Warhammer has been with us since the 1980's and is believed to have evolved from the classic game of Dungeons and Dragons. It is based in a fantasy world where armies battle each other and amazing layouts are created by model makers trying to re-create bizarre landscapes where the battles take place. It is produced by Games Workshop and sets include armies of miniature models plus various boxed sets can contain landscaping features as well.
There have been several updates since the game was launched, players are currently using the 8th edition which has only just been released on July 10th 2010. The actual game is played out on a table top which for a standard game is 6' x 4' but often players new to the game will use a smaller table until they accumulate larger armies and require more space.
Each army has their own strengths and weaknesses and can consist of groups of humans, elves, goblins, vampires, or even Lizardmen who have appeared in the most recent update. They powers are governed by a set of rules that comes with the armies and payers can choose their strategies dependant on an armies strengths, the figures are purchased as plain items which allows the owners to be creative with the miniature paintwork and often players will spend hours painting their models to look at their best.
Even if you don't have the funds to buy armies you can improvise buy using books etc. for the landscaping and coins or markers can be used to act as members of the armies, this is often a good idea to use these before you spend your money so that you will know that whether or not this game is for you.
The moves are determined by the throw of a dice, often called a D6, for specialised moves a scatter dice is used if cannons or similar are involved in the play. Groups of soldiers are classed as “units and the space that they can move is measured in inches so you will often see a tape measure brought into the play.
Games are based on points, these can range from 750 up to 3000 or even more if decided by both players, each player will normally start off with an equal number of points and as the game progresses they are either won or lost depending on how well the player is doing.
To play the game you will need the Army book so that you can create your army and check out the strengths and weaknesses of different units. Each member of the unit will have a point value, these vary from piece to piece, foot soldiers can have a value ranging from 2-10 points whereas a knight can have a value of 20 points. Initially most players will try to create an army that has a value of at least 500 points, for more advanced games armies can have a value of up to 2000 points.
Take your time selecting the units and make sure that your army has an overall strength that is capable of attacking as well as defending. The first army that you create must consist of at least two units and a leader.
The next step is to create your playing area known as the battlefield. There are several ways of doing this, hills and buildings can be placed at random or each player can take turns placing items onto the battlefield, either way used does not make a lot of difference to the final game, using a smaller table for you first few games will give you less space for your battlefield to evolve but it will give you the chance to learn the basics of the game.
Now its time to place the units onto the battlefield, each player takes it in turns to place a unit at a time, the total value of both players will start at the same total but this can mean that certain pieces have to be undervalued initially, this can fool you into thinking that these players have been weakened, this is not the case, they still have the same strengths so you may find that pieces of lower values can in fact still wipe out some of your units.
The dice is rolled by each player and whoever rolls the highest score has the choice of deploying their units first or letting the other player take their turn first. You will need a basic strategy in your head, you need to decide if you wish to play defensive, go for an all out attacking force or even build up your attacks steadily. There are countless strategies that can be used, in time you will learn which suit you best or even which strategy is most effective against certain players. Units can be moved a certain distance as defined by the rule book, foot soldiers can only be moved 4 inches at a time while mounted soldiers can move 8 inches at a time, these distances can be doubled if you are charging the enemy but you have to reach the enemy in the same move to use this tactic.
This game is now entering the second phase of play, spells can be cast by the Mages, each army will have different spells according to the Army Book, they can range in power and rolling the dice will effect how powerful the spell will be. The opponent will also have blocking powers, the strength of these is also dependant on the Army Book. Rolling the dice the required number of times can make your spell totally effective against the enemy but if you do not roll a high enough total it means that the spell can also be classed as miscast and the spell has been wasted.
After the spells you can now use your weapons, these can range from missile throwers, cannons , blow guns or even rock throwers. Each weapon also have their own rules according to the Army Book so you will need to know the limitations of the weapon and what range it can be fired at. Depending on the strengths of the opposing army, these can be effective or just wound slightly the soldiers who are defending.
Once you have used your spells and weapons you now have the chance of close combat after you have hopefully weakened the enemy. Direct combat is based on weapon skills with each soldiers and the toughness of each soldier, these are also defined in the Army Book. Once this has all been completed it is the turn of your opponent to have his go at going through the same procedure with spells, weapons and direct combat, placing your units in the correct place will have a definite bonus here as tactics can define how effective the opponents turn can be.
All of the above guidelines are very basic as there are many complicated indirect rules that can apply, far too many to mention here, but you should get the general idea of how a game of Warhammer is played and hopefully this article will give you the incentive to go out and purchase a set. It may seem complicated at first but once you have played a few games things will become clear and your tactics will improve as will your army selection.
There are now spin off sets of figures and landscapes available plus there is a large online community of players so that you can even play the game on the computer without having to actually set up battlefields on tables, some of these sites may charge for registering but you can get many hours of enjoyment from them. Try them out and see what you think!