Warhammer Age of Sigmar Starter Set Review - Borehammer, Gorehammer

Warhammer Age of Sigmar Starter Set Review - Borehammer, Gorehammer

As an introduction to a new game, it leaves a bit to be desired.

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Wait, so... is this like a companion game to WHFB? Is it the new edition? I'm confused.

Maphysto:
Wait, so... is this like a companion game to WHFB? Is it the new edition? I'm confused.

Warhammer Fantasy Battle has been completely discontinued. This is now the only game based on that universe.

Did you try this out with any of the other unit cards for old armies? I'd be interested in seeing how a Waywatcher heavy Wood Elf army holds up.

JonB:

Maphysto:
Wait, so... is this like a companion game to WHFB? Is it the new edition? I'm confused.

Warhammer Fantasy Battle has been completely discontinued. This is now the only game based on that universe.

I was a little confused about that too, but that clears it up alright. 'T was a nice run you had, Warhammer Fantasy Battle. Here was I thinking wanting to get into it when I finally got the cash for it, I loved the look of those 17th century-esque Empire armies. But alas, it is no more, and sadly it doesn't seem to have gotten a worthy follow-up.

Here's to hoping they won't do the same to Warhammer 40K.

ForumSafari:
Did you try this out with any of the other unit cards for old armies? I'd be interested in seeing how a Waywatcher heavy Wood Elf army holds up.

With no points system "holds up" is a bit of a nebulous concept. Balance is left entirely to players discretion.

Rack:

With no points system "holds up" is a bit of a nebulous concept. Balance is left entirely to players discretion.

OK, I now have a new question. How are you supposed to ensure a fair and amicable game with people you don't know?

ForumSafari:
Did you try this out with any of the other unit cards for old armies? I'd be interested in seeing how a Waywatcher heavy Wood Elf army holds up.

We'll have a full review of the system up as soon as we're done playing more games with it.

The universal rolls for hitting and wounding seem like they could get rather bizarre- one shouldn't have the same chance of chipping a wound off of Nagash as a Skaven slave IMO.

They are making a lot of baffling (and in my opinion, unappealing) decisions based around protecting their IP right now too...renaming all the races-so dwarves are no longer called 'dwarves', and instead are called 'steamhead duradin', etc. Changing the scale to screw over folks who make conversion kits for their models. And if rumors are true, they are phasing Slaanesh out of the fluff because her chaos symbol wouldn't be terribly easy to defend in court.

A lot of work to basically torpedo the setting and replace it with a convoluted mess of a setting that still manages to be somewhat generic and derivative. (seriously, did we need Space Marines in Warhammer Fantasy?!?)

Not really sure who this is supposed to appeal to-certainly not fans of the old setting, and it's still a pretty pricey buy-in for beginners. My only guess would be Warhammer 40k fans, but with the scale so out of whack, I can't imagine the Stormcast being very good conversion material.

Well that's... Somehow even more dissapointing than I had previously thought...

What attracted me to Fantasy when I first started wargaming was the tactical depth, the positioning and angle of your units could be the difference between winning and losing so clever and precise tactics were encouraged. That's why my first army was Druchii (I refuse to use the new name out of sheer spite). With that army, you had one of the best units of light cavalry available which lead to interesting baiting tactics and flank charges, this was combined with the Hammer and Anvil approach through Cold One Knights or other heavy hitting units and blocks of Spearmen or Crossbowmen with shields (Who were some of my favorites simply because you could roll more dice than a high level Shadowrun game with 1 unit's volley fire and turn your enemies into pincushions.) to produce really fun games that were pretty fair (Unless you were Asur when they had Always Strikes First and noone else did).

This move to skirmish and all the other changes are a complete 180 to what I enjoyed with Fantasy. No more canny angling of your units to make people expose their flanks, no more bricks of infantry which look like disciplined units, no, now everything is just a smush of models. And /tg/ have already found that if you put models on a large base with a slope so that other models can't come close, they can't be engaged in close combat, which means you can sit a ranged unit on these bases and laugh at your opponent.

These rules are fundamentally broken in both concept and implementation, Bases are used because of exploits like the one above and because it makes things mathematically neater when you play, switching to models leads to fiddling with the games rules, like you showed with the turning and canting in your review, rather than playing the actual game. In other words, this is now a game for That Guy

The one use I might have for these models is using the Stormcast sigmarines as Legion squads for 30k, maybe even an Alpharius conversion (Or two) considering their increased size. Aside from that, I have no remaining interest in New Coke Fantasy. I loved The End Times as a concept and, while I felt the execution was lacking in places (Poor beastmen), it was mostly solid. This on the other hand, is just a complete and utter mess of a system.

Bonus: http://captiongenerator.com/48861/Age-of-Sigmar-interview

ForumSafari:

Rack:

With no points system "holds up" is a bit of a nebulous concept. Balance is left entirely to players discretion.

OK, I now have a new question. How are you supposed to ensure a fair and amicable game with people you don't know?

You really can't, which has been a major sticking point for many of the YouTube WHFB guys. Doom & Destiny's channel is a great example of this, where he started really optimistic about it, then ran 4 battle reports last weekend at his local store, and every fight was completely lopsided, including one where the guy pretty much just ran a VC army with Nagash and two other figures that completely decimated Doom's entire army in a matter of a couple minutes, and another where the Doom's opponent didn't lose a single model.

It's pretty obvious that AoS is NOT meant for tournament play, at least with the old models. The warscrolls for the old armies seem to just be a half-assed attempt to appease 8th Ed players.

The smart thing to do for any WHFB player who doesn't want to transition to AoS (and doesn't just want to play 8th)is to give Kings of War a try. The 2nd Edition rules (which were heavily influenced by community feedback... amazing concept)and armies just went up at the end of last week and there are armies for just about every WHFB army other than Skaven and Beastmen (which are coming). It's not a perfect system (nor has any WHFB edition ever been) but it's a lot of fun and is completely free to try out and you can use all of your existing models (even in tournament play). That's what I'm using to scratch my "fantasy mass combat" itch and I've been having a blast so far with my "Abyssal Dwarves" and Undead armies.

I've played a few games already and I absolutely love it, as does most of my local store. The game plays far easier and faster than it used to, and those four pages of rules have a lot more strategy than you might think once you get it on the table. As far as balancing forces, take a couple minutes and talk with your opponent beforehand. Keep near equal amounts of units. Or wounds. Or battlescrolls. It isn't hard and it does work, just not for a competitive play (and that's likely to change, but let's be honest, how strong of a tournament scene did Fantasy really have?).

But I'll repeat what I said in the Gallery forum post: just play the damn thing. Most of the complaints I've heard are from Fantasy players who have never tried it, and given that the rules are free, there's no reason not too for those with armies already. Still don't like it then? Go back to an earlier edition. Or use your models for Kings of War. But try it out first.

ForumSafari:
Did you try this out with any of the other unit cards for old armies? I'd be interested in seeing how a Waywatcher heavy Wood Elf army holds up.

Probably quite well. I played the Stormcast Eternals from the box against an Wood/High Elf army and the game was close. The elves have maneuverability and range the Eternals don't. I managed to eek out a victory, but not without heavy losses.

vallorn:
snip

Mostly the same feelings here. Warhammer appealed to the nerdy math people as something with enough crunch to keep them going for a long while, but AoS doesn't really offer them anything while not presenting the intended casual audience with a reason to go spend a few hundred dollars purchasing, and several hours painting, the models for an army, when they could spend a fraction of that on any number of tactical board games or computer games.

For those looking at these models for other games, it's worth saying that they're very clearly not quite standard 28mm scale. Standing alongside figures from the older Warhammer Fantasy range, they're about a head and shoulders taller, and the Stormcast Eternals stand even taller than a Warhammer 40,000 Space Marine Terminator. It's not noted on the set's box that they're not "standard" scale for this sort of game. I'd expect them to be in-scale with the future range of Age of Sigmar miniatures.

Well, there's something to cut just a bit deeper: You can use all your old models, so long as you don't mind them being midgets. The LotR game used standard 28mm for skirmish-style unit-free gaming and it was fine. It really does feel like a hamhanded way to try and make people buy entire new armies instead of just getting whatever interesting/new models come out.

I'm disappointed to hear that the Stormcast Ete- No, I can't say their names, it's just too much. I'm disappointed that the Ground Marines and the Khorne Facestabbers play much the same; one of the things that previous new edition sets, for all the various lines, did well was throwing two different armies at each other so you could get some value out of playing repeatedly and switching sides, which was both a great way to learn the rules and to figure out what kind of general you were so that you knew what army you wanted to invest in.

And for the life of me I can't tell why they brought back rolling for the distance you can charge; it was in some older editions of WFB, but it was such a nuisance that it was done away with.

From what I've seen its an absolute mess of a system that does not reward strategy, forward planning or unit-to-unit gelling and balance. Whoever brings the most guys wins, straight up. And seeings how there are no points or org charts, whichever army gets the most dudes per squad like undead or orks are going to clean house every day.

Now having said that, it is fun in a Conan the Barbarian way. Just a cluster fuck of dice and dudes smacking other dudes in the dick with maces. Players who just want to roll dice, have fun and don't care about lore, wining or strategy, army fluff or campaign narrative are going to love this new edition. Players who liked any the aforementioned things are shit out of luck.

But thanks for all your years of buying models, chumps!

Crimson_Dragoon:
Probably quite well. I played the Stormcast Eternals from the box against an Wood/High Elf army and the game was close. The elves have maneuverability and range the Eternals don't. I managed to eek out a victory, but not without heavy losses.

That sounds promising, looking at the write-up complaining of table-centre pile-ups and getting the same complaints back from /tg/ I was thinking that a fast ranged army might be just the thing to break the deadlock.

JonB:

Maphysto:
Wait, so... is this like a companion game to WHFB? Is it the new edition? I'm confused.

Warhammer Fantasy Battle has been completely discontinued. This is now the only game based on that universe.

Eeeeehhhhhh.....

...Not entirely sure how I feel about that, then. I never played much of Fantasy, but I did enjoy how the movement was very tactical and you had to worry about flanking, pincer attacks, falling back, and so forth. This just looks like FantasyHammer 40,000.

The new lore sounds incredibly unimpressive as well.

The problem that brought down the old Warhammer Fantasy was exactly what made it popular among its fans; a tactical, complex game where well-organized armies of a vast amount of models clashed. Thus you have a game that recruits extremely slowly - a huge cost of entry, not only in money, but in assembly and painting as well. (Remember, eBay sales do not do anything for GW, and have never been a viable option in many parts of the world, including mine.) No game can survive on a tiny number of extremely dedicated fans if the parent company is as big as GW, there is too much overhead. It seems GW saw the myriad posts proclaiming that the hardcore tournament scene had long since moved over to WarmaHordes and thought, "well, if that's the case - why are we even catering to them?"

Some thoughts on the system:
The players who seem to get most out of the points-less system seems to be those who follow the idea that the setup system is a part of the game, where battles can be lost or won at the staging board, so player A puts down a monster, player B positions a unit of cavalry to take it down, player A responds by placing a unit of spearmen to counter their charge, and so on. Any attempt to make limits on wounds, warscrolls, etc. have seemed to make matters worse. I predict that units that are straight downgrades of others with few or no special rules to make up for it, such as a clanrat being worse at everything than a stormvermin, will simply be fazed out in favor of units that are somewhat comparable to each other. Sadly, as a multitude of troop choices makes for a more colorful game.

As for the odd positioning, remember that all movement, including rotation costs towards the limit, and that no single part of the model can exceed that - so rotating the model is a fast way to waste 2" of movement. Still, weird model positioning seems to have been intended in the system as they wrote it, and I am worried about the state of my bases - I usually spend some time making them pretty.

The setting:
I, as probably one of an extreme few, actually like the new setting better for wargaming use, as I always had a problem placing the endless number of battles fought with the limited scope of the Old World. I have spent some time studying the map, trying to figure out just how two armies would march across three hostile realms each, including through narrow passes and past mighty fortresses, just in order to fight the battle the players had set out for them. I love the Old World for RPG and Skirmish use, the WHFRP 2ed will provide many an adventure in years to come still. If it helps, think of the Mortal Realms as "Heavy Metal Fantasy" - an over-the-top excuse for fantastic costumes and lyrics about smashing skulls with a big hammer for the glory of Metal, or in this case, where towering einherjars smash the skulls of murder-cultists with big hammers for the glory of Sigmar.

For now, I still await the actual next edition before making final judgement, things might change. The base question is one I suspect is subject to this, as the current rule has a "we-only-do-this-so-you-wont-have-to-throw-out-all-your-old-models"-feel to it.

Have to say I don't really like what I've seen of it (I have only watched others play WH table top), it seems really baised towards whomever can buy the most expensive stuff.

Also, this kinda sums it up:

Ultra Smurfs, Away! (in context of that web series, maybe the Emperor can use this as a way to finally get rid of the Ultra Smurfs)

Awful fluff, awful rules, completely destroyed tactical fantasy battles. Clearly they are aiming for the drunken 12 year old demographic, and as a mature adult, I have no interest in this at all. If I want to play skirmish, I'll use the superior WarMachine rules. I played fantasy for the tactics, strategy, and intellectually challenging game play. Not so I can talk to my models and have them talk back to me to get a bonus.

Kings of War rules, whilst IMO not as good as 8th edition, are so superior to this shit its unreal. And I can keep using my existing models, which is a bonus.

The lore is gutted beyond belief, and that's what saddens me the most. I always had a soft spot for Warhamer: Fantasy. It's a setting that's both familiar, but also uses that familiarity to subvert expectations of generic high fantasy. It's dark, it's brooding, but also rich and complex, full of serious themes, but also rife with awesome action. I will miss it greatly. I can only hope that Total War: Warhammer gives it a proper sendoff.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to dig up my Gotrek&Felix, Malus Darkblade and Blackhearts books...

Have to agree with Johkmil, feels like they've seen the shrinking Warhammer market, read the forums about people going off to play KoW & loads of other smaller companies that put their rules etc online for free and make warhammeresque miniatures and thought

"We're not pulling in new players, it's not worth keeping WHFB alive to please a dwindling group of grognards that have been playing for years and already have all the figures they need to play and are entrenched enough in wargaming that they don't need to come to GW to play, so they can use whatever rules set and miniatures they want"

Might as well trash it and go for a different audience, despite having a certain style and it being fairly obvious when a company is making "not quite Warhammer" miniatures, there's not much GW can do about it (thankfully) so they go for a bunch of simple online rules and a bunch of minis that look fairly different to the current lot and see if it sticks. If it doesn't work then at least you didn't waste tons of cash printing loads of rulebooks and army lists.

Personally I'm one of those aforementioned grognards who hasn't moved past 3rd ed WHFB or 2nd ed WHFRP, so technically this doesn't affect me much, but they made good miniatures that I'd buy from time to time purely because I liked the look of them and I don't think the new ones really fit with the aesthetic, though these are only the first releases, it might change.
What does kind of sting though, is that the Old world is officially gone. I imagine FFG will still produce old world material for WHFRP V3 but it remains to be seen if GW will continue with novels etc set in a dead setting.

Interesting review. I don't agree with your take on it, but interesting.
I mean Games Workshop has had all the previous editions removed from reality by wielding the changing magic of Tzeench. All the old books never existed anymore and angry, skinny men from England have come to take your old armies away. Right, that's happened, right?
Oh wait, no it didn't! For all the angry butthurt I've read here people seem to forget that you still can play the version you like best! It's like the terrible 4e D&D rules. My god were those crap! I still could play D&D with 3.5 and was very happy ignoring, for the most part 4e.
The balance at this time, (cuz that was something they perfected with Warhammer Fantasy), comes from the scenarios. Those are how you use your armies. These are pretty bare bones but with more and more coming this will more than likely work. Or not and people will just play, throw giant armies at other giant armies. Given time to release the new incarnations of the Age of Sigmar armies tactical play will come out, as right now its armored hammers versus bloodthirsty, skull-hungry, berzerkers. So of course it's going to devolve quickly into smashy smashy melees. Get some empire siege engines or some elven magic and archery, and suddenly tactics are going to be needed. Just charging across the field while being pounded by missile weapons will wreck any battle plan built around run at it's face and hit it with an axe.
I've played the old Warhammer Fantasy Battles and by the Skull Throne were those overly complex. I love these new rules. Straight forward and easy to use. Yes, the box should have had the warscrolls as separate things, but hey its GW they have to make mistakes. The new models are really well designed, (yeah yeah, they got Spehss Mahreens! in my fantasy. They're more like viking/paladins or Vikadins if you will.) As far as the lore of the old game, it really is a shame that that's all gone. Oh wait, no it isn't! Its still there in all it's rich glory! So they made a new world with new lore that hasn't been completely published. I can, damn well, promise you that the lore of the Old World took them decades to get to the point of praise that it has reached. Just like the 40K lore. Give it time. Not a fan of it so far, that's cool, give it a year and I bet the lore will be much improved.

Love it, hate it, whatever just stop acting like your beloved, overly complex, rules and damn fine lore are completely gone. I will bet nonexistant money that this will do really well for GW in the long run.
Oh and before I get the "Rarrrrr, fan boy!", "Burn the heretic!", "How dare you have a different opinion than me!!" Just remember, It's okay for you to be wrong.

...Wow, the new lore feels like Warhammer 40K but without any teeth. Everyone respawns when they die? No industrialized meat-grinder of human lives to wage their never-ending war? No off-chance of having your immortal soul ripped apart by daemons in the warp? No... however the fuck the Eldar keep churning their numbers out. That's never been very clear...

Unfortunately, from the sounds of things, this is a case of 'Half-baked'. It's great that the rules are easy to get into - lord knows Warhammer's needed some fat trimming - but if the introductory kit shows how easily exploited it is (that 'model not base' rule, 'pick off whichever you want' and 'double turns RNG'), it really gives off a sense of needing a little more time in the kiln. Who knows, despite how space-marine-y it's gotten, maybe they'll make it into something super-kickass, though the loss of the 'human' element Fantasy gave is gonna be hard to replace. Undying battles between immortal god-like warriors isn't so interesting without some risk or people involved.

So, you know, this is a case of 'Let's see how it plays out'. Could be rubbish, could be awesome. There's... really not much to go off of just yet, besides 'Yo dawgs can you turn down your balance' and 'some of the rules are stupid exploitable'. Also 'These models are fucking awesome'.

Congratulations I have not logged on to these forums for at least three years and your terrible post roused me from my slumber. Well done.

Roganzar:
Interesting review. I don't agree with your take on it, but interesting.
I mean Games Workshop has had all the previous editions removed from reality by wielding the changing magic of Tzeench. All the old books never existed anymore and angry, skinny men from England have come to take your old armies away. Right, that's happened, right?
Oh wait, no it didn't! For all the angry butthurt I've read here people seem to forget that you still can play the version you like best! It's like the terrible 4e D&D rules. My god were those crap! I still could play D&D with 3.5 and was very happy ignoring, for the most part 4e.

There is a difference between playing supported and unsupported games so don't be obtuse. The entire act of having a WHFB community is now a greater task for its death. Maintaining mass interest is harder, getting people into the game is harder and this is now the state of affairs forever. So yes killing Fantasy Battles did harm it, shocking I know.

The balance at this time, (cuz that was something they perfected with Warhammer Fantasy), comes from the scenarios. Those are how you use your armies. These are pretty bare bones but with more and more coming this will more than likely work. Or not and people will just play, throw giant armies at other giant armies. Given time to release the new incarnations of the Age of Sigmar armies tactical play will come out, as right now its armored hammers versus bloodthirsty, skull-hungry, berzerkers. So of course it's going to devolve quickly into smashy smashy melees. Get some empire siege engines or some elven magic and archery, and suddenly tactics are going to be needed. Just charging across the field while being pounded by missile weapons will wreck any battle plan built around run at it's face and hit it with an axe.

Oh boy scenarios which dictate exactly what models I should bring, how electrifying. How can tactical play emerge from such a bland rules set? There's nothing there, really there's bloody nothing on offer for anyone's brain we don't even know if being able to shoot into and out of melee is intentional or just a massive cock-up on the part of the poor fools they got to draft this garbage up. Right now missile troop are objectively the best in the game behind summoners (who are also broke to shit by the way) but not that it matters because the game is basically decided by how the turns fall what with them changing the order all time.

I've played the old Warhammer Fantasy Battles and by the Skull Throne were those overly complex. I love these new rules. Straight forward and easy to use. Yes, the box should have had the warscrolls as separate things, but hey its GW they have to make mistakes. The new models are really well designed, (yeah yeah, they got Spehss Mahreens! in my fantasy. They're more like viking/paladins or Vikadins if you will.)

Great so we have determined you have no comprehension of good tabletop mechanics and have no idea what Vikings look like, great! Out of curiosity does GW pay you for this or do you do it for free because you can be paid for this you know, you have a talent use it.

As far as the lore of the old game, it really is a shame that that's all gone. Oh wait, no it isn't! Its still there in all it's rich glory! So they made a new world with new lore that hasn't been completely published. I can, damn well, promise you that the lore of the Old World took them decades to get to the point of praise that it has reached. Just like the 40K lore. Give it time. Not a fan of it so far, that's cool, give it a year and I bet the lore will be much improved.

There's also nothing going to be added to it, see the point on unsupported games. Why should anyone hold on for AoS to get better, it's already trash why should I give it the time of day? The new lore is just utter drivel to support contrivances and make as few permanent facts about the universe available as possible and beyond the tone shift of the heroes being on the offensive there really is nothing redeeming about it at all.

Love it, hate it, whatever just stop acting like your beloved, overly complex, rules and damn fine lore are completely gone. I will bet nonexistant money that this will do really well for GW in the long run.

See the point on unsupported games. Anyone that found previous edition rules too hard to understand has clearly not tried or has been the unfortunate recipient of a lobotomy. AoS is already doing well, an anonymous report from a London Blackshirt puts AoS realise day as their best since 2008, this is not a good thing as it encourages the production of more trash and informs the direction of GW towards more casual nonsense.

Oh and before I get the "Rarrrrr, fan boy!", "Burn the heretic!", "How dare you have a different opinion than me!!" Just remember, It's okay for you to be wrong.

Please don't act this smug, for your own sake really.

vallorn:
And /tg/ have already found that if you put models on a large base with a slope so that other models can't come close, they can't be engaged in close combat, which means you can sit a ranged unit on these bases and laugh at your opponent.

Wait what? Is that putting units on a large base and then putting them on the slope of a hill on the battlefield, or putting a unit on a large base that is sloped? Either way that's silly but the latter is lunacy.

elvor0:

vallorn:
And /tg/ have already found that if you put models on a large base with a slope so that other models can't come close, they can't be engaged in close combat, which means you can sit a ranged unit on these bases and laugh at your opponent.

Wait what? Is that putting units on a large base and then putting them on the slope of a hill on the battlefield, or putting a unit on a large base that is sloped? Either way that's silly but the latter is lunacy.

Because you measure from models not bases competitive modelling and basing is more of a thing in AoS than it ever was in Warhammer. The standard AoS shill response is, "Well no one will play with you if you do that.", as though this somehow excuses terrible design.

Shanicus:
No... however the fuck the Eldar keep churning their numbers out. That's never been very clear...

They went into excruciating detail of the Dark Eldar's rapid gestation by making babies in pods that get soaked in pain and torture as well as Dark Eldar who can afford it being regrown from body parts if they die.

Craftworld eldar on the other hand... Your guess is as good as mine.

Burning Bard:

elvor0:

vallorn:
And /tg/ have already found that if you put models on a large base with a slope so that other models can't come close, they can't be engaged in close combat, which means you can sit a ranged unit on these bases and laugh at your opponent.

Wait what? Is that putting units on a large base and then putting them on the slope of a hill on the battlefield, or putting a unit on a large base that is sloped? Either way that's silly but the latter is lunacy.

Because you measure from models not bases competitive modelling and basing is more of a thing in AoS than it ever was in Warhammer. The standard AoS shill response is, "Well no one will play with you if you do that.", as though this somehow excuses terrible design.

"Excuses terrible design"... isn't that what the "beer and pretzels" argument has always been? Just because it's not designed for competitive play doesn't excuse them asking you to pay for a flawed product. Which seems to be the case here. Measure from model, for f***s sake...

 

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