Fantasy Warlord


Djimi (

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 WHFB
  • 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 predictable
  • 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!

Earl Krause (

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 balance.
  • 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.

Mikko Kurki-Suonio (

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 chain reactions.

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 withstanding.

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 Warhammer.

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.

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Last Updates
6 September 1999page redesigned
4 September 1999page split off
23 November 1996new email for Mikko
21 October 1996new reviews added
19 June 1996reformatted
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