Return of Warhammer – The Old World

Games Workshop announced in the midth of november that the Old World of Warhammer would return. And this has created an incredible amount of buzz. So far it has been updated with an insight to the new map of the old world.

Warhammer - The Old World

And so far, we only know, that it is still a lot of time until it returns. At least two or rather three years from now. The setting has been set into relation with Age of Sigmar, as Horus Heresy is with Warhammer 40.000. Interestingly enough the map adds to that theory, as the different coat of arms seen, could point towards a civil war like crisis, like the Time of Three Emperors. A very fitting comparison to the civil war of 40k.

Here ends the official status quo of information. But let's extrapolate from there.

What is Horus Heresy to Warhammer 40.000? It is a premium product to the already above average ranked main game. Primarely supported by Forge World and Black Library, with themed rulebooks, a vast variety of resin kits, from unit upgrades to giant sets, and dozens over dozens of novels.

But that wouldn't be a new thing for the Old World / Warhammer Fantasy Battles.

Warhammer Forge - Tamurkhan The Throne of Chaos Warhammer Forge - Monstrous Arcanum

Back in 2010 / 2011 Forge World formed a sister company to support the Warhammer Fantasy ranges and called Warhammer Forge. And Warhammer Forge supplied the late and last, 8th edition with such incredible books as Tamurkhan: The Throne of Chaos, very similar to the Horus Heresy books, that Forge World supplied so many of for Warhammer 30k. Later a second book was released, the Monstrous Arcanum, that would cover parts of the vast bestiarium that lived in the realm of the old world.

Warhammer Forge covered kits, that were to big to be manufactured in plastic - at least back in the day - so we've seen monsters and gigantic creatures, like the magnificient Landship of the Empire and the Magma dragon. The later has now a close "relative" as a complete plastic kit, the Magmadroth of the Fyreslayers.

Warhammer Forge - Imperial Landship Warhammer Forge - Magmadragon Warhammer Forge - Magmadragon

We had upgrades to existing units, similar to the Space Marine upgrade sets, that cover different chapters and pre-heresy gear and armour pattern. In this case a rather weird decision, as the whole bodies were replaced and only the weapon bits from the main kits would be used, for both ranged and close combat weapons from the Empire range.

Warhammer Forge - Handgunners Warhammer Forge - Handgunners Warhammer Forge - Manan Blades

And these units came with additional command groups, but not just for the Empire, for other races like Orks or Dwarves too.

Warhammer Forge - Manan Blades Command  Warhammer Forge - Orc Command Warhammer Forge - Dwarf Command Set

As Tamurkhan covered an invasion of Chaos into the heart of the Old World, with different factions being involved in the battles. Very similar to the Horus Heresy books that are focused around specific campaigns, like the Battle of Isstvan V. And as such we had special characters, for example Theodore Bruckner on his demigryph. An animal that later made it into a mount for a regular Age of Sigmar / Warhammer unit.

Warhammer Forge - Theodore Bruckner Warhammer Forge - Theodore Bruckner

Among the items I didn't cover above, was Elspeth von Draken on a huge carmin dragon, Tamurkhan the Maggot Lord himself, Chaos Dwarf incl. a siege train of war engines and many more units.

Warhammer Forge - Chaos Dwarf Skullcraker Warhammer Forge - Chaos Dwarf Deathshrieker Warhammer Forge - Chaos Dwarf Dreadquake

What's my point? I expect some of these products to return. They already made them, the sculpts are/were well done and they are available. So it would be an easy entry to see how people react to the "new" product. But more importantly, we already had something like this, it might just be quite a while back to properly remember.

The only plastics kits, we've seen so far for Horus Heresy were the Mk III and Mk IV Marine Armour as well as Tartaros and Cataphractii Termanitor Armour, of which most went to Mail Order only products by now. But as these were Space Marine products and by such have / had much higher numbers in demand compared to any other product within the Warhammer range, I wouldn't expect a return or special products on that part.

From a economic point of view, that is the biggest risk I see to that project. Space Marines are incredibly popular and produce a very notable part of the revenue. So a Space Marine civil war, like the Horus Heresy, has a much broader audience. I don't think that any of the Warhammer races has the ability to reach that. On top of that, many of the 30k players are motivated by / through the vast range of Black Library books, that created an active fanbase and fascination for that period of the lore. Once again something that was not achieved with the stories about the old world, maybe to some degree William Kings' tales about Gotrek & Felix.

Don't get me wrong. I am interested to see how this plays out and what we can expect. I have read a lot of ideas, wishes and hopes on this projects and some of these are already so far above the ground, that never the less what Games Workshop releases, those can not be reached. With the arguments above, I'm just trying to point out certain things and give a frame for a more realistic and more likely to happen expectations.

Yet, with Age of Sigmar going for a more entry level product and beyond. Warhammer was - at least for me - a game of huge regiments and larger battles. A very epic moment for me was the battle report in White Dwarf #221 (May 1998) - 48,000 points. A couple of players on each side, among them the well known Perry Twins (now with Perry Miniatures), former UK Sales Director John Stallard (now owner of Warlord Games), former Games Workshop UK Director Ronnie Renton (now owner of Mantic Games), former Head of Miniatures Gordon Davidson (now General Manager at Battlefront). Quite the line up and a very impressive collection between them at the infamous Perry wargaming rooms (you can see a couple more recent games on their Facebook page).

White Dwarf - May 1998 UK Issue #221

White Dwarf - May 98 48,000 Point Battle Report White Dwarf - May 98 48,000 Point Battle Report White Dwarf - May 98 48,000 Point Battle Report
White Dwarf - May 98 48,000 Point Battle Report White Dwarf - May 98 48,000 Point Battle Report White Dwarf - May 98 48,000 Point Battle Report

(Yes, that is Ronnie reacting in 2010 to the "blast from the past", during our visit to Mantic Towers)

But the pictures show people having a good time while moving large colourful armies, with monsters, battle engines and such into battle. Ronnie's smile remembering that moment confirms it as well. I think there is a market for that, so this "new" Old World game could just focus on that niché group. And with the nostalgia of Oldhammer not being for everyone, the old lore combined with new techniques and possibilities (similar to the things we've seen for Blackstone Fortress, like the Ambull, Zoat and such things) offers a perfect solution for that audience.

Maybe we will see another teaser this weekend on the coverage of the Toy Fair, giving us a bit more of insight on what to expect.

Posted by Dennis B.

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