Looking for tabletop games that play more like a wargame? Let’s talk about Warhammer. There are currently nine different editions of Warhammer, the last being less than a year old. So, which one is the best? Let’s go over them real quick.
Starting with our original game, the first edition of Warhammer was released in 1983 and received some fairly negative reviews. While the mass combat system was there, the RPG aspect was lacking. Critics had said that the rules were poorly written and grammatically, the entire manuscript was a mess, but the combat worked well. As a wargame tabletop player, you could command a large number of troops, this differs from games like Pathfinder and Dungeons and Dragons where players typically play a single character. So, as far as players were concerned, the game did what it was supposed to do in the combat area. The combat was played with Warhammer models that acted as troops and players directed their Warhammer miniatures in combat to defeat opposing armies.
We saw the second edition in 1984. This edition saw a few revisions, including the clarification of original rules. There were some new rules added for fortifications, artillery, and specialist spell casters, among other things. This edition also went on to further develop the world in which it was set. While there were still issues with the role-playing aspect, the Warhammer 40k model of combat was still the only game of its kind that focused more on mass battle than singular hero battle.
The third edition was released three years later, in 1987. This edition saw an overhaul of the movement and maneuver systems as well as new troop types and a new system for specialized heroes and wizards. The magic system stayed the same as well as the army design system. The rules system was considered fast paced and the setting was upgraded with more detail, accompanied by pictures and graphs in the book.
The fourth edition, which was published in 1992, was the first edition to enforce the use of lists for the army units. Limits were placed on certain units and troops. There were also considering changes to the magic system in this edition. The magic system was sold as a separate box set and played like a mini-game within the game itself. The fifth edition came out 4 years later, in 1996, and was very similar to the fourth edition. These two editions were referred to as Herohammer because of an imbalance that was created between the heroes and the rest of the troops. The fifth edition also toned down the magic in the game, as to not cause an imbalance. The fifth edition board games top the charts in 1997 as they won the Origins award for the best fantasy or science fiction miniatures rules.
The sixth edition was published in 2000. This edition put the emphasis back on troop movement and combat. Heroes were still part of the game, but the power imbalance was corrected. This edition also implemented a new magic system based on rolling dice rather than using cards. This edition brought us back to Warhammer as we pulled away once again from almighty heroes.
Edition seven was released in 2006. You could buy this as a book or box complete with miniatures kind of like the Warhammer starter set. The book alone was hardcover, the one in the box was soft covered and looked like a mini Warhammer rules manual as it lacked the illustrations the hardcover copy had. This game saw a couple of expansions but there were no substantial gameplay or rule changes noted. This was simply an expansion of the world, which included in-game world-building and real-life wargaming hobbies, such as painting Warhammer 40k miniature figurines. Warhammer figurines included with the set could be painted and transformed into custom miniatures.
Edition eight was released in 2010. While the rules and magic systems stayed the same, or very similar, some troops saw upgrades. Certain armies, such as the Dwarf and Wood Elf armies. Others stayed the same and have not been updated since the seventh edition. This edition saw expansions in 2011 which detailed rules for more destructive monsters and magic. Another expansion in 2013, 2014, and 2015 that were short campaign scenarios for 3-5 players.
In 2019 it was announced that the ninth edition was in the works, though it was speculated that it wouldn’t be released until 2022. Despite the pandemic, the ninth edition was released in the Summer of 2020. This edition boasted finely tuned rules that were easy to read and an impressive amount of lore. This edition also boasts new units, as some of the newer ventures take you into space, as the eighth edition did. There are new troops to buy and lore to learn as you settle into this new edition of the game.
So, out of the 9 editions, which one is the best?
If you find that the game isn’t for you, maybe you prefer the single-player combat, you can still use the Warhammer 40 figure. Painted miniatures are used in other TTRPGs and painting miniatures is a fun hobby all on its own. You don’t necessarily need Warhammer paint. In lieu of a Warhammer painting set a lot of people use this Army Painter miniature paint as a Warhammer 40k paint set.
Written by: Melissa Crosby
Also check out Which is the Best Edition of Dungeons and Dragons?