Guest Editorial by William Shaw: Is Forge World “Official?”

From Down Under, we get a guest editorial by William Shaw on Forgeworld and it’s actual vs. perceived status in the game. Will offers up his opinions and some facts on Forge World in his own words.

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The idea of this post is to end the debate on officialdom of Forge World, with written statements that have been published by the Games Workshop design team. This is not a debate on whether or not Forge World is broken or unfair, only if it is official. Please remember that before you start screaming, I’m not telling you how to play, merely pointing out a written list of verifiable facts with which you may not be familiar.

First the reason I decided to write this article:

Recently on Faeit 212, Nafka posted a story about forge world becoming official and this started (at the time of writing) a 148 post flame war that involved some more well-known people in the 40k community (really they are all part of the American national tournament scene community but that is another story for another day).  As far as I could tell, Mike Brandt (as far as I can tell he is some type of big TO guy, I have heard his name on podcasts) Reece Robbins (the guy who voice sounds like a gravel pit) and Neil from the 11th company (who seems to hate the entire game and everyone in it).

As the points and counter points and counter counter points went back and forward a man by the name of Aaron Dembski-Bowden (Black Library author) stepped into the debate. This was not the first time I’ve seen him step into a Forge World debate; I remember a while back he commented on the Independent Characters website about this subject.


he made the point that it has always been official and pointed out that Games Workshop has been saying this for a long time in many different ways.

It seemed that no one bothered to listen

I find this interesting, despite ADB being an employee who clearly interacts with designers and management on a regular basis. The fact a person who can simply ask a game designer about a RAW or RaI issue could be so simply dismissed (I’m pretty sure he role-plays with Phil Kelly) confused and bothered me.  The point that he was making wasn’t even a rules question, he simply explained a company policy which answered the question if Forge World models are official.

The other thing I found interesting (clearly no one else did though) is: what is ADB doing on Faeit 212 anyway? Again, he works for GW and as one of their best authors is well entrenched in what the future of 40k holds.

The example I will use is: the Fall of Damnos novel was released before the Necron codex but it was using the new Necron fluff. I commented at the time to my friends that it was most likely a preview into the Necron future, and funnily enough it was. (I was disappointed that they didn’t do the Flayed One Lord form the book in the codex).

So why is Aaron even on Faeit 212? It is a rumour site, and Aaron knows more about what is going on than what poor old Natfka will ever know.  I digress but it is still a thought.

One of the many arguments against the use of Forge World in general games is that GW has never released a press release or similar statement, stating that Forge World is official. So therefore somehow it isn’t?

The thing though is that they don’t need to as they stated it in the very first Imperial Armour book all the way back in 3rd ed in 2000. Imperial Armour was a soft cover book which contained the first rules for Forge World.


The introduction is written by JERVIS JOHNSON. He talks his love of tanks and how GW was producing plastic kits but the cost and difficulty stopped them from doing as many as they wanted, then Tony Cottrell suggested that they make kits using resin. Tony went off and started making models and greatly expanded the range of tanks that players could use, the only problem was there was no rules for the models.

Now here come the important parts, Jervis goes on to say that they got some rules published in the [Citadel] Journal but these where stop gaps that were NOT official and required your opponent’s consent. Jervis then states that they needed to do some official rules so they hired Warwick Kinrade to write them. Jervis goes on to talk how he had been working on vehicle design rules as an official supplement and so these where then applied to the forge world models by Warwick, Tony and Gavin Thorpe.

And quote, “as long as Imperial Armour rules conformed to the vehicle design rules, then as far as I and the rest of the 40k design team were concerned, then they were legitimate rules and could be used in any game of 40k.” (Jervis Johnson, 2000, Imperial armour: imperial vehicles for Warhammer 40000, games workshop, Great Britain, pg 3)

So there you go. From the mouth of Jervis Johnson himself, who also went on to help write Imperial Armour volume 1: Imperial Guard & Imperial Navy.

Warwick Kinrade also address the issue in Imperial Armour volume 2.

And Quote: “All the vehicles within this book exisit in the 41st millennium, they are deployed to do battle against the Emperor’s foes. It is not a case of legality, it is an actuality! Generally players should not pick and choose what equipment their opponent can and can’t use.” (Warwick Kinrade, 2004, Imperial Armour: Volume Two – Space Marines & Forces of the Inquisition, games workshop, Great Britain, pg7.)

Warwick talked mainly about scenarios vs point based play and encourages the reader to try scenario play. But at the end he address tournaments and Forge World’s place in them. Interestingly Warwick considers the “legality” of the models and their rules a separate issue to the models being used in tournaments.  He states very clearly that the use of Imperial Armour in tournaments is solely the choice of the organizers.


People need to realize that it is ok TO play with Forge World and people need to realize that it is ok to NOT play with forge world.  As for the tournament scene, as Warwick said it’s up to the TO’s if they want it or not, just the same as if they want to allow Double Force Org or not, or if they want to allow Skyshield Landing Pads or not, or if the Relic will be used or not. If you don’t like what the TO is doing, I’m pretty sure you can Find a TO who does do things the way you like.

The thing people don’t seem to realise is that there is no wrong way to play the game as long as you and your friends are having fun.  And if you aren’t having fun, take a large step back and ask why you aren’t having fun. Remember we are playing a game with little plastic toy soldiers.

William Shaw

Lost somewhere in Australia

-What do you guys think? -ed


About Reecius

The fearless leader of the intrepid group of gamers gone retailers at Frontline Gaming!

21 Responses to “Guest Editorial by William Shaw: Is Forge World “Official?””

  1. Shinkze November 8, 2013 4:32 am #

    I heard FW banned the broke ass Rvarna. Now they just need to rewrite or ban the Thudd gun.

    • Reecius November 8, 2013 8:58 am #

      Banned it or are rewriting the rules a bit? As it was, that was no joke the most OTT model in the game! haha

      Thudd guns are a bit OP, I agree. They’re just too cheap for the volume of firepower they put out.

    • Adam November 8, 2013 10:39 am #

      FW didn’t “ban” anything. They released experimental rules for a new model, pretty much standard practice.

      • Reecius November 8, 2013 12:53 pm #

        I think he means they are changing the rules?

  2. Bigpig November 8, 2013 9:44 am #

    So… Is the recycled Halloween pic judging at the LVO?

    What I’m left with from the article is where we were before; TOs can do whatever they want.. Unfortunately, I Don’t think it convincingly addresses the issue of “legality” either way.

    • Reecius November 8, 2013 10:28 am #

      I liked it because I feel it brings some hard facts to the table as a lot of folks argue that Forge World is a different game or system or somehow not a part of 40K and this to me, shows that to be false. In the end, yes, we’re still where we were in terms of choice but you and I already saw it that way where a lot of people don’t even see that far. To them it is simply unofficial or somehow illegal to use it.

      Oh, hahaha, and we shall endeavor to get that “judge” at our events, but only if she likes Forge World 😉

      • Bigpig November 8, 2013 10:35 am #

        Ok, I can see that. From my position as a “user” I honestly haven’t given much energy to the debate of legality. I have always been of the opinion that tournament organizers are free to do whatever they want, especially in a game system that is not strongly supported in the tournament scene by GW. As a tournament organizer, though, your responsibility is obviously different.

        That being said, I do agree with you that this article addresses those who would argue that Forge world has never been legal or a formal part of 40 K

        • Reecius November 8, 2013 12:54 pm #

          Exactly. I have actually grown bored with the argument. Choose to use it or not, and let’s stop arguing about it! haha, we like, we use it, for us that is the end of the story.

  3. mercutioh November 8, 2013 10:26 am #

    And I think thats truly the point of this article. Anyone who argues against the legality of FW needs a personalized letter witnessed by no less tham 3 notaries to consider it official. Thats your perogative my freind but be ready to lose potential gamers because they want to play with their toys.
    I hate FWs lean towards the imperium but Its not my game to call out. An employee explained tcompany policy. One of the original designers explained intent and the rule now backs up the guy putting his stuff on the table. Id call that game set and match

    • Reecius November 8, 2013 10:29 am #

      That’s how I feel, too. But, if you want to run an event with or without it, that is your prerogative. I just hope we can establish clearly that it is preference, not policy.

  4. Baal Viper November 8, 2013 11:38 am #

    GW could easily clear up this “debate,” by adding a note in each codex, or that armies FAQ section saying, “Army X may also select units from the following IA books… Units selected from these IA books are teated exactly as units from Codex X and should be viewed as a normal unit selected from the base Codex.”

    Or instead of the current wording in IA, they easily could say, “These units are legal for use in all 40k games just like all units drawn from that armies base codex.”

    These few sentences would clear up this issue and would certainly drive sales of both the IA books and the FW models. (Which is what GW wants b/c its a company after all not a charity) But the truth is that GW has NOT chosen to use this clear and concise language.

    If they were ment to be used in normal 40k without your opponent’s consent they would be in the Codex, OR GW would very clearly explain in both the Codex, and the IA books that the 2 books are intended as 2 parts of the same army but they have not. FW is an optional add on, nothing more.

    FW is intended for narrative and casual games. They are not balanced across each army, both in terms of number of units, and quality of units. This inbalance is ok though because FW is used for friendly games and we are to assume that you don’t try to cheese over your friend with a sneaky FW unit he has never seen/fought before just to get the almighty “W.” If you want justification to bring stuff your opponent has never seen/played against GW would have given it to you, if they intended it that way.

    • Gordy November 8, 2013 11:46 am #

      Even without this, you can point out that supplements aren’t codices, and the core codex doesn’t mention them, so banning forgeworld on that logic should also mean that you should ban supplements.

    • Gordy November 8, 2013 11:48 am #

      Also, all of GWs stuff is ‘intended for casual play’. Which is just a bullshit excuse for lazy writing, but it’s not an argument against forgeworld.

      • Baal Viper November 8, 2013 11:55 am #

        My point is, it would take minimal effort by GW to clear up this debate, and clearing it up in favor of allowing FW in all games would only help them but the fact is that they HAVE NOT.

        If you want something to be mainstream, put it in the codex everyone has access to/ sees on the shelf at their LGS, simple as that.

    • William Shaw November 8, 2013 12:27 pm #

      All games of 40k should be “friendly”. It’s a game played for fun, the result of the game is completely meaningless. You are right Forge World is an Add-on. On the cover of every book it sayes “warhammer 40000 expansion”. It adds to the game.

      The real issue is that it is a choice, you can play with forge world or you can not play with forge world.

      What you can’t say is I can’t use it because it’s not official. You can say “I refuse to play you because I don’t like forge world for reason’s A, B and C”

      Games workshop doesn’t need to say its official because they printed the books and made the models. You can’t really get more official than that.

      Remember the use of forge world is a choice, you have a social contract with the person you are playing that both of you are going to have fun. If forge world isn’t fun for you simply don’t play people who are using it. Or if a tournament allows forge world don’t go to it. But saying it’s not “legal”so no one can use is unfair. You just need to decide what is fun for you. Example: if you run a screamer star or a jet seer council. I will simply not play you, why? Because those games simply won’t be fun for me. And if one of us is not having fun then the game is just not pointless but an actual waste of time.

      I get the argument against forge world in tournaments . It’s broken, not play tested, it’s only for people who are WAAC, etc. I’m not saying those arguments are not valid. The point I keep trying to make is claiming the rules are not official is not correct, and should stop being argued.

      The rules are official but you can choose to use them or not. Which is the same for every rule in any of the books. My gaming group removed the challenge rules and the pecision shots rules because we didn’t like them. It doesn’t make our games any less valid and we have more fun.

      Because fun is the whole point of the excise

      • Reecius November 8, 2013 12:56 pm #

        Well said.

      • Baal Viper November 8, 2013 1:10 pm #

        I like playing against FW in cassual games. I don’t really think that is ever been an issue in the community. TO’s get to make the call in tournaments pure and simple. My intent with my initial post was not to challange that.

        There are some poeple who believe that it is now “Super Obvious” that FW is intended to be played in all 40k settings (this I agree with) but to say that it is intended to be played in all 40k settings WITHOUT THEIR OPPONENT”S CONCENT is the part I take issue with.

        FW is clearly an add-on, just like cities of death is an add-on or apoc is an add-on. You don’t get to play cities of death rules against your opponent unless they agree to it and no amount of verbage will change that. You cannot force your opponent to let you play apoc rules just becasue of some vague wording in your apoc book, they have to agree to it. Same thing with FW, it should, and will always be with your opponent’s concent.

        I think some people who buy these IA books and FW models feel entitled to play with their stuff whether their opponent likes/agrees with it or not. They are looking for ways to villianize people who don’t let them play with their toys by saying “FW is always intended to be part of mainstream 40k.” This is simply not true. The base codexes of 40k make no reference to FW units, and the FW books do not clearly override this. FW is an add-on that should be played, but only if your opponent wants to.

        • William Shaw November 8, 2013 2:08 pm #

          If you go back and reread my comments, I think you will find that we’re are saying the same thing. Your issue lies with the people who don’t seem to reliese that it’s ok NOT to play with forge world.

          As for using forge world without consent. That’s impossible you can’t force a person to play you. As I said playing a game is a CHOICE. As I said earlier there should be a social agreement to play the game, anything like forge world or house rules should be mentioned here. Then you make a choice. Let’s say he doesn’t mention it and then starts dumping resesin on the table, again you make a choice to play or not. Like I said if we agree to a game and you dump the screamer star on me, I have no problem with saying “nah I don’t think so mate” so then we either come to a new agreement or don’t play.

          People need to reliese that how they play and behave is totally up to them, it’s not up to GW to tell you how to play. if someone gets upset or angry with because you won’t play with them it’s a reflection of the type of person they are, it has nothing to do with you.

          Remember playing the game is all about having fun, but you are the only one who knows what you find fun or not and therefore it’s your responsibility to make sure you do.

  5. Jrandom November 8, 2013 2:01 pm #

    I like how people think that 40k is in some way balanced and adding FW will unbalance it.

    Are Wave Serpants, Screamerstars, Jetbike Seer Council, Marker Lights, and Tau Batman Commanders FW units???

    The people who whine about FW had better take a deep breath and step back from the table.

  6. Ming November 9, 2013 10:42 am #

    I think of forge world items as great for advanced game play, in part because their rules and availability of models is more difficult and expensive to attain. We always allow them in local flgs events. So just drink a pint and game on!

    • Reecius November 9, 2013 11:02 am #

      Now with digital only Codices I think some of the GW rules are actually harder to get! But yeah, drink a brew and game on, that is our attitude, too.

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