Yesterday I played my first game of Age of Sigmar against the Tall Guy’s Beastmen. Read on to see how it all panned out when I took out my
Vampire Counts Skeletons out of the closet.
For someone who’s been into Warhammer Fantasy for ten years it’s not too easy to leave behind something dear. And I haven’t even been Warhammering a very long time compared to many, so I can’t really say what it’s like to be forced to change 15 or 20 years of hobby existence. You can probably read between the lines that I belong to the camp that has been very sceptic to these new rules for the six weeks we have had them. I’ve been wainting something to add more depth to the rules. Hell, sometimes it feels like I’d already appreciate them increasing the font size so we can get more pages of rules.
Why? For me the charm has been the massive tome of rules. Know, the game is only a part of the warhammer hobby for me, and perhaps not even the largest part of it. I remember first looking through the rules and being as hit with a warhammer in the head for everything to remember. But, sure, Lord of the Rings is plenty of pages.
I’ve been a bit angry with the loose formation system. Every wargame has a perspective. It can focus on an individuals efforts in the battle by letting individual models act independently of each other (LotR). The perspective can be a few hundred meters higher up in the air by letting models move freely, yet as a group (AoS, 40k), or more as a unit with a single move with the regimental perspective (WHFB) or maybe even separate the regiment into groups of models (WotR to Warmaster). I’ve got Lord of the Rings to move my dudesmen independently, 40k to try Brownian motion of Ork gas in space and WotR (am about to have, anyways) for the large scale. So for me, as agreed with Mr. Easter, the regimental front/flank/rear has a niche.
This closed movement phase is still more to me. I remember looking at the stats of a clanrat wondering how it could possibly beat a dark elf or a gor in combat. I remember discovering the different rat traps and baiting, that made them do it. The triumph of succeeding. I remember striking Silver Helms in the side of a Regiment of Goblins, denying their rank bonus.
I was even ready to forget about it for a moment and stay living under a (pretty comfy) rock. Then the Tall Guy jumps out and says he kinda likes it. So in a puddle of blood sits our resident Beastman player and says he likes the Age of Sigmar rules and finally enjoys playing with his Beastmen. He even said he had pulled out some models to the painting station (previously infested by a congo line of Vostroyands). So what can you do. He played Mr. Easter. He played the Goblin Mushroom Mind. He liked it even more.
Heck, let’s do it. We were going to play Warhammer 40k that I am finally enjoying again after getting lost a bit. But, heck, let’s try AoS.
The others had tried a wound (75) based system for scaling the game. With these guys things are soundly considered so power gaming isn’t an issue, but it’s good to have an external opinion or guidlines. They also had found the Spikey Bits’ SDK points system, and found out they all had been playing at roughly 1000 points. I voiced in that I preferred this as it would perhaps give a better spread of armies, and also spur the use of non-elite units (read: Skaven). So we went with 1000 points.
My choice of Vampire Counts surprised even myself. But adding it all together gave me almost exactly what we would play and left med a banshee and some spirit hosts over for summoning.
21 Skeletons, banner and musician
30 Zombies, banner and musician
5 Black Knights
5 Dire Spyders
5 Dire Spyders
Against me was a force drawn from the Tall Guys painted Beastmen:
5 Centigors, fc
5 Centigors, fc
3 Minotaurs, fc
13 Bestigors, fc
15 Gors, fc
Not having any scenarios yet (these will add a lot of depth to the game I believe) the game was a simple “Bash in ‘eir Skullz!”. The Tall Guy divided up the table into an L-shape of 4’x4’ squares.
Then deploying we have our starting positions as follows:
In the image above the cabins were impassable. Both these and the mushroom forest gave 1″ bravery. (Good shrooms, that the villagers picked.) The Deathknell Watch caused fear-causingness in those inside. The rugged forest in the mid-left allows for reroll wounds if you start within 3″ and succeed in rolling 2 or higher. If you don’t you don’t do anything that turn. The forest in the Beastmen deployment zone was dangerous.
I counter-deploy like seen above. 1) & 2) Spiders, 3) Varghulf – first the fast ones. Followed by the zombies, the Skeletons and lastly Mannfred. From what I heard they were fast as hell these Beastmen – probably hitting hard as well. So, by spreading out these fast elements first I could redeploy where needed, hopefully placing the slower shamblers so that I could face the beastmen piecemeal. I think this succeeded – leaving the Minotaurs and Bestigors a bit behind. Not perfectly, but well enough. He finished first and thus got the first turn.
And the first thing he does is to summon a monster. A gorram Gorgon (but he could pick anyhing he liked. The rest of the army moves up, with the Centigor units really breathing in my face. Hangover breath – eurgh.
I move carefully up after summoning a banshee to counter the suddenly appeared Ghorgon. Black Knights and the Varghulf try to charge the monster, only Black Knights succeed. Luckily the Banshee has nagged 4 wounds away, taking away a bit of its hitting power. The spiders try to combo charge the Centigors, but only one get in. Both take a casualty, niether runs away. Bravery 10 really helps here. I get a positive surprise realizing what 2 wounds on cavalry means in practice.
The Beastmen get the next turn and try to move the centigors around the flank. The Gors charge in on the Spiders. Neither Spider unit is destroyed, so I get a chance to counter charge with Zombies, skeletons and even Mannfred, that now has taken a wound from Malagors spellcasting. Zombies get the command bonus, rerolling ones to hit and to wound. For each ten models they also get a bonus to their attacks, and att a full 30 they now hit at 3+ and wound at 3+. With some rerolls.
The Gor unit is ravaged. After killing the Black Knights, the Ghorgon is slayed by the Varghulf. Soon the other Centigor laps around to take out the last spider unit. They don’t quite succeed and are soon threatened by both the Zombies that are piling in (now at below 30 though) and a unit of summoned Spirit Hosts.
Needless to say, the Centigors are soon dragged down, with one of the units deciding to fall back. Here I noticed some interesting tactics (see next photograph). I had lapped around the Spiders from the Gor combat trying to get them into the rear of the centigors. They failed, but ended up closing off a large area with their 3″ engagement zone just between the centigors and the approaching Bestigors. Had it not been for the Centigors impressive move, they could not even have fallen back, as this requires them ending 3 inches away from an enemy model. Intriguing.
The next two turns (where I finally get two in a row – the only time any player got two turns in a row) is all about repositioning. Unfortunately Mannfred is entwined in the forest and cannot act (more than to counter magic). Both of these turns. Things get heated as Malagor tries to curse him to oblivion twice, but he manages it and even takes only one wound. The beast herd closes in, and the undead redress their ranks. The skeletons guards their leader in case any nasty creature decides to appear. The Varghulf and the Banshee move up to the battle line.
My pictures actually end here, but very little actually happened from this point. The Bestigors charge in on the Skeletons reroll to wound due to the forest. Seven skeletons and some Bestigors die, some Bestigors flee. But in my next hero phase 6 (D6) Skeletons return due to the necromantic totem hanging from the banner. The zombies pile in. And the Vargulf and Banshee attacks, and kills, Malagor in a avalanche of violence – deathly shrieks and furious blows. The skeletons move in and charge the Minotaurs as they rip the Varghulf to shreds as their final action.
So a win for the vamps. In the deployment phase the Minotaurs and Bestigors were separated from the other elements of the Beastmen army, which allowed Mannfred’s forces to take them on piecemeal. Bravery 10 proved to add serious resilience.
Yeah, that’s what I’ll do from now on. First some youtubing showed me that there is impressively enough room for quite some tactics in those four pages of rules. This game proved it to me in practice. There is a lot to matching up charges and combats to get right, deciding which unit to attack with where and when… And movement is also important. Where do you need to be? Where might you be hit. It will take a bit getting used to for me, especially the movement phase with the same minis you used to move around ranked up and in blocks – it feels off… But it’s easier when you dissociate Warhammer Fantasy with Age of Sigmar.
I can live with this. I’ll enjoy playing it. But I won’t stop playing Warhammer Fantasy.