There has been much nerd rage over Age of Sigmar so I thought, I’d try to collate and throw in a few pence worth of my own thoughts.
I really wanted to get back into Warhammer Fantasy when 8th edition dropped:
– I have been a fan of Skaven dating back to the old orange hardback edition as a kid and so I really liked the figures from the Island of Blood boxed set.
– I even managed to find one of my old gaming buddies to buy and split out an Island of Blood set with a me.
– The fit of enthusiasm even got me as far as buying a battalion box to assembling and painting a small point force.
– And then I really wanted a Screaming Bell and a Hell Pit Abomination because they were such great kits!
… but then I hit a few road blocks:
– I played a couple of small point (1k and less) games and really found it to be a bit meh. Just wasn’t as fun for me as 40k.
– I just found too many things annoyed me: the Skaven weapon teams just seemed too far on the side of self destructive rather than effective, magic seemed way to overpowered and favouring big random game swings.
– The most points effective choices just seemed to favour bulking out more basic troops. While appealing aesthetically to have some massive blocks of ratmen, it just didn’t seem especially fun to play against or paint.
– I quickly realised that in order to do the game justice would require larger point games to make use of fun things like my Screaming Bell & Abomination within the % limited on certain Hero/Rare choice and would requirement to spend more money & time than I was willing to commit to in order to bulk out the rest of the army.
Net result: I haven’t played a game for years and my poor Skaven are just collecting dust. Some of the End Times releases looked really cool fantasy and I even bought a set of Putrid Blightkings . . to convert into Nurgle Chaos Marines and Heralds for an allied detachment of Nurgle Daemons for 30k/40k.
In all fairness, family & work commitments mean I don’t play 40k much either, but I am still happy collecting, converting and painting small new additions to my existing 40k armies with some regularity as can always use them for Kill Team, Tactical Strike, Allied Detachments or heaven forbid Unbound or Apocalypse games.
This all leads back to Age of Sigmar. I know that the move from 7th Edition Fantasy > 8th Edition lost a lot of long-term fans, but I gather that most other people not already playing probably had similar experiences to myself when dipping a toe in. A new 9th edition Fantasy would be unlikely to make much difference to people like myself whom had not bought into the last few editions.
From my perspective, Age of Sigmar seems to make a lot of sense:
– There clearly weren’t enough players of Warhammer Fantasy to make it financially viable for GW to continue investing in regularly. A continuity 9th Edition release certainly wouldn’t have addressed most of the issue I and the majority of potential new players have with this style of mass battle game. I appreciate that long-term fans of Fantasy will be a more than a little put out, but then again you can can always continue playing with your figures for as long as you can find other people whom still want to play: Necromunda, Bloodbowl, Epic & other old GW specialist games still have fan bases keeping these games alive.
– For years people have been complaining that the Fantasy timeline/storyline was stagnant and now they really have moved it forward it a radical new direction which seems to suggest that there will be a regular and moving storyline to develop.
– For years people have been complaining about the cost of the core rules and keeping on top of expansions/faction books and now these are all free.
– Since I came back to the hobby over the last 5 years, I have been struck as to how ‘crusty’ the GW core game rules are (both Fantasy and 40k): they feel like rules sets which have been tweaked, fudged and kludged for more than 25 years (because they have). I really appreciate the prospect of a streamlined and simplified ruleset which Age of Sigmar brings because it opens up the prospect of getting new players or ‘boomerang’ players like myself which have left the hobby and are looking to get into it again.
– Age of Sigmar is a skirmish game, NOT a mass battle game and so consequently has a much lower barrier to entry in terms of cost and hobbying new people.
– The new starter set figures look really cool. I can see how the new ’Sigmarines’ have been modelled very much on the Space Marine mould – love them or hate them in terms of their aesthetics, they are certainly distinctive, iconic, easy to recognise, assemble and paint for new players.
– From a pure commercial IP POV for GW, it really makes these to carve something out which is less generic and beholden to legacy Tolkien influences. 3rd parties which produce ‘me too’ figures as alternatives for generic fantasy race tropes are not likely to be able to produce viable alternative figures to the Stormcast Eternals and the new AoS figures in the way that they have previously been able to produce generic orcs, elves & undead, etc.
There are still a lot of caveats to this:
– I still haven’t played a game of Age of Sigmar yet. Time will tell if it has depth or is actually as shallow/simple as it first appears.
– What about points? I don’t think a lack of points system is actually inherently bad: people have complained for years about how bad GW are at play testing and accurately point units in Fantasy and 40k so why trust their judgement over your own or your community’s? Sure it will take time for establishing comp guidelines or community home brew/points values to be decided, but that is just a matter of time and maturity of the system.