If you are looking to get into a new hobby, Dungeons & Dragons and Warhammer are both options that may have piqued your interest. They both involve miniatures on a map, battles, and strategy. The question is, which would be the better choice?
I’ve been playing D&D for years, but have throughout the years also dabbled in the Warhammer world. Fundamentally, the two are very different in the way they play, the cost, and the length and style of the game.
They are both great games with great communities, so it’s not like one or the other is inherently better. Each has different advantages and disadvantages that we’ll cover in this article to help you pick the option that is best for you.
What is Dungeons & Dragons
Dungeons & Dragons 5e is the 5th edition of the most popular tabletop RPG. It’s a fantasy cooperative game where you create characters and roleplay through a story. Each character’s class determines their skills, which can all be quite unique, such as fighter, paladin, wizard, or rogue.
A main component of D&D is that there is a dungeon master that tells an interactive story, giving the players quests and guiding what happens in the game depending on the actions they take.
Dungeons & Dragons games take 2-4 hours each session and are frequently conducted across several sessions in a campaign (think of each game as an episode in a series and the campaign as the full series). Therefore, the same players usually play together for months or even years.
What Is Warhammer
This may be a bit confusing to new people, as there are 3 types of Warhammer that are each different games.
This is a fighting game where players take turns moving miniatures on a board in order to defeat the opponent. It is set in a future dystopia and is the older of the gaming system, so has a lot of lore, an established community, and an established set of rules.
A lot of the game revolves around building an army and what their abilities are, and both players need to make armies of specific strengths to fight against each other. As you need to have the miniatures for the armies you are creating, people tend to own only 1 or 2 factions that they play. This game is very strategic, with turns taking longer and having more rules and options in what you can do.
Each game takes around 30 minutes to 3 hours, and each game is different in that you’ll fight different opponents, with different armies and strategies.
Warhammer Age of Sigmar
Age of Sigmar is similar to 40k in that it is also a fighting game where opponents take turns moving miniatures around the board and fighting each other. It has different factions and armies, and you need to own the armies in order to play.
One key difference is the universe they are set in. While 40k is set in a dystopian future with space marines and super soldiers, Age of Sigmar is set in a high fantasy universe. It also feels a lot more like a quick skirmish game in comparison to 40k. While the game takes around the same 1 – 3 hours as 40k does, it’s lighter to play and each turn takes a lot less time.
Being a newer game, there is a smaller community than 40k (though being in the Warhammer universe, it does feed off 40k’s popularity), and new factions and rules are still coming out for it.
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 4e
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 4e is a roleplaying game set in the Warhammer fantasy universe. It has a lot of similarities to D&D in that you are role-playing, have a game master, and play characters with skills and abilities that go on adventures.
The lore of Warhammer is quite different from D&D, and this is a much darker setting. In comparison to D&D where you feel like superheroes going on epic quests, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay feels a lot more like you are surviving in a corrupt and gritty world.
The TL;DR To Dungeons & Dragons vs Warhammer
These are very different games that play very differently (assuming you are talking about Warhammer 40k or Age of Sigmar, not the role-playing games).
If you want to play through an adventure where you go on quests with friends and fight monsters as you run into them, Dungeons and Dragons is the way to go. The Warhammer Roleplaying Game is somewhat similar but darker, and if this is your first RPG, then D&D is a better option.
If you are looking for a tactical skirmish or war game, then Warhammer is the way to go. If you want a compact and fast-paced game in a fantasy setting, then Age of Sigmar is the way to go. If you want something more strategic and set in space, then Warhammer 40k is the better choice.
Why Play Dungeons And Dragons?
The main reason to play D&D is that it’s a game that allows you to play out your own adventures in an immersive, interactive environment with friends. You get to choose your character class, race, gender, alignment, etc. You get to explore dungeons, cities, forests, and mountains while going on interesting quests. You get to meet characters from all walks of life: kings, queens, peasants, wizards, warriors, thieves, and rogues, and there’s a lot of social interaction as well as combat.
Here are a few reasons to choose Dungeons and Dragons:
- Role-playing game – there is combat, but also a lot of the game play is about role-playing and adventure
- You get to experience some great storylines
- Cooperative fun with a group of people
- It is cheap to get into and costs can be kept down
There are some downsides to D&D as well:
- You may still want D&D miniatures and terrain, which will get expensive
- A lot more of a commitment, you’ll want a regular gaming group you can catch up with regularly
Why Play Warhammer 40,000?
Warhammer 40,000 is a tabletop wargame set in the fictional universe of Games Workshop’s popular sci-fi game. It was first released in 1987 and has been continuously updated since then. The game system is designed to allow players to create their own armies, using additional rules for each army faction.
It is a highly competitive game with a large community, with gaming nights and tournaments held regularly worldwide. Players use plastic models to represent their forces on a tabletop battlefield made of terrain pieces.
The game has a bit of a learning curve, but there is a lot to sink your teeth into, with plenty of flexibility for creating unique armies and different strategies to take during combat.
There are quite a few reasons you’d choose to play Warhammer 40k over D&D.
- It has a huge community (possibly even bigger than D&D)
- You want to fight an opponent competitively
- Lots of lore and backstory in a sci-fi universe!
- Complex game with lots of strategy involved
- A slower-paced game that gives you time to think
And a few downsides:
- You’ll want lots of gear for scenery to set up a nice table (though this may be an issue for you for D&D too)
- Older rulebooks aren’t available in digital form
- It is expensive to get started and to own armies in comparison to D&D
- There is no storyline, roleplay, or interaction in the game itself
- It’s more expensive overall than D&D (you’ll need more books and miniatures)
Why Play Age of Sigmar?
I’m a big fan of Warhammer 40k, but I love fantasy and also enjoy something a bit lighter. Age of Sigmar is fun and easy to pick up for new players, but it is also challenging enough for experienced gamers.
Age of Sigmar only came out in 2015 (though it was based on the old Warhammer Fantasy game) and so still has a lot of new rules and factions coming out for it. The mechanics are somewhat similar to Warhammer 40k, and you still get a lot of flexibility in creating your army and the strategy of how they fight.
But overall, the rules are a lot more approachable, and the game moves a lot quicker with each turn taking less time.
There are quite a few reasons you’d choose to play Age of Sigmar over D&D:
- You want to play a competitive game where you fight an opponent
- It’s quite a fast-paced game
- It is a fresh and new game with new armies and rules still coming out
- All unit information is available for purchase on the app
- Accessible rules that are easy for beginners to get started with, similar to D&D
A few downsides:
- You’ll want lots of gear for scenery to set up a nice table (this may also be a D&D problem for you too but it’s not as necessary for D&D)
- The game is still being developed – don’t know what it’s going to end up like
- Being newer, it has a smaller community than D&D or 40k
- No storyline, roleplay, or interaction in the game itself
- More expensive than D&D (you’ll need more books and miniatures), cheaper than 40k
Why Play Warhammer Roleplaying Game (4e)
The Warhammer Roleplaying Game is a tabletop role-playing game based on Games Workshop’s fantasy fiction universe of the same name. It was first published in 1986 and has since been revised several times, so has quite a long history. The current version is the 4th edition, which was released in 2017.
While both games are set in a fantasy universe, they really have quite a different feel to them.
In D&D, you feel like you are a hero in a story. You go on fantastic quests, you get more and more powerful, and you fight and usually win some epic battles.
Warhammer is a lot darker and grimmer in comparison to D&D, with corruption everywhere, very little magic around, and the feeling of death and despair. You feel like you are characters that are trying to survive. Even at higher levels, you get more skilled, but you don’t feel like you have superpowers.
However, Warhammer does have some drawbacks in comparison to D&D. For example, the setting is fairly dark and grimdark compared to D&D, and the is a bit more focused on combat and tactics than roleplaying, which is where D&D really shines.
Some reasons you’d choose the Warhammer Roleplaying Game 4e over D&D:
- Darker and grittier than D&D
- Deadlier combat
- It feels a lot more dangerous than D&D (in later levels of D&D you feel epic and powerful)
- Based on Warhammer lore (D&D lore is also great, but you may already be familiar with Warhammer)
And a few downsides:
- Significantly smaller community
- More number crunching than D&D (a downside for me, some people like this)
- More rules to learn than D&D
- Less roleplay focused than D&D
Dungeons and Dragons vs Warhammer
D&D, Warhammer 40k, Warhammer Age of Sigmar, and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay are actually all fantastic games, that each offer something unique and are quite different to play. For comparison, here are some of the major differences:
- Mechanics – D&D and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay are both fantasy roleplaying games where you are playing through adventures cooperatively, while Warhammer 40k and Age of Sigmar are both competitive fighting games where you take turns fighting with miniatures on a map.
- Storyline – D&D and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay both have ongoing stories in the game. 40k and Age of Sigmar both have worlds with great lore, but the game is generally just a fighting match.
- Game length – all are long games with long gaming sessions that take quite a few hours. D&D and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay tend to need more time commitment to play in a regular campaign.
- Commitment – all the games require commitment as there are quite a lot of rules to learn. For D&D there’s a lot of preparation required by the Dungeon Master, and time from the players. In 40k and Age of Sigmar there is a lot of commitment in building an army with a good strategy and buying all the miniatures needed.
- Community – D&D and Warhammer 40k are both massively popular with lots of games run around the world. Age of Sigmar is gaining a lot of popularity because of its accessibility. You may have some trouble finding a game of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay.
- Cost – Role-playing games can be really cheap, or you can beef up your game and spend a lot of money on miniatures and terrain (but they aren’t necessary). In order to play 40k or Age of Sigmar you’ll need an army, and that involves quite a large initial outlay, and Games Workshop is known for being quite expensive.
When comparing D&D and Warhammer, you need to know what type of Warhammer you are referring to. There is the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, which is a roleplaying game similar to D&D set in the Warhammer Fantasy universe. There is also Warhammer 40k, which is a war game set in the dystopian future, and Warhammer Age of Sigmar, which is a war game set in a fantasy universe.
If you are looking for a roleplaying game and are new to roleplaying, I’d recommend D&D. It’s the most popular role-playing game and for good reason, it’s approachable, fun, and easy to get into. However, if you want to try out a game that feels darker and more dangerous, then Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay would be a good place to look.
If you are looking for a war game, I recommend Age of Sigmar, as it’s approachable and feels fast and tense. However, if you want something established with deeper strategy and more thinking, then 40k is the way to go.
If you’re not sure which one is right for you, I recommend going to a store and trying out both D&D and Warhammer, as it will boil down to personal preference and the type of game you prefer to play.