I don’t get to post here half as much as I’d like – three quarters as much in fact, but after trying out Age of Sigmar, I had to come back and share my thoughts with the small collection of people that may be interested.
For those of you that don’t know me, my name is Michael and I’m 28 years old. I’ve been blogging for roughly 10 years now, and trace my roots back to the likes of Ron Zaikowski, Admiral Drax and Master Darksol. I’ve been collecting, painting and playing Games Workshops’ Warhammer Fantasy Battles since I was 8, when I picked up my first box of Skeleton Horsemen.
Over the years, I’ve amassed a collection of 3500 miniatures, with my first solid army being Dwarfs. Back then, I lacked the skills to paint, and so I put my models to one side and went from army to army, honing my skills (and wasting my parents money). Recently, I decided to go back to my roots, and started a Dwarf army (pics to follow soon). So it was with a heavy heart that I said goodbye to my beloved game, and then I played my first battle using the new Age of Sigmar rules.
I used my Dwarfs, and my son used his Empire models. Just 30 (3 units of 10) a side not including our generals. We decided to study the rules before playing, so it was fairly straight forward to set up. At this point, I’d like to mention that I’d followed the Age of Sigmar rumours from very early on, and so I was already a little dismayed at the thought of round bases for my perfectly aligned units. Fortunately, there is literally no penalty that I can see for using square bases – I simply created a movement tray that spaced my models apart ever so slightly (photos on their way).
A lot of the detailed game play is gone, as in completely removed. No flank bonuses for a start was a strange thing to adapt to, and my Ironbreakers had their permanent parry rule replaced with the option to form a shield wall. Not ideal, but it was effective when being charged. In fact, I noticed that other options were also simplified, such as the ability to customise my Dwarf Lord – who now found himself the owner of a Rune Axe (pretty impressive) and an Ancestor Shield (+1 AS). But if I’m honest, that was an aspect of the game that I loved – the potential to customise my models and units.
Anyway, the game went on, my Lord lasted far longer than I imagined (thanks to the new 5 wounds as standard for most Generals and Heroes). The special abilities were pretty decent, the charging and close combat phases merged well (what with the ability to stop just short in the charge phase, and then pile in in the combat phase). In fact, the game was far more enjoyable than I had previously imagined. So what did we do? We played another 2 games that evening – all in the space of 2 hours.
I walked away quite happy that night, I spent some quality time with my son – he understood the rules without much need for clarification, and we both spoke about the games that we’d had well in to the next day. So what was the problem?
I miss my fantasy.
This new setting, this new style of game play, it’s just not the same. It’s enjoyable when playing, but I just couldn’t help but feel like the love of my life had walked away from me, only for me to settle with her cheaper, less intelligent sister just to feel closer to the person that I’d lost. I enjoyed the game, that’s a fact (I’ve currently enjoyed 8 of them so far). But it’s difficult to get in to a world when you know that it’s one of 8 or 9, when compared to the fantastical Old World where explorers would stumble across trolls, Dwarfs would protect their holds from invading orcs, and Bretonnia were mystical knights filled with honour. This new take on fantasy just isn’t fantasy – Skyrim is fantasy. Lord of the Rings is fantasy. Age of Sigmar is some sort of steam-punkish, advanced metropolis styled game, where Chaos is actually a little reluctant to push its luck. Perhaps the unique worlds will add a bit of depth to the game – particularly the ‘life’ world, which in my eyes should resemble the Old World.
So to summarise:
I loved playing the game. It’s great fun. But I can’t help but feel saddened at the loss of all that existed before. I’ve been involved with Games Workshop for longer than the majority of its employees. I understand that they needed to make changes to keep up with the times, and I’ve heard many people complain that the veteran collectors and gamers of WFB were too few – but what Games Workshop, and those critics don’t realise, is that I was one of the new gamers that are currently being targetted. I was 8 years old, and I grew with the game, and we can’t be blamed for being so few, because back then we were so few. I won’t be putting a stop to my gaming, I’m open to change and my son really enjoyed himself, and I’d definitely urge you all to give the game a go at least a few times. It’s fast paced and action packed. But if you’re looking for epic fantasy, perhaps don’t stop your search.