I found something: Issue #85 just for some historical laughter:
May 1984:here is an excerpt of an ancient review of warhammer from DRAGON...Reviewed by Katharine Kerr, TSR employee
"Warhammer FRP system falls flat
WARHAMMER is the first major English entry in the hitherto Americandominated field of fantasy role-playing games, and it?s one of the most irritating
new games I?ve ever read. Warhammer has all the potential to be a good game ? in fact, parts of it are very good ? but overall it?s a sloppy, amateurish piece of work that needs rewriting, editing, and extending to be a playable system. The text is dreadful. To begin with, it?s reproduced from typed manuscript and printed so small that long passages are difficult to read. It?s further marred by a profusion of typographical errors, some of which cause real difficulty in understanding the rules. On top of it all, the authors have a miserable command of the English language. Their prose is even more awkward than the usual low level of gaming writing and is studded with grammatical errors. Although a role-playing game doesn?t need to meet the standards of a Ph.D. thesis, using ?it?s? for ?its? goes too far. Unfortunately, this surface sloppiness extends to the rules themselves. Although Warhammer is billed as a ?mass combat fantasy role-playing game,? in truth the booklets contain two separate games with a weak attempt to link them together. The first, a set of rules for tabletop battles with miniature figures, is very good; the second, pieces of a fantasy role-playing game, is embarrassingly bad.
Let?s look at the battle rules first. Experienced wargamers whose main interest lies in fighting tabletop battles will find these rules too simple, but this simplicity is a big plus for other gamers. The rules are so logically presented that they are the first set of miniatures rules I?ve seen that are clear enough for a beginner to understand and play after a little study. The turn sequence and the determination of melee results also move fast enough for them to be used as they?re intended, as a combat system for a fantasy role-playing game.
The rules contain a simple system of determining not only morale, but also psychological factors such as standard mutual hatreds between fantasy races. These psychology rules also cover frenzy, terror, and an amusing concept ? the ?stupid? troops, such as trolls, who become confused and forget whom they?re fighting unless their player makes a die roll. These rules add to the feeling of fighting a fantasy, not merely an ancients, battle.
The melee system is reasonably clear, with results determined on two tables, the ?To Hit? and the ?To Kill.? The fighting prowess of troops depends entirely on racial statistics, but it?s easy to create individualized fighters and wizards with a series of die rolls. Melee is run and resolved quickly once the players memorize the basic sequence of play.
There?s a nice bonus in the combat section, too, in the form of a beginning scenario, ?The Ziggurat of Doom.? Although the set-up is simple enough for beginners to use while learning the rules, it?s fun to play and bloody enough to satisfy the most berserk hack-and-slasher. I?d rate this portion of the game as excellent if it weren?t for numerous sloppy errors, like the ever-present typos. There are a couple of ambiguities in the content of the rules, too. For instance, it?s impossible to find out if magical attacks are automatic hits or require determination on a melee table. From hints in the rest of the rules,
either could be the case.
Aside from this one confusing point over magical attacks, the magic system as a whole is another strong point of the game. The authors have devised a means of keeping the magicians from taking over the game without recourse to a convoluted rationale such as the ?forgetfulness? rule in the D&D® and AD&D® games. Each wizard has a randomly determined number of Constitution and Life Energy Points, both of which are expended by the casting of spells. Once the wizard has expended all of his Constitution Points, he may not cast another spell until those points regenerate, at a predetermined hourly rate.
Life Energy Points, however, do not regenerate at all. When a wizard has expended all of these points (which number in the hundreds), the character dies. Thus, players will refrain from having their powerful wizards blast everything in sight just for a lark.
The authors have provided a basic selection of enchanted objects. Most of these items are standard magical goodies, like elven cloaks and divining rods, but some are very powerful artifacts that should never be casually allowed into play. There is no distinction between the two types ? another example of the general sloppiness of the rules.
When we examine the rules for character creation and general play, sloppiness is too mild a word. Not only are these sections poorly written and presented, but they?re incomplete. Only two character classes are available ? fighters and wizards. And since wizards are basically fighters with spellcasting abilities, the choice is even more limited than it first appears. Just three races are available for starting characters ? human, elf, and dwarf. Race is supposed to be determined randomly (by a die roll), but I suspect that everyone will fudge this particular rule.
To generate characters, players use a series of die rolls that require many different probability spreads rather than being based on one underlying system. None of the characteristics are generated from or related to one another, either, so that it?s possible to roll up a physically weak character who is miraculously good with weapons, or a stupid character with high magical ability.
Aside from weapons skills and spellcasting abilities, which are rolled up when generating a character, all other skills available to a character are randomly determined from a meager list of 22 over-generalized skill areas. Thanks to this random system, it?s possible to end up with some peculiar characters. I rolled up an elven princess who had skills as a desert nomad (when would an elf be in a desert?) and as a fisherman.
Worse yet, there is no provision in the rules for basic adventuring skills like disarming traps, climbing walls, or even riding a horse. Even for the ill-defined skills given, there are no rules for determining the success or failure of an attempt to use them, nor any way to increase a PC?s proficiency with any skill except for weapon use and spell casting. (Weapons and spells use a basic experience level system that does have much to recommend it.)
All in all, the only good thing to be said about character creation in Warhammer is that it?s very fast. It needs to be, unfortunately, because the vast majority of PCs start out so weak that few will survive a single scenario. Since the combat system is based on tabletop rules, which have to keep the kill determination simple, a single hit on a beginning PC will kill it 30% of the time, leave it permanently maimed 26% of the time, or mercifully put it out of action for that combat episode the rest of the time.There?s a set of sketchy random encounter tables, but no rules for determining NPC reactions to the PC party. Nor are there any rules or even advice for personalizing NPCs, henchmen, and hirelings. There?s probably no use in listing all of the other things missing from this game; if it isn?t mentioned in this review, you can assume it isn?t there.
One thing that is included, however, is a case of adding insult to injury. The rules end with a scenario that?s well-developed and that looks like it would be a lot of fun to play ? if only we were given enough material to run it using this system.
Is Warhammer worth buying? The answer depends on the potential purchaser. An experienced referee who?s discontented with the magic system in some other game might well profit from the magic rules in Warhammer.Anyone who revels in gory combat to the exclusion of all else will enjoy the game heartily. The novice gamer, or any gamer who?s looking for a complete rules system, should save his hard-earned cash. Perhaps someday the game will be revised to make it live up to its potential; until then, it will be a curiosity and nothing more. ? Reviewed by Katharine Kerr"