Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay! WTF?

Warhammer Fantasy RoleplayFantasy Flight Games will release a new version of the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay game at GenCon this year.

WHFRP was one of the first RPGs I played back in the day (this was still the 1st edition then). The updated 2nd edition that was released a couple of years ago, was awesome. It not only managed to fix a lot of broken rules the old edition had but it also succeeded doing so without making it a totally different game.

And when I first heard about the 3rd edition Fantasy Flight Games is about to release, I thought it was a hoax. But alas it was not. Graham McNeill has posted the following on his blog (emphasis added by me):

A coupe of weeks ago, our regular roleplaying group was privileged enough to playtest 3rd Edition Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. The guys from Fantasy Flight Games were over at Games Workshop HQ, and Jay Little very kindly did a show and tell for us over at Alessio Cavatore’s house, where we saw how much the game has changed from its previous incarnation. Our gaming group has been going for some time and we were all interested to see what was new with WFRP, since we’d playtested the previous edition also. It was in interesting evening, and the game was very different to anything I’ve played before, with a lot of table space taken up by character sheets, action and ability cards, dice etc. It felt like a strange hybrid of board game and roleplaying game at first, but once the notions of the new mechanics took hold, it felt very natural. Likewise, the new dice pool system felt odd at first, but once we’d rolled a few dice it immediately became very intuitive, which is surely the holy grail of any roleplaying system.

Seriously! Is this D&D 4th Edition all over again? Why can’t they just fix things that are broken instead of making it a completely new game? At this time I still hoped for a hoax or at least a misunderstanding, but alas I was so wrong.

Now, it’s official. FFG has created a new edition of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay and it’s a strange hybrid of board game and RPG and it uses dice pools, action and ability cards. And they sell it as a box for $100!!!

From the looks of it, WHFRP will be a great looking game with a nice box containing several rulebooks, custom dice and many cards. So the production value will probably be pretty awesome, but I don’t think a complete overhaul of the system was the right thing to do. Don’t get me wrong, the game looks great from an artistic standpoint. I can’t  judge the rules, since I haven’t had the chance to check out the real thing, but I am worried. I am just worried that one of the oldest fantasy roleplaying franchises is turned into a boardgame.

I believe I sound like a total grognard right now, but why do these companies think, that we want games that use action cards and fancy dice? Does this really improve the roleplaying experience? And why is it necessary to change the WHFRP rules beyond recongnition? The box will also set you back almost $100. Obviously the industry is doing pretty fine, when you can release a $100 RPG/boardgame hybrid during a time of economical crisis! And I thought the “World of Warcraft Boardgame was expensive! Perhaps they reasoned that FFG’s strength are high production values and boardgames, so they wanted to make use of that in an overhauled Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay game.

Sorry, I usually don’t rant on this blog and perhaps I am terribly wrong about all this. Perhaps the new edition of WHFRP is the best thing since sliced bread and we’ll all play and enjoy it in a few months. Or I am right and we’ll all hate it and I can say “See, I told you so!”

Stargazer signing off!

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

17 thoughts on “Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay! WTF?”

  1. Im a big fan of better utilizing the play space in a boardgame manner, tabletop RPG's do not require one to be constantly erasing numbers on a piece of paper in my book.


    That said, I do hope they don't make the mechanics based on the "play area" instead of making the play area based on the mechanics. Making the tail wag the dog so to speak.

    From a business point of view, what they are doing is the most logical idea. The old version is basically a different game, so what they are doing is releasing a new game while keeping the brand value of their previous versions. They are a business seeking to make profit, and they only make games to fuel that end.
    .-= Zzarchov´s last blog ..Well St. Jerome, Paladin of the Sun God, in THESE parts the Sun God demands human hearts. =-.

  2. The thing is that all people bitch and moan about these new games – like 4E and also about this new WFRPG -.

    BUT then they buy it nevertheless.

    I am sure that after some weeks we will read that the "first printing" – or how you will call it for this box – was sold out.

    The roleplaying crowd should learn to vote with their money/feet/otherresource, at last. OR we will more and more get those RPG/boardgame type mixes.

    Only seldom I could read a good word on 4E, but I read everywhere that it is the best selling book of RPGs.

    If it is soo bad and you do not have to go 4E why do you buy it then?

    No critic will reach the makers and writers of these new systems if the crowd will buy and buy and buy all books stores empty.

  3. Hey, wow. Pre-judging a new version of a game before you've played it, or even seen it. Warhammer FRP was always a favorite of mine, but it also felt like a bad port (to use a computer metaphor) of a wargame. Incorporating mini's and a playboard is a nice way to sync up the wargame and the rpg – lets you use those armies in the shoebox under your bed for something else!

    Anti-spam word: mutants
    .-= wickedmurph´s last blog ..Incorporating High Level NPC's =-.

  4. Prediction: The game will be awesome and sell very well, angering the grognards into perpetual blogosphere bitching. Just like 4e.

  5. @all: yes, I am judging a game before I have seen or played it, but as I said I believe it may even be a cool product in itself, but it's not what I would have expected as a new edition of WHFRP. And from what I've read I believe it may be another step in the direction we've seen in D&D 4th Edition. You can call me grognard all you want, but that does not change, that I don't like that development.

    Another point: the original WHFRP was one book that contained everything you needed to play and I bought it for approx. DM 50,- which is approx. €25. The 2nd Edition needed at least the core book and the bestiary to play, which was a bit more expensive, but paying €100 for a roleplaying game? I don't think so…

    I've made the mistake to buy all D&D core books and then found out, I didn't like it that much. I won't make that mistake twice.

  6. We'll, we've all had these arguments all over the intertubes, and I'm trying to follow the advice of Jeff Rients (of all people!) and just play the games I like and not re-ignite edition wars.

    I think the sad fact of the matter is that we're looking at a minimum of 60-100 bucks for a core-ruleset with good production value these days, and the focus seems to be headed towards battle-mats, minis and action cards. Like it or bewail it, we've all got to live with it.

    Nothing wrong with the old WFRP 2e book, though, is there? And really, I haven't seen a lot of new material for that game lately, so it's not like we can complain that they won't be supporting it anymore?

    Maybe the title of the post should be "WTF, do they know something about the market I don't?"
    .-= wickedmurph´s last blog ..Incorporating High Level NPC's =-.

  7. @wickedmurph: you're of course right, that it's probably better to stick to the games we like and don't start any edition wars etc. But somehow this whole thing brushed me the wrong way. I don't like that we are supposed to put down 60-100 bucks for a decent game.

    And about my post's title: This is my blog and I write about how I see things. Maybe they do know something about the market I don't, but I just don't care. This is a blog about my love for games (where I am also allowed to rant) and not an objective market analysis blog.

  8. I don't have a dog in this fight, since I'm not really a WFRP fan, but the reaction here at Gen Con is split about 50/50. But I have to say, it hasn't created much buzz that I've heard. But looking at the Fantasy Flight booth(s), you would get the impression their RPG lines are 2nd-class citizens.
    .-= Zachary´s last blog ..GenCon Running Liveblog: Day 1 =-.

  9. Yeah…note me down as "not impressed" either.
    I love, love, love Fantasy Flight Games. They make excellent boardgames and from what I've seen their RPG books are also top notch. But this feels and looks really wrong for an old-time Warhammer-fan.
    "Mighty warriors perform mighty deeds"? And what about "Every hero is powerful on their own"? WTF??? That's not the WFRP I know. The whole dark, gritty and doomed aspect of the world seems to have been thrown over board(though this is in keeping with the new Warhammer Fantasy Battle – so I could just give it up…).
    Well, maybe it works reasonably well as a RPG-Boargame – though I would have prefered if FFG had done the real thing and produced something like a Warhammer-themed Descent, a new Warhammer Quest game or similiar.

  10. I'm totally on your site, mate! I wrote nearly the same blog entry in german on my site without knowing yours existed.

    What I heard so far is everything but the WFRPG (be it 1st or 2nd Ed.) we know and love. What sucks the most though is that the 2nd Ed is only 4 years out today and there are so many places not visited in the rules and so many (short) adventures not told. There would have been plenty of room to print more handbooks for 2 or 3 years before coming up with a new game. And if at all than with a game that has not only the name Warhammer in common with the Warhammer RPG of times past.

  11. I loved WFRP1 and I loved WFRP2. I loved them because you could play a big steaming great-axe wielding over-powered-in-battle chaos warrior, and because you could play the skinny hypnotist (or priestess of Shallya) with no weapons. I loved it because of its freedom of scope, not being forced into minis or maps, the gritty feel of it and the way you had to think around enemies not just charge into them going 'Ha HAA, I smite you with my sword of +2 Evil Smiting!'.

    With perfectly balanced characters, miniatures, little cards with your abilities and what would appear to be, essentially, a total lack of freedom I don't really see the difference between this and a computer game. I wouldn't touch this 3rd Ed with a barge pole for the purposes of roleplay with my usual group.

    Although saying that it would be brilliant to play with a group of 11 to 15 year olds, and would segue nicely into the tabletop wargame as well.

  12. It actually is nice. By the time this article is written, there is a component-less version of the game that play as good a D&D. But i prefer with the component to remind you of all your available option at any time. Lot of room for improvisation, the componement are just there to make the experience seamless. It quite simple, the hardest part is to keep all the bit and pieces well organised. I use several lure box for that purpose. I found out that they were the best quality value and worked well to separate everything.

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