Tag Archives: Age of Sigmar

It Came from the Lightbox: Ogre Kingdoms

No, I’m not going to call them “Ogors.”

These were kind of an impulse project: something to work on while locked down. The likelihood that I’ll ever actually play Age of Sigmar is pretty low but hey: now I can. I expect that’ll be the theme for my time in isolation.

A little as I feel drawn to play Games Workshop games, it truly is a delight to paint their models. Corvus Belli makes some gorgeous models, too, but I don’t get quite the same joy from painting Infinity models as I do GW models.

Age of Sigmar – Thoughts & Tournament Results

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It’s entirely possible that that ‘Sigmar’ is Reikspiel for ‘Poor Stewardship.’

(Gonna give my now-informed thoughts about Age of Sigmar first, then talk about the event itself afterwards, since I expect the former is more interesting to the rest of y’all.)

I got in five games of Age of Sigmar at NOVA, which means that I’ve now played five games of Age of Sigmar total.

I’ve tried pretty hard to keep an open mind about it: actively avoiding the crushing negativity about it around CGL and reserving any and all judgement about it until I actually got the chance to play several games.  Now, I think I have an informed opinion about the game.

It is not a bad game, nor is it a good game.  It’s an exceedingly bland game.

The analogy I kept coming back to whenever someone would ask me what I thought of it was: it’s a rice cake.  You can eat a rice cake.  If you have nothing else to eat, it’s better than eating nothing.  But it’s not very filling or satisfying, and there are thousands of other things out there that one would rather eat.

There’s maybe a useful engine for resolving or organizing a game in there somewhere, but it’s insufficiently baked. If you look at it and think, “That is entirely too simplistic a game,” you are correct.  GW’s actually packed a lot of complexity into the warscrolls, however: and that’s not a good thing.  It means that the game is ultimately overly-complex while resting on a jellied, unset foundation.

Standard bearers don’t work the same.  A Standard in this unit does A, and a Standard in that unit does B.  On one hand, this is a mechanism by which they communicate flavor… on the other hand, it’s confusing.  I had two units of troops on Saturday, and my opponents kept getting turned around on how each one worked.  It drives me up a wall that shields don’t work the same from army to army.  That just doesn’t make any sense.

Some units are even worse: Plague Monks have full command, but none of them work close to what the other Skaven units’ command does.  Instead, each (Champion, Standard Bearer, Musician) gets to choose one of two options, each of which involves more rolling and more rolling and… doesn’t really change anything.  It’s a lot of extra effort for next to no payoff.

A lot has been said about the lack of points: it is indeed the problem it appears to be.  Friday’s event was “Six Warscrolls.”  Saturday’s was “95-100 wounds.”   Most of the players had more models on the table Saturday than Friday.  I had nearly 50% less.

There are fixes for the lack of points: counting wounds is the most common.  It’s crap.  There is no planet on which a Pegasus Knight is equivalent to 4 Clanrats. At the Clanrats’ optimum numbers, 30, there’s no planet on which 8 Pegasus Knights are equivalent to 32 Clanrats. It took one game with both Stormvermin and Plague Monks to know that the former is 1,000,000,000 times better than the latter.

Ultimately the closer you get to some way to make the game playably balanced, the farther you get from what’s their unambiguously clear design goal… which, increasingly, convinces me that it’s a shit design goal.

Every game I played ended in a tabling or would have had it not ended to time (the game plays fast, but pretty much everyone there was learning it).  There were scenarios, and they were generally interesting enough… but didn’t come up often because someone was too busy choking on their opponent’s block of troops to be able to worry about them.

That said: it was such a limp, loosey-goosey game system that we all had a good time.  It was impossible to take it seriously, so there was an excellent mood around the games.

My prediction: AoS is gone and dead within two years.  This thing is too baroque and top-heavy with too-skinny legs and knees of jelly to survive.  Hopefully, we’ll see a Warhammer 9E shortly afterwards; the alternative is tragic.  (There’s a discussion to be had, somewhere, about GW’s stewardship of Warhammer and 40K.)


Wow, that ran long.  Longer than I’d planned, for sure.

The tournaments themselves were a good time.  Like I said: it’s such a weak system, it’s impossible to take it seriously.  Getting competitive about Age of Sigmar would be like attempting to write a critical dissertation on Mighty Max.

Friday was two games: six warscrolls.

I ran:

  • Warlord – Warpforged Blade & Shield
  • Grey Seer
  • Clanrats x30 – Sword & Shield
  • Stormvermin x30
  • Plague Monks x31 – Book of Woes, Contagion Banner, Bale Chime
  • Plague Furnace

Game 1 was against Sean, who’d come down from New York, running Dwarves.  I believe I won that game, but it was long enough ago (three days!), I’m less than certain.  It was also my first game of AoS, so it hardly counts.

Game 2 was against Tim, who’s local, running Bretonnians. Bretonnians, as it turns out, really did get a lot better.  I was tabled very, very quickly.

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No really: I actually did have a very good time.  I’m entirely confident that everyone there did.

Saturday was three games – some more complex comp rules but basically 95-100 wounds per player.

I ran:

  • Warlord – Warpforged Blade & Shield
  • Ikit Claw
  • Warlock Engineer
  • Clanrats x30 – Sword & Shield
  • Stormvermin x30 – Shields
  • Hellpit Abomination – Warpstone Spikes
  • Warp Lightning Cannon
  • Warp Lightning Cannon
  • Plagueclaw Catapult
  • Warpfire Thrower
  • Warpfire Thrower
  • Poisoned Wind Mortar
  • Poisoned Wind Mortar

Plague Monks are gone because they’re trash.  I don’t care how limp and noncompetitive the game might be, when you’re as well off taking them as you are just playing 30 wounds down: you don’t.

War Machines & Weapon Teams with ‘Warp’ in the name are very good.  The mortar & catapult are trash.  If I took 33 Warpfire Throwers and placed them all 3.5″ apart, I would probably win every game ever.

Anyway:

Game 1 was against Tim again.  He’d loaded up on more Knights.  I still lost, but less badly than the night before.  We ran out of time, though: it’s possible he’d have tabled me if we’d kept going.

Game 2 was against fellow CGL’r Eric, with his spectacular Dwarves. He went all in: he rebased his Dwarves on round bases.  He also had more bodies on the table than I did.  I managed to table him, but I’m not sure how.

Game 3 was against Sean again.  Despite an enormous blunder early on, incautiously shoving my block of Stormvermin down his throat in such a way that almost his entire army was pulled in, I managed to table him.

Like I said above: there was a lot of tabling going on.


In the end, I won Best General – One massive win, one solid win, and one moderate loss was apparently enough to put me in the lead on battle points. Eric won Best Appearance, and Norbert (who I did not play) won Best Overall.

It’s also important to point out that Aaron (local-ish) and Brian (from Boston) did an excellent job given the circumstances.  It went smoothly, and everyone had a great time playing: I would be surprised if the same thing could be said of any other event there.  Given the system is what it is, I think that’s especially notable.


So: do give Age of Sigmar a try so you can have an informed opinion about it.  Do expect to be disappointed.  Do give anything Aaron or Brian run consideration.  Don’t ever take Plague Monks.

Age of Sigmar – Initial Response

Age of Sigmar Logo

So, I finally got around to reading the Age of Sigmar rules (yes, it’s only four pages long but, as silence ’round these parts might indicate, I’ve been busy) and the Skaven and Empire warscrolls.

I’ve tried to remain objective about it all.  I got into this hobby painting Skaven over twenty years ago, and I’ve liked each new edition of Fantasy better than the last… so I’ve got a lot of love tied up in Fantasy.  But, I also recognize that it’s been known for quite some time that Fantasy hasn’t been doing as well as GW wants it to.  We’ve known that GW had to and was going to do something drastic.

It’s a scary, really.  That company was built on Warhammer Fantasy, and it’s such a mainstay that the idea it could just go away is more than a little terrifying. I saw (and am unable to relocate) a great post that threw down about the Age of Sigmar response in the context of the five stages of grief.

So, like I said: I’ve tried to stay objective about it and try to take the game for what it is and not try to smother it with expectations for it fueled by WHFB.

Anyway: I’m not sure.

The rules don’t look awful.  They look a little simpler than I’d like.  I have a feeling that they’re missing a thing or two, but I need to actually roll dice around them before I can really have an opinion.  It’s the only way I can really learn rules.

The warscrolls like they more or less captured the flavor of the units they were converting. I’m nonplussed that every unit has a couple of special rules.  I’ve grown to dislike that sort of them.  They’re not so involved that they seem exhausting (which was my response to Malifaux, 1E at least), so that’s a point in their favor… but the same rule works differently for different units.  Musicians let this unit Stand and Shoot, that unit counter-charge, and this other unit shoot or charge if it runs.  That bugs me.

People have cherry-picked goofy rules out of them.  Congratulations: you can read!  Things like that are definitely the exception and not the rule: there’s 1 or 2 of them in the Empire doc, out of over 30.  They’re not a thing worth getting het up over.

Army construction is a topic that’s been done to death.   I have nothing to add beyond that I’m looking forward to at least little more structure.  In theory, we’ll be getting that.  I’d like more guidance around options.  The Description sections bug me.  Some of them read like they were optimized for running through Google Translate.  Others are verbose to the point of being a challenge to make sense of.  Look at the Stormfiends section: that all could be expressed with “each may be equipped with one of the following: – Ratling Cannon and Clubbing Blows, – Warpfire Projector and Clubbing Blows, – Doom-flayer Gauntlets and Warp-laced Armor” etc. That’d be a heck of a lot more clear and succinct than “some guys take X and others take Y and maybe if they feel like it, they could take Z but we’re not going to really opine whether or not you can take X and Z or Y and Z or only Y and Z or maybe just Z alone but that’d be silly.”

Also, it seems pretty clear to me that multiple models in a[n infantry] unit may be Standard Bearers and [Musicians].  “Models in this unit may be Standard Bearers.  If the unit includes any Standard Bearers, it can retreat and still charge in the same turn.”  (Clanrats)  Now, one thing we do know about the game at this point is that it relies on as little assholery as possible, and the idea of taking multiple standard bearers in a unit seems like a move contrary to that “don’t be a dick” spirit the game calls for… but there’s an unambiguous plural there, and “there may only be one standard bearer per unit” is, fundamentally, a WHFB concept and may not be appropriate to W:AoS.  What I’m trying to get at is: I’d like there to be more guidance around what should be taken and when: one standard bearer per unit? Per 10 models? Per 20? for example.

So: it doesn’t look bad, but a few things seem rougher than I’d like.  I need to get a few games in with it before I can have a truly informed opinion… but that’s going to be tricky with Historicon this week (so pumped!) and our first move in a decade(!) going down immediately afterwards.  Hopefully I’ll get the chance to play it a couple of times before everyone else has had the chance to play it, the newness has worn off, and they’ve moved on.

Fluff around the setting is a completely different subject: I haven’t read what comes with the box yet, and the book obviously isn’t out yet. What little we’ve heard feels incredibly designed-by-committee and is boring as heck, but that amounts to so little: that might mean nothing.

Anyway, those are my initial thoughts.  Shades has a reaction that is, I think, more negative but more cogent that’s worth a read.