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Learning Age of Sigmar

A couple friends have been playing Age of Sigmar, and I’ve been somewhat curious about it since it was released. Our FLGS has a Age of Sigmar Starter Set open and painted up, and available for playing demo games, so I joined one of my friends for the afternoon of teaching me the system.

Age of Sigmar is an all new, greatly simplified game that Games Workshop released to replace the aging Warhammer Fantasy range. Fantasy had become somewhat bloated through the years, simulating large-scale battalion combat, often requiring dozens or hundreds of models to play (each of which must be assembled, painted and set on bases, requiring hours upon hours of work), the barrier to new players getting into the game was pretty intense. Age of Sigmar scaled the game back intensely, and simplified the rules, making entry to new players much easier. Today’s game, for example, involved 30 and 18 models per side.
They’ve grouped all the old factions from Warhammer into four Grand Alliances that you can pick/choose units from to build your force. In the Starter Box, are included Stormcast Eternals, of the Order Grand Alliance, and Khorne Bloodborne, followers of the Chaos god Khorne, in the Chaos Grand Alliance. I was playing the Stormcast Eternals.

Being already familiar with Warhammer 40,000 the game was a little confusing at first, as the simplifications leave an experienced player looking for extra rules that apparently don’t appear to be all that important in the end. For example, there’s no unit point system, games aren’t defined by the points costs, players can pretty much play anything they want in a game, though it’s good to agree on some sort of limitation with your opponent to reach some sort of balance. The whole “rulebook” is 4 pages, and each unit has its own modifying rules. Unlike 40k, the focus of the game is on close combat, with only a few ranged attacks; in the current edition of 40k close combat is somewhat more difficult, even for armies that are focused upon it. An interesting mechanic in the game is that each turn opponents roll to see who acts first, which can help protect against one player from constantly being at a disadvantage for going second, and can really alter your tactics.

All in all, I got used to the simplifications pretty quickly. Once the armies clashed the action picked up pretty quickly and the tide of battle shifted back and forth a few times. I was pretty sure I was going to lose the game, but, in the end I had two units left on the table, and so did he. Since close combat involves a back and forth from each player, after he killed one of my units, my second unit in that combat killed his, and were freed to charge his remaining character on my turn. My last unit, retributers, had hammers that caused automatic wounds that couldn’t be saved against on a roll of a 6; this rule allowed them to close in and kill the last Khornite at the end of turn 6.

The game took only 2.5 hours to play, which, given I was learning as we played, really isn’t too bad. For comparison, it’s probably about half the time it would have taken to go six rounds of 40,000.

I think I’ll likely try to pick up the game. I think I’m drawn to the Death Grand Alliance, mixing together vampires, ghosts and skeletons; mostly because I like the look of some of the models and look forward to painting them up.

2 blog comments below

Only 2.5 hours! Lol! I don't think I could stand to play those games for that long. I have friends playing war hammer campaigns (I'm still not too sure how that works). I can't even watch them. It might also be because they take forever to do anything and there is a lot of external banter. It's also why we never got very far in DnD.

Given that you were just learning... How long do you think a normal game might last compared to Warhammer? Exclunding setup and tear down...
TheGremlyn on Tue Mar 22, 2016 6:10 am
Watching and playing time passes differently Wink

I think once I grasp what my units do, and the game doesn't involve TOO many models a game could even be played within an hour, though probably closer to 2 is more reasonable. The external banter can really add up, but, is also kind of the point of getting together; moving dudes around a table and rolling dice is great, but actually engaging with your friends is half the fun!
Ankhanu on Sat Mar 26, 2016 4:27 pm

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