Warhammer Fantasy Battle (WHFB)

4th edition rulebook cover


Kimshi (kimshi@geocities.com)
I have been playing WHFB for 6 years now, and have several different armies.

I feel that a lot of opinion on this subject comes from people with a historical wargaming background, who have drifted into WHFB. The vital distinction is that it is a fantasy game - fantasy encompasses Magic, powerful relics, etc.

Now, I readily admit that there is clearly the opportunity for power gaming within the ruleset, but the overwhelmingly vast majority of people I have played do not participate in this. With restrictions on item points and characters, the emphasis is firmly shifted toward troop types. After all, a 300-pt General on some hideous monster will be easily defeated by the massed ranks of my Skaven army!

The release of plastic regiment sets has shifted the emphasis even more toward regiments of basic troops. The only problem I have with GW is the pricing, but provided you search around for second-hand figures (or know someone in the company to buy them for you at staff discount - I know this is not allowed by GW, but as they make a 150% profit...), the cost can be kept down. I know these options are not available to all, but that still doesn't prevent you from playing smaller-scale games and slowly building up an army whilst taking time to paint everything you have to an excellent standard.

Just my 00.2p worth...

Michael Thomas (mthomas@netgenics.com)
As I said in my previous post, I've played Warhammer for about 7 years. Again I must say, I have yet to see a balanced, realistic, and fair system. The Warhammer system is purposely designed to favor power gamers, rules-lawyers, and people only interested in winning and not playing. However, I feel like adding on to my previous remarks on how incredibly poor this system is designed.

As one player put it, to see if you successfully kill a trooper, you need to make 4 rolls. Okay, some spells/weapons don't allow for an armor save, and some armor saves get additional saves, and some armor isn't modified by spells, and some talismans give annother save, and some weapons can cause you to have to make additional saves, and some items let you go back in time and reroll a result...do you see a trend here? It's ridiculous that I need to make usually 3 separate die rolls and then my opponent needs to make 1 to see if some model dies. 4 rolls for 1 result.

To those posts that state, "If you have problems with the game don't play, or use house rules, or use tournament rules." Well, too bad, I'm going to play. Secondly, a system shouldn't be so poorly designed that I have to design house rules to fix it. House rules should be optional to the game, not to fix glaring problems. For instance, night battles are optional rules as they increase the options of playing. Having to fix the fact that Total Power as a magical power card, and remove Spawn of Chaos as a spell card because they are both overpowering, shouldn't happen. Lastly, 'Use Tournament Rules?' A game should be designed well enough that I don't need to use a special set of rules to fix the standard set of rules. If I have to use a special 'Tournament' set for tournaments only, then golly gosh, why don't they just make these rules the standard rules if they are so much better? Hmmmm... sounds pretty good to me.

As to the price, well, it's ridiculous, end of story. I'm not poor by any means. Being a well-employed college grad, I have money, and I am still astonished that a single knight command model is some 10$. Criminy Chronopia command figs are about $3.50, with the same scale and same size. In addition, if I just wanted to start playing, I'd have to spend some 115$ to get the Basic boxed set and the magic rules. Lastly all these 'Improvised' figs I can use at home with my buddies, I can't use when at officially sanctioned tournaments... even after I've paid some $150 to register.

And you need more than 3 rule books. You need 2 rule books from the basic boxed set (one describing the rules, one describing the creatures, you need each armies' specific army book) - we'll just say 2 for a 1 on 1 game, you need the magic book, and any White Dwarfs that are related to 'fix' rules problems. This is some 5 rules books. On the other hand, if I want to play Chronopia, I need 1 book. If I want to play Warzone, I need 1 book. If I want to play Armies of Arcana, I need 1 book...see a trend here? I can get additional books that expand the game, but all the rules/armies/templates that I need to play the game are contained in 1 primary book.

Next, each new addition has some new race that is much better than the older races, leading to an arms race so you won't get beaten. For example, The Dogs of War. Now anyone can have an army that has no penalties. Don't have cav, don't worry, you can hire mercenaries. Cowardly soldiers, don't worry, you can hire mercenaries. Need missile units, don't worry, you can hire mercenaries. This leads back to my original post that racial penalties weren't constant and severe enough. Now you can play KHORNE ARMY OF CHEEZE, and have crossbows and cannon to support your super infantry and knights. I've seen it done by a player that calls himself, "a true Khorne player." In case you didn't know, Khorne hates magic and archer units as it disturbs his severe and strict sense of honor; thus the 'true Khorne player' shouldn't have cannon and crossbow.

Lastly, any system that doesn't allow for customer feedback is simply wrong. Try calling the rulesboyz, or mail order to lobby a rule or unit suggestion, and they treat you like you're spitting on the Virgin Mary. And when I've asked for rules clarifications, I have recieved such answers back as, "We don't have time to worry about every little situation that could arise. Just roll a die." What the hell is this kinda answer?

Frankly I recommend Chronopia Empire (when it comes out), or Armies of Arcana. Both are superior games that are a lot more fun to play.

What am I trying to say is this: Warhammer is a poorly designed system that caters to those players who like to abuse rules, be power gamers, not worry about the sportsmanship of the game, and have the financial backing of the Rockefeller family.

Neil Dutton (nodutton@home.com)
Are you people nuts?!?
  • Oh it's SOOOO expensive!!
  • The rules are too confused!!
  • There are too many special characters
  • blah blah blah...

Yes, prices have gone up a lot in the 10 years I've been playing the game, but it still isn't expensive for a hobby. The minis are better than they have ever been and improving all the time. The last time I checked, the rules are not a confused mess. You need 1) the rulebooks, 2) the magic supplement, 3) appropriate army books - now isn't that unbearably complicated?!?!

If you don't like special characters, don't use them. If your opponents have a problem with that, don't play them.

You don't have to keep buying new rules - play the ones you like, for crying out loud. (If you're that weak willed, contact me - there's this bridge I'd like to sell you....)

If you begrudge a hobby company becoming incredibly successful instead of remaining a few fat, bearded men toiling in a basement, then that's just sad.

Dave Ross (frogrckt@interlog.com)
I started into Warhammer Fantasy a couple of months ago, even though I've had a lot of experience with other historical periods and systems, and I've got a lot of other GW minis. The game is good, and has much that other companies don't provide - good background and presentation, and an excellent variety of minis and accessories.

But when it comes to price and the pious GW attitude, don't buy into it - sure, GW makes most of its money selling miniatures, but buy only what you need, and paint all of it. There's no shame in playing a 1,000-or-less-point battle! Play more of them if you have the time, or just play them better. Be creative and allow regiments to have frontages of three! Play mission-based games. Who cares? As long as you're playing on an equal footing with your friends, and agree on the house rules, you can always have a good time. Using smaller blocks of minis is just a good way of representing larger groups of men (1 mini=10 men).

To GW, the rules come second to the sale of minis. Buy only what you need, and paint everything before you go out and buy more.

Good figures are a nice plus with any kind of historical gaming, and let's face it, GW makes the best in the business. The battlefield looks amazing! Just remember, whether you're playing Warhammer or chess, the fun is always in the strategy and maneuver - focus on that. Limit the magic and special characters (or disallow them altogether), set up a good looking table, and you'll always have a good game - with or without the expense.

Baltek (Smaalouf@total.net)
If you want to play a good game of Warhammer, use only 25% characters, and don't use magic items that cost more than 50 ponts. The only problem with the game is that they haven't released a Black Ork army book...or, at least, a new Ork army book.
Nathan Moore (nom@ammgroup.com)
Gosh, what a lot of crying about WFB. I've been playing since version 1 and have always loved it. Don't mean I love GW, though.

Everyone's complaint is cheese and power gaming. My friends and I have a simple answer: Want cheese? Don't play with us - go to a tournament!

I'd say WFB are the best fantasy rules out!

Amin Ibrahim (aaibrahim@earthlink.)
WHFB is a good game if you play with the right people. Sometimes I get downright disgruntled when a 600-point character runs through my non-cheesy army. Besides the ever rising cost in cash, it's a great game...provided you play with the right people.
Pasi (pasi.lehtimaki@ntc.nokia.com)
Metal miniatures do cost a lot but they are really good looking. Right? I spend 'bout 5 in month on miniatures... Painting the miniatures takes me about a month... 5 is not so much per month!!!!
David Dailey (junkman@hub.ofthe.net)
I have been playing Warhammer for some time, and I am appalled at the gargantuan prices. It is awful to see such a great game become almost unplayable, just because you can't afford the pieces!

My group of friends and I do a lot of "representation." However, we would really like to have the actual pieces, if we knew of a great place to order them that is not from GW.

Likewise, I would love to organize a boycott of their merchandise just to get the price lowered (however unlikely). It would be nice.

Michael Thomas (mthomas@netgenics.com)

Warhammer Fantasy is a system with so many holes in it, you could drive a semi through them. I have played WHFB for over seven years, and have yet to see a balanced system.

Why do I keep playing? Because it is the only system of its type (and I don't want to see all the money I invested in it go to waste.)

  • Chronopia is more squad based (but much better designed, and cheaper, but smaller scale battles)
  • Medieval Spear and Lance is 20mm(?) classical wargaming

Warhammer is the only large-scale fantasy game currently in mass production.

Warhammer does have some plusses:

  1. It only takes about a day or so to learn
  2. Citadel and subsidiaries do produce some fine quality miniatures
  3. Regiments of basic troops do have some advantages

However, Warhammer has a ton of negatives, all of which detract from the playability and fun of playing the game:

  1. Rules inconsistencies. For example, a human with pajamas and a sword is 5 points (mr. average.) But for 3 more points, I can get 6 points of stat increases and get a high elf.)
  2. Magic items and spells are undercost, and overly powerful.
  3. Characters are huge and undercost (so people will buy them). For Example, Borgio is 173 points, but has a 50 point magic item for free (his 4+ special save.) He should be 200+ points.
  4. Race penalties aren't severe and consistent enough. For example, treemen take double damage from fire. Now that there is no longer color magic,there are about 5 things that cause fire (3 spells, and 2 items). Not much of a penalty now, is it? Annother example - Skaven are cowardly, but gain leadership if you have a ton of them, buy rank bonus, and leadership bonus can't beat that.
  5. The emphasis on tooling out your character with monsters and items is ridiculus for a game that's sold as a regiment-based strategy game.
  6. Skyrocketing costs of miniatures and supliments.
  7. The overwhelming power of units that can fly.
  8. You have to read their magazine (White Dwarf) to stay on top of all the rules changes.
  9. The list goes on...

I have seen it improve from 3rd Edition, but not enough to recommend it to my friends and others. The cost of investment isn't worth the headache of wondering how to solve a problem with the rules.

Play Chronopia - it's quicker to learn and play, better designed, and boatloads more affordable.

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Last Updates
23 September 1999page split off
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