units are left on the playing surface. The winner is often determined by victory points; earning a number equal to the value of enemy units killed. Special factors, or "objectives" can add or subtract from this total based on pre-defined goals, usually holding parts of the battlefield or killing powerful units (such as the enemy general).
Dice rolls generally use traditional six-sided dice (D6), with a high result being desirable (in most cases). For example; an archer unit may be given a statistic that allows it to hit on the roll of a four or more. Various factors can change this number, reducing or raising the number needed. Mitigation of random results is a large part of the game, as well as traditional battlefield tactics. In some cases, other types of dice are needed; this can be a D3 (simulated with a normal die, 1 and 2 counting as a result of 1 and so on), or it can be a 6-sided 'scatter' dice used to generate random directions, often used alongside an '
artillery' dice, used mainly for cannon, stone-throwers, and unusual variant artillery.
The Warhammer World
"Warhammer" is just one of many games set in a fictional universe. "Warhammer" is notable for its "dark and gritty" background world, which features a culture similar in appearance to
Renaissance Germanycrossed with Tolkien's Middle-earth.
The geography of the Warhammer world strongly resembles that of Earth. This is said to be due to the actions of an ancient spacefaring race known as the
Old Ones. This mysterious and powerful race visited the Warhammer World in the distant past. Establishing an outpost, they set about manipulating the geography and biosphereof the planet. Assisted by their Slannservants, they moved the planet's orbit closer to its sun, and arranged the continents to fit their standard geomantic template.
The Old Ones were subsequently expelled from their colony when the polar "Warp Gates" that they had created collapsed and chaos gained entry to the world. Before leaving however, they had established the Lizardman empire, and had conducted numerous genetic experiments, which had led to the races of elves, dwarfs, men, ogres and halflings.
The elves and dwarfs eventually founded empires of their own, and were initially allies. The early elven empire later splintered, with a sect of elves secretly corrupted by Chaos taking refuge in the northern lands of
Naggaroth, leaving the still uncorrupted elves, or High Elves on their island home of Ulthuan. The alliance between the High Elves and the Dwarfs broke down due to the machinations of the newly formed Dark Elves, leading to the War of the Beard between the two powers. The elves who stayed behind during the waning of elvish influence in the Old World established a realm within the forests of the old world, most notably Athel Lorenand became known as Wood Elves.
The men were the slowest to develop, but eventually formed several strong realms, able to resist both the forces of Chaos and the older powers. Chief amongst these are The Empire,
Bretonnia, and Cathay. Nehekhara, a former empire of men to the south of the Old World, has since become undead via a curse. Its long-dead armies now march to war under command of the Tomb Kings.
The forces of evil are often depicted as not a localised threat, but a general menace. The
Skavenexist in an "Under Empire" in extensive tunnels beneath the other races, while the Orcs & Goblinsare nomadic, and regularly attack without warning. Chaos and the Undead also routinely infiltrate the other nations, especially The Empire.
The current Empire Army Book describes the Warhammer World to be in the Year of Our Lord
Sigmar2522 although this may differ between races. A timeline in the same army book placed the Sigmarite year zero at the ascension of Sigmar to the throne of the Empire.
There are a number of playable armies for "Warhammer", which are representative of one or other of the factions or races that are present in the "Warhammer" world setting. Over the various editions of the game the armies have been presented in collective books like "
Warhammer Armies" for the 3rd edition or from the 5th edition onwards in individual books each one covering a separate army.
In the 7th edition of the game, the following armies have individual army books:
Beasts of Chaos
Daemons of Chaos
Orcs & Goblins
The following armies do not have an army book but have official rules downloadable from the
Warriors of Chaos(an auxiliary list following the withdrawal of Hordes of Chaos)
*Dogs of War (can also be used by most armies as rare units)
*Kislev (Army book was given away free with "White Dwarf" magazine and appears no longer valid)
Armies which are no longer supported in the current version of "Warhammer":
Editions of the game
Throughout the seven editions of the game, the core movement, combat and shooting systems have remained generally unchanged, with only minor revisions between editions. The most significant changes which ensure incompatibility between editions have been made to the magic, army composition systems, and specialist troop types.
The first edition, written by
Bryan Ansell, Richard Halliwell and Rick Priestleywas published in 1983 and consists of a boxed set of 3 black and white books illustrated by Tony Ackland: "Vol 1: Tabletop Battles", which contains the core rules, turn sequence, creature lists and features an introductory battle 'The Ziggurat of Doom'. "Vol 2: Magic" which explains rules for wizards of 4 different levels. Higher level wizards have access to more powerful spells. In this system, a wizard picks his spells at the start of the game, must have the correct equipment (usually Amulets), and as he casts each one it depletes a store of 'constitution' points, until at zero points he could cast no more. "Vol 3: Characters" introduces 'personal characteristics' statistics, rules for roleplaying(including character advancement through experience points and statistic gains, random encounters, equipment costs, and alignment) and has a sample campaign "The Redwake River Valley".
Very little world background is given at all and the race descriptions are kept to a minimum, and most of the background given is in describing the origins of magic items . Some notable differences to later editions are the inclusion of Night Elves (later Dark Elves), the appearance of Red Goblins - and that
Citadel Miniaturesorder codes are given.
Despite many rules inconsistencies, inadequate roleplaying rules, typing errors and poor presentation, the battle system was thought to be excellent cite journal
title = Warhammer FRP falls flat
format = review
issue =Issue 85
year = 1984
month = May
accessdate = ] and exceptionally simple and playable in comparison to other miniature games of the time. [cite journal
authorlink = Ken Rolston
title = Advanced hack-and-slash
format = review
issue =Issue 85
year = 1984
month = May
accessdate = ] The psychology rules - for determining how classic fantasy racial types behave towards each other - and the fumbling of magic were well regarded and thought to enhance the fantasy feel of the game and provide entertainment. [cite journal
authorlink =Joe Dever
title =Open Box: Warhammer
format = review
journal ="White Dwarf"
issue =Issue 43
year = 1983
month = July
accessdate = ]
The first edition was extended with "Forces of Fantasy" boxed set in 1984.
In 1984 the second edition was released, incorporating some of the "Forces of Fantasy" material, "White Dwarf" articles and "Citadel Compendium" material. Again a boxed-set of three black and white books (with colour covers). "Combat" explains the core rules and turn sequence, "Battle Magic" which largely retains the system as the 1st Edition, as well as adding specialities of Illustionists, Demonologists, Elementalists, and removing the requirements for Amulets. The centre pages are an introductory scenario "The Magnificent Sven" for which cardstock figures were also supplied in the box. The "Battle Bestiary" book features descriptions of the races, monsters and includes several example Army Lists and a Points System for players to develop their own open-ended armies.
Also in the "Battle Bestiary" is the first appearance of the "Warhammer" 'Known World' along with a map, and a timeline which includes the Slann, Incursions of Chaos, inter-elf wars and The Empire. Minor rules modification included rationalising all statistics to use numbers, and increasing all creatures' Strength by +1.
In 1987 the 2nd edition rules were expanded with the "Ravening Hordes" Army lists which provided a more 'realistic' method of forming armies along stricter racial lines.
The Third Edition of the game was published as a single hardback book in 1987. It had the most in-depth and complex movement and manoeuver system of any edition. Other improvements included a variety of new specialist troop types, rules for war machines and a more finely tuned system of representing
heroes and wizards. It kept the same magic system and open-ended army design system as the first two editions. However, by this stage the use of army listswas very much encouraged. Army lists for this edition were published in a separate book called Warhammer Armiesin 1991, until then use of the 2nd Editions "Ravening Hordes" list was encouraged. This is partly because it was the last edition published before Games Workshoptook a different commercial approach, leading to competition from former GW employees in the briefly-published competing " Fantasy Warlord".
The third edition was expanded with the Realm Of Chaos and "Warhammer Siege" books.
Aspects such as the 'fast-paced' rules system and developed fantasy background were highly praised with negative criticisms reserved for the 'wordiness' of the text and that the images, rather than illustrating the text, were largely decorative. The main differences to the 2nd edition noted were the rules on routing, charging and less clarity in the presentation, subsequently making the rules more complex to learn and use. [cite journal
authorlink = Ken Rolston
title = Role-playing Reviews - 'Warhammer'
format = review
issue =Issue 142
year = 1989
month = February
accessdate = ]
4th and 5th
The fourth and fifth editions of the game were similar to each other but quite different from the third. Fifth edition in particular became known pejoratively as "Herohammer" because of the imbalance between the very powerful heroes, monsters and wizards in the game and blocks of troops which existed effectively as
cannon fodder.Fact|date=July 2007 Both editions of the game were sold as box sets containing not only the rulebooks and a variety of other play aids but also sufficient plastic miniaturesto be able to play the game "out of the box". The rules underwent a re-write compared to 3rd Edition. A completely re-worked magic system was produced which was available as a boxed expansion set. Rather than selecting spells they were drawn at random and the magic phase was based on the play of these cards, making magic a bit like a game within a game. The magic system was further expanded by the "Arcane Magic" box set and the magic element of the "Chaos" box set.
The fourth edition was also the first edition to enforce the use of army lists in the form of separate "Warhammer Army" books for the separate racial groupings. These books prescribed for each army a limited number of unit choices; specifying limits on the amount of points that could be spent on "characters", troops and monsters and so on. The books also included background on the particular army, illustrations and photographs showing models and have remained with the game though updated with the rules. The fifth edition won the
Origins Awardfor "Best Fantasy or Science Fiction Miniatures Rules of 1996". [cite web
title=Origins Award Winners (1996)
publisher=Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design
The magic system was reworked and re-released in December 1996 as a single box covering the magic for all the armies. The magic was "toned down" (WD204) with spell casting limited to the players' own turn. The multiple card packs of the "Colours of Magic" system was replaced by 20 "Battle Magic" spell cards but the Colour Magic spells were in the rule book for players to use if they wanted.
Several boxed campaign packs were produced, "Tears of
Isha" for example, gave a campaign for High Elves and included a card "building" to assemble. Likewise, the Orc and Goblin themed campaign "Idol of Gork" included card idols of " Gorkand Mork". The others were "Circle of Blood", "Grudge of Drong", "Perilous Quest".
The fourth edition featured High Elves versus Goblins. The fifth edition, released in 1996, re-introduced the Bretonnian forces, which had been left out of the 4th edition, and re-worked the slann heavily to create the Lizardmen armies.
6th and 7th
The sixth edition was also published as a box with soft-cover rulebook and miniatures (Orcs and Empire). The Rulebook was also available for separate sale, hard-cover in the first printing and soft-cover after that. [ cite book | last = Priestley | first = Rick | authorlink = | coauthors = Tuomas Pirinen | title = "Warhammer" | publisher = Games Workshop | year = 2002 | isbn = 1-84154-051-X ] After the fifth edition, this edition put the emphasis back on troop movement and combat: heroes and wizards were still important but became incapable of winning games in their own right. There was also an all-new magic system based on dice rolling.
The current (seventh) edition rules were released on
9 September 2006. It is available in two forms: as a single hardback rulebook for established gamers and as a complete boxed set game complete with over 100 plastic miniatures (Dwarfs and Goblins), "The Battle for Skull Pass" supplement book and a soft-cover rulebook that has less artwork and background material than the hardback version. The smaller rulebook from the boxed set is approximately half the size of the large book both in size of the cover and page count. The "Basic Rules" and "Advanced Rules" sections of both books are identical in text, layout, illustrations, credits, page numbering and ISBN. The two books have different front pieces and that larger rulebook has two extensive addition sections "The Warhammer World" (68 pages) and "The Warhammer Hobby" (56 pages) plus slightly expanded appendices. [ cite book | last = Cavatore | first = Alessio | title = "Warhammer" | publisher = Games Workshop | year = 2006 | isbn = 1-84154-759-X ] Games Workshop advertises "The Battle for Skull Pass" as a perfect introduction to the Warhammer Fantasy world. The set contains complete armies of Dwarfs and Goblins as well as scenery and several introductory scenarios. It contains over one hundred plastic Citadel miniatures, all of which require assembly and painting. Previous introductory boxed sets only included regiments of a few types of basic troops, but the current edition has the addition of several special units for both sides, such as generals, heroes, monsters, terrain pieces and war machines. As a result, the starter armies are much more varied and make for a small complete force. In addition to the necessary miniatures, the boxed set also contains all of the essentials for a basic game of Warhammer, including a pocket-sized rulebook, starter booker, templates, dice, and a measuring stick.
Games based on the core Warhammer mechanics and rules include:
A science fiction based skirmish wargame using similar rules was developed as "" by Games Workshop and released in 1987. Originally using a minor variation of the 2nd edition Warhammer Fantasy Battle rules, the two games have subsequently taken different development paths.
The first edition of "
Blood Bowl", uses the same basic turn system and character statistics as Warhammer to simulate a fantasy American footballgame. Rules for ranged combat applied to ball throwing. Since the second edition of Blood Bowl the game has taken its own development path.
The "Warhammer Fantasy Battles" rules led to "
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay" in 1986, again using the same statistics although presented as percentiles rather than 1-10 to give more detail and differentation between characters than is required in a wargame. In 2005 Black Industriesreleased the second edition of the game.
Games based on the Warhammer setting, but not sharing the rules include:
Warmasterrepresenting very large-scale, epic battles. Warmaster uses smaller models than Warhammer using 10 mm as opposed to 28 mm, with different rules regarding troop movement and combat.
In 1993, Games workshop released a naval wargame set in the world of Warhammer called Man O' War.
"Warhammer Fantasy Battle" has been adapted as computer games: the 1995 ', its 1998 sequel ', ' and the highly-anticipated
MMORPG, ' which was released on September 18th, 2008
title =Open Box: "Warhammer (2nd Edition)"
format = review
journal ="White Dwarf"
issue =Issue 66
year = 1985
month = June
* from "Warhammer" (4th edition) boxed set.
* from "Warhammer"(4th edition) boxed set.
* from "Warhammer"(5th edition) boxed set.
* from "Warhammer"(5th edition) boxed set.
Warhammer computer games
Armies of warhammer
* [http://www.podhammer.net Podhammer - The Warhammer Podcast] A podcast dedicated to Warhammer Fantasy "Warhammer"
* [http://www.games-workshop.com Games Workshop] Creators of the games "Warhammer"
* [http://www.battlereporter.blogspot.com Battle Reporter - A Warhammer Blog] A fan's blogsite dedicated to Warhammer Fantasy
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