This is a beginners guide to Age of Sigmar 2.0. It is an attempt at answering the most common questions found among new people to the hobby of Warhammer: Age of Sigmar.
I will cover a lot of stuff in this guide. Where relevant, I will link you on to different resources that will tell you more about a subject.
This will be a long article with a lot of information. I suggest you bookmark it for later reference and share it with other new players.
Get ready to dig in!
What is Warhammer: Age of Sigmar?
Warhammer: Age of Sigmar is a tabletop miniature wargame made by Games Workshop.
- To play the game you and your opponent will need an army made up of miniatures.
- The miniatures come unassembled and unpainted. Assembling miniatures, painting them and getting them ready for battle is a big part of the hobby.
- The different armies are made up of mostly Tolkien inspired races (Orcs, Elves, Ogres, Humans, Goblins and so on) but with a special GW twist. That could be dwarves that fly around in airships or Elves that live under the sea.
- The miniatures are on round and oval bases (leaving the squared based rank and file system used in the old edition of the game).
- The lore and setting is very high fantasy. Magic is everywhere, portals can zap you around the different realms and the gods are alive.
- The game is mostly played with two players (facing off). Depending on the size of the army, you could have 20 miniatures in your army or 200+.
- Most games are played with a good sized army and it will take at least 2 hours to complete such a game.
- You can play the game in a myriad of different ways. Some play very competitively, others enjoy the narrative and some just like to plop down their miniatures and have a go.
- Age of Sigmar is sometimes referred to in the shorthand “AoS”.
If you want a more thorough explanation of what Age of Sigmar is, you can take a look at my article here.
How do I get started with
Compared to earlier editions of Warhammer, Age of Sigmar is significantly easier to get into.
- The rules are simple to learn (but tactics and army rules has depth).
- The hobby aspect is much easier to get done to an okay standard, even with very little practice.
- The cost of getting an army is not that expensive (but still very expensive, considering that you buy plastic dudes).
A few things will help you get started with your voyage into the game of Age of Sigmar:
- The best way to get started is by getting an introductory game from someone who already plays AoS, who knows the rules and has some models or an army that you can try out. This will get your foot in the door, you will learn the rules more easily, you will feel how it is to play an actual game and get a better grasp on what the different armies can do.
- If at all possible, look around your area for a club where AoS is played regularly. Starting the hobby with someone to mentor you and knowing that you can get a game in your area is key to a fruitful experience in AoS. This is a social game and if you neglect that aspect you will quickly become lost. Having a bunch of like-minded gamers will really help you out (especially with all of those questions you have!).
- If you have a question, try typing it into google first. Odds are that an article or forum thread will cover what you need.
- Look around the web for resources. I am still finding questions that need answers, but I believe that my content for beginners will answer most questions first-time AoS players will have (if you feel some kind of beginner content is missing, do not hesitate to get in touch with me about it!).
- If you are too scared to ask for a trial game, watch some games on different youtube channels, the Warhammer Live Twitch channel or down at your club in real life. It will give you a greater understanding of the game, what interests you and what you can do in the hobby. Most people do not mind an audience when they play, but ask politely and say that you are new. Odds are very good that they will answer questions and help you out (and if they are not polite, life is too short to hang out with that kind of people anyway).
The 5 things you will absolutely need to play your first game of Age of Sigmar
No two ways about it, you need some models to play the game. To get started, you can make do with just a few (you can play a battle skirmish with just about 10 models per side). For your first game, you can also use different models as a stand-in if you have any from another game.
Borrowing some minis from your opponent might be the best solution if you got none yet. It can take a while before you will feel you know enough to pull the trigger on selecting a faction/race/army, and getting a few games in before that can help immensely with the selection.
2. Board space and some terrain or obstacles
You will need some space to play your game:
- For normal/big games you will need 6×4 feet (122cm x 183cm).
- For smaller games, you can make do with 4×4 feet (122cm x 122cm).
- If you are playing a very small skirmish game, you can make do with less.
- Your kitchen table will be fine for your first few games, but at some
pointyou will want something more. When I am not playing on wicked 3D printed terrain (as the one above), I make do with Battlemats (as is very standard to use nowadays).
To break up the game and add depth, a few obstacles and terrain pieces will be important:
- 6 pieces of terrain will be the minimum I would put on a board for a “real game”.
- Books and various households elements will do fine when starting out.
- As you gain experience you will know how much terrain you need will need for your games. In my experience, more is more when it comes to
Ageof Sigmar. Almost no terrain is too cumbersome to be played on in AoS, so only your creativity and resources will be the limiting factor.
- You can buy terrain from GW, but as with all GW stuff you need to paint it first. The scenery available that is Age of Sigmar themed is also very limited (right now), so it might be an idea to look for shops that sell pre-painted terrain.
3. Dice and something to measure with
You will needsix-sideddice (and a lot of them). Get some, and accept the fact that you will lose one die at some point (and it will hurt your gaming OCD, but that is the way of the dice gods).
InAgeof Sigmar, movement is measured in inches, so you will need something to measure that with. GW sells some perfectly fine tape measures.
4. An opponent
While playing with yourself can be nice (nophunintended), someone to play with will lead to a much better experience. Hopefully, you will have someone to run you through a test game (your local game store might be able to help you out).
If you no one can train you, you will have to read the rules carefully and coerce one of your friends to play with you.
5. The rules for the game and the rules for your models
The core rules will cover the basic aspect of the game. After reading that, you should have an ok grasp on the rules. The Core Rules are free and can be found on GW’s website.
For each hero or unit in your army, you will need a Warscroll corresponding to that unit. If you browse GW’s website each model or unit will have a section called “rules”. There you can find the Warscroll.
Downloading all those pdf files (and maybeprintingthem out) can be a biter cumbersome. Luckily, we have the AoS app to the rescue. In that little sucker, you will find warscrolls for all units, the core rules and an army builder in the “Azyr” section.
How important is the hobby aspect of Age of Sigmar
- A big draw of the game is the visual style of it. When you first see two beautifully painted armies pitched against each other on a magnificently crafted game board, you can get sucked in quite easily.
- Contrary to popular belief, it requires no artistic skill to paint Warhammer. With all the tools and guides available, all it requires is a steady hand, patience and the willingness to learn.
- If you really hate painting, you can, of course, pay someone else to do it for you (a commission painter). Before you go down that route, I think you should really ask yourself if this is a game you want into without embracing the full scale of it (you might be better of playing something with fewer miniatures or prepainted miniatures).
How expensive is Age of Sigmar?
No denying this, people who do not understand the hobby think it is crazy expensive. When you tell random people what you paid for unpainted grey plastic models, let alone the paint for them, they tend to shake their head in wonder.
A cheap army (made from a starter set or some start collecting boxes) can be gotten from around £100-150 (you can, of course, play smaller games than this). My latest big army cost around £400 (I am addicted to Gloomspite Gitz). Paint, tools, brushes and so on? It all adds up quickly.
On average I think you get a good sized 2000 points army + tools and paints for around £450 points. A lot of that investment is in the tools, paints books and so on. Adding a second army will be much cheaper.
All that said: the game can be as expensive or inexpensive as you want it to be. There are plenty of ways of keeping the costs down (buying from a cheaper shop, only buying what you need when you need it, only buying discounted miniatures, buying used models and so on).
I look at this way: how much enjoyment and hours of fun do I get out of a box of miniatures costing me £30? Well, probably 20 hours of assembling and painting (this is with nicely done bases and the best level of paint I can produce). So £1.5 pound pr. a hour for that enjoyment and all the time I am going to play with them in the future.
The 6 things that you will most likely need early in your Age of Sigmar journey
1. A regular place to play with multiple different opponents
You will quickly outgrow playing on your kitchen table with your best buddy. Finding a club or a hobby store where you can play regularly is not only a nice option, but it will significantly help you with your gaming and your hobby.
If a club/store is out of the question, think about what other options you have. Does one of the people in your gaming group have a big basement? Why not go together and make a dedicated gaming board with cool terrain? The big key here is making sure that getting to play the game is not a big hassle for you.
Having a regular place also means that it will easy for your group to invite in new people. Rumour will spread that if you want to play AoS, it is possible to play at this and this place at this and this time. Making it easier for other people to get into the game is surely a good thing, but having a steady stream of different players will, in the long run, be beneficial for all players. Playing against the same person with the same army over and over again becomes boring quickly.
2. Your own army
Starting your own army and collection of miniatures will be one of the first things you will start to think about, maybe even before you have ever tried a game. The decision on what faction to roll with is crucial, so I suggest not rushing this in any way. Take your time and embrace the excitement that is considering the different possibilities.
There are multiple ways of taking the decision and various factors you need to consider:
- What kind of miniatures do you like? Browse around on GW’s website and see what miniatures you like the look of. All will have a different feel and aesthetic and we will all have different taste in what looks cool.
- What kind of lore and background would you like for your army? Read a bit about the lore in Age of Sigmar setting as well as the lore behind the different factions. I have a Newbies Guide to the Lore of each Faction here.
- Does the army need to be easy to paint for a beginner? Painting your first army can be a daunting task, and some armies are easier to paint than others for beginners. Luckily, I have made a guide on how to paint your first army. If you are looking for something especially beginner friendly, you can also check out my post on what to look for if you want a very easy army to paint.
- Are you looking for a low model count elite army or a high model count horde army? Some armies consist of lots of small dudes (Skaven and Gloomspite Gitz comes to mind), others will be more elite style (Stormcast and Beastclaw Raiders would be an example).
- How expensive can the army be? For various reasons, different factions and races will cost a lot more to build an army out of. This will very much depend on how many units you need to make the army (how much money you need to spend to fill it up to the required points level), but will also be a factor whether or not all the kits are in plastic, if the Start collecting box holds the models you want and so on.
- What playstyle are you looking for? The playstyle of each faction will differ massively. The best way of figuring out how the playstyle of an army feels is to try the army out. Another way is to read through the different factions forums on The Grand Alliance Community.
- Does the army need to be very competitive? If no, you completely skip worrying about what factions are good. If this is important to you, there are various armies that are currently very weak. Watch out!
Selecting your army is just so hard. I am in the process of making different resources to help with this selection:
- An overview of the different Factions and Races in Age of Sigmar
- The rules for building an army and the rules for army composition can be a bit strange in AoS. It is covered in the section of the rules regarding “matched play”. You can read about points values and matched play in my article on it here.
3. The basic hobby tools
The models in Age of Sigmar come as unpainted grey plastic (some models are resin and not plastic) on a frame called a sprue (see picture).
1. Clippers: to get the models out of the sprues you will need a cutter. I suggest just getting the GW one – it is sharp and the edge on it is the perfect shape for getting the plastic pieces of without too much excess plastic hanging on.
2. Something to clean the models with: to clean the models after that, you will need a hobby knife and/or a mouldline remover. I always suggest the GW Mouldline Remover for beginners (it is just that good and easy to use).
3. Plastic glue to assemble the models: to assemble the models, you will need some plastic glue. Plastic glue is very easy to use and because it melts the plastic it will create a very strong bond between the different pieces. I find GW’s plastic glue subpar (here you can read what kind brands of glues I recommend for plastic, metal/resin and terrain).
4. A primer: applying paint directly to the grey plastic is a recipe for disaster. You need a primer/undercoat to make the paint stick better on the surface. For beginners, a spray primer is the way to go. Contrary to popular belief, do not spray your miniatures black (it will be harder to get a good result as a beginner). Instead go for a white, grey or brown colour. I find the different GW options to be of fine quality, but opinions differ vastly on this subject.
5. Brushes and paint: To paint your models an army, you will need some paint and a selection of brushes.
Do not worry too much about the quality of the brushes when you are starting out (chances are good you will ruin them in the first few months). Just get some ok miniatures brushes in different sizes (you can find my recommended brushes here).
For beginners, I would just pick paints from the citadel paint range (I have written a bit about why Citadel Paints are great for beginners here).
If you can get your hands on one of the paint starter sets, they are an excellent value (and will provide you with different paints, a brush and either some tools are miniatures to paint).
4. The Battletome for your faction as well as other books you might need
Overall I think the following books can be very helpful starting out:
The Battletome for the faction you end up collecting:
A Battletome is a book about a specific faction. The Battletome will contain a host of useful things for that specific army:
- All the special rules for a faction (artefacts, command traits, allegiance traits, faction specific spell
loresand so on). These are called Allegiance Abilities and are key to understanding AoS (read more about allegiance abilities in my article about them here).
- Lore and story regarding the faction
- Artwork for the faction
- All of the warscrolls for the units in the faction
- Painting guides for the models in the faction
In short, if you want to play a faction it will almost always be a good idea to grab their Battletome. If you come from the old game Warhammer: Fantasy, the Battletome is equivalent to the Armybook. If you play 40k, you can see it is a Codex for the army.
Warhammer Age of Sigmar Core Book:
The core book is in no way mandatory, but it is immensely helpful for a new player.
- It will get you up to speed on the lore of Age of Sigmar
- You will find a section covering the four grand alliances as well as a brief overview of each faction within those four categories
- Amazing artwork
- An explanation of the different play styles (open, matched and narrative) as well as the lowdown on how matched play works.
- Rules for fighting in different realms.
- A bit on painting and collecting miniatures
- The core rules
- And so much more!
The Getting Started magazine:
If the Big Rulebook is too much of an investment, you can consider just getting the getting started
It can be a bit confusing exactly what books you need to play AoS. Most are optional, but it depends entirely on how you want to play. If you require a better overview of what books you need for what, you can read more here.
5. Different Apps to make your life easier
After many years where GW did not bother with that “digital nonsense”, they have finally come around and seen the light. These are the apps I find most helpful with regards to Age of Sigmar:
- The AoS App: I talked about it earlier, but no reason not to mention it again. This is the most helpful app for Age of Sigmar. It has the core rules, warscrolls for all units and a build in army builder (with a minor subscription fee). Be wary of buying books this way, as it might not be the best digital option for you.
- The Citadel Painting App: is GW’s own take on a digital paint helper. You can use it to track what colours you own and want to buy, find different recipes for painting bases and specific colours, tutorials for painting different miniatures as well as video guides on different techniques. A must have if you are just starting out with the hobby.
- PaintRack: if you are using paints other than GW’s Citadel paint range, this app might be something for you. This thing is all about keeping track on exactly what paints you own (regardless of paint range) and what you need to buy next time you are in a store. It is also super helpful in comparing colours from different brands.
- A note-taking app: I find a note app (that sync across all my devices) to be super important for my gaming purposes. My Onenote holds all details of painting projects, my model collecting, combos and army builds I want to try out and so much more. Pick your poison between different note taking apps and get your hobby organised.
- Warscroll Builder: not exactly an app, but a useful digital tool nonetheless. This is a free GW
sanctionedonline army builder for Age of Sigmar. Use it to type out army lists, see the point values and think up clever army builds.
6. Time and Money
Getting into a game like Age of Sigmar requires a time commitment and some money. If you want to paint up that army, you are looking at a lot of hours before you will feel satisfied with the result. If you want to collect all the different miniatures for your faction, you better have some funds set aside for it. Ohhh yeah, and when you finally think you are done GW will release some new shinies that you will feel like you just must buy!
This is just to say: Age of Sigmar is a game where you need to invest a lot before you get something back. But I can tell you up front: it is so satisfying to set up that beautifully painted army on the tabletop.
Stuff that might be useful someday
1. A wet palette
When you get a bit more serious about painting, strongly consider getting a Wet Palette. The concept is simple: it is a palette (thing to put your paint on) that is also moist. This helps keeps your paint in the right thin consistency for longer.
Painting with semi-dry paint is the best way of getting a crummy looking miniature. No matter how good your other paint skills are, you cannot save a miniature from a bad basecoat. The biggest factor in a good base coat is thin paint, so why not get the tool that will help you out with that the most?
I suggest just making a wet palette yourself (as mine in the picture above). You just need a box, some cotton in the bottom, water and some paper on top of that (lunch box paper, baker paper and other papers with that consistency will suffice).
2. Some way of transporting your army
The problem hits you like a sledgehammer: you have painted some cool looking minis and you are now ready to head out and find a battlefield. But how the heck will you be able to transport those wonky and dynamic AoS miniatures without damaging them?
There are two kinds of transport: foam or magnets.
GW (and many other companies) makes some fine foam cases. They are cheap, easy to get your hands on and you can just plop down your minis in them and head out the door. You can also make your own quite easily.
The magnet solution requires are bit more preparation, as you need to magnetize your bases. The reward is a much easier (and safe) way of transporting big fiddly miniatures. The minis basically stand up as usual on a metal plate while you transport them. You can make your own if you are a bit handy, but there is also plenty of different producer of magnetised cases.
3. A few useful gaming tools
There are a lot of things that can make your gaming experience a bit smoother. Things I use in almost all my games are the following things:
- A combat gauge (to measure pile in for the combat phase)
- Movement trays (mainly if you run multiple big units)
- Terrain Dice (it is hard to keep track of what pieces of terrain got what rules without them)
- A cheat sheet for my army (just nice to have to not forget all of those special rules when you need them)
- Counters and Tokens (in the start you will forget things all the time. Something help lessen that strain on your mind is very useful).
4. Better brushes and more tools
Cheap stuff is very good in the beginning. But, at some point, you will begin to wonder if there are not some better quality brushes out there.
Before you go out and buy some expensive brushes, you should first learn how to take care of those brushes (I made photo-rich step-by-step to doing just that here). My go to good brushes are the “0” of the Winsor & Newson series. It is just that good.
Also, take a look around on the web for awesome paints and various hobby tools. A good place to browse for hobby tools is Greenstuff World (and try to avoid going to the site too much. I always end up buying more than I originally wanted).
5. Space and a good way to store your stuff
You might think that money will be the biggest issue when it comes to your Warhammer hobby, but that is actually not true. You will quickly find out that your biggest problem will soon become storage!
Things to consider:
- Where are you going to store your painted miniatures? (in the window self will in the long run not work out).
- Is it possible for you to have a permanent painting setup or do you need to make a mobile system for packing it away all the time?
- Where will you hide all that grey plastic you are never going to paint anyway?
- Where will you put all those weird basing materials?
Are there any starter or beginner sets for Age of Sigmar?
You have two major options if you want to buy some kind of starter box:
The Age of Sigmar Starter Sets and the Start Collecting boxes.
The starter sets are designed to get you playing with minimal effort. In the starter sets, you will get miniatures from two different factions as well as various introduction tools.
You can find my review and comparison for each starter set here. In the guide, I go through the pricing, how much of a discount the set represents, how big a force you get and the various pros and cons of each set.
At times GW will also make starter boxes with two new different armies. Sadly, these get sold out almost immediately, and once they are sold out it is very unlikely they will get reprinted.
While the starter sets offer great value and one of the best ways of getting into AoS, they are not for everyone. You might not like the factions that come in starter sets or you might not like getting miniatures for two different factions.
Luckily for you, GW has made a host of different “Start Collecting Boxes”. The start collecting boxes are one of the only ways of getting a discount when buying miniatures from games workshop and the different boxes offer amazing value. Each will give you a hero and some basic units. The Start Collecting boxes contains all the options that buying the units in a separate box would (which is different from the starter sets).
There are two different Start Collecting boxes: boxes with the faction battletome and boxes without the battletome. The ones with battletome can only be ordered directly from GW, but you do not save anything extra from the bundle ( so it is kind of pointless).
Where should you buy your Age of Sigmar tools and models?
As a wargamer in this day and age, you are spoiled for options on ways to purchase an army. I would recommend a few:
Buy from a good webstore! If you are cheap like me, you will quickly hate to pay full price for your plastic addiction. I have recently switched from buying Element Games (awesome site) to Goblin Gaming (even more awesome site!)
For me, Gobling Gaming gives the perfect combination of low price (20% of normal GW prices), fast delivery and the selection of all the items I want.
I live in Denmark, so when I shop from the UK I want to pay the minimum amount for postage. This means bulking my orders in a massive bundle, so getting everything from the same page is very important. Goblin Gaming can provide that
But what I love about Goblin Gaming is how much they care about their customers and their community. They have reached out to me and several other content creators, and they are throwing in a massive amount of support for people who want to make good quality content for all wargaming hobbyist out there.
If you live across the pond, I would recommend Noble Knight Games. They are very similar in price and come recommended by a lot of US gamers.
Support your local gaming store!
If you are lucky enough to have a good local game store where you can purchase your armies and play with them on beautiful terrain, you owe it to yourself to buy at least a bit of stuff from them. You never know how close they are to going out of business.
If you get to know the staff, odds are they can make you a deal on bigger purchases (making the price difference between webstore and local store a bit easier to swallow).
Also, make it a habit to buy stuff from your local store that they get a good cut on (sadly, that is mostly small non-GW hobby supplies and your soft drinks).
The amount of grey plastic on sale is staggering. Ebay is ok, but I see most success from different Facebook pages.
Look for your local area, and you will soon see people eager to give away whole armies of assembled and primed models for half the retail price.
How do I go about learning the Rules for Age of Sigmar?
Start by reading the free core rules. If you hate reading, GW has made some excellent video tutorials. You can also just browse around on youtube for some answers or get someone to run a trail game for you.
After having watched some videos or played a game, you will get answers to a lot of questions but you will also be left with a lot of new questions.
I have tried to answer as many broader rules confusions and questions as possible in my articles directed at beginners. You can also go to forums/facebook and ask away.
People mention “Matched Play” and “Open Play”. What are the different ways of playing AoS?
If you read the Big Core Rulebook (or the Generals Handbook) you will get the lowdown on what GW means by these different terms. The quick answer:
Open Play: is a style of game where you and your opponent together decide how many models and what (if any!) restrictions you will place on your armies. You play whatever battleplan you want (or make up your own!).
Narrative play: is very much like open play, but the focus here is on telling a story. Who wins, whether the armies are balanced or not and so on does not really matter. What matters is that you and your opponent tell a cool story with the game you have. Battleplans for narrative gaming can be found in almost all of the AoS books and you can make up your own if you are a little creative.
Matched play: is a type of play where you use a set of army restrictions and minor rule changes. This is made to try and balance the game a bit. A lot of people play with the matched play rules because that it just so much easier to balance two armies if you use the points system. You can find the rules for matched play in the Big Core Rulebook or the newest version of the general’s handbook.
How do I learn more about the lore and story of Age of Sigmar?
The Age of Sigmar lore can be a bit confusing to get into at first. There are a lot of realms, gods and weird stuff going on. Trust me when I say: it is well worth the effort to get a better grasp on the story. Do not listen to people who belittle the story and lore. It is very likely they are old Warhammer Fantasy ragers, and all they have read was the (pretty bad) start of the story.
Different ways of getting into the lore:
- Read my introduction to the Age of Sigmar lore here
- Read a great rundown on the story so far in the Age of Sigmar Core Rulebook.
- Read about the different factions and realms in the Core Rulebook (or in my newbie’s guide to the lore for each faction)
- In the faction Battletomes you will get lore and story regarding that particular faction
- If you like wikis, 1d4 chan has the best one with regards to AoS lore.
- Black Library produces novels for Age of Sigmar. I find that I really like about 50% of the AoS stuff, so they are a bit hit and miss. If you can handle being thrown straight into the world with no foreplay, then the Sigmar Novel City of Secrets might be something for you. This is the first story where we really see the humans, a living breathing city, a normal person’s reactions to the weird Stormcast Eternals and some Chaos enemies that is not only Nurgle and Khorn (we got a lot of novels with that stuff).
- If you played Warhammer Fantasy, I think the best way is to listen to the audio novel Realmslayer. The Dwarf Slayer Gotrek is teleported into the Age of Sigmar, so he will know nothing of the realms but will see it from the same perspective as an old Warhammer: Fantasy player. It also helps that the acting in the book is amazing!
- If you hate reading or buying stuff, check out the excellent lore youtube channel +2 Tough. Chances are he has made a lore video on whatever Age of Sigmar stuff you are looking for.
How do I learn how to paint?
It can be so very daunting to learn how to paint. Worry not, there are a lot of tools and resources out there that can help you out.
It is easy to get bogged down trying to learn too many things at once.
I would suggest you start out by focusing on learning:
- How to prepare your models and assemble them (cut them out of the sprue, clean the parts from leftover plastic, glue them and prime them)
- Basecoating your models neatly (first layer of paint)
- Applying Games Workshop Shades nicely and cleanly (also called ‘washing’)
- The drybrush technique where you apply a lighter colour of paint on raised areas
- Optionally you can look into doing a bit of highlighting (also called layering), but you could save it for later (it can look really bad when you first start out).
- How to clean and care for your brushes
With these methods, you can get some really good looking models. Many will refer to this method as ‘tabletop standard’. It will look great on the table, but if you pick up a model you might notice a few mistakes here and there.
If you hear about blending, wet-blending, Non-metal-metalic (NMM – painting metal without a metal paint) and other weird words do not get discouraged. You will learn all these at some point if you want to, but many players never bother with more than the basics as outlined above.
If you are interested in more advanced stuff (but still explained for newbies) the Miniacs youtube channel is a very good resource.
What happened to Warhammer: Fantasy?
Warhammer: Fantasy is the original GW game set in a medieval fantasy style setting. GW rolled a storyline called “The End Times”, where the Old World was basically killed. The game got scraped and from the ashes rose Warhammer: Age of Sigmar.
- Age of Sigmar is set in a new world (with a lot of different realms), but the story is actually a continuation of the storyline after the End Times.
- If you played the old Warhammer, you might notice that a lot of the races survived (with new names).
- Some of the characters from the Old World also survived. Some have been made into Stormcast Eternals, some are now Gods, others are strongly hinted to have been reincarnated into new heroes and others come waltzing back through a portal from the Chaos Realms a few thousand years after the end times (hello Gotrek!)
- If you are confused about the new names, I have written a short piece for returning Fantasy players to make it more understandable.
I used to play Warhammer Fantasy. How is Age of Sigmar different?
You will find that Age of Sigmar is a completely different beast. You might not like it, but please try and make your own opinion on it before you listen to the grognards.
- AoS is played with miniatures on round and oval bases instead of square bases in big blocks of regiments. This also means no “rank & flank”.
- The core rules are now free and core rules are much simpler. The depth and strategy in the rules come from the army specific rules, rules for each unit, the rules for the different scenarios, the supplements and so on.
- The setting and style of lore are very different. This is not Tolkien in a feudal version of Earth. AoS is very high fantasy, living gods, portals, realms, a world infused with magic and all sorts of weird and fantastic things.
- The storyline for Age of Sigmar is moving forward. This is via the novels and the different supplements, campaigns and campaign books.
- Each year (in summer) a book is released that gives an attempt at rebalancing the points values for the matched play (competitive) system in AoS.
- The factions have been split up into smaller pieces, but GW are right now moving towards bigger factions again.
- Each round you and your opponent rolls of to see who goes first in that round. That can result in a double turn for you or your opponent. This is a massive departure form Warhammer: Fantasy.
I have an old Warhammer: Fantasy army. Is it usable in Age of Sigmar?
Yes sir, yes you can! Even though the army on square bases it is totally fine. At some point, you might want to rebase them (either for aesthetic reasons or because you want to play in tournaments that require the round bases)
You might find that you cannot buy models for the army you had or that some models have been removed from the GW website.
It is also possible that the models have been split up into different factions.
Even though some armies no longer exist in the lore and the game (Bretonnia and Tomb Kings for instance) they are still somewhat supported with points cost (called Legacy armies). But they are probably never coming back and they are probably never gonna get a Battletome or see much support.
How is Warhammer: Age of Sigmar different from Warhammer: 40k?
The jump from Warhammer 40k to Age of Sigmar is surprisingly small. Here are a few things you should know:
- The core rules are surprisingly similar. Movement, charge, combat and so on will work in ways that feel extremely familiar.
- The core rules and rules for all units are free in Age of Sigmar. It is very possible that you still want to buy the battletome (AoS version of codex), but that is mainly to get access to the armies special rules.
- The biggest difference is, of course, the setting. 40k is Grimdark sci-fi lore and Sigmar is very high epic fantasy.
- A lot less will happen in the shooting phase in Age of Sigmar. Very good shooting units are few and far between and this means the focus is on combat.
- In each round (except the first) you and your opponent rolls of to see who goes first in that round. This means that it is possible for you or your opponent to get two turns in a row. You might think this is totally unbalanced, but it is actually not. It takes a lot away from the power of taking the first turn (something that really defines 40k) and makes it so you have to think a lot farther into the coming turns when you move around.
- You will see a lot more “mono-faction” in Age of Sigmar. Power comes from synergy and buffs, and these will rarely go on units other than “in faction units”. “Soup” is a lot less powerful in Age of Sigmar.
Is Age of Sigmar any good?
If you got so far down, this question might not be that relevant. For all of the flak it received at launch Age of Sigmar (especially after the second edition came out) has grown into its own very great game.
I can tell you this: a lot of the early grumblings about the game where true. Heck, I grumbled a lot myself! Blowing up Warhammer: Fantasy and replacing it with the bare bones edition of Age of Sigmar was done very poorly. The core rules were not great on their own, old units had gotten silly rules, the first Sigmar novel stuff was kinda bad, people played games without battleplans (and playing Sigmar like that makes for a very poor game), the rules had no way of balancing armies (a major headache for people who “play to win”) and the list goes on.
A long time has passed since then and all of the things I raged about has been fixed. So if you hear any grumbling about AoS, ask people “when did you last try the game out?”. Odds are, that was early days or maybe never.
I urge you to give it a go. I think it is by far the best edition of Warhammer we have ever had.
- The rules strike that good balance between “easy to learn, hard to master”
- GW puts out books and miniatures at a steady pace
- The miniatures have NEVER been this good looking. Having them on round bases means they can be a lot more dynamic.
- The community in AoS is the best gaming community I have ever been a part of. So friendly, relaxed, kind to beginners, creative and in all ways what I wish a gaming community is (almost makes you wonder where all of the grumbling Warhammer: Fantasy players went…)