40k: Oldhammer Doesn’t Work

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Pimpcron explains why Oldhammer is a dead end.

Hello everybody, I’m Pimpcron. You may remember me from such blogs as “How ‘My Little Pony’ Saved My Marriage”, “10 Reasons To Keep Your Bread Bag Twist Ties”, and the cult classic “How Much Leakage is Too Much Leakage?”. Nowadays I blog about stuff-and-junk related to Warhammer 40k. Now sit down with a cup of coffee as I regale you with a sudden position I’ve taken on some topic. Enjoy.

What is Oldhammer?

Oldhammer is a pretty common term referring to players that enjoy an older version of the rules for 40k or Warhammer Fantasy better than the current rules. They choose to “get off the train” at their favorite edition and only play those models and those rules. You may have heard this term bandied about quite a bit during the whole birth of Age of Sigmar. Many people who thought negatively about the Age of Sigmar rules decided to just keep playing 8th edition Warhammer Fantasy Battles. I believe there is also a fan-made 9th edition now for Fantasy where they changed things they didn’t like about 8th. But either way, they have decided to stop participating in the current events of Sigmar.

What is That Rule I Always Spout About Gaming?

This should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. While I am the digitized soul of ancient alien royalty in a menacingly handsome and disturbingly sexy metallic frame, I am not the King of Gaming. As I always say, gaming should be fun and you should do whatever makes you happy. Plus, you might not want to change your life over the opinion of an internet person named Pimpcron; even though I do have a PHD in Disco. This article isn’t really about bashing Oldhammer players, because in a way they are taking a stance against “the system” and doing things their own way. I have a serious soft spot for all of the old metal models and go out of my way to add old Marine models to my Chaos army. So I’m not hating on it, I’m just explaining the problems I see in choosing to Oldhammer. On a side note, I will probably also enrage my friend who is all about 2nd Edition 40k. We will call him “Ork”.

ork-sample“Human sacrifice, Orks and Necrons playing together … mass hysteria!”

~~Who gets that reference?~~

It’s Okay in Theory . . .

So your favorite game changes: you can either jump ship and quit playing, or keep on keeping-on. This sounds fine in theory because you get to keep playing the version that I like, and don’t have to worry about new rules, new models, new cheesy formations, etc. My friend Ork has now taken up 8th edition fantasy because he is excited that it is “dead”. He doesn’t want to worry about new stuff constantly pouring in, new things to learn and new stuff to try to counter on the battlefield. In a way, I see what he’s saying. You get out of the rat race when you play a dead version of a game, but I think this view is pretty short sighted in the long run.

Finding Other Players?

This is probably the biggest hurdle for Oldhammer players. While there are plenty of Oldhammer players in the world, there probably aren’t many near you. When you think about it, the percentage of the world population that is willing to participate in this hobby is only so big to start with. We are already a niche demographic, and that is including games that aren’t dead and have new, exciting stuff coming out and new players being added all the time. So when you decide to get off the train in Oldhammer country, you are really saying that the already-tiny player base is just too darn crowded for you. You want to be a niche inside a niche.

three-people-talking“I think I’m gonna leave. This room is just too crowded with you two.”

If that really tickles your fancy then so be it, but most of us like new players joining our group. And new players extremely rarely join a dead game when there are living games out there with bells and whistles. It is a bit different if you happen to have a group of friends that agree to Oldhammer, or a club of Oldhammer players nearby. I mean, really you only need one other player that is in to it to keep going with it. But I would prefer to play different people because their strategies (or lack thereof) makes the game different.

Your Game Develops the Attributes of Bread

In short: your game gets stale. The Power Curve gets stale, the codices get stale, the unit entries get stale. You lose all hope for a better codex. If you play the same edition and same codices for, let’s say ten years, the armies that were on top at the beginning will undoubtedly be on top at the end. There is a 0% chance that they will get any worse and that other armies will get any better. The game would almost become rock-paper-scissors after you’ve played enough games. When Army A fights Army B, the battle will probably go the same way it always did every game previous; generally speaking.

Let’s say you love a certain army but they have a very underwhelming codex. Well, good luck with that. They are NEVER getting better. How many of you are fine with hopping off the train and keeping your 6th edition Chaos Space Marines codex or Tyranids codex forever? Even though I disagree with the internet logic and have success with both of those books, I still have to admit that they lack a bit of bite compared to others. For instance, every morning just as the sun rises I climb up to my widow’s watch on my house and look out at the unforgiving ocean, desperately searching for a sign that my 100+ Genestealers will one day be viable again. So far, I haven’t had any luck, but it’s that hope for a better tomorrow that keeps me going.

user_image-1024783770xmbMy brother painted this picture of me, while waiting for news from Nottingham.

Then Your Game Actually Becomes Worse Than Bread

With no new books, models, rules, formations, or change of any kind, it has no growth. I mean, at least bread eventually develops some growth after it gets stale. What keeps games like 40k alive for many players (including myself) is the fact that it is constantly evolving and I am forced to deal with new threats. It spurs creativity and causes you to adapt to a changing environment. None of this happens in Oldhammer. I suppose this is mitigated a bit if you play an evolving version of Oldhammer such as the “9th Edition” that is community driven. I played Blood Bowl frequently a few years ago using the community-developed rules and they were great. So it can be done. All I’m saying is that if you choose the Oldhammer route, you are fighting an uphill battle. But since we are talking about a game based off of battles to start with, maybe you’re up for the challenge.

Now I sit and wait to get an angry call from Ork. Haha.

Okay, so what d you think about Oldhammer? If you play it, what are your ways to get around these issues?

Hey, I’m a guest on Episode #114 of Preferred Enemies! We discuss creating your own narrative missions and I explain my 4 rules for making them, and my 3 point template I use when designing my own! Please check it out HERE!

Want to witness my slow descent into madness first-hand? Check out my blog at www.diceforthedicegod.com

Pimpcron Signature

Widow’s Walk picture is from: http://www.zbrushcentral.com/showthread.php?12486-Widow-s-Walk

  • euansmith

    “What do you mean, “biblical”?”

    • plasmaspam

      “Yes, it’s true. This man has no d*#!”

    • orionburn

      “Ray, when someone asks if you’re a god you say ‘YES!'”

  • Grafton Is Dust

    Oldhammer sounds like it’d get boring real quick, for me at least. I like the hobby aspect of the game, and GW’s rapid schedule means that it’s only a couple of years before some cool, new units come out. Even with my Tau Codex, which was pretty competent, I still got bored of playing the same faction all the time, even if said army had the option to field any variation of units and a pretty nice, internally-balanced Codex.

    New stuff keeps the game fresh. I wanna see ‘Nids get scary again so I can have some good games against them. I wanna see the same for Orks, Chaos and the rest, not just my own Codices, because if I wanted a static game that’s the same every time, I’d play Chess.

    • benn grimm

      Don’t believe everything you read. 2nd is awesome and guess which armies are really scary? Nids, Orks and Chaos, though not at all in the way ‘Dar, ‘Crons and Marines are nowadays. There are lots of options in the old books which no longer exist and customisation was much bigger back then, so the modelling opportunities are endless.

      The fan made codexes covering the more recent additions actually work really well, so you aren’t really limited in the way you would think. 2nd even had ‘rules’ (more guidelines) for building your own guys, tanks, troopers etc, along with appropriate costings, so you’re really only limited by time and imagination.

    • dracopticon

      Sounds like you’re afraid of getting bored all the time. A sickness among people today. It’s actually quite good having some boredom sometimes. Gives you a perspective.

      • David Leimbach

        I like to lock myself in an empty white walled room for hours at a time. Boredom is another hobby of mine.

        • Tothe

          pfft. White walls? Pitch black and acoustically insulated is the way to go.

      • Grafton Is Dust

        I spend a lot of time at work bored. I don’t spend money on the hobby to continue being bored.

  • mugginns

    Oldhammer is the natural reaction to insane price hikes and Age of Sigmar.

    • dodicula

      yes thats the thing in the article he points out that its tough for dead games to compete with the new games bellsa and whistles, but the new game does not have whistles, much less bells

      • euansmith

        No whistles? No Bells? How about…


        • Chris. K Cook

          What bonuses does that get you in AoS?

          • jeff white

            privileged access to a ‘new’ direct only bundle.

          • euansmith

            The Undying Respect of Your Fellow Players.

          • Tothe

            You get no bonus if your opponent counters with this: https://youtu.be/Qa7uLxu0XAc

  • Severius_Tolluck

    Well old editions have their merits. Mainly certain fluffy rules or mechanics. Now if the community revises the codices to work with the older mechanics and doesn’t mangle it too much you might see some entertainment. I would love to armies like Admech or my sisters in the old 2ed again, but probably with the newer toys etc etc.

    • Chris. K Cook

      Both of those armies were in 2nd ed.

      In fact the SoBs only codex was in 2nd.

      • Ken Winland

        Actually, it was 3rd, and 4th had the Daemon Hunter and Witch Hunter codices, which covered the same stuff.

        In 2nd edition, the Sisters were part of the ‘Agents of the Imperium’ army in the “Black Codex”, the little army book in the boxed set.

        THAT said, the “Black Codex” had lists for all of the (then) armies for 40K, so in theory you never had to buy a codex, although you would miss out on new units, special rules, etc.

      • Severius_Tolluck

        Well aware and had both in second but i meant in their current form.

  • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

    I have to disagree with almost all of your points Mr Cron.

    Let me disabuse you of your most egregious notion first- about the game getting stale. First of all the obvious riposte- does chess get stale, or bridge, or snooker? Are snooker players waiting for a new colour ball to be released to shake up the meta? Great games don’t necessarily get stale. With a game as complex as WHFB or 40K there are always new scenarios to try, new army variations etc etc even if you stay in one edition forever.

    You also mention the same armies always being on top, and never getting a better codex. I suspect you have entirely missed one of the main points of Oldhammer- people choose editions and moments in editions that don’t suffer from these problems, or not as badly. That is one reason for the appeal of Oldhammer. Play 6th Ed WHFB, with Ravening Hordes or the first few army books and you will be playing a well balanced game. Rock-paper-scissors is exactly what these old editions are not, as the armies are in many ways less extreme and all have ways to cope with each other.

    GW’s balance issues and tendency towards bad matchups has generally got worse over the years. By going backwards in time players are usually finding better balance, not worse.

    Finding other players is tough? Well there is this thing called the internet these days… Actually many people are happy to play old editions, and most long time players will still have the rules handy. I haven’t found it hard to get games of 6th Ed.

    • euansmith

      Chess was born stale 😉

    • Well thought-out and well said.

      • jeff white

        dude, you are still my favorite online 40k commentator, bar none. good effort here again. enriched my day.

        • I appreciate it! Some people are very quick to jump ship “Pimpcron” when I anger them. lol. At least you have my back.

    • Shiwan8

      Other than the last point about availability, I disagree with everything you said there.

      Chess is stale compared to any edition of warhammer or 40k. It persists because of it’s reputation and near perfect balance, nothing else. The same goes for every other old favorite not based on physical skill of one sort or another. Snooker and such are not comparable to previously mentioned games.
      Oldhammer is stale because of the neverendin repetition. Lists do not really change because the optimal lists are used every time and those stay the same as long as the edition does not evolve. Scenarios are a thing in every edition so I would not really make those a merit for the old ones.

      While it is true that balance has gotten worse, at least it’s changing. You see, in old editions of warhammer and 40k the status quo is already established and generally games are just RPS with each of the 3 swapped with a factions name.

      One must also understand that oldhammer is nit just previous editions WHFB, it’s old 40k too.

      • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

        chess doesn’t get stale because it is deep. Many many books have been written about its tactics and philosophy. I’m not here to defend chess, but if you don’t recognise it as a classic among games there are literally millions of people around the world who would disagree with you. Like many games I think it can feel dull when you don’t appreciate all of the complexities, and to appreciate them you have to give the game time and be exposed to expert players.

        I think snooker is a valid comparison because although it is a game of physical skill, it is always the same, has an identical starting point, identical win conditions and identical rules every time it is played. And if you play with the same friend, it has the same players too.

        Using the optimal lists is exactly what most Oldhammer players don’t do. They are generally more interested in narrative than in winning, so they will use whatever lists they feel drive the narrative feel they are trying to achieve. Oldhammer isn’t necessarily about transferring the current competitive spirit of 40K back in time and playing old editions competitively. It is about narrative gaming, period feel, nostalgia, appreciating the quality of rules and miniatures and their ability to evoke atmosphere and represent great fluff.

        GW released so much material over 30 years, with so many ways to play, that I don’t think it need ever get stale.

        People who have continued to play 8th with the same competitive spirit now it is unsupported are perhaps odd bedfellows with the rest of the Oldhammer community. Hence the coinage STASISHAMMER to represent them. I agree that the game may eventually get stale for a competitive player who regards WHFB with the same eye as competitive MAGIC players would. But thats not the way the majority of Oldhammer players play, or would ever want to play.

        GW change the balance of the game to sell models, but there have been times when that wasn’t the case. In 3rd and 6th for instance there were army lists released with the main rules that are generally reckoned to be very balanced.

        All these arguments are the same about 40K. 5th before Grey Knights has achieved a sort of classic status for balance, as has 2nd for customisation and Rogue Trader for humour. Not everyone wants the same things from their games.

  • Battlefleet Gothic is load of fun altough not supported for a long time. Epic seems to have a big community of die-hard fans.

    Either you are wrong or Warhammer wasn’t really fun from the beginning. But I don’t see how stopping “evolution” would be boring.

    • Can’t it be both?

      • jeff white

        i think that your target ‘ork’ and the notion of a ‘dead’ game is where you went wrong. your friend’s example has misled you. i am looking forward to 40k 8.1 all community driven and likely emerging around itc and the european counterparts. ten years from now, mantic and gw will be equally accepted on 40k tables, alongside other miniatures companies and of course many more home cooked (either cast or printed) models. i am more interested in proof of personal painting… i mean, the only awards i ever got were sportsmanship and best painted, cause i lost well and my armies looked pretty. this is another oldhammer habit, i guess…

      • I must add that i like your articles and style but disagree with this one. The “you are wrong” maybe a bit hard. 😉

        • I appreciate the kind words. Feel free to call me out when you don’t agree. I read every single comment on every one of my articles. I have actually learned a lot about Oldhammer from this article’s responses. 🙂

    • Ken Winland

      Epic has other companies putting out minis for armies that are almost EXACTLY like the Sisters of Battle, Tau, Dark Eldar, etc. NICE stuff, and the pricing is pretty good.

  • Old zogwort

    Just go all pathfinder on it and the problem is fixed.

    • BT


  • Aeonic

    There are ways getting around becoming stale.

    In the case of WHFB 8.5, slowly updating the army books and updating all the old White Dwarf lists (so far the rules, Beastmen and Dogs of war have been updated)

    Different ways of playing the game is another, kill team, planet strike, he’ll even Necromunda type games can be done.

    The game only becomes stale if you let it.

  • Charon

    I still see plenty of Necromunda (Community rules), Mortheim, Bloodbowl, BFG and even a few 2nd edition games of 40k.
    A lot of people do not mind “stale” if it is kinda balanced and they got to play different stuff.
    Even in the ever changing ups and downs of GWs “supported” (not a good choice of words as there is no active support for their games) people get tired of armies as you are either way ahead of the power curve, way below or just have one semi viable way to play your stuff. I have basically 4 dead armies now in an active and “supported” game because thei are either 1) to strong and thus boring to play 2) extremely weak and frustrating 3) have not enough choices to da ifferent lists 4) are a vaild army in a “supported” game but are not really “supported”.

    Just having GW tweak a few things or release new minis does not make the game more interesting. In some cases it makes it more frustrating.

  • I like the idea of Oldhammer but it’s been nearly impossible to get any players together near me. My biggest hopes were maybe 4 games a year to have some fun. I’d love to be able to play more second edition 40K. As a casual gamer that could very well be my full time game, I’m lucky to get 10 games a year right now. But again getting players in my group interested hasn’t happened yet.

  • Nik Dixon

    Firstly there is no single oldhammer, it means very different thing to different people.

    That aside my oldhammer doesn’t get stale. But it requires me to keep it interesting. One (almost) common meaning to oldhammer players is that it isn’t maths based. It’s story based. I would suggest that if you are only using GW refreshes to keep your game fresh you are missing out on something. You can do that too.

    It requires work, and player development, you can’t turn up with 2000 point list at club and play their list. You need a story, this matters, the points not so much. Well actually you could just turn with a list, but the pair of you need to give your game some life.

    I have been playing oldhammer with 8th edition for a few years now. Oldhammer with the current game. It about approaching the game with an old ethos, before the internet gave us optimised lists and ranked books. It about collective fun, winning is part of it, but it’s long way the priorities that make a good game.

    • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

      I like your philosophy.

    • Patrick Biron

      Not at all trying to troll, honestly, but what you just described ironically sounds a lot like all the features of AoS that people hate (I.e. Points don’t matter). Which is genuinely facinating to me. I personally don’t care for either old hammer, or AoS (except for modeling side), but I share you game philosophy with current edition 40k. Even in my list building, my guard is what I think a company would be composed of, not what is most points efficient – Makes games much more fun for me personally.

      • Run Patrick! You don’t know what you just did!

        • Patrick Biron

          It’s the internets… Comes with the territory

          • jeff white

            no body said points don’t matter, man…

      • Nik Dixon

        You are right, there is a lot about AoS that I do like. I’ve not played it much and it seems that it needs some work to play (the big scrum in the middle needs fixing, but I have an idea that better use of terrain will help there), but what I have been disappointed with is the world setting. The material I’ve read so far has been what I’d call battle porn, all epic everything’s the biggest and worst ever stuff that just hasn’t grabbed me. But we are still only a few months in, if you read the early WFB it’s not great either. I’ve by no means given up on AoS.

        I often play 40k the same way too, I have a horde of tyranids based on my take on the race after growing up watching aliens scuttling across the floor under pulse rifle fire. They regularly get blown to pieces, but if i make it a bit closer each time i’m winning. Sounds like your guard would make fun opposition.

    • Actually, before this article, I WAS unaware of how many different meanings there are for Oldhammer. But that is why I explain my definition in the beginning.

      • jeff white

        ups for analytical clarity

      • Nik Dixon

        I would say you picked (or have only been exposed to) an unattractive oldhammer niche. Now you know more, get involved and give it a go. There is something for everyone to add to their list gaming options here.

        • Sadly, I have a very small Oldhammer group near me, and they do Oldhammer the way i explained in the article. So even though parts of it do sound cool, I don’t really have access to it. 🙁

    • jeff white

      my hero

  • Agent OfBolas


    You know nothing John Snow!

    • euansmith

      John Snow (1813 – 1858); the man who learned how Cholera was spread and who carried out early work in to anesthesia? I think he knew a certain amount. 😉

  • Amos Greig

    Oldhammer is a lot f fun you can use whatever system you want Rogue Trader 2nd ed etc and there’s plenty of online support as well as gaming events.

  • Andrew Thomas

    I didn’t care when End Times happened. I didn’t care when AoS dropped… much. I didn’t care when everyone bought the KoW. I don’t care now.

  • benn grimm

    Odd article, not really sure what you are trying to do with it. Oldhammer is great when you can find others who are willing to get involved, but of course its not that popular; it hasn’t been supported for years. And yet we make it work, when we can, work allowing.

    You may as well write about how you don’t really like driving vintage cars because the parts can be hard to source; its stating the obvious and what the gaming community really needs is open-mindedness and willingness to try something different, even if it is ‘old’. I thought you, of all the writers on here would get that.

    And it all becomes stale if you let it, 7th is like mouldy, mite infested bread already (to me), where as every game of 5th, Necromunda, Man o war, Space Marine, Hulk or 2nd i play feels as fresh as it did twenty years ago.

    Searching for rules, then searching some more, listening to knuckle-heads banging on about ‘the meta’ or ‘power levels’, rolling ALL THE DICE IN THE WORLD every gosh-darn turn (for very little results), is boring as all heck fire; suggesting to me its not what you play, its how you play it and who you play it with…
    Me, I’m off to play Monopoly, first edition…eat my hotel…;)

    • euansmith

      “Odd article, not really sure what you are trying to do with it.” He who controls the clicks, controls the Universe.

      • benn grimm

        Yeah…but…still…yeah you got me 😉

    • Henry Faulkner

      it seems to me he was purely taking a dig at his mate “ork” via the medium of an internet article. i’d hazard a guess that he’s just disagreeing with his mate out of that friendly need to take the opposite stance to a good friend sometimes, just to wind them up… but now he has the whole internet to argue against him, his argument has quickly withered

      • Or. He was just writing an article.

        • DING!DING!DING!DING! “Show ’em what Alaric won!”
          “A brand new car!”

      • Nope. That’s a well thought-out theory though. I hear a lot of people talk about Oldhammer (which apparently has different meanings in different places I’ve learned) and I am offering my opinion on it. That’s what i do. That’s why you love me. I love you too Henry.

        • Henry Faulkner

          i do love you, that’s why it hurts so bad *sobs*

          • Haha. We will get through this Henry. This was just a bump in the road. You’ll read my incredibly sarcastic article next Friday and you will remember why we started this bromance.

    • #1: It could be argued that all of my articles are odd.
      #2. I am offering my opinion on why I think it doesn’t work. I have lots of opinions on all kinds of stuff. What color is your shirt? That’s a dumb color. I hate the color. What brand is your wall paint? I love that brand! It’s awesome and affordable!


      • benn grimm

        Sure and I’m offering my opinion as to why I think your article doesn’t work.


        • Benn, I’m happy you read my stuff and I appreciate you commenting when you do/don’t agree. There is room for all of us in this hobby. But only if you agree with me.

  • X078

    Oldhammer is what happens to the game when you let yourself and/or the bigger tournaments run rampant with house-rules, nerfing and banning left and right.

  • gordon ashacker

    And AoS works better?

    • benn grimm

      AoS doesn’t work; you do the work, while it sits back and laughs at you…;)

      • jeff white

        and i just laughed, though not at you…

  • JimmyTwoHeads

    Pimpcron explains why he doesn’t like something he doesn’t understand and why everyone should enjoy the game exactly like him.

    Very poorly written and argued and totally missed the point.

    • nurglitch

      It’s a “Pimpcron” article. The sheer amount of stupid involved is in the name.

      • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

        so sad, its like that Shyamalan guy, he used to be so good…. *sniffs*

        • Ouch. . . . right in the feels. And here I thought we were tight, Knight.

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            its just a rough patch, you’ll be fine!

          • I don’t want you leaving my over some younger, hotter 40k blogger. I’ll change! I promise! I’ll be whatever you want me to be!

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation


      • I dislike the name as well, still (sorry dude) but I don’t exactly see any other people putting out content.

      • Dad? Is that you?

    • Judging by your comment, I’m not sure you read the whole article.

      • jeff white


    • jeff white


    • cudgel

      oh the irony!

  • Marriedwith2kids

    Oldhammer started out as a way to appreciate the uniqueness of Citadel’s metal minis, but now it has grown to include playing your favourite editions I’d say it is about increasing your options rather than narrowing them down. It relies upon your ability to take responsibility for the quality of your own games and fun. It is important to be able to have a reasonable relationship with your gaming friends so you can discuss what might be fun to try. An example would be adding a few dinosaurs to an eldar army to create an exodite theme, something inconceivable to many reading this perhaps. Yet, with suitable stats borrowed from a ‘nid list and an open-minded approach to playing a fun game to see what happens you have the makings of an enjoyable evening. It’s probably fair to say the Oldhammer approach doesn’t gel easily with a competitive mindset, but if you ever find yourself getting a bit burned out by a constant succession of high-stakes must win games and need a week off, a game of Oldhammer is just the tonic. If you’re enjoying the hobby loads you don’t need Oldhammer, but if you’ve ever had the worrying thought that maybe there is more to the hobby than constant oneupmanship then maybe you would benefit from digging out the edition you fell in love with for a trip down memory lane with a good mate. And those old chunks of lead are a work of art! 😉

  • Secundum

    The problem with this article is when there are 6 different local clubs in your area and 3 GWs, and age of Sigmar isn’t played in ANY of them, whereas 8th edition/9th age is going strong.

    • Good. have fun playing whatever makes you happy. In my neck of the woods, 40k is King, Sigmar is only slightly popular, and Fantasy is dead. We only had a few Fantasy players to start with, and they either quit or went to Sigmar.

  • Cergorach

    “What keeps games like 40k alive for many players (including myself)”

    I notice you don’t say all. Many doesn’t mean most, we don’t know how many people would be willing to play with old rules for ever. Chess doesn’t ‘evolve’ either, still many more people play chess and continue to play chess.

    What you (and others) seem to forget that the ‘house rules’ have been around for a LONG time. What’s people stopping from adding their own units, we’ve been doing that for a long time, BoLS has become famous for adding their own units.

    Sure, the player pool diminishes for 40k, because most people follow the new games. But WFB has mostly been split completely. Folks are doing their own rules, The 9th Age being the most famous, but there’s been house ruled versions of 3E around for years!

    I’m in the rare position that I don’t really care, I’m flexible, I can play AoS, 8th, 3rd, 40k, 30k, Apocalypse, Necromunda, etc. How much fun I have is generally more down to the people I play with then the rules I’m playing with. No version of Warhammer has ever been smooth, it’s always had it’s annoyances and when GW fixed something, they broke it for someone else.

  • BT

    Here is my take on it Pimp (and the angle you should have taken)… you have hundreds, if not maybe thousands invested in the game in figs and models. If you really want to keep that investment valid, you keep updating the game. That is the ‘cheap’ route, buying a new edition and a couple of codices. You will never truly get back that investment otherwise.
    Hey, I still have a ton of stuff that is ‘dead’ from earlier editions so I know the pain. My Rough Rider Command Squad (and heck, my 30 pre-Mongolian Rough Riders due to fliers) are like sad puppies sitting outside in the cold looking in. All I can do now is wait and hope something comes out that allows me to use them? That sticks in a lot of player’s throats. That just reminds players of GW’s failing them.

    • All valid points. Not intentional, but valid.

      • BT

        Not sure by your meaning, but I did ramble some.

        • No, I wasn’t being snarky. lol. I see now how you could have thought I was being smart. I mean that you made good points in your comment. And specifically, I didn’t mean for people to be reminded of how GW has “failed” them. It’s a valid point you made and I do come off that way, but it was unintentional on my part.

  • Shiwan8

    It’s interesting how GW has made very good rulings, just not all withn an edition. They should just collect the best ideas from the past and make a game out of those.

    • Good idea. They seem to think they have to completely re-write the rules between editions for some reason. Why not just tweak stuff until you get it right?

      • Shiwan8

        Not enough shift in terms of whatäs broken and what’s not?

        This edition has perfectly fine psychic system (could be better though) and vehicles are fine too. Last edition had ok monsters. 5th had reasonable transport rules and so on. They basically have a good game in their hands but they just can not manage to get it published.

        Codicex are another bag of worms. They need serious “tweaking”.

  • dodicula

    i thought this was supposed to be about 40k?

    • Shiwan8

      It is.

  • Bruno Galice

    I don’t think that Pimpcron has the slightest idea of what is Oldhammer.
    Maybe you should roam to THE oldhammer forum and have a look at all these old players having fun with old rulesets and old miniatures 😉

    • Bulldoglopez

      Maybe we should make them read the contract?

    • Maybe you’re right. Maybe it is an instance of semantics. But to fair, (right or wrong) I stated at the beginning of the article what I was referring to. In my area we call Oldhammer what I described it as.

      • Bruno Galice

        Different meanings probably but it always means playing with non-supported older versions, and even if our scope is different from the one you were thinking of, we do prove every day that playing with older versions of the game is possible and that it could be fun !
        Even with versions that haven’t been supported by GW for 20 years or so…
        And that makes your arguments totally void…

        • Listen up Bruno. i don’t need you coming in here, muddying up the waters with your logic and proof that Oldhammer can be fun. I don’t need that kind of drama right now. 🙂 I never said people can’t have fun at it, just that I see some glaring issues that will keep me from playing it.

          • Bruno Galice

            So _you_ can write a post with really moot arguments telling that there is no interest at all playing old versions of the game but _I_ don’t have the right to show you that in fact you are wrong and that there is a whole community out there playing with those old versions…
            What an open minded person you should be !

          • What I wrote was a joke. You’ll get no hate from me. Sorry i didn’t make my joke clear enough.

          • Bruno Galice

            Sorry English is not my native language and sometimes I may miss some subtleties 😉

          • No problem man. Text is hard to read the tone of the sentence. Your points are valid.

          • Nik Dixon

            I play Terror of the Lichmaster with 8th and the original figures, there is no always in Oldhammer 🙂

      • Bulldoglopez

        Oldhammer is really anything we consider Pre-Blanche or proto-Blanche. Its not so much about army lists as it about capturing the more esoteric nature of conflict on the tabletop.

  • David Leimbach

    Lets all just play 40k 5th edition because you know, can’t get enough of getting my butt kicked by Grey Knights.

    Seriously though I’ve been tossing around the idea of a way to calculate 40k points values by unit stats and then take apart each version of the codexes and see what special rules are rated at exactly. This starting point would let you adjust points values just for special abilities and you could adjust these over time for more balanced game.

    Problem is GW sets the points values by their limited play testing and then months after release, when the internet breaks or finds useless some units – oh well, nothing can be done.

    Community balanced ruleset might work if there was a hard science way to determine points values.

    • Valeli

      I don’t think there is a good hard-science way to determine point values, because different special rules are almost certainly going to be more or less useful (to some degree) based on the army they’re in.

      You can’t really argue that “Furious charge is +X points/model-squad-whatever” when it would clearly be of almost no benefit to Tau Firewarriors, while being a very significant benefit to an army with troops that start off being fairly assaulty in the first place.

      I really think point values are more art than science. Although to be honest, I’m also cynical and think that GW often has some pretty good hard science behind point values/dollars customers will spend.

      • euansmith

        The interplay between codices makes this even worse. The mega-combo effect of smashing multiple special rules together makes it seem almost as though GW has no interest in creating a balanced game. 😉

        • Valeli

          At this point, I honestly don’t think they really do have that interest. There’s just way too much going on, in my opinion.

          Balance would have been much easier (though still tricky to get “perfect”) back before all of these formations and super heavies and allies were the norm.

          There’s a lot to be said for being able to play with cool models, so, you know, I’m not trying to knock that in and of itself. But as far as a structured game goes, I think 40k has flown off the rails a little.

  • Stan

    The only thing “wrong” with Oldhammer is it doesn’t drive sales for GW like a hyped new release does.

    • euansmith

      I guess from GW’s standpoint that is a valid argument. They must shudder when they hear folk say, “Well, I’ve got 20,000pts of Dark Angels.” That is someone who probably won’t be making some massive new purchases.

  • Valeli

    Don’t really know what to say.

    1) In re: AoS and 8th/8.5 oldhammer, I’d just reitterate what I’ve said so many times before. AoS is /not/ Warhammer Fantasy with some tweaks and polishing. It is a significantly different game, and those differences are very problematic in the eyes of many. If you want to play warhammer fantasy, you /can’t/ play AoS. Oldhammer with whatever edition is pretty much it.

    2) Games that don’t evolve get stale? Chess, checkers, and minesweeper haven’t changed much. People still play them all the time. And while minesweeper might not be that involved, you can still get very involved in other games such as chess despite the lack of change. Warhammer is a game you can get pretty involved in as well.

    3) It’s hard to find new people. That’s true…. but sort of stating the obvious.

    I don’t think most people who started oldhammer with AoS really were desperate for new people (although I’m sure they wouldn’t mind). I think the idea was to just keep playing a game they enjoyed rather than letting GW kill it. Same deal with BFG or whatever. A small player base is, in almost every case, better than no player base.

    • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

      yes, playing 8th in preference to AoS doesn’t seem like Oldhammer to me, we could call it Stillhammer maybe…

      • euansmith

        STASISHAMMER! Now there’s a neat title 😀

        • Commissar Molotov

          Sounds like a Nordic metal band!

        • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

          yes thats the one! Now I will edit my post to make it look like I thought of it!!!!

          Whaaaa ha ha ha haa! (laughs evilly)

          • euansmith

            😀 😀 😀

    • euansmith

      I guess it comes down to what your local environment will support. It only needs half a dozen like minded people to make a group, and the internet will allow them to gather with other groups for annual tournament play.

  • Clarence Harrison

    Oldhammer is not about power curves and codices…


    • That seems neat! I need to look into that some more. Thanks for sharing!

  • Commissar Molotov

    Dear Pimpie:

    If my choices are Oldhammer WHFB, Age of Suck, or a sharp stick in the eye, I’ll take Oldhammer. If I can’t take Oldhammer for some reason, then I’ll opt for the sharp stick in the eye.



    • Haha. I appreciate the formal tone you took. You are a gentleman and scholar.

    • I prefer “Age of Assmar” because it feels literate and vulgar at the same time

      • Tothe

        Age of Suckmore

  • ctFallen

    This article makes ASSumptions about what people who enjoy Oldhammer want out of it. IMO its not the same as what the writer of this article is looking for. So just because it “doesn’t work” for him has nothing to do with it working for others.

    For me a big part is about collecting the old models and occasionally getting a game in with them. From my point of view those that enjoy Oldhammer aren’t playing multiple games a week trying to build a power list, but when they do finally get a game in its more about narrative and playing with a army thats taken you years to put together and paint. For me that makes those few games much richer and more memorable.

  • cyril scordia

    If you don’t see the old detachment system of “epic” mixed with 40k v2 in distribution …

  • Just restarted with 40k. Last played when ‘nidz still where on codex #1. Gotta say I’m liking latest rules. Not without flaws, but better for big battles.

    That said I still got 2 copies of rouge trader. It makes for an excellent Rpg if you just scale wounds 🙂

    Still in shock over what happened over in WFB tho!

  • cudgel

    Looks like someone really wants that leather jacket….

    • lol. Seriously, I am quite surprised by the reaction. I knew a few people would disagree, but it’s turning into a million-gamer march.

      • cudgel

        You really know how to bring people together lol.

        • Haha. Your jacket comment really got me. I laughed out loud and my wife had to ask what I was laughing at.

  • Drathmere

    When rules fail change them. A dead game can have a very active community supporting it. Epic Armageddon is a good example. It has new codexes, new models, and new styles of play.

  • Ancelica

    This article sounds like it was written by someone who was commissioned by GW to do so.

    Sometimes “Oldhammer” is played when there’s no decent alternative. AoS is doesn’t even come close to 8th Ed. in terms of playability.

    Game support was mentioned, but how can that be relied upon by GW, when they don’t even acknowledge themselves as a game company? Apparently they just make good models these days.

    While I can still find players in my local community to continue playing 8th (and still enjoy it), then that’s what I’ll do.

    • Good. Keep on keeping-on. Do what makes you happy.

  • Very well done. Enjoyable read.

  • Bulldoglopez

    If you are using a codex or an army book, it’s not Oldhammer. Check out the actual Oldhammer forum if you want to know what it’s really about. Be careful though… we are a bunch of elitists.

  • Chris. K Cook

    While you make some fine points

    a) Oldhammer can be fun now and then.


    b) I wish the Neuter Hammer folks who just want to straight jacket 7th ed back into the dull powergamer fest that 5th was would just go play 5th ed with each other.

  • bogger3k

    It’s not like 9th Age is just updating the rules and then stopping there. It plans on doing periodic updates to keep the game alive and moving. They’re doing what they can to make every unit available to use, and I’m sure they’ll adopt new models and ideas into the system.

  • Matthew Mullen

    My Little Pony actually saved my marriage. Taught me how “feelings” and “friends” worked. True story. Brain was completely borked from PTSD before the cartoon horses (and admittedly 4 years of intensive therapy) helped me through it.

    • Wow! More power to you. I’m happy to hear you are doing better! Here I was trying to make up the most absurd fake blog titles I could, and one of them was actually true. haha. Whatever works man. I’m glad to hear you found something that works.

  • Corey Bailey

    I agree with almost everything this man (pimpcron) says… except this article.

    I play 40k and fantasy but ive always liked fantasy more. The reason oldhammer wont get stale for fantasy to me is because there is so much content. I really wish GW would have advertised the great job they did with fantasy. If they had it would still be around. People say that it was never supported but, it was supported to death. For some reason everyone just always acted like there was only one way to play WHFB. There were literally hundreds. Ill agree that after 8th dropped they stopped supporting it. I dont know why they did this but, there was still siege, skirmish, storm of magic, triumph and treachery, generals compendium rule sets, just to name a few. Within those there were dozens of different rulesets, not to mention mighty empires which you could use to integrate all of these into one campaign. I just dont get why people are always so eager to do 40k supplements but they acted like the fantasy ones didn’t exist.

    • Ah. Hopefully you will agree next time. Either way, let me know in the comments. I enjoy the discussion. I’ve learned a lot from the response to this article.

  • Nathan Firth

    This comment stood out for me (in regard to armies not getting better):

    “Then Your Game Actually Becomes Worse Than Bread”

    But one could easily get around that by tweaking the rules one uses. Personally the “oldhammer” for me idea is largely focused on a love of 870s era Citadel minis. Added to that is a desire for tabletop games which have an element of roleplaying/storytelling (I’ve seen others do this but haven’t myself yet). If one is looking for a straight out battle with anyone the can find you can pick all sorts of rulesets including rules that are OOP. Personally I pick Kings of War because that ruleset is a nice mix of simplicity and strategy. And I use 80s era citadel minis in my KoW armies (I have 2).

  • Writing a post about a particularly passionate community and dismissing the concept outright…yup, textbook pot stirring. Nothing to see here, folks

    • I had an opinion, and it wasn’t popular. It happens. I literally had no idea there would be this much of a hornets’ nest. In my area there are only two Oldhammer players.

  • Fito García

    according to your arguments Blood Bowl should be dead long ago and that is not so. I think someone has not explained to you what really is the Oldhammer movement …. sorry but I’m afraid you have no idea .. and talk about something without any knowledge about it … very common mistake today in the media … 🙁

    • I shouldn’t write about things I don’t know about? Hmmm. [crumples up first draft of “How to Please a Woman in the Bedroom”.]

  • Fito García


    • The first meme that mentions me! I’m saving this. priceless.

  • Chad Underdonk

    You whippersnappers get all upset because the game moves on and it isn’t what you think it oughtta be. Just had an argument yesterday with a Newbie (someone who got into the game anytime after 3rd edition) who was all upset that Cadians were being pushed into a meat-grinder in the new fangled Montkateer book or whatever you kids call it. “Cadians are special” he says. Their regiments are “special”.

    I looked that whippersnapper in the eye and said “ya know what’s special about Cadians? They made them in plastic!!!” No regiment is special boys, they are all expendable cogs for the munitorium!

    “But the fluff for this book says the Imperium is losing and falling back! That isn’t right, the Imperium never loses” said the whippersnapper.

    I just snorted and said “The Imperium doesn’t lose precisely because we are willing to commit to a five hundred year meat grinder war where no life is special!”

    “But the Tau haven’t even been in contact for a hundred years yet!” Says he.

    “Which is why they aren’t ground to dust yet boy!”


    Yeah, you can call me a lover of “Oldhammer”. Someone who remembers the glory days. Someone who knows why a Commissar is Leadership 10. “Oh why would a platoon commissar have a greater leadership than a marine” Says the whippersnapper.

    Well a Marine practices the heresy of believing the Emperor is his “brother”…he is the God Emperor of MAN boy! Of course a Commissar should have unwavering faith in his divine plan!

    “Well why should a platoon level asset have such a high leadership?”

    “Because he was never meant to be shackled to a platoon, or a squad. He was supposed to zoom around the regiment with his jump pack like an insane Sergeant Major delivering the Emperor’s justice with a strength eight powerfist to any fool who thinks it is okay to walk on the Commissars grass!” says this follower of Oldhammer.


    “Mortars suck” says the whippersnapper.

    “Mortars are a mindgame boy! They are about making sure your opponent has no where to hide, and can never be safe…even if they are hiding behind a tree template (which ya can’t see through dammit!) or a hill. They are about the gnawing worry that they will scatter perfectly onto their special little snowflake and blast him off of the table!”

    “But they aren’t any good, just buy a Wyvern!” he snarls from ignorance.

    “Boy, in my day we had Griffons! And they slaughtered whole formations of infantry trying to make their way into our lines.

    Why I bet you’ve never even heard of a true hero of the Imperium like Stumper Muckstart. Harrrrrrrrumph! You probably think lictors are a fairy tale, a myth that isn’t true. In my day if one of those beasts got their flesh-hooks into you you were doomed. I’ve seen whole squads of Catachans, actual Death Worlders mind ya, ripped into tiny shreds with the survivors afraid to go out in less than platoon strength!

    “I suppose next the whippersnapper will be telling me how it is just silly that the Imperium would even have Rough-Riders! Bah…the greatest warrior I ever saw had the eye of the falcon ran his chain saber through anyone foolish enough to laugh at his horse!”

  • Jimmy Zimms

    Makes failure of equating rules with units. Sorry but that’s bollucks. For instance we played RT rules for 25 years (because we liked the zany details and small model counts) and nothing prevented us pulling in new units / weapons / factions / scenario rules when we wanted it.

    • Like I said, play whatever makes you happy. But it doesn’t appeal to me as I understand it.

  • Bulldoglopez

    See, the lesson here is “don’t poke the Oldhammerers” we’re perfectly content in our corner of the shop, licking our little lead miniatures, muttering about Zoats and Space Slaan. Don’t get us started or we’ll have a war with ponies who jump over sharks.

    • lol. Yes, I have found this out. I don’t think I’ll be making this mistake again. I’m very, very tempted to write another article next week being quite snarky and completely changing my position on it due to bullying. But I don’t think that would help any. lol Maybe titled :40k Oldhammer: It Works Great!

  • William Leonard Barnes

    These problems you list only seem to effect the frequent player, not the casual.

  • Clarence Harrison


  • Rollo

    It’s sad that you credit people’s imagination so little, to think that gaming will die unless GW releases a codex every 3 seconds reminding it to breathe.

    • That wasn’t really my intended point, but I see where you could have gotten that from it. I do plenty of custom stuff that I don’t need GW to do for me, but I also want something that is stable and will be updated with new stuff. I’m a material girl.

  • Drpx

    My army is Bretonnians, so please don’t start talking to me about “Oldhammer.” Age of Sigmar was the closest thing we got to an update in over a decade.

  • Tothe

    I see two general concepts that people can mean when they say “Oldhammer”:

    A. People who prefer the first few editions of WHFB and 40K. These guys often tend to seek out old metal minis and build fluffy armies. This includes 40K Squat players, and possibly overlaps with 40K Sisters of Battle players even though that army got recent halfhearted support sorta-kinda and has metal minis for sale still. This is valid Oldhammer.

    B. People who quit upgrading when 40K 6th/7th edition dropped or when AoS replaced WHFB8. Some are tired of feeling like GW’s plaything, especially with 7th ed. so close behind 6th, and the complete abandonment of WHFB. Heck, I started with the 5th edition rules in the AoBR box, and only caught up to the 7th edition rules because they came with the Stormclaw set. I do not qualify as Oldhammer. This group is not “Oldhammer” IMHO

    Valid reasons to play old editions of any sort:

    A. You already have the books, and are probably quite familiar with the rules. No massive expense here.
    B. You already have a complete army. No massive expense here.
    C. You probably already know several gamers who share the same rules.
    D. Old random Ork silliness. ‘Nuff said.

  • Defenestratus

    I agree.
    My friend keeps wanting me to play 2nd edition again. It’s just not appealing to me since I look in my codex from that Era and it doesn’t have all the cool stuff that it does now.
    No night wings, no fire prisms, no wraith blades…
    In my opinion variety is the spice of life, and the old editions might hold nostalgic value for my friends but other than that there was nothing appealing about that ruleset (other than the weapon skill table actually made freaking sense)

  • Terrordar

    I’d like to point out, that “Oldhammer” is all I really play at this point, even though I don’t play much. I would also like to point out, that were it not for “Oldhammer” Fantasy, I just WOULDN’T PLAY. There would just be no playing the game. It’s not like I’d go:

    “Alright, shucks, I guess I’ll play Age of Sigmar.”


    “Man, I could dig me some 40k garbage right now. I think I’ll not play the version of it that’s actually fun.”

    Why the Hell would I? Why would I sacrifice my fun just so someone on the internet can be appeased with the idea that people shouldn’t play older systems? It only gets stale if you play with poor sports, or people who min max their lists to the extreme end. Ironically enough, playing the narrative, something GW now constantly wishes people would do, is much easier to do in their OLDER BOOKS, than their NEWER BOOKS.

    I’m not even 30 yet, but I’ve done this for over 20 years. I can say that the old times genuinely were better, because I visit those systems much more often. Just because something is new, doesn’t mean its good.

  • Andrew

    This article totally misses the point. It’s all about playing what you enjoy, and not playing things that you don’t. If you like the old school rules (I do, when I’m in the mood) then play any older edition of any game. If you like the new version of a game, then play that.

    That being said; I’m finding myself deriving much more enjoyment from exploring new games and settings, rather than playing old GW games.