WARHAMMER: Age of Sigmar – First Impressions

If you’re into fantasy wargaming, and unless you’ve been living under a rock you must have heard by now that Warhammer has a new set of rules out. We scheduled a playtest session last July 5–one day after the new rules set went live and FREE to download on the Games Workshop site–with several Warhammer Fantasy veterans and a potential newbie to Warhammer Fantasy (though definitely not a newbie to miniature games).

After playing our first game, here’s what I thought of it.  First of all, it is not the same game. It uses the same background and fluff but it is a completely new game! It was very fast and combat went so quickly that both sides were almost fully engaged by turn two. Consider that we were all referring to warscrolls and the rulebook with each and every move, and the fact that we were playing a HUGE game.

The amount of models that can get into combat at the onset of a charge was surprisingly huge. The pile in rule was a nice touch and in fact I had to comment that WarHammer 40K could learn a thing or two about how close combat is done from Age Of Sigmar. The close combat system is gold, and personally to me quite possibly the best one out there. I particularly loved the way the generals determine alternately which unit’s close combat he wants to resolve. Part of the fun was discovering what the other guy’s units were capable of. There were quite a few of “It can do that?” moments during the campaign and that truly is part of the fun of playing a new system or of meeting a new army for the first time!

The close combat system is gold, and personally to me quite possibly the best one out there.

Tactically, I feel that it’s deeper than what the four-page rulebook seems to indicate. The moving phase has changed a lot since models can now move 360 degrees without any restrictions–this really changes the game BIG TIME, but I think for the better. Much of the rigidity of the old WHFB is gone without sacrificing strategy. The shooting phase is pretty much the same, except for the fact that you can now shoot in close combat. The Hero/Magic phase isn’t too particularly devastating or game changing, which is just how I want my magic phase to be, game changing but not game breaking. I particularly liked the Battleshock phase, it simplifies combat resolution, and it doesn’t rely on rank bonuses but still factors in the size of the unit and really emphasizes the amount of damage you get in and receive. I like the fact that you don’t automatically lose a big unit just because of a bad leadership roll, failing battleshock is punishing but not as bad as getting run over after losing combat by 1 and rolling low for fleeing.

What it’s not is a tournament-ready system. Right now as it stands, it is a gentleman’s game played between friends and buddies. It is by no means a tournament-ready system. The Sudden Death rules which we used was a fun mechanic that makes things interesting, and sort of works to balance out the game between differently populated armies. In fact our Beastmen, Ogre, Skaven alliance might have almost won had it not been for a failed charge test after the Verminlord Skitterleaped to try and assassinate King Louen.

What it offers right now is a system that is basically a set of rules wherein people can play and interpret the game how they want to play it. It is a game to be played between gentlemen in a non-competitive environment.

However, the system is so open that I can definitely see composition rules added to it. It can be official GW rules or it can be house rules, or it can be designed by tournament organizers. What it offers right now is a system that is basically a set of rules wherein people can play and interpret the game how they want to play it. It is a game to be played between gentlemen in a non-competitive environment.  It is a system that forces people who have gotten used to MATH-Hammer to rethink how they game and go back to a friendlier atmosphere and go back to the real spirit of gaming which is just to have FUN.

My only real complaint would be that the 4-page rulebook doesn’t have a glossary. How the heck does GW expect me to find anything in such a thick rulebook!!!

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