With the release (finally) of the General’s Handbook tomorrow, I thought I might reflect on what I think about the so called ‘1st edition’ of Age of Sigmar before picking it up, and then afterwards I’ll give my thoughts on that too. Usurprisingly I chose a Chaos army, Khorne Bloodbound, for my AoS force back in September, so I have gotten quite a bit of experience in playing the game, and a few different comp systems too. So without further adieu, here are some of the things I liked and disliked about the free for all edition of AoS:
GOOD THING 1 – The core ruleset
When AoS first game out, the internet flipped its lid about how ‘dumbed down’ Fantasy was. But that was a bogus argument from the start, since AoS isn’t Fantasy, it was something new, and that is exactly what drew me in. I had been playing 40k exclusively up until that point, I had dabbled in Warmachine but that didn’t really grab me, and 8th edition seemed just too similar (in my opinion) to 40k for me to want to commit to an army and learning an entirely new rules system.
AoS is on the other hand deceptively simple, with its four pages of rules and little inter model interaction on dice rolls, but that got me intrigued, and when I looked deeper I found the keyword system was new, unique, and actually where most of the depth of the game comes from. The interaction between different units in your force really makes them function as an army, whereas games like 40k can sometimes feel like a collection of individual units, but the way AoS does it makes the most fun way to play, in my opinion with lots of inter unit synergy, a naturally occurring thing. It might sound like I’m gushing a little, but that’s because I kind of am, and I played an army with no magic so I haven’t even had the full experience!
BAD THING 1 – Monsters
The part of me that was raised on Godzilla films and other monster movies always jumps at the opportunity to field big gribblies, but there is a problem with them in AoS. They suck. For me at least. The way they get weaker with damage is really cool from a fluff perspective, but I find makes them hideously unreliable. It feels like monsters are written to be represented by their full wounds characteristic, but this is gone in a flash so you are always left with a weaker version of what you brought. Even monsters that get wounds back, like my Mutilith, don’t fare much better. I think it’s interesting to point out that my local shop keeper routinely fields either an Arachnarok or a Mawcrusher, and both have never survived a game or in his opinion earned their place in his force. In my opinion I think monsters should only get weaker after half of their wounds have been lost, but AoS doesn’t seem to be written with updating units in mind unfortunately.
GOOD THING 2 – Characters
As a Chaos player, I am bound by law to love beat stick characters that flatten all before them, and boy does AoS comply. From what I heard 8th edition was much the same, with characters (keep wanting to call them HQ’s dammit) able to munch entire units. I guess this is also tied to the wounds system of AoS, which is really refreshing from 40k’s ‘sneeze at the wrong time and your 300 point HQ will be instant killed’ tendencies. Not much too say here, I just like how big nasty characters are as scary as they look consistently.
BAD THING 2 – Comp attitudes to unit size
You see that one painted Skullcrusher in the middle? The one converted to be a Khorne Lord on Juggernaught? He has been nothing but a pain in my ass since I started using comps. Why? Because they all, without exception, use multiples of models as an increment to unit size, and Skullcrushers are always in threes, so turning one into a Lord means I either over pay for 5 or never use 2. What is most annoying though is that this limits what you can do with a box of models, since in 40k (for example) you can happily turn say one tactical marine into a super converted chaplain or something, and so having 9 normal guys isn’t a problem. Whereas in AoS comps if I say turn one Blood Warrior into an Aspiring Deathbringer, the other 4 in the multiple of 5 pay the price for all eternity. Just a small gripe, and unfortunately having looked at the new points system, its here to stay.
GOOD THING 3 – New models
In my humble opinion the move from square to round bases has liberated the ‘no longer fantasy but still considered fantasy’ range. The Blood Warriors above are gorgeous models, and compared to the old Chaos Warriors are far superior in the poses they can be built in. No more budget airline seat looking models, and as with every new release, GW is consistently manufacturing gorgeous miniatures that I actually think are worth (for the mostpart) their pricetag.
BAD THING 3 – Old Models
We all knew it would happen, the phasing out of older models, although I have been shocked by the choices they made. I could hardly believe the removal of the entire Tomb King line, and some personal favourites, like the Forsaken above, deeply saddened me. But I think what I dislike the most is that clearly they aren’t going to go back and update older models that stay in the game. I was really crossing my fingers for a new Chaos Warriors box to the same quality as the Blood Warriors, but the Gods were deaf to my prayers, and we just got a reboxing. Instead it seems GW is only focusing on new factions, which isn’t all bad I guess.
I know I shouldn’t end on a negative note, but I could go on forever, and I don’t think anyone has that kind of time! I am really looking forward to picking up the new book and seeing how the game changes as a result! Be sure to check out my Tumblr at renegade-girl-blogfor more sporadic updates on whatever I’m working on. Thanks for attending Antagonists Anonymous!