Saturday, 4 July 2015

Social experiment: Age of Sigmar.

Go forth and play a game set in the World-That-Was, report back your findings. The world must know once and for all if the game is:

A Quite good


B. Not my cup of tea.

Click me for the full rules and warscrolls for the existing product line.

Credit for this picture goes to the excellent Bitter Old Painters blog, thank you gentlemen.

Thanks for stopping by!


  1. I've just bought the WD for the free mini and the printed rules. I intend to pick a scenario from the RoC books to try and see how it works. I don't think I risk anything here and at the cost of the WD, I still have that free model that will be properly desecrated into something more fitting to my taste.

    1. I'll look forward to hearing about how your first games pan out, good luck!

  2. I gave a small game a try this afternoon with my daughter (Dwarves v Skaven, 26 models a side)......It was a decent skirmish game, but....that's not what I want from Warhammer. I'm voting B. I think I will end up playing the new game now and then, but I'm not going to be actively looking for opportunities to play like I have with other incarnations.

    1. It's just so different isn't it? The general consensus so far is like it or loathe it, it's no replacement for Warhammer.

  3. Wall of text incoming:

    Played a test game with a mate today. Empire vs Orcs, about 80+ models in total.

    We set up an Orc settlement in the wild with an outlying watchtower; a Middenlander detachment under a Captain of the Teutogen Guard was dispatched to smoke out the greenskins and kill their chieftain.

    The Imperials took the watchtower and deployed on either side of it, one held by the State Troops, the other by the Teutogen Guard. Much to their surprise, the bulk of the Orc force pulled off a refused flank maneuver and almost surrounded the State Troops, whittling them down quickly. Luckily (by way of two won initiative rolls), the Teutogen Guard managed to circumnavigate the watchtower just in time to save the day and smashed into the Orcs and Goblins that beset the State Troops, cutting them down ferociously. The Orc Warboss, who had laughed off all attempts by the Handgunners to hurt him, was practically pounded into the dirt by the righteous fury of the Empire General, who only suffered a single wound in return.

    The Orc Warboss was slain and the melee troops of the Orcs and Goblins were either dead or had fled the field - however, the handful of ragtag Imperial survivors did not really fancy their chances taking on a completely unhurt unit of Arrer Boyz and retreated. Without their leader and the bulk of their former strength, it would be a long time until the Orcish tribe could threaten Middenlander farmsteads again.

    (By the books, the Orcs would probably have won over the course of another three rounds or so with a few models left, but we decided to not be ridiculous, end the battle, and call it a draw.)

    The game took us an hour to play, excluding looking up stats and rules, and we both had a blast playing. To be perfectly honest, I don’t know if I enjoyed a game of Warhammer Fantasy so much since I was a kid. Age of Sigmar is a quick and hassle-free skirmish game. It is NOT a mass battle game, and it is NOT a simulation of real-life tactics (but then again, Warhammer never really was, and if I want to play something that is, I’d rather have a game of Pike & Shotte or Father Tilly anyway). GW’s offering isn’t terribly detailed, but detailed enough to give all the units a distinct role and feel, like I am used to in the fantasy genre, and for the first time in many years, GW managed to motivate me to go out, buy, build and paint a box of Warhammer figures and get them on the table for a rematch.



    No points.

    I am used to this from some historical wargames, and it doesn’t bother me to plan a scenario with a mate instead.

    No army composition.

    Similar to above, plus, although nobody ever forces you to adhere to these rules, I personally always felt compelled to do so, which restricted what I would/could put on the table.


    I guess a normal-sized game would take two hours, tops. Great for people like me who aren’t 20 anymore, have a job, family etc. and tend to fall asleep at 11 p.m.


    No points.

    My tournament-minded gaming buddies are devastated by this development, and although I don’t share the sentiment, I feel sorry for them, because they really did lose "their" Warhammer.

    Less detailed & "realistic“.

    Your Goblins hit and wound Galrauch the First Chaos Dragon as easily as a Skink. Again, I am used to this from historicals where the differences between units are less pronounced (every soldier is a human, after all), but some people will surely be bothered greatly by this and experience it as breaking the necessary suspension of disbelief.


    tl;dr version of all the above: I love the new Warhammer to bits. If you are like me and just want a fun little rule set to push your shiny Fantasy models around the table, chances are you’ll love it, too. If Warhammer was the only game you played and you got your tactical and/or competitive gaming fix from playing it, you’ll probably hate Age of Sigmar’s guts with a passion.

    1. You sir, win today's internet for the best and most even-handed review I've seen. Well done! Thanks also for your significant contribution to the debate. I have a round of games lined up and will chip in shortly.

    2. I've just played my first game too, and the above is a great summary.

      A couple more minor cons to add to the list -

      1. No psychology rules. Having just been orcs it was refreshing to not have to worry about animosity, although at the skirmish level that probably makes sense compared to a big battle. More significantly though, no fear, so your goblins will happily charge a chaos dragon, and aren't too bothered if it charges them.

      2. You need to improvise some warscrolls for, e.g. Norse, but that shouldn't be beyond the wit of a sensible gamer.

      A pro to add to the list as well - the way that the turn structure and combat sequence pans out adds an interesting tactical depth and level of interest to the game (initiative is sort-of in the hands of the players, and you dice to see who acts first in a turn, so there's a chance you'll act "twice").

      You definitely need to plan scenarios rather than fall back on points, although realistically I think people will rely on old editions to give some sort of yardstick. Those who want to win at any cost probably will, but won't get invited back for a second game (about an hour and a half later).

      I'm not quite sure where I'd rank AoS in my "games to play", but it's certainly worth another go soon-ish.

    3. Forgot to pick your brains on this subject at BOYL, ever get some more games in?

  4. I am playing through the ruleset and, so far, am very happy with how streamlined the rules are. I've primarily played 40k and Mordheim, so I'm surprised to find myself sucked in by AofS as a gateway into fantasy.

    1. I have been surprised (just surprised mind you, not dismayed or anything) at the number of people saying the same thing. In between all the criticism there are a lot of folks making it known that they like the idea, the rules, the look of the models or all of the above. Many of whom were previously somewhat lapsed.

    2. I hadn't looked at Warhammer Fantasy since the release of 7th.
      but as a long time mordheim\necromunda\gorkamorka player I really like AoS.
      I've even bought a few forge wold figures.

  5. Played a few times now and I am in A. I enjoy it and plan to create new forces for it. It was especially apparent going "back" to 8th a few days ago just HOW slow a game WFB is for not really much more result.

    1. I think a lot of people outside the tournament circuit may find that they like certain games in spite of the rules rather than because of them! I am finding it to be a pretty good game but have noted that so far it is failing to set my local gaming community alight. Left wondering what the next year or so will bring.

  6. After a couple games of AoS I mostly agree with comments here, except for one major difference: I dont see the game working better ( or worse! ) as skirmish. Especially looking at the "legacy" scrolls they seem to work better at larger battle and / or unit sizes.

    First game was 100 wounds worth of Beastmen vs. Wood Elfs with results as expected: beasties got shot to pieces before any major achievements in melee. The key take away from this was, though Beastmen characters seems to be weaker than before, their primary function was to "buff" the hordes around them - so more gors and whatnot the usefull-er the heroes get.

    Second game was 135 wounds of Darkelfs vs Ogres. A closer game than the first with ogres resisting shooting and clearing house in melee at the end game. Ogres seeming a good counter to delfs as they are resilent and not too worried about bravery / batlleschock. Still an underachieving hydra and sorcerer left the impression that I had a chance to eek out victory, if not for the Endure sudden death winning condition...

    Next game I intend to try the Bretonnia Peasant Army which starts to come to its own at a model count of about 120! These are not small games by any definition. I didnt find the rules restricting game size in anyway or hampering the flow of gameplay. It just takes a bit longer to set-up and play, naturally.

    Im pretty sure the major changes will irritate and confuse veteran warhammerrers. Shooting into and from combat is really hard to get used to. All units basically having "immune to psychology" and "unstable" rules from the old books is odd. Dicing for initiative each turn is a fresh idea, but the alternating combat sequence brings a totally new level of tactics to that phase! Everything else works about the way it used to, with only minor tweaks here and there.

    Regarding army building the only thing I dont like is taking away the customizing or rather personifying of units and characters. As they are mostly similar to each other I dont feel the same level of involment in their stories ( for example didnt give names to anyone... ), which seems to be in direct opposition of AoS's focus on narrative. Now the whole experience is more geared towards "what happens on the table" ie. in the gameplay not the build up towards... This can be seen as a good thing as it promotes tactics and generalship, but thats not what Warhammer is only about, to me atleast.

    To round things up its a fine game in its own right and not-so-simple-as-it-seems, bringing ( the better? ) elements of card and online multiplayer games to warhammer. But its not the true second coming of Sigmar despite what the title says.

    1. Thanks for sharing, this has been an interesting read!

      When you played the larger battles of AoS, how did you handle movement and pile-in during combats? Those seem to be a real pain if all of your units are of the "old" mass-battle size. (I've since played with larger units of Goblins and State Troops, which quickly felt tedious to me.)

      Also, out of interest: By loss of customization for units and characters you mean the disappearance of magic items, right? If so, that's one of the things that after a couple of games, I almost like most out of all the changes - just shows how differently people can perceive the same game.

    2. Yes indeed, thanks very much for sharing your experience. My two main gaming groups have reached a critical point with AoS now it seems. My main weekly club have turned their back on it, though not in an angrily reactive way, merely as a natural response to a game that doesn't suit them. My other group is giving mixed feedback but one guy has embraced it as an excellent set of rules to use for narrative-driven games. He has really invested in it and is producing some very good scenarios with fixed forces for people to play. The feedback on the new background narrative is almost universal however, nobody really gets it and we're all assuming it is aimed at somebody else. There is a lot of talk about 'New Coke' whenever a discussion of AoS lasts longer than two seconds, most people are dreaming fondly of an apologetic return to traditional Warhammer in a future edition. This 'prince-across-the water' fantasy speaks volumes.

  7. Anatol - we handled charges / pile-in very awkwardly. That infact was the most time consuming and really the hardest thing to figure out. Ogre game was a tad easier because of the larger footprint, but the first game was a nightmare in that regard, we estimated that the most of the playing time ( after reading the special rules naturally ) went to figuring out charging and pile-in. I found that pile-in rule result in large blobs ( which could be "realistic" but this is a fantasy game so... ) and actually less models fighting in combat. "Towards nearest enemy" is not the same as "maximizing models in combat". Afterwards I realized that you have to set-up favourable pile-ins already while charging which is again a tactical element, but as its possible that the opponent piles-in first it will not work always.

    I presume that regular 40K players will have an easier time of getting it right. Also maybe round bases will help that aswell... Please comment if you have any insight on this?

    Loss of customization, well yes and no on the magic items. In general I now cannot select as much options for anything as they are pretty much pre-set. Dark-elf sorceresses are all the same. Why doesnt an Empire General have say a gun belt so he could have both a pistol and a shield? Why cannot I have a foot-slogging BSB for Bretonnia? Why would I not take all the upgrades for peasant bowmen as they are all free and don't have any drawbacks. Why not make all models in melee units standard bearers so you wont lose the bonuses? I wont do that since its silly, but the rules offer no support for that choice. Good rules help gamers be smart, not total idiots.

    And yes I sort of miss magic items ( to my surprise ), but not in the obvious uber-combo-gearing sense. I miss the flair they offered. One day I might feel like my beastlord is a really good commander ( give him a crown of command and put him in a unit with LD+1 banner) other day maybe have him survive ( armour + ward/ regen + wound recovery ) or hit really hard ( big shiny weapons!!! ). I cant do that anymore. Or wizard with a surprise magic weapon or this or that. Those little things made the the choises seem more personal and unique. Now you only get that with named chars, but what if don't like whats on the menu...

    Paul - I suspect that the game would work really well as narrative scenarios with fixed forces. It might work better with the box set / new books scens & forces. Sadly, as you state is the case in your groups aswell, the new setting and story does not insipire me in any way. I might look into the chaos forces later as the previous nurgle releases seemed awesome and some the khorne out now is pretty sweet and the fort is a dream come true. But at the moment I try to measure AoS as larger scale game to replace 8th ( propably my favourite edition of all time ) and as such its not really convincing - yet.

    1. You are probably correct to assume that being a 40k player helps. Everyone in my group is (to a larger or lesser degree), so arranging charges is something that came naturally to us - in essence, you want to maximize the possible lateral move distance *right before* the charge, which usually takes a turn to set up. While I really like that mechanic from an immersion point-of-view, it *is* very time consuming if done properly with larger units.

      A standard situation in the 40k games with my most regular gaming buddy involved his large formation of Khorne Berzerkers meeting my IG firing line. Resolving this combat of roughly 40 vs 60 is so tedious that not only once did we resolve the entire combat by simply rolling for the final outcome (since we knew the statistics by heart after a couple of years). That's certainly a weakness in the system which favours small-scale engagements - my AoS combats with smaller units have been a lot of fun, because you can really see individual models chop your way through the melee, but larger engagements seemed to simply "blob" for us - just like 40k melees.

      I can't imagine that the bases make a difference, by the way, as you roughly gain the space you lose because of the corners with the difference in square base length vs round base diameter.

      I totally see now what you mean by loss of customization, and you're certainly right that we'll see more and more "ideal" unit compositions as AoS matures and people build armies specifically for it. As it stands right now, everyone in my group is using what they have, and this sort of "naturally" limits the choices. That said, I don't think that AoS will work as a competitive game anyway, and I think it doesn't want to, but rather embraces traditional wargaming where the scenario rules supremely. This has also caused a big divide in my group; the guys who liked to play Warhammer as a tournament-styled game have completely turned their back on AoS, while two buddies of mine and me are enjoying thinking up story-based scenarios, which we rarely did before.

      As a purely personal, semi-unrelated aside: Previously, our 40k table was the more humorous one, while the Fantasy table exuded all the flair of a game of chess. While the designers have gotten a lot of flak online for their "gain a bonus if talking to Konrad, gain another one if he talks back" joke rules, something interesting happened to the group dynamics at our place. Our AoS games are now a riot of laughter, drinking and impromptu-impersonations of what happened on the table, because, for example, we decided that the lowly Empire soldier who's armed with a bottle was probably a drunkard anyway, and after not hitting a single model for three turns, the burning down of the local tavern one turn suddenly seemed to inspire him to slaughter his way through a unit of Dark Elf Executioners. Maybe it's just us, maybe it's a stroke of genius by the designers, but somehow the spirit of these silly little rules infected us and made our games so much more than what we had before. Hidden in a unit, the guy with a bottle was never anything more than a glorified wound marker. Now, he's a potential trigger for stand-up comedy. The three remaining Fantasy players love it, and to this style of play, small-scale skirmishes lend themselves a lot more than huge battles I think.

      Whoah, got a little carried away there. Final remark for this time: Nobody in my group has an idea what's going on with the new background. So, Sigmar is a proper God with capital "G" now, and sends his angel armies to fight the forces of hell on elemental-themed planes that do stuff to your battles, or something? It's hard to get inspired if you have absolutely no clue what's going on, which might or might not come back to bite GW in its arse.

      Not that we care anyway, we have the World That Was where drunk town guards clobber Executioners with broken chair legs while singing slurred Austrian army songs. Good times.