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WHtOW – fluff and does it make sense ?

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This topic contains 39 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  onlyonepinman 4 weeks, 1 day ago.

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    Remaining cautiously optimistic – perhaps naïvely so – about the prospects of the release of Warhammer – the Old World – this year would make a lot of sense – I started reading rumors, looking at concept art and just generally thinking about this.

    According to the rumor mill, the basic boxed set is supposed to include either Empire vs. Orcs, which would make sense if they’re going for a back-to-basics approach, or Kislev vs. Chaos, which would tell us very definitely that this edition will focus very much on the ‘War against Chaos’ timeline.

    Apparently, Cathay has also been developed as a brand new human army (how many of those do we want in a fantasy game ?), but I’m wondering how they would fit into the established background. (Silly me, caring about such things….)

    I could see Cathay forces fighting Chaos (they’re EVERYWHERE), Chaos Dwarves (assuming GW resurrect them), Orcs (everywhere as well, ditto for Undead and Skaven) and maybe expeditionary forces of High Elves, Dark Elves, Dwarfs and possibly Lizards, but where, when and why would Cathayan armies ever even meet Bretonnians or Wood Elves ? Or Empire, for that matter?

    A terrible misunderstanding with the GW version of Marco Polo ( a Forge World boxed set limited edition mini for only £ 65.95) ? An Imperial emissary smoking too many funny pipes in a drug den and offending a Cathayan noble by accident ?

    Would their respective armies really want to march quite THAT far to settle a dispute ?

    I’m hoping (against hope ?) that they’ll return Ogres to their rightful place as occasional mercenaries for other armies- Orcs, Chaos, Empire – and let those horrendously ugly minis they have now disappear down the memory hole, that not only Ogres but also Halflings and some Dwarfs will once again grace the ranks of the Empire, that Wood Elves will once again be able to field chariots and that Elves in general will finally be as hard to kill as they are in all the books, movies, RPGs……

    And when will they realize that rats are not ‘filthy’ or ‘malevolent’? Seems that no one at GW ever had a rat as a pet.


    Cult of Games Member

    I don’t see GW bringing back the old world stuff in a “mass battle” style game (their plastic minis are so expensive that they can only sell them for a warband level of game). Long gone are the days of buying 20 figures for £20 (it’s more like £30 for 10 figures these days). So perhaps we might see a old world version of Warcry style of game? Ideally I’d like to see them redo Mordhiem again (just keep the rules to one book however and not do what they did to Necromunda (20+ Rulebooks as we speak)), however they’ve not hinted that’s on the cards (and the maps that have been shown definitely go beyond what you would need for a Mordhiem V2.0 ) 🙁


    Cult of Games Member

    I’m not sure how they will do it but I’m pretty sure G’Wullu will find a way to ride the nostalgia hype train hard, make the fan boys come, sell a butt-load of stuff and at the same time run out of stock within 48 hours and piss off all fans of Old Warhammer.

    All that and more and earn bazillions of GBP.

    Popcorn anybody? 😉



    Not sure we will see it this year mainly because we have not had much news about it. They like to tease these events a bit before the release. It is still possible we might get somethign towards the end of the year but the big rumours are 40K 10th edition in the Summer.

    I do believe the game will return to the mass battle system what we have seen from the map and details so far does suggest that. To bring just the game from Fantasy days back as it was will not happen it died off for a reason so I expect a streamline version more akin to the AOS rules today.

    I want to say we may see smaller armies but in truth back in the 80’s / 90’s most of us did not have massive armies anyway so I expect the size to be roughtly the same number in scale.

    What they have showed us so far is the new designs for Cathay and Kislev so I expect them to be the poster boys for the launch the starter set will include at least one of them.

    In terms of the fluff does it need to make sense ? It is a land of magic and choas when did we start enforcing logic into fantasy games above allowing the “what if” to take place. Why would the Empire not fight Cathay ? Alexander the Great end up fighting in India, the portugese and spainish had wars in South America. Why would it be so odd for the Empire or Cathay not to end up in some war ?

    Personally I am quite excited by the Old World because it is going to be different. For example it is not Empire as such but they will be seperate city states and they will be fighting each other. Who knows what the Elf or Dwarfs factions will be aligned to at this point. The old history, political make up of the world is not set by what we had in the fantasy world.

    I do hope people are going to be open minded to this new game because it is not just going to be a re-creation of the Fantasy Battle system.


    • This reply was modified 1 month, 3 weeks ago by  redscope.


    Nomad Investments – the major shareholder – really have done a job on what used to be GW, haven’t they ?

    As for ‘mass battle’, that’s always been kind of a sticking point. It’s pretty much impossible to produce a true mass battle look with miniatures bigger than maybe 20 mm (such as Airfix plastics) on a tabletop, unless you’re playing at a convention and have 2 or more tables pushed together to form 1 huge surface.

    A guy I used to play with – who was unbelievably good at Wood Elves and had an uncannily lucky set of caramel colored dice – said the way he got around it was to imagine his army as the personal retinue of some local lord, while most of the rest of the battle happens all around what we’re doing on our 6×4 table at the local game store.

    I get around it by multiplying the guys in my head. That’s not 20 spearmen but 200 – or even 2000 – that’s not 1 treeman but The Last March of the Ents, that’s not 1 Hero on a Griffon but the Hero, Griffon and the hero’s personal body guard regiment.

    There’s a limit to how many miniatures in scales above 20 mm you can reasonably put on your average gaming table and still have some room to maneuver, in the case of 28-32-something minis on a 6×4, I’d say the maximum number is around 100-15o per side, beyond which things get VERY crowded.

    There’s also a limit to how many figures of any particular type your average wargamer is willing – or able – to buy and paint. How many Uruk-Hai were at Helm’s Deep ? 10,000 ? Scaled down my way, the Orc player would have to buy and paint a MINIMUM of 100 basic Orcs and even that would look a little sparse on a 6×4 table – see above. It wouldn’t look like the movie.

    Cost will, of course be an issue, I STILL don’t understand why plastic minis cost more than maybe US$ 1 per infantry guy, maybe $ 2-3 cav. If the basic box set ends up costing $ 300+ like Horus Heresy – which I would have bought for $ 100 – and the rulebook $ 85 by its’ lonesome, I’m going to say screw that and just continue my fruit- and pointless attempts to get people interested in other game systems.

    Alexander fought in India because he had, by that time, expanded the Greek empire that far. If the Empire could do that, why would they have to be afraid of Chaos….?

    The battles the Spanish and Portuguese fought in South America were mostly a few dozen guys with horses and muskets vs. thousands of natives with rocks and sticks who were afraid of the mail-clad foreigners and thought of them as Gods…..


    Cult of Games Member

    I don’t know how long anyone else here has been playing, but I suspect many of you have been playing as long if not longer than I. Cathay was always a part of the Old World lore, as were Araby and Nippon. However they went largely ignored for the most part as the game focused primarily on The Old World – which is a very specific region of the Warhammer World which maps loosely to what we also refer to as the Old World in real life i.e. Central and Western Europe (the “New World” being the lands discovered by exploreres during the rennaisance era). I think it’s interesting that they’re bring Cathay to the table, although I likely won’t play WHtOW I am actually excited to see how they are implemented. In terms of how/why they would be in the game and potentially encountering denizens of the Old World, I don’t think you need to stick to our history. If the Empire can build ocean going vessels capable of crossing vast distances, there’s no reason why you can’t just give Cathay the same ability. Even Bretonnia had such ships, back in the day (in fact if anyone remembers Man O Way, Bretonnian Ships looked much more advanced than their Empire counterparts).

    Also, I actually like the Ogre Kingdoms, I think they were one of the better designed warhammer armies.



    From what I recall of WHFB 2nd edition and Ravening Hordes…

    There was a lot of Animosity between goblins and orcs that could result in them fighting each other.

    Got the feeling Elves and Dwarves didn’t get on…

    Hatred of a specific race seems familiar…

    And Dark Elves were violent psychopaths… much like the Daughters of Khaine.

    I don’t need another wargame, but if the right starter comes along I might indulge… failing that I might buy some Dark Elves for the hell of it.



    The hugely overwhelming majority of fantasy world backgrounds are more or less based on western and northern Europe.

    The equally hugely overwhelming majority of customers for related games, novels etc. are also western or northern European or their overseas descendants.

    Which makes me suspect that Cathay, Ind, Nippon etc. would be very, shall we say, niche. Small customer base and not likely to expand significantly.

    Kind of like when Nerf made their ‘Rebelle’ line of dart blasters – designed for girly girls who play with dart blasters.

    Have you ever seen a girly girl play with a dart blaster ?



    Actually as a 34 year old European descended white male living in the USA, I can say with the same certainty given to gravity working that Asian themed fantasy subjects for table top gaming is not really that “niche” of an idea like it might have been back in the olden days of the 1970’s  (ever heard of Legend of the Five Rings? How about Kensei? Bushido? all that is Asian Themed Fantasy). Whats more there are tons of white European descended  people interested in Asian fantasy thanks to manga, anime, light novels, webtoon, Chinese fantasy films, etc. (a great deal of which at least outsells if not outpaces the native entertainment media industry of those fields in the US currently at least).

    Likewise miniature wargaming isn’t just a hobby of the English speaking white populous anymore, and this is even more true of table top gaming in general. TTRPG’s  have a pretty good sized following in Asia, particularly Japan which has had several popular D&Dish games of its own for decades now (like “this was kinda of old news back in the late 1990’s” decades). Also in case you have not noticed for some reason known only to you, Japanese is one of the “on the box” languages GW puts on those over priced plastic sets they have been putting out since at the late 90’s at least.

    Plus, Asian fantasy  literature (particularly Chinese Fantasy) has its own parallel to European fantasy literature  complete with sub-genres that actually predates Western fantasy literature by centuries, (so yeah its not really a “small little niche” thing so much as an not fully translated into English subset of international classical fantasy).

    In short the ethnically European crowd interested in Asian fantasy specifically  is growing all the time while the number of people interested  in general fantasy is becoming a heck of a lot less white and so to are the “generic” settings.  I say this as someone who goes to SciFi and Anime cons and has listened to people complain about how there was no Cathay Army option (yes I have heard multiple complaints about that over the years, and when Cathay was announced I heard a lot of “about time!” like comments). Frankly speaking GW is late to the party, particularly when you consider all the  Asian Fantasy themed table top game KS projects we have seen get funded over the last decade.

    So I think your arguments are more fantasy then the actual armies we are talking about at this point and it might be better redefine what you know as General/classic Fantasy cause that is already starting to change to include things like the martial artist monk temples or the Samurai style country with Fox changelings and oni just in normal western fantasy media. And let be real the argument “its niche so it not going to have a good following for wargaming.” was made about steampunk gaming but  Steampunk as heck Warmachine Hoards outdid WH40k for awhile there in sales.

    By the way, yes I have seen girly girls with nerf dart blasters as well as tomboys who like the color pink (in the US we even have real guns that are sold pre-painted pink and I have seen photos of girls using them at firing ranges so not real argument).

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 3 weeks ago by  bvandewalker.

    Cult of Games Member

    I am fairly sure that introducing Cathay into Warhammer on tabletop will sell like hot cakes.  When they were announced for total war it caused quite a stir so I reckon people will absolutely be down for it.

    As much as I absolutely love medieval Europe based fantasy like Lord of the Rings, that’s not all fantasy is nor is it all fantasy ever was.  Long before LotR Robert E Howard was publishing Conan which explores psuedo historical versions of pretty much all medieval cultures.  Back in the ’90s, the Forgotten Realms setting for D&D had Kara Tur, an Asian themed setting in the East and it had Zakhara, an Arabian themed world to the south.

    So fantasy as a genre has always been more than just European in heritage to me at least.  Bringing in Cathay (and who knows, perhaps even Araby later) doesn’t really seem that strange a move, neither in the context of Warhammer specifically or fantasy in general




    Why go so far afield when the Old World isn’t even completely fleshed out (anymore) ?

    There used to be a Norse army – that wasn’t Chaos and even included Dwarfs, – which makes a great deal of sense because most of our  (OUR) image of Dwarves comes from Nordic mythology, where they are representative of the baser nature, and, to a lesser degree, from Celtic mythology, where they are representative of a prior population, displaced by the Tuatha De Dannan.

    Until 5th edition, Imperial armies also had Dwarfs – mine still does – and also Halflings and Ogres, which also makes perfect sense fluff-wise, at least in armies representing the eastern provinces. How about this: Handgunners can fire in 2 ranks if the front rank are Dwarfs. That would be an excellent way to sell some Dwarf models in late medieval/Renaissance clothes, which not only GW but also a bunch of other companies used to make. I think there’s a German outfit that still does.

    The only figures I remember representing Albion were a Druid and a pair of Giants – sculpted by the Perry brothers to look like themselves, as I recall – and Albion lies only a tad bit off the coast of Bretonnia and right in the path of Elven trading vessels headed to or from The Old World, so how come they’re completely left out of all this ?

    Much the same could be said for Estalia, in fact, I don’t remember any specifically Estalian models, ever. Sure, you could use Empire and Bretonnian figures and rules and just declare them to be Estalians, and that would be ok, but not the same as making them an army in their own right.

    In 5th edition, we got some Tileans as Dogs of War, which does make sense, since Italy in the Middle Ages and Renaissance was a motley patchwork of states often at war with one another and full of mercenaries – even from other lands – who would fight for whoever paid and fed them the most.

    Then, there are the Border Princes…..

    Asian influences began with martial arts flicks in muh1960s/70s – that’s why Peter Jackson’s Elves have a somewhat ‘Asian’ feel to them (he also made Dwarves ‘Scottish’….), which I’m sure was NOT wat professor Tolkien had in mind. His sketches look more like a combination of Celtic and Scandinavian – the word ‘Elf’ (Elb’, ‘Alb’) comes from proto-Norse and means ‘white’ – and the 2 Elven languages he invented were inspired by Welsh and Finnish, respectively. Yes, I know, Finnish is technically an Asian language…

    Not sure what the point of having a pink gun would be – other than giving the enemy a nice bright target to aim for – but yeah, I’ve seen girls ride skateboards. Maybe 1 in 1000 and perhaps 1/3 of those were what I would call ‘girly’. Not exactly a large market.


    Cult of Games Member

    Why NOT go to Cathay?  Sure they could do Tilea or Estalia but are they really so different to the Empire?  Not if the Tilean Crossbowmen are anything to go by.  They could do Norsca sure but with the amount of Viking fan wankery out there, that would be quite boring really.  So they’re doing Kislev and Cathay, because they’re less often seen depicted in Fantasy games.  And when it arrives, the Old World will be as fleshed out as it needs to be for the game, because if there’s one thing GW can do right (and let’s face it, it’s not rules), it’s come up with a narrative setting.

    I’m not really sure what your point is anymore.  The original question was does the new Warhammer the Old World lore make sense and the answer really is, yes it does.  What we seem to be discussing is why you specifically don’t like a specific design decision to potentially include Cathay as a playable faction, which is not really something I can have an objective opinion on – you don’t like it and there’s nothing much anyone can say about that.  But is it even confirmed that Cathay are even coming to the tabletop at launch?  They have been announced as part of Warhammer Total War 3, but I don’t think that’s any guarantee they’re coming to the tabletop as miniatures any time soon.  Most of the artwork they have teased so far, with the exception of Kislev, suggests to me that they’re repackaging old Fantasy Battle miniatures.  The Bretonnian Knights and archers look exactly like the last iteration of plastic kits.  The undead chariot looks exactly like the tomb kings chariot and so on.  So if they are reusing old kits to support this (which really would make sense as there’s very little wrong with those kits), well there are no kits for Cathay and looks as though they’re already bringing one new faction to the game with Kislev.  Maybe they’re planning Cathay but I suspect it will be at a later date, some time after the release.



    ‘Viking fan wankery’ ?

    You’re going to have to explain that one.

    We are still discussing whether or not it makes sense, and going to Cathay – or ‘Nippon’, Araby, etc. – doesn’t. Not when the Empire is embroiled in internal strife – which, in this edition, it apparently is supposed to be, you’ve got Chaos cultists in your cities, Beastmen in your woods, Orcs at the gates, etc.

    Why would Wood Elves or Bretonnians care – or even know about – Cathay ? Why and where would they meet them in battle ?

    If they’re so good at narrative – they used to be , but have descended into cookie-cutter blah since about 2000 – then why have we never had an Albion army ? Now THAT would, indeed sell like hot cakes ! Far more so than Cathay, Nippon, Araby, Ind – or Wakanda – put together.


    Cult of Games Member

    Have a look out in the big wide world at the number of people who literally cream their pants at the mere hint of anything Viking.  Then you will understand what Viking Fan Wankery is.  It’s the Hordes of people who think vikings were the greatest thing evar or the seemingly endless stream of TV shows and videogames telling stories about vikings.  We don’t need any more Viking themed fiction for a while, thank you very much, it’s just dull.  An army bases on Medieval China though?  Now that’s something that we very rarely get to see and something that will probably help Warhammer stand out among its peers


    Cult of Games Member

    It’s a fantasy world, Cathay exists in it and therefore it makes sense. You are reading way too much into it.

    The Empire being beset by internal strife isn’t a reason for Games Workshop not to introduce Cathay as a playable faction. It’s not like the rest of the world fades in and out of existence based on how busy the Empire is. From the Empire’s point of view it might, but from the owners of the intellectual property’s perspective it doesn’t. That’s a bit like saying Ghengis Khan shouldn’t have showed up in Europe when he did because the Muslims and the Christians were already fighting each other. If you are looking for something that doesn’t make sense, that as an explanation for not going to Cathay would be it.

    Why would the Wood Elves know or care about Cathay. Because they’re Elves? The Elves are the most travelled species in the world and the Wood Elves are still part of that. They wood know about Cathay by virtue of the rest of the Elves knowing about Cathay. And Bretonnia? Well, despite the fact that they’re depicted as being about 200 years behind the Empire in terms of technology (which makes them as a faction completely anachronistic), you have to assume that for the most part what the Empire knows, Bretonnia knows. Why would they care? Same reason anyone else would; if you want to match it to something in the real world, the best reasons would either be for trade purposes (i.e. the Silk Road) or because they’re seen as a threat (i.e. the Mongols). Obviously for some of these factions to meet in battle, someone would have to travel but why is that such an issue to you?

    Games Workshop, whether you like the lore or not (and I am personally not a fan of the current 40k lore and I don’t follow Age of Sigmar) have a long history of maintaining multiple narrative settings. I don’t really see any reason why they wouldn’t put the same level of effort and detail into the Old World and in particular Cathay. You may not like it, that’s largely subjective, but it WILL be fleshed out when it arrives.

    Finally, the lore for Albion was utter rubbish and I am fairly sure it was written that way deliberately so that they could pretty much just forget about it. Forget asking why Bretonnia would care about Cathay, based on existing lore why would anyone give a toss about Albion? In a world that has mostly advanced to 16th century sociopolitical and technological levels, Albion would be even more of an anachronism than Bretonnia. The problem with Albion (much like Tilea and Estalia) is how do you make them unique and interesting without making them either totally bonkers or totally anachronistic. They are always going to end up looking like Bretonnia or Empire or they’re going to end up looking weird and out of place. The Old World doesn’t really need Albion and I doubt very much it would sell even a fraction as well as you think it would. Cathay or Araby would make much more interesting additions to the game than any of the other missing old world kingdoms could. If I was GW, I would have just made Albion an extension of Bretonnia, subsume Norsca into the Chaos Marauders and just have done with it. Stops people asking pointless questions, let’s people play armies from those places and allows GW to focus on other, more interesting factions.

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