Warmaster is a series of games all based upon the original Warmaster game and developed from it. The original Warmaster game is set in the Warhammer games universe and features the gamut of Games Workshop beasties such as Orcs, Chaos, Elves, Dwarfs and their kindred fantasy races. Following on the original game I developed a variant for playing games based on JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit called The Battle of Five Armies. Most recently, I developed a version for playing historical games set in ancient and medieval times called Warmaster Ancients. Although strictly speaking only the original Warmaster game is really ‘Warmaster’ we cheerfully use the title to refer to all these games as well as unpublished variants; so to make things easy we’ll call the original game Warmaster Fantasy where only that game is meant.
Above. The Warmaster game rule book, the Warmaster Ancients game rule book, the
Armies and Warmaster Medieval Armies supplementary rulebooks for Warmaster Ancients.
Above. The Battle of Five Armies boxed set-which includes plastic armies, terrain and rulebook.
The Warmaster Battlefield
Playing a Warmaster Game
Command and Movement
Warmaster is a battle game played on a tabletop representing a battlefield and the area immediately around. The game is played between two opposing sides and in most cases each side is represented by one army and one player. To play Warmaster you will therefore need a decent sized table or similar flat space, a model army, and an opponent with his army.
The Warmaster game attempts to represent huge battles – many thousands of men – clashing over an area that we imagine to be several square miles across. In keeping with this we therefore use relatively small models to represent the combatants and these are mounted onto plastic or card stands to create the basic playing pieces of the army. Warmaster models are about 10mm tall representing a human sized combatant.
As you can see each piece consists of a number of individual 10mm high models painted and mounted onto a decorated stand. The stands – or bases if you prefer – are rectangles 40mm by 20mm and almost all the pieces use this standard sized base. Strictly speaking, you don’t need to paint the models at all, or you could simply mount them onto stands and paint them an overall blue, red or other distinctive colour – however, most players enjoy collecting and painting their armies, and take pride in the majestic appearance of their armies. In fact, to be utterly brutal about it, you can play Warmaster with card stands cut to the correct size and do without models altogether – and that’s not a bad way to learn the game – but in essence the game is about armies of models and the glorious spectacle of battle.
The models for Warhammer Fantasy are available from Games Workshop. They are cast in pewter and come in strips of warriors as shown below. Each strip corresponds to the size of a standard Warmaster base and each set contains sufficient strips to make three whole bases together with plastic bases. Games Workshop does not make any models for Warmaster Ancients – but lots of other folk do! For the most part models for Ancients are cast individually and you can put as many or as few models onto a base as you wish.
Individual stands are organised into basic playing elements called ‘units’. A unit consists of three stands and represents a typical fighting formation which you might like to think of as a regiment. The three stands in a unit have to remain touching but can be arranged to make different formations such as a column (stands lined up behind each other) or line (side-by-side), or irregular formation (higgledy piggledy).
Some types of warriors are arranged to face the narrow edge of the stand rather than the long edge – notably cavalry in Warmaster Fantasy and The Battle of Five Armies. In Warmaster Ancients some types of troops have the option to face the long or short edge – although most players will mount such troops to the short edge out of preference.
All Warmaster armies include special pieces whose job is to command the army – these are the generals, heroes, wizards, commanders and other worthies whose tactical genius will hopefully serve you well on the battlefield. These fellas can go on any sized or shaped base – but the usual trick is to put them on round bases so they stand out from the crowd. Most players used washers, coins or something similar up to about 30mm across. If you live in the UK then 1p and 2p pieces are ideal.
A typical Warmaster starter army consists of about 12 individual units plus 2 or 3 command stands – although some armies rely on cheap massed troops and require more units whilst others consist of expensive elite troops and require fewer units. This is enough to play a game – although some players will continue to expand their armies and lay bigger and bigger games! Most players also like to have a choice of troops that they can field, so they will buy and paint a few extra units to accommodate this.