This post continues my history of WFRP1, which started here.

The second edition of Warhammer appeared in December 1984. It is, like its predecessor, a boxed set containing three booklets: ‘Combat’, which describes the battle rules, ‘Battle Magic’, covering spellcasting and magical artefacts and ‘Battle Bestiary’, which contains creature descriptions and a short world guide. There is also a pull-out scenario inside the ‘Battle Magic’ booklet, titled ‘The Magnificent Sven’, a sheet of colour card counters and a rules reference sheet.

The main body text is typewritten in the same font as WFB1, and the spelling and grammatical errors remain. However, the presentation is improved in other respects. The booklets have colour illustrated covers. Headings are typeset, rather than added (sometimes unevenly) in Letraset. The organisation and explanation of the rules is also considerably improved, though the “p x” page references remain, and there is again no index.

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The biggest change from WFB1 was signalled in the new edition’s title. The pretence of being an RPG was dropped, and the game called for the first time Warhammer Fantasy Battle Rules. All role-playing content was removed for inclusion in a future supplement:

The authors of Warhammer have also produced a companion set, Warhammer Fantasy Role-Play, which deals with individual adventure, single combat, and small scale games.

Warhammer Fantasy Battle, second edition, ‘Combat’, p6


WFB2‘s rules for movement and combat are little changed from WFB1. Troops are described with the same selection of characteristics, except for the addition of Points Values (PVs), derived formulaically from profiles. Characteristic values have changed only slightly. Strength and Toughness are expressed on a 1-10 scale, instead of WFB1‘s alphanumeric mix. Half-point Move scores have been eliminated.

The flying rules have been overhauled substantially and replaced with the same system of swoopers, hoverers and landers used in Reaper. The same system would also be used in WFRP1.

There are three ranks of hero. They differ from those introduced in Forces of Fantasy (Minor Hero, Hero and Mighty Hero) and are again the same as those subsequently used in WFRP1 (Champion, Minor Hero and Major Hero).

There are still no rules for gunpowder weapons, with the exception of one artillery piece: the bombard.


WFB2 makes more substantial changes to WFB1‘s psychology rules. It expands the range of psychological effects to include alcoholism, animosity and panic, in addition to the previous conditions of fear, frenzy, hatred, stupidity and terror. It also introduces a standard 2D6 test against personal characteristics to determine effects. In WFB1, personal characteristics are essentially unused.


WFB2 also introduces some other elements that would survive into WFRP1. There is instability for demons and undead. Many of the poisons that would appear in WFRP1 (such as Manbane) originate in WFB2.

Overall, WFB2 is the edition of the wargame that has the closest rules compatibility with WFRP1. This should not be surprising, since it was the current edition of the wargame when WFRP1 was launched.


WFB2 contains only a sprinkling of references to the contents of the role-playing rules (which are usually referred to just as Warhammer Role-Play).

Personal characteristics … are developed and discussed in more detail in the companion Warhammer Role-Play Rules.

op cit, p11

In small skirmishes, brawls and other more detailed role-play games all of the players are on the same side. … See Warhammer Role-Play for a fuller explanation, and more detailed rules.

op cit, p14

Warhammer Role-Play game … provides super-detailed rules for weight and encumbrance.

op cit, p15

The use of other poisons are described in more detail in Warhammer Role-Play. These are more sophisticated toxins permiting [sic] various effects, including paralysis, unconsciousness and Will Power destruction.

op cit, p58

Warhammer Role-Play characters can be used directly in any Warhammer battle, with no need to change any of the profiles except for taking the Wounds from the minor to the major scale.

op cit, p38

There is no further explanation of these comments. They provide very few clues as to the role-playing rules that were envisaged in the companion game. The rules would remain mysterious until the publication of ‘The Web of Eldaw’ in 1985 (which will be covered in a future part).

Overall, WFB2 is a natural development of WFB1. It is more professionally presented. Its mechanics are more clearly expressed, more comprehensive and more consistent. For the most part, however, it builds on the foundations of the first edition and maintains the same core system.

The next post will look at magic in WFB2.

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


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