THE WFRP STORY IV: LET BATTLE COMMENCE

Warhammer itself would start to emerge in or shortly before 1982, when Bryan Ansell asked Richard Halliwell to produce a new game:

Bryan wanted to produce a new tabletop wargame to support the Citadel range of models, which was mostly a mix of historical ranges and role-playing miniatures in those days. Most roleplayers would only buy one or two models to represent their characters and maybe a handful of monsters such as goblins or skeletons. What Bryan realised was that Citadel could sell a lot more models if there was a battle game that would enable players to field dozens or hundreds of models at once. Bryan asked Richard Halliwell to come up with a game, and because we always worked together on projects, Richard and I came up with the game that would become Warhammer. I did the production work with our artist Tony Ackland – who was the chap who used to draw all of the miniatures for the mail order flyers and catalogues – there being no photos of the new models in those days – just little drawings.

– Rick Priestley, Juegos y Dados

JS: For a long time, people were just mail-ordering Citadel Miniatures because they could, because they loved the models and in their heads, I think they thought of the armies they might like to play with, but they weren’t doing anything with them, it was just lead under the bed, or painted up as little warbands, but nobody did anything with them. Until Bryan had said to Rick, “Write us a set of rules”, the vast majority of those miniatures were just going to collectors.

RP: And a typical mail order when I joined was just one of this, one of those, three of them… They were being bought by people who were, at best, playing roleplaying games. Then we started to do regiment deals, like “Buy 20 orcs with a leader and a standard bearer and a musician”, or “Buy an army deal, get these 20 orcs and those 20 orcs and these other 20 orcs and you’ve got an army” and so on. So, we started to sell armies…

– Rick Priestley and John Stallard, Battlegames

Emerald Tablet

The Emerald Tablet, Creative Wargames Workshop (1977)

We had been making fantasy models aimed at the Dungeons & Dragons market and historical models for historical gamers. There were a few sets of fantasy rules about: Rick Priestley and Richard Halliwell had published Reaper, I think that South London Warlords had a set of fantasy rules and I vaguely remember an American system called the Emerald Tablet, but there wasn’t a significant amount of tabletop gaming going on with fantasy miniatures. Most our staff at Citadel were gamers, and as we were surrounded by those fantasy models every day, it was inevitable that we should all want to start fighting big fantasy tabletop battles.

We had reached a point where Citadel had become quite successful in the context of the (very much smaller then) toy soldier “industry”. It seemed like the right time to bring in people who could get us moving forward with more interesting toy soldiers. The more interesting toy soldiers could then lead to us building our own fantasy gaming system, which could be a tabletop rival to Dungeons & Dragons. The only people that I knew who seemed at all likely to be up this task were Rick Priestley and Richard Halliwell (Lincoln), Tony Ackland (Stoke-on-Trent) and John Blanche (Nottingham). I had known them all during my time at Asgard. They all joined up. We were all amazed when John agreed to come along: what with him being a proper artist and everything.

– Bryan Ansell, Realm of Chaos 80s

Bryan wanted a set of wargames rules that would enable people to make use of their collections. He knew me as someone who had already written and published wargames rules with Hal. So he commissioned Richard Halliwell to write Warhammer, and me and Richard developed it together, and then because I’d been doing all the production work on the mail order, we originally intended to do the wargames rules as a mail-order giveaway to subscribers. But of course it grew, to the point where you couldn’t possibly do that, and the first Warhammer came out of that.

– Rick Priestley, Battlegames

The game was written by Rick Priestley, Richard Halliwell and Bryan Ansell and illustrated by Tony Ackland. The production was considerably less professional than later editions of the game:

 I then stopped doing mail order, and just spent my time getting first Warhammer finished, and it was done very much as an amateur publication, and I look back on the very first Warhammer with some embarrassment because it’s so amateurishly done. It’s absolutely appalling, because it was just me, with a bit of Richard Halliwell, and it wasn’t properly laid out, all done on a very primitive word processor, with Letraset for all the headers, and the drawings were done directly onto the paste-up, a very old-fashioned way of doing it. By the time we did the second edition, we were taking ourselves a bitmore seriously and employed a proof-reader.

First edition very entertainingly has two dates on it. The box back says ‘83, I think, and the internal contents says ‘82. So it was done over that period.

– Rick Priestley, Battlegames

Warhammer was typed by Rick Priestley’s mum. Not a lot of people know that.

– Bryan Ansell, Realm of Chaos 80s

Warhammer was nearly called Battleblade.

– Bryan Ansell, Realm of Chaos 80s

The next post will look at the published version of WFB1.

The first post in this series can be read here.

Title art by John Blanche. Used without permission. No challenge intended to the rights holders.

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2 thoughts on “THE WFRP STORY IV: LET BATTLE COMMENCE

  1. Nowadays, I’m afraid, “The Emerald Tablet” would be the name of some electronic device to assist tabletop war gamers. 😉

    Like

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