Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Warhammer Fantasy Battle
The game is played with 'regiments' of fantasy miniatures . It uses stock fantasy races such as humans, elves, dwarves, undead, orcs, lizardmen, etc. Each race has its own unique strengths and flaws. Elves for example have the most powerful archers and magicians in the game but have fewer specialised close combat units.
Warhammer is periodically updated and re-released with newer rules and changes to the gaming system to improve playability. The 6th edition of the game is currently the official one.
The games uses models on the 28mm (approximately 1:64) scale. This is defined as being the height of a normal human, larger creatures such as dragons can be up to 10cm long.
Models come unpainted and unassembled. The players spend a great deal of time painting and modifying the miniatures so that they represent the army's background. This is reinforced by an annual painting competition Games Workshop holds in various countries (several competitions in the United States) known as the Golden Demon. Players compete in a number of categories to win bronze, silver and gold golden demons for painting. In actual practice, games are often played with unpainted or half-painted miniatures. In tournaments, there are often prizes for the best-painted army (in addition to prizes for winning the actual games) or malus points for having unpainted miniatures. 'Painted', in this case, is usually defined as 'having at least three colours', owing to the unscrupulous practice in times past of spray-painting a regiment one colour.
To build an average army one has to buy at least 50-100 miniatures (depending on the army he chooses to play) which makes Warhammer an expensive hobby. However the gaming system is flexible so that players can easily opt to play smaller battles of 30-40 models etc. Generally a plastic squad or regiment costs about $40 (Canadian) for about 16 models. Individual characters are usually cast in metal and therefore cost more; however these can often be expected to be more powerful and worth more anyway. A common practice in friendly games, though not in tournaments, is to substitute one model for another, as in 'This dragon counts as a wyvern'. In extreme cases entirely un-game-related objects are used, as in 'This ketchup bottle counts as a Greater Demon of Khorne.' This has led to the development of two subcultures (with considerable overlap) within the Games Workshop hobby, 'painters' who concentrate on buying, assembling and painting the correct models, and 'gamers' who are more interested in the actual rules and tactics, and perfectly willing to use proxy models for an interesting game. In tournaments, the 'WYSIWYG' (which stands for 'What You See Is What You Get,' in reference to the models) principle is applied, leading to the phenomenon of dedicated gamers staying up all night before the tournament starts putting the finishing touches on their regiments, so that they will be allowed to play.
Playing the game
The game is played in turns with each player completing a full turn before handing control to their opponent. The turn is broken down into phases: movement, magic, shooting, and close combat.
The game comes with a number of 'scenarios', which contain rules detailing how the armies are chosen, how the playing area should be set up, how long the game will last and how the winner is decided. This last is normally on a points-based system, where points are gained for 'killing' opposing models and for completing pre-determined objectives.
The armies available in the current edition of the game:
- Bretonnians (Humans, French/Arthurian culture)
Bretonnians are derived from medieval England and France, and much of it is based upon the tales of King Arthur. The basis of the army is, as in the Arthurian romances, knights, with a supporting cast of downtrodden peasants and beautiful damsels. The land of Bretonnia is equivalent geographically to France.
- Chaos (Daemonic forces, Norse/Steppe nomad culture)
The Legions of Chaos are composed of evil madmen who worship the Four Dark Gods of Chaos, who are Khorne, Slaanesh, Nurgle and Tzeentch. The Legions of Chaos are aided by powerful daemons summoned from another world.
- Dark Elves (Evil elves, fascist regime)
Dark elves are pirates hailing from the dark lands of Naggaroth. They seek only to pillage and slaughter the other races, and to ultimately place their ruler, the Witch King Malekith, in his "rightful" place upon the throne of Ulthuan, their ancestral island home-and currently home of their cousins, the High Elves. Their land of Naggaroth is geographically equivalent to eastern North America.
- Dogs of War (Mercenaries, Italian Renaissance culture)
The Dogs of War are a mercenary army. Units from the Dogs of War may be used by other races (with certain restrictions, e.g. High elf mercenaries won't work for Dark elves) or can be used on their own. Many of the mercenary units are from 'Tilea', equivalent geographically to Italy.
- Dwarfs (Dwarves, Scandinavian/Germanic culture)
- High Elves (Elves, Roman culture)
The High Elves are a race that used to rule large portions of the world, but have now retreated to their homeland island of Ulthuan, geographically equivalent to the mythical location of Atlantis in the mid-Atlantic. They fight in a way similar to the Roman armies, and are constantly at war with their Dark Elf cousins.
- The Empire (Humans, Germanic culture)
The Empire is based on the Holy Roman Empire during the Renaissance. Divided into many sub-states ruled by Elector Counts, the Empire is nominally ruled by the Emperor. Their armies are amongst the most diverse in the Old World. Their primary deity is Sigmar, the legendary founder of their country. The Empire is geographically equivalent to Germany
- Lizardmen (Lizard Men, Aztec/Inca culture)
Lizardmen are tribal jungle-dwellers lead by the Slann, toad-like creatures with extremely powerful magic. They built many cities in the jungle, complete with ziggurats - most of which are now ruined. Their land of Lustria is geographically equivalent to South America
Orcs & Goblins are exaggerated, humorous parodies of the creatures originally created by J. R. R. Tolkien. Their army also includes Wyverns, Giants, Trolls, and other monsters in the same vein. Some Games Workshop designers claim that orcish culture and military tactics are loosely based on Scots Highlanders. Orcs and Goblins are found all over the lands of Warhammer.
- Skaven (Rat-men, no particular culture)
Skaven are giant rats that stand on two legs. They come out of deep tunnels in great hordes to destroy the workings of the other races.
- Tomb Kings of Khemri (Undead, Egyptian culture)
The Tomb Kings rule over large armies deep in desert wastes. They are lead by a great pharaoh, Settra, who has commanded his servants to awaken and reclaim the world from the living. The land of the tomb kings is geographically equivalent to Egypt.
- Vampire Counts (Undead, Slavic culture)
The Vampire Counts are a loose collection of various undead lords, Vampires, each with their own agenda. There are five different families ('bloodlines') of vampires, each with different characteristics, and their armies generally reflect this. While originally based on Slavic vampire myths, the introduction of newer 'bloodlines' has allowed the race to diversify.
- Wood Elves (Elves, Celtic culture)
Wood Elves are reclusive beings who live at peace with nature in deep forests. They bear a grudge with the other Elves for turning their backs on nature, and worship forest deities with names almost exactly the same as Celtic gods. There land of Loren lies in the south-east of Bretonnia. Loren is geographically equivalent to Savoy
- Chaos Dwarves (Corrupted Dwarves, Mesopotamian culture)
Chaos Dwarves resemble Dwarves, but have become barbaric and now worship the Dark Powers. Many of them have become mutated into bizarre forms such as the bull-centaurs.
- Kislev (Humans, Russian culture)
In Recent times, Kislev has re-arisen as an "allied" race to be used with Empire (and other) armies, but can be used as a separate army on its own as well. The land of Kislev is geographically equivalent to north-west Russia and the Baltic states.
- Beastmen (Goatmen, Aboriginal/ancient Germanic culture)
Beastmen are the animals of the forest twisted and warped by proximity to Chaos Daemons. They now thirst for blood and hunt the other armies. GW designers claim to have loosely based the current incarnation of these creatures on Roman-era Germanic tribes. Beastmen are primarily found in the forests of the Empire, geographically equivalent to Germany.
- Ogre Kingdoms (Ogres, Prehistoric culture)
The Ogres are a primitive culture and most of their equipment is made from scavenged scrap metal and such. That which they do create is made from the hides and bones of various prehistoric creatures, such as mammoths and ice age style rhinos. The Ogres are often served by Gnoblars, a sub-species of Goblin. The Ogre Kingdoms are situated in the Mountains of Mourn, geographically equivalent to the Himalayas. This makes them the first army released situated in the eastern region of the Warhammer World.
The Fishmen of Aquapolis were mentioned in the Designer's Notes of the latest edition of Beastmen. However, it has since become clear that this was either a hoax, a joke among gamers, or a nation with no in-game army attached to it, such as Cathay or earlier depictions of Kislev. Games Workshop has requested gamers issue no more letters concerning Fishmen. This race is not available at this time, nor is it likely that it will be in the near future.
Editions of the game
Throughout the six editions of the game, the combat and shooting systems have remained largely unchanged. Minor revisions have been made to he movement rules. The largest changes have been made to the magic and army composition systems.
The first and second editions of the game were similar: both came in a box set which contained only a set of books, no miniatures. Both featured a completely open-ended army design system and a magic system based on wizards of differing levels. Higher level wizards had access to more powerful spells. In this system, a wizard picked his spells at the start of the game, and as he cast each one it depleted a store of magic points, until at zero points he could cast no more. Magic was extremely powerful in early editions of the game. The biggest changes between these editions were visual: different artwork and an improved editorial process making clearer rules.
The Third Edition of the game was published in a hardback book. It had the most in-depth and complex movement and maneuver system of any edition. Other improvements included a variety of new specialist troop types, rules for war machines and a more finely tuned system of representing heroes and wizards. It kept the same magic system and open-ended army design system as the first two editions. However, by this stage the use of army lists was very much encouraged. Army lists for this edition were published in a separate book called Warhammer Armies. The third edition is fondly remembered by many long time fans of the game, in spite of its somewhat cumbersome rules and long play time. This is partly because it was the last edition published before Games Workshop took a more commercial approach, leading to a schism in the company and the publishing of Fantasy warlord.
The fourth and fifth editions of the game were quite different to the third, but similar to each other. Fifth edition in particular became known as 'herohammer' because the game revolved almost entirely around the very powerful heroes, monsters and wizards in the game, with blocks of troops existing as cannon fodder. Both editions of the game were sold as box sets containing rulebooks but with the addition of enough plastic miniatures to play a small game and a variety of other play aids. The rules underwent a re-write, becoming much simpler to appeal to a younger market. Major rules changes to these editions included a completely re-worked magic system based on the play of cards, making magic a bit like a game within a game. Fourth was also the first edition to enforce the use of army lists in the form of army books which prescribed each army only a limited number of unit choices. These editions were not overly popular with older players and long-term fans, although the magic system was perceived to be well designed, and the fifth edition in particular won the Origins Award for Best Fantasy or Science Fiction Miniatures Rules of 1996.
The sixth edition was also published as a box with rulebook and miniatures. After 'herohammer' this edition put the emphasis back on troop movement and combat: heroes and wizards are still important but are incapable of winning games in their own right. There was also an all-new magic system based on dice rolling, which some fans feel makes magic a bit too powerful in the game. A new series of army books were released for the various armies in the game. Most long term players feel that sixth is the most balanced and best of the editions so far.
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