Many years ago, when I was first getting into war gaming, I dreamed of cool historical games that rivaled the popularity and quality of the top sci-fi and fantasy games. In my gamer naivety I really believed that gamers would flock to great games, with cool miniatures, based on real events. Then along came Warhammer Ancient Battles. It was great and I was hooked. Finally a cool, fun historical game that a regular person could buy at a real store and play. I remember the early days of the WAB list with Jervis talking about the future of the game - plastic Greeks and Romans! The future looked bright.
By the early 2000's it was clear that those dreams where a little over the top but the game was well liked and supported and good times were had by all (well most all). We had some great army books and new figures lines became available. Our local group jumped in we had a great group of gamers. My friend Tom started a WAB tournament that ran for several years and for a while was the largest one outside of Historicon. By about 2005 the new had worn off. There were still lots of players and lots of new people getting into the game but it was clear that things had changed.
It was around this time that Warhammer Historical Wargames began to diversify by producing new games that were not WAB related. These new games were, in most cases, very good but they distracted from the production of new WAB books. As more new games were released even more pressure built up to release new books in support of all the games. Now, I really liked many, if not all, of the new games coming out and their release coincided with my own lack of interest in WAB. This caused me to miss the growing discontent in the WAB world.
Once WHW was rolled into Forge World I think we all knew the time was nearing for the death of WAB. FW did finally release WAB 2.0 but they did everything in their power to screw it up - and they did a good job. The game was an over priced, under edited, train wreck that you could only purchase online. Not only was WAB harder to get but all the WHW games became online only sales. This really hurt. I really did believe then that it was over.
Strangely enough it was not over for WHW then but they continued for a couple more years to release some new games. These new releases were beautiful productions and the rules themselves seemed very good. But they were still over priced and only available online so very few people actually got to see, much less play, these games. Today we have learned that the end has finally come for Warhammer Historical Wargames and all the great games they have produced. I really should be sad about this as the one company that I had hoped would change historical wargaming is now gone.
The funny thing is is that WHW did change historical wargaming. Today there are many options for beautiful, well written rules for many different periods. New games like Hail Caesar and Clash of Empires have picked up where WAB left off and they seemed to have learned the important lessons. We now have more figures than ever before and companies like Warlord and Victrix are producing - gasp! - plastic Greeks and Romans.
I am not sad about this. My dream is alive and well and I think we are closer than ever to realizing it. There are certain WHW games that I will continue to play and enjoy but I am excited about the work that others are doing. Hmm, I did all this jabbering and I didn't even mention Flames of War...
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