Don’t Sit On Warhammer Age Of Sigmar – It’s Way Better Than You Think!

February 24, 2024 by brennon

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Over the last few months, I've been diving into Warhammer 40,000 again and enjoying playing 10th Edition. However, in the last month or so I have been re-exploring Warhammer Age Of Sigmar and The Mortal Realms and I think that it might have stolen all of my attention.

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I last played Warhammer Age Of Sigmar back when the game originally launched. I wanted to give the game a shot despite being sad that Warhammer Fantasy Battles had been shelved. Initially, like with a lot of people, the game just didn't gel and it was void of any real structure. I liked the miniatures but that was about it and unfortunately, the game spent many years simply gathering dust in various boxes in my collection.

A Turbulent Relationship

I might have shelved the miniatures and the game but I've always tried to keep up with the direction of Warhammer Age Of Sigmar and some of the narrative as well. I might not have liked how the game felt to play but the lore that they were crafting grew and developed over the years into something genuinely interesting. It might not have been as vast as the lore of The Old World or Warhammer 40,000 but it very much felt like the designers were able to let their imaginations run wild and have some fun with the way the world of The Mortal Realms was developing.

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I read a lot of the early books for Warhammer Age Of Sigmar, engaged with the lore behind the Soul Wars and played some of the fringe games like Warhammer Underworlds and Warhammer Quest Silver Tower (and eventually Cursed City). The game always sat on the edge of my hobby but never really managed to work its way back into my mainstream wargaming adventures.

A large part of that might also have been that my gaming group just wasn't interested. No faction fully captured their imagination and a lot of us were fans of Warhammer of old so it still felt weird that we were looking at a game that was on the edge of being uncanny. So my Dwarf is now a Duardin? That kind of thing. It all felt a bit odd.

That being said, over the past few years I have found more ways to start engaging with The Mortal Realms and enjoying what it has to offer in the absence of opponents. I have enjoyed the Gotrek Gurnission books that continue his adventures as a slayer and a lot of the books are genuinely good reads. Hamilcar: Champion Of The Gods is genuinely awesome and the original Black Talon book was a great exploration of the Stormcast Eternals that are a lot more than just "Sigmarines". I would also recommend Dark Harvest by Josh Reynolds which certainly showcases that The Mortal Realms can still be grimdark.

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I also genuinely enjoyed playing the first Warhammer Quest game despite it not being particularly well-rated. It was good to see them branching out and trying to include different ways for people to engage with the universe. And yet, despite all of that a lot of my miniatures ended up in cardboard boxes without seeing the light of day. I even got a bunch more miniatures, glued them together and then they went back in a box without so much as seeing the right end of a paintbrush!

I just couldn't find a way to engage with the wargaming side of Warhammer Age Of Sigmar and every time I looked at the rules, I found them hard to get my head around. Admittedly they were probably a lot easier to dive into than 8th or 9th Edition Warhammer 40,000 but because they were ever so slightly different, it just didn't stick. I also still didn't have anyone willing to play the game.

blacktalon art

That all started to change towards the end of last year. A friend of mine was starting to get into Warhammer Age Of Sigmar with a group and it got me excited about the prospect of getting stuck into that box of old miniaturs and breathing some new life into them. With that impetus, I started to really try and engage with the rules and started watching more battle reports from the likes of Tabletop Tactics and Warhammer TV plus videos on the game and the community by The Honest Wargamer.

That's when it all started to feel like it was clicking and now, I am excited about getting stuck into Warhammer Age Of Sigmar and I think others should consider maybe giving it a go as well.

Giving The Rules Another Chance

My recent exploration of Warhammer Age Of Sigmar, including the rules, lore and community, has been engaging. Moving into the later stages of the game's third edition and looking ahead to an inevitable fourth edition in the Summer of 2024 I've liked the way that the rules feel to play. There's nothing wrong with tenth edition Warhammer 40,000 (in fact, I feel like they're the best set of rules they've done for the grimdark in a long time) but Warhammer Age Of Sigmar feels more interesting and interactive.

age of sigmar dominion art

I like the way that there is interaction between the players and plenty of ways for you to engage during each phase of the game even when you're not taking an active turn. Command abilities feel like a natural evolution of stratagems in Warhammer 40,000 and I like that you're encouraged to spend your command points during a turn otherwise they're lost. It feels reactive without a sense that it is stalling the turn and because everyone has access to these, you're not going to get blindsided by some mysterious stratagem.

I also really like the way that the players choose their battle tactics (essentially bonus objectives) each turn rather than face a random selection of them. You get more agency in what you do and what you're aiming to achieve, tailoring tactics to your play style and the development of the game as it changes from turn to turn.

orruk art

It also helps that pretty much all of the rules for Warhammer Age Of Sigmar are available for free. You can access all of the warscrolls (statistics) for different units and it's a lot easier for you to start theory-crafting armies whilst you're sitting on the sofa or waiting for a cup of tea to brew. Sure, some faction rules are locked behind Battletomes but nothing that would stop you giving the game a shot and you can always find the rules out there in the wide world...if you know where to look.

I think there's also something to be said that Warhammer Age Of Sigmar is a game of swords and sorcery. Warhammer 40,000 can be brutal, to say the least, and even though Games Workshop has said that they have toned down the lethality of the game, you can still lose your toys pretty quickly, especially the newly painted ones. Combat can still be brutal (and the shooting too) but there's a lot more room for you to enjoy playing with your toys on the tabletop! I like that there's more scope to consider manoeuvring and placement of units rather than just setting up behind terrain and hugging it until you can spy an advantage.

Creative Freedom

Another element of Warhammer Age Of Sigmar that shouldn't be overlooked is the freedom that the designers have to genuinely do some wild things with the game and the narrative. Warhammer 40,000 has tried to evolve in some areas but it's still very much tied to the factions we've known for decades. The Mortal Realms is vast and pretty darn unending and there is a lot of scope for the designers to have fun with the miniatures they create and the narratives they pursue.

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I like the different characters they have been creating and the armies that have changed and evolved over the years. A lot of them are based on some core idea from Warhammer of old but tweaked in some way to be that little bit quirkier. You see this in the likes of the Cities Of Sigmar, the Idoneth Deepkin, Sylvaneth and even the poster boys and girls of the Stormcast Eternals. Not only do we see this in the art but in the miniature design. You just need to look at some of the miniatures we've been seeing for the likes of Warcry and Warhammer Underworlds as well as the latest set of books for the Dawnbringer Crusades.

The creative freedom won't be for everyone and it can sometimes produce very odd results. Looking at you Lumineth Realm-lords. But, I think it's quite refreshing and if this continues as we look towards new editions and an evolving storyline, I think it could be great for those diving into the game. Not only do you have fresh ideas coming in to support the miniatures rules-wise but the chance for Games Workshop to start exploring the lore in the books and beyond without feeling hampered by what has come before or feels "established".

Easily Expandable

Another bonus of Warhammer Age Of Sigmar that I've come to enjoy is the way that the game has plenty of good ways for you to get into the game and expand it from a handful of miniatures to full armies. Warhammer 40,000 has the main game and Kill Team but I think Kill Team is quite the tough game for you to try and get your head around. The rules aren't particularly intuitive, at least to me, even though I've heard it is good.

warcry art

In the case of Warhammer Age Of Sigmar, you can start with Warhammer Underworlds. Usually, your warband is between three and six or seven miniatures which are easy to assemble and give you a distinct flavour of the faction. They should be easy to get painted up and it helps that the game itself takes around fifteen minutes to play each time you sit down.

Stepping up from that, you've got the often-overlooked Warhammer Age Of Sigmar Warcry. Warcry again has a low model count and whilst it might get overshadowed by the likes of Necromunda and Kill Team, it's genuinely good fun to play. It plays like a proper skirmish game, takes no time to learn and you can use all of your miniatures (pretty much) from your Warhammer Age Of Sigmar collection. Games feel distinct and different from each other and there's a lot of scope for you to go in different directions and collect small portions of larger armies.

Both of those games then feed nicely into Warhammer Age Of Sigmar proper and the models you've been using in those smaller games can be taken in these larger armies. In essence, you can get a feel for the armies that you like in those smaller games and when you find one you like, slowly move up through Warcry and then eventually dive into the big game.

An Interesting Future

The bonus is that Warhammer Age Of Sigmar seems to be in a good place for several different armies and a new edition is on the cards. Whispers are that we'll be seeing Stormcast Eternals going up against Skaven in the new boxed sets during the Summer.

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Hopefully, the gameplay formula won't be changed too much and there will only be a few tweaks here and there to clean up the game and perhaps streamline it. An example would be maybe more done with the idea of command abilities and also the way that leaders interact with their units (perhaps in line with Warhammer 40,000).

Additionally, it looks like the Combat Patrol idea is going to be transferred over into Warhammer Age Of Sigmar with the new Spearhead sets. This, alongside Warhammer Underworlds and Warcry, means that there's yet another good entry point into the universe which might make it easier for people to dive in and start having fun.

Spearhead Sets

In closing, I'd recommend checking out some of the people I mentioned at the start of this piece and see whether or not the game might be for you. The Honest Wargamer is great and showcases how the competitive and general community for Warhammer Age Of Sigmar is worth engaging with. The battle reports on Warhammer TV are also fun and explore the narrative side of things a lot more plus you have plenty of battle report videos out there for Warhammer Underworlds and Warhammer: Age Of Sigmar Warcry.

I guess the main thing to take away from this is don't write Warhammer Age Of Sigmar off. It has some genuinely interesting game mechanics, an emerging and developing lore and a community that seems more than happy for you to get involved and have some fun. Don't sit on this game like I did for years!

What are your experiences of Warhammer Age Of Sigmar?

" the last month or so I have been re-exploring Warhammer Age Of Sigmar and The Mortal Realms and I think that it might have stolen all of my attention"

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"Don't sit on this game like I did for years!"

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