Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay

I fancy myself a connoisseur of games and recently I picked up the latest edition of the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying Game by Fantasy Flight Games, as well as Super Dungeon Explore. While I'm more than willing to discuss Super Dungeon Explore... in great length... whether you want me to or not, I really wanted to open up with WFRPG.

The Warhammer Fantasy RPG is sort of interesting as far as RPGs go in that it comes off considerably like a board game. You open up the box and you are staring at Four rule books, some funny looking dice, several decks of cards, and several heavy duty sheets of punchout tokens, minis, and chits. The art is fantastic, and does a good job painting a picture of the Warhammer world. It comes off as pricey being $100 retail, but if you really think about it you're buying the whole game. It comes with the core rules, the Game masters guide, and a (albeit small) bestiary. On top of that you're getting a box full of accessories to help you play this game and while they are seemingly required I feel a smart group could overcome the special dice and cards by writing out their own and assigning numbers to the different die results. There's a lot of talk in other reviews about how you need to buy Player Toolkits to add more players to your game, you really don't. One guy just gets his own set of custom handmade cards.

My biggest problem with the game is accessibility. The elements that make it quick to play also hurt the game drastically. None of the actions appear in the book so you need the cards, and the dice are special so you can't just use your own D6s and D10s. Obviously you'll be buying the set, but where it hurts the game the most is you'll have to go all in to play it. No free sample download of quickstart rules, no pdf of the core rules so you can check it out. You must pay to enter the game. I find this terrible because I have a collection of roleplaying games on my shelf that I've never played because I can't get a group together or the ruleset is terrible. I'm more accepting of this when I didn't just fork over $100.

My second complaint is it looks like a damn board game. The board game elements are really helpful and if you've played Pathfinder long enough, or Dungeon's and Dragon's 4.0 for five minutes you'll be familiar with having things pre-written on cards and different tokens for keeping track of things. These elements often become necessary in larger games or more high level campaigns, but few games are as in your face with them as this one. Besides making it hard to get into the game, I think it really puts up a wall in front of hardcore Roleplayers. With that being a turn off, it means players will be few and far between and that means I may have just purchased another RPG that will collect dust on my shelf.

One of my favorite elements of this game is the Party Sheet. Your group of adventurers has an area where they can store community fate points and slot in talents and other powers. It also does a handy job of explaining your group of would be heroes in terms like 'Swords for Hire' or 'Gang of Thugs' lastly you use these sheets to keep track of party tension. Without delving into what exactly all that means I can say what it does for your table. It helps them work as a team and builds a level of comradery. Often times I feel like my Pathfinder party is a team of individuals rather than a cohesive unit.

Another thing I appreciate about this game, which I didn't realize I liked until I ran a Flying combat encounter in my weekly Pathfinder game. Abstract Ranges! No squares, no hexes. You put your mini on the table, if you're in melee range I put enemy minis next to you, if they are further out I put a tracking token between them and you with a little distance in between. More tokens denote greater ranges and you spend movement actions to change your relative position. I like my tactical rpgs as much as the next guy, and as a 40k player I've never had a probably breaking out the tap measure, but I found this particular flying combat to be dull as we counted out squares and moved our mans around the table. Not only that, but I find that terrain is generally pointless to draw on the map. Nobody uses it, it's just avoided. Nobody runs up the banister (making acrobatics checks) to get to the enemy, when they can just take the stairs. It's never really spiced up my game, just made a bunch of spaces where the party and the monsters don't bother going. In the case of WFRPG I can lay down a card that says you're in a forest and X,Y,Z happen because of it. I think it gives more opportunity to let your imagination take you to the battle rather than seeing plastic pawns on a hex-grid.

Without going any further, because I have yet to play a game, I can say that WFRPG has some cool elements, but some serious hurdles to overcome if it's going to be taken seriously as an RPG... and I really wish they had a sample adventure to download...

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