Sunday, 20 September 2015

Age of Sigmar: Finished Stormcast Eternals & some thoughts on the new game...

I recently managed it finish the Liberators from the Age of Sigmar boxed set, and was very pleased with how they turned out. 



These were some very fun models to paint. The new golds from GW are a pleasure to work with; the Retributor-Auric-Liberator triumvirate is awesome for layering bright golds. I didn't go as far as using Runefang highlights, because that as a technique has never worked for me, but these golds really scream.

But enough about the Stormcast Liberators. What about the game?

I'll make clear that I've never been a WFB player, and so the "transition" to Age of Sigmar hasn't been as jarring as it otherwise might've been. I don't have boxes of painted models for a system that is no longer (officially) supported and so came to Sigmar with an open mind. I was impressed by the models, fancied painting up those gold dudes, and wanted something easier than 40k. I actually wanted a game system that I could play with my children, who are always interested in painting and my hobbies. The 4 page rules system seemed a great start to get them onboard...

I don't dislike Age of Sigmar. Actually, I want to like it. But it doesn't really achieve what GW wants it to, unfortunately, and the starter set is a missed opportunity. 

Here's the rundown on Age of Sigmar...
  • Although the rules are short and brutal, the game is actually quite fun. It's a nice tabletop skirmish game. The rules are straightforward, and my son picked them up every quickly (he's only 7!). The core interactions are easy to master, although don't have the depth of any earlier system;
  • Some rules just don't make sense to me. Why, oh why, do we measure from the model not base? This is confusing and pointless. "Combat range" - rather than being base-to-base contact, which is surely the easiest method of measurement - is 3".... Again, why? To new players, this will appear strange and cause arguments.
  • The rules are only 4 pages, but the special rules on the other hand... To say that AoS has a 4 page rulebook is completely misleading. It has a 4 page core rule set, yes, but that means most other rules have been ported over onto the new "Warscrolls". This, very quickly, leads to a plethora of rules being found on the unit entries: as with 40k, you end up flipping back and forth between unit entries to check rules... This is disappointing: we're almost immediately back to a situation where constant special rules and unit enhancements overrule or supplement the streamlined rules system...
  • You say like re-rolls...? This is a general bugbear of mine, but GW loves re-rolls... For new players, this is really frustrating and hard to remember. "Yes, kid, you can re-roll your to hits of 1, but not your to wounds, got it?" Again, it's the reliance on special rules which slows the game down...
  • No points values just doesn't work when your only objective is to annihilate the other side. This is the biggest shift in the rules system, and something almost everyone with an interest in AoS already knows: there is no points system. That is an alien concept to me, but hey, I'll roll with it. That might work if there was, for example, a reliance on objective-based missions: meaning the skilful player could get "under the radar" to achieve mission success. However, the basic game includes no missions other than total annihilation. 
  • Why did GW include terrain rules in the basic rules set? This is a weird one! GW included some basic "mystery terrain" rules in the main rules card, but no missions? I find that a strange choice, given that almost all Citadel terrain now has specific rules sheets...
  • There aren't any Warscrolls sheets (or cards) in the set. For a beginner having unit stats on cards or separate sheets would be really helpful. Instead, the unit stats are included in the 96-page background book. I know that this keeps costs down, and I know that I can print most of these off via the GW website, but considering the avalanche of special rules across all units - wouldn't it have been easier to just put everything on unit cards?
  • The models are beautiful, but they are not for beginners. I know I said I'd concentrate on the rules, but I can't help mentioning the models again. They really are nice miniatures; the Lord Celestant on Dracoth is fantastic. But as starter miniatures? They just don't work. Perhaps I'm being unfair on this point, but so many small and delicate pieces are attached to the sprue that to even get everything clipped off the frame can risk damaging bits! I had a couple of mistakes myself, and ended up doing repairs with greenstuff. I can't imagine how tough it would be for a younger, inexperienced hobbyist to build these guys... Whilst it's great to see GW move away from basic snap-fit pieces, I can't help but wonder whether it might've been a better decision to go with some more basic models in this set.

Those are my views; I hope I don't sound to negative, because I really do like the game - but I think it could've been a lot better. I'm just not really sure who or what AoS is for.

Still, the models are great, and I'm committing the next few weeks to get through this starter set: next up will be the Retributors...   

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