Monday, June 29, 2015

First Impressions - Age of Sigmar Box

Over the weekend we got the first pictures of the new Warhammer "Age of Sigmar". These confirmed the box contents and resolved a number of the big "what ifs" that have been in play since the conclusion of the End Times.

Here's my initial thoughts on what I saw over the weekend. Bear in mind it is based purely on the pictures and info we got and these impressions may change as more info comes available.

First the models. Really the Khorne stuff they could have dialled in. There is nothing there that is outside the aesthetic we have come to expect. They are very nice models and will fit in with any Khorne/general Chaos army.

Next the Sigmarites. These were immediately dubbed "Sigmarines" and it is not hard to see why? They borrow very heavily from the 40k aesthetic - plate armour, pauldrons etc - and I'm sure that they will find their way into more than a few 40k armies. However I think that they actually pre-date the Space Marines and what we are seeing is the genesis of the 40k Emperor's Thunder Warriors. These look like an early prototype right down to the lightning bolt iconography and suggest that in future the games and background are going to be more closely aligned. I, personally, don't like the models. They are far too 40k for the Warhammer universe as I perceive it - and yes I know that is no more.

This points to a real move away from the "medieval" aspect of the Warhammer world. That has major implications in that a key part of ancient/medieval warfare is massed ranks. The best I can say is that this points to a diminishing of that concept.

And this is reinforced by the confirmation of round bases. Yes, in both cases - models and bases - GW has said you will be able to continue to use your models but in reality this at best is a transitory state and as the game evolves neither will be on the bus IMO. GW wants to sell you new models for your armies/factions (I hate that word - it screams small scale) and they will invalidate existing choices and be round based.

Accompanying the box will be a four page PDF of quick start rules. These have been described as "child friendly" and I guess will be focussed on core concepts. From looking at the models there are no missile troops nor what looks like a Mage. On that basis I think we can safely say the box set will focus heavily on combat. This positions it nicely with the 40k starter sets. 40k = skirmish with guns, AoS = Skirmish with combat.

So all and all I'm not optimistic about the new game fulfilling the space of the game I've been playing the last five years.

  • The aesthetic has changed
  • The core basis has changed
  • The basing has changed

Now this is all predicated on first impressions of the box and things might change when we get the full rules. However all the pointers above are really lines in the sand.

GW is clearly (IMO) going in a new direction and appealing to a different demographic than it has in the past.

From where I'm sitting it is about as bad as it could be.



  1. Time to try out some games of KOW then Pete? You've already got all the models you'll ever need :)


    1. Ah no thanks Dave. I'd be more likely to stick playing games of 8th if AoS doesn't deliver for me. I've no probs with the 8th Ed rules.

    2. Up to the end times it's the best warhammer rule set I have played it's not perfect but it's a good game

    3. I think the general consensus among current WHFB players is "Stick with 8th" which is great because 8th is a good system.

      Although i am thinking of giving KOW a shot

    4. KOW is worth giving a shot. I have had one game so far and it does allow a mass fantasy army game. It even encourages it more than no comp WHFB 8th.

      However in its current form it is limited - so unless they continue to evolve it further it may stagnate quickly.

      "Stick with 8th" is still looking like a plan BUT we still have a lot more information to come out before making an informed decision. I want to see the rules for AoS and see what the next 4 release weekends entail before making any commitments either way.

    5. The kow mechanics are way to simplified yo satisfy someone who played warhammer imo. Part of what appealed about fantasy was the crunchiness of it.

    6. I'd agree with you there Nikola. KOW isn't a bad game from the two I've played so far, but it's a bit too lean and sleek. I do like that normal line infantry actually have a role, and that magic isn't as powerful. I also like that it's more cinematic in scope (more miniatures) and more linear (more realsitic for edged weapon combat)

      If we were to house-rule a flee mechanism (just use the WHFB one), a panic mechanism (Nerve test for destroyed units in 6") and maybe have both sides fighting during close combat (both sides roll, halve the damage, both sides take Nerve tests) and I think it would be good. Add in random charges, and it would be very good.

      I'm going to continue giving KOW a go, let's see if it's better than it looks on first impressions. If not, I'll stick with 8th Edition, if it looks like the Wgtn community stays with it.

      Or maybe, just maybe, 9th won't be WarhammerMachineHordes, and it'll be an all right game.

  2. First glance it looks more like a lord of the rings replacement they can't have that long left on the licence for it. Maybe there is something coming for us square base players

  3. Nice summary Pete. I think most current 8th Ed players who still loved the game before The End Times feel the same. McCrae summed it up in a FB post - "If I wanted to play with Space Marines you would think I would play 40K... Major fail GW."

  4. If this is the Warhammer version of LoTR and the impending massed battle rules were along the lines of War of the Ring i'd be OK with that. WoTR was a fun game, and it would be dead easy to get regiment trays made that square bases could slot into (WoTR had these for the round bases).

    I'm still hoping that the Sigmarines are just a kind of summoned angelic force (sort of like good demons) that could fight alongside the Empire/Armies of Man in the same way that Demons fight alongside Warriors of Chaos.

    I'm probably just delusional. :-)

  5. I think you've summed up where I'm sitting perfectly Pete. I just can't see from what we know now this being a worthy successor to 8th Edition in any shape or form. I know some are excited about the thought but I can't for the life of me understand why.

    It's not as if any of those who claim to be excited have been complaining that 8th ed needed fluff annihilation and to become a skirmish game. How could this be where anyone has wanted the game to go?

  6. This is very frustrating of GW. Here we are 2 weeks away from the complete withdrawal of Warhammer and very little knowledge of what is replacing it.

    To me it looks like we are having a throwback to some 4th edition (1992) delivery ideas.
    I've just dug out the rule book to remind myself what it was like.
    1. We had a 4 page rule summary that took you through the basics of move, shoot, mele.
    2. There was a bestiary giving the rules, background, and stats for all basic and some special troops. This was 100 pages with only about 10 pages of pictures. It had an index and stat profile summary. Rules included, Men, Dwarfs, Slayers, High elfs, Lots of O&G, Lots of Chaos (Daemons, Beast, WoC), Dark Elves and Witch Elves, Lots of Skaven, Ogres, Lots of Undead, WoodElves, Monsters as a separate section.
    You could use it to play any army or combo.

    3. There was also a 100 page rule book (included in the starter set). All the rules were condensed into a 2 page player aid card. At the back of the book were the points values for all the troops in the bestiary and the add ons for weapons, missiles and armour. So, together with the bestiary you could construct any types armies.
    I'll quote this from the rule book - "While discussing armies and points values we ought to mention the Warhammer Armies series of books." It then describes what is in them in two sentences. They were an optional extra for those wanting to expand their armies and play with elite troops such as swordmasters, white lions etc.
    4. Magic was a separate box set supplement. The rule book states that you do not have to include magic if you don't want to.

    To me it looks as if AoS will have a similar approach. I hope that GW either include the rules or inform us when and how they are being released otherwise we will still not know what to expect.

    Some points values to compare to from 1992 ( a lot are still the same)

    Black orc 7
    Dwarf 8
    Dark Elf 8
    Man 5
    Skaven 4.5
    Wardancer 20
    Emperor Dragon 750
    Dragon 450
    Giant 200
    Ogre 40
    Snotling 15
    Troll 65
    Bloodthirster 800
    Juggernaut 70
    Skeleton 8
    Zombie 4
    Swarms 100


    1. Very interesting to look back... history repeating itself, almost like there is a saying in that.

      I wonder how well that was received and how long before it morphed back into the BRB and army books plan.