Finally that day has come – I played the battle of infamous Warhammer: Age of Sigmar. I was hesitating for quite some time – the game was released in the beginning of July, so it has been about 6 weeks.
It was not matter of my bad attitude. I was not exited about how new Warhammer Fantasy looks like, but I wasn’t gloom either. For me it was another game that appeared on the market, which was needed to by tried. And it was all easier, because I already had required models to play.
Of course I had (still have) my ‘buts’ about Age of Sigmar, but there are mainly fluff issues. I always have been Warhammer Fantasy guy – started in early 1990s from RPG and quickly converted into Fantasy Battle. So, during past 20 something years I played 5 editions of WHFB, RPG, Man-o-War, Mordheim, Bloodbowl and Warhammer Quest. All these games were located in Old World. Old World was my companion for more than a half of my life.
…and all of the sudden…BOOM! End Times has come, and Warhammer Fantasy world was no more. I should expect that – after all there were lots of signs on earth and heaven of incoming apocalypse, but maybe I wanted to believe no such thing will happen. I didn’t predict GW will trash all the fluff they created over last 30 years with no regrets…
I think this is the main reason that new Warhammer – Age of Sigmar is not exciting me at all. Without all the fluff – Empire, Skaven Underempire, Chaos Wasteland, Arabia, Lustria and so on, for me it is not Warhammer anymore. Thanks, but not thanks to AoS. I’m going to stick with old editions – 8th and older.
… I was eager to try Age of Sigmar. With pass of time, majority of gamers will adjust to new reality and rebase their miniatures to round and go full AoS. It’s certain. I’m not going to join the crowd – rebasing is not an option – my Warhammer miniatures remain square, but I can imagine I will on my way meet some gamers playing only AoS. I needed to try the game to get the idea what exactly is going on here.
Age of Sigmar: Skaven vs Wood Eleves
Two weeks ago I’ve played with my friend Jasiek 1250 points game of Warhammer fB 8th edition. My Skaven vs his Wood Elves – here you can find full battle report. As we finish quite early, we decided to give a shot to Age of Sigmar. As we were not sure what is the best idea to balance the game – we used the same roosters as for our WHFB 8th edition game.
Battle Standard Bearer
30 Skaven Slaves
and 2 Doomwheels
Battle Standard Bearer
and 2 regiments of 10 Glade Guards.
Well, as Wood Elves had definitely less wounds than Skaven – they decided to use Sudden Death victory conditions and go for one of the forests occupied by Skaven units.
The battle was super violent and cruel. Even in the terms of Warhammer Fantasy. Skaven very quickly forgot about defending the forest and rushed into Elves ranks. Elves also felt into blood lust and the did not concreted their efforts on achieving their Sudden Death goal.
It was ‘blood for blood’ type of clash. Many brave Elves fell, and Skaven died horribly as well.
Grey Seer, Skaven general died first.
He became the target for all Elven archers. They concentrated their fire on him and shot him dead right at the start of the battle. Dryads charged Stormvermin. Treeman proceed forward…
After that there were no plan, no tactics, just one big mass of fighting models all across battelfield. Doomwheels were rolling back and forth – Slaves fighting Glade Guards Clanrats fighting unbreakable Elevn Lord. Just bloodbath…
Suffice it to say, Skaven won. Clanrats along with Slaves managed to kill Treeman and Elven Lord. There were the very last Sylvaneth models remaining on the battle. And Skaven were almost wiped out completely too. Only few of them survived to be back to their realm and tell about their deeds.
And that was it. My first Age of Sigmar battle. At first I was thinking about writing usual battle report, but I’ve realised that most of the game I was checking what my rats can do and I was concentrated more to trying their efficiency in the battle, than actual playing the game to win. Like they say – the first pancake is always spoiled. Next time ( if there will be any) I promise to write some. For now, instead, I just wanted to share my impressions about Warhammer: Age of Sigmar.
Well, I’m not going to lie. I didn’t like the game. I don’t say it is bad game either, but right after freshly played game of Warhammer Fantasy Battle, I had very precise comparison of these two game systems. And WHFB provided me much higher level of enjoyment. And if that’s not what’s most important, then what is?
But let me present all my impression point after point.
The battlefield did not look swell.
Quite opposite. It looked chaotic. Especially on Skaven side. Three regiments, each more than 20 models, deployed in Age of Sigmar way – all skirmish. No block formations. It did not look aesthetically in my opinion- almost hundred of models scattered on Skaven side of table, swarming and bumping each other. And these square bases… The impression of disorder was even more amplified. My thought: do not trust Games Workshop when they tell you that bases doesn’t matter. Well, in my opinion they do matter – all of the battle would look way more appealing with round based models. At least in the case of Age of Sigmar. Personally I prefer more organized Warhammer Fantasy with its block of regiments.
Bases, bases, bases…
Speaking of bases. I’ve noticed one small (or maybe huge) bug in the game rules. The rules say that bases are not important – all measures should be taken from the model. Sounds simple, right? But did you know the rules favor models on square bases and actually it’s better base models on the smallest base possible to get advantage on the game – in my case 20 mm square bases were just fine in the battle.
Obviously 20 mm bases are smaller than 25 mm round bases (the smallest round base available) – 25 mm is almost an inch. So it’s simple to assume the distance from the model to model is over the one inch. So, only one rank of models are able to fight in hand-to-hand combat with one inch range weapons like swords or Rusty Blades. The problem starts when your models use 2 inch range weapons like spears. The units on square bases are able to reach the opponent trough 2 square base distance (40 mm). Even 3 ranks are able to attack. And at the same time, round based unit with spears would be able to attack only form 2 ranks.
So, why even bother to rebase my army if the game favours my square based units? I can understand the army will look better on round bases, but GW should not trying to convince me that bases do not matter, while they do.
We discovered this flaw only during our first, and only one game so far. And I could imagine it contains more misconceptions. Which take me to another point – 4 pages long ‘rulebook”.
Only 4 pages of Rules
This was one of my biggest concerns when Age of Sigmar was released. Only 4 pages? Really? Some of my very simple board games have more instruction pages…
This is revolutionary – transition from thick rulebook to only 4 pages seems to be unbelievable. How on earth, it’s possible to fit complexity of such game like Warhammer Fantasy only on 4 pages?
Unless it’s not that complex… And yes, sure – basic rules are indeed simple and easy to comprehend. All the specific rules for units and heroes are released on, so called, Warscrolls – cards with stats and skills for specific model. It increases complexity of the game significantly, but still compared with good old Warhammer Fantasy, it is child’s play.
Well, maybe that was the goal which GW wanted to achieve? The game for everyone – ages from 1 to 100. Easy, accessible rules providing nice, mini wargaming action. Well, I think, each and everyone should answer this question personally. Is it easy and fun, or just too naive to be adults’ entertainment? I can’t answer that, especially after only one game.
What I just can point out and I can’t understand – why only 4 rules and not 6 or 8? Developing more descriptive rulebook with couple of examples and diagrams would be a crime? I mean, look at our case – me and Jasiek playing Skaven vs Wood Elves – both adults with gaming experience. The game is simple, I can admit, but sometimes we had some issues – rules should be clarified more careful there ( like for example which weapon has Treeman – is he attack with all his possible attacks or just with one – it is stated in the rules (all), but it is not that obvious.
And the tweak with bases… Sorry, when GW says – bases do not matter in AoS, all should be arranged, but it isn’t – square bases are smaller providing the player more attacks from the back. And what even means measuring from the model, not the base. Body, tip of the spear? Is it really hard to clarify that in the rules? That’s is something, I could not understand.
And in my local GW store – they measure distances from bases. Wait, what? Are they breaking official rules in official Games Workshop store? Why, so? Is measuring model to model is not good solution? No simple answer to that on the 4 pages of rules…
And another thing. I understand that GW wanted simple, all ages easy to pick game, but out there there are thousands of Warhammer Fantasy Battle veterans who were simply waiting for next edition of the game. So why not to publish two sets of rules – simple 4 pages and more complex for old gamers. In my opinion it’s better solution, and it would calm down Rage of Sigmar around the globe…
No points – no balance
One more controversy. No points values for units and characters. In our first battle we used the models worth 1250 points in old 8th edition of Warhammer Fantasy Battle, but what it meant in Age of Sigmar? Not a single freaking clue. New game is supposed to be friendly competition, without any restrictions. You want to play your entire collection? Go for it! There’s no limit in Age of Sigmar. You do what you want! Oh, yes I like the idea – no restrictions in army creations and usage. It gives you countless possibilities, what you can deploy, and there’s no one that could tell you – you are not allowed to do that!
…but in some level, deep inside – I could feel – it is not right. It is not like supposed look any tablotop game. The idea sound fun, all right, but I felt somehow it is not good solution.
GW wanted to give players the game that banish all points values – you don’t need that- they sais – just meet with your friends and play! Simple as that!
…but they forgot about one simple thing – sometimes you play against complete stranger. And I don’t mean competitive tournaments, but still casual game. My example: some time ago I signed up in local Polish Warhammer Fantasy forum, and I arranged the battle with the guy I knew only trough internet. I did not know who he was, what’s is his personality and what is his hype for gaming. Friendly, angry, power, casual…? Didn’t know that, but thanks to points system I didn’t have to know anything about him – we just agreed on 1500 points battle and we played. It all helped us to arrange the game and had awesome time. In AoS style – I wouldn’t have any idea what to expect from my adversary…
Sorry, new system is just not for me – I’m just used to points and. Apparently there are many people like me all across the world – shortly after Age of Sigmar release – many people developed (and still developing) home made rules balancing system. Think about that GW – it has to mean something! People need balance!
Rolls, so many rolls…
During the game my unit of 30 Skaven Slaves attacked 10 Elven Glade Guards. oh wow, I rolled so many dice- I think it was about 50 attacks. poor Skaven tried to kill elf-things. It happened to be difficult task – they rolled to hit first, and to wound…and they were forced to repeat that for about 3 or 4 rounds of combat. There were Battleshock test – but Elves were brave, they stood fast! So everything remained constant – nothing was changing. Eleves failed to kill Skaven. Skaven kill maybe one or two Elves. No break test, only those rolls of 50 or something attacks…
Well, at some point (I think it was 3 round of combat) I realized the game only about rolling the dice. Nothing else had matter – to hit 5+, to wound 5+ and so on… for many many rounds. Shooting, close combat, magic… so many rolls! It should call Age of Rolling Dice! ;). Stupid accusation, I know. All games – WHFB, WH40k, Hobbit is about rolling dice, but only in Age of Sigmar I had the feeling it is pointless… There were too many dice repeated round after round…
Well, it just my humble opinion…
I think these are my thoughts about Age of Sigmar. I know there many more, but these are my major ones. And please remember, they are only my personal feelings about the game – no harm intended:).
Age of Sigmar…new big thing from Games Workshop, you might like it or hate it. There is no way, you remain neutral. I’m sorry to tell – but it is not my cup of tea. At least, that’s what I think after my first game. I can admit I was sceptical from the start, but remained open minded. I wanted to give it the chance…
So, after one battle, I do not become the fan, and I won’t be anticipating the next battle. I do believe, from time to time, I will play AoS, but if you ask me I regret GW decisions of blowing up old Warhammer Fantasy. It was much better…
My next battle – 2000 points of Warhammer Fantasy 5th edition against Dogs of War. I don’t see any reasons to give up on older versions of the game. I will stick to playing to what I like, not what developers decided are the best for me.
Until the next time!