Given the Internet is all excited about Age of Sigmar, I thought I'd share some of my thoughts and first impressions of the game. I had a look at the contents at my local game store, and I've had a flick through both the rules and the free war scrolls that Games Workshop has made available online.
I am not explaining what's in the box, or what the rules say - there's loads of people discussing that already, so I'm going to assume a basic level of understanding of the rules and box contents here.
The miniatures are clearly Marmite - some people love them and some people hate them. The hate, however, seems to mostly be an aesthetic one - for some people, they "aren't Warhammer", or are "too 40K". That's fine - it's a subjective thing, people like different models.
I don't think there's any doubt that the quality of the models is spectacular. If you had shown people the miniatures, I don't think anyone would have guessed that they were the contents of a starter box! They are quite simply stunning and there is no loss in quality or appearance for what's there. The variety in sizes, availability of quality monsters and so on is a massive step above what the last starter box achieved.
So, we come on to the rules. I've talked this through with a few people, and it comes down to the fact that this is more Munchkin than Magic. Age of Sigmar is a casual, non competitive game for people who know each other. It's not competitive. It doesn't take itself seriously. It's quick to pick up and easy to play.
The most vocal supporters of Warhammer Fantasy as it stood appear to have been competitive tournament players - and this game is very specifically not for them. The game is focussing on attracting a new market at the expense of the remaining die-hard fans - but really, given declining sales, was there any other choice to really make? It is a pretty big gamble by Games Workshop, and only time will tell if that will pay off.
Importantly - this is not a bad game. It is not, however a game style that many people are used to playing. For me, Age of Sigmar removes a massive barrier to entry of the number of models I need to play. I've been meaning to paint up the bits and pieces of fantasy I own for ages - and now I can paint them up and play a few quick games with my wife, who is interested in Fantasy for the first time ever.
Will it expand to have points and lists in the future? Who knows. But it harkens back to the early historical war games which did not have a concept of "points". Balance it out between yourselves, have fun, winning no longer really matters.
This gamble has an eye on the long term - the re-branding, hints of "if you're fighting in the Realm of Fire, specific rules may apply" in the rule book. It typically takes Games Workshop two years to go from concept to market. Design to market and a new book is about a year to market. There is most definitely a Big Plan at head office, and plenty more stuff to come.
PS Don't expect to see a sudden splurge from me on Fantasy figures. I already own a bunch, but I have other things higher up the painting queue. I am practicing Being An Adult and being more responsible with money. We shall see how that turns out.