For a brief period between 1983 and 1985, Games Workshop published their own videogames, including one called Chaos: The Battle of Wizards by a young developer named Julian Gollop who’d later make a name for himself with X-COM. But none of GW’s videogames were set in their own Warhammer Fantasy universe. At the time the setting was a barely formed thing. 1984’s second edition of Warhammer Fantasy Battle focused on a conflict between alien frogs and Amazons with laserguns on the continent of Lustria. Only after GW got out of the videogame racket would the Old World evolve into a gritty fantasy version of Renaissance Europe and become Warhammer’s center stage.
In 1991 Gremlin Interactive adapted the board game HeroQuest, and Warhammer finally came to computers. Though it was a version of Warhammer targeted at ages nine and up, it still included distinctive elements like the fimir and the threat of Chaos. There weren’t many Warhammer games over the next 20 years, just a couple of fondly remembered strategy games and a tragically doomed MMO. It wasn’t until the 2010s that the Old World was explored more fully. Much more fully.
In 2015 alone there were four Warhammer Fantasy games released on PC and four more Warhammer 40,000 games. We went from a drought to a flood, from nothing to more than any one person could keep up with… unless they dedicated months of their life to playing every single Warhammer videogame.
Well, I’ve done just that. I’ve played them all. This list will help you navigate the flood.
Number of entries: 23
What’s included: Every Warhammer game on PC set in the Old World, the parody-football universe of Blood Bowl, and the Warhammer sequel setting Age of Sigmar.
What’s not included: Games Workshop games in other fantasy settings—like HeroQuest 2: Legacy of Sorasil, which ditched the Old World for a new setting called the Lands of Rhia, and the Talisman games which have developed their own “world of Talisman.” It’s pretty complete, is what I’m saying.
A separate list ranking every Warhammer 40,000 games is coming soon. And now: Every Warhammer game, ranked from worst to best.
23. Chaos & Conquest (2019)
Hunted Cow Studios/Tilting Point
Remember Evony? “Play now, my Lord!” Remember the licenced cash-ins that filtered everything from Ultima to Game of Thrones through the same exact formula of settlement construction and army building, with free-to-play energy mechanics and multiple currencies designed to confuse players out of cash? Chaos & Conquest is that, but instead of a lady in tavern-wench cosplay exhorting you to build another granary it’s a champion in spiky armor suggesting you upgrade your Chaos Keep. It sucks and I hate it.
22. Blood Bowl (1995)
Destiny Software Productions/MicroLeague
Games Workshop’s fantasy football game has been adapted multiple times, beginning with this forgotten version published by MicroLeague in 1995. It’s faithful to the board game but to call it barebones would be an insult to skeletons. There’s only one player icon per team, so there’s no way to tell a thrower from a catcher at a glance, let alone a puny skaven from a beefcake rat ogre, which is pretty important. You have to laboriously click through every player to be reminded which is which. People talk a lot of smack about the more recent Blood Bowl games by Cyanide, but that’s because they don’t know how bad we used to have it.
21. Dungeonbowl (2012)
Although this is still pretty bad. The tabletop version of Dungeonbowl was an expansion for the miniatures game, moving it underground and adding a parody of dungeon-crawling RPGs to its parody of American football. The videogame is a standalone take on the same idea, where the ball’s hidden in a random treasure chest in a dungeon full of teleporters that bounce players from room to room. If you thought Blood Bowl was too dicey before, Dungeonbowl will be torture. Even if you like Blood Bowl, taking its rules for maneuvering around open fields and squeezing them into corridors doesn’t actually work. At all.
20. Arcane Magic (2016)
Turbo Tape Games
Normally I wouldn’t be harsh on something just because it’s a PC port of a mobile game, but everything about Arcane Magic feels limited by its origin, from the tiny battle maps, to the way scrolls are sold in “plunder packs,” to the dual currencies. Fortunately the microtransactions have been disabled for the PC version, but the pacing is still designed around their presence and everything feels slightly off because of it.
The game itself? Basic turn-based tactics where your wizards cast spells from a hand of cards while they explore the Old World gathering lumps of magic rock. It would be boring even without its other problems.
19. Warhammer Quest 2: The End Times (2019)
A turn-based dungeon crawler that uses the apocalyptic ending of the Warhammer world to justify heroic knights fighting alongside skeletons and a dark elf in fetishwear.
While the game it’s a sequel to had difficulty options including permadeath, Warhammer Quest 2 has none. Instead you have to play a game that’s hard enough you need to grind sidequests to keep up with the curve, while not having permadeath to make failure exciting. Instead when heroes fall they take injuries that weaken them until their next level-up, which means more grinding safe sidequests. I could tell you the fussy line-of-sight rules and the lack of the first game’s text adventures also let it down, but the horse is already dead and there’s no need to flog it.
18. HeroQuest (1991)
A potent double-dose of nostalgia, both for 1991 when it was released and for 1989 when I had the board game and played it alone after boring every adult who would sit down with me. HeroQuest was one of the classic dungeon crawl board games that acted as a gateway drug to RPGs, like Descent or Gloomhaven do today. The videogame is a direct adaptation down to the quests and intro text, though it’s only able to display a slice of the board at a time and the heroes waddle about like toddlers with full diapers.
If you want to play HeroQuest on a computer with friends Tabletop Simulator has you covered, but if you want a half-bright AI for the monsters like you’d wished for as a lonely child in 1989, this is the drug for you.
17. Mark of Chaos (2006)
Black Hole Entertainment/Namco Bandai
Two real-time Warhammer wargames preceded Mark of Chaos, and while it has the best UI of the three, with straightforward controls like mousewheel zooming, and the best graphics, with soldiers that look like the official miniatures of night goblins and Imperial halberdiers and so on, it still manages to be the worst of them. The animations aren’t so great, all herky-jerky bent-arm swings, and heroes send ordinary troops flying a ridiculous distance with every blow. But the real problem is that Mark of Chaos is shallower than its predecessors, with too many battles that won’t let you field your full army, and tactics more like a drag-and-drop RTS.
It doesn’t have the earlier games’ personality, either, which made up for their clumsier controls.
16. Chaosbane (2019)
This action-RPG starts well. It’s a competent Diablo-like with plenty of dark atmosphere and Nurglings who climb each other like circus acrobats so you can bash them apart. Unfortunately its boss fights drag on thanks to their multiple health bars, and too many of the enemies in later acts are just reskins of those from the first.
Where other action-RPGs hide the fun in the endgame, Chaosbane frontloads it, and so gets less enjoyable the longer you stick with it. The first act is pretty good, though.
15. Warhammer Underworlds Online (2020)
Steel Sky Productions
A one-to-one adaptation of a tabletop game, Underworlds takes the even more heavy metal high fantasy of Age of Sigmar and presents it at small scale, with squads of three and up fighting over objectives that look like leftover props from a D&D game.
Matches are only three turns long, which is often not enough time to wipe out an enemy—instead you win by completing objectives dealt from a deck of cards you construct, which prioritizes thoughtful play and maneuvering over pure offense. There’s a lot to learn, and a lot of potentially interesting tactics based around constructing a warband and choosing cards for both objectives and powers that suit them.
Thing is, the entire singleplayer component is bot matches and the multiplayer is only populated at the top end. There’s hardly anybody in that sweet spot between “finished the tutorials, looking for a casual match-up” and “this is my forever game, over which I have achieved complete mastery” for you to learn against.
14. Mordheim: Warband Skirmish (2017)
In 1999 Games Workshop released a skirmish-scale tabletop game set in the ruins of the comet-smashed city of Mordheim, where warbands squabble over shards of magic “wyrdstone.” There have been a couple of digital versions, like this one which was originally released for mobile. It shows, but in ways that actually add to it.
The Clash of Clans-style models look agreeably like plastic figurines and the short duration of battles gives it the snacky quality that makes Into the Breach and XCOM: Chimera Squad easy to pick up and play. With its traditional top-down view, it’s also more likely to set off any nostalgia you may have for the tabletop game than Rogue Factor’s more ambitious version, a few spots down the list.
Finally, though I hesitate to say it in a ranking of PC games, this simple between-meals strategy game is available on Switch. I leave you to do with this information as you will.
13. Man o’ War: Corsair (2016)
You get to be captain of your own ship. What’s not to like? Well, AI so bad at sailing that escort missions are a write-off, flying enemies that screech constantly and are hard to target, and janky dueling animations. So a fair amount, actually.
And yet, because Man o’ War gives you so much freedom in how you play, most of that doesn’t matter. You can concentrate on trade, buying from ports that produce goods in quantity then selling where they’re in demand. Or keep the wind at your back while finding firing solutions for the perfect broadsides. Either become a monster hunter, or just turn sea monsters off completely in the menu. It lets you concentrate on the undeniable fun parts of being a Warhammer pirate and give a wide berth to the rest.
If you have fond memories of Bethesda’s almost-forgotten Pirates of the Caribbean game, Man o’ War is quite similar. If you thought Sid Meier’s Pirates! would be better with orcs, this is that.
12. Age of Sigmar: Champions (2018)
Age of Sigmar: Champions is unusual among the digital adaptations of Games Workshop’s physical games in that it’s a direct adjunct to a collectible card game, allowing players to scan in their physical cards with a webcam or phone app and then use them in the videogame version. As a standalone free-to-play videogame it’s decent, with nice card art and some unusual mechanics, like the way unit cards rotate each turn, with different effects on each rotation.
It really comes into its own if you have a deck of the no-longer-printed actual cards, however, or pick some up second-hand and treat this as a companion that will let you take your games online or practice in the singleplayer campaigns.
11. Blood Bowl (2009)
Cyanide Studios/Focus Home Interactive
Cyanide’s first take at Blood Bowl was actually their second, as they’d previously made a game called Chaos League that was so close to it that Games Workshop’s lawyers came around for a quiet word. One out-of-court settlement later and Cyanide somehow managed to score the rights to develop an actual Blood Bowl game, which they did a competent job of. Then they released two more versions of the same game—the Legendary and Chaos editions—each slightly expanding on the last.
While their eventual 2015 sequel has a better UI and nicer looks, one thing I missed from this version was the truly demented variety of weird cheerleaders, especially the skeletons with pom-poms.
10. Shadow of the Horned Rat (1995)
This first attempt at a real-time Warhammer wargame gives you command of a mercenary company known as the Grudgebringers. From this initial command of two units, one Imperial cavalry and one infantry, you branch out unit-by-unit to eventually field everything from wood elf archers to dwarf gyrocopters, fighting against greenskins and skaven.
These units are represented by basic sprites in a battle view limited to a corner of the screen, but what Shadow of the Horned Rat lacks in finesse it makes up for in personality, with a cast full of Monty Python-esque accents delivering mission briefings, cutscenes, and battle cries. You’ll have to tweak compatibility settings to get it running today (Windows XP Service Pack 2 mode works for me), but it’s worth it.
9. Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning (2008)
Mythic Entertainment/Electronic Arts
Pour one out for Warhammer Age of Reckoning, aka WAR, yet another MMO too beautiful to live. What’s that? You can play it today on community-run servers, and though there are some bugs and player numbers aren’t always what they could be you can still have a good time? Hell, put that drink back in the bottle and go check it out.
WAR may have squeezed itself into a World of Warcraft-shaped mold to its detriment, but it also did great stuff with realm-versus-realm combat, public quests, and a set of classes that were all cool in different ways. Like City of Heroes, it deserves a second chance.
8. Mordheim: City of Damned (2015)
It takes a minute to wrap your head around the combination of over-the-shoulder camera and turn-based tactics in Mordheim: City of the Damned (it’s a bit like Valkyria Chronicles only with overwatch rather than enemies just constantly firing infinite bullets on everyone’s turn). By “it takes a minute”, what I really mean is “it takes your entire first campaign, which you will lose.”
Mordheim isn’t just XCOM from a different angle, it’s XCOM where the Long War on Iron Man mode is the only way to play. Your bosses demand payments on tight deadlines, story missions are brutal, and warriors lose limbs about as often as I misplace my phone. Mordheim gets away with this harshness because the playstyle it encourages—cautious, paying attention to the enemy’s abilities, learning the 3D maps in a way your ground-level view facilitates—becomes gripping once you’re carefully shepherding a band of warriors with missing arms and concussion through its ruined city.
7. The End Times: Vermintide (2015)
Once Valve stopped releasing Left 4 Dead games it fell to others to give us what we needed, which is the sense of being outnumbered but unwilling to fall, backed by our closest friends who may or may not be internet strangers. Vermintide did that well, with heroes who have enjoyably outsized personas up against skaven with no sense of self-preservation. Though its melee weapons didn’t have quite the punchiness of those in the sequel, the original Vermintide relied less on leveling up and opening boxes of slightly better gear. If that slow gear accrual turns you off Vermintide 2, this first game remains a blast today.
6. Warhammer Quest (2015)
Rodeo Games/Chilled Mouse
Halfway between the roll-and-move simplicity of HeroQuest and the this-box-actually-contains-a-universe complexity of Gloomhaven is Warhammer Quest, a dungeon crawler with just the right amount of downtime friction between dungeons.
Boxes of text present simple decisions, like “do you loot the tapestries or save the villagers’ donkey from being eaten.” Towns assemble themselves up out of the map like in the Game of Thrones credits so you can go shopping or visit the temple for a blessing. It’s basic in presentation, perfect for an old laptop, and because it started as a mobile game and (horror of horrors) has DLC, it’s been underrated. Ignore that Steam user score of “mixed,” Warhammer Quest is actually quite good indeed.
The Top 5
5. Blood Bowl 2 (2015)
Cyanide Studios/Focus Home Interactive
On the one hand Blood Bowl 2 is a game that does a terrible job teaching you how to play it. The singleplayer campaign tries to be a tutorial, but introduces core ideas too slowly and only lets you play as one team. Meanwhile, the AI is so rudimentary I’ve played for over 50 hours and never seen it throw a pass. And yet, I have played it for over 50 hours, because Blood Bowl 2 is strong where it actually needs to be.
It takes the wonderful board game about skeletons failing to pick up footballs and puts it on PC more slickly than ever, with multiplayer and an endless league mode, adds some daffy animations and calls it a day. If you don’t love the board game you’ll never understand this, but if you’ve spent pleasant evenings at the table learning how to organize your turns so that you can get as much done as possible before Johnny Bones fumbles the ball and causes a turnover, this is glorious.
4. Dark Omen (1998)
The sequel to Shadow of the Horned Rat kept the real-time tactics battles and the structure of a mercenary company slowly building a diverse roster over the course of a campaign, and improved almost every other element. Instead of the action taking place in a corner window it’s 3D and fills the screen. The UI gets out of the way and the faces of soldiers pop up to shout as they charge or flee like you’re in a videoconference with an entire battlefield.
If it had more enemies than just undead and greenskins, it might be perfect. As it is, if you like the battles from Total War but don’t want the strategy stuff getting in the way, here you go. You’ll need some help from PC Gaming Wiki to get it running today (downloading EngRel’s “3D Fix & Extreme Camera zoom & Overhead Map” did the trick for me), but it’s worth it. There’s a modding community too.
3. Total War: Warhammer (2016)
The Warhammer mods for Rome and Medieval 2 proved there was an audience for a Total War: Warhammer, but it still felt like a miracle both that it finally happened, and that it was done so well. The factions feel distinct and make you want to actually play the campaign more than once, and it cleverly ditches some of the series’ more indulgent elements like lineages and seasons to create a more streamlined Total War, one that feels suited to fantasy-bashing whether you’re playing honor-driven Brettonian knights or headbutt-hungry orcs.
The sequel is better, but if you’re particularly devoted to one of the factions in the first game I’d recommend it, and you’re going to want to buy both eventually anyway.
2. Vermintide 2
Sometimes in Vermintide 2 an enemy, whether a furry ratman or one of the worm-pale Northmen, gets killed the moment before your swing connects. The elf at the back puts an arrow in an eye socket, or the witch hunter jabs his rapier through while running past. Even though your own attack is wasted, watching it connect and sever an already dead enemy’s limb is never a downer, because that’s how good it feels to hit things in Vermintide 2.
As you juke around its hordes, staggering backwards as you deflect a blow then blurring forwards for a riposte, you feel like you’re in a deadly duel where on one side there’s you and your mates, and on the other side there’s a hundred mutants. It scales up everything about the first Vermintide, with more open levels, a more involved levelling system, and more enemies, but what really makes a difference is how it makes the first game’s combat feel weightless by comparison.
To find any other game with first-person melee combat this good you either have to sink into the fiddly competitive world of Mordhau and Chivalry 2, or travel back in time to Dark Messiah. But you don’t have to do either because Vermintide 2’s right here, and you can play it with your friends.
1. Total War: Warhammer 2
“More of the same” can be a flaw, but not when we’re talking about Warhammer. This isn’t a setting that thrives on originality. It’s about maximalism, everything you like about trad fantasy baked together and then even more layered on top. That’s what Total War: Warhammer 2 delivers, with more armies, more unique mechanics for those armies, more landmass, and more campaigns—one a race to control a magic vortex, another the conquer-everything Mortal Empires. There are even bespoke campaigns in the DLC for factions like the food-obsessed goblins who need their own cooking minigame, or the multiple fleets of vampirates.
I used to think the best Total War games were the ones with smaller maps, like the Shogun games, but Warhammer 2 has four continents plus change, with the Mortal Empires DLC making it even bigger, and all its sprawling decadence results in a big opulent layer cake of everything that’s great about Warhammer, only more of the same. We’ve never had going back for seconds this good.
Don’t let the rest of PC Gamer find out I said this, but it’s not just the best Warhammer game, it’s the best Total War game too, and by a significant margin.
Warhammer: What to read next
That’s a lot of Warhammer. But if you want to know more about the Old World and the stories behind its many games, here’s what to read next.