Sunday, 23 August 2015

First thoughts - Age Of Sigmar

Last week I finally got the chance to play my first 2 games of Age Of Sigmar.

There were things I expected to like about it, things I was concerned about, and things I was curious about how they would work.  Overall I have to say it was a really fun, enjoyable game that I believe is actually a lot more balanced and interesting than it's nay-sayers would have you believe.

The friends I was playing with agreed to a six Warscroll limit but in hindsight even that wasn't really necessary because once you start deploying and you realize all your figures have to fit into your deployment zone the nightmare scenario of the "big" army stomping the "little" army quickly becomes no concern.  The only issue I could see would be if the "little" army was extremely small, but games amongst friends shouldn't have those kinds of issues.

I played two very different games.  The first was against a Skaven army that massively outnumbered my Vampire counts (I don't remember the exact model count but it would have been roughly 2:1).  We were playing a basic pitched battle but due to the disparity in models I was able to choose a sudden death victory condition, I choose to secure a scenery feature on the far side of the table by turn 4 and was able to win the game by accomplishing that.  The game was decided on the final (fourth) turn and a couple of die rolls one way or the other and the outcome could have been completely different.
My second game was against a slightly larger Dwarf force (roughly 60 models for the dwarves vs 48 models for me).  We played a scenario from the new campaign book where the savage marauding Dwarves attacked and massacred my peaceful Vampire village, my forces returned and set to expelling the intruders.  For this game we played in a built up urban area which created far more dynamic movement, I was again narrowly able to eek out a victory by driving off the evil Dwarves, at the time of my win my forces were only 4 more models away from losing the game!

So, I had a lot of fun and will definitely keep playing, but by now most people have either decided they do or don't like the game so rather than a thumbs up/thumbs down point of view I'd like to specifically address some criticisms of the game that I have a different understanding of having now put models on the table and rolled dice with them.

I've already mentioned my first point that your models having to fit into your deployment zone does in fact create a very real practical limit on army size.  Although I could have been more significantly outnumbered in my second game and that could have changed the outcome I don't believe it would have changed any actions in the first 3 turns and both myself and Carmin would have walked away still feeling the game was "fair".
Secondly if you play a scenario or introduce the sudden death victory conditions rather than just lining up and fighting each other you don't end up with the swirling mass of models in the middle of the table just rolling dice off against each other endlessly.
Third the reach of a model's melee attack limits the advantage of a huge unit against a smaller unit.  In one case Darren's Skaven were able to start encircling one of my units and really bring his advantage to bear.  I don't re-call a single fight in either game where an entire unit of 20 or more models was able to attack a single enemy unit.
So my recommendation for anyone who has models but has avoided the game because of how they think it looks on paper, I would highly suggest you actually try a game and follow the rules, you might fins there are actually some filters for the things you think are unbalanced.

Having said all of that there are 2 things that I think could and should be done (not printed in the rules) to enhance your Age Of Sigmar gaming experience and avoid some of the internet's worst fears.
First always play with an objective.  Either a scenario or if you're playing with just the free rules (like me) then consider having both players choose a sudden death victory condition and if a player would normally qualify for one let them choose a second one.  This will keep the game moving around the table and give both armies something to do other than just fight in the middle of the table.  If someone asked me to just play a straight punch up I would probably just pass.
Secondly don't play with unpainted models.  A few people online have proposed some ridiculous forces (all Blood Thirsters for example) if people have to put both money and effort into these ideas I imagine not too many of them will actually make it to the tabletop.

So that's my 2 cents.  I had fun, the game plays just fine as written and as long as you don't plan on playing against dicks you'll have a good time.



  1. I've always been a believer that the only dick you should play with is your own.

    Some nice suggestions in there, and glad you had fun. Things are rarely as bad as the internet would have you believe.

    1. The internet is of course a wretched hive of scum and villany

  2. Excellent, balanced overview, cheers! I haven't played Warhammer in a while, unfortunately, but when I return, I think I am going to want to scratch that 'rank up, determine facing, defend the flanks of your units' itch. What you describe is wholly different from that, but Age of Sigmar sounds fun in its own right; last time I checked, that was what games are supposed to be about, right?

    1. Agreed! (as usual)

      To be honest I don't see Age Of Sigmar vs Warhammer (classic?) as even being a question on one edition vs another, I genuinely see it as an entirely separate game. If you want to play with blocks of troops go for it. I pulled my 8th edition rules off the shelf the other day and the pages hadn't all magically gone blank :)