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Warhammer’s Very First Battlefield: 1983’s Ziggurat of Doom

4 Minute Read
Jun 12 2024

Today we return to 1983 and Warhammer 1st Edition to see the very first battle-scenario EVER for Warhammer. The Ziggurat of DOOM!

First of all, what the heck is a Ziggurat? To find out we need to go back five thousand years to the fertile crescent, to take a look at some pretty enormous buildings. Then, we need to go forwards 4900 years to a modern dictionary to read the definition:

The Great Ziggurat of Ur (21st Century BCE – Present Day Iraq)



(in ancient Mesopotamia) a rectangular stepped tower, sometimes surmounted by a temple. Ziggurats are first attested in the late 3rd millennium BC and probably inspired the biblical story of the Tower of Babel (Gen. 11:1–9).

Fast Forward 1983 AD… United Kingdom

Games Workshop had just put out their initial skirmish game – Warhammer.

It contained three simple black and white softcover books but Volume 1 presented the rules for Tabletop Battles:


And within it was the seed of what would grow into Warhammer Fantasy Battles. It was crude, entirely written on a typewriter, as many of the earliest Dungeons & Dragons books were at that time. John Blanche was responsible for that fantastic cover art.

After the core rules came rules for fighting in dungeons, and a sample battle….

wait for it…

wait for it…



This was the original scenario and sample battle that would kick off all of Warhammer. So let’s wade in. We present it here in its entirety—all three pages of it.

Just soak up all that 1983 goodness and earliest GW vibes. The Darkling Woods of Dwarfstrangle, Sigrat Blackbrow, Saugorn Brittlebone, goblins… a last stand for honor. So lay off about GW and their pun-tastic naming conventions – they’ve been doing it from day one.

Back to the Ziggurrat… Next we get onto some really early days Warhammer funkiness like… Dwarves have a Move stat of  3 1/2″, and Toughness: “C” – What?!

And there’s the Ziggurat of DOOM! Each step is 6 meters tall, so only the stairs can be used to move between levels. But how, oh, how can you represent such a grand edifice on your tabletop? With books, of course, lots of stacked books. Like we all used to do back in the day before any game  companies made anything as fancy as affordable wargaming terrain.


The scenario is actually fairly tricky. The Dwarves are hopelessly outnumbered but can slow down the goblins by spreading out on multiple levels and dropping rocks upon them.  The goblins gain points by killing Dwarves, but the stunties gain points by just surviving.

Fast Forward to the Age of Sigmar…

Almost 40 years later, GW kicked out the Seraphon Realmshaper Engine -but let’s get real. It’s a Ziggurat – with a floaty magic thing on top. I’m sure you all can come up with some homebrew rules for a group of Fyreslayers fighting a heroic last stand versus a teeming horde of Gloomspite Gitz, or Kruleboyz. Us 40K players now have the Leagues of Votann to work with – to keep with the theme. I’m sure we can kitbash some Necron Monoliths, or a pile of Orky Kill Team fortifications into a suitably grimdark Ziggurat of Doom.

Best of luck and know that however your Ziggurat of Doom battle turns out, the Warhammer gods of old will be smiling down on you from on high!

Author: Larry Vela
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