Overview of the changes in Age of Sigmar 2
In this article, I will go through the exact changes in Age of Sigmar’s second edition (AoS 2.0). The core rules can be found on the Official AoS page here.
The Age of Sigmar second edition brings a lot of welcome changes to the system. Overall the following is new:
- A new (big) core rulebook (core rules, lore, maps of the mortal realms, battle plans and Allegiance Abilities for the Grand Alliances).
- Generals Handbook 2018 (new points, changes to summoning, reworked matched play and battleplans).
- A new starter set with new miniatures.
- Malign Sorcery magic addon (Endless spells, realms spells and realm artefacts usable by all armies).
- New official Age of Sigmar website.
- Updated FAQ.
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Changes to the core rules in AoS 2
The core rules have been expanded from the 4 pages it was before to 17 (ish) pages.
A lot of the extra stuff is rules that before was scattered in different books (how does allegiance abilities work, how do allies work, how do battalions work and so on).
The addition and tweaks of the rules are massive because it makes it much easier for new players to locate all the rules they need. The new core rules are, like the old ones, available as a free download in the app and on the new official AoS website.
Here is a comprehensive rundown of the core rule changes in AoS 2:
- Coherency: a model in a unit must end the turn within 1″ of another model in the unit. If not, you must remove models from the unit until the unit is back in coherency (p. 1 core rules under “Units”).
- Bases are real: even though the rest of the world have always measured from base to base, it was never an official thing. Finally, it is now part of the core rules (p1. core rules under “Measuring distances). In the “Designers’ Commentary for Age of Sigmar” you can also find the official recommended base size for all the models.
- The General lives on: if the General of your army is slain you must nominate a new model to be the new general and that general gets to pick a new warlord trait(p. 2 core rules under “Chose a general”). Notice that in matched play (rules for it found in GH18) this is not the case.
- Tweak to turn priority: you still roll of each battle round to see who gets to pick who goes first in the battle round. In case of a tie on the roll, the player who went first in the last battle round chooses who goes first. This will slightly reduce the amount of “double turns” we see (p. 2. core rules second paragraph). Sadly, the first to deploy all of his army still picks who goes first.
- A roll of 1 fails: earlier the rules for matched play in the Generals Handbook stated that a to hit, wound or save roll of 1 (before modifiers) always failed. Now it is a part of the core rules (page 7. of the core rules).
- Abilities on warscrolls take precedence over core rules (page 13 of the core rules): this clearly takes the price as the weirdest addition to the game. Basically, if a unit has an ability on the warscroll that rule will be used instead of whatever is in the core rules. This has so far created some very weird shenanigans with poorly worded warscrolls, but they are slowly starting to reword the warscrolls.
Command Abilities for everyone!:
- No longer is command abilities restricted to your general, but can be used by any model who has a command ability on the warscroll. It will cost one command point to use a command ability.
- You start with zero command points but get one at the start of each your hero phases.
- In matched play, you also start the game with a command point for every 50 points you did not spend on units or battalions.
- Each warscroll battalion gives an additional command point at the start of the game.
- There is no limit to the number of command abilities you can use in a turn and no limit on how many times a hero can use his command ability (except the number of command points you have).
- Command abilities can stack (but many command abilities have been reworded so the specific ability cannot stack).
- All heroes have access to 3 common command abilities: turn a run roll into a roll of 6, reroll charge rolls and immune to battleshock for one turn (not battle round). Found on page 3. of the cure rules under “Command Abilities”. These are not used in the hero phase but in the relevant phase (movement, combat or battleshock phase). Can only be used on units close to the hero (generals range is longer than normal heroes).
- Shooting out of combat is no longer possible: if your unit is within 3″ of an enemy unit, it must target that enemy unit in the shooting phase (page 5. core rules under “Enemy Units”). If you shooting unit is not engaged, it can still shoot into combat.
- Look out Sir is back!: if your hero is within 3″ of a unit with 3 or more models, the enemy must subtract -1 from the hit roll in the shooting phase. Does not count for monsters. Page 5 core rules under “Look out, Sir!”.
- Everyone, fight!: it was possible, and sometimes the best option, to not attack with a unit in the combat phase. Now each eligible unit must attack in the combat phase (P. 5 core rules under “Combat Phase”).
- Wrapping around in combat: in the last edition, a model would be stuck when it got in base contact with another model in close combat. Now you can wrap around the model you are in base contact with, as long as you still end in base contact with it (p. 5. core rules under “Piling in”).
Magic (core rules page 8)
- 30″ unbind (dispell) range: magic is going to be crazy, so it is very good that the dispell range was bumped from 18″ to 30″.
- Spell rule of 1 now in the core rules: earlier it was a General’s handbook matched play rule that you could only attempt each spell one time in the same phase. Now that rule is part of the core rules.
- Nerf to Arcane Bolt: earlier Arcane Bolt was d3 mortal wounds. Now it is 1 mortal wound and d3 mortal wounds if the casting roll was 10 or more.
- Nerf to Mystic Shield: Instead of giving +1 on the save it now confers rerolls of 1 on the save roll. Could it be the biggest change to the game?
Terrain (core rules page 10)
The random terrain effects have been adjusted. There are still 6 different results and they still have the same name.
- Damned: used to be able to give a unit within 3″ +1 to hit if it took d3 mortal wounds. Now it gives re-rolls hit rolls off 1 instead.
- Arcane: unchanged
- Inspiring: unchanged
- Deadly: running or charging across the terrain would make you roll a d6 for each model. On a roll of 1 the model would die. Now it is finishing a move or a charge within 1″ of the terrain feature and it will only cause the unit to suffer d3 mortal wounds. Deadly is now much less deadly.
- Mystical: used to make a unit within 3″ lose its turn or give the unit re-roll failed wound rolls. Now it gives a +6 chance to shrug off a wound or a mortal wound to models within 1″.
- Sinister: Used to give a model a positive fear effect against enemy units, making them subtract 1 from bravery. Now all units subtract 1 from bravery while within 1″ of the terrain feature.Obstacles: some warscrolls for terrain will identify the terrain as an obstacle. If you have all models from a unit within 1″ of the obstacle they get a cover like effect. This cover effect (+1 on the save roll) only comes into effect if the attacking model is closer to the obstacle than it is to the unit (page 10 in the core rulebook).Garrisons: the rules for garrisons have been added to the core rules instead of having them only on the terrain warscrolls (page 11. of the core rules). The rules have been cleaned up. You still get cover and now the enemy must also subtract 1 from hit rolls against the garrisoned unit. As far as I can tell, that did not exist on the earlier warscrolls for terrain.
Actual battleplans have finally been added to the core rules. Page 11 will explain what they are and how you should use them.
It has been cleared up how objectives should be measured to and from. (page 11-12 in the core rules). Now the core rules also include the rules for how to take control of an objective (you gain control of an objective by having most models within 6″ of the centre of the objective by the end of a turn).
The only battleplan included in the core rules is “First Blood”.
The map is standard setup and the special rule is that you get 1 command point for being the first to kill a general.
The objective is to either table you opponent or kill the most amount of wounds at the end of the 5 battle round.
The battleplan is good for getting a quick game going but it is really bad at showing how tactical AoS can be. This battleplan will quickly end in brawl in the middle of the table if booth players are new to the game.
- Warscrolls are now explained much better in the core rules (page 13).
- Extra attacks can no longer generate extra attacks. Earlier this was one of the Generals Handbook rules of 1 for matched play, but now it is baked into the core rules (core rules page 14).
- A clarification has been added regarding abilities that happen pre-battle and that “end of phase” means.
- Several unit warscrolls have been updated (mainly to align with the new rules for command abilities as well as the new rules for summoning).
- Warscroll Battalions are now in the core rules instead of being placed in the books where you find the Warscroll Battalions (page 15. of the core rules).
- The rules regarding the Warscrolls have remained unchanged, but the nuances are much better described (how it works with allies and allegiance abilities and so on).
- You now receive 1 command point for each Warscroll Battalion at the start of the game (you still get an extra artefact for each one as well).
- The points have been adjusted (a bit) in Generals Handbook 2018.
Realms of Battle
Earlier was possible to have a game in a specific “realm”. You could find the rules for these in the different campaign books. Now, these rules are explained in the core rules on page 16.
It is important to note that it is stated that “you may” pick a realm to have the battle in. The actual rules for the realms are not located in the core rules, but the rules do state which of the mortal realms there is to choose from. The realm picked will have several different effects.
- Find the realms in the Big Core Rulebook: the rules for 7 different realms are included on page 254 to 260.
- Extra spells: it is stated that wizards can know extra spells (in addition to the ones they have normally have) from the specific realm the battle is in. Each wizard in the army will know all spells from that realm. In the big core rulebook, each realm has one spell. In the Malign Sorcery expansion, you can find a big list of 6 spells for each realm.
- “Realmscape Features”: each realm has a list of 6 different random features. It just says that the features of the realm can have a big impact on the game. Some of the features will have no bearing on the outcome whereas other will have a huge impact on how the game is played.
- Extra command abilities: each realm has at least one unique command ability available for use in the battle.
- The Mortals Realms can have different regions: the box in the upper corner on page 16 of the core rules describes that a realm can have different regions. What that means or what it effects is not covered in the core rules nor in any book we have seen so far. Most likely it will be included in future battletomes or campaign books.
- The realm can have an effect on the power of the endless spells: some of the endless spells (found in the Malign Sorcery expansion) will deal more damage or have an extended range depending on the realm.
All in all, it is unlikely that very competitive tournaments will include the rules for battling in a specific realm. Because of the very random nature of the rules, they are mainly aimed at narrative and casual play.
Finally, the rules for Allegiance Abilities are found in the core rules (earlier they were in the Generals Handbook or in the Battletome with your allegiance abilities).
- Terminology is explained: Grand Alliances and Factions are now described in the core rules (page 17). Sadly they did not change any of the wording on the naming front. I still think the terminology is cluncy and easily confused for new players (Difference between allies and grand alliances, the use of “allegiance abilities” instead of “faction abilities” and so on).
- Allies are also a thing without points: earlier allies was only really a thing if you used points. Now it is stated that that 1 out of 4 units can be an ally but no more. This rule also applies in matched play (in addition to the normal point limit on allies) which is actually a bit of a shame.
Changes in matched play and Generals Handbook 2018
All the “rules of one” are now a part of the core rules
With the expansion of the core rules from 4 pages to a more comprehensive set of core rules, all the rules of one are now added to the core rules.
This is a very welcome change, as it makes the “normal” game much better and eases the information overload for new players.
Anything that can collect the rules in a more central (and free) place is a good move in my opinion.
Changes in the pitched battle format (matched play)
- Allies function the same, but the ally rules in the core rules still apply (only 1 allied unit for every 3 normal units in the army). This means that it is much harder to get multiple small units of allies.
- In the normal rules, you select a new model to be the general when your normal general dies. In matched play, you skip this step.
- Endless spells are a part of matched play. You have to pay a point cost for each endless spell (found in Malign Sorcery book and in the GHB18). You can only have one model of each endless spell in play in pitched battle.
- For every 50 points you do not spend on units or battalions you gain 1 command point at the start of the game.
- Instead of 6 battleplans the new pitched battle rules now include 3×6 battleplans. Some are old favourites while others are new. 6 of them are in the Core Rulebook and 12 are in the Generals Handbook.
Tweaked allegiance abilities
In the new Generals Handbook, you will find allegiance abilities and big warscroll battalions for the same factions as in the last edition of the GBH (bummer…).
Some of the abilities are tweaked but nothing major has happened.
The big tweak is that the allegiance abilities for the four grand alliances are not included in the GBH, but is now part of the Big Core Rulebook.
Slight point adjustment
As per usual, the new Generals Handbook brings a slew of point adjustments, both up and down.
The points adjustment seems in line with the amount in earlier handbooks, but it feels like the changes did not live up to the hype created by the Warhammer community articles (MASSIVE POINTS CHANGES were advertised for some armies and the handbook did not deliver).
Sadly, it seems that none of the factions without a battletome have become more competitive with the points changes (and this seemed like one of the quick solutions to that problem ).
New rules for summoning
Summoning has been completely reworked. Summoning a unit now no longer cost points!
You will find the rules for summoning for Khorne, Tzeentch, Everchosen, Chaos, Seraphon and Sylvaneth on page 98 to 101 of GHB18. Warscrolls of been reworked to reflect the changes in summoning.
Note that the changes regarding no point cost for summoned units also affect units abilities that can summon (new Colossal Squig as an example) and battalions that have a summoning effect.
New warscrolls for specific terrain pieces
Most of the GW terrain already had warscrolls in the app and on the webpage, but these are now tweaked and included in the GHB.
Most of the rules only state that a particular piece of terrain always follows a specific terrain rule (deadly or mystical as an example), but some have completely new rules.
The most striking example is the citadel wood that now blocks line of sight. As per the newest FAQ, this includes the Sylvaneth Wildwood!
Expanded options for narrative and open play
- An open war battleplan generator (very similar to the open war cards)
- Rules for aerial battles
- Options for narrative special rules
- Battleplans and some historical battleplans
- Rules for massive battles and a few battleplans fitting that playstyle.
What new products launched with AoS 2.0?
What is included in the new Big Core Rulebook (BCR)
The new core rulebook is an attempt to make the AoS setting and lore easier to grasp and understand.
Much if the lore information included is “known” already, but it has been scattered in different novels, battletomes and campaign books. With this focus of the BCR, it is no surprise we do not see many changes to rules in here.
- An introduction to the lore and history of the Mortal Realms
- An overview of each of the Mortal Realms
- Introduction to each of the major factions (note that many of the factions without a battletome has been left out or only described very briefly).
- The core rules (identical to the ones found free online)
- Allegiance abilities for the 4 Grand Alliances (no longer found in the GHB).
- Rules for fighting in the 7 different mortal realms.
- The rules for endless spells (but not the warscrolls for the endless spells).
- The tweaked warscroll of the Balewind Vortex.
- Open play options (battleplan generator, different battleplans and a ladder campaign)
- Narrative play options (Historical battleplans, Siege Warfare and Triumph and Treachery rules).
- The rules for matched play (but only 6 battleplans included and no points costs).
What is included in the Malign Sorcery expansion?
Malign Sorcery is one of the biggest new enchantments to AoS.
You can either buy the softback book or buy the set with the endless spell models, warscroll cards for each spell and the softback book.
To be honest, the softback book is a rather bad purchase without the spells.
The Malign Sorcery book includes:
- Lore about magic, Realmstone and endless spells
- A flavourful lore description of each endless spells. The warscrolls for each spell can be found in the box set or in the app. The models can be found in the box set.
- A bit about painting the spells
- The rules for endless spells (also found in the BCR).
- Battleplans with a focus on some of the spells
- Special rules for having a Skirmish battle at the edge of a mortal realm.
- Special rules for having Path to Glory games at the edge of a Mortal Realm
- A spell lore for each of the 7 mortal realms. All wizards in the battle know all of the spells from the lore, if the battle is set in that mortal realm.
- A list of 2×6 artefacts for each of the mortal realms. When you create you army you must decide what mortal realm it is from. You get access to pick some or all of artefacts from that mortal realm.
- Pitched battle profile (points) for the endless spells (also included in the GBH).
Are the old books legal?
- All of the battletomes are still legal in AoS 2. The only exception is if your faction has gotten a new Battletome (Stormcast), then rules from the old battletome are overwritten with the new rules.
- The rules for matched play and the points in earlier handbooks are overwritten with the new stuff.
- You must use the newest edition of a warscroll.