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A Skaven enemy fires off flames in Warhammer: Vermintide 2

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Ranking the 7 best Warhammer fantasy video games

From strategy excursions to dice-based football

Image: Fatshark

Games Workshop’s Warhammer Fantasy setting is a unique beast. It was once a particular thing (dark high fantasy), and then it was rebooted into Warhammer Age of Sigmar (hard to explain), and now it seems like they’re bringing proper Warhammer Fantasy back (via Warhammer: The Old World). Kind of confusing, right?

Well, it is, and it isn’t. Warhammer video games are a great way to ease yourself into the world of Warhammer Fantasy, as it is varied and quite complex. Luckily, most games below act as keyholes into that greater world. (If you’re more in the mood for grim sci-fi, we also ranked the best video games set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe.)

7. Blood Bowl 2

An orc faces off with a human in Blood Bowl 2 Image: Cyanide Studios/Focus Home Interactive

Remember Blitz: The League? Well, Blood Bowl is the tabletop version of that, except with orcs, elves, and trolls. It is an entertaining (and funny) tabletop game that has become one of the staple entries in the Warhammer Fantasy milieu. If you aren’t familiar with the tabletop game, coming to grips with the dice-based, turn-focused approach to football might never click with you, and that’s OK. But given its multiplayer and a robust league mode, Blood Bowl 2 is an incredibly fun time for folks who likely already have a soft spot for the universe it’s based in.

Blood Bowl 2 is available on Windows PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.

6. Warhammer: Chaosbane

Combat in Warhammer: Chaosbane Image: Eko Software/Bigben Interactive

The Warhammer Fantasy setting is perfect for a Diablo-like ARPG, and Eko Software and Bigben Interactive’s Warhammer: Chasobane capitalizes. Like, full stop. It’s a Diablo game with a fresh coat of Warhammer paint, with a grim atmosphere and lots of squishy, gory combat that makes for a fun, if a bit repetitive, gameplay loop. Warhammer: Chaosbane is pretty front-loaded, but those opening hours are incredible, as the loot is cool and Nurgle always has more gross creatures to send your way. That high diminishes a bit as the game progresses, but it remains a consistently rewarding game that really gets the Gothic, decrepit beauty of Warhammer Fantasy right.

Warhammer: Chaosbane is available on Windows PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.

5. Mordheim: City of the Damned

Combat in Mordheim: City of the Damned Image: Rogue Factor/Focus Home Interactive

Based on the tabletop game that Games Workshop originally released in 1999, Rogue Factor and Focus Home Interactive’s Mordheim: City of the Damned is a weird, incredibly challenging take on the XCOM formula. Mercenary warbands of all races from all reaches of the Warhammer world have descended upon the city of Mordheim in search of the wyrdstone (a fantasy stone), and that leads to some difficult skirmishes throughout the game’s campaign. It puts the player in a third-person perspective à la Valkyria Chronicles, with permadeath and permanent injuries to make the long game even more difficult. The atmosphere is deliciously bleak and the vague, unforgiving learning curve makes this game, in my eyes, quite special.

Mordheim: City of the Damned is available on Windows PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

4. Warhammer: Dark Omen

An overview in Warhammer: Dark Omen Image: Mindscape/Electronic Arts

Mindscape and Electronic Arts’ Warhammer: Dark Omen is a 1998 sequel to another game on this list (the one right below this). Dark Omen is kind of like Total War: Warhammer on a smaller, skirmish scale. Build out your mercenary company’s roster, and enjoy the trappings of the grim but oddly charming Warhammer Fantasy setting. Its take on Games Workshop’s Warhammer Fantasy Battle tabletop game is deceptively simple, with clashes between melee, ranged, and artillery units in a variety of terrains. As is the case in the tabletop version, however, you need to account for lines of sight from one target to the next.

Warhammer: Dark Omen is available on Windows PC via GOG.

3. Warhammer: Shadow of the Horned Rat

A campaign map in Warhammer: Shadow of the Horned Rat Image: Mindscape

A lot of folks prefer Warhammer: Dark Omen to its predecessor. I am not one of those people. I adore this game and its now-rudimentary visual approach to real-time strategy in the Warhammer milieu. Mindscape developed this 1995 strategy game in such a way that, what it lacks visually, it more than makes up for in challenge (sometimes unfairly) and Warhammer Fantasy texture. From the dark but campy cutscenes to the over-the-top battle dialogue, Shadow of the Horned Rat is unmistakably Warhammer. New units offer new tactics in Shadow of the Horned Rat’s missions, which take place along a relatively linear path, but optional missions and certain story path decisions make the game feel a bit more unpredictable. Plus, you get to fight the rat-men, Skaven, and orcs — the coolest, weirdest foes in Warhammer Fantasy.

Warhammer: Shadow of the Horned Rat is available on Windows PC via GOG.

2. Warhammer: Vermintide 2

Warhammer: Vermintide 2 - a Dwarf slayer ruthlessly attacks a soldier of Chaos with two axes in the middle of a heated battle in a fantasy city. Image: Fatshark

I’m going to say it: Warhammer: Vermintide 2 is Left 4 Dead but better. Fatshark’s Warhammer: Vermintide 2 is a 2018 first-person, co-op horde survival game set in the End Times (a somewhat slow apocalypse of sorts that ushered in the Age of Sigmar) era of the Warhammer Fantasy setting. Choose your class (I prefer the Witch Hunter) and start slicing, shooting, stabbing, smashing, and immolating your way through the Chaos hordes. The gameplay, while simple, is incredibly satisfying. From Skaven to Chaos Champions to Beastmen, the variety of enemies is as surprising as the level design — which is only deepened and improved with the wonderful DLC campaigns. Also, the art direction is arguably the closest a video game has ever gotten to fully showcasing the variety of dark beauty that is the Warhammer Fantasy setting.

Warhammer: Vermintide 2 is available on Windows PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.

1. Total War: Warhammer 2

The Empire fights Lizardmen in Total War: Warhammer 2 Image: Creative Assembly/Sega

With Total War: Warhammer 2, Creative Assembly took everything wonderful about the Warhammer Fantasy setting and the tabletop battle game and did it justice tenfold. Total War: Warhammer 2 takes everything great from the first game, adds more on top of it, and refines most of it to near perfection: Sprawling maps, ever-chaotic battlefields, narrative intrigue at a massive scale, every race you could want in a Warhammer Fantasy game, and wonderfully detailed graphics all come together to make this the best Warhammer Fantasy game. Whatever you see on screen, no matter the battle, is wonderfully reminiscent of the tabletop game — detailed, complex environments littered with as many miniatures as possible, duking it out in large-scale warfare. (Total War: Warhammer 3 is also worth noting on this list, especially after its recent Immortal Empires expansion, but it’s still ironing out its many wrinkles.)

Total War: Warhammer 2 is available on Windows PC, Mac, and Linux.