Warhammer Fantasy Battle (WHFB)

4th edition rulebook cover


A.H. Lloyd (aleclloyd@arq.net)
I'm writing this not for the hardcore gamer, but for someone thinking about getting involved.

The most important thing to remember is keep your head. GW is a slimy, money-grubbing company out to make a sale at any cost. Many hobby store owners will likewise feed you their line about using only their supplements and their miniatures and their paints to fight in their world.

It's hogwash.

The most fun I have ever had with WHFB is since we decided to trash the army lists and make up our own. We also put strict limits on characters and magic, and altered the rule about filling in (we let succeeding ranks swing if the front rank dies).

All of a sudden, it's a great game! Two nights ago we fought a massive 2,000 point battle in under two hours and we had a blast. No magic, no special characters - just masses of troops crashing into each other. It was the way I feel the game ought to be.

In fact, I believe the reason why people get so hacked off at GW is not because it's unplayable at any speed, but because they came so close. Just a few fixes and the thing would be perfect.

The moral of the story: ignore GW and you'll have more fun.

We don't use their over-priced and increasingly plastic figures, either. Most of my troops are either Essex or Old Glory (Old Glory's Revenge line is awesome! You can get a bag of 30 lead figures for less than 12 plastic GW ones. Even with buying bases, it's less than $1 per figure!)

So if you are thinking of getting involved, by all means do so, but know what it is that you want to do. As far as fantasy combat systems, with a few tweaks it works great. Once you start to buy-in to GW's little world, however, you're going to be in a world of pain.

matthew mcgreevey (brotherfury@hotmail.com)
I have to say, I have been playing GW for years, and if it wasn't for Target Games, I would still be stuck in that good, but all-too-expensive game.

Warzone... wonderful system, with great background and armies. They just redid the rules, and boxed it (i.e. like WHFB), but the game got better, and looks better, and is presented in a more sensible manner.

Chronopia...ditto... much better than WHFB.

Target's minis are getting better by leaps and bounds.

I worked in a game store for 3 years and to say GW are money-grubbing scum is to be kind. With $800 minimum orders!!!! That is a tall order for a small store to swallow more than once every two or three weeks. They always tell us, "Oh, you have to get this and you must have that!!" They are ruthless!! On the subject of their games themselves... they are decent, but way too expensive!!

daniel.joyce (daniel.joyce@MetaphaseTech.com)

I wish RalGames would get Battlestorm rolling again, but after the buyout of Ral Partha by FASA, and FASA's buyout by Decipher, I don't know.

In terms of fit, GW minis have some of the best around. I've never had an assembly problem with their minis. T'Char the Dragon from RP is a different story. I do buy and paint some of GW's minis, but I make sure to buy from a discount seller, 30% off, 2-week turnaround on orders...

Price-wise it's a gouge, and with all the stats lookup you have to do, and mod requirements, Warhammer Fantasy gets to be a hassle. I'd rather roll and total dice, then lookup mods. Battlestorm uses scads of dice. Lots of them, and different kinds to represent modifiers. Roll, add, then compare. Combat takes only 2 dice contests per side. See if you hit, see if you wound. Modifiers for weapon str, acc, etc, are taken care of by using different dice in the roll, and thats listed on the army card you make. Seems like a lot, but being newbies, I finished off 1000-2000 pt games (80+ figures) in a hour or so, and man, there is carnage. When you commit your forces, you better hope they can win.

RoBBRR (RoBBRR@aol.com)
Folks, I think that many people are missing the key marketing point GW is using. It is that they simply follow the Magic the Gathering cardgame marketing formula. Warhammer Fantasy is not really a miniatures game, but more akin to any of the cardgames currently available. Here's why:

  1. They constantly promote the tournament/competition game - like a card game
  2. They release new super-special figures every month that enable you to win in the "tournaments" - like new special cards
  3. They foster the competitive aspect, so players will constantly buy the new figures and upgrade to do better against other players - like card games
  4. The games are largely show-downs between the hero-types or special stuff on each side. (It still is - they are never going to change that. Although people think it's better in one version or another, it is just more cleverly masked in some versions more than others.) - again, like a card game
  5. They have routinely made obsolete entire figure lines (Epic, many, many character figures), forcing players to spend more cash to play again with their same armies!!?? That is unheard of in miniature gaming, but hey, from a business standpoint, it's great. (GW is a publicly traded company in the UK. They are no longer a bunch of gaming enthusiasts who started a company - they are now purely profit-oriented corporate types who must satisfy their stockholders...which isn't all bad, but I believe they have lost touch with their customers' needs.)

So, by creating the "tournament" atmosphere and constantly upgrading characters or adding special items, people have a "need" to buy them to beat other players and win tournaments, just like Magic the Gathering! That is their goal. It's not a bad thing, it's just not a miniatures game. Yes, you can play it for fun (just like Magic, but who does?).

Guys, if you like the game, great, enjoy it; but please, pull your head out of the sand and recognize that any company that sells 8 plastic figures in a box for US$12.50 is gouging you. That is more than what the Foundry sells lead figures for, and are of much better quality than the plastic ones. (Note: the Foundry is actually on the high end of historical mini pricing).

Another case in point is that the figures marketed as Bretonnians are in some cases the exact same figures sold as part of the Foundry's "Baron Wars 1200-1300 AD" line, and the Bretonnians cost nearly 3 times as much. I invite any of you to check that out and then see what you think.

By the way, their figures of today aren't nearly as good as the ones GW sold several years ago, I was comparing my old Wardancers to today's version. The new ones are a lot more stiff and have more exaggerated, cartoon-like features, and the detail is just not as sharp.

Lastly, I pose a simple question: does anyone think that the legions of younger gamers that GW pulls in will ever move on to other miniatures games and otherwise help the hobby grow? I personally don't think so. I hope I am wrong. What do you think? I played GW for 10 years and grew very tired of it and moved on, but I seem to be very much the exception.

James Humphries (Karn@webcircle.com)
Are you nuts?? Pay what?? For a game??

Back in the 70's, my folks thought I was crazy for paying "a lot" of money to keep current with Dungeons and Dragons. I shudder to imagine what they would think of me now. :-)

Add review?

Last Updates
23 September 1999comments by A.H. Lloyd
old reviews split off
4 September 1999page redesigned
30 August 1999comments by matthew mcgreevey
20 August 1999comments by daniel.joyce
7 August 1999comments by RoBBRR
Comments or corrections?