Saturday, 4 July 2015

Age of Sigmar: First Impressions and Thoughts


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 box

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.


The rules

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.

20 comments:

  1. I should play my first game tomorrow so I am holding judgement on the rules.

    HOWEVER the mini's do look fab and I have just finished base coating my 'free' Eternal. Really nice clean lines and so far lovely to paint.

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    1. I've been busy today helping out with a charity project (more on that later).

      I hope to fit in a game at some point, but any balance questions aside, the short amount of rules and the speed with which you can understand them is excellent!

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    2. having now played the game the quickest I can summerise is its like playing draughts (checkers) after years of playing chess. They are both fun games but one is far more rewarding due to its higher level of tactical thinking.

      One plus of this version of the rules is I would be more inclined to play 'Sigmar' if I had an hour free, where as before I would have reached for 15 points of Warmachine or 4 points of SAGA.

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  2. I'm of a similar mindset to yourself, man! I'm looking forward to playing some games with my girlfriend now that she has enough models to play a game.

    I also noticed, I'm recently changed my URL so my blog may not have been updating correctly in your "My Blog List" Section. :S

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    1. I've definitely been missing your updates - gone and found it now and re-added it to the blog roll. Thanks for the heads up!

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  3. Sorry I couldnt disagree more.
    This is a bad game. There is no semblance of balance or even an attempt. The rules are haphazard and overly simplistic. They look to attempt to compete with the board game market but at 10x the price.
    This is a game that allows you to roll some dice with no input from yourself. There is almost no meaningful interaction between each side's models and there is no nuance to any phase.
    Its not fun. A fun game will have you coming back time and time agin for more. This wears thin after 2 or 3 goes.

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    1. Is the problem that you're looking for something that it isn't trying to be? It may be that you won't find the game fun because it doesn't include things you like in a game. That doesn't preclude other people from finding it fun or having replayability. From my personal perspective, I'm withholding a full judgement until I've played it a few times.

      Otherwise, there's always 3rd ed.

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  4. This is not a good games, not a bad game either... The game will be what we'll do with it .Every game compagny got to evolve... I can renember all the things I've heard about the 54mm sized minis for Inquisitor.... and we see where we are today, we made it an other way.... So, just wait and see

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    1. Couldn't agree more. I'm curious to see what we can do with it.

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    2. And after all.... what is the most important thing.... PLaying or modelling ? Even the rules were crap, I just can say "amen" to the new mini range.... taht box set, OMG ("G" is khorne of course) !

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  5. I have to say I completely agree with your measured and mature response. Personally, I'm a little demoralised and tired by the incessant spamming and rage-quitting that has swept the internet; give it a go, and make an informed decision before declaring that GW have raped their IP. I've had a good go at the game as it comes and I think it plays rather well, actually. What is an issue, certainly, as you nod towards in your post, is the balance - many people have screamed in my direction that they're just going to break the game by bringing ten bloodthirsters. Well, I say, would you have done that before? Probably not, because no one would have given you a game. Not to mention the fact that, as you rightly say, too, you're looking for something that the game isn't trying to be, and fitting the foot to the boot, or however the saying goes. So, let it settle in, and sit tight to see what happens. Ultimately, regardless of all the above, they're damn fine miniatures.

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    1. People are heavily emotionally invested in this hobby. I previously had a problem with over-investing in LARP, so now alternate between wargames and LARP, and something I'm not liking in one just means I spend a bit more time on the other for a while. When people pour hours of time into something as their only source of enjoyment, they get over-invested. And that's before we get into their insensitive mis-use of the word "rape"!

      Right now, the game is balanced by the magic of being able to walk away from a table. People who find that hard are going to be among those who have a more violent break with the game as a whole, rather than that one game.

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  6. Nice to read a level-headed review of the Starter set (Facebook groups are a cesspit at the moment).

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    1. I broadly try to be a voice of reason and sanity. I was an angry young firebrand once, but that takes up way too much energy now.

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    1. I know, I know, but once we've bought a small shoebox in London, things will be much better. Or something.

      Really not looking forward to the downsizing - more efficient storage solutions are already being considered!

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  8. Thank you for an interesting and mature look at the Age Of Sigmar.

    I went into my local GW (Brighton) to chat to about it, and it seems on the face of it to be a good idea in gaming terms. It's an open minded system, and the manageress (yes, a manageress of a GW) described the approach to be one of people just getting together to game, and to not be one of 'rules lawyers' who destroy the fun of gaming. 2nd Edition was quite a simple game, nad lots of fun, and many of the best games are rules light, allowing for fun and fast play.

    The miniatures are excellently detailed, although I am not sold on the Sigmarites look, but that is purely personal taste. Their mounted hero model looks great though. The idea of still being able to use your former armies still in the new system helps, and she explained that was part of the hope from GW that people would still be buying them. Personally not having my Tomb Kings Army crumble when my Hierphant dies is a bonus that might see me dipping my toe into giving the rules a try.

    As for background and IP I am not that worried. I have been gaming/collecting since 1986, and seen the Tomb Kings appear, the Slann disappear and then sort of return, and the general 'history' of the Warhammer World be tinkered with and change over time. To those who don't like the changes, ignore them and play the games' rules, or ignore the game and play an older edition. Or play both.

    I'll see how the game plays, and if it's fun I might dig out my old 'newer' arimes, and if it's not then its not problem for me personally as I no longer played the last few editions due to the over complex and dull over competative nature of the rules.

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    1. I'm kind of looking forward to seeing the first few Oldhammer style scenarios being played with the older miniatures and the Age of Sigmar rules.

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