Aren't Toy Soldiers for Nerds?
WARHAMMER: THE GAME OF FANTASY BATTLES
Yeah, but nerds have money and toy soldiers are more awesome than most other things you can waste your money on. Warhammer refers to a fantasy setting and a number of distinct tabletop and computer games. This thread is concerned with the original, a tabletop miniatures wargame.
Warhammer: The Game of Fantasy Battles, formerly Warhammer Fantasy Battle and often abbreviated to Warhammer, is a tabletop wargame created by Games Workshop and the origin of the Warhammer Fantasy setting.
The game is played with 'regiments' of fantasy miniatures. It uses stock fantasy races such as humans, elves, dwarfs, undead, orcs, goblins, vampires, as well as some more unusual types such as lizardmen, skaven, etc. Each race has its own unique strengths and flaws; Wood Elves, for example, have some of the most powerful archers in the game but have poor overall defense.
Since first appearing in 1983, Warhammer has been periodically updated and re-released with changes to the gaming system and army lists. The current official version is the seventh edition, released on 9 September 2006.
Games Workshop wrote:
In a nutshell, each player collects an army of Citadel miniatures. Then, using the Warhammer rulebook as a guideline, they fight epic battles against their fellow generals. Dice (like you'd find in almost any board game) are used to determine success and failure: to decide whether an arrow hits its target, or whether a magical power works, for example. Each game is played, not on a regular 'board' but in a special gaming area where models are not confined to 'squares' but are free to move as their controller wishes. Because Warhammer is not played on a set game board, tape measures or rulers are used to see how far a miniature can move - a horse can run faster than a stumpy-legged Dwarf, after all.
The Warhammer story, or background, is vast. It begins tens of thousands of years before the current day with the Old Ones: beings of vast power that sailed between worlds on a sea of infinite potential (known as the Warp, Aethyr, or Realm of Chaos). Armed with incomprehensible techno-magicks and knowledge, the Old Ones raised the races of the Warhammer World from barbarism, teaching elf and dwarf how to draw upon the Realm of Chaos to shape extra-dimensional potential into physical formsâ€¦ or magic, and bestowing upon them the joys of enlightened civilization. This golden age ended too soon, however, as the Old Ones were exterminated or driven away by things from the Aethyr: the daemons of Chaos and Ruinous Powers native to that Realm. Given form and purpose by the Warp-reflected flaws of mortals, these daemons invaded the Warhammer World, ending the age of Law and advancement brought about by the Old Ones. Many millennia later, the children of the Old Ones continue the battle against Chaos.
It is important to note that there are many, varied, implementations of Warhammer lore; none are more "right" or "official" than others. To put it quite simply, according to GW: THERE IS NO WARHAMMER CANON. Players are free to pick, choose, and research the bits they like.
White Dwarf bit on "canon":
"The Background exists as a context for the games that people play. Despite the occasional event, the background was never intended as an ongoing narrative that would be constantly updated. The back story presents questions, enigmas, problems, and conflicts. Gamers explore and solve these issues by playing games and developing armies. In short, the background provides the beginning, but the players provide the end.
WHERE DID GAMES WORKSHOP COME UP WITH THIS STUFF?
What is Cypher up to? Well, he's up to whatever you need him to be up to for your games and campaigns. What does the cult mechanicus have to do with the dragon? Whatever you want that relationship to be.
The background should be like Schrödinger's Cat - Nothing is defined until the players look into the box by playing games and determining the outcome for themselves. Backgrounds should be full of possibilities to be exploited and expanded by players, not answers that limit the potential of the game and its setting."
Warhammer's imagery and style are influenced heavily by gritty, classic fantasy authors, such as Michael Moorcock, Robert E. Howard, and H.P. Lovecraft, as well as real-world history and a bit of Tolkien. Designers also list influences such as Terry Gilliam, Black Adder, and Monty Python. The Warhammer world is a playground-like amalgam of everything from Napoleonic gun lines, to sanity-blasting tentacled horrors, to halfings and their giant cocks (depictions of a large rooster that serves as a provincial symbol for the little folk). Those interested in learning more might be urged to pick up some of these older books; Warhammer's roots are clearly evident in Conan, Elric, and Martin Luther.
THE WARHAMMER WORLD
The unnamed (to its inhabitants) Warhammer world roughly resembles our own. Maps can be found here. At the "heart" of the known setting is the Old World, analogous to Earth's Europe. Here one finds the human nations of the Empire, Bretonnia, Kislev, brutal Nosrca, Tilea, and Estalia as well as the remnants of the Dwarfs' ancient empire beneath the mountains. Scattered pockets of wood elves (both civilized and less soâ€¦) share lands with the Empire and Bretonnia. To the south, past the rogue settlements of the Border Princes and orc-infested Badlands, lie trackless deserts. Cut through by the great River Mortis, the ancient, dusty realm of Nehekkarha lies not-as-silent as it should be, duly earning its title as the Land of the Dead. Past here, one finds the mysterious human nation of Araby, rife with proscribed cults and unknown magic, with the dark jungles of the Southlands engulfing the rest of the southern continent. Nothing but sun-mad orcs and the remains of the Old Ones' world live here.
Armies: Who's killin' who Information Stolen From GW’s Site.
To the east lie the dead plains of the Dark Lands, choked with the fumes of Chaos Dwarf industry. Yet further east, in the Mountains of Mourn, are the Ogre Kingdoms. These inhospitable vaults are dotted with the scattered ruins of forgotten civilizations and shaggy prehistoric beasts, pierced in the south by the Silver Road, the sole not-so-safe route between the lands of the Old World and mysterious Far East. Of the kingdoms of Ind, Cathay, and Nippon little is known; other than that the presence of Chaos.
In the middle of the Great Ocean hides Ulthuan, the last great holding of the Asur, first and favorite children of the Old Ones. This magic and mist enshrouded isle contains the kingdoms of the High Elves, including mystical Avelorn and stately Eataine; recently opened to outsiders by the Phoenix King Finubar. Unknown to most of the Warhammer world, Ulthuan is of critical importance. In ancient times, the elves created a vortex of Chaos energy, woven of the structure of the island itself. This vortex drained the Chaos-stuff feeding daemonic legions after the fall of the Old Ones, allowing the elves to fight back and forestall the end of the world. Were this vortex to ever fail, Ulthuan would sink beneath the waves, heralding the final invasion of Chaos.
West of Ulthuan one finds the brooding forests and icy mountains of Naggaroth, the Land of Chill. Now refuge of the Druchii, exiled for millennia from Ulthuan, this is a land as cruel as its inhabitants. To the south is fabled Lustria, where the seat of the Old Ones lies rotting in the jungles. Overseen by things blindly following the edicts of the lost Old Ones, many attempt to enter these jungles to secure the gold and riches within. A few even make it back.
Finally, at the very ends of the Warhammer world lie madness and infinity. The collapsed interdimensional gates of the Old Ones spill Aethyr into the material, and thoughts of mortals into the Realm of Chaos. Surrounding the northern pole gate are the Chaos Wastes, lands of blended Warp and Material, realms of madness, eternal war, and the whims of the Chaos Gods. No one can leave this place entirely untouched by Chaos.
Beastmen: Within the dark heart of the twisted and dangerous forests of the Old World dwell hordes of Beastmen, true children of Chaos. Preying on the weak and striking without warning, the Beastmen are a plague on the civilised world, murdering and slaughtering with abandon.
Where Can I buy these plastic men?
Brettonia: The Knights of Bretonnia are renowned for their skill at arms, their bravery and chivalry. A Bretonnian army is an impressive sight; ranks of knights with fluttering pennants adorned with personal heraldry, backed up with scores of filthy, low born peasants.
Daemons of Chaos: The Daemons of Chaos are warlike fragments of divine will loosed upon the world. Blasphemous abominations drawing raw power from the Chaos Gods themselves, they are the ruination of civilisation.
Dark Elves: Cold and heartless, the Dark Elves launch terrible raids on the lands of the Warhammer world, enslaving thousands and burning civilizations to the ground. Every day the Dark Hosts of Naggaroth sacrifice hundreds of souls on the altars of the Lord of Murder.
Dwarfs: The Dwarfs are tenacious and determined warriors with unparalleled weapons, created by their Runesmiths, they defend their holds from Orcs and Skaven. Remembering every affront, Dwarfs miss no opportunity to settle grudges with the edge of an axe
The Empire: Since its founding the Empire has endured terrible invasions. Through years of bloodshed, this land of Men has stood fast through faith and steel, its tireless citizen soldiers and valiant heroes, surviving against the innumerable foes that assail it from all sides.
High Elves: The armies of the High Elves are glittering hosts of steadfast spearmen, deadly archers and proud cavalry. Exceptionally skilled warriors, the Elves are led by mages who are masters of magic and heroes who command mighty Dragons of days past.
Lizardmen: Long before the rise of Elves, Dwarfs or Men, the Lizardmen existed deep in the jungles of Lustria. A dangerous civilization of hulking reptilian warriors and gargantuan monsters, led by the bloated Slann, they seek to restore order to the world and will mercilessly punish any who stand in their way.
Ogre Kingdoms: Far to the east of the Old World lie the savage Ogre Kingdoms, a land of eating and fighting. A single Ogre, with his massive frame and boulder-like gut, has enough brute strength to sack a village and an army of such monstrous warriors, the power to destroy empires.
Orcs & Goblins: Orcs and Goblins are the scourge of the Warhammer world, an unending tide of ferocious raiders trampling a swathe of destruction across the land. Orcs and Goblins are angry creatures that live to fight, their only goal is to rampage and slaughter.
Skaven: The Skaven are a race of evil rat-men that fester in the dark places of the world. Eternally scheming and plotting their races ascendancy. Skaven March to battle in great hordes, swarming towards the foe in a mass of frenzied fur and black-clad assassins.
Tomb Kings: The ancient Kings of Nehekhara march forth from their tombs to seek vengeance on the world. Loyal even in death, the armies of the Tomb Kings march with them, ensuring ranks of gleaming bone, with bronze and gold, will be the last sight of many a foe.
Vampire Counts: The Vampire Counts are a perilous threat to the Old World. Stronger, tougher and faster than any mortal, Vampires are deadly foes that summon Undead hordes to wage war upon the living
Warriors of Chaos: From the far north come the legions of Chaos, led by mighty champions of the Dark Gods. Raised in battle, these great warriors fight for glory and the favour of their gods, seeking immortality and everlasting power.
Wood Elves: The Wood Elves of Athel Loren are mysterious, secretive beings. Merciless with those who enter their realm, they are masters of ambush and the greatest archers in the world. In war they unleash the full fury of the forest, as Elves fight alongside Forest Spirits
Army books with the most recent release is their 6th ed edition:
Bretonnia (Feb 2004)
Wood Elves (Aug 2005)
Dwarfs (Mar 2006)
Books who's most recent release is their 7th ed edition:
High Elves (Nov 2007)
Daemons of Chaos (May 2008)
Dark Elves (Aug 2008)
Warriors of Chaos (Nov 2008)
Lizardmen (Feb 2009)
Beasts of Chaos (2010)
8th Edition Books
Orcs and Goblins
Books likely to be released next:
Warriors of Chaos or Dwarfs, according to recent rumors.
Thanks to many prior community members for providing the content of this post.