Hello everyone, Jason here to talk about my initial thoughts on how Age of Sigmar works in an organized play setting.
Over the last month the staff at Frontline Gaming have been participating in an Age of Sigmar learning league. The league consists of purchasing, building, and painting 25 wounds worth of models every month for 4 months with a round robin tournament happening at the end of each month. Other than using wounds to structure our list building the only other restrictions from the 4 page ruleset are that each player may only have one warscoll with the Hero, Wizard, Monster, and Warmachine keyword for each 25 wounds in their army. We wanted to play as closely to Games Workshop’s original ruleset as possible so that we could have a chance to get several games in so we can get a feel for what does and does not make sense in an organized play setting, such as a tournament. While the game itself is best played with friends after several adult beverages, there is a sizable player base that would like to play the game in an organized setting that tries to curtail some of the more ‘ambiguous’ rules for the game. After our first 5 games I’ve come up with a list of items that I feel need to be addressed for anyone looking to organize a tournament for Age of Sigmar. Please note that I will not be talking about the lack of point costs, as this list will mostly be about the mechanics of the game. On to the list!
Mission Objectives – Throughout the first round robin tournament we have been using modified ITC missions. Literally just printing them out and using them for Age of Sigmar with a couple tweeks here and there to things that did not match up. They’ve been working out surprisingly well. Though our low wound count first tournament made taking and holding objectives strewn about the 4×4′ table sometimes difficult, we’ve found that the addition of mission objectives kept the games from devolving into a scrum in the middle of the board as each opponent simply tried to eliminate all enemy warscrolls. This also forced some of us to reevaluate what we brought with our lists. I made a Khorne Bloodbound army that was geared for close combat so found myself at the mercy of quick, shooty armies that would dance out of range while peppering me with ranged attacks. I was also not able to hold objectives in my backfield or grab objectives on the other side of the board. For my next 25 wounds I will be adding speed and ranged warscrolls to help alleviate some of the holes in my army.
Alternating Initiative – This has been one of the most discussed game mechanics throughout our first games. I’ve seen more games lost due to an opponent getting an opportune initiative role to go twice in a row than I am comfortable with. We laugh that it is a mechanic that you love when you win that initiative roll but absolutely feel is bad for the game when you lose it. Honestly, I have rolled to win the initiative for the Battle Round and won as a result and it just left a bad feeling in my mouth. It wasn’t any kind of skill or planning, I just happened to roll a die higher than my opponent. A couple of issues that come about with alternating initiative are shooting warscrolls (which are VERY powerful in the game) having the ability to shoot their opponent twice or a wizard being able to summon twice in a row without you being able to do anything to stop it. In my game against Brandon’s Death army, he was able to summon 20 Zombie units twice which added 40 wounds to his army without my being able to counter him. I had effectively lost the game before it began.
Summoning – While we don’t have many players in our league that take advantage of this power, the one who does (Brandon) has proven that it is an EXTREMELY powerful mechanic that if not put in check just completely breaks the game. This is especially true if you are using wounds to balance your army builds like we are currently doing. One idea I have to try and restrict the impact summoning has on the game is to only let Wizards summon warscolls onto the battlefield that started in their army. I know that GW’s FAQ Draft said that it was intended that Wizards with the summoning ability could summon anything from warscrolls that have the summon spell but OF COURSE they would say that since they want to sell the kits. We’ve seen what summoning and ‘free models’ have done to Warhammer 40k and honestly, I don’t want to see this happen to Age of Sigmar.
Unbinding – With the 4 page ruleset, the ability to unbind a spell is restricted to models being within 18″ of the caster. This makes magic too powerful, in my opinion, and models with the ability should be able to unbind no matter where they are on the table but perhaps with a negative modifier to their role if outside 18″. Summoning being the main culprit here, as wizard can sit back on their table edge and summon endlessly (usually needing to roll a 4 or 5 on 2d6) while their opponent looks on helplessly. I would even go a step further and say that anyone can attempt to unbind no matter if they have a wizard or not but summer a fairly detrimental negative effect such as a -4 or something to their roll.
Shooting Into and Out of Combat – This is more of an issue of Games Workshop simply not saying that you COULDN’T shoot into and out of combat. The general consensus is that units armed with missile weapons can use them to fire into a combat and fire them out of combat, even at a different warscroll than the one they are currently fighting. We have been playing it this way and pretty much all fee this just makes shooting warscrolls, which are already very powerful, game breaking. In the combat phase it allows units armed with missile weapons to shoot in the shooting phase then swing in the combat phase.
Now there have definitely been more issues than this list but these were the most discussed between staff while we played our first games at 25 wounds. What kind of adjustments to the 4 page ruleset have you been making? Do you like playing with modifications or prefer to play straight out of the rules? Let us know in the comments!