Like a few people in my school back at the day, I was a fan of Games Workshop tabletop games (which are pretty much the WWE of tabletop games). At my school, you were either a fan of sports or Games Workshop – it was kinda strange like that. I used to play Warhammer Fantasy and (showing my age now), Epic/Space Marine. I only played a few games, but I used to love the idea more about collecting models – putting them together and painting them (although I was never ANY good at painting!). And yes I played a few games as well – mostly with my dad. Problem is that back in the day, I found the rules to play really complicated – so me and my dad often had to change some of the rules to make it easier to play. So when I played against my friends, I would get slaughtered.
But after school was done, I kinda moved away from it and went onto other things. And so for a good few years I kinda moved away from tabletop war gamming. There were a few times when I tried to get back into it, and even started collecting a few models from various other games – Warmachine, WOW: The Miniatures Game and WOW The Board Game, Heroscape and Rivet Wars. But I never could really get into those games in a competitive sense – mainly because I could never find anyone interested enough to fight battles with me. I still have the models though – sometimes it’s nice to have a collection like that.
However, just the other month, I passed by my local Games Workshop store (now called Warhammer) and it just so happened that one of my old mates from drama lessons was working there. We got talking and he told me about the new game they brought out – Warhammer: Age of Sigmar. Basically they had revamped the system in their Fantasy world (in story terms this is due to something called The End Times where Chaos pretty much destroys everything and Sigmar – a God – comes back to try and save humanity) and made it more accessible to newer players. I decided to give it a look – so I had a demonstration game, talked with the people there – and within a couple of days I was back into it! My love of tabletop gaming had been revived!
And you know what – I think I realised now why I like war gaming so much. Because in many ways, it’s just like writing. You put together your own army, customise them and can even give them a paint scheme to match your ideal army. And just like writers herd their characters towards their ultimate destiny, you lead your army to victory/or defeat. Every single game you play is a story in its own right. You can use your imagination and create your own scenarios. So, even if you don’t know it, you and everyone playing is creating a story, one that you (and your dice) can control.
Doing some research before getting into Age of Sigmar, I found out that this new version has received a few negative criticisms from long time fans of the series. I think this mainly stems from the fact that in creating the new game, they had to destroy the old world that Warhammer was set in. Plus they have complained that the new rules makes the game unbalanced and the units far too overpowered. Another complaint is that the models themselves are just too overpriced for what they are.
Myself, I love the new ruling system. I mentioned before how the rules when I used to play were overly complicated and I just couldn’t get to grips with them. Here though, I find the rules much more accessible – and even though a lot of models are kinda OP, it’s extremely fun to play as them. Additionally, the old rules had a very strict system when putting armies together – so you were somewhat restricted to the types of armies you can put together. But in Age of Sigmar, there is tons of room for customisation of your armies. Want to have Chaos fighting alongside Humans? Or Undead teaming with Humans? Or how about even having Dwarfs teaming up with their hated enemies the Elves? Go for it! There is no limit to the cool armies you can put together. Obviously there are advantages to keeping to one race, but otherwise there is absolutely no restrictions in playing with any army you like.
As for the unbalancing of the armies, I can kinda see why people would take issue with this. In the old days you had a points system, whereby you were restricted to the number of units you can field. Here, they don’t necessarily have that issue, meaning that potentially one person could have more units that the other. However there are rules to compensate for this – such as Sudden Death and other rules. You can still play with the point system though – and they have even made some rules to help balance the games (such as picking units based on number of warscrolls, wounds, etc).
Not to mention there are some rules that allow you to re-roll attack dice if you have a better moustache than your opponent! (Actually, these rules are more tongue-in-cheek and more as a reference to the Old World, but I think that’s quite funny).
So yeah, I can understand why some Warhammer fans that have been following it for a few years would be upset, especially with the destruction of the Old World. But there is nothing to say that you CAN’T play with the old rules, so you can still do that if you have the models and rulebooks. Plus a lot of the old models can carry over to Age of Sigmar so that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Finally, in terms of the models being too expensive – to be fair, war gamming is a VERY expensive hobby! I once spent £50 alone on just a single Warmachine model – so I don’t think the models in Games Workshop are any more expensive than other games. Plus – even though they are plastic, they are built like tanks! I once dropped one of my big units whilst trying to paint it, and it didn’t break! So I think the price justifies the quality of them. And hey, I collect guitars and effects pedals – so I am in NO position to complain about the price!
Since getting back into Warhammer I have spent a lot of money putting my army together – currently I’m in the process of putting together a Stormcast Eternals army, and I’m having great fun doing it. I even attempted paining a model – something I never thought I would be able to do! But thanks to the support of the guys at my local Warhammer store, I got some really cool tips on how to do it!
Age of Sigmar reminded me why I got into war gaming into the first place and I enjoy this set up. The level of customisation involved in it is just incredible – and the community is one of the best I’ve been in. I’m having great fun putting my army together – and at the end of the day, isn’t that the most important thing?
Do you guys like war gaming? What do you think of Age of Sigmar? Let me know in the comments below.
Have a great week guys! Happy Bank Holiday!