Warhammer: The Old World – What We Know So Far

July 29, 2023 by brennon

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Warhammer fans worldwide are eagerly anticipating the revival of the beloved game, Warhammer Fantasy Battles, now reincarnated as Warhammer: The Old World. But, what do we really know about the upcoming changes and developments? Let's take a detailed look at what's been revealed thus far by Games Workshop.

Warhammer The Old World Logo

As a fan of Warhammer Fantasy, especially as it was my introduction to the worlds of Warhammer, it has been interesting following the updates from Games Workshop. Whilst some of their information has been revealing, some of it has been painfully vague and a lot of what we know feels like we’re reading between the lines. Still, this should be a good breakdown of all the information we have at the moment.

A Nostalgic Return To Square Bases & Tactical Movement

First on the list of major updates is the return to square bases signalling a clear shift back to the traditional rank-and-file game of Warhammer Fantasy Battles. By bringing back the formation of regiments in ranked-up units, the developers are reestablishing the importance of strategic positioning in gameplay.

high elves - the old world

These square bases enable a far more tactical approach to the game, including manoeuvring for optimal positioning, launching critical charges, and preparing to receive enemy assaults. This transformation harks back to the classic era of Warhammer, where every move was a strategic calculation that often ended up with you getting stuck in some terrible trap which had been laid by a cunning general.

One of the most recent articles on The Old World talked a little bit more about how this rank and flank style of gameplay is going to be iterated on for the new game. It seems like rather than simply being a case of breaking an enemy entirely and running them down, combat will now be much more of a push and pull.

dwarves vs high elves the old world

As mentioned in the article, units will now give ground (reluctantly) allowing you to push units around the battlefield. This means that there might be even more nuance to the way you manoeuvre and position troops to make good use of an enemy that has been forced back in the face of a harrowing attack. This is quite interesting indeed and means that combat doesn’t become a stagnant affair. It feels more like the rules we’ve seen in games like Oathmark which give you options to play around with movement and positioning in a more dynamic way.

Maintaining Consistency With A Traditional Scale

The commitment to keeping the traditional scale consistent is another notable update. It appears that the new game will not stray from the established Warhammer Fantasy Battles scale, a move that offers fans a degree of familiarity and continuity. Players can look forward to fielding their existing armies alongside new units or perhaps starting entirely new armies altogether.

high elf mage the old world

This decision respects the deep-rooted investment and attachment many players have with their old armies, while also encouraging an influx of new miniatures, thereby creating a balanced environment for both veteran and newer players.

Whilst some of us (me included) would have loved to have seen Warhammer: The Old World come back as a smaller scale game (maybe 6mm?) it makes sense that The Old World returns in 28mm. It means that all of those armies gathering dust (at least the ones that weren’t burned) will see some use again, especially since the aesthetic doesn’t appear to be massively changing either.

...But Bigger Bases

One of the big differences is the way in which basing now works. All figures that were originally on 20mm bases have now been replaced with 25mm bases. Most, but not all of the 25mm and 25x50mm bases have also been updated with a new base size as well. So, whilst you’re going to be able to play with your old miniatures, you might have to do some rebasing.

new base sizes

This isn’t all bad news though. Whilst I can see why they have changed the basing to allow for better-looking units on the tabletop, it all really comes down to your regiment trays. If you just make your regiment trays the right size to suit the unit's updated footprint then you don’t have to do anything really!

Additionally, if you’re just planning to play casual games with your friends then it won’t massively matter if your miniatures are still on the older bases. It’s only if you want to play in a more competitive setting that this is really going to be an issue.

A Melting Pot Of The Best Rules + New Mechanics

The game rules form the backbone of any tabletop game, and Warhammer: The Old World promises an exciting fusion of past and present in this area. The developers have expressed an intention to amalgamate the best elements from each edition of the game, from the 3rd right through to the 8th editions of Warhammer Fantasy Battles.

boar boyz - the old world

This nostalgic blend will be further enriched by the addition of new gameplay elements to provide a fresh yet familiar gaming experience. Such an innovative approach bodes well for both the old guard returning to the game and the newcomers experiencing Warhammer for the first time.

Very much like when D&D 5th Edition was in its infancy, it makes sense that Games Workshop has gone back to find out what worked from each edition in order to craft The Old World. It should mean that we get a game which features the best of the best but the proof will obviously be in the pudding.

This doesn’t mean that all of the rules are going to be dredged from the past. There appear to be some new rules and mechanics coming into play as well. One of these was mentioned above but we’re also seeing a reworking of magic in The Old World. No longer is magic restricted to one phase and instead now finds itself spread out throughout the game turn. A carryover from the new design decisions being taken with Warhammer 40,000 10th Edition perhaps?

Setting The Stage For A Grand Tale

One of the key factors contributing to the growing anticipation around Warhammer: The Old World is the revealed timeframe for the game setting. The new narrative is set several centuries before the cataclysmic End Times, an era rich with untold stories and unexplored histories.


The chosen timeframe positions the game just before a massive Chaos invasion, an event that, despite its central significance to the Empire's story and the Old World, has only been lightly touched upon in previous iterations. This positioning opens the door to a rich narrative experience that could redefine the way players perceive the world of Warhammer.

You’ll be exploring the Age Of The Three Emperors where infighting was as much of a problem as the attacks from other powers like Chaos, Beastmen, Orcs & Goblins and beyond. Hopefully, this means that we’ll follow the narrative right through this period and find ourselves meeting enigmatic characters like Magnus The Pious.

There is a lot of room for Games Workshop to expand the narrative during this particular period in the history of The Old World. I could very easily see this turning into something Horus Heresy-esque where a series of books could start to record the unfolding narrative, highlight specific battles and do the job of those massive black books that Forge World produced for the grimdark future.

Another element that can't be ignored is the artwork. It looks like Games Workshop have been working with their artists to create a range of art for The Old World that matches the aesthetic that we know and love. There is something distinctly Adrian Smith and Kopinski that we've seen from the art design so far!

Which Factions Are Returning?

Warhammer lore enthusiasts have long held an appreciation for the land of Kislev, with its unyielding human warriors and cunning elemental sorcerers. Kislev, in the forthcoming game, however, will be different from what it was. The expanded borders of Kislev now stretch through the Belyevobota Pass, the Great Skull Lands, the Mountains of Mourn, and out into the vast eastern steppes.

kislev the old world

This grand portrayal of Kislev hints at the region's more substantial role in the narrative, transforming it from a frontier land into an empire that sprawls across diverse and treacherous landscapes. With the potential existence of Hobgoblins, Centaurs, and more in its territories, Kislev's narrative promises to be a thrilling saga waiting to unfold.

We’ve not seen much for Kislev beyond what was teased early on in the development of The Old World and it feels like they might be going on the backburner, much like Grand Cathay, when The Old World lands. It seems odd for Games Workshop to have made a lot of them and then hidden them away in future updates, turning their focus towards more established factions in the lore.

grand cathay the old world

After seeing some of the more recent articles, it looks like Games Workshop are going to focus on telling Old World stories centred around The Empire. With that in mind, I can see why Cathay has been moved to the side but I would still love them to surprise us with Kislev early on in the process. The people of the North play a not-insubstantial role in the goings-on of The Old World and the unfolding narrative.

We do know that we’re going to be getting the Empire Of Man, Orc & Goblin Tribes, Dwarfen Mountain Holds, Warriors Of Chaos, Beastmen Brayheards, Wood Elf Realms and the High Elf Realms when the game lands. All of these factions will be getting new resin and plastic miniatures alongside relaunches alongside new Army Books.

Core Factions The Old World

Other factions like the Dark Elves, Skaven, Vampire Counts, Daemons Of Chaos, Ogre Kingdoms, Lizardmen and Chaos Dwarfs are going to be getting free PDFs and Legacy Army Lists. These factions won’t get miniature updates or new big books but they will be supported if you want to use them. It’s something of a shame for them to miss out the likes of the Skaven and Vampire Counts but I suppose they can only work on so many armies right out of the gate. I suppose that at least you’ll save some money if you’re a collector of one of these armies.

There are, however, two forgotten factions that are getting properly updated…

Bretonnia & Khemri - Iconic Forces Reimagined

Alongside the extensive lore updates, the return of iconic Citadel miniature ranges such as the chivalrous armies of the Kingdom of Bretonnia also holds significant excitement. The 'Eavy Metal and Army Painter teams have been hard at work on the army of Duke Gastille, the Red Hand of Brionne, presenting a reimagined and unified appearance for the Bretonnian armies on the tabletop.

bretonnian paladin the old world

The narrative hints that in the era of the Old World, it's common for knights to be part of a regional army, and their heraldry reflects the general's personal symbol. The creators have also expressed plans to introduce rules for Exile and Crusade armies, offering players the chance to focus on dishonoured Knights or the glorious crusades that form when Knights from all over Bretonnia answer the call to undertake a quest.

This means that you have a lot of freedom with these miniatures for Bretonnian and can work with more traditional set ups or do something a bit different with your army. The first teasers we’ve seen for The Old World are very nice indeed and it’s good to hear that we’re going to be getting new resin and plastic miniatures for factions like the Bretonnians going forward.

bretonnian standard bearer - the old world

Another of the armies that were crushed during the move to The Mortal Realm was that of the Tomb Kings Of Khemri. These legends of the past, mighty war leaders and mystics that dominated the deserts to the South of The Empire will be looking to reclaim their lost land. I’ve always liked the background of Khemri after reading the Time Of Legends series focusing on Nagash and his rise and so it’s good to see them getting the love they deserve.

tomb king the old world

They are also coming back with a vengeance and will feature heavily alongside the Bretonnians during the initial launch of The Old World. They are also getting some lovely new miniatures alongside returning plastic kits.

It very much feels like Games Workshop is trying to make up for past mistakes with this focus on Bretonnia and Khemri. They have already captured the hearts of a lot of folks already so perhaps their plans are working!

Patience Before The Battle: An Expected Release Date?

The release of Warhammer: The Old World is not imminent, and the developers have urged fans to exercise patience. This delay can be seen as a commitment to ensuring the game is the best possible version of the beloved franchise. Warhammer: The Horus Heresy - Legions Imperialis has taken up the slot towards the end of the Summer and there could be a new edition of Warhammer Age Of Sigmar in 2024. With that in mind, could we be seeing The Old World as a winter release from Games Workshop or is it still a long way off?

The developers at Games Workshop have pledged to provide further updates when the time is right. Until then, they urge Warhammer enthusiasts to channel the patience of Nagash and eagerly await their return to the Old World.

Although much about Warhammer: The Old World remains under wraps, the revealed information points towards a game that seeks to embrace the best of the past while forging a fresh, innovative path forward. The return of Warhammer: The Old World will not only take players on a nostalgia trip but also promises a thrilling adventure that blends familiar gameplay elements with a reinvented narrative. As the release date approaches, fans can only speculate and prepare for a thrilling return to the world of Warhammer Fantasy Battles.

Are you excited to dive back into classic Warhammer with The Old World? Are you over it and moving on to different games?

Drop your thoughts below…

"The chosen timeframe positions the game just before a massive Chaos invasion, an event that has only been lightly touched upon in previous iterations..."

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