Sunday, August 23, 2015

Age of Sigmar

I know there is lots of controversy surrounding Games Workshops destruction of the Old World and the new streamlined rules Warhammer: Age of Sigmar. You can find all about the nerdrage with a quick google search. I happen to love the new rules and I've played more games of Age of Sigmar in the last few months than I played of the last three or four editions combined.

The reasons I like the new direction?

1. Streamlined Rules - The rule set is four pages long and it is free (get 'em here). You may or may not know that I am the author of Donnybrook, which has it's roots in a one page game that I've used for everything from Fantasy to historicals up through the 19th century. Simple rules does not necessarily mean a simple game. The detail comes from the special rules that are granted to each character and unit in the game. It is also easy to house rule a simple game - I don't play competitively so it is quick work for my friends and I to agree on changes we feel makes the game more like what we want. I'll look at our house rules in a future post and no I don't feel cheated by GW for 'having to do their work for them'. We normally house rule ALL of our games - it just easier with Age of Sigmar.

2. You Can Use Your Existing Army - In fact ALL of my games so far have been with my 3rd edition Oldhammer armies! Warscrolls (rules for characters and units) of the 8th edition characters and units are also available free (same link as the rules above). New units will include the rules you need to use them. Also now your army is pretty much anything you want it to be. There are broad categories for organization purposes - Order, Chaos, Death, and Destruction, but you are not even limited to those. You will find you have more synergy between elements if you stick to those, but if you want a unit of Undead allied with your Skaven just because you felt like painting some skeletons, go for it!

3. No Points - Yep. As I said above, your army is what you want. But how do you balance games? With scenarios - historical wargamers have been doing this forever. Can you end up with some one-sided battles? Sure, but again, I play with friends. If you make any sort of effort to field forces that 'look right' the games seem pretty close. Yes, there is nothing to stop you from putting down eight Bloodthirsters and claiming it's a fluffy force because Khorne's sacred number is eight... ok you win before we even started, but what was the point? We could have played that game on the phone. Age of Sigmar embraces the kind of narrative games I've always loved.

4. The Old World Was... Old - I loved the setting as a kid. There were elements I still loved, but how many times can Chaos or Orks or Undead invade the Empire, wreck everything between the border and Altdorf, and then be seen off long enough to rebuild... again. Age of Sigmar embraces the multiverse in the manner of Michael Moorcock or the old D&D Planescape setting. There are eight different realms based on the WInds of Magic (Fire, Metal, etc.) tied together by Realmgates. The vistas range from the mundane to the fantastic, allowing you to fight battles across any sort of terrain you can dream up. It currently lacks the depth that the Old World accumulated over decades, but the potential is much greater.

All of these things are my opinion and I completely understand why people may be upset. Let's face it, you can still play games in the Old World and you can still use whatever edition of the game you like. The Oldhammer community is thriving and it is built around 3rd edition Warhammer and Rogue Trader, though it's members freely play other editions as well. I will still play 3rd edition Warhammer!

Age of Sigmar has me collecting a new Warhammer army for the first time in more than a decade. This blog will be my corner of the net to chronicle the projects. I haven't yet decided on the layout, but I thought I'd try something different from my other blogs. I'm sure things will evolve as I go forward. I don't plan to promote it much beyond an announcement on my other blogs, and I don't know how often I will post here, but I've found blogs to be a great tool simply for my own purposes collecting my photos in one place and organizing the chaos that reigns on my workbench.

It is therefore appropriate that Chaos is my first new army... more soon!


  1. If you can get past the fact that the Old World came to an end (tragic, though necessary for GW to survive), Age of Sigmar has a lot to offer. The free rules, free army lists and streamlined play are right up my alley. And when I want to revisit the Old World, I can always play Mordheim!

  2. It's funny that you mention Planescape as I'm tempted to run a WFRP game in the new setting.

    1. I think that would be cool, though I'm waiting to see a little more development. One thing GW has thus far ignored are the regular people who inhabit these realms (aside from the prey who live in terror in the Realm of Fire. SO far everything except Azyr seems like wastelands and fortresses. However, the tagline for the Realm of Shadows is "Thirteen regions, each a realm of secrets and riddles whispered upon the breeze. All the shrouded countries are saturated with illusion and lurking menace." The word 'countries' implies governments or nations to me, but I could be wrong.

      In any case, each realm seems vast and there is plenty of scope to develop your own regions!

    2. From what I have read of the first two big books GW is likely to focus their efforts on the kind of eternal war shtick, but they also have left the door wide open for players to do their own thing. So, for example in the realm of life there is mention of hidden kingdoms that are barely touched by the Chaos invasion - perfect fodder for a campaign set in a verdant world.

      If I was running a WFRP campaign I would decide what mood I wanted, choose a realm that works for that and then go mad. As an example, maybe you enjoy the old Drachenfels book and want a campaign setting that plays on that, Ravenloft, Soloman Kane, things that go bump in the night etc. Setting - Realm of Death. The Mausoleum city of Mortlust - a vast necropolis bulding. Uncountable rooms, chambers, treasuries, armouries, store houses etc. Endless night and endless weight crushing all life and love out if its inhabitants. Humans live there either in thrall to, or opposed to the Mortarchy/Nagash and the local aristocracy. 'Kingdom's' claim parts of the necropolis - maybe the players are all that remains of a small human tribe which fell to a more powerful neighbour and need to establish themselves. Adventures are around exploring, creating safe places, stockpiling the needs of each day, rescues, cooperation with other groups, underlying every action the creeping presence of the gods of Chaos decaying, perverting, maddening, eating life and death. Combat is close and nasty - no glittering knights and mighty longswords on powerful chargers; all darkness, and sweat, and breast to breast, ambushes, traps and slow painful deaths where nobody knows you even lie there, to be followed by an eternity in service to that which you battled. The only way out is to find the way out of Mortlust, or to become one of 'them' - a servant of the endless evil that is Nagash.

  3. AoS has inspired me to start a new Chaos army too! Glad it's got you inspired, looking forward to seeing your progress!