Retro Recall: Warhammer Fantasy Battles

January 8, 2019 by dracs

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As we have observed many times in the past, we live in a golden age for the tabletop hobby. So many great new games are coming out every year that our entertainment-starved minds are hard-pressed to keep up! (won’t stop us trying, mind you).


Having said that, it is still nice to take some time to return to old favourites and look back at where the hobby has come from. So welcome to Retro Recall, our new series of articles where we delve into gaming’s long and varied history in search of some nostalgic classics.

In The Beginning

Looking back through my own gaming history, there are many options to choose from. However, one game stands head and shoulders above the others, dominating the landscape of my recollections like a mighty colossus painted in Citadel Burning Gold. It can be none other than Warhammer Fantasy Battles by Games Workshop.

Warhammer Rulebook

Many of you will have heard me rant on about this game in the past. And I don’t intend on stopping now. This game blew my tiny single-digit-aged mind! It all started when a friend of the family lent me the rulebook for the game's fifth edition. I poured over this book long into the night, reading all about this world and its people.

Warhammer Fantasy Slaan

I had, by this point, become well acquainted with classic fantasy works such as The Hobbit, Redwall, and the infallibility of adults. But here was a world full of even more colourful figures! There were noble elves, stoic dwarfs, loathsome Skaven, and terrifying undead (I kept their pages closed with paper clips). And with each new bit of lore, each new miniature revealed, I gradually realised that here was a world I could participate in. Here was one I could shape myself!

Lizardmen #1 Warhammer Fantasy

Then I turned that fateful page and it was love at first sight.

Frogs had long been my favourite animal as a kid. And here was one not only being treated as a great king but according to the book, was an even more powerful wizard than the elves!

The next day, I took the book back to our family friend, bubbling with questions about these Lizardmen I was to become so enamoured with. He invited me along to the local gaming club he ran and even went so far as to give me his old Lizardmen army that he no longer used.

Lizardmen #2 Warhammer Fantasy

From there, the obsession only grew. I read everything I could about it, introduced my friends to it, and began to write stories to go along with our games. It encouraged me to be creative in ways a dozen frustrated school teachers had never managed.

Warhammer Fantasy Books

Even now, years after the game has faded from ascendance, I love to see the tactics and style of massed ranked games. Its replacement, Age of Sigmar, has done a lot to make the game accessible again, and opened the world up to a far more creative direction, breaking away from the Tolkien influences of its predecessor. However, I still miss the grim, down-in-the-dirt feel of Warhammer Fantasy Battles, often with the sly bit of humour to remind you not to take it all too seriously.

And a word to the wise; don’t mess with a Skink...

"...there were noble elves, stoic dwarfs, loathsome Skaven, and terrifying undead (I kept their pages closed with paper clips)"

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"I still miss the grim, down-in-the-dirt feel of Warhammer Fantasy Battles..."

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