21 January 2024

Warhammer The Old World Ramblings

The new Warhammer: The Old World seems to be making a big splash. I've only been keeping up with it a little bit, and while there seems to be quite a bit to like about it, I'm not really sold on it.

Instead of getting into some of the heated social media discussions, I'm just going to put my general opinions here. By opinions I possibly mean the grumblings of an old nerd. ;)

Like I said, it seems like there's definitely some things I like about it.
  • GW going back to a "ranks & flanks" battle game.
  • Incorporating some old mechanics that I missed from later editions.
  • Bringing back players who won't play non-current editions of the game. (I have never understood why players would stop playing a game that they enjoy just because it's not being sold new anymore!)
  • Putting old models into production again. I already have two of the Marauder giant, but I love the idea that more people can get their hands on such a classic!
  • Exploring a different time period of the in-game history.
  • I actually like the idea of scaling up bases to 25mm, even if I have a ton of old 20mm based figures. Plenty of easy ways to deal with this since it's ranked units. This probably would have been difficult to do previously, but this "reboot" was a great opportunity to make it happen.

However, there are some things I'm definitely not crazy about.
  • The format of the game/rules. I think it originally went downhill after 3rd ed. where you bought a rulebook and an armies book and you had everything you needed to play, and could spend the rest of your cash on shiny, shiny miniatures. Those days are long gone and the new edition seems to be continuing the later trend of a constant stream of army books in order to "keep up." So far there is a $70 core book, plus two $50 books for the basic lists. So that's $170 for 3 books just to get started. Then the stream of additional army/faction books, two of which are already out now (bringing the actual starting rules-only investment to $224) with more to come.
    • Or $156 for all digital. I actually buy more digital books than physical books these days But they better have a decent price break.
  • Figure prices are insane, especially given that they've already been sculpted & molded long ago. I hope the artists are getting a fat commission! :D
  • "Legacy Factions." 🙄
  • As long a history as I had playing Warhammer (3rd ed. through 8th ed.) it was ultimately never a great "wargame." It always seemed stuck somewhere between a battle game and a skirmish game, but didn't do either thing well. I feel Warmaster was a much better large battle game, and Mordheim was a great skirmish game. Still are. I'd play either of those any day! And there are also other games on the market, made by (*gasp*) other publishers that also do what Warhammer does... but better. It's a golden age of wargaming, with a ton of options available. It will take more than nostalgia to get me to invest in WFB again, and from what I've read/seen I'm not sure there's enough here to bring me back.
  • Competitive play. Highly competitive play and an obsession with tournaments, winning at all costs, and *shudder" "the meta" seemed to dominate from at least 6th ed. onward. I've had my fill of that. Narrative play, campaigns, and "fun" scenarios were almost completely missing. This is something I've rediscovered in newer solo games, retro wargames, and a possible re-entry into RPGs with my kid. This may not be part of the game as sold, but I expect this to continue, especially since it's the focus the big post-WFB/AOS successor games took (9th Age, Mantic, Kings of War...)

I think the only way I would buy into the new game would be if I could get a bootleg PDF to "try before I buy" the physical game and find at least one, if not more, players interested in non-tournament gaming. The idea of picking up some old figures I missed back in the day seems appealing, but based on the prices I've seen so far, that's not terribly likely either.

This is 2024. There are a lot of options for both games and figures. 


  1. Context: I played WHFB from 3E to the End Times, and have played Kings of War since about a year post-WHFB.

    The most thought provoking comment I've heard about The Other World has been from Dave of Tabletop Time on youtube, who asked, as a person who never played WHFB and has very little interest in TOW, "Who is The Other World actually for?" His tentative answer was that it was most likely for people who are nostalgic for WHFB but never played it, either because the barrier to entry was too high for their means at the time (it took a LOT of minis to play some factions, especially at 2000+ points where the game fully unlocked) or they were busy with other games (40k was increasingly pulling all the air out of the room for GW's other products, not just the minigame market overall) or WHFB had been squated at that point.

    That's a really insightful statement to me - to be nostalgic for a thing you never experienced - but as a person who DID play the game for many editions, I'm pretty sure that's a big part of why I have zero interest in going back. Playing KOW, a much better designed game, helped me realize how random, unbalanced and frustrating WHFB was as an experience, especially given how much work went into armies. This is ignoring the massive financial outlay needed to raise an entirely new army for TOW, if you aren't a veteran returning for reasons. (Aside: GW are truly drunk with power if they don't think people will be 3D printing their armies, and already are. The number of Tomb Kings sculpts alone is staggering!! Maybe that's why they've continued the emphasis on selling rulebooks ...)

    Anyway, that's my few cents on another dude's few cents in regards to your few cents. I'll be curious to hear how you like the game, should you find the proper conditions to try it on, as a long time reader more than a person looking to return to Ye Olde Worlde.

    1. That is an interesting comment and not out of the realm of possibility. I've noticed there are a fair number of younger people collecting "Oldhammer" figures/armies who never played and don't know a lot of the history. But I supposed that's also not too far off from someone who has an interest in classic cars from before they could drive, or many other collecting hobbies.

  2. I think GW are well aware that lots of people will play the game with 3rd party minis or with collections they already own, which will be part of the reason why the "new" releases are mostly from the back catalog rather than commissioning a hundred new kits.

    I have the impression that GW see this as an addition to the Specialist Games range rather than a new core product, but we'll see how it goes I guess.

    I'd love to see what rules they have cherry picked from the previous 8 editions, but the rule book is a lot of money for curiosity's sake. To be fair to GW, that's true of D&D (as you'll have recently experienced!) and almost every other RPG or wargame that catches my eye.

    1. D&D offers a free PDF on their website containing all of the core rules you need to play. When you buy the books you get add-on content. For example, I bought my kid the hardback Players Handbook because it had more races & classes. A comparison would be if GW released a PDF with the rules for playing the game, but no army list or points information. Or maybe just a couple of regiments for two armies so you could test it out. (The D&D PDF only has a few character-building pieces, like human, elf, dwarf, fighter, cleric, etc.)

      Kings of War did the same thing and it was how I briefly got into the game. I got to test a couple of games with friends, enjoyed it, so then I actually bought in. At least they did this with 1st ed, not sure if they still do.

      (Unfortunately I quickly lost interest as the only players local to me were focused on tournament play, using chess timers, etc.)

      I read some teaser articles a while ago and some of the references to rules being included sounded positive to me. But I'd like to see how the whole thing comes together. I even like the update to all 25mm bases!

      I think the old figures thing is both a pro and a con. Like I said above, I think it's great that they will re-release some old metals. I'm hoping to fill a few gaps in my Empire collection for example. But I doubt they will go far enough back for much else. I would be tempted to buy a bunch of RoC era chaos. I'd love to pick up more old Skaven or non-Kehmri undead, but those appear to be off the table.

      As far as the new models, I'd love to see them do more, AND stick with a more Oldhammer vibe. But unfortunately that doesn't seem the case. Most of the new models I've picked up for many years have come from sources like Satyr Art Studio and Midlam Miniatures. All with an aesthetic harkening back to the late '80s and '90s. Or buying flat-out old sculpts from Ral Partha Europe, Alternative Armies, Scotia Grendel, Mirliton, and even Black Tree.

      My nostalgia is fueled by some of those other figures and games from the '80s & early '90s. However Warhammer and Citadel did end up as our primary game & source of figures for a long time. But as I said above, there's a lot of competition now. And I'm old and cranky, and it will take some convincing. ;) "Convincing" meaning quality & value.