Age of Sigmar, Other
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My first impressions about Age of Sigmar – Skaven vs Wood Elves Battle

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.

…but…

… 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.

Skaven Army

Grey Seer

Assassin

Battle Standard Bearer

25 Stormvermin

30 Clanrats

30 Skaven Slaves

and 2 Doomwheels

Wood Elves

Glade Lord

Battle Standard Bearer

Spellsinger

Treeman

15 Dryads

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

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.

featured-eployment

Deployment. mass of Skaven on the west – and bunch of Elves on the east.

It was ‘blood for blood’ type of clash. Many  brave Elves fell, and Skaven died horribly as well.

Grey Seer, Skaven general died first.

grey Seer shot down in the first turn with Elven arrows.

grey Seer shot down in the first turn with Elven arrows.

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…

Dryads charged...

Dryads charged…

...but quicky they were cut down by Stormvermin.

…but quickly they were cut down by Stormvermin.

Meanwhile , all Skaven marched to Elves - Clanrats, Slaves and Doomwheels. All forward!

Meanwhile , all Skaven marched to Elves – Clanrats, Slaves and Doomwheels. All 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…

Slaves attack on Elven Glade Guard.

Slaves attack on Elven Glade Guard.

After that - Clanrats attacked Elven Battle Standard Bearer and Doomwheel charged Treeman.

After that – Clanrats attacked Elven Battle Standard Bearer and Doomwheel charged Treeman. Clanrats did their job perfectly, but Treeman was thorn Doomwheel apart.

Meanwhile, second Doomwheel killed one of The units of Glade Guards.

Meanwhile, second Doomwheel killed one of The units of Glade Guards.

The rest of Stormvermin were attacked by Treemen. All unit was doomed.

The rest of Stormvermin were attacked by Treemen. All unit was doomed….and Clanrats were after the Elven lord…

After few rounds of combat, SLaves finally got rid off the Glade Guards and could help Clanrats with killing Treeman. Battle Standard Bearer also to the rescue!

After few rounds of combat, Slaves finally got rid off the Glade Guards and could help Clanrats with killing Treeman. Battle Standard Bearer also to the rescue!

Treemen and Elven Lord surrounded.

Treemen and Elven Lord surrounded…

...but Treemen got angry and killed almost all Slaves.

…but Treemen got angry and killed almost all Slaves…

...but eventually he got killed. There were too many rats around...

…but eventually he got killed. There were too many rats around…

The last Elf standing. he will die soon...

The last Elf standing. he will die soon…

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.

Skaven survivors.

Skaven survivors. 5 Clanrats, 4 Slaves, Battle Standard Bearer and Assassin.


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.

Overall impression

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.

Block formations of WHFB...

Block formations of WHFB…

...vs Age of Sigmar skirmish formations. What looks better? You are the one to judge...

…vs Age of Sigmar skirmish formations. What looks better? You are the one to judge…

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.

Clanrats on small square bases are able to reach enemy Elven Lord from three ranks.

Clanrats on small square bases are able to reach enemy Elven Lord from three ranks.

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…

Unit of Skaven Slaves provided me around 50 attack rolls per turn...

Unit of Skaven Slaves provided me around 50 attack rolls per turn…

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!

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10 Comments

  1. That’s the way to do it – play the games you enjoy. You might have slightly fewer players now if some migrate to AoS, but as long as there are enough people about, you’ll still be good for WHFB. I admit I’m not as passionate in my dislike for AoS as many, mostly because I gave up on WHFB some time ago because of the HeroHammer and ListHammer years – and so the change doesn’t affect me while I continue to play Kings of War. (The Ratkin army is now done, and available free along with the starter rules!)
    http://www.manticgames.com/free-rules.html
    I do think it’s a shame that they blew up the world, but I’m pragmatic. In “my” version of the WHFB world, that simply never happened – and there’s more than enough background already written between 1-8e, WHFRP and the many books that I feel I’m more than set for gaming forever anyway.
    I agree with you on your critque of the lack of points in AoS and also the silliness of the “measure from model” rules when measuring from bases is clearly the smarter and more obvious thing to do. If I ever play around with the rules, I’ll measure from bases.
    Funny thing is that while my round-based fantasy models are already perfect for AoS, I have no special desire to try it out anytime soon. It just doesn’t have a special draw for me.
    Oh, and there are 20m round bases out there. I know Red Box Games supplies them with many of his figures, and so there must be ways to source similar in Europe. Maybe more suppliers to come with the new round-base craze?

    Liked by 2 people

    • exactly. I don’t see the point of raging about Sigmar… if you don’t like it play the previous editions or KOW. in my area there are plenty of WHFB players – from 3rd to 8th, sadly no KOW but maybe we will try it soon.

      and honestly AoS is not that bad – but there are too many errors there. I feel it’s like “beta ” of the game. Not a full product.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Azazel’s spot on – try Kings Of War (you can download the rules from the Mantic website free of charge). Just strap on the fluff and backstory from WHFB and away you go. The rules are simple but elegant and intelligent. I built up a large dwarf army with the intention of getting back into playing Warhammer but after playing Kings Of War I’ve got no intention or need.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Daniel says

    First and foremost, I like the 5th Edition of WFB(Warhammer Fantasy Battle).
    I like AoS(Age of Sigmar) and have taken the time to analyze the game deeply. Yes I have become a AoS fanboy, because it is that good.
    Making a comparison of oranges and apples is never gonna be fair.
    If a reviewer have a negative opinion of the product to begin with, it is even worse.

    AoS is deep. Having than just one try and with the wrong approach and then judging is just silly. I have been constantly playing since July. The 4 page rules are just the beginning. You have not even explore “Time of War” and “Fire/Life/Metal Realm” rules.
    WFB also have a lot of additional rules but just the amount of basic rules was so overwhelming that all the additional rules were abandoned.
    AoS is so easy to learn and so we can actually focus on the additional rules!

    I am sorry but because you indicate that you understand the flaws of the game I have to gave you some points to think about(This is a very long post).
    So far I notice that most WFB players who played AoS try to play it as WFB (x-edition).
    Immediately there’s gonna be problems. Major problem. Please stop if you are.

    WFB restrictive rules taught you a certain type of game play and tactics, which is not applicable in AoS.
    AoS is not combative, neither is it restrictive. It is narrative. It might not be everyone cup of tea.
    Now an Elf army can have a Black Orcs Big Boss, a Lizardmen Slann, a Vampire Lord, a Daemon Prince and a few Skaven Warmachines. How? Your imagination is the limited.
    This is impossible in WFB. This is a dream come true for me and the people I play with.
    My Skinks & Goblins & Dwarfs & Wood Elves oddball army against a Beastman & Bretonnia & Ogre & Undead mash up is just so fun to play.

    The best way to look at and play AoS is as a completely new game with just a common ancestry with WFB. It really is.
    AoS is about getting the toys you like; “Go buy the toys you like and use them!” is AoS game skeleton and selling point.
    Some think that it is a stupid thing, I think that it is a great way to revive the hobby, which really is dying a quick death.

    There are four Major Issues in this review.
    1. Not trying a battleplan and “Realms Rules”. A Battleplan gives a simple narrative/story. You select the units/actors by the objectives.

    2. Assuming that you need balance. By having this mindset you are already making the game sour. AoS is a narrative based game by design.

    3. Not playing with Model Count. When learning this game you have to start small. Small = no fun? Sorry but I believe NO FUN = referring/checking/forgetting the unit special rules every 30 seconds, every turn.

    4. Playing with too many models and units. 2 games that last 1.5 hours are better than 1 that last 3 hours.

    5. Assuming that there is no TACTICS. There are, but you are just too used to other game system.

    Now I will expand on the points above.
    1. Not trying a Battleplan and “Realms Rules”.
    If you played one before you pass judgement you will understand that this is where AoS is brought to another level. Some Battleplan(scenarios) can have a bigger army losing to a smaller one. Some is just about retreating and not fighting. The additional “Time of War” and “FIRE/LIFE/METAL Realms” rules for AoS changes the game drastically.
    The “Time of War” rules are additional rules for Chaos, Order & Destruction factions to create a layer of unpredictability to all your games. Sometime a very big twist can occur.
    There are 4.5 realms rules and 30+ Battleplans. That is 100+ permutation of Battleplans. Different Realms benefit different Chaos Gods. The odds are stacked against you when you play against Chaos Factions in their favored Realms.

    2. Assuming that you need balance.
    Fact: AoS is not a competitive game. It is about stories and imaginations.
    POINTS FOR BALANCE
    You mention that Points helps you to find any person to play with. Perhaps that is how you were introduce to Miniature Tabletop War Gaming, to make things fair. But will it ever be fair? Does having equal points mean you will have a fair game?
    So if you just wanna fight your friend in a battle to the death can a points system bring balance?
    I say that it is a common disillusion. It can prevent cheating, but it can never bring a chess like game of equal footing.
    I believe you know of competitive tabletop players that build lists that will win games. In a WFB tournament(ETC 2014), a 2500 points Beastmen army will never have a fair chance to win 2500 points High Elves army. Just to play to a draw requires a very good player for the Beastmen army, that’s why Beastmen army is given higher points allowance and a less restrictive build.
    Point creates a frame work for competitive play.
    Since AoS is not competitive so why bother? It is designed to be an narrative experience.
    War is not about balance or fairness, and having an unfair game can be fun. A Chaos Warband ambushing a Dwarf mine, a huge Orcs army swarming an small Elf castle, the StormCast Eternal rushing to open a portal while being chased and surrounded by endless monsters, or some human warriors trapped and escaping a sinking ground while Skaven clans blocks their escape.
    When face with such game we will need tactics! Where is the tactics? I will touch on that in my last point.

    3. Not playing with Model Count.
    People argued that 10 Goblins cannot kill 10 Chaos warriors, but likewise 10 River trolls will always kill 10 Chaos warriors, so are 10 Giants able to kill 10 River trolls easily. A kid can tell that some models can kill better than others. Making your game challenging for your opponent is fun but bringing 10+ Zombie Dragons to win the game is just immature.
    Actually what we really need to note are the amount of Hero, Wizard, Priest, Monster, War Machine KEYWORDS. Everything is easy to die in AoS, knowing which one to kill first is the key!
    Heros/Wizard/Priest – Read their special rules/amount of spell
    Monster – Don’t fight them when they are full health
    War Machines – Kill their crews
    Those KEYWORDS are the most important info when creating a game.
    Sun Tzu advised about knowing yourself and your enemies, and AoS needs that. List building fanatics will try to break every game they play, no stopping them. Having equal models does not mean a fair game, it just manage the time you play them. What you want is a game that is engaging and manageable. Which leads to my next point.

    4. Playing with too many models and units.
    I am sorry but after playing so many AoS games I can tell you honesty this is the part that makes AoS different. Once I played a 500 models a side game just for laugh. Took us 1 hour to set up. After 8 hours and 6 battlerounds we gave up, calling it a draw and packed up. Although it was impressive and everyone in the shop was interested in our crazy epic game with 100+ dice rolling at a time, it became tiring.
    There was too many things to remember, too many things to note, too many spells and synergy to stack, too many models to move, adjust and remove.
    Playing that game made me remembered all those massive WFB & 40K games that started out exciting but the energy just died as we go on. We learn our mistakes and always keep our game small.
    AoS is best played with 20-40 models for an 30 minutes to 1.5 hour game. My best and most enjoyable games are all 50-70 models for 1-2 hours.
    A 100 models game is about 3 hours on average. Too much of anything is never good.

    5. Assuming that there is no TACTICS.
    Where is the tactics you ask? In a game after applying all the above points. When you know what your opponent unit can do and deploy a unit to counter his ability, and he deploy something else to counter your plan. Deployment, Unit Choice, Random Turn Order, Tactical Retreating, Shooting into/out of Combat, Terrains Usage/Bonus, Timing of Command Abilities, Defensive Spells, Preventing the risk of Battleshock, Completing Objectives.
    By now those who are saying that there are no tactics in AoS are all proven wrong. Know your synergy, know your opponent synergy, shut down his key players and protect yours. Plan everything with your objectives and your opponent objectives in mind.

    FOR THOSE HARDCORE COMPETITIVE PLAYERS
    If you and your friends are ultra combative, AoS is still playable.
    There are list to be built in AoS, tapping into the synergy/combo/gameBreakingLoops.
    But AoS also have a really interesting game mechanic. When every Army can cheese, the cheeses balance itself. If player A uses “cheese list A”, player B can use “cheesy list B” to counter. And to counter “cheesy list B”, we must use “Cheesiest list C”… But “Cheestist list C” is countered by any normal army. The loop goes on. There will always be people who try to cheat legally in every game. Competitive people are aplenty.
    To cope with them just ask them to teach you about how their army work and ask them if they mind letting you use their army against yours army. It will stop most competitive players from only wanting to win.
    This way Table top Miniature War Games will then be more engaging and fun.

    The restrictive structure of points in WFB is also killing WFB games. If you wish to play a game you are forced to field a fix point percentage of certain troops, making the entry cost insanely high.
    For causal gaming AoS is hands down the easier and cheaper system to start, bring and play.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Age of Sigmar thoughts. Part 2 | Game of Travel

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