Warhammer Fantasy Battle
8th Edition Warhammer Fantasy Battle Rulebook Cover
|Years active||1983 to present|
|Setup time||Varies depending on size of game. Usually 5 to 10 minutes.|
|Playing time||Varies depending on size of game. Usually around two hours.|
|Random chance||Medium (dice rolling)|
|Skill(s) required||Military strategy, arithmetic|
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 Workshop. It is the origin of the Warhammer Fantasy setting.
The game is designed for regiments of fantasy miniatures. It uses stock fantasy races such as humans (The Empire, Bretonnia, Kislev), Elves (Dark Elves, High Elves, Wood Elves), Dwarfs, Undead, Orcs and Goblins, as well as some more unusual types such as Lizardmen, Skaven and the daemonic forces of Chaos. 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 cavalry but weak infantry.
Warhammer has been periodically updated and re-released since first appearing in 1983, with changes to the gaming system and army lists. The current official version, the eighth edition, was released on 10 July 2010.
Warhammer 40,000, a futuristic companion to Warhammer Fantasy Battle, was released in 1987.
Playing Warhammer 
Warhammer is a tabletop wargame where two or more players compete against each other with "armies" of 25 mm - 250 mm tall heroic 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 movement, shooting, combat and so on, the action usually being dictated by the roll of a 6-sided die or a 'D6', or it can be a 6-sided 'scatter' die used to generate random directions, often used alongside an 'artillery' die, 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 Germany crossed 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 biosphere of the planet. Assisted by their Slann servants, 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 gate 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 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 Skaven exist in an "Under Empire" in extensive tunnels beneath the other races, while the Orcs and Goblins are 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 Sigmar 2522 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. For the first few editions of the game armies were presented in collective books like Warhammer Armies. Starting in the 4th edition individual books were released for each army.
In the 8th edition of the game, the following armies have individual army books:
- Daemons of Chaos
- Dark Elves
- The Empire
- High Elves
- Ogre Kingdoms
- Orcs and Goblins
- Tomb Kings
- Vampire Counts
- Warriors of Chaos
- Wood Elves
The following armies have had, during 6th edition, official rules available from the Games Workshop website. All of these armies have since had those rules taken down and are no longer considered official armies. While still usable during 6th and 7th edition, the release of 8th edition has rendered these armies unplayable without an update. Whether or not any of these armies may come back with official rules and/or new models has not been announced:
- Chaos Dwarfs: The White Dwarf Presents army book was released during 4th Edition as a collection of White Dwarf articles, but is still considered an official rule book. An official Chaos Dwarf army list was included in Ravening Hordes at the start of 6th edition. The army list was included in the reference section of 7th edition, but has been removed from the 8th edition rulebook. This model line was discontinued at the end of 5th edition and is no longer supported by the main rules. Forge World is releasing new Chaos Dwarf models under their new Warhammer Forge line. Rules for Chaos Dwarfs are expected in their first Warhammer supplement.
- Dogs of War: The official army book was released during 5th Edition; Regiments of Renown and Mercenary Army lists for 6th edition were released on the website. Some of this line remains available from direct order and is the only discontinued army for which models are still (As of 2013[update]) available directly from Games Workshop.
- Kislev: The army book was given away free with White Dwarf magazine during 6th edition. This model line has since been discontinued and is no longer supported.
Armies that were left unsupported prior to 6th edition:
Magical Lores in the Warhammer World 
The eight main Lores of the warhammer world are used by multiple armies and races, and are the only Lores available to Empire, Bretonnian and Lizardmen armies. Dwarves do not use magic at all.
- Lore of Light
- Lore of Metal
- Lore of Death
- Lore of Life
- Lore of Heaven
- Lore of Shadow
- Lore of Fire
- Lore of Beasts
While the eight main lores can be used by many armies of the Warhammer world many races have their own unique magical Lores.
- Lore of Dark Magic (Dark Elves)
- Lore of High Magic (High Elves)
- Lore of Athel Loren (Wood Elves)
- Lore of the Little WAAAGH (Goblins)
- Lore of the Big WAAAGH (Orcs)
- Skaven Spells of Ruin (Skaven)
- Skaven Spells of Plague (Skaven)
- Lore of the Wild (Beastmen)
- Lore of Nurgle (Warriors of Chaos)
- Lore of Slaanesh (Warriors of Chaos)
- Lore of Tzeentch (Warriors of Chaos)
- Daemon Lore of Nurgle (Daemons of Chaos)
- Daemon Lore of Slaanesh (Daemons of Chaos)
- Daemon Lore of Tzeentch (Daemons of Chaos)
- The Black Art/Lore of the Vampire (Vampire Counts)
- The Lore of Nehekhara (Tomb Kings)
- Lore of the Great Maw (Ogre Kingdoms)
- Lore of Ice (Kislev)
Editions of the game 
Throughout the eight 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 starter armies in the box sets have gradually grown more detailed with each succeeding generation, and the 7th edition (2006) was the first to be titled as a scenario ("The Battle for Skull Pass") instead of just Warhammer Fantasy Battle. Of the High Elves which have appeared in the 4th edition (1992) and 8th edition (2010), while the 4th edition only contained Spearmen and Bowmen figures (essentially, just two types of figurines) plus a cardboard cutout for the general, the 8th edition contains a more widely varied army (including cavalry, Sword Masters, mage, and a general mounted on a griffon).
Published in November 1981 for its second edition (1978 for the very first one), and written by Richard Halliwell and Rick Priestley, Reaper is considered the ancestor of Warhammer Fantasy Battle. Reaper is more a skirmish game for up to 30 miniatures rather than a large-scale wargame.
First edition (1983) 
The first edition, written by Bryan Ansell, Richard Halliwell, Graham Eckel and Rick Priestley was 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, potion recipes and features an introductory battle 'The Ziggurat of Doom'. Vol 2: Magic which explains rules for wizards of 4 different levels and the higher order arch magi. 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 Miniatures order codes are given.
Critical reaction 
Despite many rules inconsistencies, inadequate roleplaying rules, typing errors and poor presentation, the battle system was thought to be excellent and exceptionally simple and playable in comparison to other miniatures games of the time. 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.
The first edition was extended with Forces of Fantasy boxed set in 1984.
Second edition (1984) 
In 1984 the second edition was released, incorporating some of the Forces of Fantasy material, White Dwarf articles and Citadel Compendium material. This was again a boxed-set of three black and white books (with colour covers). Combat explains the core rules and turn sequence; while Battle Magic largely retains the same system as the 1st Edition, as well as adding specialities of Illusionists, 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 modifications included rationalising all statistics to use numbers, and increasing all creatures' Strength by 1.
Campaign packs produced were Terror of the Lichemaster, Bloodbath at Orcs' Drift (1985, referring to Rorke's Drift) and Tragedy of McDeath (1986, referring to Macbeth). The pack Blood on the Streets was card buildings for terrain.
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 full boxset has a common value of around £100.
Third edition (1987) 
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 manoeuvre system of any edition. Other changes 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 lists was very much encouraged. Army lists for this edition were published in a separate book called Warhammer Armies in 1988; until then, use of the 2nd Edition's Ravening Hordes list was encouraged. This is partly because it was the last edition published before Games Workshop took 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: tome one, Slaves To Darkness, followed by tome two, The Lost And The Damned; and Warhammer Siege books.
Critical reaction 
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.
4th edition (1992) and 5th edition (1996) 
The fourth and fifth editions of the game, released in October 1992 and 1996, respectively, 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. 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 miniatures to 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 Award for Best Fantasy or Science Fiction Miniatures Rules of 1996.
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 the Orc deities Gork and 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 edition (2000) and 7th edition (2006) 
The sixth edition, released in 2000, 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. 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 seventh edition rules were released on 9 September 2006. It was available in two forms: as a single hardback rulebook for established gamers and as a complete boxed set game complete with 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 was 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 were identical in text, layout, illustrations, credits, page numbering and ISBN. The two books had different front pieces and the larger rulebook has two extensive addition sections "The Warhammer World" (68 pages) and "The Warhammer Hobby" (56 pages) plus slightly expanded appendices.
8th edition (2010) 
According to the official Games Workshop webpage, the 8th edition of Warhammer was made available for pre-order on 14 June 2010 and was released 10 July 2010.
The new starter set named Island of Blood contains facing armies of High Elves and Skaven. A condensed mini-rulebook, as well as 10 standard dice, one scatter and one artillery die, two 18 inch rulers, and three blast templates are included in the box.
On Friday the 23rd of July, Games Workshop began posting an "unboxed" series detailing the contents of the new game box called "A Blog of Two Gamers"
The first army to be introduced to 8th edition is Orcs and Goblins. They are one of the most popular Warhammer Fantasy armies, but their release in 8th edition was not totally expected, as there are currently three (Dwarfs, Wood Elves, and Bretonnia) Warhammer armies released during 6th edition.
The 8th edition was extended with Storm of Magic 'supplement' in 2011. Another one was released, called "Blood in the Badlands" shortly afterwards.
Derivative games 
Games based on the core Warhammer mechanics and rules include:
- Warhammer Ancient Battles (often referred to as "WAB" and sometimes Warhammer Historical). Intended to simulate armies of the real world of the Ancient and Medieval periods.
- A science fiction based skirmish wargame using similar rules was developed as Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader 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 football game. Rules for ranged combat applied to ball throwing. Since the second edition of Blood Bowl the game has taken its own development path.
- Games Workshop released a skirmish scale wargame set in the world of Warhammer called Mordheim. It is set in the destroyed city of Mordheim. It uses the same basic rules as Warhammer, but modified to support activation of individual models in a small gang. It also has a campaign system which you use to improve your warband as they gain experience.
- 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 differentiation between characters than is required in a wargame. In 2005 Black Industries released a second edition and Fantasy Flight Games now owns the rights to the game and continues to support it. In 2009 Fantasy Flight Games released the third edition of the game.
Games based on the Warhammer setting, but not sharing the rules, include:
- Warmaster, representing 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.
- In 1990, Games Workshop released a strategic wargame of empire building, Mighty Empires, intended both as a stand-alone game and as a way to manage a campaign of miniature battles.
- Warhammer Fantasy Battle has been adapted as computer games: the 1995 Warhammer: Shadow of the Horned Rat, its 1998 sequel Warhammer: Dark Omen, Warhammer: Mark of Chaos and the MMORPG, Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning which was released on 18 September 2008.
- On 1 October 2011, Games Workshop released the one-off game, Dreadfleet.
See also 
- "Warhammer (Fourth edition Box Set) | Board Game Version". BoardGameGeek. Retrieved 2013-04-22.
- "The Island of Blood". Games Workshop. Retrieved 2013-04-22.
- Kerr, Katharine (May 1984). "Warhammer FRP falls flat". Dragon (review ) (TSR, Inc.) (85): 68.
- Ken, Rolston (May 1984). "Advanced hack-and-slash". Dragon (review ) (TSR, Inc.) (85): 68.
- Dever, Joe (July 1983). "Open Box: Warhammer". White Dwarf (review ) (Games Workshop) (43): 12. ISSN 0265-8712.
- Ken, Rolston (February 1989). "Role-playing Reviews - 'Warhammer'". Dragon (review ) (TSR, Inc.) (142): 34–.
- "Origins Award Winners (1996)". Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design. Archived from the original on 2008-04-20. Retrieved 2008-08-15.
- Priestley, Rick; Tuomas Pirinen (2002). Warhammer. Games Workshop. ISBN 1-84154-051-X.
- Cavatore, Alessio (2006). Warhammer. Games Workshop. ISBN 1-84154-759-X.
- "Island of Blood: Un-boxed; Warhammer FAQs; Your tactics | 2010-07-23 04:34:21.0 | What's New Today". Games Workshop. 2010-07-23. Retrieved 2013-04-22.
- Alcock, Robert (June 1985). "Open Box: Warhammer (2nd Edition)". White Dwarf (review ) (Games Workshop) (66): 7. ISSN 0265-8712.
- Priestley, Rick (1988). Warhammer Siege. Games Workshop. ISBN 1-869893-44-1.
- Priestley, Rick; Bill King, Andy Chambers (1992a). Warhammer Rulebook. Games Workshop. from Warhammer (4th edition) boxed set.
- Priestley, Rick; Andy Chambers (1992b). Warhammer Battle Bestiary. Games Workshop. from Warhammer(4th edition) boxed set.
- Priestley, Rick (1996a). Warhammer Battle Book. Games Workshop. ISBN 1-869893-97-2. from Warhammer(5th edition) boxed set.
- Priestley, Rick (1996b). Warhammer Rulebook. Games Workshop. ISBN 1-872372-04-X. from Warhammer(5th edition) boxed set.
- Pirinen, Tuomas; Nigel Stillman (1998). Warhammer Siege. Games Workshop. ISBN 1-872372-51-1.
- Warhammer Skirmish. Games Workshop. 2002.
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