Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Age of Sigmar

I finally caved and had a go at Age of Sigmar.
I've been watching the game develop for a while now and picked up the General's Handbook recently.   the matched play rules looked ok and Ian and I decided to give them a trial run.
We jumped in at 1000 points, with me using my Dark Elves Aelves and Ian using his Orcs Orruks.
In Age of Sigmar the Dark Elves have been split into about 5 factions, which is a pain in the neck. I cobbled together a list from the stuff that I had but as it turned out I didn't have the requisite 3 battle line units required, but we decided to let it go so that we could get a game.
My force consisted of:
10 Darkshards
10 Darkshards
20 Witch Aelves
20 Corsairs
10 Drakespawn Knights
5 Dark Riders
5 Warlocks
10 Sisters of Slaughter
Witch Aelf Hag
Darkling Sorceress
Dreadlord on Cold One
War Hydra

Dark Aelves
Ian fielded:
20 Orruks
20 Orruks
10 Ironjawz
2 Bolt Shooters
1 Giant
20 Orc Archers
1 Orc Chariot
3 Grot Fanatics
1 Warboss on foot
1 Warboss on Wyvern
1 Shamen.

I really had no idea what to expect in this game, and had no ide what any of Ian's stuff was capable of , and only a slim idea of how my own would perform.
As such I let Ian have the first turn. It turns out this was a mistake as the forces od destruction all get a free D6 move at the start of the turn, and he had selected a warscroll ability that let his forces run, shoot and then charge with no problems, whereas normally if you run you cant shoot or charge.  So inevitably he was down my throat in the first turn, inflicting casualties.

They move how fast!?!?!?!?
My reply was fairly feeble, as most of troops were in hiding to avoid being shot, but I managed to deal some damage to the chariot and kill the shaman.

Hydra vanishes under a sea of Orruks
Turn 2 and the Orruks had priority again, with them charging in all over the table.  the ensuing fight saw the Giant killed, one unit of Darkshards wiped out, the Hydra killed and the sisters of slaughter wiped out.

Witch Aelves hide from shooting.
The Dark Elf reply showed that Witch Aelves, while fragile packed a punch as they eliminated one unit of Orruks, with the Warlocks finishing off the Wyvern with a spell.   

Orruks all gone...
Combat continued into turn three, with the Orruk archers charging into the Drakespawn Knights and combat continuing everywhere else. The Drakespawn Knights proved to be pretty tough, and wiped out the Orruk Archers.

End of turn 3
Turn 4 saw the Drakespawn Knights finish off both of the bolt throwers, and the Witch Aelves start to make inroads to the last remaining Orruks.  the Darkshards failed to finish off the Warboss as well.   We pretty much ran out of time at this point and called it a draw.  
My initial thoughts on the night went along the lines of "this is a pile of crap" as the game did not seem to make much sense. At one point in the game a unit of Orruks had so many buffs on them they had 4 attacks each, which even the Witch Aelves cant achieve.  Once I have had a chance to think on it though a lot of my annoyance probably came from the legacy of playing Warhammer for nearly 30 years.  I have to remember that this is a completely different game, and as such approach it differently.
So what didn't I like:
  • The movement phase is pretty boring now. In WHFB (my main frame of reference) manoeuver is pretty important, especially for fast cavalry.  That doesn't really exist now and it looks like Fast Cavalry are pretty much redundant now.
  • Lack of decision making.  You can almost do everything all the time now. You can always shoot (even when in close combat), and pretty much always charge. the only decision to make is whether or not to run, and in this case the Orruks didn't even need to bother with that.
  • The Splitting up of the Dark Aelves. I understand why they did it and in the future I hope they will get some attention but at the moment it is a bit of pain in the neck.
What did I like: 
  • The simplification of the profiles, although the game has lost some depth due to the lack of comparison between Strength/Toughness etc. I still like the level of simplification.
  • There is a lot of synergy in the game now, with Heroes attempting to provide buffs to the troops around them, rather than just being super tanks. Only a couple of characters in our game saw combat, with the rest providing benefits to the troops around them.
  • List Selection. Now you don't have to buy that one extra model to give you a slight advantage in width and combat resolution. That's all gone now, which is a good thing. Command groups are free for everyone, which is another thing we don't have to muck about with.
So after some thought I think the game has some legs. I will keep an eye on it and continue to play whenever I get the chance.  This is purely a game now, with the closest comparable example I can think of being Malifaux. The designers have made no attempt at "realism."
I must apologise to my opponent Ian for getting a bit grumpy in the middle of the game as well.


  1. Cant say AoS does much for me other than a dumbed down skirmish set. But it is just a vehicle to sell plastic toys so fair enough really.

    1. Probably, but it strikes me as no worse than any of the other skirmish rulesets that are floating around at the moment, and is not to taxing on the brain. And on the subject of it being a skirmish, the armies had the same model count as their WHFB equivalent, mainly as WHFB was basically a skirmish game with flanks....

  2. Good summary and it pretty much represents my thoughts when I tried AoS, after years playing WHFB. I started calling it Warhammer Lite. I was scratching my head as to what GW wanted to achieve with this ruleset (other than sell buckets of new miniatures of course!). Its trying to apply skirmish rules to an army size game. Didn't work for me at all. Which probably explains why my last game of WHFB was a return to version 7.

    1. Oh, and my initial 'contact' from back in July last year:


    2. I think GW was looking for a low entry cost and ease of play, to be honest. To say they built the game to sell miniatures suggests that they haven't been trying to do that previously, and given the eye wateringly large size of the units required fro 8th edition I think they were wanting something a bit more accessible. 7th Was a pretty good version, ruined by some terrible army books. the main problem now is that with WHFB dead, everyone is gong back to the edition they have the most fond memories for, for whatever reason and this is causing the player base to fracture. previously you could just get a game of Warhammer, but now there has to be a discussion over which edition to play, and then try to remember all the minute changes between each one, which makes the game more trouble than its worth. At least for Age of Sigmar the effort involved in a game is very low, making it perfect for casual pick up games as there is minimal reading involved. And I think that this is what GW intended when they launched it. Ago of Sigmar apparently now outsells WHFB, and the game is very new so time will tell if it has legs or not.

    3. For sure, GW are responding to the tide of low cost, easy entry skirmish rules that continues currently. For a business approach, it’s probably a canny move for GW long term. Although, I certainly wasn’t suggesting GW have never previously had an eye for pushing their miniatures! Given their high street presence and no doubt enormous overheads that’s an obvious given! You’re right though, AoS is a real marmite ruleset that has fractured a key hobby community; and many of us are guilty of falling back to the rule iterations we know best when we don’t like something so fundamentally new.

      AoS hits its mark providing a good, relatively inexpensive lever into the whole wargaming hobby for newcomers, something GW I think have struggled with in recent years as the previous rule versions became increasingly self-indulgent and prohibitively expensive for many. Its also good for us wargamers that haven’t called up our GW forces for a while…so the Empire are ready for the call, Kevin!

    4. You are pretty much correct. I think they have done things quite well with AoS. Free rules and profiles was a good thing to do to try and keep the WHFB crowd playing, and also now that there are formal rules for matched play available fairly cheaply. I like the direction of being able to play the game using a free APP as it can then be easily updated as things require adjusting.

      The game looks very simple, and I suppose the core is, but it is the rules for all the individual troops and the buffs that will make it interesting to play. The more I think back about the game I played the more I think about various tactics/moves that I could have done to change how the game went, and a game that makes me think like that is usually worth having another go at. Happy to give you a game any time, or play WHFB (of whatever edition, I think 7th was strong ruleswise, but some of the army books were pretty ropey).

  3. It did have a fairly high casualty rate, but then so did WHFB 8th. I think this has to be treated as purely a game. If you try and apply any real world logic to it (yes I know its a fantasy game, but still...) then you are gong to be annoyed, but if you treat it purely as a game then it would be ok. As always with this kind of game the principal rule would "don't be an arsehole to your opponent", both during the army selection and while playing the game, which I suppose is what GW is aiming for with the narrative play that is also possible.