Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Warhammer - The Old World: What's Old is New Again

I'm sure we all saw the big news last week, the Old World and setting of classic Warhammer Fantasy is coming back. It's still a few years out, but that's still pretty huge. I figured I would take a bit of time to jot down some of my thoughts on the announcement.

I've been in the Warhammer hobby since the 6th edition of Fantasy launched. I actually remember my very first issue of White Dwarf having a preview for the new edition in it. I started off in 40k, but I still dabbled in the Fantasy side of things. I recall getting the 6th edition starter set as a gift, even though I never got either of the two armies to a playable level. I did have a small Chaos army at one point. It was Nurgle themed of course and I believe I primarily built it to get involved with the Storm of Chaos campaign. I largely sat 7th edition out as the game got to mathematical for me and had lost some of its random fun factor. When 8th rolled around I played some early games using my 40k Nurgle demon army with the War of the Ring movement trays, then started my Tomb Kings shortly after their new book came out. During this whole time I was heavily involved with 40k, but I was always aware of Fantasy and the setting and knew quite a bit about it. Once I started with my Tomb Kings, and especially when the End Times started, I shifted my focus more over to Fantasy instead of 40k. All of this is to say, while I was not a diehard Fantasy player, but I knew the setting, and very much enjoyed it.

Age of Sigmar is enormous though. I love the gameplay, I love the scope, and I love the storyline and setting. Personally, I think it's better than the old Fantasy setting, but by no means am I saying the old setting is bad. I too wax nostalgic about the world-that-was every now and then, especially about my beloved Nehekhara. I quite enjoyed a lot of the novels too and was reading them pretty much non-stop in the last two years of the setting's life. So, what do I think about the announcement of that setting's return? It's complicated.

Like I said, I love AoS, and I love the story being woven for AoS. The Mortal Realms are an amazing sandbox and there's been a lot of work done to move past the Old World. Units that carried over have been re-contextualized and reworked to fit within the Mortal Realms. This is to say nothing of the characters that survived the destruction of the Old World like Neferata and Archaon. I am a bit afraid that it will be odd and a little jarring to have two different versions of the same character existing in two separate settings at the same time. I know 40k does this with the Heresy, but it's a little different, since we became familiar with the 40k versions before learning about the Heresy versions. In the case of AoS, the AoS versions of these characters have purposefully moved on past their old characterizations to help distance them and make them unique and understandable to people who play AoS but have no knowledge of the Old World. Some of them, like Gutrot Spume, have even been retconned so that according to AoS they never even existed before the Mortal Realms. This will be a bit of a hurdle to overcome and I don't want it to hurt the AoS setting. Having said all of that, if anyone can pull it off, it's Games Workshop. I have confidence in them that they can find a way to make both settings live side by side without interfering with each other.

So, now what about the setting and the game itself. We literally know nothing more than its name and that it's coming, so everything at this point is just speculation. They have thousands of years to choose from when they pick the setting, but I personally hope they do the End Times. It was such a fascinating time within the storyline and I feel like it got a little bit rushed. The story itself was great, but I would have liked to have played within that time period more. Even though the books came out over the course of a year, the events actually took place over several years within the setting. The Horus Heresy only lasted for seven years and look how much has been done with that.

They've already said it's at least two to four years out, which to me means all new miniatures. If they just wanted to come out with a ruleset using the existing minis that could be done in a much shorter span. I personally hope they make it a smaller scale, like the old Warmaster game or Titanicus. This will let people play out truly epic battles all while scratching that Old World itch and keeping the two systems distinctly different from each other. If they do stay at the same scale I'm hoping for the continuation of round bases. The models just look so much betters on rounds compared to squares and it really freed up the miniature designers to do some awesome stuff. If they need to rank up, then I'd like to see movement trays like they had for War of the Ring, where it fits round bases.

The idea of new models at the same scale as AoS does open up the possibility of some older kits getting a facelift. Maybe the Beastmen range will get updated, or the Empire. This would benefit both systems as they could potentially be used in both AoS and The Old World. At the end of the day I'm of course most excited for the return of the Tomb Kings in an official capacity, especially if this means new Tomb Kings models! Oh how I've wanted some plastic Ushabti and updated chariots... Even if the game stays at 28mm I'm thinking the rules will get a serious facelift. This isn't going to just be a reissue of the old Warhammer, even if it retains iconic elements.

At the end of the day Age of Sigmar is where my future lies. I love it and the direction it's heading, which at the moment means I need to let the Old World go. We're years out from seeing anything about this new game anyway. Will I buy stuff for it when it comes out? Almost certainly. Will I heavily invest in Tomb Kings if they get new models. No doubt. I think both of these games can live side by side. For some people AoS is not their thing and they'll only want to play The Old World, for others they'll only want to play Age of Sigmar. The existence of one game doesn't detract from the other. I guess we'll see what the future holds in a couple of years. Until then, Katakros calls to me and the legions of the Ossiarch Bonereapers must march in the name of Nagash. The Mortal Realms aren't going to conquer themselves after all!

Until next time,

Tyler M.

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