I had a chat with the crew from The Old World Lives Podcast about Warhammer, and their thoughts about the upcoming new game Warhammer: The Old World. Read on to find out how it went!
So, first things first: hello! I’ve been a fan of the podcast for a while now, but for the benefit of those reading; could you tell me a little about yourselves, about the podcast, and why you felt the world needed a dedicated podcast a few years after the, shall we say, “discontinuation” of the Old World setting? (For readers’ benefit: the “Old World” is just one part on a map we call the Warhammer World, but we’ll keep saying Old World to save confusion!)
Chris: About two and a half years ago a group of Swedes gathered in the warm light of the hearth and…. the rest is history, and possibly made up. I reckon the podcast was born out of “well we talk about this anyway, let’s just record it and see if anyone wants to listen. All of us have a background in miniatures gaming, most recently the main focus was on the Horus Heresy (between us we had three podcasts when we started the OWL). When you have a long background of gaming, with all the lore and battle stories that entails… well, it’s something that’s easy to talk about and bond over.
Jimmy: My origins were humble and innocent, buying myself a box of Orc Boyz and Grimgor Ironhide, and from there it just kind of spiraled through the years. 🤣
This led to my love for greenskins which is never ending, and I probably own more unpainted than painted models, but come on, who doesn’t? I’ll get to it eventually… 🙈
I still sport some other armies too, Chaos and Dwarfs being the most recent ones, but I also have a Skaven army from 7th Ed during my later tournament years, which became a hated force due to my warmachines and outrageously good luck.
Chris already touched a bit on our Heresy background. It was during a Heresy event we just started to talk a bit about Warhammer Fantasy, how we missed those lost times and just wanted to go back to it, and I mean who would stop us in the end?
The timing was also perfect as I had started playing some Fantasy again myself with some local old players as I started to play less and less Age of Sigmar, the game lacked something that I missed: like-minded players.
With this lot of (tOWL) guys I KNEW that I had found the right crew, as our views on Warhammer Fantasy and how it was to be played was very close to how we wanted to enjoy our Horus Heresy games, so it just clicked. The rest led to where we are today.
People who know me also know that my most favourite game in the end is Mordheim, the skirmish game of the Old World and I just can’t get enough of it!
Chris: Jimmy has been cursed by things he’s found in Mordheim. The greed, darkness and insidious nature of it all have made other members of the podcast crew Mordheim players as well, after nigh on 20 years avoiding the game (for no reason whatsoever!)!
Based on the very little we know (by which I mean only those things that have appeared in the articles published by Warhammer Community), how do you feel about the upcoming release of the new game Warhammer: The Old World?
Chris: Cautiously optimistic. From what we’ve seen so far (renders, maps, drawings, tidbits of lore) it sounds like it’s off to a good start. And with the current track record of miniature releases coming out of Nottingham, we know the models will be ace at least. Rules are impossible to speculate on, but here’s hoping it will be a mix of modern games design and 6th Ed!
Jimmy: I have a good feeling about it but, like Chris says, it is just too early to speculate on the rules. I do hope that players new and old can enjoy it together with old and new armies.
I know that you guys tend to prefer the 6th Edition of Warhammer for your gaming, but that you’re very familiar with the other Editions and various changes that were made between each. If you were behind the wheel of Warhammer: The Old World, what are some elements from any Editions of Warhammer that you would include in the game, and why?
Jimmy: I want to keep the troops of the armies as an important part. The grunts, muddy-boots soldiers, and not focusing on bringing elite armies; but it should still be possible to do so if one does prefer that way of building an army! But I would like to see some limitations brought back again, 0-1 choices made certain units just feel way more special and rare, just like in the lore.
I do enjoy the open/narrative/matched play that GW have started with recently in their games. This opens up new ways to play the game as well as focusing on certain eras through the ages for campaigns or certain big historical battles. I would however love to see it all set around the time of Magnus the Pious, and the great war against Chaos in his time.
I also want to keep monsters usable. Too often they are taken down by cannons and the like, this goes for any of the old Editions. They don’t necessarily have to be able to cause tons of damage, just give them some staying power. This comes from a guy who loses his giant in turn 1 or 2 every game in any Edition. 😅
I’d love to see a reworked magic system (much like the card system of 4th and 5th edition which I’ve been taking a liking to recently) and hidden lists for magic items and stuff like fanatics. 👍
Statlines that can be recognised but still feel fresh would be a good thing, I must say that 40k has done this in a good way with its newer iterations.
Recently GW has taken classic looks and made them modern for some sculpts. A GREAT example of this is the Ogor/Ogre (Brutogg Corpse-Eater) from the upcoming game “Warhammer Quest: Cursed City”, where the aesthetic is obviously influenced by 3rd to 5th edition Ogres, but in a new fresh way. Think of orcs having the looks of today’s orcs but the clothes and armour of the 4th and 5th edition era like this?
Chris: See Jimmy’s reply above, he puts it pretty well together.
In a similar vein, what are some elements you would NOT include in the game, and why?
Chris: Horde units (unwieldy, expensive and makes it hard to get into the game), “auto-includes” (any time you hear the word “you have to take this and that or your army won’t win” it’s a bad time), and magic that can decimate the enemy army round one.
Jimmy: I too ain’t that fond of spells that can decimate armies. (If the size of the game and the power of spells went hand-in-hand it could be something, though!)
Universal Always Strikes First for elves comes to mind for example, no one but elf players enjoy that. 😉I like special rules, but not when there’s a TON of them in an army.
Chris: To be fair, not even all elf players like rules like that..
Jimmy: This is also true although rare. 🤣
So, we’ve touched on the gaming side of things, but I’d like to talk a bit more about my favourite thing: the fluff (background, history, lore, whatever you want to call it!), the reasons everyone’s doing what they’re doing, the consequences, and so on.
First, an easy one: who’s your favourite named character and why?
Chris: Bobo the Wonder Snotling, Beloved of the Forums of Old (remember those?) Jokes aside, it has to be Prince Imladrik, doomed to fight a war no one could win because of the whims of a king who proves that power shouldn’t be inherited.
Jimmy: Mine would be Grey Seer Thanquol. He’s a mix of a serious villain with purpose and a Saturday morning cartoon villain. His grand schemes are always foiled but he still gets away with it in one way or another.
Next one’s a bit trickier! With the title “The Old World” and the accompanying map we’ve seen, we’re fairly sure that the game will be set in the area of the world we expect it to be, and the update on the work done to the Bretonnia faction gave some quite clear evidence of when in the timeline the story might be set (without technically confirming it for us). But, we’ve just assumed that the setting and timeline will remain unaltered, rather than starting over and/or re-writing history.
To be 100% clear for readers, at this stage we don’t have any confirmation either way on this – BUT – guys, if there were to be any changes to events in the already-established timeline: what, if anything, would you like to see? If not, why not?
Chris: What I would love to see is an Age of Darkness/Horus Heresy approach. A Core Rulebook with campaign books for different major conflicts, with cross-playability of course. Adding to and clearing up the existing lore is probably the way to go if they want old players to get really invested. Some changes are fine, lore changed or was added between the editions in some ways after all!
Jimmy: This is a tricky one! But something I hope they don’t do is answer too many mysteries, like the TRUE origins of the Skaven, let us keep speculating.
I don’t really mind minor changes, though. A good example of a minor change that was good for the story is from 40k/Horus Heresy. In the era of 3rd edition 40k it stated that Horus was the Primarch who turned Lorgar to Chaos. In modern lore it is the other way around, and I’d say that it is a pretty good change!
In the end we don’t know what changes they will make, what they will flesh out or what they choose to censor (looking at you, baleful one eyed creatures who hides in the mist!). Either way I hope it is done with respect and keeps the soul of Warhammer.
In the latest Edition of Warhammer 40,000 we’ve seen a renewed focus on scaleable, progressive narrative gameplay with the inclusion of the Crusade. Is this something you think would fit well in The Old World?
Chris: There was a version of scalable campaigns back in 6th: the Border Princes campaign. We got one running between the podcast crew. If they were to update that and put it in W:TOW it would be icing on the cake.
Jimmy: I certainly think this type of campaign could fit well with Warhammer Fantasy, it would also help players to have fun as they bolster their forces with new miniatures.
I want to pick your brain a little about Warhammer Fantasy as a hobby for a bit. Historically, Warhammer has always been much less pick-up-and-play than other titles from Games Workshop. In later Editions, the sheer volume of models required to play a “standard” sized game was an obstacle in itself. Additionally, while we’re generally quite a happy bunch, us Fantasy fans gained a bit of a reputation for “gate-keeping”, or not being especially welcoming to new hobbyists or those who weren’t doing things the “right way”.
What efforts do you think could be made in the production and promotion of Warhammer: The Old World to make it more accessible to people who want to try it out, and what do you think can/should be done to discourage people from dissuading others from joining in or doing the hobby their own way?
Chris: Seeing the success of starter sets like Betrayal at Calth and Burning of Prospero (be honest now, they were never separate board games) I’d say that a box with nominally two forces, that could easily become either two starting forces for new players starting out, or a box to boost your army with would be perfect. Caveat to that is… if the supposed “Three Emperor” setting is true! Aiming the game toward returning hobbyists is good, but new players will always be needed and they should be encouraged.
Of course, there will always be hobby decisions that you don’t agree with (curse your based movement trays, Jimmy!) but… that’s your own problem, really. I’m more than happy to have any number of hobbyists that don’t have a deep knowledge of the lore but have a good demeanor and a hobby spirit.
Jimmy: Chris makes great points regarding the “boxed games” of Horus Heresy.
I also believe that base sizes shouldn’t matter too much, but instead incorporate the movement trays into the rules (and add re-rolls when they are based, right Chris?).
In this way people could enjoy round based minis in the game with either makeshift movement trays (looking at you 32mm based daemons) or released ones to make round based miniatures being able to “rank up” without being on square bases. This way players of round based games can enjoy the rank and file games that Warhammer Fantasy is known for.
Being able to use some crossover miniatures from sister games is also a good way to let people with AoS collections try out this new game of the Old World without having to dive in too deep.
Also, most importantly, keep the game in 28-32mm heroic scale. 😎
Age of Sigmar was released in 2015, and is more-or-less based on the same franchise. Since that time it’s become extremely popular, and whole new ranges of models have been invented based on a much more sci-fi, higher fantasy setting. The difference between your average Age of Sigmar miniature and Warhammer Fantasy miniature are night and day, not only in terms of overall size, but the grandiosity that comes with a higher fantasy setting.
Many Age of Sigmar players picked up the game after the *sigh* ‘demise’, of Warhammer. Many more have picked up the game along the way, either oblivious to Warhammer or simply aware of it as the “distant background” of Age of Sigmar.
To what degree do you think Games Workshop should try to appeal to this fanbase when producing and marketing The Old World? What, if any, concessions should be made to incorporate the more outlandish High Fantasy factions, that don’t resemble anything like the original Warhammer ranges, into the new game?
Chris: It depends. If we go back to a setting with the grittier feel of 6th Ed, with the Storm of Chaos and turnips becoming mutants and eating babies (or so the well-fed villagers said), I reckon it would appeal a lot to returning players and those who started at the dawn of the new millenium. I think it would appeal to newer players as well, those who started after the Fall, and want to see what it’s all about but don’t feel like getting into games that are no longer produced. I think it would be a mistake to include newer factions in a game set in the Old World just to cater to a fanbase when a new and returning fanbase can be created. Games Workshop has shown time and again with their relaunches of older game IPs that they can make something new out of something old and make it work!
As a player of both Fantasy and Age of Sigmar I love the idea of them being separate. It makes for a better story for both (he says as he knows full well he’s building Vanari Auralan Wardens to use as Spearmen in a Hoeth-based army list).
Jimmy: I don’t think they should try too hard to appeal to AoS players. I’m sure there’s a big enough group out there who are eagerly waiting for this new game. If anyone who mainly plays AoS is interested, then they should of course feel free to try out some Old World Warhammer!
Regarding incorporating new factions, it’s a bit of a double-edged sword. On one hand it’d be sooooooo cool if they incorporated factions like Araby, Ind, Cathay and Nippon and expanded on unit types mentioned in existing lore and games like Warhammer: Total War and Warmaster.
On the other hand they might just clutter the myriad of armies that exist and make too many new factions so that current existing ones get forgotten and no one will consider playing them.
All in all though, all that matters is that we’ll all be square again!
Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions for me. Who knows, if people don’t entirely hate it I might pester you some more later on!
In the meantime, if people want to see and hear more about you guys’ hobby goings-on and your thoughts and feelings about The Old World, where should they go?
“Facebook, @TheOldWorldLives, Instagram, @theoldworldlives, Twitter @TheOWLpodcast and you can reach us by e-mail at email@example.com!” Intro-based jokes aside, those are probably the easiest ways to get in touch with us, in descending order. We’re available on most podcast apps and we’re hosted here: https://theoldworldlives.podbean.com/
Jimmy: And remember! Stay Square
Thanks very much to MrLlamatastic for arranging this interview, and a huge thanks to Chris and Jimmy from The Old World Lives podcast for taking the time to speak to us!
- Warhammer: The Old World logo – credit GW
- Warhammer Fantasy 6th Edition Cover – credit GW
- A “horde” of sneaky Night Goblins – credit Jimmy Henriksson (https://www.instagram.com/p/CD9o6bDHBa4/)
- Cover art for Grey Seer by C L Werner – credit Black Library
- Horus Heresy: Age of Darkness – credit Forge World
- Warhammer 40,000 Crusade logo – credit GW
- Warhammer Age of Sigmar logo – credit GW
- The Old World Lives logo – credit The Old World Lives