Warmaster is a set of fantasy miniatures wargame rules developed by the same company as produced Warhammer, Warhammer 40,000 and Lord of the Rings miniatures rules.
It has been given a rating of 7.2 on BoardGameGeek from 450+ ratings.
I was going to write an article about Warmaster and how to get started, but Iain has done such a great job on YouTube I’ve decided to steal link to all his shows!
For those who don’t know, Warmaster is a 10mm fantasy game (with an ancients version) which is commonly played on a 6′ x 4′ board to points values of 2,000 points. It was written by Rick Priestley and is going through something of a renaissance thanks to a number of 10mm designers releasing models for resin printing – either home printing or through a retailers like Excellent Miniatures.
Iain Standing has produced 10 videos explaining Warmaster Revolution (a version of Warmaster maintained by a committee).
1. Getting Started
2. Moving Forwards
3. Hitting Your Targets
4. Getting Stuck In
5. Up Close & Personal
6. Winners and Losers
8. Characters & Flyers
10. End Game
Iain also has loads of great videos on most of the armies you can play.
If you’re interested in getting into Warmaster (or returning to it!) I can’t suggest you start anywhere else but these excellent collection of videos.
Rick Priestley grew up in Lincoln and dtart d writing wargames as a teenager with his friend Richard Halliwell. In 1979 the pair wrote their first game Reaper while still in school. Tabletop Games (a small games publishing company with no sales output) printed their rules and they contacted Brian Ansell who worked for Asgard Miniatures at the time before his move to Citadel Miniatures. Brian Ansell put them in contact with Nottingham Toy Soldier Shop who agreed to sell the Reaper rules.
With one rulebook for sale, Halliwell and Priestley collaborated on a second effort, a science fiction miniatures wargame titled Combat 3000, also published by Tabletop, that used 15mm/25mm “space marine” miniatures from Asgard. Around this time Brian Ansell left Asgard Miniatures, and with backing from Games Workshop set up Citadel Miniatures.
Priestley joined Games Workshop in 1982 as part of their subsidiary company Citadel Miniatures. At that time Citadel produced the miniatures for use in Dungeons and Dragons. Brian Ansell the manager of Citadel asked Richard Halliwell to develop Games Workshops’ first in-house game, Warhammer Fantasy Battles and Rick Priestley and Tony Ackland developed the product. Warhammer Fantasy contained many of the core mechanics or Priestley and Halliwell’s earlier game Reaper. Warhammer Fantasy was released in 1983 and was a huge success.
It allowed them a vehicle through which they could sell their own Citadel Miniatures. Earlier miniature wargames were designed to be played using generic models that could be bought from any manufacturer, but Warhammer Fantasy’s setting featured original characters with distinctive visual designs, and their models were produced exclusively by Games Workshop. This paved the way for Games Workshop to become the company it is today – all thanks to the three men who developed that first game.
Since before his time at Games Workshop Priestley had been working on a set of rules of Spaceship Combat called Rogue Trader which mixed Science fiction and fantasy elements. Priestley incorporated many aspects of this setting such as the lore and space travel into Warhammer 40,000 and dropped the ship combat element due to not having enough room in the book.
Games Workshop planned to sell conversion kits for their fantasy line to make them useable in Rogue Trader but eventually decided to instead dedicate an entire production line to the game and in 1987 Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader was born.
During his years with Games Workshop he was involved in the design of virtually all of their top games such as Necromunda, Mordheim, Warmaster, Lord of the Rings, Gorkamorka, Mighty Empires and Warhammer Ancient Battles (affectionately known as WAB by those in Historical gaming circles).
Rick Priestley left Games Workshop in 2009 stating that the corporate culture had grown too focused on sales and no longer cared about innovation in Games Design. He expanded on his view of Games Workshop in an article with Bell of Lost Souls in March 2015. In that, his thoughts on where Games Workshop was heading, was as a manufacturer of collectible miniatures and not games design.
After Games Workshop, Priestley co-founded Warlord Games which after Games Workshop is arguably the next biggest games and miniature manufacturer in Europe.
With Warlord Games, Rick Priestley has continued to develop fantastic wargame rulesets and being no longer held back by Games Workshop, these have included historical as well as Fantasy and Sci-Fi. The biggest games at Warlord such as Bolt Action, Black Powder, Gates of Antares, Hail Caesar, Pike and Shotte and Warlords or Erehwon have all been designed with Priestley’s input.
In 2011 Rick Priestley was elected to the committee of the Society of Ancients. The Society of Ancients is a non-profit organisation that intends to promote interest in Ancient and Medieval history and wargaming.
This man is a true legend of Wargaming, is the father of Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40,000 and has done a lot that Games Workshop fans and historical wargaming fans have to thank him for.
I have tried to give a flavour of the 115+ rules and add-on’s he’s developed below. But as with Jervis’ article, this really does not even scrape the surface as to the lore and depth of his many games. Rick, thank you! I can’t wait to see what you come up with next.
I’m in the process of creating a series of Wargaming Aids which allow players to play their favourite games in a single player format against an AI controlled enemy army. To find out more on this click here.
For as little as £1 a month (the price of a chocolate bar) you can help support me in this endeavour and receive cool perks as a thank you, such as access to our Discord Server as well as downloadable copies of the gaming aids which you can print out and use at home.
Why not pop over to Patreon and sign up and help me in this project? Money raised will go towards making these as physical products.
The minis came very well packaged with plenty of padding around them.
Before even opening the bad you can tell that these miniatures are very detailed for their scale. Excellent miniatures has printed these off at an extremely high standard, you’re unable to see any of the usual print lines you can get from 3D prints.
The models come with the supports from printing still attached, but it’s simple work to remove these before washing and undercoating.
I’m very pleased with the order and I will be going back again once these are painted.
After reading @rightangle79’s excellent article on his games of Warmaster a week ago it made me think of the Warmaster armies I used to own when it was first released in 2000.
Unfortunately these were sold in my early twenties to raise money for beer tokens at university.
But I have the urge to return to the game, more so after recalling what a great ruleset it was.
But where to start? Which faction? And where shall I get the models from?
Those who know me, know that I’ve always loved the Dwarfs in Warhammer Fantasy, and this is both because of their lore and their units. Who doesn’t love half naked dwarfs screaming in rage and trying to take down the biggest beast on the battlefield?
But where to get the models? Looking at the original metal sculpts on eBay had me terrified. I’d have to sell a kidney to get hold of an army worth now. That left me with third parties. Here I was spoilt for choice, just typing in 10mm Dwarfs had thousands of hits. But one particularly caught my eye, excellentminiatures.com.
They have army bundles for every faction all at the 1,000 point mark, and the sculpts on these are stunning. In fact, they’re so good I would argue they’re better than the GW originals.
So I found the Dwarf bundle and made a purchase. At £85 for an entire army I think they’re also fantastic value for money.
In the bundle I receive!
Gunner Regiment (Thunderers)
Bezerker Regiment (Troll Slayers)
3x Warrior Regiments
King and Bodyguard
They’ll probably arrive next week, and I’ve not been this excited about receiving new models in a long time.
You may think that the subheading suggests I’m attending the London GT at the end of September, but it is a cunning ruse to get more clicks… in fact I am playing Warmaster – a 10mm scale game of fantasy battles set in the Warhammer ‘World that Was’.
Written by Rick Priestley & … it was a game from the ‘Specialist Game’ arm of Games Workshop which unfortunately was squatted when they stopped supporting these games. Subsequently some have come back, but Warmaster is still a rulebook available to the community.
The tournament is played using the Warmaster Revolution ruleset, and there are some great resources available including the rules & armies and an army builder.
I have been playing Empire since the game was released so when COVID restricted all movement I decided it was time for a new army and there was only possibility for me – Goblins. They are a fan made army list, but are accepted at tournaments… but they are not considered one of the best armies – so it would be a challenge as well.
I’ll showcase some of the army in a future article, but before talking about it I needed some practice and a fellow Warmaster kindly offered my two games this weekend.
Game 1 v Skaven
Skaven are also considered to be a weaker army so it was to be the battle at the bottom! I used my horde version of the Goblin list with no artillery, and no Giant
4 x Goblin Heroes (one on Wyvern)
4 x Goblin Wizards
18 x Goblin Units
6 x Squig Units
8 x Wolf Rider Units
3 x Troll Units
Units in Warmaster normally consist of 3 bases of models with a suitable number of miniatures on them. This is a very broad definition to allow people to chose their own options. The important this is each base is 40mm x 20mm.
The Skaven started very well, and passed most of their first turn command (movement) checks and were getting across the board quickly. In response the Goblins also advanced, but in a less organised fashion leaving some units behind – this created a sort of maniple or checkerboard set-up, but that did leave me with units to counter charge. Goblins are fortunate in their magic and I managed to cause the Screaming Bell to move away from the rest of the army – this was especially good because a Screaming Bell can’t move on it’s own and a unit had to go back and ‘collect’ it!
Skaven swarmed over a hill to my left, whilst they worked around some terrain on my right, and my army approached – again a bit piecemeal. The Goblin army does have some very short range shooting, but this didn’t do much.
After a few turns, we were ready to charge, and I moved to within 20cm (the movement of intantry), but couldn’t move further… in response the Skaven charged!
They had some success against my units killing 4 Goblin units, and doing significant damage to some Wolf Riders (including killing a whole unit (3 stands) with Rat Swarms), but they didn’t break through. Skaven Clanrats are slightly better than Goblins, but not by much.
I counterattacked across much of my lines using initiative where possible – units close to enemies can charge or move away without their generals needing to roll dice. My wolf riders on the right killed some rat swarms and then fell back, whilst in the centre Squigs and trolls killed the Stormvermin, although failed to kill a Doomwheel.
The left was the big impact though with Goblins charging into combat to rescue some Wolf Riders who had been outclassed in the previous turn… with some great rolling (or skill as the Goblins insisted on calling it!) They drove off the Skaven and they retreated from the battlefield.
Game 2 v Dogs of War
My opponent very kindly fought me with another low tier army. Dogs of War have access to cannon, which are very good, but they have shorter range than normal (40cm), and they have to take Pike. This is a unit that is very difficult to make work in Warmaster as it is good whilst on the defensive, but not against the large heavy cavalry in the game … fortunately for the Dogs of War my Goblins had none of this. However, I did take the opportunity to change my list into one containing a bit of everything (mostly)
4 x Goblin Heroes (one on Wyvern)
4 x Goblin Wizards
10 x Goblin Units
6 x Squig Units
6 x Wolf Rider Units
3 x Troll Units
1 x Pump Wagon
1 x Giant
2 x Spear Chukka Units
My plan for this game was to learn how to use some of these additional units, and see if they were good enough to include in the tournament army for London.
The Goblins started this game, and the first turn went well, with Goblins appearing out of the forests at the edge of my board, and some Wolf Riders being sent on a flanking march on my right. They didn’t get very far, but cavalry move further than infantry (30cm), so they were my most advanced unit. My Giant did fail his command (order), meaning you roll on a random table (Giants only!) and he turned around and charged a unit of Goblins, killing one stand. This was my concern with Giants, that due to the low command of Goblins this would happen more often.
The Dogs of War advanced slowly, hampered by a hill just outside their deployment, still their units were safe from my Spear Chukkas – if my general could ever pass the command check to move them!
After a few turns of slowly advancing on each other and cannon shot from the Dogs of War hitting some of my brigades (collection of units), I managed to get 2 orders onto a unit of Wolf Riders (rare for Goblins), putting them deep into my opponent’s deployment zone. Despite shooting at them with a single cannon, these two units would cause a lot of trouble in the game, and require him to move a Phalanx unit and 1 cannon to deal with them – very good value for 60 points for the Wolf Rider unit.
Whilst both armies looked at each other through the smoke of cannon fire, the Giant failed another order … but this time rolled a 6 and charged into a unit of swordsmen hiding in a village… a 6 means that the Giant’s attacks are doubled (to 16!) making him a monster in combat. The unit died, but the Giant couldn’t go further.
On the left meanwhile my other Wolf Riders had made an equally daring move and flanked a unit of crossbows and pikes. The crossbows turned, but the pike had to face forward or be charged by the Goblin units. I charged… killed a unit of pike and sent another running before me – but I pursued (keeping the units in combat).
It was my opponent’s Giant’s turn to roll the 6 and he barrelled into the Wolf Riders, killing them… however the damage had been done and another failure by Ogres to kill my Trolls on my right meant the Dogs of War were in a perilous position… the paymaster called the retreat and it was another win for the Goblins!
Goblin magic is very good – there is a spell called ‘Geroff’ which forces an opponent’s unit to move backwards if I roll a 5+ on 1D6. However with 4 wizards this happened more often than not. Learning point – definitely need the 4 wizards.
Wyvern is very good because he causes terror – but expensive. Definitely need 1, but not sure about a second
Goblins are able to take a surprising amount of damage, because there are so many of them… care is needed and it will be more difficult against the better armies, but not to be written off
Wolf Riders are great – we were using some trial rules which will be used in London GT – Fast Cavalry – which gives them a little more autonomy … plus they shoot.
Spear Chukkas made my opponent think – I don’t think I need more than 2 (the army can have 4 at 2,000 points), but I like the additional troops.
I’m not sold on Giants – they can scare opponents, but with a very low command even on my general, they will fail a lot of orders and may attack my own army
Definitely… I love this game – the sweeping advances, the look of the battlefield and the simplicity of the rules make it my favourite regiment game.
Want to know more?
There are some great resources available, but two of my favourites are: