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Tabletop Game / Warhammer
aka: Warhammer Fantasy

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This is the least epic thing you will see from this franchise.

"Prepare thyself to enter a world of daemons and vile sorcery, of battle and death, of violence and of madness."

"The fate of the world, be it damnation or salvation will soon be decided. This is a world of eternal war and fleeting glory. This is the world of Warhammer."

"The gods of strife shall feast upon this day, and every day hence, until the end of time."

Excerpts from the introduction to the 8th edition rulebook

Warhammer is the generic name of a number of tabletop Wargames and Tabletop RPGs marketed by UK firm Games Workshop. "Warhammer" was a tabletop battle game that began in 1983 and was previously known as Warhammer Fantasy Battle (WHFB).

    About the Setting 

Warhammer takes place on an unnamed planet that bears a striking resemblance to our own Earth, with continents laid out in a similar pattern, though not quite the same shape.

Most of the action takes place within "The Old World", roughly analogous to 16th century Europe. The continent is dominated by the Empire of Man, a human-dominated polity based on the real life Holy Roman Empire and presided over by an elected Emperor and a dogmatic Church Militant centered on worship of the Empire's founder, the barbarian warrior-king Sigmar. The Empire's western neighbour and rival/occasional ally is the kingdom of Bretonnia, a comparatively poor and socially backwards analogue of France with a dash of King Arthur's England (but very wrong) thrown in for flavour along with every foul stereotype of The Dung Ages. There are other human realms in the Old World including the mysterious and rain-swept island of Albion, the grimly proud and frigidly cold northeastern realm of Kislev, the free Merchant City state of Marienburg, and the civilized and cosmopolitan southern kingdoms of Estalia and Tilea, but these are usually kept Out of Focus in the wider narrative and not represented by official armies in the game.

There is also "The New World", which has two continents: Naggaroth in the north, an inhospitable frozen wasteland home to all manner of terrible monsters, not least of which the cruel and xenophobic Dark Elves, and southern Lustria, a sweltering southern jungle home to the Lizardmen as well as other dangers. There is also a third continent: Ulthuan, the Atlantis-esque home of the High Elves. At the very north pole of the world is the Chaos Wastes, a nightmare realm from which the greatest evils of the world originate.

In addition, the map of the Warhammer world includes several Out of Focus locations not covered by the game, with such original names as Araby, Ind, Nippon and Cathay (Cathay is even protected by a "Great Bastion").

Standard fantasy elements are also present — the Elves used to dominate the world but are now a shadow of their former selves, splitting into three factions after a civil war and now battling against impending extinction in a world that is no longer theirs to call; Dwarfs occupy the few mountain strongholds that have not yet fallen to Skaven, Orcs and Goblins, fighting a desperate defensive war with grim determination. Chaos represents a constant existential threat for the good... erm, civilized races, both in the form of great warbands of mutated and corrupted warriors and as insidious cult activity in the heart of society.

The uninitiated might think that Warhammer isn't all that bad and is a heroic fantasy land on its way to getting better — that's right. There are just a few small problems like delusional (or worse) madmen empowered by the Dark Gods to increasingly frequently lead crusades reducing the world further into hellish misery and incorporate it into the REAL hell. Then there are the rampaging hordes of Greenskins, both Orcs and goblins, scarily psychopathic aliens infesting everywhere existing only to joyously, brutally and (with known exceptions) mercilessly fight, destroy, enslave, kill and in the case of goblins malevolently torture every innocent creature they could find — and the Greenskins are the comic relief in this setting. If you thought things would get better after that, that's just two of the usually gray forces inhabiting the world, which only survived as long as it did because of the eternal sacrifice of some Elven mages imprisoned in their own spell, maintaining it forever to keep the forces of Chaos from overwhelming the world like they almost did in ancient times and nigh-inevitably did anyway. But it really could have been saved if only those tasty... uh... good-willed denizens of it would have heeded wisdom!

The writing of the setting is quintessentially British, with a bleak and cynical feel and a constant undercurrent of very dry and often gallows humour. If you were to combine equal parts J. R. R. Tolkien, Michael Moorcock's The Elric Saga, Conan the Barbarian, Dungeons & Dragons, A Song of Ice and Fire, Monty Python, Berserk, and Terry Pratchett's Discworld, with a little H. P. Lovecraft for good measure, then you would have found something similar to Warhammer.

    How to Play the Game 

Warhammer is a tabletop wargame where two or more players compete against each other with "armies" of 20mm to 50mm heroic scale miniatures. Armies of each race/faction are composed of melee and missile infantry, cavalry, chariots, artillery pieces, monstrous infantry, large monsters both groundborne and flying, and spellcasters, all led by mighty heroes. Many doctrines of warfare from Earth's history are represented: the Empire bringing stalwart 16th Century pike-and-shot tercio tactics; Bretonnia relying on the knightly cavalry charges of the High Middle Ages; the High Elves combining the phalanxes of ancient Greece with magic, war beasts and customary elvish grace and badassery; the Greenskins rampaging forward as an Onrushing Army of Iron Age barbarians eager for the slaughter; the Skaven haphazardly fielding World War I-esque ratling guns, poison gas grenadiers and sniper teams alongside hordes of Clanrats armed with nothing but primitive clubs and torches, and so on.

The rules of the game are published in a series of rulebooks, 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 core game rules are supplied in a single book, with supplemental Warhammer Army Books 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 6-sided dice. Points values are assigned to each unit and option in the game, giving players the ability to play on even terms. An average game has armies of 750 to 3,000 points, although smaller and larger values are quite possible.

Gameplay follows a turn structure in which one player completes all movement for troops, then simulates casting spells (when spell-using units are available) and uses all ranged or missile weapons in the army such as bows and handguns, followed by any units in contact fighting in melee or close-combat. After finishing, the second player does the same. This is repeated 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" could add or subtract from this total based on predefined goals, usually holding parts of the battlefield or killing powerful units (such as the enemy general).

Dice rolls generally uses traditional six-sided dice (d6), with a high result being desirable (in most cases). For example, an archer unit is 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 could 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" die used to generate random directions, often used alongside an "artillery" die (also 6-sided), used mainly for cannons, stone-throwers, and unusual variant artillery.

The wargame also spawned a role-playing game tie-in, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, which is not unlike a Darker and Edgier Low Fantasy version of Dungeons & Dragons. Like its Sci-Fi sister game line, it also has some Gaiden Games: Blood Bowl, a "fantasy football" wargame set in a parallel dimension of the Warhammer where a kind of ultra-violent rugby has become Serious Business among the various races and replaced war as the chief way they settle their differences; Mordheim, a semi-postapocalyptic wargame set in the eponymous ruined city after it got levelled by a meteorite of solid Wyrdstone, leaving mercenary warbands and cutthroat war parties scrambling for the meteorite shards for different nefarious purposes; HeroQuest, a Dungeon Crawler-style board game, also set in the Warhammer Fantasy universe; and last but not least Man-O-War, a naval combat game set in the Warhammer world where players pit fleets of cool warships against each other.

There's also Warmaster, another miniature wargame within the same setting that uses smaller figures and a zoomed-out scale, thus allowing much larger battles. Warmaster became popular with historical wargamers and a specially-modified version called Warmaster Ancients is one of the major rule sets used for ancient and medieval historical wargames. There's also Battle Masters, a Milton Bradley board game that uses models the same scale as Warhammer.

The setting has a few computer games, among them Warhammer: Shadow of the Horned Rat, Warhammer: Dark Omen, Warhammer Online and Warhammer: Mark of Chaos, which met with varying reception. There is also a Left 4 Dead-ish game set in the End Times setting, appropriately titled The End Times: Vermintide and its sequel Vermintide II. There is also the Total War: Warhammer series of strategy games by Creative Assembly. Warhammer has also given inspiration to non-RPG tabletop games, such as Chaos Invasion and Chaos Marauders. It spawned a relatively long-running (and decently successful) Collectible Card Game simply known as Warcry, although the mechanics of the game were very close to the actual miniatures game. Finally for Warhammer-curious bibliophiles, there are a large number of novels set in the Warhammer world such as Warhammer: Time of Legends, Drachenfels and the Gotrek & Felix series.

In the second half of 2014, a campaign/expansion was added: Warhammer: The End Times. This campaign was a huge leap fluff-wise and game-wise. Long story short, Archeaon the Everchosen finally launched his invasion, but before that Mannfred von Carstein and Arkhan the Black set things in motion to stop him by resurrecting Nagash. Everything consequently (and quite literally) went to Hell in the handbasket: Daemonic invasions all over the world, Skaven overran entire human kingdoms, Bretonnia suffered a civil war... Tropes relating to this period of the game's history should be placed on this page. The eventual result was the ultimate triumph of the Forces of Chaos and the total destruction of the world at their hands, followed by a Soft Reboot of Warhammer in the form of Warhammer: Age of Sigmar.

After the events of Warhammer: The End Times, Warhammer was officially discontinued and replaced with the Warhammer: Age of Sigmar game universe by Games Workshop in July 2015. All official support for Warhammer Fantasy Battle was discontinued until 2024, which saw the release of Warhammer: The Old World, a revisiting of the setting at an earlier point in its history, 243 years before the End Times, as a rough equivalent of the Horus Heresy: Age of Darkness game for Warhammer 40,000.

For tropes relating to this game's sister product, the sci-fi-themed Warhammer 40,000, please add them to that page and not here. Although sharing some common themes, they are two distinct game lines in different settings.

Tropes for the Tropes God!:

"Glimpse the World that Was..."

Alternative Title(s): Warhammer Fantasy, Warhammer Fantasy Battle, Warhammer The Old World


Elspeth von Draken

Despite her grim appearance and macabre magical arts, Elspeth is a protector of the Empire of Man.

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