Morning! This week Martin discuss the biggest taboo of them all- Age of Sigmar. Happy Tuesday everyone - Chris
Age of Sigmar may have had a rocky start in some people's eyes, but now we've seen the release of the General's Handbook. I've been taking a look at how this changes and game and what the future of the game might look like:
While not everything changed (I still don’t really get the ‘realms’ and while the newer versions of war scrolls have removed the silly beard-related rules, the originals are still out there), the release of the General’s Handbook marked a significant maturity in Games Workshop’s attempt to launch a new game, and I’ve taken a second look to see if there’s something to it.
Firstly, a bit of background about my experiences with Age of Sigmar. After many years of playing 40k, I wanted a good fantasy game, something I could get into quickly. I tried to play Warhammer Fantasy, but I found the rules too complex for what I was looking for. I’m sure it’s not that hard, but my heart wasn’t in it. Or I was being lazy. Probably that.
Along came Age of Sigmar, with easy to learn rules and it seemed my answer had arrived. Sadly, it was not to be. I played 5 games before packing the lot up and shoving it in a dark corner of the loft. I played two games using the raw rules, one very positive, one lacklustre. Then I played 3 games using some of the battle plans from the books and during this process discovered the most broken rule in the game – summoning. It was that single rule, beyond anything else that made me stop playing. My Chaos Daemon opponent could just bring in unit after unit from a huge choice, and there was little or nothing I could do about it. To say that sucked is an understatement. It made the game utterly broken.
Fast forward to late July 2016, and the General’s handbook arrives. I’m not going to review the book – to be honest I haven’t read it all, and there are plenty of reviews out there.
Instead, I’ll just talk about the first couple of games I played used the Matched Play rules (points). Dean and I took the brave step of heading down to Firestorm on a Friday night to play our first games. We weren’t brave enough to put up a big neon sign, neither did we screen ourselves off so no-one could see, as some suggested. Perhaps both would have been a good idea – a neon sign to bravely proclaim we were playing it and a screen to protect us from the rotten tomatoes!
Our experiences over the two games we played were very positive. Firstly, despite it initially looking like the balance had swung completely away from Chaos, the first game ended in a minor Chaos victory. Dean’s strategy of blocking my forces attacking his objective meant it came down to points killed, and Dean edged it, by denying me critical kills. In the second game, we both changed strategies. I went ultra-aggressive, and Dean went very defensive. Big mistake for Chaos, as I smashed into his forces and achieved a major victory with my Stormcast Eternals.
It’s clear, even from our first games that matched play has solved the main problems with the game, but also made them more interesting. It’s also clear that, with the new scenarios (well the one we tried anyway) the strategies each side picks to tackle the mission are critical.
So is Age of Sigmar now completely cured; is it ready to fill the hole left by the End Times of Warhammer? Certainly not! They’re very different games that will appeal to different audiences. It’s an easier game to pick up, making for quicker games, but – from what I can tell so far – good fun.
I’m looking forward to continuing to explore Age of Sigmar, as well as looking into some of the other new ideas in the General’s Handbook. It offers a lot of flexibility, with nothing stopping you combining different elements. Already I can see changing the wording in battle plans from “as third as many models” to “as third as many points”. I think a new realm (whatever one of those is) of opportunity has just opened up.