For Sigmar (…Or Not)
Warhammer Age of Sigmar is the premier fantasy tabletop game by Games Workshop, currently in its third edition. The game has a vast setting that spans multiple realms where a variety of factions battle one another in an era of turmoil and war. Each of the playable factions are divided into one of four Grand Alliances: Order, Chaos, Death and Destruction. Whilst the forces of Order seek to build new civilisations throughout the wild and untamed realms in the name of Sigmar and his former pantheon of benevolent gods, the mortal and daemonic forces of Chaos look to conquer the lands in dedication to their own gods. The armies of Death include vampires, ghouls, ghosts and the skeletal bonereapers that seek to establish their own civilisations under the rule of Nagash, the god of Death, as the forces of Destruction enjoy nothing more than a good fight and to bring civilisations crashing down.
Whichever force you choose to align with, your games will take place on a tabletop using miniature models that have been painstakingly assembled and painted (more on this later). There are three main ways to play Warhammer Age of Sigmar; Open Play, where people bring whatever they want to the table to thrash it out; Narrative Play with story-driven objectives and linked scenarios that make up an extended campaign where the outcome of each game has effects on future battles; and Matched Play where games are non-asymmetric and points-based army composition seeks to make each battle as balanced as possible.
The core rules for Warhammer Age of Sigmar are freely available on the game’s official companion app along with the basic rules for each specific unit in the game. Furthermore, detailed rules and a history of each faction can be found within the relevant faction-specific Battletomes. So why do you need the Core Book?
The Core Book
The Warhammer Age of Sigmar Core Book is a weighty tome with 360 pages filled with great artwork and lots of background information. The product is of exceptional quality with heavy pages, clear printing and a ribbon to mark that important page. The Core Book boasts an in depth overview of the geography and history of the Mortal Realms and includes background information on each of the factions within the game. The Core Book also contains a hard copy of the core rules to reference at the table, full details of each of the three ways to play and a variety of options for multiplayer games and games in specific settings.
I have played Warhammer Age of Sigmar competitively and narratively since it replaced Warhammer Fantasy Battle many years ago and I often hear people say that there isn’t any point in getting the Core Book. I do not agree. Whilst I accept that you can play Warhammer Age of Sigmar perfectly well using only your army’s battletome (the faction-specific book containing additional rules and benefits for a given force) and the General’s Handbook (the current season’s matched play scenarios and rules), it is the rich depth of the setting that makes Warhammer Age of
Sigmar special. Plus, if you really want to become attached to a specific army, and ultimately take the most joy from each game, I would argue that the narrative play options set out within the Warhammer Age of Sigmar Core Book are essential – especially for new players.
Warhammer Age of Sigmar takes commitment. You cannot play the game straight from the box; it is a many-faceted hobby. To become invested enough to take an army to the table involves many steps and a significant investment in time (and money). Models come unassembled and are packaged mainly as individual units that form a small part of an overall army. Whilst games such as Warhammer Underworlds and Warcry now act as bridges or gateways to playing Warhammer Age of Sigmar, as far fewer miniatures are required and they can be used across all three games, it is still a long process for most people to field a full force of models befitting their ambitious vision. It is important that new players select an army with an aesthetic and/or background that they enjoy and it is equally important that they have fun as they work toward their overall goal of playing full games of Warhammer Age of Sigmar. In this regard, the Core Book proves invaluable.
Path to Glory
After selecting a faction within the extensive background/lore section your journey to building a force can become a fun adventure. The Narrative Play section of the Warhammer Age of Sigmar Core Book includes full rules for playing games with a growing collection of miniatures from the very first skirmishes using only a handful of models to full-scale battles with massed ranks of troops and impressive centrepiece monsters or epic heroes. When playing through a Path to Glory campaign you will see the general of your army grow in renown as battles are fought and your territories grow.
For example, in my last Path to Glory campaign I chose to use a force of Fyreslayer dwarfs. A group of friends decided that we would each build a new army and that we would have monthly games to keep us on track. We began the campaign at the smallest size, Vanguard, and and worked up to full sized tournament armies. I chose to use two dwarven priests, a battle standard bearer, 10 dwarven warriors and a magmic invocation (a fiery entity that my priests could summon) to spit fire across the battlefield at whatever forces my friends chose to bring. I elected to establish my settlement on some ancient roads because these gave me access to additional allies and I knew I had ambitions to build some flying gunships later on in the campaign.
I really wanted to select a magic banner for my battlesmith but decided to wait until the campaign began to see which of those available would be the most useful. So I chose the ‘Search for an Artefact’ starting quest for my battlesmith so that after a couple of games I could acquire the banner I decided that I wanted. The other players chose to take a wide variety of forces including a group of hungry ogors that followed their butcher leader from battlefield to battlefield, a force of vampiric bat-like creatures, and a force of warrior wizards dedicated to Sigmar. For me, growing my armies around a story that I can share with my friends greatly increases my enjoyment of the process. Plus I find that building to a relaxed schedule suits my lifestyle.
Of course, not everyone is lucky enough to have friends nearby that are also invested in the hobby. However, there are countless clubs around the world that meet regularly to play Warhammer Age of Sigmar where people often need little excuse to embark on another hobby journey. Many of my closest friends were met at such clubs.
Yay or Nay?
The Warhammer Age of Sigmar Core Book lasts for a full edition of the game, which is usually 3 years. The core rules remain stable throughout that time and the background/lore is invaluable to help you to familiarise yourself with the game and choose a faction. In my view, the Narrative Play section is truly where the value lies and the main Path to Glory rules cannot be found in any other publication (although there’re additional rules within the faction-specific battletomes that add flavour to the options for quests and territories depending upon the forces themselves).
Overall, the simple question is this. How far along your journey into Warhammer Age of Sigmar are you and what do you want from the game? If you are a seasoned player and are primarily interested in quickly building armies for tournaments, you could likely spend your money more wisely elsewhere. If, however, you are new to the game, or if you want to utilise the Narrative Play sections of your army battletome and grow your army over time, then the Core Book is an invaluable resource that you will keep going back to.