Games Workshop

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Games Workshop, Limited (often abbreviated as GW, and disparagingly known as Evil Empire) is an British game production and retailing company. Games Workshop is best known as developer and publisher of the tabletop wargames Warhammer, Warhammer 40,000 and The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game and the publisher of White Dwarf magazine. The company is listed on the London Stock Exchange with the symbol GAW.L.[1]


Founded in 1975 at 15 Bolingbroke Road, London, by John Peake, Ian Livingstone, and Steve Jackson (not to be confused with US games designer Steve Jackson (US)), Games Workshop was originally a manufacturer of wooden boards for games such as backgammon, mancal, Nine Men's Morris, and Go[2] which later became an importer of the U.S. role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons, and then a publisher of boardgames, wargames and role-playing games in its own right, expanding from a bedroom mail-order company in the process.

In order to promote their business, postal games, create a games club, and provide an alternative source for games news, the newsletter, Owl and Weasel, was founded in February 1975. This was superseded in June 1977 by White Dwarf.

From the outset, there was a clear stated interest in print regarding "progressive games," including computer gaming[3] which led to the departure of traditionalist Peake in early 1976, and the loss of GW's main source of income.[4] However, having successfully obtained official distribution rights to Dungeons & Dragons and other TSR products in the UK, and maintaining a high profile by running Games Day a UK based games convention, the business grew rapidly. It opened its first retail shop in April 1978.

In early 1979, Games Workshop provided the funding to found Citadel Miniatures in Newark-on-Trent. Citadel would produce the metal miniatures used in role-playing and table-top wargames. The Citadel name became synonymous with Games Workshop Miniatures, and continues to be a trademarked brand name used in association with them long after the Citadel company was absorbed into Games Workshop.[5][6] For a time, Gary Gygax promoted the idea of TSR merging with Games Workshop, until Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone backed out [7] according to gygax due to the negative influence of the Blumes. This would lead Gygax to form TSR UK.

The company's publishing arm also released UK reprints of American RPGs such as Call of Cthulhu, Runequest, Traveller, and Middle-earth Role Playing, which were expensive to import, having previously done so for Dungeons & Dragons from 1977.[8]

In 1984, Games Workshop ceased distributing its products in the USA through Hobby Games Distributors and opened its Games Workshop (US) office. Games Workshop (US).

In 1986, Steve and Ian put Bryan Ansell as manager of Games Workshop, and the business moved from London to Nottingham, becoming fully integrated with Citadel Miniatures. At that point Steve and Ian were making enough money from their Fighting Fantasy game books to not be that interested in running the day-to-day business of GW, teve Jackson stated that: "We were spending 10 hours a day in the office, then going home and typing (on typewriters!) until midnight and all weekend." Games Workshop was suffering some neglect as both Jackson and Livingstone preferred lives as authors. They promoted the Senior Executives of Games Workshop to positions where they could run the business. Bryan Ansell, chief of Citadel Miniatures became Managing Director. Ansell excelled and when he moved the business up to Nottingham, the founders began to feel less in touch. Ansell offered to buy the company and in 1986 it was agreed he would be able to buy most of the company if he achieved certain targets, which he did. Games Workshop has also contributed to designing and making games and puzzles for the popular television series The Crystal Maze.[9]

Games Workshop went through a large growth phase in the late '80s, listing over 250 employees on the payroll by 1990.[10] Both Jackson and Livingstone retained part ownership until 1991 when Ansell sold out to Tom Kirby who had joined the company as sales manager in 1986. Following the management buyout, the company focused exclusively on their most lucrative lines, namely their miniature wargames Warhammer (WFB) and Warhammer 40,000 (WH40K), dropping all support for the RPG products which had sustained the company and built its IP thoughout the 1980s. The management buy-out had been funded by venture capitalists, and the company owing money led to [11] cuts in the quality of production design. The retail arm attempted to refocus on a younger, more family-oriented market, with brightly coloured packaging and more streamlined, simplified rules. This change of direction was a great success and the company enjoyed growing profits, but the move lost the company much of its old fan base, and grognards to this day feel cheated by the betrayal Games Workshop expanded in Europe, the USA, Canada, and Australia, opening new branches and organizing events in each new commercial territory. The company was floated on the London Stock Exchange in October 1994. In October 1997, all UK-based operations were relocated to the current headquarters in Lenton, Nottingham. This site now houses the corporate HQ, the White Dwarf offices, mail order operations, production, and distribution facilities for Europe, and the creative teams behind the miniatures and games designs.

By the end of the 1990s, though, the company was having problems with falling profits, blamed on the growth in popularity of collectible card games such as Magic: The Gathering and Pokémon T.C.G..

In recent years, Games Workshop has been attempting to keep a cycle of planned obselecence, with rule-changes designed to ensure incompatibility between editions, and guaging that the younger audience has a potential 5-year lifespan as a customer. Previously most of the models were cast in white metal/pewter but by the 2000s most of them were replaced by plastics which are cheaper to produce once production levels have reached a viable quantity.

GW aquired Sabretooth Games (collectable card games), the creation of The Black Library which sold other merchandising such as dogtags, t-shirts and books but now only do books. And ebooks. And maybe some posters.

In the 25 years since the first edition of Warhammer Fantasy Battle, the cost of some like-for-like game components have risen steeply. For example, a metal "Goblin Fanatic" miniature has increased from 40p[12] to £2.67,[13] an increase of 567.5%. In early 2008 Playthings magazine reported that retailers selling Games Workshop's products had seen a reduction in sales due to market saturation and price increases.[14]

In late 2009 Games Workshop issued a succession of Cease and desist orders against various internet sites it accused of violating its Intellectual property. Unsurprisingly the reaction amongst the fan community was generally anger and disappointment[15] [16] [17] as many of the sites receiving orders were seen to be ones which had supported various Games Workshop games during periods where the company itself was not supporting or selling them.

On the 16th of May 2011 Maelstrom Games announced that Games Workshop had revised the terms and conditions of their trade agreement with independent stockists in the UK.[18] The new terms and conditions restrict the sale of all Games Workshop products to within the European Economic Area.


Alongside the UK publishing rights to several American role-playing games in the 1980s (including The Call of Cthulhu, Runequest[19] and Middle-earth Role Playing [20]) Games Workshop also secured the rights to produce miniatures and/or games for several classic British science fiction properties such as Doctor Who[21][22] and several characters from 2000 AD including Rogue Trooper and Judge Dredd. Alongside the rights to reprint ICE's Middle Earth Role Playing Citadel Miniatures acquired the rights to produce 28mm miniatures based on Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.

In conjunction with the promotion of The Lord of the Rings film trilogy in 2001, Games Workshop acquired the rights to produce a skirmish wargame and miniatures, using the movies' production and publicity art, and information provided by the original novels by J.R.R. Tolkien. (Although it should be noted that the current line uses 25mm scale).[23] The rights to produce a role-playing game using the films' art and both the book and the movies' plots and characters were sold to another firm, Decipher, Inc. Games Workshop was also able to produce a Battle of Five Armies game based on a culminating episode in The Hobbit, which was done in 10 mm scale. A non film based RPG The One Ring, is published by Cubicle 7, who also has curremt license for Doctor Who.

On February 10, 2011, Warner Bros. Consumer Products announced that it extended its six-year agreement with Games Workshop, continuing its exclusive, worldwide rights to produce tabletop games based on "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings." Games Workshop announced plans to expand their offerings of battle-games and model soldiers, and to continue to develop and increase offerings based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy books.[24]

Games Workshop Group PLC

Games Workshop has divisions/companies producing products related to the Warhammer universe.

  • Games Workshop now produces the tabletop wargames, Citadel miniatures, and the Specialist Games range.
  • Forge World makes complementary specialist resin miniatures and conversion kits. Forge World is also responsible for the Warhammer Historical line of historical wargames rules, including Warhammer Ancient Battles, all of which were previously published by as a component of Black Library.
  • BL Publishing is the fiction, board game and roleplaying game publishing arm of Games Workshop. They comprise several separate imprints; The Black Library, Black Flame and Solaris Books. Warp Artefacts used to produce merchandise based on Games Workshop's intellectual property; they are now folded into BLP as BL Merchandise.[25]

The company is deemed to have hard-to-reproduce, unique Intellectual Property (99% of which was developed in the 1980s before the IPO), and a good export record. Sales slowed around 1999-2000 due to supply chain issues, but quickly rebounded a few years later.[26]

The group reported revenues of £123.1 million in 2011.[27] This is a reduction in revenue of £3.4 million on 2010 but still translated to an operating profit of £15.3 million. In 2011 the company averaged 1,901 staff across all activities.

Miniature games

Games Workshop previously produced miniature figures via an associated, originally independent, company called Citadel Miniatures while the main company concentrated on retail. The distinction between the two blurred after Games Workshop stores ceased to sell retail products by other manufacturers, and Citadel was effectively merged back into Games Workshop.

Current Games

The following games are in production:

All of these games systems have had expansion rules and supplements for them, including Mighty Empires and Storm of Magic for Warhammer Fantasy Battles, War Of The Ring and Battlehosts for The Lord of the Rings SBG and Cities of Death, Apocalypse, Planetstrike and Planetary Empires for Warhammer 40,000.

Specialist games

In order to diversify the product range without competing against itself, Games Wrokshop markets various games as part of their "Specialist Games" Range. Several of these are long-standing products that still sell in quantities enough to make them viable for the business to support without having to release new material. This is partly due to the low cost of materials in manufacture and that the molds for models last a long time.

Warhammer Fantasy universe

  • Blood Bowl - an American football style game using fantasy creatures.
  • Dreadfleet - a naval combat style board game (limited stock) released on 1 October 2011
  • Mighty Empires - a hexagonal tile based campaign supplement
  • Mordheim - a skirmish game. An expansion called Empire in Flames was also released
  • Warmaster - a game for fighting larger battles with smaller (10 mm) miniatures

Warhammer 40,000 universe

  • Battlefleet Gothic - a game which depicts battles between fleets of space ships.
  • Epic - a game for fighting larger battles with smaller (6 mm) miniatures (known as Epic Armageddon in its current edition).
  • Inquisitor - a skirmish/role play game using larger (54 mm) more detailed miniatures and intended for older gamers.
  • Necromunda - a skirmish game set on a hive world which pits gangs of humans against each other, using 2nd edition Warhammer 40,000 rules, which are more detailed than newer editions and more suitable for skirmish games.

The Lord of the Rings universe

  • The Strategy Battle Game has now expanded and has recently added many new supplements to the list of its current games and scenarios. In 2009, an expansion for the game entitled 'War of the Ring' was released, allowing players to recreate large scale battles in Middle-Earth. In December 2012, Games Workshop released the first wave of models based on the movie The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.[28]

Forge World

Out of print

Over the years a number of games have been published by Games Workshop which are no longer produced by them. Some have been since licensed to other publishers.

General Games

  • Spacefarers Games Workshops original sci-fi skirimish rules.

Warhammer Fantasy universe

  • Advanced HeroQuest
  • Kerrunch - a simplified version of Blood Bowl.
  • Man O' War - a game of naval combat in a fantasy world. Two expansions were also released, Sea of Blood and Plague Fleet.
  • Mighty Warriors - a simplified version of Advanced HeroQuest.
  • Warhammer Quest - a game of dungeon exploration and questing, effectively an updated version of Advanced HeroQuest.

Warhammer 40,000 universe

  • Adeptus Titanicus (The original game in the Epic series, which dealt solely with combat between Titans.)
    • Codex Titanicus (Expanded rules for the above, adding rules for Ork and Eldar titans.)
  • Advanced Space Crusade
  • Bommerz over da Sulphur River (Board game using Epic miniatures.)
  • Epic 40,000 (The precursor to Epic Armageddon, although some people still use the terms interchangeably, alongside Epic.)
  • Gorkamorka (A vehicle skirmish game set on a desert world, revolving principally around rival Ork factions.)
    • Digganob (An expansion for Gorkamorka, adding rebel gretchin and feral human factions.)
  • Lost Patrol
  • Space Fleet (A simple spaceship combat game, later greatly expanded via White Dwarf magazine with material intended for the aborted 'Battleship Gothic', itself later relaunched as Battlefleet Gothic.)
  • Space Hulk (Three editions were published; expansions are listed below.)
    • Deathwing (An expansion boxed set adding new Terminator weapons and a new campaign.)
    • Genestealer (An expansion boxed set adding rules for Genestealer hybrids and psychic powers.)
    • Space Hulk Campaigns (An expansion book released in both soft and hard-cover collecting reprinted four campaigns previously printed in White Dwarf.)
  • Space Marine (The original Epic-scale game concerning troops and infantry, 1st edition was compatible with Adeptus Titanicus, 2nd with Titan Legions)
  • Titan Legions (An update of Adeptus Titanicus, effectively an expansion of Space Marine 2nd edition.)
  • Tyranid Attack (An introductory game reusing the boards from Advanced Space Crusade.)
  • Ultra Marines (An introductory game reusing the boards from Space Hulk.)

Licensed games

These games were not made by Games Workshop but used Gamed Workshop originated models and artwork. These games were made by mainstream toy companies and available in standard toy and department stores rather than in Games Workshops retail channels.

  • Battle Masters (published by Milton Bradley)
  • HeroQuest (published by Milton Bradley)
    • Kellar's Keep (Expansion for Hero Quest)
    • Return of the Witch Lord (Expansion for Hero Quest)
    • Against the Ogre Horde (Expansion for Hero Quest)
    • Wizards of Morcar (Expansion for Hero Quest)
    • The Frozen Horror (Expansion for Hero Quest)
    • The Magic of the Mirror (Expansion for Hero Quest)
    • The Dark Company (Expansion for Hero Quest)
    • HeroQuest Adventure Design Kit (Expansion for Hero Quest)
    • Adventure Design Booklet (Expansion for Hero Quest)
  • Space Crusade (published by Milton Bradley)
    • Mission Dreadnought (Expansion for Space Crusade)
    • Eldar Attack (Expansion for Space Crusade)

Role-playing games

Several of the miniatures games (e.g. Inquisitor) involve a role-playing element, however Games Workshop has in the past published role-playing games set within the Warhammer universe. Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay was first published in 1986; a second edition appeared in 2005 published by Black Industries[3], part of GW's fiction imprint BL Publishing.

Warhammer 40,000: Dark Heresy, the first of three proposed role-playing games set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe was released in late January 2008 and sold out almost immediately.

Immediately following the release of Dark Heresy, Black Industries announced that they would cease producing role-playing supplements in September 2008, in order to focus on the more profitable Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 novels. A later announcement indicated that the game would continue to be produced, however; production had simply been turned over to a third-party publisher, Fantasy Flight Games, instead.[29]

As well as republishing and expanding the Dark Heresy game, Fantasy Flight Games have subsequently published three other roleplaying games, Rogue Trader, Deathwatch, and Black Crusade, set in the same Warhammer 40,000 universe and employing different systems. A fourth, Only War, is scheduled to be released in January 2013. Fantasy Flight has also released a new edition of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, along with a number of expansions to that game also.

Out of print

Out of print, republished

The following games are technically out of print in their original editions, but have had new versions (in some cases heavily revised and in some cases with additional game expansions) published by Fantasy Flight Games, and these new editions are still in print.

Board games

Games Workshop had a strong history in boardgames development, alongside the miniatures and RPGs. Confusingly, several may have had roleplaying elements, or for that matter had miniatures included or produced.

Licensing for an undisclosed proportion of Games Workshop's back catalogue of board games was transferred to Fantasy Flight Games as part of the same transaction which included Black Library's Role Playing Games. Fantasy Flight has already republished revised editions of a number of these games. At the time of the announcement, Black Library had only one boardgame in print, the 4th Edition of "Talisman". Fantasy Flight has subsequently released revised editions of Talisman and of other former Games Workshop boardgames.

Out of print

Out of print, republished

The following games are technically out of print in their original editions, but have had new versions (in all cases heavily revised and in some cases with additional game expansions) published by Fantasy Flight Games, and these new editions are still in print.

Computer games

Games Workshop licensed or produced several ZX Spectrum games in the early years:

  • Apocalypse (1983) based on the original boardgame
  • Argent Warrior (1984) Illustrated adventure
  • Battlecars (1984) 2 player racing game written in BASIC
  • Chaos (1985) multiplayer turn based "board" game, written by Julian Gollop
  • D-Day (1985) based on the Normandy Landings
  • Journey's End (1985) text adventure
  • Key Of Hope, The (1985) text adventure
  • Ringworld (1984) text adventure
  • Runestone (1986) text adventure
  • Talisman (1985) multiplayer turn based "board" game
  • Tower Of Despair (1985) text adventure

These releases had limited distribution in comparison to other software house of the time.

Many computer games have been produced by third parties based on the Warhammer universes owned by the firm. These include (miniature game they are based on is included in parentheses after the game name):

  • Blood Bowl (1995), published by MicroLeague
  • HeroQuest (1991) based on the MB board game


There are yearly Games Day events held by Games Workshop which feature the Golden Demon painting competition, news stands for upcoming models, sale stands as well as tables to play on.

Worldwide campaigns

Games Workshop has run numerous Worldwide Campaigns for its three core game systems. In each campaign, players are invited to submit the results of games played within a certain time period.[30] The collation of these results provides a result to the campaign's scenario, and in the case of Warhammer, often goes on to impact the fictional and gameplay development of the fictional universe. Although in the past, campaign results had to be posted to the United Kingdom to be counted, the more recent campaigns have allowed result submission via the Internet.

Each Warhammer campaign has had a new codex published with the rules for special characters or "incomplete" army lists. Below are listed the Games Workshop Worldwide Campaigns (with the campaign's fictional universe setting in parentheses):

These Campaigns were run to promote its miniature wargames, and attracted interest in the hobby, particularly at gaming clubs, Hobby Centres and independent stockists.[30] Forums for the community were created for each campaign (in addition to those on the main site), as a place to "swap tactics, plan where to post your results, or just chat about how the campaign is going."[30] In some cases special products were released to coincide with the campaigns.


Games Workshop's best known magazine is White Dwarf, which in the UK has now passed over 400 issues (as of 30/3/2013). Nine different international editions of White Dwarf are currently published, with different material, in five languages. Originally a more general roleplaying magazine, since around issue 100 White Dwarf has been devoted exclusively to the support of Games Workshop productions.

Games Workshop also published Fanatic Magazine in support of their Specialist Games range, but this was discontinued in print form after issue 10. Fanatic was preceded by a number of newsletters, devoted to the particular games. After the cancellation of Fanatic Magazine, an electronic form, known as "Fanatic Online" was published from Games Workshop's Specialist Games website. With the re-launch in 2008 of Games Workshop's global web store, starting with a revamped US site, it was announced that the Specialist Games site would no longer be updated and that Specialist Games content would be published within the Games Workshop website proper; this has also meant the end of Fanatic Online.

There was also the Citadel Journal, intended as a "deeper" magazine for modelling enthusiasts and more experienced gamers. It often featured unusual rules and armies, and was occasionally used as an outlet for test rules. Under some editors, they also published fan fiction and fan art. This is no longer published.

For a brief period in the mid-1980s GW took over publication of the Fighting Fantasy magazine Warlock from Puffin Books. The magazine turned into a general introductory gaming magazine but was discontinued after issue 13.

There was also a fortnightly series called "Battle Games in Middle Earth", which came with a single or several free Lord of the Rings SBG miniatures. Though the miniatures were made by Games Workshop, the magazine itself was written by SGS (part of Games Workshop) and published by De Agostini. It was published in Ireland, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Spain, Austria, Australia, New Zealand, and Poland. The magazine became more popular than the publishers had anticipated, and the deadline was extended several times and ended on Pack 91. Battle Games in Middle Earth was reported as being the biggest selling partwork magazine in De Agostini's history.

Criticisms of Legal actions

Games Workshop issued a trademark complaint against retailer Amazon, specifically relating to the novel 'Spots the Space Marine', claiming it violated their European 'space marine' trademark.[31] This led to a public backlash from commentators such as science fiction author Cory Doctorow[32] and digital rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation,[33] who questioned the right of Games Workshop to trademark the term, and to widespread calls within the web and gaming communities for a boycott of Games Workshop's products.[34] [35] [36] As of February 8, Spots the Space Marine reappeared on Amazon. Games Workshop has issued no further legal action in his case.[37]

Other media

Games Workshop illustrators also published artbooks covering parts of their commissioned work for the company. Amongst them, one can find Adrian Smith, Ian Miller and John Blanche.

Short fiction

From 1997 to 2005, Black Library published INFERNO!, a magazine of short stories, artwork, and other features set in the various fictional universes of Games Workshop, and regularly featuring that of Warhammer 40,000.

Starting in 2010, Black Library has started producing a monthly eBook only publication, called "Hammer and Bolter' with the focus on short stories set in the different Games Workshop universes.


White Dwarf 94 included a flexi-disc by Thrash metal band Sabbat entitled 'Blood for the Blood God'.

In the late 1980s the death metal band "Bolt Thrower" wrote lyrics dedicated to the Warhammer 40,000 universe and were granted the rights to use 40k artwork on their second album artwork 'Realm of Chaos' along with merchandise such as t-shirts. Their 3rd album 'Warmaster' was announced in White Dwarf as being also.

The success of these projects led Games Workshop to create its own short-lived record company, Warhammer Records. The only band under this label was D-Rok (who published one album, Oblivion, in 1991). A fragment of D-Rok's song "Get Out of My Way" was used in the computer game "Space Hulk", published by Electronic Arts in 1992.

Games Workshop produced CD recordings and soundtracks for several of its collectors' edition novels, including Gaunt's Ghosts by musician, animator and comic book artist John Bergin.


Several years ago Games Workshop announced that Exile Studios would produce a CGI movie based upon the Bloodquest graphic novel. A trailer was released, but the project was later put on indefinite hold. Exile Studios since disbanded.[38]

For the 25th Anniversary Games Day, Games Workshop released (for limited sale) a short movie entitled Inquisitor. This movie was created using clips and footage that was created as a pitch to G.W. for a movie deal. There were also trailers for two other films, "Hive Infestation" and "Blood for the Blood God". "Hive Infestation" pitted Space Wolf terminators against a genestealer cult infestation of a hive world. "Blood for the Blood God" was the second trailer released, and portrayed orks and Dark Angel marines fighting along with an inquisitor, much in the style of the Epic 40,000 video game cut scenes, but little information was given on this short film aside from a shot of a berserker of Khorne.

In 2010, Games Workshop with Codex Pictures released a 70 minute downloadable CGI cartoon called Ultramarines. The screenplay was written by Black Library author Dan Abnett. Terence Stamp, Sean Pertwee and John Hurt head the cast of voice actors.[39]


  2. Ian Livingstone Owl and Weasel #3 p.2 Games Workshop, April 1975
  3. Steve Jackson, Editorial, Owl and Weasel #1 p.1 Games Workshop, February 1975
  4. Ian Livingstone Editorial, Owl and Weasel #12 p.2 Games Workshop Jan 1976
  5. 'News' White Dwarf 11 p. 10, Games Workshop, Feb/Mar 1979
  6. Stephen Baxter 'Freedom in an Owned World: Warhammer Fiction and the Interzone Generation' Vector Magazine - The Critical Journal of the [British Science Fiction Association #229 British Science Fiction Association 2006 [1]
  7. Ciro Alessandro Sacco 'The Ultimate Interview with Gary Gygax'
  8. [[|White Dwarf 4]], Games Workshop, Dec/Jan 1977/78
  9. Upload of Series Credits, 29 Seconds in
  10. White Dwarf 126
  11. Rick Priestly interview - tales from the maelstrom
  12. Citadel Compendium 1, 1983 page 28
  13. Games Workshop website retrieved 15/03/08
  14. Playthings magazine
  19. Guy Haley 'The History of White Dwarf' White Dwarf 300 Games Workshop, Jan 2005
  20. {White Dwarf 58
  21. Ian Livingston 'Editorial' [[[White Dwarf 63]]
  22. Guy Haley'Thirty Years of Games Workshop' White Dwarf 304
  23. "Note that these figures are 25 mm and not the 28 mm figures that are more popular today";
  26. Paton, Maynard Are Small Companies Suitable For Long-Term Portfolios 22,11 2001 [2]
  29. Press release on Games Workshops properties from Fantasy Flight Games website
  30. 30.0 30.1 30.2 Battle Games in Middle-earth, Issue 56
  34. url=
  38. Bloodquest trailer

External links