Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay
Fantasy Flight Games
Release Date: November 2009
MSRP: $99.95
Number of Players: 2 or more
Playing Time: 3-4 hours or more
ISBN: 978-1-58994-696-5
UPC: 9-781589-946965
Age Rating: 13+
ICv2 Rating: 3 Stars out of 5

Roleplaying games are becoming a harder to sell; with direct competition from online and console RPGs, not to mention the aging of the hobby, it can be tough to reach new markets. With the new edition of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, Fantasy Flight Games attempts the previously unthinkable; making a tabletop RPG into a more visual experience to draw in a new audience.  FFG also recently held a preview weekend, sending sneak peek materials out to select stores to help introduce the game to its core audience.

When I first opened the review copy FFG sent, I thought they packed some components from Runebound or Descent into the massive box by mistake.  In fact, it wasn’t a mistake; they meant to include all the various decks of cards, colorful specialty dice, and even the cardboard heroes with plastic stands.  The changes don’t stop there; character sheets have become double-sided character cards; the dice have icons rather than numbers; and there’s a progress track with puzzle-cut pieces to help keep track of the ebb and flow of a character’s combat attitude.  Much of the game’s core resembles the WFRP of old, but these changes make it more like one of FFG’s famously massive board games, but without the same high degree of accessibility.  It’s also clear that little thought was given to the growing market segment online; chiefly because of the components, this strikes me as a game that wouldn’t lend itself well to direct download--good news for retailers but a potential limit to achieving greater market penetration.

I cannot fault FFG for trying something new; this is clearly an attempt to draw in a new audience for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, perhaps even riding on the coattails of another famous and recently redesigned RPG.  The problem is WFRP is neither a true tabletop RPG, nor is it a board game; it’s something halfway in-between.  It isn’t enough like a boardgame to draw that crowd, and many of the components seem to be of limited utility such that I was confused by them initially.  It felt as though new elements had been stapled on as an afterthought rather than truly integrated.

Handsomely presented though it is, at an approximate MSRP of $99.95, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay will be a tough sell.  There are definitely die-hard fans who will want this from day one, but price will be a barrier.
--Bill Bodden