Escapist Podcast: 189: Warhammer Age of Sigmar & Other Fantasy Tabletop Games

189: Warhammer Age of Sigmar & Other Fantasy Tabletop Games

Jon and Justin are back to discuss the recent week in tabletop gaming, mostly Warhammer Age of Sigmar, Magic: Origins, and the new Magic: The Gathering Arena of the Planeswalkers.

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That 32mm standard for Age of Sigmar annoyed me too. I've collected a bunch of odd figures over the years (both from White Dwarf magazines and various attempts at starting armies). Being able to plunk those minis, and sometimes even full structures like a gatehouse, down on a grid, was a joy and a sign to the players that things were getting real. The Storm-botherers would have been perfect for an Exalted game, but the scale is just silly even for demigods. Plus, no kit-bashing! I guess I'll go camp eBay and find some deals.

I've gotten a bit of AoS experience, and I'm still not sure how I feel about it. It was fun, but the kind of fun that reminds you of going to the market with your grandmother; not the worst way to spend the time, but really not something you want to do again really soon. It felt like we were just smashing troops into each other without much strategy because you couldn't pull off clever flanking maneuvers to break units faster (and none of the units were obviously better or worse than any other), while at the same time there were scads of rules overlapping and constantly being referenced. That may just be a problem with the armies they provided. I'm surprised you guys enjoyed the re-rolling; it felt like an unnecessary bit of fiddlyness of extra picking out certain dice, cleaning up the rest, then rolling again and doing more adding in our games.

I'm with Jon about the idea of a small core rulebook; in my perfect world, they would never write another "Warhammer Fantasy Battles Rulebook" and would instead stick those 4 pages into the start of every book, then use the rest of the space for describing the fluff, units, and exceptions to the rules. I like that they boiled the unit stats down to pretty small sections so that you can have a quick reference that doesn't need it's own binder and page per unit. That said, I don't think that a points system is at all complicated or antithetical to a more casual game. It gives everyone a clear benchmark of what they need for certain scenarios (500 points for a skirmish up to 2000 for a huge battle) which works well for both gaming with friends and strangers. As well, it encourages people to pick up units semi-regularly so they can try out different army lists while still keeping things balanced,[1] while the pointsless system seems like it would encourage a group to get into a rut of the same core units because they know they work together.

I'd love if this was a New Coke scenario, and GW knows that we'll put up with skirmish rules if they'll give us back Talabecland. But it's not, and I just finished my drink as Justin informed me that it's turning my bones to chalk. Those last few minutes hurt.

[1] Even the competitive crowd, which has apparently not been buying enough, will occasionally buy every Flying Hive Tyrant or whatever

Jon's perfect tabletop game kinda sounds like the older Heroes of Might & Magic games where they still used hexagons on their battlefields


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