Monday, 13 July 2015

The Trial of the Age of Sigmar.

I played my first game of ‘Age of Sigmar’ last weekend and I thought I’d post up my initial thoughts about the game while they are still relatively fresh in my mind. Firstly I need to point out that while I did take my camera to get some pictures the batteries died on me before I had a chance to take any (what is it with me and cameras!?!). So where I had hoped to have some dynamic views of my stalwart Dwarfs mashing up my friend Mark’s Skaven I am unfortunately without. In actuality the game was very even and we called it when we were left with only a unit of Miners and a unit of Plague Monks with a Poison Wind Mortar and Sniktch on the field.

So that being said I will try to convey the general feeling of the game through some broad artistic license including images stolen from the interwebs.

Let’s begin with the armies. From memory they were organised thusly:

Dwarfs (now the ‘Duardin’)

- Dwarf Lord
- Dragon Slayer
- 20 Warriors with Hand Weapon and Shield
- 20 Miners
- 10 Thunderers
- Organ Gun

Skaven (still the ‘Skaven’)

- Warlord
- Deathmaster Snikch
- 20 Clanrats
- 20 Clanrats
- 20 Plague Monks
- 2 Rat Ogres and a Packmaster
- Poisoned Wind Mortar

We just set up on the kitchen table using your stock standard long board edge deployment 24” apart. We started setting up individual models but quickly shifted back to putting units on movement trays as moving individual models seemed like too much hard work. For terrain we had a couple of rocky outcrops on my left hand side of the board and a garden of Morr in the middle with two statues scattered towards the left side of the board. Using my mad Microsoft Word skills I reproduced the layout of the deployment in exacting detail below:

My Purple Dwarfs (sorry, Duardin) are at the bottom of the table with the Thunderers on the left then moving left to right are the Organ Gun, the Warriors, the Lord, the Dragon Slayer and the Miners. Mark's Skaven at the top are from left to right Snikch, Mortar, Clanrats, Warlord, Plague Monks, Rat Ogres and Clanrats.

The game started with us working through each phase taking a very long time to figure out what we were doing. The turns did however get exponentially quicker as we progressed through the game and got used to the rules. The 'Hero Phase' took a little bit of learning. I found you had to pick wisely on what hero abilities you used each phase as they mostly last until your next Hero Phase and with random turns you're never quite sure who will get the first turn so you may be stuck with an ability that doesn't work at all for your current situation.

We found the Organ Gun could still be pretty brutal and that Clanrats were still quite awful. My left flank withered away Mark's right while the Miners cut down the Clanrats on my right and Mark's left. It's when Snikch and the Plague Monks got into combat that poop got real! I have set the scene in the incredibly detailed battle map below:

The Organ Gun got taken out by the Mortar while the Clanrats were defeated by their opposing Duardin units. We had a boss-off in the centre where Mark's Warlord came out on top. We found the combat realtively easy to work out. It should be noted that given each could make a 3" pile in move we didn't really bother moving individual units we just kep them on their bases and assumed all were in combat. The only interesting part about the first combats was how models could get sucked in. When Mark charged my Miners on the right the rules state that "any unit that has models within 3" of an enemy unit can attack" so that meant that my Dragon Slayer, despite not being charged, got sucked into the combat with the Clanrats and Miners.

Shooting into combat didn't do a whole lot. My Organ gun was dead by this stage and I found the Thunderers to be wholly ineffective with such a short range that by the time they were in range they got charged by Snikch and cut to ribbons before they could pull the trigger.

The 'Battleshock Phase' however had a strong influence and I really like how it works. At the end of the turn you have to roll a dice for any unit that has taken casualties and add the number of casualties to the D6 result. If the result is higher than your unit's bravery you lose the difference in models as further casualties. It means no unit can be wiped out from fleeing but they can still be decimated from being pwned in combat. It did hurt the Skaven more than the Duardin but with an average Bravery of 6 the stocky midgets still took a few in casualties from Battleshock. Also this is where we learned how impotant it is to have unit banners as they can half the number of casualties you take from Battleshock.

It was when the Plague Monks hit combat that we truly learned how evil this game can be. Once again, let's refer to our detailed battle map:

(damn I'm good with this software)

So this is the conundrum we faced; Plague Monks have a weapon called a Foetid Blade which has 2 attacks which means if they have 2 Foetid Blades then as far as I can tell they get 4 attacks each! On top of that, any model with 2 Foetid Blades may re-roll missed hits in combat! So long story short this is what happened to my Warriors while my Miners were tied up with the Rat Ogres...

Hmmmm yeah...well unless we've got something wrong with the rules Plague Monks are good. Reaaaaaally good. This is about where we called it a night and began packing up and beginning the post match discussion.

Overall we both really enjoyed the game. It was free-flowing, easy to resolve over a night, I can definitely see how it can scale well to larger or smaller games and being able to use whatever models we felt like instead of having to build an army list was an incredibly easy way to set up a game for the evening.

If we are to believe the nerd rage on the interwebs right now the two biggest problems with the game are; no points cost and that the rules are too simple. To address the former I can only find this to be an issue with tournament based play. Between two civilised and mature adults we managed to put together two armies that delivered a pretty even and enjoyable game. I can definitely see how balance could become a problem if one is trying to employ mathhammer and deliberately build the most winningest army, but if the game is played with the intent of, as GW love to say, "forging the narrative" it is very easy to maintain that balance. In reference to the simplicity of the rules we found only two oddities with it which may yet be resolved after discussing the game with others who have also played. Every single GW game I have played has created more than two rules queries after my first game and I still find that interpretations of those rulesets differ slightly from town to town and gaming club to gaming club throughout the entire life of said ruleset.

In closing I can say that I absolutely enjoyed my first game of Age of Sigmar and will likely be playing it again. I can see why tournament gamers are tearing their hair out about it as it's definitely not their style of gaming, but for a hobbyist like me it is a breath of fresh air that is making me look again at all those half started Fantasy armies I was going to sell and think "That could make a really fun army for Age of Sigmar".



  1. It is a lot of fun. I think you're correct in your ruling for the plague monks. Bretonnian archers apparently get to shoot 4x in the shooting phase, so it doesn't really surprise me. Ogres are also good as they have multi wounds, and most of the damage does multi wounds.

    What I'm not sure about is when you make saves vs multi damage attacks. Do you wound, then each wound does Damage 2 (or D3, D6 etc) and then save, or is it wound, save, then damage is applied?

  2. We played it as roll to wound, make save and then if the save is failed the damage is applied. Not sure if that's correct or corrong but it's how we played it.

  3. I am impressed by your lack of camera word skillz. Was fun. Should pew pew again. Although this time I'm bringing my lightning cannon because, well, LIGHTNING CANNON!

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. There's no 'like' button so I'll have to settle for a happy face :)