Adapting a WFB army: Part 1 Age of Magic

The easiest way to get involved in playing one of the three rulesets that The Fantasy Project is working with is to, if you have one, adapting an existing army that was built for Warhammer Fantasy Battles. Odds are though that what you have are the beginnings of an army that wasn’t completed and so while you might not have a full WFB force you have some painted minis that you can use.

Each ruleset, Dragon Rampant, Age of Magic and Warlords of Erehwon, have different ways of paying for units and monsters as well as different unit sizes. Thankfully each ruleset is fairly flexible and it will let you get the most out of your existing army. A small note, I do not yet have a copy of Age of Magic so I am basing my comments on what I have read in other articles and seen in videos. Age of Magic also has ‘sublists’ for each army theme and I will not be dealing with them at all or any of the oddities of the lists like the lack of Levy troops in the Otherworld list.

Empire Brigade army box
Empire Brigade army box

For the purposes of this article I will use the Warhammer Fantasy Battle 7th Edition Empire Brigade army box contents as an example of the type of units, and their number, that you might find in a typical WFB force. The photo and box contents come from the Collector Info website. This was probably one of the last of the large army boxes that GW released. The set contains:

  • 40 Empire State Troops that can be armed as Halberdiers, spearmen or swordsmen
  • 10 Greatswords
  • 8 Empire Knights
  • 20 Handgunners/Crossbowmen
  • 5 Pistoliers/Outriders
  • One Great Cannon/Mortar

So in terms of model count and units this is rather typical, I think, of WFB armies from that era. So let’s see what we can build with this force for each of the rulesets starting with Age of Magic.

Divide ten into twelve

The biggest issue the WFB gamer will run into is that both Age of Magic and Dragon Rampant don’t base units in factors of ten or 5. Age of Magic is based on the Saga rules which have units in factors of 12, 8 or 4. Those factors correspond to Levy, Warrior and Hearthguard units. In Saga, the more effective a model is the smaller the unit is. Hearthguard are the best troops in Saga and so you purchase them in groups of 4. Age of Magic adds a wrinkle to this in that you need to remove troops to purchase things like monsters, war machines and and creatures.

So while you have to ‘purchase’ models using those factors you don’t need to form units in those numbers. If you have 20 Skeleton Warriors you can ‘purchase’ 16 and build two units of 8. Or if you want to field all 20 then you could buy three units of 8, for a total of 24 models, and then exchange 4 of them to get a war machine or a monster.

Age of Magic games are fought with 8 point forces and each point corresponds to either 4 Hearthguard, 8 Warriors or 12 Levy. Since WFB doesn’t have these distinctions it is best to think of these as Elite, Line and Militia troops. Age of Magic also allows you to add Lieutenants, Creatures, Sorcerers, Monsters and War machines to your army. Creatures are available at 2 for 1 point and you can expand the unit with an additional creature for 2 Hearthguard, 4 Warriors or 6 Levy. Lieutenants can only be added by purchasing it with troops with the same 2/4/6 cost. Monsters cost 1 point as do Sorcerers and war machines are available for the price of either 4 Warriors or 6 Levy.


Let’s start by purchasing two units of Levy, the Handgunners/Crossbowmen, for 2 points giving us 24 models. We can add the Great Cannon to the army by removing 6 Levy troops leaving us with 18 models. Next lets buy 2 points of Warriors, the State Troopers, which gives us 16 models. Depending on how the models were built we have to make sure that we don’t mix weapon types when we form units are this isn’t allowed in Age of Magic.

While the army box doesn’t come with one I am sure that almost everyone has a miniature handy that can be used as a Sorcerer. Let’s spend a point and add one to the army because spells in Age of Magic are a lot of fun and can add quite a bit of tactical choices to your game.

The Greatswords will make excellent Hearthguard figures so lets spend 2 points on eight models. That brings us to a total of 7 points. We don’t have any cavalry so we can spend the final point on the Empire Knights which happily come in a unit of eight making them perfect Warriors.

That gives us

  • 1 Great Cannon
  • 1 Sorcerer
  • 18 Levy as either Handgunners or Crossbowmen
  • 8 Greatsword Hearthguard
  • 16 State Trooper Warriors
  • 8 Knight Warriors

We still need to add a Warlord but that unit is always free and we can paint up one of the unused Greatsword models as a Warlord. We could also use one of the remaining Knight models but depending on the theme you are using this may remove some abilities from the Warlord. Warlords in Age of Magic are meant to be on larger bases so you may need to rebase a model to make sure it stands out appropriately.

We have some flexibility in breaking those models up into units. Saga requires that a unit have a minimum of 4 models and a maximum of 12. Once units go below a minimum number of troops they no longer generate the dice used to enable special abilities and activations. There is also a maximum of 8 dice that you can generate in a turn. With that in mind, and assuming an even distribution of built models based on their weapon options lets build the army out in the following fashion:

  • 1 Warlord
  • 1 Sorcerer
  • 1 Great Cannon
  • 10 Levy Handgunners
  • 8 Levy Crossbowmen
  • 8 Warriors with spears
  • 8 Warriors with swords
  • 8 Warrior Knights
  • 8 Greatsword Hearthguard

As you can see, this still leaves us with a lot of options when it comes to modifying the force. The tricky unit to add would be the Outriders/Pistoliers. Thematically you may not want to make them Hearthguard and use four of the models so it would probably be best to purchase them as Warriors and then use 4 of them to purchase another unit.

This only really scratches the surface of what you can do with the Age of magic rules. Each army theme has special terrain, specialized army building options as well as unique Lieutenants and special units.

There are a few examples of using a WFB army in Age of Magic including one from the Harold’s Revenge blog as well as from the Blackshaw Gaming blog. Both blog posts include a good discussion of the game system as well as how they built out a force using their WFB minis.

Next up, we will look at using that same WFB force to build an army for Dragon Rampant.

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