First Impressions: Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay – Part 1: Unboxed

Before I get into the meat and bones of this weeks post, I just want to give a shout out and a big thank you to all of the Unboxed Fans. This month saw the visits per month break the 800 barrier, not only that but over 200 people came back time and again, 19 of you managed to break the 100 times limit! So thank you very much for everyone who continues to make this place fun to work with.

There are quite a few people following the blog publically now too, which is great for me. I’m still finding my feet with this and I want to increase the content, in terms of quantity, quality and variety. Anyone who wants to help support the blog should feel free to contact me, if they have any ideas, suggestions or articles I’d love to hear from you. The easiest way to contact me is through Board Game Geek where my user ID is The Duke BGG and there is a button in the sidebar to add me to your Geek Buddies.

Finally a big shout out to anyone who advertises the blog. I know the guys over at Seize Your Turn do a great job there, but there are other bloggers linking to me now too or adding my links to BGG, so thank you for that. Right… that’s the housekeeping done, lets take a look at WFRP…

The Why

Two weeks ago I wrote a post ranting about the new edition of Warhammer and the reasons I wouldn’t be buying into it again. I’m not going to slate the new edition, I just can’t justify it, but I still love the universe and I wanted to look for a new way to explore it.

So (in a huff) I googled the base set of WFRP to see how much I could pick it up for… £53 (play.com) which sounded incredibly reasonable. I ummed and ahhed and weighed options (pay rent… buy new game) and before the night was out I had purchased a copy.

The Hate

With the game now listed as “Packing” I figured it was about time I actually read a review of it. I decided to check BGG as I always do and the reviews over there on the RPG section of the site are all positive. However I decided I wanted a bit more info so I checked out the FFG site. And what did I find… A storm of hate!

I found myself reading every article and then reading maybe the top fifteen comments about how FFG was destroying a fantastic game. My personal opinion, if the game you have is so fantastic, go play it! There are a lot of good in-depth articles on the site, including a seminar given by the lead designer Jay Little. If you think you might want to get this game, you much check these out because they are very very useful.

So, on the one hand I had positive BGG reviews, on the other I had a bag of hate mail and a lot of in depths technical jargon. So what did I do, I went to a source I can trust, I turned to the D6 Generation. You have to bear in mind that while I was doing this the game had already shipped, for some reason I like to do my research after blowing my cash.

So, while the D6Gers did not hate the game, they were not as blown away by it as I had hoped. However, I had little time to dwell on this revelation because the next day the game arrived.

Unboxed

After removing the rather superfluous sleeve you will find an FFG quality box. That means, beautiful artwork and solid cardboard, something that will stand up to years of play.

Inside the box are 4 full colour rulebooks, 4 decks of cards, 3 punchboard sheets, 3 tuckboxes, a deck of character cards, a pad of character sheets and a handful of dice.

I started at the contents and I was rather unimpressed. As with a lot of Fantasy Flight Games, there was a large cardboard insert with a small recess and all the components fitted inside that 3 inch wide hole. However, after punching everything out, unwrapping all the cards and bagging everything up I began to realise the need for the huge box. Quickly it became apparent that the Cardboard insert would have to go.

The Bits

The first thing I noticed were the character sheets:

As you can see they are beautifully designed, the art work is fantastic and there is a lot information on them, front and back. The only minor complaint is the thickness. They are the same thickness as the new Talisman cards, where as I was hoping for something akin to the punchboard thickness, but as I said, minor quibble.

Next I moved onto the punchboard. Lots of bits here. Everything was easily removable with no tears which is always a boon. All of the tokens and standees are great quality, some of the art is a little muted and difficult to distinguish from a distance, but on the whole, everything looks great.

Fatigue

Stress

The stress and fatigue tokens are double sided, which could be a problem if they get knocked off and you can’t remember which side they were on, however, they are much more efficient to use than a piece of paper, so kudos to FFG.

And that really is the thing to remember here with this game, it’s a paperless RPG. It is designed to make everything easier and that is really where I feel it succeeds. This box is a series of tools that could easily be used in D&D or any other RPG setting. 

Tracking Token 2Tracking Token 4Tracking Token 1Tracking Token 3

There are also a variety of multipurpose tracking tokens. They come in two varieties, blue with light grey backs and orange with dark grey backs.

The problem with these tokens is that they are used to track everything. Initiative, recharge, fate, so unless you define what each colour means (thus removing the multipurpose function) you could end up forgetting which token was representing what.

The puzzlefit pieces (which are one of the most ingenious bits of the system) are actually much smaller than I anticipated. They fit together well and are easily distinguishable on the table.

Again the only negative here is that the lack of neutral pieces. The puzzlefit pieces are an excellent GM tool and the neutral pieces represent event spaces, however after each player has a neutral piece the GM is left with just two.

My biggest complaint however is with the standees. 49 tokens to represent characters and monsters are included in the set but only 16 Stance Ring 1plastic bases are included. Also, not all the monsters from the core books are represented by a token and there are no duplicates. Even worse, there are no labels on the monsters, even as a veteran Warhammer Player I found myself unable to identify everything on sight. The standees themselves are very good quality and the stance rings that fit onto their bases are an excellent addition. But not including all the monsters or enough bases for everything seems like a ploy to  make you buy more stuff.

In addition to the punchboard tokens there are endless cards for everything from Actions, to wounds, to miscasts Standeeand insanities. Of course, there are no cards for monsters or weapons and equipment.

There are 36 dice included in the set, they are pretty big, nice quality custom dice and most of the images are pretty clear.

Overall, the amount of stuff in the box is huge. There are easily enough components to rival most board games and that is in addition to the four full colour rulebooks. Certainly, the most controversial part of the new release was the price, but I paid £50 for it, I would certainly have expected to pay at least £15 each for the core book and the GM’s guide and an additional £10 each for the Magic and Religion books, so that is £50, which makes everything else free.

So all those complaints I had about lack of components etc, they really mean nothing when you think about the game this way. The box contains everything you and three other players need to play, BUT… and this is a big but… everything you NEED to play, but not everything you might WANT to play.

Ok, so I’ve already gone on long enough, I have plenty more to say about my first impressions, so keep an eye out for part two, “The Rules”, where I will examine why the box doesn’t contain everything you might want to play the game, as well as examining how well the rules come together.

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