A lot of the content here is slowly getting outdated. This was our article before Warhammer: The Old World was released. The relevant information from this article in updated form can be found in our other Warhammer the Old World Content:
Warhammer the Old World is an upcoming tabletop game from Games Workshop. It is one of the most anticipated games from GW at the moment, as people think it is Warhammer Fantasy Battle coming back. We know quite a lot more today than we did when it was first announced.
In this article, we have gathered every little bit of confirmed information we could find. The only source here is Games Workshop from their official Warhammer Community.
Read on to learn about what Warhammer: the Old World game is about, when the release date is and what armies you can expect to play in it.
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List of Recent Updates to this article:
- December 29, 2023: Lore about the Tomb Kings added!
- December 27, 2023: Lore about Bretonnia added!
- December 26, 2023: The Launch Boxes are here, so we’re adding an “Confirmed Upcoming Releases” section just below this one.
- December 18, 2023: News on Army building!
- December 11, 2023: News on Special Rules and a first look at the full unit stats for Grail Knights.
- December 4, 2023: News on the Magic system!
- November 27, 2023: News on the way Morale and Psychology works in the game
- November 20, 2023: News on the rules for the Combat Phase
- November 19, 2023: The Necrolith Bone Dragon for the Tomb Kings has been revealed
- November 14, 2023: News on the rules for the Shooting Phase
- November 6, 2023: News on the rules for the Movement Phase
- October 30, 2023: News on the rules for the Strategy Phase
- October 14, 2023: Lots of new Brettonian units and a Q1 2024 release window
Army Profiles for Warhammer: The Old World
Kingdom of Bretonnia
On December 27, 2023, the Warhammer Community Website released an awesome lore overview for the Kingdom of Bretonnia, which can be found here.
Tomb Kings of Khemri
On December 29, 2023, the Warhammer Community Website released a thrilling lore overview for the Tomb Kings of Khemri, which can be found here.
Confirmed Upcoming Released for Warhammer: The Old World
Tomb Kings of Khemri Core Box
This Core Box for the Tomb Kings of Khemri was revealed on December 26, 2023.
Kingdom of Bretonnia Core Box
This Core Box for Kingdom of Bretonnia was revealed on December 26, 2023.
Warhammer: The Old World Rulebook
This is the main rulebook for the game, revealed on December 26, 2023.
Forces of Fantasy and Ravening Hordes (Army Books)
These are the two main army books for the factions of The Old World: Forces of Fantasy contains rules for the Dwarfen Mountain Holds, the Empire of Man, the Kingdom of Bretonnia, the Wood Elf Realms and the High Elf Realms. Ravening Hordes contains rules for the Orc and Goblin Tribes, the Warriors of Chaos, the Beastman Brayherds and the Tomb Kings of Khemri. Both books were revealed on December 26, 2023.
Kingdom of Bretonnia and Tomb Kings of Khemri Arcane Journal
These two books contain additional rules for playing Kingdom of Bretonnia and Tomb Kings of Khemri, and they were revealed on December 26, 2023.
Status: Tomb Kings is Released
Nekaph, Emissary of Settra
This new character for the Tomb Kings of Khemri was revealed on December 26, 2023.
Battle Standard Bearer
This new Standard Bearer for the Tomb Kings of Khemri was revealed on December 26, 2023.
This new unit for the Tomb Kings of Khemri was revealed on December 26, 2023.
Necrolith Bone Dragon
This huge Bone Dragon for the Tomb Kings of Khemri was revealed in November 2023.
Tomb King With Hand Weapon
This character for the Tomb Kings of Khemri was revealed in April 2023.
Tomb Kings Paladin
This character for the Kingdom of Bretonnia was revealed on April 2023.
Kingdom of Bretonnia Duke on Royal Pegasus
This new character for the Kingdom of Bretonnia was revealed on October 14, 2023. It also seems to be possible to assemble it as a Baron or a Standard Bearer.
Kingdom of Bretonnia Knights of the Realm on Foot
This new Bretonnian unit was revealed on October 14, 2023.
Kingdom of Bretonnia Handmaiden of the Lady
This new character for the Kingdom of Bretonnia was revealed in October 2023.
Lady Élise Duchaard, Prophetess of the Lady of the Lake
This character for the Kingdom of Bretonnia was revealed in August 2023.
Bretonnian Battle Standard Bearer
This new model for the Kingdom of Bretonnia was revealed in July 2023.
What is Warhammer: The Old World?
The title “The Old World” refers to the fictional universe where Games Workshop’s retired game system Warhammer Fantasy Battles took place.
Before the Age of Sigmar, Fantasy Battles was the fantasy twin of Warhammer 40,000 (the space version of Warhammer that we don’t cover much here on this site). It was a rank and file tabletop wargame where fantasy armies of orks, dwarfs, elves, undead and humans faced off against each other in regiments on square bases, and it was one of the most popular fantasy games for a full eight editions of its ruleset.
A great many of the miniatures people now use to play Age of Sigmar, such as most of the old Cities of Sigmar models, many of old the Death, Destruction and Chaos miniatures, and even monsters like the Treelords or Stormfiends, were originally part of the Fantasy Battles model line.
But – the Old World wasn’t just a setting for a game system. In a way that the Age of Sigmar is still years away from achieving that Old World Warhammer lore (but it’s getting there pretty quickly), the Old World was a deep, insanely detailed fantasy setting with a darker tone than most other fantasy worlds in its time.
It has influenced many other fantasy settings, such as the video game universes of Diablo and Warcraft. The entire Old World was massive and could really set your imagination on fire.
It might seem strange that such a rich and successful franchise doesn’t exist anymore, and the theories about why exactly it was discontinued are countless.
No matter what the reasons were, Games Workshop ended the Fantasy Battles franchise through a series of books called the End Times, which ended in a total apocalypse for the setting via a calamitous chaos invasion. And so the classic lore of the Old World was dead for many years.
From the ashes of the Old World Age of Sigmar was born
Archaon (who you know from AOS!) destroyed the Old World, and from the Chaos that ensued, The Mortal Realms (the setting of Age of Sigmar) came into being. This means that The Old World, in a way, is the ancient past of the Age of Sigmar universe, and many of the heroes and villains of the Age of Sigmar have ties to The World That Was, as they call it in Age of Sigmar.
Warhammer Old World Release Date and Announcement
Warhammer: The Old World was announced on November 15, 2019 with an article called “Old World? New Warhammer!!” which mainly told us that the game was coming, what the Old World was in relation to Age of Sigmar, and that the release date of the new game was more than two years off.
As of October 14, 2023, we now know that Warhammer: The Old World will be released in the first quarter (Q1) of 2024.
Will Warhammer The Old World replace Age of Sigmar?
Over the last four years, some fans of the Fantasy Battles system have cried “bring back the Old World”, and if you look through a comment thread on anything Games Workshop shares about the Age of Sigmar system, chances are you’ll find commenters asking them to scrap the entire AOS system and go back to Fantasy battles. But, that’s not what GW is doing with their new game Warhammer: The Old World.
Warhammer: The Old World isn’t going to replace any current game systems.
- First of all, it’s being developed by the Warhammer Studio in cooperation with Forge World studio (it’s still a bit unclear how exactly this works), which does many of GW’s “side projects”, usually in resin rather than plastic.
- Secondly, Games Workshop have referred to Warhammer: The Old World as a parallel to Horus Heresy, another Forge World game that chronicles the ancient history of the Warhammer 40,000 universe with rules that resembles that games earlier editions rather than its current edition.
This means that it’s safe to say, even with as little information as we have at the moment, that The Old World will be a game that feels and plays more like Warhammer Fantasy Battle than Age of Sigmar, but it doesn’t sound like they are bringing the old game back as much as creating a new game experience within that rich old universe.
What armies will be available in Warhammer: The Old World?
Update May 2023: The first update article since Warhammer Fest confirmed that the following factions will be the “Core Factions” of the game:
- Empire of Man
- Dwarfen Mountain Holds
- Kingdom of Bretonnia
- Wood Elf Realms
- High Elf Realms
- Orc & Goblin Tribes
- Warriors of Chaos
- Beastmen Brayherds
- Tomb Kings of Khemri
Being a Core Faction means that the faction will be part of the main narrative for the game, and that it will get new model releases and that many of its classic model kits will return.
Other factions will explicitly not get new releases or be part of the story, but will get free PDF rules when the game releases. Those factions are:
- Dark Elves
- Vampire Counts
- Daemons of Chaos
- Ogre Kingdoms
- Chaos Dwarfs
Update November 2023: The Necrolith Bone Dragon has been revealed! A huge new model for the Tomb Kings, with the option to field it as a mount for either a Tomb King or High Priest. If you’ve started worrying about how much all that bone is going to cost in Forge World Resin, rest assured: The developers revealed that it’s actually a plastic kit, for once!
Update October 2023: The launch range for Bretonnians has been fully revealed! Among the new kits are Knights of the Realm on Foot, several different characters mounted on a Pegasus, a Handmaiden of the Lady, and different versions of Standard Bearers. Along with those, old kits such as mounted Knights of the Realm, Pegasus Knights, Men-At-Arms, Peasant Bowmen and a Field Trebuchet (now in resin!) were confirmed.
Update August 2023: Another model for the Bretonnians: Lady Élisse Duchaard, Prophetess of the Lady of the Lake is a new resin model for Bretonnia, with many visual references to older Grail Damsels from The Old World, and her unicorn steed is called Ariandir, but not much else was revealed about her.
Update July 2023: Another model revealed! This time, it’s the Bretonnian Battle Standard Bearer – a standard-carrying knight sculpted in resin.
Update April 2023: First models revealed! At Warhammer Fest, the Specialist Design Studio was finally ready to reveal their first new painted models for the game.
First, there’s the Tomb King with Hand Weapon:
To counter this, the Brettonians got this Paladin:
The presenters at the seminar revealed that the Tomb Kings and Bretonnians will be the focus of the launch of the game (but were vague as to whether they’ll be part of a launch box set). They said that the game will focus on armies that are fighting in The Old World (so, not Ulthuan or Lustria, for example) for the first long while in the game, so we should expect human factions to be majorly featured at first.
Here’s some of the Tomb King and Bretonnian art that was featured in the preview as well. They didn’t confirm if this artwork meant new sculpts of these units or just that the old kits are going back into production:
So far, the following armies have been mentioned in the previews:
- The Empire (possible split in several factions)
- High Elves
- Wood Elves
- Tomb Kings
Update March 2023: at last, actual bits of miniatures for the game have been teased! An update showed 3D designs for weapons and equipment for Brettonnians and Tomb Kings, the two Old World factions most notably absent from Warhammer Age of Sigmar.
Update October 2022: An update on artwork confirmed Orcs, Bretonnia and Tomb Kings, and in a footnote for the article, it also confirmed Cathay and High Elves:
The first update came out on February 6, 2020 on Warhammer Community, and was called “Cartography in the Old World”.
The article showed a detailed map of the game’s world, which seems very focused on the area of the Human Empire, and the heraldry of three human rulers, Sigismund, Ludwig XII, Wilhelm and Magritta, which are all characters from an era of the Old World called The Age of Three Emperors. The dukes and Kings previewed in this article about Bretionnia further narrows down the time period.
We can also see the World’s edge mountains bordering the Old World from everything else.
This tells us that the Empire, a renaissance-fantasy faction of human mortals with both gunpowder and armored knights, are absolutely going to be playable in the game. But, since the game takes place in an age where this Empire is divided between several rulers vying for power, it could mean that we will be able to play several different factions of Empire humans, in the same way that you can play as different Space Marine chapters in the Horus Heresy.
But, the Age of Three Emperors wasn’t all humans arguing over thrones and civil war:
It was an age of invasions from both Undead, Chaos forces, Beastmen (Beasts of Chaos in AOS) and Orcs. It is likely that at least some of those will be playable as well, but to say that those armies are confirmed on the basis of that first article would be a bit of a stretch.
The second preview article, released on March 23, 2020 and was called “The Old World: Ice Guard of Kislev”, definitely confirmed another faction called Kislev. Kislev is another human faction to the North of the Empire, which takes its inspiration from Slavic, Russian and Mongolian historical armies, with winged Hussars and tons of fur-clad armor.
The concept art for the new Ice Guard unit for this faction at display in the article shows that at least not everything about Warhammer: The Old World will look exactly as it did in Fantasy Battles. The unit design looks like a North-east Asian warrior in many ways, but its weapons are adorned with magical ice and looks slightly more fantastical than what players of human factions were used to in Fantasy Battles.
(This fantastic feel, of course, sparked grumblings from the fantasy players of old that just want a re-release of Warhammer: Fantasy).
This is, of course, still concept art, and the practical considerations for model production as well as the many iterations that designs usually go through could mean that this is not what this unit will look like in the end.
What it does show is that the design team wants to find new ways of imagining the Old World, rather than just nostalgically recreating what it used to look like.
A preview article expanded upon the concept art for the Kislev faction with a closer look at the armored bears they ride into battle. These used to exist in Warhammer Fantasy Battles, but the design team is coming up with some new designs for them:
This preview article covers a map of chivalric Bretonnia, with heraldry from the different cities within that realm:
This confirms Bretonnia (whose units and aesthetics have been missed in the Warhammer Community since they were one of the few armies to be left out of the migration to Age of Sigmar) as a playable faction in Warhammer: The Old World, but the map also shows iconography belonging to High Elves, Wood Elves and Orcs.
The Orcs can be seen assaulting the Northern Provinces of Bretonnia, with the City of Couronne being represented as being on fire on the map, while the High Elves have colonies and outposts along the coast, and the Wood Elves occupy the forest in the Eastern and Northwestern part of the realm.
Recently, a map of the areas that are home to the Border Princes was also released, with heraldry teasing all sorts of smaller human factions:
As you can see, there are also lots of hints for Dwarfs, Beastmen, and even possibly Tomb Kings on this map. What other niche factions will pop up in the future? We are super excited to know more!
What will the game rules for Warhammer: The Old World be like?
Update December 2023:
An article on December 18 details how army building works: Each faction in the game has a Grand Army list, which goes into very granular detail about what you can – and can’t – field in an army for that faction. Here’s the example given in the article – The Bretonnian Grand Army list::
The Grand Army list always showcases the “standard” way to play the faction – in this case, lots of Knights and Men-At-Arms/Bowmen. It also shows that an army can take mercenaries and allies, allowing you to field a pretty diverse force.
As an alternative to the Grand Army, factions may also have one or more Armies of Infamy, which are lists that allow you to field a different take on a faction. The article mentions Exile (Border Princes Bombards become available) and Errantry Crusade (even more Knights) Armies of Infamy for Bretonnia.
Update December 2023:
We have our first full unit stat block:
All the hints and previews we’ve received over the past couple of months are now starting to form a much clearer picture of how the game actually works, and this stat block and rules list for the Bretonnian Grail Knight shows us exactly what information we’ll get for each unit in the game. The article from December 11 focuses on the bottom section where the Special Rules are located: Special Rules are rules that aren’t fully explained in the entry of a unit, but rather in a) the army book for their faction or b) in the Core Rulebook for the game. In the latter case, they’re called Universal Special Rules. If you’re coming from Age of Sigmar, this might seem unfamiliar and unintuitive to you (why not just give a player all they need to know on the entry for each unit?), but for 40k players and players of older Games Workshop systems, this will seem immediately familiar as the way Games Workshop has always tried to make some of the unit rules in the game streamlined across factions and units as something players can memorize.
When Special Rules are at their best, they become a common vocabulary for players of different factions (think weapon rules in 40K 10th edition or Kill Team, to take some recent examples), and when they’re worst, they can increase the feeling that the game’s rules are impenetrable to new players, who will have to look up Special Rules all the time. We’ll go into much more detail with Special Rules when the full game releases early next year.
On top of that, the article also shows that unit entries will indeed have a ton of useful information on them, from obvious things like stat blocks, points and equipment to more unusual but useful things such as base size.
Update December 2023:
An article on Warhammer Community has introduced the new Magic System: Magic no longer has a dedicated phase in the game, but different kinds of spells fit into different phases in the game. While the game takes place before the Colleges of Magic were established, there are still eight Spell Lores in the game:
- Battle Magic
- Dark Magic
- High Magic
- Waaagh! Magic
Each lore has 7 spells that can fall into six different categories, each of which is used in a specific phase of the game:
- Enchantment (Strategy Phase)
- Hex (Strategy Phase)
- Conveyance (Movement Phase)
- Magic Missile (Shooting Phase)
- Magical Vortex (Shooting Phase)
- Assailment (Combat Phase)
Each spell has a casting value, can be unbound or dispelled by other wizards, and can be Miscast, meaning that bad casting rolls can have disastrous consequences for your army.
Update November 2023:
An article on Warhammer Community has gone into detail with two important aspects of Old World gameplay: Morale and Psychology.
Morale is basically what determines whether – and how – a unit retreats from a lost combat. Depending on how well you roll for it, your losing unit might Break and Flee (run away risking taking damage from enemy units they run into or even causing other friendly units to flee), Fall Back in Good Order (run away, but less of a distance and with the unit being ready to react to a charge afterward) or Give Ground, which is just a 2 inch move away from the winner of the combat.
Psychology is a more complex set of universal special rules that define how units affect each other mentally on the battlefield, such as Fear, which requires units charging a unit with that rule to succeed a Leadership test first, or Terror, which can cause enemy units to flee when you charge them.
Update October/November 2023:
We now know the 4 Phases a Turn in The Old World is made up of. Each Phase has 4 sub-phases, but at the moment we only know what they are in detail for the first Phase. The 4 Phases are:
- The Strategy Phase with the following sub-phases:
- Start of Turn, which is a step where specific abilities and special actions can be used
- Command, akin to the Command Phase in other GW games, where most of Character rules are activated.
- Conjuration, where players take turns casting buffs on their own units or debuffs on their enemies, starting with the player whose turn it is (the Active player)
- Rally Fleeing Troops, where the Active player gets to roll dice to see if their fleeing units can rally and return to the game.
- The Movement Phase with the following sub-phases :
- Declare Charges, where you pick which of your units get to attempt a charge, as well as what targets they’re aiming for. The inactive player can then make Charge Reactions, such as Hold, Stand and Shoot, Counter Charge and Flee.
- Charge Moves, where you actually make your Charges by rolling 2 dice and adding the highest roll to the Movement characteristic of the charging unit. If you fail your charge, you still move the distance you rolled, so failing a charge can leave your unit vulnerable out in the open.
- Compulsory Moves, where units that are forced to move by a rule, such as fleeing units, get to move.
- Remaining Moves, where any remaining movement options are resolved.
Along the November reveal of the Movement Phase, we also got news on Formations, which is the way your units are lined up when moving around the battlefield. This is far more involved than even what you might know from Horus Heresy or Necromunda, with options to Wheel and turn your unit as it moves, getting the unit into different formations for combat or marching, and the special formations available to some units, such as the Lance formation for Bretonnian knights.
- The Shooting Phase is a bit different than the first 2 phases: Instead of being split into 4 sub-phases that you go through once per phase, it has the following (pretty self-explanatory) sub-phases that each shooting unit has to go through when it shoots:
- Declare Target(s)
- Roll to Hit
- Roll to Wound
- Remove Casualties
- The Combat Phase works a bit like the Shooting Phase, where every unit that want to fight has to go through the following (approximate) sub-phases:
- Choose & Fight
- Calculate Result
- Break Test
The Combat Phase looks like one of the most complicated mechanics in any current Games Workshop game, with all sorts of different rules and effects affecting every single combat. Just take a look at this Combat Result table:
– And that’s all the phases covered! It looks like great news for anyone hoping for a really complex, old-school experience, but also slightly bad news for anyone who hoped for a streamlining or modernization of the classic rank and file wargame.
Update July 2023:
A new article on Warhammer Community details how the game has been updated (a consistent wording they use that makes it sounds like the Old World ruleset is like a new edition of WHFB rather than an actual new game system) to reflect some of the recent evolutions of how Games Workshop games work nowadays: there is apparently no Magic Phase anymore (just like in the new Warhammer 40,000), Morale is handled a lot like it is in Horus Heresy, where units losing combat will withdraw a bit rather than breaking and fleeing, and formations are rewarded in different ways. It sounds like a modern version of WHFB, which is probably what many fans are hoping for!
The game will be played on square bases rather than the round bases that are now more or less required in Age of Sigmar games. This was officially confirmed in a Warhammer Community article on July 21, 2021. This also indicates that the game will most likely have ranked up units instead of skirmish formations.
This might not seem like a big difference, but square bases work best with rank and file games where units are moved as one rectangular block (on a movement tray or something similar) rather than as individual models that have to be within 1 inch of each other as in Age of Sigmar.
Being on square bases could mean the game will be about more large-scale battles than Age of Sigmar, since such battles are easier to play if you move a unit block at a time rather than hundreds of individual units.
Will you be able to use your old armies from Warhammer Fantasy in The Old World?
To some degree, yes! A Warhammer Community Article from April 14, 2023 clearly shows old Bretonnian models being used in the game, but it also states that most models will have to be rebased to slightly larger bases. The reason for this is that the designers want to make room for more dynamic poses in the ranks and files of your units, and as far as we know, everything is going up one size (20mm bases are gone and are replaced by 25 mm, and so on).
On April 30, Games Workshop confirmed that all the old armies will have rules at launch, but that only a few of them (Bretonnia and Tomb Kings) will get new models in the first months of the game’s existence.
The connection between Warhammer Total War 3 and Warhammer the Old World
Right now it is looking like there will be a big connection between the factions that will be in the anticipated Warhammer Total War 3 and the upcoming release of Old World Warhammer.
If you watch closely in the video on that article, you will see that the concept art they show is actually some of the concept art they have shown for the Old World game.
So is it actually for both games? Is it mainly used for Total War and borrowed into Old World? Time will tell.
But I would bet that Cathay turns out to be a playable faction in The Old World game, just because it will be playable in Total War 3.
If you wonder if you liked Total War 3, we have a review right here (from warhammer fans).
New content from Total War: Warhammer 3 that are likely to end up in The Old World tabletop game
For Grand Cathay:
- Jade Warriors (infantry)
- Celestian Dragons (elite infantry)
- Terracotta Sentinels (giant living statues)
- Great Longma Riders (warriors mounted on winged horse creatures)
- Sky Lanterns/Sky Junks (flying war machines)
- Heroes and leaders who can transform into dragons
- Kossars (infantry)
- Streltsi (gun/axe hybrid infantry)
- Winged Lancers (cavalry)
- War Bear Riders (cavalry on polar bears!)
- War Sleds (chariots)
- Snow Leopards
- Elemental Bear (giant polar bear)
- Little Grom (cannon)
- Ice Guard (elite infantry pictured above)
- Frost Maidens and Patriarchs (heroes)