Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Core Set vs Guides and Vaults

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 3rd Edition CoverWhen getting started playing Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (3rd edition), one of the early questions that you’ll face is which of the variety of core products you should buy. This used to be a simple question, as the Core set was the only option; however there is now a range of separate books (Guides), dice and component packs (Vaults), which provide a lot of overlap in content.

Before I go any further, I want to dispel any beliefs that the Player’s Vault, Game Master’s Vault and Creature Vault contain the same components as the Core Set. That is just not true. Read on for detailed comparisons of the products and suggestions for getting started in the world of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay…

The products I’ll be comparing are:

  • Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Core Set
  • Hardcover Guides: Player’s Guide, Game Master’s Guide, The Creature’s Guide
  • Component Vaults: Player’s Vault, Game Master’s Vault, Creature Vault

Additionally, the Adventurer’s Toolkit, GM’s Toolkit, Signs of Faith, Winds of Magic and dice accessory pack are mentioned where appropriate.

Before we continue it is important to note that there are two ways of playing this game. The standard way is using a bunch of high quality cards and cardboard cutouts to manage all the player’s options, status tracking and combat. The alternative way (known as WFRP Lite) is to play it like a traditional pen and paper RPG, using exhaustive character sheets and books. It is not for me to say which is the best way of playing (stick around for our review after we play in May as part of our Grand Gaming Experiment), but I suspect that at least some of the components will improve the game experience.

WFRP Lite

See 'Comparison: Components' for exact dice contents.

If you only want to play WFRP Lite, you need to make a decision – how are you going to buy your dice? Yep, as lame as it sounds, one of the main issues in getting started with this game are the fancy proprietary dice, which are only available in three products: the Core Set (36 dice), the GM’s Vault (12 dice) and the dice accessory pack (12 dice). This gives two entry options into the Lite game:

  1. Buy the Core Set
    At about 6 times the price of the dice pack, the Core Set provides a good value deal, with enough dice to get you started, four softcover books containing nearly all the rules and a decent amount of fluff, and plenty of game play options for starting groups (on cards). At some stage you’ll want to buy the Player’s Guide and The Creature’s Guide to provide greater game play options, and possibly the Game Master’s Guide too.
    Bonus: You’ll get a full selection of core components, which you might find that you actually like!
  2. Buy dice accessory packs
    This is the truly Lite option. Unfortunately, the dice accessory pack isn’t very good value, and you’ll need to buy at least 4 packs (to get a minimum of 4 challenge dice and 4 misfortune dice). If you go with this path, then you’ll need to pick up the Player’s Guide, Game Master’s Guide and The Creature’s Guide, which will give you all of the rules and almost all of the game play options (in tables) from the Core Set, the three Vaults, the Adventurer’s Toolkit, the GM’s Toolkit, Signs of Faith, Winds of Magic, Edge of Night and The Gathering Storm. These are nice high quality hardcover books that only lack some fluff and adventures available in the separate products.

Whew! Once you’ve sorted out how you’re buying your dice, rules and options, go ahead and print some character sheets and start playing!

Want to play with components?

Straight up, I’ll say that in almost every circumstance, you should start by buying the Core Set, simply because you get so much value – it contains everything you need to get up and running with 3 players and a GM. In particular it’s the most cost-effective way of buying the special dice required for this game. To add an extra player, I’d pick up the Adventurer’s Toolkit, as that gives you enough components for another player, as well as some new content.

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Core Set

If you’re playing with more than 4 players, I would recommend picking up the Player’s Vault, which adds support for another 2-3 players, by adding more basic action cards, and doubling the career, talent and action cards.

That’s enough to get started with, covering most of the rules and giving you sufficient standard components for all the players. To build on this, you can look towards:

  • The Adventurer’s Toolkit (even if you don’t have more than 3 players, the new careers, talents and actions will complement any group)
  • Winds of Magic (all eight orders of magic, corruption, mutations)
  • Signs of Faith (all eight deities, disease)
  • Creature Vault (creature cards & actions and double the variety of creatures found in the Core Set)
  • GM’s Toolkit (new items, locations and a book that discusses integrating roleplaying with the system and components)

Picking up any of the Guides is pretty much optional, if you own all of the above, however they are nice durable hard cover books and provide a good summary of all the options available in the products. The Player’s Guide in particular is a good purchase for players, who typically won’t need duplicate components, but desire a reference list of all of their options.

Of all the products, the Game Master’s Vault adds the least amount of value to the Core Set.

If you want to make your own informed decisions, then check out the comparisons of the Core Set to the Guides and Vaults below.

Comparison: Rules and Fluff

The main reasons for picking up the Guides are because they are much tougher than the other soft cover books and serve as a centralised reference for all the component rules from many expensive WFRP products.

Core Set
Player’s Guide
GM’s Guide
Creature’s Guide
Core rules
Characteristics, skills, races, character creation, leveling, game mechanics, actions, combat, conditions, equipment.
Yes
Yes
About 20% more content than the Core Set (new examples, clarifications and layout).
Priest and divine blessing rules
Yes Yes
Wizards and magic spell rules
Yes Yes
Corruption rules
Yes
From Winds of Magic.
Disease rules
Yes
From Signs of Faith.
GM assistance
Story structure, GM resources, progress tracker, campaign, encounter design, enemies.
Yes
Yes
About 5% more content than the Core Set.
Bestiary
Yes
11 pages of fluff.
Stats for 30 creatures.
Yes
Expanded creature rules and encounter design (some from GM’s Toolkit).
38 pages of fluff.
Stats for 65 creatures.
Priests and Religion
Fluff including corruption, heresy and playing priests.
Yes
Good for playing priests of Morr, Sigmar and Shallya.
Yes
Little advice on playing priests.
Wizards and Magic
Fluff including forbidden lore and playing wizards.
Yes
Good for playing Bright, Celestial and Grey wizards.
Yes
Little advice on playing wizards.
The Empire
Fluff
Yes Yes
A Ratcatcher’s Tale
Short story
Yes
An Eye for an Eye
Mini-campaign
Yes Yes
Information tables
From Core Set, Adventurer’s Toolkit, Winds of Magic, Signs of Faith, The Gathering Storm, Game Master’s Toolkit, Edge of Night.
Yes
Careers, party sheets, talents, actions (including blessings from eight deities and spells from eight orders, all up to Rank 3).
Yes
Critical wounds, insanities, miscasts, mutations (non-core), diseases (non-core), conditions and locations.
Yes
Creature actions, creature stats and creature groups (from the Creature Vault).

Comparison: Cards

The main reason for picking up the Player’s Vault is to support another 2-3 players. The Creature Vault has a lot of unique content, as well as extra creature standups. The GM’s Vault is pretty much redundant if you have the Core Set, unless you are running out of conditions or wounds, in which case the extra dice are a nice bonus.

Core Set
Player’s Vault
GM’s Vault
Creature Vault
Careers
30 career sheets
30 ability cards
See Core Set
Party sheets
5 party sheets
See Core Set
Talents, Faiths and Orders
39 talent cards
3 faiths
3 orders
See Core Set
Basic actions
3 sets (24 cards)
3 sets (24 cards)
1 set (8 cards)
Other actions
128 cards (including blessings from 3 deities and spells from 3 orders, up to Rank 2)
See Core Set
4 cards
(from Core Set)
Conditions
30 cards
See Core Set
Insanities
30 cards
See Core Set
Miscasts
19 cards
See Core Set
Wounds
70 cards
See Core Set
Locations
12 cards
Core Set x 2
(24 cards)
Items
1 card
See Core Set
Creature cards
105 cards
Creature actions
131 cards
Creature groups
14 sheets

NOTE: The Adventurer’s Toolkit contains 1 set of basic actions, along with 10 new careers, 45 new actions, 30 new talents and some new conditions, wounds and party sheets.

Comparison: Components

The dice selection in the Core Set is an excellent distribution, providing enough bad dice for at least one roll and enough good dice for a couple of rolls. The Player’s Vault can’t substitute well for the Core Set, because it only comes with 2 stance rings.

Core Set
Player’s Vault
GM’s Vault
Creature Vault
Dice
8 Characteristic Dice
4 Reckless Dice
4 Conservative Dice
6 Fortune Dice
6 Misfortune Dice
4 Expertise Dice
4 Challenge Dice
3 Characteristic Dice
2 Reckless Dice
2 Conservative Dice
2 Fortune Dice
1 Misfortune Die
1 Expertise Die
1 Challenge Die *
Player standups
1 for each core career (30 total)
See Core Set
Other standups
17 medium and 2 large creatures
3 dwarfs and 3 dark humans
7 medium creatures
3 small, 42 medium and 13 large creatures
Fatigue/Stress Tokens
39 tokens
13 tokens
11 tokens
Corruption tokens
10 tokens
Stance rings and Activation tokens
6 rings and tokens
2 rings and tokens
1 ring and token
Tracking tokens
48 tokens
24 tokens
24 tokens
Progress meter pieces
5 centre pieces and 40 stance pieces
2 centre pieces and 8 stance pieces
2 centre pieces, 6 stances pieces and 1 pre-assembled track
Character sheets
Yes
Yes

* The WFRP dice accessory pack contains the same dice selection as the GM’s Vault.

NOTE: The Adventurer’s Toolkit contains standups for the new careers, 12 fatigue & stress tokens, 1 stance ring + activation token, 24 tracking tokens, 2 centre pieces and 10 stance pieces, along with a character sheet pad.

Links

For details of the exact action card contents of the various products, refer to the Fantasy Flight website (Card and component list).

Buy Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay products from Amazon through these links to support Dice of Doom at no extra cost to yourself:

DriveThruRPG.com

About Eetzoo

Ben started roleplaying after being introduced to Dungeons & Dragons at the age of 12. Since that time he has developed a passion for Warhammer Fantasy Battles where he commands a Dwarf army. He also plays an unhealthy amount of computer games. Before starting the Grand Gaming Experiment Ben had only played a handful of RPG's and he is currently enjoying the variety of trying many different games.
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  • KFooLoo

    Thanks for writing this up. Looking forward to your review of WFRP Lite.

  • Gary

    Very good posting. I’m about to invest and it was your site that clarified what I should buy – much better than FFG site which is very confusing! Also listened to the podcast about it – very funny, very entertaining and very indulging – fantatsic work!

    G.

  • Manta4

    Thank you so much for writing this up.

    If you were wondering if all that detail would be appreciated by anyone, it certainly is!

  • midloo

    Thanks for this write up!  FFG had a lot of WFRP in their holiday sale and this guide helped me decide what to pickup as I start the game.  Thanks!

  • Ed Hastings (Killer Shrike)

    Awesome write-up. Thanks for taking the time to do this.