Updated August 2014
Forgeworld is a specialised section of the Games Workshop company which is based in Nottingham, England. Games Workshop produces a variety of tabletop games which are sold worldwide. Their most popular products are Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40k.
What are these games like?
All the games are based on the same idea. The player buys him/herself an army of small plastic miniatures and uses them to play a game that, on a very basic level, is like chess. The general minimum number of players is two and the maximum depends on how large a space you have available. Most people choose to play on a large table.
The players set up a battlefield using terrain (buildings, rocks, trees, ...) and then sort out how well each item provides cover or how difficult they are to pass. Next the players set up their armies at an agreed distance from their table edge/corner. The game runs in turn mode. At the start of each turn the players move their models up to whatever number of inches the models' characteristics say they can. After this attacks and losses are resolved with dice. Goals of the game are different objectives like defending and attacking a certain area for a defined time.
What is Forgeworld?
In the lore of Warhammer 40k, Forgeworlds are planets devoted to industry and the production of the Imperium's war machines. Forgeworld the company also started out mainly producing special models for Warhammer 40k which are not available as regular miniatures. Later a range of models for Warhammer Fantasy was added. There is also a range of models whose story is set in the past of Warhammer 40k, the legendary Horus Heresy, an event of betrayal against the human Emperor. Some of the kits cannot be built as whole models but are merely upgrades to standard Games Workshop models.
Many of the models designed and sold by Forgeworld do not have rules in the regular Codexes or Armybooks for Warhammer 40k and Warhammer Fantasy. Therefore Forgeworld also sells separate books with rules for all of their models. For some models rules are available as free download. They also offer various pieces of terrain and modelling supplies.
All Forgeworld models are made of resin and are produced only in rather small numbers as opposed to the mass produced plastic models Games Workshop usually sells. This means that in comparison Forgeworld is a lot more expensive, but the models are not meant to be used to build a whole army. Prices range from a few pounds for small conversion kits, about £15 for special miniatures of a regular warrior size to many hundreds of pounds for large pieces. They are rather special additions or pieces for collectors. Nobody has to buy Forgeworld models to play any of the Games Workshop games. A nice extra is that all models on the Forgeworld shop homepage have a link to the profile of their designer.
New models are added to the range sold by Forgeworld on a regular basis. If a model is especially popular Games Workshop sometimes decides to produce regular plastic models of it and include it into the standard Warhammer games.
The oldest section of models produced by Forgeworld are those for Games Workshop's sci-fi game Warhammer 40k. The models on offer are mainly large - some even rather huge - machines like tanks, aircraft and mechs1 for all Warhammer 40k armies. One of the largest and most expensive models is the Tau Manta, an aircraft which is over 60 cm long and 80 cm wide. It costs almost £1,000 and has a whole Tau army stored inside.
The rules for most Warhammer 40k models produced by Forgeworld can be found in one of many Imperial Armour books.
All models for Warhammer Fantasy are part of the Warhammer Forge section of Forgeworld. The collection is far smaller than those offered for Warhammer 40k, but it still offers some impressive and well designed pieces. There is for instance a large number of monsters and beasts which are not associated with a specific Warhammer army.
The Horus Heresy
In the past of the Warhammer 40k universe there was an event known as the Horus Heresy. Horus, the favorite son of the human Emperor, fell to Chaos and betrayed his father. The Imperium had many losses during this time.
Forgeworld offers players the possibility to replay the battles of the Horus Heresy. For this purpose there are full colour books with lots of background information and rules and a number of special miniatures were produced. The models for the well-known (among fans) 'historic' characters are especially amazing collector pieces with lots of details.
What makes it worthwhile?
It's the special models few people will have that just make the collection that bit more unique. They are produced in smaller numbers and are often more expensive than regular Games Workshop models, and therefore not every player owns any of them. Not all models can really be used to play because they may just be too large for a table, but still they can make a great addition to a Warhammer army collection. Some Forgeworld kits provide quite a modelling challenge and skilled modellers like to add their own personal touches.