Friday, July 10, 2015

Age of Sigmar: Battle Game with Skirmish Movement

So I was thinking more about the Age of Sigmar rules and warscrolls.  It is the big news right now so even though I am not investing money in GW stuff, it is still interesting as an experiment in game design.  The lack of points is certainly jarring but CCG do not use points (but those are also very much pay to increase your chances of winning).  Free digital rules is a great way to try to get people involved.

With both Warhammer and 40K starting at more skirmish level games that built into larger standard forces through the editions they have kept a lot of old skirmish style rules with them.  The core of this is the comparison based testing for hitting, wounding, and initiatives in combat.  GW in their drive to simplify has now stripped a lot of those out.

While determining the comparisons did not take long not having them should speed up the game play.  The loss of initiative which was essentially replaced with I pick a unit to attack then you pick a unit to attack is probably a step to far since it makes those decisions extremely important for a game where the combats should generally be happening at the same time.  But if units do not have points costs fewer stats makes it easier to balance with models/wounds and such.  They also appear to have pulled a lot of rules back to units or directly affecting specific rolls or statistics in the warscrolls.  Cutting down on the pairwise interactions also cuts down on the crossing of special rules where problems often occur.

The new battleshock system will also work well in a Battle game as it just speeds up the disappearance of units as opposed to having them slowly moving away and constantly trying to rally and slowing the game.  Remember that models lost to both ranged and close combat force the battleshock rolls with the total models lost combined which means classicly weak models are going to disappear very fast even with a +1 bravery for 10 models.

The elimination of facing also simplifies the game but does really remove one of the few tactical elements from the game.  Most of what people call tactics for these games is really list building which is properly called strategics.  That leaves mainly target selection, target isolation, and force commit levels as the tactics to playing the game.  Those can be interesting and real skills but not quite the dance of getting an opponents flank exposed. I guess one needs to go to historicals for that game play now.

Where they turn this simplification on its head is when you get the movement and distances.  By switching from a block movement with facings all the way down to individual model movement where it is the details of the model than matter instead of the base, is a very skirmish kind of thing.  I can see that since they are changing the bases making them not part of the game makes sense but I think anyone who actually tries to play the game as written will find themselves very quickly bogged down in the 1 inch model distance and .5 inch required spacing to finish the first charge position.  What beautiful basing mind if I crush it with this old heavy lead model.  Turning models costing movement but having no effect on the game is also a strange result.

My feeling is that players will probably default very quickly to using bases for measurement again or just be very loose with the movement. Maybe that is what GW wants.

Now if you have the models already and the time for get a few games in I am betting it will be fun, but I think the issue is that for GW games to be successful they have to be fun for more than just a few hours.  I am not sure if the base game play here can support that with the same models.  I think GW wants players to not just buy the base game but then get more and more stuff to keep it interesting but I am not sure it will really get over that hump for a lot of people.  GW will probably monitor the success by the sales rate of the base game and changes to the sales of the existing Warhammer stuff which I am guessing will both be pretty good in the short term.  Not sure if it has legs though that 30+ years of Warhammer Fantasy Battles has.

Ofcourse if they are commited to the free digital rules then they can essentially update any issues overnight.  A free army builder app would also be very helpful as the rules are now spread out on all the data sheets and everyones shields do different things and such.  It would be better to work on tablets, phones, and PC's so people have an easier time printing lists.

We will see how this progresses over probably the next 2 or 3 years.


  1. Well spoken and written as usual my friend.

    GW has gone whole hog here, all bets are off and all cards are on the table. I don't know how many more metaphors I've got in me to describe how outside the box they've gone here, but it's going to prove out to be more genius than despearation in the long run methinks.

    1. Thanks for the comment. I think the box they need to stop thinking in is the 2 week release window. If they have awesome sauce planned it is better to show it now.