Pros: Great value retailing at around $60. A must for new and old players alike.
Cons: Paints sold sperately.
Welcome to the game of Warhammer! A wonderfully rich mix of art and strategy played against the backdrop of an epic fantasy battle. In Warhammer, players pit an army of hand painted models against each other in an engaging battle system that is a little bit chess, a little bit risk, and a little bit like reading the Lord of the Rings. Sound interesting? Then the Battle for Skull Pass Boxed set is the perfect introduction to the game.
This box set contains all the Rules needed to understand the game play, guides on how to paint the models, and most importantly, enough models to start two different Warhammer armies. The goblin figures and dwarf figures included in the box are a great first foray into the game and a deal you are not likely to see again. Boxed regiments of models for the 15 different armies you can choose to build typically run from $30-$55 each. Here in the starter kit, you receive three goblin regiments, 3 dwarf regiments, plus many additional models for a retail price of $60.
In other words, Games Workshop has created a great opportunity for someone without a lot of knowledge of the game to delve right in with out taking the big up front financial commitment some other games ask for. As an avid player, whenever a new starter kit is released I still go pick one up, just to have the opportunity to get so many new models for such a low price.
The Dwarf and Goblin Models
The Battle for Skull Pass Box set includes over 100 plastic models split between the Dwarfs and the Goblins. Goblin models include: 40 Night Goblin Spearmen, 20 Night Goblin Archers, 2 Night Goblin leader models, 10 Forest Goblin Spider Riders, and 1 Troll.
The Dwarf models include: 12 Dwarf Warriors, 10 Dwarf Thunderers, 8 Dwarf Miners, 1 Canon with crew, and 2 leader models.
This collection of models provides a great introduction to two very different Warhammer Armies. The tough and disciplined dwarves fight fiercely and efficiently, while the more chaotic Goblins pack hordes of weaker troops into their regiments fighting in a frenzied mob.
Other Contents of the Starter Box
Also included are a fully illustrated rule book, 2 plastic movement sticks, 10 combat dice, and an assortment of cardboard terrain. These items are used for measuring troop movements and facilitating combat.
Warhammer is a table top game, and while it can be played on a blank table top, terrain is a great way to enhance the complexity of the game. The box includes some rudimentary card board terrain pieces which can be assembled into houses and other battle field obstructions. Building and painting hilltops, riverbeds, swamps, forests and other terrain for your playing area is yet another aspect of the game for those interested in a more advanced battle scenario.
You’ll need to be comfortable using super glue in order to construct the models included in the Battle for Skull Pass Box sets. The models come unassembled on plastic sprues. Individual parts will need to be removed from the sprues and glued together into finished figures. Various extra bits like hats, swords, shields and other flair are included and can be used at your discretion to give each model a unique look.
Painting is a big part of the Warhammer hobby. All the models come unpainted and the Games Workshop paints are sold separately from the Battle for Skull Pass Starter Game. The look of your figures can be as elaborate or as simple as you want, but at the least, you’ll need a can of spray primer as a base coat and a basic selection of colors from the Games Workshop line of paints. Sets for various skill levels are available, however the 9 color Battle for Skull Pass Paint set, or the slightly larger Games Workshop Paint set a great way to get started in model painting.
A game of Warhammer Fantasy Battles typically pits one army against another. However, as the game is turn based, it is possible to do 3-way battles, team battles, or epic multiplayer free for alls.
The game starts with each general deploying his troops on his side of the table top. Players take turn placing a regiment on the table until each general has his full army set up.
Each turn includes a movement phase in which the player is able to move his troops. Each model has a designated movement value, which is equivalent to the number of inches it can move across the table top in a single turn. Rules are included for turning troops, retreating, wheeling around, and other non-linear movements. Two red movement sticks are included in the starter game to help players measure the distance their troops move.
When opposing regiments reach each other on the table top, dice are used to determine the outcome of the conflict. The engaging force calculates the number of attacks it is allowed then rolls to find out how many of those attacks hit their target. From there, it is determined how many of those hits inflict wounds on their targets. Special rules for each model type are considered and at the end, the player removes a model for each wound received. The defending player is then allowed to attack back with any of his figures that have survived. Once both sides have determined the outcome, a winner is declared for that round of conflict.
A Typical Game
Battles typically take about 6 turns per player. Longer battles are possible and the number of turns each player will receive can be determined at the start, but by the 6th turn the course of the conflict will often come to a point where one side would retreat and the other would be declared the victor.
Games Workshop has, once again, put together a wonderful introduction to its Fantasy Battles game system with the Battle for Skull Pass. The contents of the box provide all the materials needed for someone new to the game to determine whether or not this hobby suits their tastes.
Moving Beyond the Starter Box
This will conclude my review of the Warhammer Battle for Skull Pass Starter Game. For those looking to delve deeper into the hobby by either expanding on one of the two armies included, or building a new army from scratch, here is a brief look at how to go about choosing and designing a full army and a look at the rest of the Warhammer Fantasy line of models.
The Rest of the Warhammer Universe
Beyond the two armies included here, Warhammer expands to include 13 additional fantasy themed armies, many emulating historical flavors from cultures around the world. The Bretonian army, for instance, takes its inspiration from Arthurian legend. The Tomb Kings take a page from Ancient Egypt; The Empire incorporates elements of Ancient Rome.
Stock Fantasy races are represented here as well. Elves and Dwarves both have there own armies to collect, and fantasy villains such as Orcs and Goblins get their own armies as well.
The armies all have their own different playing styles and each has a corresponding Army book, which details that army’s strengths and weaknesses on the battlefield. While the starter game includes a good base for either a Dwarf or Goblin army, the game provides troops for all tastes and choosing which army best suits you is one of the first decisions to be made after graduating from the starter box.
Building a Force
Once you’ve chosen what type force you would like to muster, you can begin selecting which of the available troops you would like to purchase and paint for use in your army. Models are sold in full regiment box sets and in individual blister packs. Stand alone box sets exist for elaborate single models such as generals, war machines, and monsters.
In order to keep a fair playing field with so many different types of models and so many different abilities, each model is assigned a point value. This point value will be used to determine what a fair fight between two opposing sides would look like. Fifty models with a point value of two should be an even match with four models with a point value of twenty-five.
Beyond the point values, troops are further broken down into core units, special units, and rare. Core troops are blocks of common foot soldiers typical of that army. These will comprise the majority of your army and are required in order to play a rules legal Warhammer force.
Special Units are troops with abilities powerful enough that limitations need to be placed on the number of regiments allowed. Troops that fly, are mounted on horseback, or use unique weapons are typically considered Special troop choices.
Rare troops are types with the most restrictions on how many can be included. These include figures powerful figures like Dragons, Monsters, Giants, or other such board dominating models.
While rewarding, a beautifully planned and painted army will merely be an attractive show piece without a group of like minded generals to battle with. Games Workshop Hobby Centers and Independent retailers support a wonderful community of Warhammer enthusiasts. Frequently scheduled events including painting seminars, large battle scenarios, tournaments and other opportunities to pit your troops against other players are typical at these places. Games Workshop staff are often players themselves and can be great resources of information regarding the game.