I have been playing fantasy miniatures games since 1985, when I got WHFB
second edition. It's a fun game, but I have been on the lookout for better
rules ever since. So far Fantasy Warlord is my favorite.
Some of the
things I like are:
- simultaneous movement, this forces you to try and out
think your opponent and is not just the I move-You move reaction like in
- the leaders act like leaders, not super heroes
- the Fog
of War rules where without leadership regiments might not follow the
orders you want them to. This makes leaders, and their position in the
battle, an important consideration.
- The percentile combat resolution makes
for fast play even in large battles, although it can become a bit
- The magic system is fairly balanced so that it does not
become too overpowering.
Now for some of the minor flaws, in my opinion. First off, for complex
moves you sometimes have to place a lot of order chits and might forget to
place some. One thing that I find cumbersome is the hits on monsters and
heroes. I'd recommend just giving them extra wounds like in WHFB. Also,
there are no rules for war machines (they were supposed to be in a
supplement which unfortunately never came out) so you'll have to make them
up or borrow them from somewhere else. There are no lists for some races
like Dark Elves, Undead or Skaven, but it is not that hard to extrapolate
them from the other races.
All in all, I like this game and recommend anyone getting it if you can
find it. If you play WHFB especially, since you can use the miniatures you
already have because it uses the same base sizes. It is also easy to scale
down to 15mm and fight even bigger battles!
I've played Fantasy Warlord for a number of years and find it is the best
army based rules system I've played. It is unfortunately out of print and
the company is gone, so no follow up rules will be coming out, but there is
more than enough for most types of battles listed in the rules. (Undead
is the one area that is missing but I am working on a army list for them.)
The reasons I like it are as follows.
- Moves are done with chits placed
beside units. All moves are then simultaneous, not on a I-move-you-move
basis. The rules do this very well.
- Damage is done on a
percentage basis, which eliminates winning or losing based only on hot or
cold die rolls. You win because you out-moved and out-thought your
opponent's strategy. Hero characters are not invinceable, and a horde of
peasants with a numbers advantage will take him down.
- The magic system
is maybe a little weak, but is playable and does not put the game out of
- Rules are well explained and very few loop holes that players
can nit pick over.
It works well for the group we play with and I would
recommend giving it a try. (Beats Warhammer hands down.) I believe it
was made by some ex-Games Workshop employees, but they could not stand up
to the big boys in Europe and went under. They did also produce 3 or 4
issues of a magazine supplement called Red Giant. Included are some
scenarios and other interesting info.
For those interested, I might be
able to send copies of pertinent information as I'm sure they will be
hard to find. Any specific questions about the system, just ask.
In my opinion, Fantasy Warlord incorporates a host of nifty
ideas, but fails as a complete game.
To begin with, I'll state my usual gripe about creating new troop types. As with
so many other
games, it's just impossible to create your own types and assign them a
meaningful point cost without shaking
some of the numbers out of your hat. In addition, the sheets for races are so
complex you are hard pressed
to even guess at anything like a cost formula. These creature stats are also
only contained in the
reference sheets, so if you lose them, it's pretty impossible to play the game
at all. I also find the odd
method of first rolling the stats for your heroes and then calculating what
those stats cost a bit weird.
Given the detail individual characters have, it's quite possible a role-playing
supplement was planned
but never came to fruition.
The idea of emphasizing command control is nice, but the method is cumbersome.
Fantasy Warlord claims
to handle battles up to thousands of figures, but I can see frustration around
the corner pretty soon after
you have to give detailed orders for multitudes of units and when they fail to
execute those, roll
random movement for each. To add insult to injury, random movements can depend
on the actions of
nearby units. In case of a command control breakdown, random movement can become
a veritable mess of
The basic idea behind the combat system is a very good one, but leads to too
much predictability in
my opinion, plus some odd results. Example: If the final percentages calculated
fall on different sides
of some 100% multiple, one side is guaranteed not to lose despite a very low
difference in scores (i.e., if
orcs have 299% and dwarves 301%, the orcs can never inflict more casualties than
the dwarves and therefore
tie or lose every round of combat -- yet the difference is only 2%, which would
mean practically nothing
if the scores were 249% and 251%, for example). Lethality for individual heroes is
nicely high, but keeping
track of their wounds can get bothersome. The hit table for them and large
critters is too complicated -- why roll
1d100 and 1d4, when all the results could be given in a 1d100 chart? Spears are
rather too effective for my
tastes and some combat rules are rather combat fuzzy and/or illogical.
The magic system is a nice touch. If you expect wizards to rule the game, you
won't like it, however. Spellcasting
is very fickle, and even the grandest of wizards may easily end up smelling of
putrid fish or hopping along
as a toad. Arrows also cut down lone figures rather easily, spell power not
To tell you the harsh truth, I didn't like the writing style
used in Fantasy Warlord. It seems they
are trying to push their other products at every possible turn, and one wonders
whether some of the system's
shortcomings were actually intentional. Example: You can buy a Saurian Doom
Blade, and the Saurian Empire is
mentioned occasionally, but the game has no stats for saurians and no detailed
description of their empire. In my
opinion, Fantasy Warlord is just trying too hard to be another
The book is full of nice photographs, both color and b&w, and the illustrations
by Gary Chalk are very
good (I happen to like his style), even though most of them are recycled from
the Lone Wolf books. Presentation is
clear, but a good index would have been useful.
This review may seem overly negative, but in fact I rather like Fantasy
Warlord. It just requires extensive work
on house rules to attain a state of perfection and playability.