Warhammer: The Old World
"Only after disaster can we be resurrected"
- – Tyler Durden - Fight Club
- – /tg/'s reclusive soon poster
The game is confirmed to be a 28mm scale rank and file game, with things taken from almost every edition of Warhammer fantasy (3rd-8th, as 1st and 2nd are these RPG/wargame hybrids), essentially meaning the game is almost certainly going to be Warhammer Fantasy 9th edition with a fancy name. It's unknown what really brought around the decision to make the game, whether it was the general hatred and disdain that Age of Sigmar has never been able to shrug off, Total War: Warhammer and Vermintide doing so well, or GW realising there was an entire audience of wargamers that weren't being tapped or for some other reason known only to god, it looks like the sun will rise upon Warhammer Fantasy once again. The biggest hope for many a remaining Fantasy fans is that The Old World revives and updates factions squatted during the End Times and Age of Sigmar, like the Tomb Kings, Bretonnia and Dwarfs, with a few squatted factions being hinted or out right shown off as of writing.
While initially marketed as "The Horus Heresy for Age of Sigmar", it seems the more accurate statement would be "The Horus Heresy for Warhammer Fantasy", as the game is set during the Age of the Three Emperors which was the time period when a most of the events and conflicts that would shape almost every race in Warhammer Fantasy occurred, similar to what the Heresy did for the Imperium. This is coming at a time when the Horus Heresy series as a whole is beginning to wrap up with its final act in the Siege of Terra, which will begin to free up a significant portion of Black Library and GW staff to move on to the next big project.
New Models were also confirmed to be on the way.
Theories and Potential Releases
On the 6th of February 2020 we got our first proper tease of the Old World, a map. The map itself is not that remarkable, it's just a map of The Empire, Norsca, Kislev and a few more countries, though it should be noted the design team has taken cues from Total War: Warhammer (This didn't upset some people, honest) as the design as the map is a bit more condensed and small compared to other maps of the Warhammer World. The most interesting thing that was seen on the map however was 4 coats of arms seen on the map in Reikland, Averland, Hochland and Marienburg with each of these coats of arms having the names Wilhelm, Ludwing XII, Sigismund and Magritta on them which all correspond to Elector counts and a Grand Theogonist during the Time of Three Emperors. This is very interesting and may mean that the starting point for the Old World would be this part of The Empires history, which considering the main conflicts of the era were Gorbads Waaagh, The 3 vampiric wars and The Great War against Chaos, this is a pretty cool way for the Old World to hit the ground running.
With the tease of the new map revealing a time set during the Age of Three Emperors, a few theories and ideas about how the Old World will be released have come to the front. Primarily the Old World will be updated in a similar way to the Horus Hersey was updated with specific battles and wars explored to compliment army updates, with the Age of Three Emperors having the potential for The Empire, Orcs and Goblins, Vampire Counts and the Warriors of Chaos all to be updated and re-released with the Old World at launch (it would also be pretty easy as most of the Vampire counts and Warriors of Chaos models stuck around in AoS and about half the Empires and Greenskins models are still available). This also makes it possible for other parts of the Warhammer timeline to be explored, so we could see books for The War of Vengeance, The Skaven invasion of Lustria, the rise of Sigmar and even the Great Catastrophe. This means we will be unlikely to see some of the old classic Warhammer Fantasy Character (like Karl Franz, Archaon, and Grimgor), though quite a few of the characters were alive and active during this time as most of the Dwarf, Elf, Lizardmen and undead characters were pootling around during this time, though the shorter lived races will all have new or historical goobers taking the place of some of their pre established characters.
Insert 'Then the Winged Hussars arrived' meme here.
In a move people hoped for but didn't really expect, GW announced that Kislev would be getting an army again, with updates to units like winged lancers and Ungol horse archers to be expected, as well as new units. One of these new units, or perhaps a hero choice, are the Ice Guard, presumably a wing of Kislev's Ice Witches.
This has been a slightly controversial announcement as the units' early concept art doesn't quite match the expectations of Warhammer Fantasy's generally-grounded art style (at least compared to other games). Plus the idea of magically-enchanted weapons being used by entire units (albeit for an elite guard) is a bit of a weird thing to see outside of the three Elven factions or grail knights, although the degenerate yhetees set somewhat of a precedent for magic ice-weapons in particular. Oh, and /pol/tards and tumblrite snowflakes started arguing because they were women (ignoring the fact every magic user in Kislev is one) but that was to be expected and doesn't factor in because neither of them are going to buy models anyway. Time will tell how this unit is properly received when the models actually come out.
The announcement also plays nicely into the idea that the Old World will be seeing the Age of Three Emperors and the Great War against Chaos as it's starting point, due to Kislevs involvement in fighting Chaos and the effect the period had on the countries history. Not to mention the technological stagnation of Kislev means that wherever in the timeline future parts of ToW take place in, Kislev will remain relevant if the Empire is involved.
With a second showcase of concept art revealing bear cavalry (with the direct implication that bears will also be character mount options), Kislev may in fact be one of the starter factions. While it's very early to be speculating about starter boxes, a starter set with Kislev fighting the Warriors of Chaos would be a really nice box to see.
Update 1: On the 3rd of February, 2021 Total War Warhammer 3 was announced with Kislev being one of the starting races. In it we see both the new Ice Guard and Bear Cav, and a post on the Warhammer community confirmed that Creative Assembly had been working with GW and using the concept art of both these units for the game. This had been theorised before the trailers release, but conformation now means that Total Warhammer 3 will act as a sort of marketing device for ToW, and that units we see in game will most likely be introduced to ToW as well. Cathay was also confirmed for the game meaning that it may also be introduced to ToW as an army as well, which would be a very interesting turn of events. Also the Ice Guard look a lot better than they did in the Concept art so yay, the models will likely look better as well.
Update 2: As of the 13th of May, a poor-resolution map of Kislev's borders in TOW has been unveiled. The capital's heraldry bears (hue) the name "Romanoff", which may refer either to Alexis Romanoff who was the Tzar of Kislev during the Great War against Chaos, or his predecessor, likely a grandfather or great grandfather with newer information available. In addition the Kislevite borders now stretch all the way across Zorn Uzkul to the edge of the "Nation of the Hobgobla-Khans", indicating that the older fluff of the Kislevite colonies are being reintroduced in some way. This is also impressive as it makes Kislev much larger than its previous record, when the Wheatlands were canon in older editions. The safe bet is that when the TOW storyline comes up to the Great War Against Chaos, the colonial oblasts will burn first.
In the final days of 2020 and after half a year of absolute silence on Old World, GW dropped a surprise blog filling in the world map with a freshly un-squatted Bretonnia. All 14 dukedoms are represented, albeit with new dukes and heraldry befitting the time period, which we can now safely say is somewhere in the 23rd century (Imperial Calendar) thanks to the notable inclusion of King Louen Orc-Slayer. The perfidious Greenskins and aloof Wood Elves get name-dropped, and the maritime High Elves have a string of new enclaves along the Bretonnian coastline (including one built on top of an old WFRP location), all pointing towards early inclusion of these non-human races.
The July 2021 update was a harbinger of good news: 28mm square bases are in (meaning you can use your old WHFB armies!), AoS-style naming schemes are out ("Da boyz woz called Orcs in da Old World, so datz what dey’z called!"), the rules system will be based on the cream of the crop of WHFB's 3rd through 8th editions, and the timeline window stretches from the late Age of Three Emperors into the Great War Against Chaos. Kislev is once again talked about, but the focus this time seems to be on mentioning their enemies on the eastern steppes - hobgoblins, hobhounds, centaurs, and half-orcs - all races which were present in Oldhammer days but have long since been lost to time. The blog muses that some of these beasts are mere rumour, but on the other hand there's a suspicious air of similarity with the recent releases GW has been putting out.
Suddenly, the Border Princes
In a completely unexpected move, GW's October blog focuses entirely on the Border Princes region of the Old World. While still not an army in their own right (they were explicitly fluffed to be a Your Dudes sandbox region to begin with) the map has been updated with a number of significant principalities during TOW's chronological place in the timeline, including a crest bearing the familiar name of Harkon. Several relatively obscure landmarks and places have been added to the map as well, and the fact that some of the new faction crests are Tilean and Estalian suggests that the other two southern realms will get their own lore blog posts in time, if nothing else.
February 2022 blog finally confirms a theory that was hypothesized by many - Cathay will become a fully playable faction in the Old World. There are still little info aside from what we already know, but at least GW provided us with a really detailed map of Northwestern Cathay, which, once again, shows some Hobgoblins, but also adds several obscure Chaos tribes to the north of Great Bastion, such as Kuj.
Reaction and the Fantasy player base
Now you would think that the resurrection of Warhammer Fantasy would make all fantasy fans very excited and pleased, right? Well this is /tg/, where bitterness and contempt is the natural state of most of the people who frequent the board, and the announcement of Fantasy's return has caused a bit of disgruntlement in part of /tg/, mostly in the Warhammer Fantasy players.
At first this may seem confusing, as Fantasy players seem to be the target audience of this announcement, but there are a few factors to consider. 1) A lot of fantasy players have not forgiven GW for The End Times, and still consider it to be the greatest wrong GW has ever committed on their player base and while some people say that they should just "get over it", spending hundreds of dollars on an army and hobby, getting invested in the universe and then having the company kill/butcher your army, their fluff and the universe and then saying "buy it again" would leave most people feeling angry and betrayed. It's a bit like your asshole friend running over your childhood dog, telling you to deal with it, and then showing up 2 years later saying he will get you a replacement cat. That GW has clearly stated that End Times is still a part of the lore has only gotten people more pessimistic. 2) A lot of Fantasy players hold nothing but animosity for Age of Sigmar players. The two player bases do not get on at all, and this has been proven with the ill fated attempts to have a joint Warhammer Fantasy and Age of Sigmar general threads on /tg/, which would consist of both player bases telling each other and the OP to fuck off, and a new threads being made for each game. The few grogs who "get along" with AOS players, are the ones who were able to move on to AOS themselves, and were also the people most excited by the Old World announcement. There are also the people who are saying that Age of Sigmar was to thank for this, as it has done so well which rubbed a few people the wrong way. Though recently this hatred of the two fanbases has subsided, because like most things on the internet, people got bored and moved on, and simply went their separate ways, either accepting AoS or just ignoring it, with that said, of course there are some few people left still stroking the flames of hatred, with no purpose at all because people already moved on to either Total War: Warhammer/Vermintide games, made the conversion to AoS, went to play 40K instead, moved to other tabletop games, or just kept playing Fantasy like the End Times never happened.
A surprisingly common fear is what armies will actually make it into the game, as GW describing it as "Horus Heresy for AoS" has led some people to believe that the game will only feature various flavours of Empire and a few other human factions in a similar vein to 30k, and the map reveal showing a bunch of Empire characters has put a few people on edge. However the fact that non human factions can be identified in the logo (Goblins, Daemons and Skaven), Settra being specifically mentioned in GW's meme marketing and that the very obvious and smart thing to do would be adding all the previous armies from Fantasy to the game means this is probably people jumping at shadows. But this is GW, and they very commonly miss the obvious and smart thing to do. And for plenty of Fantasy players who never stopped playing the game, all the Old World could offer is new models and with the price hikes and biased updates GW has been putting out lately, not all Fantasy players are particularly enthusiastic to having to pay $60 for a single box of Dwarfs. And speaking of money, many WHFB players sold their armies thinking they wouldn't be able to play with them anymore, only for GW to resurrect the setting a couple of years later. That means re-buying and painting everything their armies from scratch, or buying them back with the price increase the announcement meant. Hell, they are the lucky ones: there were people so mad about AoS that SOME EVEN BURNED THEIR ARMIES.
Now with all this being said some of the less bitter Fantasy players are excited or at least curious about The Old World, and most of the people on the /wfg/ are interested to see new Fantasy models (if for nothing else conversion bits and unit filler). Only time will really tell how this will play out, and if the game is supported properly it will probably do very well and if it can offer up good quality models for the old Warhammer factions it may even tempt the most bitter of grog to at least get some more units for his army. At the very least there won't be the huge confusion from Total War: WARHAMMER fans looking for the game its based on anymore.
Truth be told the simplest explanation for this whole thing is that GeeDubs noticed they can juice out the most from new Cities of Sigmar and other classic factions models with a "prequel" game, with virtually every kit from The Old World being compatible with AoS, it actually makes a lot of sense, if things go well then they could finally update their whole line into modern 3D designed multikit plastic set (and the old models still being valid to play and maybe even made to order), if things don't go that well for The Old World then at least we still got updated models for AoS recycled factions and it can remain as an alternate ruleset that grumbling neckbeards can play with. The End Times, however, won't be retconned (hopefully except some of the really stupid minor details and hand waved as confused wrong news delivered in the middle of the apocalypse), as Old World is placed during the Age of Three Emperors.
Because you can't keep a good undead down (GW made this, by the way).