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Warhammer Discussion

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Three's picture
Joined: 08/31/2011

What are the key defining traits of games like Warhammer? I've never played the games myself. I could easily look them up, but I wanted to get the impressions of players who might have played it here.

Also to those who might have played it/ know of it, what are your favorite/ least favorite mechanics in those games?

Joined: 02/16/2010
The miracle of modern marketing....a game you buy but dont play.

Warhammer, both fantasy and 40k, revolve around a mundane pawn movement, measurement system. While the core of the system is meant to convey to the player some sense of tactical decision making and "choice" these ideas are mere illusions when the game is analyzed as a whole. The game ultimately revolves around product rotation and marketing. Allow me to explain further.

Products such as this make the absolute bulk (95%) of their income from the sale of figures (miniatures). This means that if you, a player, are a hard core Space Marine fan then they will have a difficult time making money off you when they are spending time enhancing another product in their line (such as Necrons). In order to fix this problem they utilize a now classifiable "expansion" marketing system.

By ensuring, through fairly clever rules abuse, that the newest and most recently updated army is also the most powerful they guarantee that players will not only continue to buy their product but that die-hard players will follow the all-too-common trend of "band-wagoning". These players will invest in entirely new armies or models (again GW's greatest source of income) in order to ensure that they can continue to have the satisfaction of "being the best".

This marketing strategy has proven its versatility in multiple hobby markets over and over again. It can be seen in World of Warcraft, for instance, as the game is "updated" to ensure that the least commonly played class (at the time) gains popularity and becomes a focal point for players. A prime example of this would be making a specific class "OP" or overpowered during a patch. This would then influence players into starting a new character of this now powerful class thus continuing subscription fees and canceling out an ever-present boredom factor.

Because of this kind of "profit dictates product" model the war hammer universe has devolved into a simplistic game that ensures players get through the game as quickly as possible while still being provided the opportunity to "feel good" about their performance.

As if all this weren't enough, this market model has become the standard for nearly all miniatures products created in the last 15 (or more) years. Excellent examples of this include Malifaux, Warmachine, and a host of "one-off" miniatures based board games. To punctuate my point I would direct your attention to a miniatures product in development by the folks over at

"Dark Potential" is a prime example of a poorly written, miserably constructed product that boasts excellent artwork and fantastic miniatures. Not only is the storyline of the game offensively unimaginative but the rules for the game are still incomplete (miniatures are already available). I would go so far as to say that the rules that are currently available could have been conceived by a child and are, even now, treated with the kind of mild neglect an easily distracted boy may show to an ageing and all-too-familiar toy. This represents how thoroughly this marketing model has penetrated the hobby. Real tactical combat that leaves the mind exhausted after a lengthy battle is an almost dead art, practiced only by the remnants of a once vibrant community.

Games Workshop and their host of products are the largest of a range of aging beats that seem to be dead set on eliminating themselves from the entertainment market through their own will. With electronic entertainment so prevalent, and gaining ground at every turn, it would seem common sense to innovate and attempt to breathe new life into tactical miniatures battles with challenging and addictive game play. Instead you will find mundane tactical choices, overpriced product lines and an utter lack of "common sense" in these products and products like them. The very fact that the "next generation" (Dark Potential and their ilk) of these products fall directly into the mold of their predecessors only serves to punctuate my point.

If you are looking for innovative or interesting rules that promote tactical choices, avoid modern miniatures products.


Chegra's picture
Joined: 08/31/2012
Cinical ?

The statement you've made is true of any gaming system they are in it to make money and sometimes it's hard to expand your fan base. Some companies change the lines to make them fit a more wide audience. Some dumb them down so people are less afraid of the rules. And some have to use this technique. You can win with any kinds of army in Warhammer. Although winning is always fun in any game. I think in Warhammer the experience of the play is a good portion of the fun. Don't think to yourself this guy shot this guy and missed. Think "My commander took a well aimed shot at one of your troops and narrowly missed."

Warhammer and most miniature games can get expensive but only if you let it. They are fun and if you want the best example think X:Com both the original and the newest one.

Joined: 11/19/2012
My opinion

I've played a bit here and there, but I tend to avoid expensive games like CCG's or miniature war games,

The defining trait in all miniature war games is looking down on the board and seeing you men on the battlefield. Unlike most games there is very little abstraction. You'll look down and see 5 men hiding in the tree's instead of a "Soldier" pawn and a separate health card.

Because you aren't moving on square's or hexes you get more control over exactly what you want to do... but many miniature war games use this to limit your information. Because you can only measure after you've made the decision to move... you need to question whether to risk a charge now or wait until you are sure to be in range.

These aspects make the experience feel epic.

The flaws are vary from game to game.

One of the common flaws is the price. If you want a 10 man squad... you pay for it. Even worse... if that squad didn't fit your style you'll need to pay for new troops. As such, it's expensive as hell.

Another common flaw is that you don't have a board. You need alot of space to build a decent battlefield... and it'll only look as good as you made/bought. Most of these games claim that "You can play using stacks of books for mountains and blue construction paper for water"... but the game loses much of it's flavor at this point.

I tend to Warhammer in particular to be too random and slowed down by dice rolls. First, you roll 12 dice to see if one your 12 units hit and then re-roll the 8 that succeeded to determine the damage. Next, the opponent rolls his armor dice... and then needs to roll his morale checks... etc.

If you are interested I'd recommending trying the Warhammer: Mark of Chaos PC game. It is an squad-based RTS game that is fairly faithful to the original. While it can be clunky and flawed, it does a good job of customizing your army and heroes.

The other option is "Battleground Historical Warfare". It is a miniature war game that uses cards to mimic the gameplay without the cost. Here is a link to MarcoWarGamers review of it:

Joined: 02/16/2010

Cynicism was not the driving force behind the above post, rather, pragmatism was. I do understand why you may perceive it that way. Anyone that is a fan of miniatures war gaming products finds it unsettling to hear the industry they love is in decline. The fact is that this particular market is one of the few whose fate is as predictable as many fear.

Videogames have the most chance to tower over and finally eliminate the this particular industry because of its nature. A game that revolves around war, blowing things up, and tactical combat will invariably lose out to a younger audience who are often captivated by pretty graphics and increasingly less likely to spend hours painting a figure they could just as easily purchase, fully colored and gorgeously rendered, with a micro-transaction from their favored RTS. Lets not expand on the point that this virtual property gained through the micro-transaction would almost certainly be cheaper and require less work. Please try to keep in mind the power of the audience.

This is far less likely (or impossible) when we compare the electronic gaming industry to innovative games like Ticket to ride, Apples to Apples, Munchkin, or a bevvy of other products that seek to entertain through captivating game play rather then merely market dominance. I am certain, however, that this industry will or could find new life (before or after its fall) at the hands of independent developers who, by their very nature, create games as acts of love rather than for a paycheck.

The individuals that are behind the production and development of these products have lost sight of the "game" and asserted all their attention to the "product". This has lead to an increasingly weak product and an increasingly disenfranchised player-base. This is abundantly clear to anyone that spends even a small amount of time reading selections from the GW shareholder relations page, the GW forums, and monitors the trends of these kinds of products. To be completely blunt, they will evolve or they will die. There is simply no middle ground here.

I apologize if my direct approach to the topic was insulting. I merely meant to ensure that the above poster was not lead down the path of poorly constructed products, thinking, and rightly so, that their prevalence or popularity somehow spoke to their quality. It most obviously does not.

In the interest of being helpful and offering some form of direction other then "don't go that way" I submit to you This is a collection of often concise, free, rule-sets for miniatures products. While many of these do fall into the modern design methodology there are several that make an honest attempt at innovation and tactical choice.


Joined: 10/13/2011
Defining Traits

Three wrote:
What are the key defining traits of games like Warhammer?

All marketing and expansionist opinions aside, I would say Warhammer is defined by the traits below

-Table top game
-Requires miniatures that are representative of troop types; additionally, they should be painted
-Players play with armies of an agreed upon point value
-Each troop type has a point cost and a list of skills, special abilities and stats
-Each army must meet minimum troop requirements.
-Armies are built by selecting troops from army lists

Additionally, the pace of the game tends to be slower, with lots of dice rolling, and one should plan several hours to finish a game. There may, or may not, be a lot of background information about the world and the armies. In the case of Warhammer, the background information is very extensive.

Three wrote:
Also to those who might have played it/ know of it, what are your favorite/ least favorite mechanics in those games?

I like the concept of army lists and the army building system; it is not perfect, but gives 2 players a reasonble chance at an evenly matched battle (however, see below...)

I like the "roll to hit, roll to wound" mechanic, however it add significant time to the length of game play. Again, plan on several hours.

My least favorite mechanic was always the "guess the range and measure mechanic". In general, if you guessed incorrectly, you usually had an ineffective result. I can see where this makes the game a little more realistic, but I found it encouraged people to try to find ways to cheat the system (ie, setup the archers 4 inches from the table edge, which is 6 inches from tree, which is 9 inches from the shack, which means your unit is about 23.256 inches away...)

On a side note, the "guess" part of this mechanic has been removed from current versions of Warhammer and 40K.

I dislike the lists of special abilities on certain army lists. In order to have "perfect information" about the game, your knowledge of all army lists needs to be extensive. In some cases, you are lucky to have "fair information" about the opposing army.

Not a mechanic exactly, but I found it rare that players enjoyed both playing the game and painting/maintaining their miniatures. I have battled far more "gray primer armies" than I can remember and have known more than a few players that mostly painted and rarely played.

Finally, some armies naturally counter other armies to such a degree that 2 armies built with the same number of points are not evenly matched. In particular, armies with good long range attacks tend to beat armies that move slowly or have weak armor.

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