The One About The Age of Sigmar

So here goes.

With all of the drama, wailing and gnashing of teeth about Age of Sigmar, the freshly-minted replacement for the venerable Warhammer Fantasy Battle. I’ve been tossing up writing a little about it myself – I’ve certainly participated in some of the discussions, and frankly, I’ve found the extremes of both sides rather amusing. On one hand you have the WHFB faithful – angry, ragequitting, and simply not willing to play a game that’s been replaced and discontinued. On the other hand you have the new converts – so enamoured by the (lovely) new models and provision of free, simple rules that they’re overwhelmed by the new shinies and can’t wait to move on.

In the middle, there are an awful lot of people wondering aloud about whether they should rebase their existing WHFB armies, wondering how the tournament scene for AoS might work, and unsure about what to do.

Warhammer Fantasy Battle 3rd Edition. AKA “Oldhammer”

As for me, I gave away WHFB years ago. I started in 3rd edition – now enjoying a renaissance as “OldHammer”. I gave it away during 4th/5th and HeroHammer since I hated the dominance of heroes and magic (and magic items). I wanted to play a game of fantasy troops, war machines and monsters with Heroes and Wizards acting as support. So I’ve got no current attachment to the game, but I do have an attachment to the background and fluff. From WHFB3, Slaves to Darkness, Zaragoz and Konrad through to Bill King’s books and (almost) everything produced for the FFG edition of WHFRP. Not to mention a shitload of the miniatures. So with that, I am sad. I’m sad to see the 30 years of world building flushed away, but more importantly, I’m sad that many of the models I’d have liked to purchase will be discontinued and become more difficult to source – even via eBay.

On the other hand, the published materials still all exist. They’re all still available, both through retailers, eBay, the secondhand market – and of course, “digital” sources – should it come to that. That’s how and why 3rd – aka Oldhammer is still a thing. And to be frank, I don’t know how important it is for us to receive any new background and fluff for the Warhammer world. The whole thing about The Old World is that it’s a melange of many other sources and inspirations anyway – and it’s pretty much complete. If anyone wants to run Cathay or Nippon, there’s nothing stopping any one of us from combining some real-world history with Warhammer-ish fiction for our own army background. People have been doing the very same for role-playing games for decades, and it’s still done on a daily basis for people’s homebrew Space Marine Chapters.

Willy Miniatures “Griff” Fantasy Football Figure

So… much like Mordheim, Necromunda and Blood Bowl – if you enjoy WHFB 1-8 or any combination of them – there’s no reason to ragequit or throw the baby out with the bathwater – just keep on playing! (Though I’m looking out for nicely priced /ragequit armies!) With AoS retaining much of the WHFB catalogue, at least in the near term, and an increasing preponderance of fantasy-friendly army figure suppliers out there (Shieldwolf, Mantic, Avatars of War, Reaper, Perry…) there should be no problem building Warhammer armies for years to come. We’re not in an EPIC 40,000 or Battlefleet Gothic situation here, where appropriate figures might be difficult to get hold of. Necromunda. Blood Ball. Inquisitor (28). Mordheim. “Oldhammer”. Even GorkaMorka. All discontinued GW games that live on easily through easily-accessible models despite the lack of “official” support. The thing that will hurt the tournament scene is if players stop playing – and let’s be honest, that was becoming a thing for WHFB anyway.

Shieldwolf HIPS plastic Mountain Orc Infantry regiment.

If you’re in the fence. Interested in AoS but still want to play WHFB. Too bloody easy. The rules don’t ask you to rebase your models, so unless you really want to do so for aesthetic reasons, there’s no need to do so. In AoS you (oficially) measure from the figure – not the base (though I’ll be house-ruling that particular bit of silliness!)

If you’re over Warhammer 8th due to Workshop’s shenanigans – that’s ok as well. There have never been more options on the horizon for fantasy players. Obviously, there’s Kings of War (my personal game of choice). Shieldwolf is working on a set of mass battle game rules with square bases and casualty removal. the WHFB3/Oldhammer community is (mostly) welcoming of new players even if their models aren’t all 25 years old. For skirmish, the pot is already deep – and about to be even deeper. There are rulesets like Celtos and Wrath of Kings available right now. SAGA and Lion Rampant – both historical rulesets but ones that work well for fantasy warbands – and Dragon Rampant (December) and a rumoured Fantasy variant of SAGA on the way. Mordheim, as mentioned before is still very much a thing. Song of Blades and Heroes (and its umpteen variants). This is just off the top of my head and without getting into “maybe one day” rulesets like the ones mooted by Red Box Games and Minion Miniatures and so forth.

Converted SigMarine Model from Khorne’s Eternal Hunt.

As for Age of Sigmar – I’m certainly willing to give it a go myself, and from the couple of YouTube reports I’ve watched, it looks like it could be a bit of quick, easy and simple fun – nothing wrong with that at all. And I have to admit that I like the SigMarines – they look perfect for use as KoW Basileans in some form, I’ve seen some amazing conversions using them as a base, and to be quite blunt – I like them on their own merit as well. They’re not Empire, but then they’re not supposed to be. Similarly, I’ve always had a soft spot for much of the overdone chaos and Khorne stuff GW has created, so I’m keen to get my damn dirty paws on those as well. I’ve got a pair of boxes winging their way to me still. Hopefully they’ll be here before August. The thing is I’m thinking I might need another 2 boxes on top of that to sate my desire to have fodder available for 40k conversions as well as ones to use as intended. Hm… maybe next pay.

My main concern with the AoS rules (and it’s a big one) is the lack of any kind of balanced points or other method of creating equal armies. I’m all for friendly games with Marouda and my friends who come over, but even then I don’t want to be horribly outmatched, and I certainly don’t want to outmatch her. Because a Goblin ≠ a High Elf Swordmaster and I have both on my shelf and want to have the freedom to use them all quickly and easily – and above all – fairly.

Should I end up playing around with it, some rules – like measure from the model and not the base will simply be ignored wholesale from the get-go – but even that description shows what I think of AoS – I’m happy to play it if we can balance it, but won’t take it in any way seriously. Not that games are SRS BZNS anyway, but this seems to be on a par with Munchkin in terms of taking it seriously. It’s certainly not going to be on a par with a WHFB or KoW or SAGA – which is of course why we have angst and /ragequits in the first place.

For people affronted by the “silly” rules found in many of the free BattleScrolls but otherwise interested in the game – just ignore them. I had a back and forth with a gamer who self-describes as having ASD, and he was rather upset to the point of feeling personally affronted at feeling required to kneel, or fart, or dance, or compare moustaches in order to play. You can always opt out of the silly stuff and just use the mechanics. It seems to me though, that most people spending their time grousing about the silly rules were just using them as an excuse to bitch about AoS, when I can’t personally think of anything more easily ignored.

Demigryph Knight by Stuff of Legends/Stuff of Demons

 

As to why they’re even a thing – it’s obvious. The silly amateur-theatre rules are there for the sake of in-store sales in GW retail. Simply put, they are “WAAAAAAGH” writ large. If I were the right age and mentality to go into a GW store for demo games, I’m sure that these silly rules with an (over) enthusiastic redshirt GMing the game with a bunch of other like-minded young’uns would combine to create an amazingly fun experience. GW may proudly boast that they do no market research. but they clearly have enough marketing staff on hand to understand psychology and sociology in retail. Which miniatures do you like the look of? Those Demigryph riders? Those Orc Big’uns? Those Daemons? Sure, you can use them together in a game. Nope, you don’t need any of those boring looking humans in pantaloon pants to have the Demigryphs. That’s why our new game is so awesome! 

Ahem.

I just got my copy of Lion Rampant two days ago, and I’ve already paid for/preordered my copy of Dragon Rampant. Frostgrave may or may not be something I add to my rules collection. Celtos and Wrath of Kings are both just sitting around here, and I’ve got a copy of someone else’s Kings of War PDF because I’m still waiting on Mantic. I’m not short on rules to use with my models. having said that, AoS will probably get played precisely [i]because[/i] it is so simple – at least through the scenarios in the book. Though I have the feeling that I’ll ultimately be treating it like Munchkin in terms of taking it seriously or frequency. Something to have a quick muck around with occasionally and a bit of fun before moving onto the main event of the gaming session.

Mostly though – I’ll be playing SAGA for skirmish – probably with fantasy figures to get started while I work on my Vikings and their little mates, and KoW for the big battles using everything from AoS figures to Citadel to Mantic to Reaper to Shieldwolf to Rackham prepaints and Schleich animals. And everything in between.

If you’re looking for a new game, I obviously recommend trying Kings of War since it’s my game of choice, but if you’re not at all interested – that’s cool as well. Keep playing 8th. GW can’t stop you, after all.

6 thoughts on “The One About The Age of Sigmar

  1. Interesting and thoughtful write up. I’m not in to fantasy myself, and I’ve been a bit puzzled by all the wailing and hair pulling – as you rightly point out, the rule books don’t auto-district so just play your game and enjoy the new shiny models. My only real concern is the potential loss of good current kits over time… Time to stock up on a few!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your thoughts. I understand people being upset that there will be fewer tournaments and such, and some websites like Dakka have already retitled all of their WHFB forums to AoS, which I think is a bit much, but 8th is just as playable and presumably just as fun as it was a month ago, regardless of GW’s forward move. I also agree with your latter point – time to stock up on those fantasy kits that you always wanted – especially the older ones! (Nagash and the Blightkings will be safe for awhile.)

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  2. For me AoS is an excuse to finally build a small Lizardmen force I always wanted to have and play a few games with it. My friends are willing to play it as well as it’s so easy to get into. But if we don’t like it, hey there’s always the 8th or Oldhammer, KoW or SAGA! So many options! We as the gaming community should stop whining and call each other “GW fanboiz” or “Haters” and just enjoy whatever systems we play. You like KoW? Sure go ahead! You think AoS is the best thing ever? Enjoy yourself, have fun! So try stuff out and see what suits you best. As long as you and your mates have fun. That’s what it is all about! 😀

    Thanks for the write up Azazel. It was a different and welcoming calm response to this whole affair! The amount of whining is getting a bit tedious. Looking forward to see you work your skills on the new models!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I just had a look at your blog, and I totally get your Lizardmen rationale. Not that it’s for me to call any reason for army building the “wrong” way, but yours appears to be very much the “right” way from my perspective. Of course I understand people being upset, but it seems like a lot of people are taking it as simply an opportunity to pile on GW or ragequit, etc.

      The new game seems like it’s decently balanced if you play the pack-in scenarios, and I’m hoping that they have some (realistic) form of force balancing coming up sooner rather than later, but if not, I’ll play the pack-ins and run with another ruleset. Either way, my new toys have landed in-country and if I’m lucky I’ll have them in hand on Friday!

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  3. I neither like the look of the new models nor the ruleset, but as you say, there is no point in telling people off for liking what I don’t. I am sure there are plenty of people who find 15mm ancients boring, FoG overwrought etc. pp.

    Technically speaking the miniatures are top notch and as you say the ruleset is a nice “use all your models” game without much fuss. If the social aspect is important to somebody, less so the game itself, then you can have a lot of fun with AoS and don’t need to go for long list building sessions. On top it is free and we all have 10 miniatures for each side, so off you go without any investment.

    I’ll be intrested to see how it goes and the scenarios could be very good as they will bring balance and interest.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My two sets have arrived, and I do now plan to get 2 more. I’ve always been a fan of overwrought Khornate stuff, and I’m planning to use a bunch or more of the additional SigMarines for 40k conversions at this point, as they have essentially nothing in common with the WHFB aesthetic. Past that, I have to admit that with my expectations as low as they are, it’ll be easy to be pleasantly surprised, but at the same time, playing it will be a low priority as well, what with the time limitations of life and all. I’ll get around to it all later on.

      In the meantime, I’ve got more skeletons and 90’s figures to finish painting! 😉

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