I will start by saying that I am a long time Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40,000 player. When Age of Sigmar was released I bemoaned, like a lot of people, the loss of ranked units and the mass combat style of fantasy however the thing that struck me most was the lack of points values. In many ways this stopped me from getting further into the game as it was hard to balance games between friends despite various systems being devised such as using the number of wounds in an army. Hopefully the new General’s Handbook will change this, so lets see what has changed.
The New System
The new points system in the General’s Handbook is very simple and just gives a points value for each multiple of the minimum unit size. So if it is 100 points for a unit that has a minimum of 5 and a maximum of 20; if I want to take 5 then it costs me 100 points and if I want to take the maximum of 20 then it costs me 400 points.
Age of Sigmar’s new Organisation Chart will be very familiar to Warhammer 40K players and Warhammer Fantasy players alike. The need to include Battleline troops (Troops or Core units to Warhammer 40K or Fantasy players respectively) means that you can’t just fill your army with special units. Artillery and Behemoths see inclusion at all levels of play however are restricted so as not to dominate the game.
Allegiances play a part in army selection in this new style. Whilst a player can select any units from within their various factions (Order, Chaos, Death and Destruction), certain units only gain abilities like Battleline if all your units are from the same sub-clan such as Ironjawz.
A Price Worth Paying
One of the problems that I had heard about Age of Sigmar before was that summoning was crazy, especially with some being able to chain summon. Now you have to reserve points from your force for the units that you will be summoning. This plus the rule of only being able to cast a single spell once each turn should help to tidy up this area.
A nice addition to Pitched Battles is the inclusion of Triumphs which confers a benefit to the player who is on the lower amount of points in their army. We have seen a similar thing in games such as X-Wing where the person on lower points gains the advantage of moving and shooting first with equal level ships. The Age of Sigmar benefit is much greater, however it is randomised at the start of the game and is a one use ability.
Anyone who has played Warhmmer 40K recently will have seen the rise of formations. Age of Sigmar has similar things with Battalions, with the main difference being that you have to pay for them. Most of them aren’t very expensive, however I hope that they continue to have costs associated with them rather than just giving stuff for free just for using some units.
Most systems runs some sort of leadership mechanic to cover units losing faith and breaking from combat. The Battleshock system is a break from Games Workshop’s previous systems for this and looks at the number of models lost instead of wounds. The result feels a little like crumbling from the old fantasy Vampire Counts as instead of the whole unit running if you exceed your Bravery you instead lose models equal to the amount it exceeds your Bravery by.
This is just a highlight of some of the areas addressed by the General’s Handbook and, whilst there are still some things that may feel kind of weird, I am really liking the changes. I haven’t had much chance to play with these rules yet however this has certainly encouraged me to dust off some models… Plus I really like the look of the Ironjawz units!
Now is a great time to explore Age of Sigmar with the Season of War summer campaign and the new army building framework being easy to use and simple to work out the maths on. I may be suffering from a bit of new and shiny syndrome however I definitely feel that if you have been on the fence before, or may be even dismissed it, then now would be a good time to take another look.