Sunday, July 5, 2015

It's all the RAGE - Age of Sigmar

A new (r)Age has begun, the Age of Sigmar...

Copyright Games Workshop. Please visit Games Workshop

Over the last few days, massive change has come upon the world of Warhammer Fantasy.
The rules of the much anticipated "Age of Sigmar" game have been released, for FREE online, by GW, along with a Starter Box Set of (to put it mildly) impressive miniatures, featuring one completely new army, the Stormcast Eternals.

A Stormcast Eternal, as presented at Painthammer
Lord of Khorne, as seen on 

Breaking all the rules...

The key changes include:

  1. Free to download rules.
    • Core rules
    • "Warscroll" compendiums for every existing army (e.g. Skaven)
  2. VERY different rule sets. Just a quick glance shows (let me know if I am wrong!)
    • Just 4 pages of core rules.
    • Statlines are now reduced to just MOVE, SAVE, BRAVERY and WOUNDS
    • Wounds now changed in scope: e.g. Thanquol and Boneripper have 13...
    • A model/ weapon's effectiveness is often affected by wounds remaining. They become less effective the more wounds they have taken.
    • Everything can now shoot into combat.
    • Magic system is changed, with no Wizard levels. 
    • All Wizards seem to know two stock spells: Arcane Bolt and Mystic Shield, plus one of their own (e.g. A Skaven Grey Seer knows 3 in total. His Skaven magic is now just one spell, which is Vermintide.)
    • Wounds are now divided into "Wounds" and "Mortal wounds".
    • Movement is now free - so models can move in any direction.
    • Flank and rear attacks have no influence on close combat.
    • No templates for warmachines (that I can see) e.g. Skaven Warplightning cannon just causes a random number of mortal wounds to a target unit.
  3. Armies are no longer based on points at all. You can take as many as you want. Players with smaller armies gain access to the "Sudden Death" rule, where they can choose from a small set of special objectives that will instantly give them the game.
Now, to give you a sense of this, these are just a few of the major changes from 8th edition! There are a LOT more, related to almost every core element of the game that a player would know. These include measurement (bases are meaningless, you measure from the model) and combat (there is no initiative anymore).

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...


With all of that, no surprises for guessing that even though the rules have only been out less than 48 hours at time of writing, the internet is running red with rage (not to mention questions). After all, 8th edition was (generally) well received, and had the core approaches that wargamers have had at heart for a long time:

-A perceived "Fairness" based on the well-established rule of having a "Points system".
-Big "Blocks" of troops, and so a scale that brings to mind historical conflict of days gone by.
-Tactics deeply affected by movement and facing. This added another layer of depth to a game considered by many players to be fun because it feels like Chess.
-Deep and extensive rules, designed to cover the vast majority of situations that you would find yourself in.

At first glance, all of these things seem to have been thrown out of the window with Age of Sigmar:
-No "Points" limits (but already plenty of people are suggesting balancing armies by using "Total wounds per side".) 
-Blocks aren't necessary and don't have to line up - just put your models in coherency. (Uh-oh!)
-Facing and flank attacks don't make any difference.
-No deep rules, plenty of gaps to be addressed. 
-Seems completely unsuitable for tournament play.

Initial playtests seem to divide into two camps (of course!). Firstly, an overall negative or indifferent experience. This is not raging or anger, but more lamenting that AOS isn't a deep game, and that for the players in question, what they liked about Warhammer Fantasy isn't present.

"All in all I fail to see any merit in this game"

A good example would be the report of the first game over at Kiwi Hammer. This was my first visit to the site, but I will be back as I enjoyed the thoughtful write-up by the author ("Jeff" - great write up!), who is a very experienced WHFB player. Overall, not a good experience from his perspective, as AOS simply doesn't hold what he is looking for.

Comments over on Warseer are broadly similar at the moment, with the majority of poll respondees not interested in playing, or noting that they will have a couple of games but the lack of depth means they are unlikely to stay on.

Marvin the Paranoid android: Always full of advice...

On the other hand...

(^ _ ^)/

...a more positive experience was had by Mc1gamer. I've just come across his YouTube Channel, and was excited to hear that he is going to "Test the $**t out of" AOS. To get his thoughts, please see the video below:

There are certainly things that Mc1gamer doesn't find stimulating about the new rules (movement for one) but he is keeping an open mind as he and his buddies try different game sizes and armies. It'll be interesting to see if his position changes over time.

SkaveninAZ takes a different tack. Not having playtested the game in detail, he still thinks it is important to keep things in perspective (and thanks to him for reminding me about Marvin.)


I'm definitely going to give it a go. 
After all: 
  • I can still use most of my models. I don't want to sell them.
  • The armies that I love are still there (thanks to the Warscrolls). 
  • I don't have to re-base anything. 
  • I never play in tournament games, so if the relative power of my army decreases it isn't going to impact my chances to win in a competitive setting.
  • I can still use movement trays to get troops across the board until they hit combat. They will still look pretty cool I reckon.
  • The armies still have the core DNA that I liked about them (e.g. Skaven) and even some of the humour (Skaven Screaming Bell...roll 2 dice, and on a score of 13, you get an "improbable" win??)
  • The whole games seems faster, which is a good thing as I am a slow player.
  • Half the fun of the game is meeting up with friends, and I reckon we can still do that.
  • The sight of lots of models on a decent gaming table still looks cool (not as cool as everything ranked up, but still pretty good!)
...and I can always continue to play 8th edition!

Image credit: The 4 Open Space Rules, by Roland Tanglau
(CC by 2.0) on Flickr

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