Thursday, 16 July 2015

So I played Age of Sigmar, and...

... in the words of Warlord Paul's social experiment I'm mostly A (a good time was had), with a pinch of B (not quite my cup of tea).

Anatol Rathbauer's comments on WP's blog bring home some key points. There are a couple of things I'd add -
  1. I really like the size of the game - I'd turned up with a shade under 40 orcs, which felt about right. This is a major advantage in terms of making the game accessible (and, probably not coincidentally, is about the size of a SAGA or Dux Britanniarum starter force, or so I understand it). In 3rd edition terms I still feel I'm 20-odd orcs, plus a boatload of goblins or some sort of allies, short of having a reasonably sized but still small-ish army. Realistically that's a year's worth of painting, without me being distracted onto countless other projects.
  2. Wizards are good to have, but more of a supporting element than a game winner.
  3. I don't like having to translate out of GW-speak.

To go into some detail on that last point, I spent a good part of the game trying to get my head around what the attacks of my orcs counted as. The orc warscrolls (available from the GW site) describe them as being "armed either with Choppas or Pigstikka Spears...  Some units of Orcs are instead armed with a pair of Choppas.", and then there's a profile for the Choppa attack, and a special rule for it also (there are lots of special rules, which add a fair bit of flavour and interest, but also mean a lot of flicking through print-outs). You're constantly tempted to apply the Choppas rule, but then on reading it's clear it only applies to the dual-wielding option. This would easily be fixed by re-labelling the rule as "Pair of Choppas", and eventually you'd naturally get the hang of it, but in a first game even with only 5 units it broke the flow of things somewhat.

In the same vein, but more significantly, is the issue of fielding something for which there's no warscroll. One of our club members had brought along his SAGA force, which in the good old days would easily have stood in for a Norse army. But currently there's none such, and while creating new warscrolls on the surface of things doesn't seem to difficult on looking further it's not trivial either. For a start there are an awful lot of the "special" units and relatively few standard units to use as a baseline, and even then the patterns don't seem to emerge. For example -

Orcs (warriors and archers): Save on 5+
Peasant bowmen: 6+
Men at arms: 6+
Crossbowmen: 6+
Greatswords: 4+
Knights: 4+

Nowadays shields seem to give a re-roll rather than a bonus, so presumably 6+ is your unarmoured baseline (otherwise a re-roll's not much use!), however I've seen at least one warscroll with no armour save...

Equally mounted troops seem to get an extra wound rather than higher save, which is kind of refreshing - no more bashing away until they finally roll a 1.

But it seems odd that orc archers seem armoured by default, whereas crossbowmen aren't, and greatswords are as heavily armoured as knights. By this measure I'm guessing that my Norse example would be 5+ as well, probably with a shield (and a Choppa with a more dignified name), but who knows? Anyway, it's not unsurmountable, but a lot more opaque than I'd like.

Finally it's worth a mention of the miniatures - the proper Age of Sigmar ones really aren't my cup of tea at all, and the infantry seem about 9' tall (in scale). But it did occur to me how much my much younger self would really love the properly big demons and dragons that kids these days seem to get.

Some pictures

My lads line up against some halberdiers, a steam tank(!), and some chaps in gold
I do like the way that the turn structure / initiative work, both on the wider scale and for combat, and the dicing for charges. It brings in a nice element of the uncertainty that I enjoyed in my Dux Britanniarum experience.

Angelic space marine types - you really didn't want to stop just there...!
My high tide point for the game - boar riders are having fun, and the infantry are still hopeful
Beating on the steam tank didn't go as hoped. The boar boys are doing OK, but it's not looking like a win...


  1. I am intrigued, but will probably just wait until Osprey release Dragon Rampant. GW have done too much to upset me over the last decade and I'm not in a forgiving mood!

    1. Fair enough.

      I'm keen to see Dragon Rampant, I've a copy of Lion Rampant sitting on my shelf but haven't managed to do more than give it a quick flick through.

      For all of GW's misdeeds (which for me are safely 20 years in the past!) there is the counter-argument of the ease of access and common language which is the early versions of the Old World. And I want my goblins to be suitably useless and my chaos warriors suitably frightening, I'm interested to see if or how Dragon Rampant approaches those two extremes.

      I'll almost certainly end up playing 2nd or 3rd edition with Oldhammerers, and whatever ruleset wins the popularity contest at my local club. But currently I wouldn't be too upset if that latter was AoS.