Ah, Warhammer, old faithful cornerstone of the wargaming world. It’s been around in various forms nearly as long as I have… I will admit however that I haven’t actually played a game of fantasy for years. Years and years. This isn’t Warhammers fault, it’s just because 40K got so damn good. Genuinely Warhammer, it’s not you, it’s me.
Imagine my surprise when the internet started to buzz with rumour and speculation around a complete redesign of Warhammer. The old world ending, finally collapsing under the brutal assault of the Chaotic powers? Hardly likely! The re-birth of Sigmar? Could do, but why? Round bases in Fantasy? Now you’re just being ridiculous.
How wrong I was.
Age of Sigmar is here people, lack of points values, round bases and all. This is the face of Warhammer now. I’m not going to talk about the wider speculations I have about why GW Prime have taken this route with their new game, because that would end up being a long and ranty article. Instead Dwalin and myself are going to set aside our pre conceptions and play some games…
Here’s where we test out the rules, throw some dice and see what’s going on. We played a small force of Dwarves against a slightly large force of Night Goblins. Two units each with a general of our choosing, I grabbed a unit of Thunderers and a Unit of Longbeards led by a Dwark lord and Dwalin opted for a unit of Night Goblin archers, a unit of Night Goblin spears and a Night Goblin Shaman. The Goblins had a sprinkling of nets throughout their ranks.
Units were deployed, then moved, some dice were rolled and models removed. After a few turns of combat the Dwarves won.
“That’s not a very good review of such an earth shattering new game!” I hear you cry. Well, no it’s not. But to be fair the game’s crap. Sorry, I really wanted to enjoy it but to be honest the mechanic is oversimplified and seems to include some glaring holes that we both fell through. Personally I fail to see how any game of AoS will end in anything other than a huge confusing mob style melee in the middle of the table. I miss ranked infantry, I miss points values and I miss more having access to more than three spells. I grumpily went for a cigarette and upon my return Dwalin had a mischievous glint in his eye.
Maybe we’re approaching this in the wrong way, he suggests, maybe we ignore AoS as an army level wargame and try some narrative based small scale insanity. Go on… I cautiously say. He does and after about seven minutes of frantic arm waving, miniature finding and Mordheim scenery resurrecting we have a table that look like this:
Forget nameless hordes fighting each other this is the epic quest of Randulph the Empire Grey Wizard, Grumpy old Martin the Slayer, The ButtButtoutsonn twins (also slayers), Heinrich the cross eyed Witch hunter (so called thanks to his inability to hit anything with his pistols all game) and the Sacred cannon of Gak, crewed by the formidable Engineer Gak son of Gak and his two sons (both helpfully called Gak son of Gak son of Gak), to get the cannon from one side of a Night Goblin infested city to the other. This battle was to be the opener, there our merry band of adventurers realises they are in a bad place as they are ambushed by Night Goblins (accompanied by Squigs, Fanatics and Stone Trolls).
Things looked bad for our heroes, but they triumphed spectacularly!
And….When you play AoS like this, it brilliant. Truly it is, the rules are highly simplistic and you no longer have a whole lot of control over what you units are armed with so it all feels a bit “cookie cutter”, but this works for this type of narrative gaming, it really does.
Dwalin and myself had a blast and I urge any grumbling old Warhammer players like us to download the FREE rules (yes, GW and free in the same website, who knew?) and give it a go. Don’t try and play big army battles steeped in tactics because it will be shit, instead make up some ridiculous narrative scenarios and have fun (like we used to when we were kids and could afford vast armies, remember?)
Stay tuned for the further adventures of our little band of warriors and go and play some childish games.
One last thing. 8th edition Warhammer. Another surprising side effect of AoS is that it has had me running off to the bay of E and buying up book for 8th ed like they’re going pout of print (oh wait, they are…) why? Because AoS has rekindled my desire to fight some big battles with armies made up of square blocks of infantry which cost points, that’s why. The Nagash End Times book had me bouncing my head of the wall in excitement and I am seriously considering robbing a stagecoach or two to by the fantastic new Nagash model (don’t attempt this at home kids, I am a badly trained and very stupid Highwayman…). Again, watch this space for battle reports, painting attempts, rants about the unfairness of High Elf Mages and general Fantasy based nonsense…