Battlefleet Gothic is a space battle game based in the Warhammer 40,000 setting during the Gothic War, a recent clash between the Imperium and Abaddon the Despoiler, the most powerful of the Chaos Lords.
The scale of the game is immense, with each several-mile-long warship taking up a few millimetres of space on the tabletop (the width of the model's stand, as a matter of fact), and the tabletop itself representing millions of cubic miles of void. Torpedoes the size of ICBMs streak silently across the void and swarms of fighters and bombers, the smallest the size of a Boeing 747, duel in dogfights spreading over hundreds of miles.
Battlefleet Gothic is based on the rules system used by Epic 40,000, devised to bring the larger war machines of the setting to the tabletop, and actually proved more popular than Epic 40,000.
Until the recent 2nd Edition of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, this was the closest Games Workshop had gotten to a roleplaying game in over a decade (miniatures make more money, simple as that).
Inquisitor jettisoned the concepts of game balance, points values and ironclad rules in favour of a character- and narrative-driven skirmish game, typically with about four characters per side. The default setting is of agents of the Imperium fighting against heretics (and each other) in order to preserve their interpretation of what the Imperium means to them.
The system is a lot more detailed than anything else currently available from Games Workshop, but mostly avoids being over-complicated. It's been used as the basis of several attempts at Warhammer 40,000 roleplaying, including my own.
Although designed with 50mm models in mind, Inquisitor works just as well with the more usual 25mm scale miniatures, allowing players to use their existing Warhammer 40,000 collections of models and scenery. Theoretically, there's nothing to stop you using any other setting with the Inquisitor rules, whether it's Warhammer medieval fantasy, World War II or modern day gang warfare.
The modern Warhammer 40,000 game works best when playing large scale futuristic battles, but Necromunda takes the game back to its tabletop skirmish roots by focusing on gang warfare in the industrial wastelands of a single hive city on the world of the title.
Players control a gang of a dozen or so survivalists, thugs, criminals, mutants and/or cultists, fighting for survival amongst the wreckage of thousands of years of unchecked urban sprawl and pollution. The system is based on the 2nd Edition of Warhammer 40,000 (which was current when Necromunda was first released), but expanded to include more detailed combat rules, injury effects and equipment.
A simple wealth and experience scheme helps starting gangs move from a bunch of settlers with homemade guns up to a feared band of well-armed mercenary killers. And the setting rocks, by the way, combining Mad Max barbarism, the lower end of cyberpunk tech, Aliens-style horror, urban gang warfare and the Wild West.
During the 2004-5 academic year, a homebrewed Necromunda variant was playtested at LURPS, in which the hive gangs were replaced with warbands of Chaos worshippers on a daemon world.
Games Workshop also released a similar game to Necromunda, called Gorkamorka, set on a world inhabited almost entirely by orks, and focusing on Mad Max-style vehicle combat and 'kustomizable' weaponry. It didn't sell anywhere near as well as Necromunda and is currently unavailable, but the designers intend to re-release it at some point as a supplement for Necromunda.
The Lord of the Rings
Games Workshop (creators of Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000) surprised a lot of people by announcing that they were producing a wargame based on the recent Peter Jackson films of Tolkien's epic.
Initially, I didn't fancy getting into the game; then I saw the model of the Mumak (the damn big elephants from Return of the King) and started drooling. I'm glad I did as well, as the system is beautiful, representing anything from the battle between the Fellowship and squads of Uruk Hai at Amon Hen, through Faramir's ambush on the road to Mordor, right up to the sieges of Helm's Deep and Minas Tirith and the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.
Heroes very definitely have the edge over the mere foot soldiers, and all the major (and some minor) characters from the films are provided with rules that fit their roles in the films. For example, Boromir is a hell of a fighter, but only has a single Fate point, meaning that he is more likely to die than other comparable heroes. And yes, Legolas can indeed fire lots of arrows with extreme accuracy. But he's also killable, which is an improvement on the films...
The models representing each character were given the blessing of the actor playing him or her, so there's at least some resemblance to the character of the film (varying depending on how much of a damn the actor gave, I suppose). If you've never liked the overblown, almost cartoony, styling of most Games Workshop models (larger than normal faces, hands and weapons), the Lord of the Rings range is definitely worth a look; the emphasis has been firmly on recreating the film in a more believable 28mm scale, and the range features, in my opinion, some of the best models Games Workshop has ever made.
It's not just the films that are covered by the games. Having done the films, Games Workshop extended the games to include other elements of Middle Earth and the War of the Ring: the dwarf holds, the rangers of the north, Tom Bombadil and so on.
Interestingly, Games Workshop have also elaborated on the history and culture of the Haradrim (the pseudo-Arabic guys with the oliphaunts), portraying them as humans who just happen to be ruled by Sauron, rather than a corrupted race like the Black Numenoreans. If anything, it makes the carnage of Pelennor Field all the more tragic.
The Lord of the Rings was originally released as three boxed games, one per film, with each concentrating on the style of battle in that film (skirmishes, cavalry and siege, and massed battles, respectively). Recently, Games Workshop released a '4th edition' that contains all of the rules from the three previous versions.
In Warhammer, players take command of armies of regimented fantasy models, typically from around 40 to 100+ per side, and hack their enemies to death in a violent, grim, dark fantasy world.
The core setting conceit is that the realms of Men are under siege by the northern forces of Chaos (imagine a cross between the Vikings, Mongols, fantasy barbarians and throw in mutation, madness, daemons, skulls and a fetish for spiky armour). Chief amongst the human realms is the Empire, which is at an early Renaissance level of tech, so it's flouncy puffed sleeves, gunpowder weapons and halberds all round. For the more traditionally-minded, you've also got the pseudo-Arthurian Bretonnians. Throw in the usual orcs, goblins, undead, elves and dwarfs, apply a dirty sheen of blood, grime and decay, and that's the Warhammer World.
The system is relatively simple to get your head around, being based around large blocks of troops with a few lone war machines, monsters and characters. Previous editions have been branded 'Herohammer' due to the disproportionate power of its characters, but by its 6th Edition, characters and magic have been toned down to the low level implied by the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay setting. Nowadays, you're a fool to leave your general wandering around without a bodyguard regiment.
A skirmish version, set in a devastated city five hundred years before the events of the main setting, exists as the Mordheim game. Several computer games have also been made: Shadow of the Horned Rat and Dark Omen. Games Workshop also supports the setting through a vast range of Black Library novels, comic strips and short stories.
Originally designed as a futuristic translation of the Warhammer game, targeted at skirmish games with a dozen or so models per side, Warhammer 40,000 has grown over four editions to become a mass combat game set apart from Warhammer by nearly two decades of separate setting evolution.
The undying God-Emperor of Earth is the only thing keeping humanity in existence, beset as it is on all sides by aliens and the daemonic hordes of Chaos (the same ones that appear in Warhammer, a nicely handled common thread between the two games). The game's space-fantasy roots are still visible in the presence of orks and eldar (the latter being, at first glance, elves, but with a severe attitude adjustment).
Easily as dark, if not darker, than the Warhammer setting, Warhammer 40,000 replaces the semi-democratic (if corrupt) Empire with the overtly fascistic and xenophobic Imperium. Worlds are destroyed as a matter of policy, and an individual human life is literally worthless in the eyes of the Imperium's rulers. Whether playing the elite bio-enhanced Space Marines, the slightly-less-elite (but still the best human troops in existence) Imperial Guard, one of the Imperium's rivals: the alien eldar, brutal orks, ancient necrons, youthful tau or all-consuming tyranids; or even the heretical legions of Chaos, there is a vast array of troops (and the models to represent them) available to field.
Like Warhammer, Warhammer 40,000 has been made into computer games (including the classic Space Hulk, and the more recent Dawn of War), novels, comic strips and almost made it as a CGI movie (but they couldn't find a distributor).