Hey guys, James Thomas here to talk about my tournament experience with Age of Sigmar and the Age of Sigmar Championship at this year’s Las Vegas Open!
Before I get into it: Who am I? I’m a SoCal local guy who got into Age of Sigmar last year, and managed to win the ITC for AoS for the 2017 season with some great competition!
The At Ease Spring Carnage tournament last year (around March?) was my first tournament since the General’s Handbook was released. I played Tzeentch daemons, and a friend told me they had just dropped a new book. So I made a list, played it, and lost. I made some changes, and lost again, and made some more changes, and finally won. I then played them against my friends for the next few weeks before the tournament. My first opponent in my first tournament? None other than a fully-optimized Tomb Kings chariot army piloted by David Rogers, who’s a great guy and fun opponent. I lost my first game, and went on to win my next two, earning fourth in the tournament. I then went to Broadside Bash, where I won first after going 5 games undefeated (But Reece nearly had me round 3! MVP for me was his dice!). With that win, I realized I had a decent shot at top 5 for Age of Sigmar, so kept practicing and going to events, even after the rest of my team went back to Warhammer 40,000 when 8th edition dropped.
Anyway, that’s a lot of backstory. This season I went to 8 RTT’s (normal store tournaments), 2 Grand Tournaments (32+ people, 5 or more rounds), and one Major tournament (LVO), as well as the Doubles tournament at LVO (playing 10 games of AoS was quite exhausting!). That adds up to 44 tournament games throughout the year…So I played quite a few games against a lot of people. I played casual games with friends to get them into the hobby, but also played against some of the best ranked players in the country.
So how are Age of Sigmar tournaments?
First: Age of Sigmar armies are GORGEOUS. When I went to Broadside Bash I couldn’t believe how great the armies looked! And it’s not just Broadside Bash. I think in general AoS players may be a bit more hobby-minded or something, because I saw alot more armies that were painted to ace standards in Age of Sigmar than I’ve seen in 40k. So that was always a plus side, and it made me feel bad for my…erm…decidedly NOT top-level painted army.
That picture looks like it was taken with a potato, but yeh, my army isn’t winning best-painted any time soon. But fortunately, I’m in the minority in the AoS community. I am constantly blown away by the quality of AoS armies though. Tyler Hamil’s Bretonnia army has some staggering banner work, and I once saw an Ironjawz player who converted his Warchanter to be playing a drumset! The Best Painted award at the Las Vegas Open was seriously hard for people to determine since there were easily a dozen armies in the running for it.
So the painting throughout the Age of Sigmar is pretty awesome in my area! How about the hot topic right now: Sportsmanship?
Again, I’ve played 44 games of Age of Sigmar in tournaments this year. I play a very competitive army, and sometimes my games are against armies that haven’t gotten updated yet (cough cough Death and most Destruction). But in all of my games I never played against a guy who I left the game resenting or hating, and hopefully never had my opponents feel that way either. The games are competitive, but I’ve found that keeping a light attitude with the opponent and realizing that you’re rolling dice with plastic man-barbies can help lighten the mood. I never played against an opponent who I could justify giving a thumbs-down vote on Sports to. It may have been my good luck to draw awesome opponents, but I’ve played against quite a few people who genuinely having the worst luck or matchup possible and still were great sportsman and we had a great game.
I think this can be illustrated with some of my games at this years LVO:
My first round opponent, another guy named James, played a narratively-themed Stormcast list. He had some walking retributors, no battalions, and nothing overpowered. Everything fit the narrative of the chapter of Stormcast he had painted his army to. My army excels at dealing mortal wounds and has a close combat unit that can murder just about anything if they get the charge off. It was a fairly lopsided game, but he had one of the greatest attitudes I’d ever seen! We laughed, rolled dice, had a fun game, and both enjoyed it. If there was a Sportsmanship award for LVO, he’d get my vote absolutely.
My 3rd and 5th round opponents both played very competitive lists however. My 3rd round opponent played the much-beloved-by-the-internet Vanguard Wing, while my 5th round opponent played Fyreslayers with tunnelling. In both games we played to the absolute best we could, trying to outmaneuver and beat each other. But you know what? Both opponents were absolutely a picture of sportsmanship. The Vanguard Wing opponent, Joe who flew in from Kent, England, was friendly and enjoyable the whole game, and it came down to the last critical charge which sealed the game. The Fyreslayers player, Mike, had some horrible misfortune and misplayed something turn 1 that made it near impossible for him to win, and he knew it. But he never once did or said anything that could even be considered unsportsmanlike.
Even when I played against Andrew, the eventual winner of the event, we had an awesome game together. Bear in mind: this was the winner of LVO and the winner of ITC playing against each other. We are both extremely competitive, bringing our best lists. And guess what? We laughed at our own misfortune throughout the game and had a really enjoyable game with each other.
All of my opponents were good, but the above examples especially outline how friendly and enjoyable opponents were throughout the weekend.
–Oh, and a sidenote: good TO’s are hugely important for good tournaments that everyone enjoys. Fortunately down in Southern California we have a superhero named Scott, who ran Broadside Bash, SoCal Open, and the LVO Championships, even though it meant he couldn’t play in those events, so we were in good hands! Seriously, if it wasn’t for him and Greg, the tournament scene here wouldn’t be nearly as awesome. Thanks guys!
So yeah, LVO was a blast! The armies looked great, the competition was great, and the opponents were fantastic! The entire year I enjoyed each event and it made me want to go to more. And it seems that others are picking up what I’m just now noticing, because I did a quick check of the numbers, and the first year ITC had 252 players playing AoS. This year it jumped to 741! Nearly threefold improvement shows the community is growing, and I firmly believe it’s because the tournament scene is so good. There’s some wicked conversions and paint jobs that take your breath away and really make you feel the story of the army. But the players I played against were a huge reason why I kept going to tournaments. I started to get to know guys in the nearby cities by going to tournaments and built some great friendships over the course of the year.
If you’re on the fence about AoS, or haven’t been to many tournaments, I really hope this encourages you to try it! Go to some events in your area, meet the players, test out new units, and enjoy it. Age of Sigmar is a fun game, and I’ve had a ton of fun playing it and meeting new people. And if you want to go competitive and go in the hunt for best of your faction, go for it! If you’re intimidated about these army builds you hear about online and have no idea how to play against them, there’s even a guide to common competitive builds with general ideas for how to play around them here.
I hope to see you at LVO next year!
By the way, if you’re wanting to try your hand at a tournament and don’t know where to start, Broadside Bash is April 21-22nd! Held in San Diego and uses paint and sports scores, this would be a perfect way to dip your toe into tournaments!
And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!