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Warhammer Fantasy Battle

Warhammer: The Game of Fantasy Battles (formerly Warhammer Fantasy Battle and often abbreviated to Warhammer, WFB, WHFB, or simply Fantasy) is a tabletop wargame created by Games Workshop, and is the origin of the Warhammer Fantasy setting. The game is designed for regiments of miniatures of various fantasy races such as humans (The Empire, Bretonnia, Kislev), Elves (Dark Elves, High Elves, Wood Elves), Dwarfs, Undead, and Orcs and Goblins, as well as some more unusual types such as Lizardmen, Skaven and the daemonic forces of Chaos, with each race having its own unique strengths and weaknesses.

Warhammer has been periodically updated and re-released since first appearing in 1983, with changes to the gaming system and army lists. The eighth edition, released on 10 July 2010, was the final version. A series of releases during 2014 and 2015 focussed on the cataclysmic destruction of the game's fictitious world called the "End Times." The game was subsequently discontinued and replaced with Warhammer Age of Sigmar.

Warhammer 40,000, a futuristic counterpart to Warhammer Fantasy, was released in 1987.

Playing Warhammer

Warhammer is a tabletop wargame where two or more players compete against each other with "armies" of 25 mm - 250 mm tall heroic miniatures. The rules of the game have been published in a series of books which describe how to move miniatures around the game surface and simulate combat in a "balanced and fair" manner. Games may be played on any appropriate surface, although the standard is a 6 ft by 4 ft tabletop decorated with model scenery in scale with the miniatures. Any individual miniature or group of similar miniatures in the game is called a "unit."

The current core game rules are supplied in a single book, with supplemental Warhammer Armies texts giving guidelines and background for army-specific rules. Movement of units about the playing surface is generally measured in inches, and units' combat performance is dictated randomly by either the roll of a 6-sided die (a 'D6') or a 6-sided 'scatter' die. The latter is often used to generate direction, commonly alongside an 'artillery' die, for cannons, stone-throwers, and other artillery. Each unit and option within the game is assigned a point value for balancing purposes. An average game will have armies of 750 to 3,000 points, although smaller and larger values are possible.

The Warhammer world

Warhammer is set in a fictional universe notable for its "dark and gritty" background world, which features influences from Michael Moorcock's Elric stories, and also many historical influences.

The geography of the Warhammer world closely resembles that of Earth because of manipulation by an ancient spacefaring race known as the Old Ones. This mysterious and powerful race visited the Warhammer World in the distant past. Establishing an outpost, they set about manipulating the geography and biosphere of the planet. With the assistance of their Slann servants, they moved the planet's orbit closer to its sun, and arranged the continents to their liking.

To travel between worlds, the Old Ones used portals to another dimension ("warp gates"), which they built at the north and south poles of the Warhammer World. Eventually, however, these gates collapsed, allowing raw magical energy and the daemonic forces of Chaos to pour forth into the Warhammer world. At this point, the Old Ones disappeared. Before leaving however, they had established the Lizard men (ruled over by the Slann) as their servants. In addition they had created the races of Elves, Dwarfs, Humans, Ogres and Halflings. Orcs and Goblins were not created by the Old Ones, or part of their plan, and their origin is not made clear in the setting. Beastmen and Skaven were the result of mutation from raw magical energy at this time. Eventually the Chaos Daemons were driven back by Lizardmen and Elves, with the Elves performing a great ritual to drain out the raw magic that was flowing into the world and sustaining the Daemons. Some creatures, such as Dragons and Dragon-Ogres, are stated to have existed prior to the arrival of the Old Ones.

After this, Elves and Dwarfs flourished and created mighty empires, but eventually they were set into a slow decline. A series of civil wars amongst the Elves split them into two groups - the malicious Dark Elves and righteous High Elves. A petty war between the High Elves and Dwarfs served only to diminish both races and caused the High Elves to abandon their colonies. Some of the colonists refused to leave their homes in a magical sapient forest and over time developed into the enigmatic and isolationist Wood Elves. A period of seismic activity caused by the Slann decimated the underground holds of the Dwarfs while attacks by Skaven and Goblins, who breached the Dwarf strongholds from below, only made things more desperate.

The humans were the slowest to develop, but ultimately formed several strong nations able to defend themselves from aggressors. The Nehekharan Empire (based on Ancient Egypt) was the first great human empire, but due to a curse by Nagash (the first necromancer) they became an undead faction known as the "Tomb Kings" who now dwell in The Land of the Dead (former Nehekhara). Nagash, in his efforts to find eternal life, also created the first Vampires, an entirely separate undead faction.

In the present time (according to the setting's fictional timeline) there are two prominent human nations: The Empire which is based on a combination of aspects of the Holy Roman Empire and Renaissance Germany, and Bretonnia, which is based on Arthurian legends and medieval France. Sigmar, founder of The Empire, wielded a mighty Dwarf-made Warhammer from which the name of the "Warhammer Fantasy" setting is derived. There are also numerous other nations which are fleshed out in the background information but are not represented by playable factions in the tabletop game, some of which are loosely based on real-world nations from various historical periods; examples being Estalia and Tilea which reflect medieval Spain and Italy, or Cathay to the far East that is analogous to a fantastic version of Imperial China.

The forces of disorder are often depicted as not a localised threat, but a general menace consisting of disparate factions, many of which are typically also at odds with each other. The Skaven exist in an "Under Empire" (an extensive network of tunnels beneath the planet's surface), while the war-loving Orcs and Goblins are nomadic (although they are most common in the Badlands, Southlands and Dark Lands) and regularly amass large numbers and stage raids without warning. Similarly, Ogres are most common in the Ogre Kingdoms and in the eastern Mountains of Mourn, but are depicted as unscrupulous wandering warriors who are always hungry, who sometimes hire themselves out as mercenaries to both the forces of order and disorder.

In addition to the chaos-worshiping Warriors of Chaos who live in strange Chaos Wastes north of the other faction's lands, chaos cults often arise within human and elven nations. Beastmen are depicted as mutants dwelling deep in forests and impossible to fully eradicate. Vampires and necromancers raising armies of undead are also depicted often as an internal threat. Chaos Daemons are restricted to manifesting themselves where magical energy is strongest, but this could be almost anywhere.

The 8th Edition Empire Army Book describes the Warhammer World to currently be in the year 2522 (Empire calendar), whilst the current Lizardmen Army Book puts the collapse of the warpgates at -5700 on the same calendar, thus the fictional history spans at least 8200 years.


There are a number of playable armies for Warhammer, which are representative of one or other of the factions or races that are present in the Warhammer world setting. For the first few editions of the game armies were presented in collective books like Warhammer Armies. Starting in the 4th edition individual books were released for each army.

In the 8th edition of the game, the following armies have individual army books:

  •     Beastmen
  •     Bretonnia
  •     Daemons of Chaos
  •     Dark Elves
  •     Dwarfs
  •     The Empire
  •     High Elves
  •     Lizardmen
  •     Ogre Kingdoms
  •     Orcs and Goblins
  •     Skaven
  •     Tomb Kings
  •     Vampire Counts
  •     Warriors of Chaos
  •     Wood Elves

The following armies have had, during 6th edition, official rules available from the Games Workshop website. All of these armies have since had those rules taken down and are no longer considered official armies. While still usable during 6th and 7th edition, the release of 8th edition has rendered these armies unplayable without an update. Whether or not any of these armies may come back with official rules and/or new models has not been announced:

    Chaos Dwarfs: The White Dwarf Presents army book was released during 4th Edition as a collection of White Dwarf articles, but is still considered an official rule book. An official Chaos Dwarf army list was included in Ravening Hordes at the start of 6th edition. The army list was included in the reference section of 7th edition, but has been removed from the 8th edition rulebook. This model line was discontinued at the end of 5th edition and is no longer supported by the main rules. Forge World is releasing new Chaos Dwarf models under their new Warhammer Forge line. Rules for Chaos Dwarfs are expected in their first Warhammer supplement.
    Dogs of War: The official army book was released during 5th Edition; Regiments of Renown and Mercenary Army lists for 6th edition were released on the website. Some of this line remains available from direct order and is the only discontinued army for which models are still (As of 2013) available directly from Games Workshop.
    Kislev: The army book was given away free with White Dwarf magazine during 6th edition. This model line has since been discontinued and is no longer supported.

Armies that were left unsupported prior to 6th edition:

  •     Fimir
  •     Slann
  •     Zoat

Magical Lores in the Warhammer World

The eight main Lores of the warhammer world are used by multiple armies and races, and are the only Lores available to Empire and Bretonnian armies. Dwarves do not use magic at all.

  •     Lore of Light
  •     Lore of Metal
  •     Lore of Death
  •     Lore of Life
  •     Lore of Heaven
  •     Lore of Shadow
  •     Lore of Fire
  •     Lore of Beasts

While at least some of the eight main lores can be used by many armies of the Warhammer world many races have their own unique magical Lores.

  •     Lore of High Magic (High Elves, Wood Elves and Lizardmen)
  •     Lore of Dark Magic (Dark Elves and Wood Elves)
  •     Lore of the Little WAAAGH (Goblins)
  •     Lore of the Big WAAAGH (Orcs)
  •     Skaven Spells of Ruin (Skaven)
  •     Skaven Spells of Plague (Skaven)
  •     Lore of the Wild (Beastmen)
  •     Lore of Nurgle (Warriors of Chaos and Daemons of Chaos)
  •     Lore of Slaanesh (Warriors of Chaos and Daemons of Chaos)
  •     Lore of Tzeentch (Warriors of Chaos and Daemons of Chaos)
  •     The Lore of the Vampires (Vampire Counts)
  •     The Lore of Nehekhara (Tomb Kings)
  •     Lore of the Great Maw (Ogre Kingdoms)

Former Lores:

  •     Lore of Athel Loren (Wood Elves)
  •     Lore of Ice (Kislev)