The Ninth Realm #16: Rules We Enjoy and Those We Do Not.


Hey everyone, in episode 16 of the Ninth Realm we discuss some of the rules in the game we like and don’t. Let us know what you like and don’t like in the comments section!


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  • Clam Pack releases for Silver Tower characters and new Khorne themed Battlemat from GW this weekend.

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Some of the rules that feel weird in the game or that we’d like to see altered such as:

  • Alternating initiative
  • Shooting into and out of combat
  • Prevalence of Mortal Wounds
  • No Base Rules
  • 4 page ruleset



Jason “Macho Man Jr.” Butler


Reece “Worlds Greatest” Robbins


Mariana “Noodle Arms” Vera



About Reecius

The fearless leader of the intrepid group of gamers gone retailers at Frontline Gaming!

29 Responses to “The Ninth Realm #16: Rules We Enjoy and Those We Do Not.”

  1. The Mediocre Gamer
    mediocre gamer October 27, 2016 9:11 am #

    Alternating initiative is great, and (in my opinion) is a defining trait of AoS. I would never want that rule to change.

    Shooting into combat, I agree, could use some work.

    As for model-to-model ranges, locally we play that you measure either model-to-model or base-to-base, whichever is closer.

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 27, 2016 10:22 am #

      Yeah, we hear some people that love alternating initiative, and others that hate it. We have an entire gaming group that may not come to the LVO because of it, haha. It is very divisive.

      • Avatar
        Chris October 27, 2016 4:22 pm #

        I also like the alternating initiative. It helps getting into melee without getting shot to pieces. Also I heard of some guys that got rid of shooting into and out of combat and it went very poorly for most shooting units. It went so poorly that there was no point in taking a shooting unit over a melee one. I could see some change but hopefully not too much. I haven’t had a chance to listen yet but I probably will tomorrow.

        • Reecius
          Reecius October 27, 2016 8:51 pm #

          Thanks for the input! SO, you think alternating initiative helps getting into melee. What about when your melee units get the anti-double turn and get shot twice before getting into melee? That;s a double whammy.

          • Avatar
            Chris October 28, 2016 3:23 am

            Yes that can hurt. You definitely want your opponent to go first if they are shooting heavy as long as it isn’t artillery. I can usually pick the first turn due to having only 7 units at 2000 points and 5 at 1000 so ill make them go first and then charge up the field hope for the double and go from there. The double shooting van definitely hurt. I still prefer having the potential double turns just because it at least gives me hope that I can bring any game back from a sure loss. The games where you get 3-4 double turns can be nail biting.

          • Avatar
            Chris October 28, 2016 3:29 am

            I am also used to getting shot to death before reaching combat due to playing footslogging orks in 40k. So the hope for a double turn is better to me than the potential not to get it since I normally assume that ill be taking two turn of shooting before combat anyway. If I do it probably isn’t going to be all that good but if I don’t its always considered a win.

          • Reecius
            Reecius October 28, 2016 9:48 am

            interesting psychological perspective on the double turn as a melee player.

  2. Avatar
    ERJAK October 27, 2016 9:49 am #

    Hate random Initiative. Our FLGS straight up house-ruled it out and I’ve heard rumors that adepticon might do the same. We also have shooting into combat, which is usually not a big deal, the only things it becomes a problem for are units like Dracothian Guard who are great at both shooting and melee. We did change it so that if you’re in combat you can’t shoot outside of the combat you’re in. I’ve never even considered not using base-to-base rofl.

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 27, 2016 10:23 am #

      And read the above comment, haha. Alternating initiative is the most contentious issue in the game, IMO. I would be happy to see it go for matched play, but hey.

  3. Avatar
    Ytook October 27, 2016 10:23 am #

    I’ve gone on and on about why I like random initiative elsewhere so I won’t bore anyone anymore :P. Suffice to say as much as I like it and think it’s necessary, we’ve had in my group a House rule for a while now where once per game you can force yourself to take first turn to block a double turn but your general has to be alive and they can’t a use a command ability that turn, seems to work as a nice compromise for people on either side of the fence, try it out maybe 🙂

    Combat and shooting I basically agree, just -1 or maybe -2 to hit unless the target is a monster and having to shoot a unit within 3″ of you if there is one unless your unit is a monster would I think work.

    Base to base clearly wasn’t the original design intent, but is basically necessary. I’ve been thinking that adding 1/2 an inch onto all close combat weapon ranges may be good as models are intended to be able to bunch up into combat more than base to base allows.

    Personally I’ve had no real problems with mortal wounds, but then most of my armies aren’t small elite armies so can soak it up fine, I think the nature of the game necessitates either some larger infantry blocks or mortal wound save units.

    Oh and thanks for the podcast, great as ever 😛

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 27, 2016 10:25 am #

      Thanks for your input and glad you liked the show! That compromise sounds pretty cool to me as a middle ground. It just sucks when you’re on your back foot and your opponent gets the double turn and the game is essentially over. It’s fun when it lets you get back in the game, but just as frequently it ends the game. I don’t like that, personally.

      And yeah, pretty much everyone I have talked to thinks shooting into and out of combat is a bit silly.

      • Avatar
        Ytook October 27, 2016 10:44 am #

        I can understand that, from my perspective I’ve seen more people come back from the brink because their opponent misplayed a double turn and stretched themselves too thin. Good example in the GW streamed tournament where a daemon/skaven player lost despite getting a double turn (the winning pure Bloodbound army got none) as his Bloodletter horde mortal wound lawn mower plowed up the centre twice but could then be pinned down and taken apart while the rest of his army fragmented. But everywheres experience is different, and maybe at more high level play I can see that happening less.

        I like our house ruling as instead of getting rid of it (which we’ve found makes some lists basically irrelevant) it adds a bit of tactical choice, as if you choose to block the double turn your opponent could get a better one next round as you won’t have your command ability up, so you have to carefully consider whether you can blunt their army enough to make it worth delaying he turn but increasing the risk.

        • Reecius
          Reecius October 27, 2016 11:34 am #

          Yeah, fair play. I need to play more to get that experience. We’ve been so stupid busy lately, I have not been able to play much of anything.

  4. Requizen
    Requizen October 27, 2016 10:43 am #

    Great show again! Just some notes on the topics at hand since they are still very much in contention.

    1) Alternating initiative I find interesting. There are situations where it is completely overbearing – I play Skyborne Slayer Stormcast and have won from dropping in and getting the double turn. I’ve also been smashed by a Free Peoples player getting two turns of shooting. However, the idea that you have to plan around this (and certain armies can get bonuses to it) adds a bit of forward thinking, but I can understand how frustration can outweigh that.

    2) Shooting into and out of combat is something that I personally like. This isn’t 40k – AoS is more focused around melee by the sheer fact that it’s fantasy and there are less projectile weapons in the game compared to swords and hammers and what not. Additionally, I don’t find units being able to shoot out of combat that bad since most ranged-focused units are generally very lackluster in melee, often dying quickly, losing combat and getting battleshocked from the charge.

    I personally don’t think shooting into and out of combat was just omitted. Fulminators (the Stormcast with Spears on the Dracoths) have bonuses if you shoot within 3″ of a target – aka, within combat range. They were clearly designed to be able to charge in, get stuck in, and do more shooting damage while they fought. Other shooting units say they get bonuses to shoot unless they have enemies within 3″, which means they were designed to shoot out of combat (though with penalties).

    I have never found it overbearing except in really buffed units – like Freeguild Gunners who are made Battleshock immune and given shooting buffs, who then just sat there and took casualties while still laying down whithering fire. But that’s a lot of effort put into one unit and can be shut down with proper play, which makes it pretty acceptable in my book. I can sort of understand that it doesn’t make too much sense with the fluff (bowmen shooting when covered in Orks), but I think the ruleset is supposed to be simple. The less contradicting/overwriting rules, the easier the rules go.

    3) I somewhat agree about melee ranges and base sizes. I think base sizes should be regulated at some point, whether by ITC or in the next GHB. I think it might be a bit soon to change the weapon range rule, though, but we’ll see.

    4) Mortal Wounds can be a bit of a problem. In melee, I think it’s not too bad – you can screen things, you can spread out, you can choose to sacrifice units. And, with melee unit activation, you might even get to go before them, or get multiple units in so even if one gets wiped the other will get to keep fighting and swing back.

    But, ranged mortal wounds can be a problem. Oh sure, one or d3 isn’t a big deal, you might lose a model or two but it’s fine. But something like Skaven Warpfire throwers or mass Beastclaw Thundertusks are a big problem, just removing models before they get to do anything. And they’re counterbalanced by their own weaknesses, but on the whole they feel somewhat unfun to play against.

    I don’t know if it needs a fix yet, though. I think the meta hasn’t settled yet, and there are plenty of things in the game that do ok against ranged mortal wounds – Nurgle Daemons are pretty good with their Resilience and number of bodies, many Death armies will have a 6+ or even 5+ on every model against mortal wounds, etc. If we finish a few GTs and it’s nothing but MW shooting, we should take a vote, but I say we should let it pan out first.

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 27, 2016 12:01 pm #

      Thanks for the input! Yeah, we aren’t changing anything this first season, need to let folks get used to the game, first. And I agree. I see more harm in alternating initiative than good, but that is my perspective and i am sure I still have lots to learn about the game.

      I don’t agree that the game is actually a melee game, though. I agree it is meant to be, but shooting is so much better than melee as it is more efficient. Sure, melee units tend to hit harder but you get so much fewer of them in range to swing in most cases that it is a bit moot, at least that has been our experience. Big melee units ofen only swing with like, 5-6 models out of 20+. We’ve found it to be pretty frustrating, actually. That’s why we’d like to see melee range increased to make it more effective.

      • Requizen
        Requizen October 27, 2016 12:39 pm #

        I think it would be acceptable as:

        “A model may attack if it is in range of an enemy model with its melee weapon, or if it is in base contact with a model that is in base contact with an enemy model.”

        That way you always get two ranks fighting no matter what, so massive units might still be out of combat but 10 man units should always get to fight.

        Still, I tend to think it’s overall ok, but my particular army has no real issues with it at the moment.

        • Reecius
          Reecius October 27, 2016 3:32 pm #

          Yeah, that sounds like a good one to me. I would just like to see more melee models getting to swing instead of standing and watching their buddies.

  5. Avatar
    ScottR October 27, 2016 1:54 pm #

    You know I love the random initiative. Shooting armies often have the same whole as they did in WFB. They fold under assault. And they did intend for firing into or out of combat. Orcs bow hit stat and enemy proximity is one example “Ready Boyz! Aim! Fire!”.

    I would like to see the rules to stay pretty much intact. I understand many might want to change this or that, but often the rule of unintended consequences kicks in.

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 27, 2016 3:33 pm #

      Fair point with the Orb Bow Boyz. I don’t hate the rule or anything, it just feels weird to me.

  6. Avatar
    Peteypab October 27, 2016 7:11 pm #

    Loved this episode. There was a lot of good dialogue about the game. I really like where competitive Age of Sigmar could be heading.

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    gvcolor October 27, 2016 8:04 pm #

    Great Podcast! I agree on Alternating Initiative – don’t like either.

    Originally, I thought shooting in and out of combat was totally wrong, but you know what… IT’S FUN. It’s actually a mechanic that makes the game feel more fun to me rather then trying to be accurate to reality, historical miniatures or 40K AoS is not.

    The issue I have with Mortal Wounds is this… Explain to me how to take out Sylvaneth, like Tree Lords, Durthu, Kurnoth with all the buffs while in a Wyldwood without Mortal Wounds. It’s bad enough with woods dropping across the table as they “Eldar Jetbike” anywhere they like – if you can’t bring Mortal Wounds against them it is not even a game.

    Base to base – the only way!

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 28, 2016 9:50 am #

      Thanks for the feedback. And I agree that Mortal Wounds are good for the game, but only in moderation. Otherwise they define the game.

  8. Avatar
    Chris October 28, 2016 6:25 am #

    Finally got around to listening and yet again it was a great show. I agree that I want mortal sounds to be not as plentiful just because it takes away interaction. They are necessary and it would be nice for everyone to have some access but not excessive amounts of it.

  9. Adam
    Adam (RUMBL & TheDiceAbide) October 28, 2016 11:22 am #

    Honestly, this was the only episode you’ve done that I thought was disappointing. I don’t think you guys are really experienced enough to be talking about how you should change the game… There are large communities of players in the UK that have been playing the game competitively, with rules similar to, if not identical to the General’s Handbook, and they’re not complaining. I would highly reccomend listening to Bad Dice, Helanhammer, and Facehammer. They play the game at a highly competitive level and don’t spend their time complaining about random initiative, instead they talk about how to best use it and mitigate it.

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 28, 2016 4:42 pm #

      You clearly weren’t listening very well, lol. We never said we were changing any rules, we actually explicitly said we weren’t changing anything. We also said we weren’t experienced enough to know for sure if we were righ tor wrong and we mentioned the same people you mentioned and said that they were playing it at a higher level than us, lol.

      Did you even listen to the podcast, buddy?

  10. Avatar
    Happy_Inquisitor October 29, 2016 2:37 am #

    On the melee range question the issue arises because of measuring from bases but it is not nearly as simplistic as putting everyone into a square grid. If you stack the round bases as closely as you can you will find that the 2nd row of models can usually attack with weapons that have 1″ range. I did some maths on this in a quiet moment and it depends on the base size of the target, with the target unit also having 32mm bases the 2nd row can definitely strike but this gets less possible with larger base sizes.

    All of which technically works but I feel it rather goes against the spirit of the game and that sort of precise positioning will slow the game down. I personally think it would smooth things out greatly if along with the measure from base house rule you also have a house rule to round actual distances to the nearest inch. This makes little to no difference in shooting but with weapons having a 1″ range the effective increase to just less than 1.5″ really does make a difference and takes away the need to spend time on perfect hexagonal close packing your models.

    As for the rest I can only recommend that your listeners also listen to some of the UK podcasts such as Heelenhammer, Bad Dice and Facehammer. I know you did mention this but I think it needs emphasizing – these people have been working out how to run and play high level competitive AoS for a while now and see some of these rules issues very differently. For some of them the alternating initiative is a powerful mechanic that you list build around – not a random thing you stumble into and which ruins your game.

  11. Avatar
    G-Rex October 31, 2016 6:32 pm #

    I was finally able to listen to the episode on my commute to work today. Here are my thoughts:
    • Random Initiative – I play to the rule and have plans for my opponent getting a double turn. Reece explained this very well. My thoughts are that this is the most unique game mechanic to AoS, compared to other game systems, so why get rid of it?
    • Shooting – I think Games-Workshop wanted to keep a simplified game mechanic and chose between shooting in/out of combat or no shooting in/out of combat. Furthermore, as it was mentioned, the General’s Handbook pointed units with shooting accordingly. I am not interested in playing a point comped tournament because some folks don’t like the rule.
    • Mortal Wounds – this hasn’t been a big issue for me. I started playing AoS with my Daemons of Nurgle so I ignored a lot of what could have been devastating. I do understand why a new player or someone not familiar with another army would be disgruntled with the mechanic as it can suck the fun out of the game. But, this shouldn’t be a surprise or disappointment for tournament players.
    • Bases – Yes and yes. Yes, measurements should be taken base to base. Yes, base sizes should be standardized. After LVO I would love to see a timetable set for standardizing base sizes… say January 1, 2018.

  12. Avatar
    Garrett October 31, 2016 11:40 pm #

    So I disagree with all the issues brought up in the podcast.

    1) Random initiative. As Reece mentioned and others have too, there is a strategy to dealing with the random initiative so that a double turn isn’t as terrible as initially seen through sacrifice units and screening. I once actually opted not to take a double turn due to units being locked and I wanted to use my opponents combat phase to kill the units they were locked with so on my turn I could move and charge a key unit for the mission. Also, there is an aspect of AoS that is alternating, and that is combat. The combat step has you alternate between which units attack, so if a player gets a double turn, you still get to use half your units before your opponent attacks with half is (in theory). In larger point games when there are multiple units locked up, a double turn is not nearly as devastating.

    2) Shooting out/in combat. As people mentioned above shooting units are much much worse in combat than dedicated melee units, so being engaged is not optimal for them. They usually have terrible combat attacks and won’t do much damage outside their shooting. Also they are more expensive overall.

    3) mortal wounds. Coming from the rediculousness of 40k survivability, mortals wounds are so nice. In AoS it is so easy to make a unit with a 2+ re-rollable save, or even a 1+ re-rollable save which makes any sort of attacks do absolutely nothing. There are even some units that let you ignore rend -1 so you can’t even toss massed rend attacks to try to mitigate the save down. In ITC you were forced to make a 2+ re-rolling to a 2+/4+ so it wouldn’t be mathematically impossible to do any sort of damage. In AoS mortal wounds just stops that silliness. Also, there are many units that have saves against mortal wounds, chaos runeshields, nurgle daemons, pheonix guard, and many spells that give saves against mortal wounds. For units that are supposed to be very tough, there are a bunch of ways of acquiring saves against mortal wounds to mitigate how much damage they deal.

    4) measuring ranges. I think your main issue with this is coming from 40k where it is super easy, especially with large bases, to get basically all your models attacking, even with a huge 10 man unit of thunderwolves. Personally I haven’t had much of an issue getting the models I need in combat into combat with clever charge moves and pile ins, and actually really like the element of strategy involved with creating charge lines to get maximum potential for units into combat, or removing key units to mitigate how well an opponent will attack back. Also it makes weapons like spears justified for the reduced in striking power over swords so you can actually attack in 2 to maybe 3 ranks. I think looking into enforcing basing rules would be better than trying to modify the rules to try to mitigate people who model for advantage.

    Anyways, great podcast and glad you guys are discussing these points, even though I disagree with your arguments :).

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