Total War: Warhammer 2 – just what is Warhammer anyway?

As Total War: Warhammer 2 arrives on consoles, Amy Walker gives us a Warhammer breakdown...

If you’ve ever been interested in tabletop or board games you’ve probably heard of Warhammer before. You’ve probably even passed a Games Workshop on the high street at some point. But what exactly is Warhammer? At it’s simplest, Warhammer is a model army game where players pit their armies against each other in combat. But there’s a whole lot more to the game than that.

Warhammer began way back in 1983, and drew inspiration from European history, as well as fantasy series such as The Lord of the Rings and Conan the Barbarian. The game features a wide variety of races and factions to choose from, including the human Empire, the ancient Elves, savage Orcs, the demonic Chaos, and the horrifying Undead to name but a few of the many options available to players. Each race and faction has access to multiple troop types, legendary creatures, heroes, and war machines, giving players the option to build their own forces to match not only their personality, but their own play style too.

Over the history of the game Warhammer has gone through a number of revamps and overhauls, with certain rules being updated, new ones introduced, and some concepts having been dropped all together. Each new iteration of the rules usually comes with new models too, with the quality of the designs and sculptures increasing over the years to produce what can easily be described as some of the best miniatures available today.

The series has also produced a number of spin-off games, including the skirmish based Mordheim, the naval based Dreadfleet, and the ridiculous but amazingly fun Bloodbowl, which mixes the fantasy races of Warhammer with American Football with hilarious results.

Whilst many fans of Warhammer spend a great deal of time and effort in playing the game, there are some who simply collect, build and paint the miniatures, something that is in itself a massively absorbing hobby. The game has hundreds of models available to players, and with customisation options this opens up to potentially hundreds more pieces, enough to keep even the most avid of painters entertained for years.

The skill of modelling and painting, and the effort that it takes, has been so recognised that Games Workshop hold an annual modelling and painting competition, Golden Deamon, every year to showcase the level of talent of their fans. The popularity of Warhammer has expanded so much over the years that it can now be found not only in the tabletop world, but in the best selling book lists, and as hit video games.

There are literally hundreds of Warhammer novels, covering the history of the world, famous heroes, epic quests, and intimate character pieces; with award winning writers such as William King, Graham McNeill, and Dan Abnett lending their talents. If you have no interest in playing the tabletop game itself, but are intrigued by the universe or drawn to the lore, there is enough content available in their printed works to keep you reading for years.


Total War: Warhammer 2 is only the latest in a long list of video games adapted from Warhammer, with multiple titles stretching back over the last 25 years. They ranger from turn based and real time strategy games like Total War, to adaptations of Blood Bowl, and even a Warhammer version of Left 4 Dead in the form of Warhammer: End Times – Virmintide.

Warhammer is a vast fantasy universe that is constantly evolving and growing, with people who grew up playing the game, reading the lore, and painting the models going on to shape the franchise that they love. Perhaps tabletop gaming isn’t quite your cup of tea, maybe you don’t like painting, perhaps you’re not a big reader, or maybe you don’t like video games; Warhammer, however, is so broad and expansive a franchise that I’m sure that there will be some part that will appeal.

Are you a fan of Warhammer? Are you looking forward to Total War: Warhammer 2? Let us know!

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