Games Workshop

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Games Workshop Group PLC
Traded as LSEGAW
Industry Miniature wargaming
Founded 1975; 43 years ago (1975) in London, England
Headquarters Nottingham, England
Key people
  • Nick Donaldson (Non-Executive Chairman)
  • Kevin Rountree (CEO)
Revenue Increase £158.1 million (2017)[1]
Increase £38.3 million (2017)[1]
Increase £30.5 million (2017)[1]

Games Workshop Group PLC (often abbreviated as GW) is a British miniature wargaming manufacturing company based in Nottingham, England. Games Workshop is best known as developer and publisher of the tabletop wargames Warhammer Age of Sigmar (previously Warhammer Fantasy Battle), Warhammer 40,000, The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game and The Hobbit Strategy Battle Game (now sold as The Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game). It is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index.


Games Workshop opening day at 1 Dalling Road, Hammersmith, London, in April 1978.[2]
Cover of White Dwarf Issue #1, June/July 1977
Games Workshop headquarters in Nottingham
A Games Workshop store in Düsseldorf, Germany

Founded in 1975 at 15 Bolingbroke Road, London by John Peake, Ian Livingstone, and Steve Jackson (not to be confused with U.S. game designer Steve Jackson), Games Workshop was originally a manufacturer of wooden boards for games including backgammon, mancala, Nine Men's Morris, and Go.[3] It later became an importer of the U.S. role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons, and then a publisher of wargames and role-playing games in its own right, expanding from a bedroom mail-order company in the process.[4]

In order to promote their business and postal games, create a games club, and provide an alternative source for games news, the newsletter Owl and Weasel[5] was founded in February 1975. This was superseded in June 1977 by White Dwarf.[6]

From the outset, there was a clear, stated interest in print regarding "progressive games", including computer gaming,[7] which led to the departure of traditionalist John Peake in early 1976 and the loss of the company's main source of income.[8] However, having successfully obtained official distribution rights to Dungeons & Dragons and other TSR products in the U.K., and maintaining a high profile by running games conventions, the business grew rapidly. It opened its first retail shop in April 1978.[9]

In early 1979 Games Workshop provided the funding to found Citadel Miniatures in Newark-on-Trent. Citadel would produce the metal miniatures used in its role-playing games and tabletop 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.[10][11] For a time Gary Gygax promoted the idea of TSR, Inc. merging with Games Workshop, until Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone backed out.[12]

The company's publishing arm also released U.K. 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 since 1977).[13]

In 1984 Games Workshop ceased distributing its products in the U.S.A. through hobby games distributors and opened its Games Workshop (U.S.) office. Games Workshop (U.S.), and Games Workshop in general, grew significantly in the late 1980s, with over 250 employees on the payroll by 1990.[14]

Following a management buyout by Bryan Ansell in December 1991, Games Workshop refocused on their miniature wargames Warhammer Fantasy Battle (WFB) and Warhammer 40,000 (WH40k), their most lucrative lines. The retail chain refocused on a younger, more family-oriented market. The change of direction was a great success and the company enjoyed growing profits, but the more commercial direction of the company made it lose some of its old fan base. A breakaway group of two company employees published Fantasy Warlord in competition with Games Workshop, but the new company met with little success and closed in 1993. Games Workshop expanded in Europe, the U.S.A., 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.[15] In October 1997 all U.K.-based operations were relocated to the current headquarters in Lenton, Nottingham.[16]

By the end of the decade the company was having problems with falling profits, and blame was placed on the growth in popularity of collectible card games such as Magic: The Gathering and Pokémon T.C.G..[17]

Games Workshop later attempted to create a dual approach to appeal to older customers while still attracting a younger audience. Previously, most of their special characters and vehicles were cast in white metal or pewter, but by the 2000s most of them were replaced by plastics. With this shift, Games Workshop has been able to offer greater variety in the armies offered with introductory box sets (for instance the Space Marines in the 2nd Edition Warhammer 40,000 box had two ten-man tactical squads, while the 5th Edition has a tactical squad, terminator squad, dreadnought, and captain). This change brought about the creation of "initiatives" such as the "Fanatic" range, supporting more marginal lines with a lower-cost trading model. Games Workshop also contributed to designing and making games and puzzles for the popular television series The Crystal Maze.[18]

The release of Games Workshop's third "core" miniature wargame, The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game (LoTR SBG), in 2000 extended the company's product range.[19]

The company diversified by acquiring Sabretooth Games (card games), creating the Black Library (literature), and working with THQ (computer games).[20]

In late 2009 Games Workshop issued a succession of cease and desist orders against various Internet sites it accused of violating its intellectual property generating anger and disappointment from its fan community.[21][22]

On 16 May 2011, Maelstrom Games announced that Games Workshop had revised the terms and conditions of their trade agreement with independent stockists in the U.K. The new terms and conditions restricted the sale of all Games Workshop products to within the European Economic Area.[23]

On 16 June 2013, WarGameStore, a U.K.-based retailer of Games Workshop products since 2003, announced further changes to Games Workshop's trade agreement with U.K.-based independent stockists.[24]



Alongside the UK publishing rights to several American role-playing games in the 1980s (including The Call of Cthulhu, Runequest[25] and Middle-earth Role Playing,[26]) Games Workshop also secured the rights to produce miniatures or games for several classic British science fiction properties such as Doctor Who[27][28] and several characters from 2000 AD including Rogue Trooper and Judge Dredd.[29] Alongside the rights to reprint Iron Crown Enterprises' Middle-earth Role Playing, Citadel Miniatures acquired the rights to produce 28mm miniatures based on The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.[30]

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. A 25mm scale was used.[31] 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 also produced a Battle of Five Armies game based on a culminating episode in The Hobbit, using 10 mm scale.[32]

On 10 February 2011 Warner Bros. Consumer Products announced that it had 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.[33]

Group Divisions

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

  • Forge World makes complementary specialist resin miniatures and conversion kits as well as Specialist Games range. 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.[34] In August 2018, Forge World announced substantial changes to its U.S. pricing model in exchange for faster and less costly shipping services to the United States.[35]
  • BL Publishing was the fiction, board game and roleplaying game publishing arm of Games Workshop. They comprised several separate imprints; 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.[36]

The company is seen to have hard-to-reproduce, unique intellectual property, and a good export record. Sales slowed around 1999-2000 due to supply chain issues, but quickly rebounded a few years later.[37]

Miniature games

Games Workshop models on a battlefield

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.[38]

Current core games

The following games were in production as of 2017:

All of these game systems have had expansion rules and supplements for them, including 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.

Other games

The following games were in production as of 2017:

  • Blood Bowl - an American football style game using fantasy creatures (re-released 2016).
  • Necromunda - a skirmish game set on a hive world which pits gangs of humans against each other, using modified 2nd edition Warhammer 40,000 rules, which are more detailed than newer editions and more suitable for skirmish games. Originally printed in 1995, it was revived at the end of 2017.
  • Warhammer Quest: Silver Tower (released 2016)[39] and Warhammer Quest: Shadows over Hammerhal (released 2017)[40] - dungeon-crawler games in the Warhammer: Age of Sigmar universe. Despite sharing the Warhammer Quest brand, rules are completely different from the original game.
  • Shadow War: Armageddon - an updated version of the Necromunda skirmish ruleset, using the current Warhammer 40,000 factions in place of Necromunda's human gangs (released 2017).

Out of print

Warhammer Fantasy was discontinued in July 2015 in favor of the current game system Age of Sigmar. The change was set up over a string of supplements released for the eighth edition of WFB centered on "The End Times" which led to the almost total destruction of the Warhammer world and the death of most of the world's population. Moving the timeline forward into the Age of Sigmar with the return of the long-lost founder of the human empire worshipped as a god.

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. More of a light Skirmish game using AHQ minis set in a dungeon.
  • Dragon Masters - a board game which played like a simplified version of Mighty Empires, in which players take the role of competing Elven princes in Ulthuan.[41]
  • 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 along with expanded rules for Eldar, Orks, Imperial Guard infantry and vehicles.)
  • Advanced Space Crusade
  • Assassinorum: Execution Force
  • 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.)

Specialist Games

These games are aimed at the "veteran" gamers. These are gamers who are more experienced in the core games produced by Games Workshop. This is because the rules and the complexity of tactics inherent in the systems are often more in-depth than the core games. This also includes games that aren't necessarily more complex, but have a smaller more specialized target audience.

  • Warhammer Fantasy universe
    • 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.
    • Space Hulk - a two-player game of Space Marines versus Tyranids released in 1989.
  • The Lord of the Rings universe
    • Great Battles of Middle Earth: The Battle of Five Armies - a game for fighting larger battles with smaller (10 mm) miniatures. The game was named after (and initially centred on) the Battle of Five Armies, one of the later scenes in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit.
    • The Strategy Battle Game was expanded with new supplements. 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.[42]

Forge World

Licensed games

These games were not made by Games Workshop but used similar-style models, artwork and concepts. These games were made by mainstream toy companies and were available in toy and department stores.

  • 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)

Citadel Paints

Games Workshop produces a line of acrylic paints (and related compounds) for painting miniatures. At the end of March 2012 the company announced a new range of over 145 colours made in the UK.[43]

The Citadel Paints listings include:

  • Citadel Base: acrylic base-coating matte paints in 12 ml pots.
  • Citadel Layer: to be used over Base or other paints. In 12 ml pots.
  • Citadel Shade: paints that flow over other paints and into recesses. In 24 ml pots.
  • Citadel Edge: similar to Citadel Layer Paints, but in lighter shades. In 12 ml pots.
  • Citadel Dry: thicker than other paints, for fast drybrushing and highlighting. In 12 ml pots.
  • Citadel Glaze: to intensify colour, providing a translucent layer. In 12 ml pots.
  • Citadel Texture: for detailing bases. They contain a mixture of coarse and fine grit producing a grainy surface. In 12 ml pots.
  • Citadel Air: airbrush paints matching other Citadel paints. In 12 ml containers.
  • Citadel Technical: nine specialist formulas for specific painting and modelling functions. In 12 ml pots.

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, 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. In September 2008 production was transferred to Fantasy Flight Games.[44]

Fantasy Flight Games subsequently published four other roleplaying games; Rogue Trader, Deathwatch, Black Crusade, and Only War, set in the same Warhammer 40,000 universe and employing similar mechanics. In 2009 Fantasy Flight also released a new edition of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay.

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.

Boxed games

Games Workshop had a strong history in boardgames development, alongside the miniatures and RPGs. Several may have had roleplaying elements, or 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 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 subsequently released revised editions of Talisman and of other former Games Workshop boardgames. On September 9, 2016, Fantasy Flight Games announced the termination of its licensing agreement with Games Workshop.[45]

Games Workshop currently has several standalone board games in production.[46] Being standalone games, they do not depend on the rules or components of the current core game systems of Age of Sigmar or Warhammer 40,000. All of these include miniatures that require some assembly, and those miniatures can be used with the core game systems.

  • Assassinorum: Execution Force
  • Blood Bowl
  • Deathwatch: Overkill
  • Gorechosen
  • Lost Patrol
  • Stormcloud Attack
  • The Horus Heresy: Betrayal at Calth
  • The Horus Heresy: Burning of Prospero
  • Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team
  • Warhammer Quest: Silver Tower

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.

Video games

Games Workshop licensed or produced several ZX Spectrum games in the early years, none of which were based in the usual Warhammer settings:

  • 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
  • HeroQuest (1991) based on the MB board game
  • 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, also released for the Commodore 64.[47]

Many video 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):


There were yearly Games Day events held by Games Workshop which included the Golden Demon painting competition, news stands, sales stands, and tables to play on. In 2014 it was replaced by 'Warhammer Fest', similar but with additions such as demonstration pods and seminars.[48]

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.[49] The collation of these results provides a result to the campaign's scenario, and sometime leads to modifications in the games.

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):

  • 1995 - The Battle of Ichar IV (Warhammer 40,000)
  • 2000 - Third War for Armageddon (Warhammer 40,000)[50]
  • 2001 - Dark Shadows (Warhammer)
  • 2003 - Eye of Terror (Warhammer 40,000)[51]
  • 2004 - Storm of Chaos (Warhammer)[52]
  • 2005 - The War of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game)[53][54]
  • 2006 - The Fall of Medusa V (Warhammer 40,000)[55]
  • 2007 - The Nemesis Crown (Warhammer)[56]
  • 2011 - Scourge of the Storm (Warhammer)[57]

These Campaigns were run to promote its miniature wargames, and attracted interest in the hobby, particularly at gaming clubs, Hobby Centres and independent stockists.[49] 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."[49] In some cases special miniatures were released to coincide with the campaigns; the promotional "Gimli on Dead Uruk-hai" miniature, for example, was available only through the campaign roadshows or ordering online.[58] As a whole these events have been successful; one, for example, was deemed "a fantastic rollercoaster", with thousands of registered participants.[59]


Games Workshop's has published the White Dwarf magazine since 1977 and has over 400 issues.[6] Games Workshop also published Fanatic Magazine in support of their Specialist Games range.[60] After the cancellation of Fanatic Magazine, an electronic version, known as "Fanatic Online" was published from Games Workshop's Specialist Games website.[61]

For a brief period in the mid-1980s GW took over publication of the Fighting Fantasy magazine Warlock from Puffin Books who had produced the first 5 issues. The magazine turned into a general introductory gaming magazine but was discontinued after issue 13.[62]

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.[63]

Spots the Space Marine trademark complaint

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.[64][65] Commentators such as Cory Doctorow[66] and digital rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation,[67] questioned the right of Games Workshop to trademark the term.[68] On 8 February 2013, Spots the Space Marine reappeared on Amazon. Games Workshop has issued no further legal action.[69]

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.[70] Since 2010 Black Library has produced a monthly eBook called "Hammer and Bolter" with the focus on short stories set in the different Games Workshop universes.[71]


Comics and graphic novels


In the late 1980s the death metal band "Bolt Thrower" wrote lyrics dedicated to the Warhammer 40,000 universe and used 40k artwork on their second album cover.[72]

In the early 1990s Games Workshop created 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.[73]

In the early 2000s the German label Art of Perception produced a 12 part soundtrack vinyl series followed by three CD compilations. The task for the artists involved in this project was to conduct a theme for a species from the Warhammer 40.000 universe.[74]

In 2009 the Singaporean death metal band, Deus Ex Machina released I, Human, which makes numerous references to the Warhammer 40,000 universe, particularly the Adeptus Mechanicus faction.[75]


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 discontinued and Exile Studios disbanded.[76]

For the 25th Anniversary Games Day, Games Workshop released in 1996 (for limited sale) a short movie entitled Inquisitor,[77] 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 (available in YouTube but flagged by Games Workshop, removing the movie).[78]

Another one was Damnatus, a German fan film developed over four years. Games Workshop announced in July 2007 that they would not give permission for the movie to be released because of issues between Anglo-American copyright and Continental European Droit d'auteur.[77]

In 2010 Games Workshop with Codex Pictures released a 70-minute downloadable movie 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.[79]


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External links

  • Official Games Workshop website
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