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Author Topic: Age of Sigmar trial game & thoughts  (Read 1576 times)

Offline Zark the Damned

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Age of Sigmar trial game & thoughts
« on: July 18, 2015, 02:05:32 PM »
I had the opportunity to play a game of AoS with Dean on Thursday. I'm sure he'll write it up on his blog sometime but I wanted to get some of my thoughts down.

I know I've been generally negative towards AoS but decided to give it a try anyway in case it changed my mind on anything. I may not be remembering everything correctly as it's been a couple of nights since the battle.

Dean put together some rough 'small game' army restrictions of minimum 5 warscrolls, max 50 wounds. After discussion we raised it to 51 so I could squeeze in the Tyrant, Dean added an extra Goblin. Armies were:

Skarsnik and Gobbler
Night Goblin Warboss
Night Goblin Shaman
25 Night Goblin Archers with Banner, Gong, Champion and Netters (iirc it was 25 anyway)

Tyrant with Massive Club - rolled up the Mawseeker Big Name
3 Ogres with Ironfists, Tribal Banner, Lookout Gnoblar, Champion, Bellower (I refer to these as Bulls below to avoid confusion with other Ogre units)
3 Leadbelchers with Bellower and Champion
3 Ironguts with Bellower, Champion, Runemaw Banner

We agreed before the battle that measurements were to be done base to base instead of model to model. We also ignored the 'number of terrain pieces' table and settled on a couple of buildings (we treated these as impassible as neither of us brought along the terrain warscrolls), a row of hedges between them, a hill and a couple of woods. We took it in turns picking and rolling for the types of terrain on the chart. Roughly from north to south we ended up with:

Arcane Building
Inspiring Woods
Arcane Hedge
Sinister Building
Dangerous Hill
Sinister Woods

We didn't bother picking a realm as it didn't affect either of our forces (and also the rules don't actually tell you what the Realms are or what they do).

We rolled off for deployment, I won and split the table into north/south halves across the middle. Dean picked the north half (arcane and inspiring) and I started deploying. It was here we encountered our first ambiguity in the rules as they say that each player alternated deploying until one of them decides to stop - it doesn't say when you can decide to stop (e.g. is it as you place a unit, as your opponent is placing something, etc.). We decided that 'deciding to stop placing units' was something you did instead of placing a unit when it's your 'turn' to place as it made it a more tactical choice. We both ended up deploying everything anyway.

I placed the Bulls on the edge of the Sinister Woods, with the Ironguts close by and the Tyrant behind them. The Butcher and Leadbelchers ended up behind the hill. Dean placed the Giant and Skarsnik on his left flank, the Shaman next to the Arcane Building with the Warboss guarding him, and the Archers in the area between both buildings.

After deployment I chose the Tyrant as my General and Dean picked Skarsnik. Neither of us had any Triumphs so we ignored that table. I had a lot fewer models in my force than Dean, so I chose the Seize Ground sudden death condition, picking the Sinister Building. As my deployment finished first I got to choose who went first in the first battle round (this rule took a bit of finding - considering the rules are only 4 pages there are still some layout issues and hard to find rules!) and elected to force Dean to go first.

In Dean's Hero phase the Shaman was out of range of anything so didn't cast (in retrospect he could have done a Mystic Shield but we both forgot about the generic spells), and Skarsnik used his command ability on the Archers to make them immune to Battleshock. In the movement phase everything moved forward a bit, and in the shooting phase the Archers were out of range.

In my turn the Tyrant inspired the Bulls, the Butcher was out of range (again we forgot about Mystic Shield). The Butcher and Leadbelchers moved onto the hill while the rest of the army ran forwards on the right flank. In the shooting phase the LeadBelchers were out of range.

I won the initiative roll for round 2 and elected to go first. The Butcher was in range this turn but failed to cast the Maw on the Archers. The Tyrant inspired the Bulls again. Everything advanced, then the Leadbelchers managed to shoot an Archer. The Ironguts attempted to charge the Giant but rolled double 1, the Bulls successfully charged it, and the Leadbelchers made a long range charge into the Warboss.

In the combat phase the Bulls went first, hoping to know enough wounds off the Giant to reduce his effectiveness. They managed a total of 4 wounds between them. The Warboss went next but didn't achieve anything before he was clubbed to death by the Leadbelchers. The Giant mulched a Bull and wounded a second, conveniently putting Skarsnik out of 3" so he couldn't attack. I also managed a 6 on a save so dealt a 5th wound to the Giant, further reducing his effectiveness. However the Goblin Archers were within 3" of the Leadbelchers so piled in. At this point we realised that Skarsnik's command ability is also quite ambiguous in meaning - it reads that the targetted unit may 'Pile in and Attack twice'. Does this mean they Pile In once then get two sets of attacks? Or do they Pile In, Attack, Pile In, Attack? After discussion we decided it meant that they could be picked twice during the combat phase.

In Dean's turn Skarsnik used his ability on the Archers again then the Shaman tried to Curse the Butcher but he dispelled it. Bloodgruel did nothing as he was on max wounds. The Shaman retreated from combat to ensure I couldn't pile the Leadbelchers into him. The Archers shot at the Butcher and put a few wounds onto him despite being in cover (because he was standing on the hill). Skarsnik forgot to use his staff, but then charged into the remaining Bulls. Combat that turn was mostly desultory, with another Bull taken down and the last one taken down to 1 wound. The Archers managed a couple of wounds on the Leadbelchers who did nothing back, however Skarnik left himself within 3" of the Ironguts after his pile in so they joined the combat and managed to put some wounds on him. The Leadbelchers passed their Battleshock test.

Dean won the initiative for round 3 and elected for me to go first as Skarsnik was now out of range to use his Command ability on the Goblins and he wanted another turn of Battleshock immunity. The Tyrant inspired the Leadbelchers and the Butcher cast the Maw on the Archers, killing one of them and getting a wound back from Bloodgruel. There was a little movement, the Leadbelchers shot at the Archers and killed another couple, then the Butcher charged them and the Tyrant charged the Giant. The Ironguts finished off Skarsnik, the Giant failed to stuff the last Bull down his pants but finished him off with an Eadbutt, the Tyrant did a few more wounds to the Giant (it had taken 9 by this point), the Leadbelchers and Butcher did a couple of wounds to the Archers (Netters are horrible!) but took more back. In Dean's turn the Shaman put some more wounds on the Butcher with Curse of the Bad Moon but it failed to explode onto the Leadbelchers and Archers. In combat the Giant went first but missed the Tyrant with all his attacks. Again the Leadbelchers and Butcher didn't achieve anything of note and the Butcher got taken down by the Archers at long last. The Tyrant felled the Giant, who fell on him (and the Ironguts), taking a Mortal Wound in the process.

I don't remember who had the Initiative but I went first again in Round 4. The Ironguts moved over to the left while the Tyrant held the building, making sure to stay out of LOS of the Archers and Shaman. The Leadbelchers tried shooting the Shaman but missed. The Ironguts charged into the Archers and did basically sod all, the Archers taking the Leadbelchers down to their last guy. In Dean's turn the Shaman took another wound off the Guts with the Curse but again it failed to explode onto the other units. In combat this turn the Ironguts dealt a bunch of damage, as did the Leadbelcher, and didn't take any damage in return. Not being immune to Battleshock this turn, and being in the range of a Bellower, the Archers failed their Battleshock test by 9. The Runemaw Banner succeeded in eating another 1 of them, and a solitary Archer was left in the middle of a bunch of angry Ogres. The game then ended due to sudden death as my Tyrant was next to the Sinister Building.

Overall, the game was OK I guess. There were a few annoying niggles like being able to shoot while in melee, lack of penalty for walking out of combat (other than being unable to charge) and so on. The mysterious terrain didn't really do anything except the Arcane Hedge which caused one spell to be successful. We'd both deliberately chosen armies which avoided all of the silly embarrassing rules. The game took longer than we'd thought it would due to needing to look up rules a bunch (only GW could lay out 4 pages of rules that badly). The game didn't really seem to fit into a niche well, it felt too long for a casual game, too simple for a detailed skirmish game yet too complex for a large scale game (without taking a bunch of duplicate unit's it'd be a nightmare tracking all the different effects).

It was fun, but in the way you can have fun while playing a bad game or enjoy watching a bad movie. I certainly wouldn't enjoy a tournament of it or pickup games with people I don't know.

I may try it again sometime, but more likely I'll still be getting into KOW when my book arrives. It has some potential but needs at least the following to have the chance of becoming a good game:

* Proper army building rules with points costs. Wounds alone doesn't cut it as the Ironguts were far more effective than either the Bulls or Leadbelchers for the same 'cost' in wounds. This should also limit special characters to one-offs.
* Tighten up the wording on some rules like Skarsnik's Command Ability.
* 'Sudden Death' to be based on something other than model count, because not all models are equal.
* Actual objectives adding into the game other than 'push all the models into the middle and roll 4+ then 3+ forever'.
* The 4 pages of rules to be laid out better with relevant rules moving to where they make more sense. e.g. put the 'can't charge if you retreated' text inside the section about Charging, put the 'first player to stop deploying wins initiative in the first round' inside the initiative section, and so on.
* Remove the embarrassing rules. This needs doing on a case by case basis, but a lot of the time these could just be automatic bonuses. Stuff like Greasus's Bribery would need some sort of roll.
* Some sort of penalty to shooting when engaged in close combat, or to firing into a close combat.
* Cover saves to apply when firing over cover, not just to models standing on it. Exceptions for things like Walls that you're in contact with.
* Drastic limitations on summoning. Summoned units to count towards victory conditions.
* Tightening up of special abilities so that shared equipment does the same thing across armies (to reduce memory issues). There are 50+ types of shield across the warscrolls with 20+ different sets of rules between them, this is silly.

Anyway, that's all for now. I may be willing to give it another chance in the future assuming a good set of house rules turn up.
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Offline Dean_AKI_UK

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Re: Age of Sigmar trial game & thoughts
« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2015, 09:35:46 AM »
Other than my Giant definitely did stuff one wounded ogre in his pants, that seems pretty much spot on.

So far as the rules, I wrote my views of them up on the blog and for the most part I'd agree with Matt; whilst they may be playable, and I could play them again, why bother when so many other games exist that do the same thing better. 

Saga blows AoS out the water and if Studio Tomahawk ever did a fantasy version of the rules it could kill AoS.  Lion Rampant does big skirmish better and so Dragon Rampant when it is released will probably do so too specifically for fantasy.  Kings of War now becomes the default mass battle fantasy system for me, and even then it is one of several options; in terms of skirmishes and scalable games Song of Blades and Heroes, Warmahordes and many others already exist.  The one thing AoS should do well is open people up to its' alternatives.

If this game was made by anyone other than GW it'd sink without trace in a matter of months.

Offline Zark the Damned

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Re: Age of Sigmar trial game & thoughts
« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2015, 03:31:40 PM »
Ah yes, knew I'd misremembered something. That was the turn the last Bull got shoved down the Giant's pants but it then missed with the rest of its attacks on the Tyrant, right?
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