So, it is fairly safe to assume that no matter what level you’re within this hobby you will have heard of or have some understanding as to who Games Workshop is.
A brief overview would be that Games Workshop has essentially been the only high street retailer of miniature war games and they have held this post for well over 30 years. They are famous mainly for their two worlds; Warhammer 40,000, the sci-fi grim dark universe where only war exists, and Warhammer Fantasy, the fantasy counterpart full of all the usual troupes of goblins, elves, orcs, demons and armies of men.
Today I am here to help you understand where the game Age of Sigmar came from, its place in the hobby now and what you can expect from the game.
Age of Sigmar Beginnings
We will start with the aforementioned Warhammer Fantasy Battles. If you have paid any attention to Games Workshop over the last 30 years you will have seen a table set up with large armies consisting of blocks of troops lined up in rank and file, big hulking behemoth creatures and cannons or other weapons of fantasy/medieval warfare. The Warhammer World is heavily inspired by Tolkien’s Middle Earth and you could always see that in the forces that were available to you.
Warhammer Fantasy Battles reached its eighth Edition and Games Workshop decided that they were going to really shake up the narrative of their world with a storyline called ‘The End Times’.
The forces of Chaos were led by the ruthless Archaeon in a mammoth, climactic battle with the forces of good in which the entire world as they knew it was destroyed and the forces of evil actually won.
This led to the creation of a new universe that the forces were to be set in and henceforth known as the Age of Sigmar.
Previously the armies were named purely based on their race; examples include the Orcs and Goblins, Lizardmen, Ogre Kingdoms, High Elves and Dark Elves. There were a few exceptions that had more of a title to them such as The Empire, The Bretonnians or The Vampire Counts. Now in Age of Sigmar the armies have real names to them such as The Seraphon, Daughters of Khaine or the Stormcast Eternals. These names tell a little of the story behind the forces or at least hint at the existence of a story. Some of the forces have left the universe and some new ones have arrived.
The Stormcast Eternals are the main force of good, hulking warriors in grand suits of armour, an elite force made up of the finest of warriors flanked by noble dragon-like creatures known as the Dracoth.
The forces are broken up into four Grand Alliances - Order, Chaos, Death and Destruction:
- Order - The forces that are directly opposed to Chaos. Not all of these forces are what you would commonly call ‘the good guys’, but they know the terror of Chaos and will do what needs to be done to stop it.
- Chaos - These are the forces that serve the four gods of Chaos: Khorne, Nurgle, Slaanesh and Tzeentch. They are fuelled by the base desires of mortal men and seek to dominate all of the mortal realms.
- Death - The forces of the undead, hell bent on ruling over the realms, led by the self-proclaimed god of the dead, Nagash. They will ally with the forces of Order when taking on Chaos but these inherently evil forces have their own agenda and will do anything to achieve it.
- Destruction - A force consisting of beastly, opportunistic and unpredictable creatures. They fight for their own self-interests which often consist of gold, food, territory and wanton destruction.
In Age of Sigmar the blocks of unwieldy troops have been replaced by bands of skirmish fighters and hordes of beasts. Miniatures no longer need to be set in rank and file but now move around in smaller groups that must maintain coherency from each other but move more freely, able to react swiftly to the ever flowing tide of battle. You still have the hulking beasts and weapons of war, alongside renowned heroes of battles and feared magic users able to cast spells and control the elements.
Many miniature war games come with a vast tome containing not only the basic rules of play but also the finer rules specific to various units or heroes. Age of Sigmar has done away with this and has a condensed, simple rule set that allows a free flowing game about tactics and strategy, rather than constantly breaking to check that a rule is correct. Everything you need to know about a unit can be found on its War Scroll, a handy card containing all of the stats and rules for that unit.
You can choose to either play scenarios with built in force restrictions and specific tasks that need to be achieved by each side or you can play a straight up fight set over a number of turns where whoever has killed the most is the victor.
Games Workshop made a brave choice in removing a game that they were synonymous with from its line up and replacing it with a simpler game designed to be easy to play, but hard to master.
Age of Sigmar has now moved on to a second edition since its initial 2015 unveiling. Many things have changed and have been tweaked but the overall premise has stayed the same, with the number of forces available to players still growing. Games Workshop have been at the forefront of miniature design and production for decades but their latest releases of the Night Haunts, a force of undead ghosts, has raised the bar to a new and unforeseen height. The innovations and creativity in their design is unparalleled in the market today.
So now you know what to expect from Age of Sigmar all that is left is to choose your Order. Will you fight against the tyranny of chaos, battle the forces of good in the name of your chaotic god, send forth your horde of skeletons or crush your enemies and take their gold!