This blog post may seem a little late considering the fact that Warhammer: Age of Sigmar was released a month or so ago and the internet has been awash with these kinds of posts for some time now. However, there are two reasons for this. Firstly, I didn’t want to write an impulsive, reactionary response to the release, instead preferring to wait and see how it developed. Secondly, I was not initially excited about the game’s release but, as more and more information has come to light with each new release, I have become steadily more interested.
I should begin by saying that, although I have been heavily steeped in the lore and history of the Warhammer World for twenty years now, I have not played a game of Warhammer Fantasy Battle or collected an army for it for a number of years. I have always liked the idea of having a Fantasy army, and have even made a few faltering starts over the years, but for some reason I have always found Warhammer 40,000 and the (now sadly departed) Specialist Games range more appealing. However, with Age of Sigmar I have finally taken the plunge back into Fantasy. Over the course of this and the next post I will try and articulate the reasons why.
As a collector of 40k and Lord of the Rings I am obviously naturally drawn to smooth, inviting round bases rather than harsh, pointy square ones with their nasty angles and so the change to Fantasy on round bases was enough to draw me in. Joking aside though, as someone who is primarily a modeller and painter, I think the move to round bases has really helped shape my opinion of Age of Sigmar. Let me explain.
I know this may be controversial, and many people may not agree with me, but Warhammer always felt to me like a game of pushing around large rectangles (albeit ones with lovingly painted Citadel miniatures on them). I always thought that other scales (such as 10mm as used in Warmaster) were better suited to this style of game.
Another problem with square bases in my eyes is the constraints placed upon the miniature designers who have to consider how the models will rank up when assembled. While models may look great en masse when fully ranked up as a regiment, the individual models themselves tend to end up looking rather similar and lack dynamic poses. The Dark Elf range is a case in point: the new infantry models are well-designed and nicely sculpted but all rather mono-pose. The idea of painting up 20-30 virtually identical models to form a regiment is distinctly unappealing to me. At the opposite end of the scale are cool dynamically posed models that are a pain to rank up.
Age of Sigmar does away with these problems. The seemingly superficial change to round bases and 40k-style unit cohesion frees up designers and hobbyists alike and allows for more varied poses and more dynamic models. While some of the old Warhammer fantasy Battle kits suffer for being on round bases due to their static posing, the new models sculpted with round bases in mind look fantastic.
There’s No Limits
A chief complaint among those who dislike Age of Sigmar has been the lack of points costs, army lists or ‘balance’ (whatever that term might mean when applied to a game that revolves around randomness). For me, this is a sign that Games Workshop have been extremely brave with this release. For years now I have felt that many people have not been playing GW games in the spirit in which they were intended (as narrative-driven, story-telling games) but instead tried to force them into a competitive structure. GW have put their money where their mouth is on this one and done away with points all together. To me this feels like they are returning to their old roleplay roots and giving players a free pass to do what they want with their models.
Furthermore, as someone who is primarily interested in painting and collecting rather than gaming, this lack of restrictions is a blessing. I always felt that having to take x number of these units as a minimum and y number of those units as a maximum was rather limiting. Now I can paint whatever I want and not have to worry about whether it is a ‘legal’ army or not.
The fact that these restrictions have been lifted at an army level as well (allowing you to field units from more than one faction so long as they fall under the same broad allegiance) allows for even greater freedom and the opportunity to create some great narrative armies. I’m already thinking of adding some Dryads to my Stormcast Eternals as they battle through the Realm of Life or some human refugees made from the Empire militia set. The possibilities are endless.
End of Part 1
These are just a couple of things that have got me excited about Age of Sigmar from a modelling and painting perspective. Join me next time as I run through my thoughts on the new setting and the rules.
Be seeing you.