Warhammer goes back to its original fantasy setting in Warhammer: The Old World this month

 Harry the Hammer breaks a skeleton's jaw with his namesake weapon.
Harry the Hammer breaks a skeleton's jaw with his namesake weapon.

To my mind, the aesthetic of Games Workshop's original tabletop wargame Warhammer Fantasy Battle can be summed best by a Monty Python quote. It's the bit in Holy Grail where a commoner says he can tell Arthur must be a king because "he hasn't got shit all over him."

Though the grubby fantasy of old school Warhammer ended to make way for the shinier skirmish wargame Age of Sigmar, it still has plenty of fans—enough that Games Workshop is bringing it back under the name Warhammer: The Old World with a new edition launching on January 20.

The new rules blend those of various editions of Warhammer Fantasy Battle, and can be seen in play in the battle report above. Unlike Age of Sigmar or Warhammer 40,000 it's a rank-and-flank wargame where troops on square bases form up in units and positioning and line of sight are important considerations. You need a fair few models to make the average unit of archers or whatever, which is why it's nice to see Games Workshop officially endorsing the use of unit fillers to bulk out your regiments.

Two boxed starter sets will be available if you don't happen to have an old army knocking around in a box somewhere: one for the Egyptian-themed Tomb Kings of Khemri and one for the "what if King Arthur was French" army of Bretonnia. The Bretonnians really exemplify that Monty Python divide, with an army combining armored knights with an underclass of filthy peasants whose oppression funds the knights' fancy gear, horses, and pegasi. There's a rule that knights are exempt from the normal panic test units have to make when they see an ally fleeing so long as that ally is a unit of peasants, because the knights just don't care.

Warhammer: The Old World has already gone up for preorder. There's a core rulebook and two army books, one collecting all the lists for good armies called Forces of Fantasy and one for evil armies called Ravening Hordes, which are a nice callback to the names of supplements for its first and second edition respectively.