A reader (who is a 40k player) had the opportunity to play the latest Games Workshop release a couple times, the Age of Sigmar. While he relates to the game in 40k terms, it has enough similarities to it to keep the parallels going.
When approached this way, it is difficult to look at a game like this and get a feeling for it on its own terms, however I appreciate the clarity of the unit types by the comparison.
Here is what he said.
via a reader on Faeit 212
So my friend who works for GW decided to give his 40k playing friend a
taste of Age of Sigmar. I seriously doubt he was doing this out of the
kindness of his heart, he’s not exactly the nicest person I know, and I
have a sinking suspicion he was only doing this because he was told by a
higher-up to generate buzz or something. I’m writing to you now, so I can
safely say this plan must have worked.
First off, let me just the models look gorgeous, even unpainted; the
pictures really don’t do them justice. The eternals do have this sort of
space mariney feel to them, but chaos is the real winner here.
Speaking of space marines, a lot of people were bitching that this game was
just going to be 40ked fantasy, this is only half true. The game is very
much a mix 40k and warmahords, and a lot of the fantasy elements feel
either shoehorned in, or completely marginalized to the point of hilarity.
I can safely say that magic has been fixed: it’s not in the game. For all
the talk of gods and magic and wizards and whatnot, there’s not a single
wizard in the Battle for the Gates of Azyr box. Both order and chaos have
priests, who do some crazy I-can’t-believe-its-not-magic nonsense, but
apparently priests and wizards are two totally different things. He
offhandedly mention something about priests being a big thing when gods
came into play, but when I asked him what he was talking about he just gave
me this grin and insisted I just have to wait and find out. I guess I’ll
Now, for the life of me I can’t remember the names of the units I used
because they’re all so paint-drinkingly stupid, but It’s almost obnoxiously
clear that almost every single units in the box has a 40k counterpart for
you to proxy, so I’ll be referring to everything by their 40k name. I
skimmed through the rules and decided to play as order, and for the first
game we set up everything the way the box recommends: I had two, five man
tactical squads, a three man devastator squad, a three man assault squad,
the caption on his panther, and a chaplain. My friend had two, ten man
cultist squads, a five man Khorne marked chaos space marine squad, a
champion, a greater daemon of Khorne, some kind of chaos taskmaster thing,
and a chaos priest.
The armies are balanced in only the most generous sense of the word. Order
plays very much like a normal 40k army: it was a small and elite force of
units that, for the most part, could pull their own weight. Chaos, on the
other hand, was mostly comprised mostly of absolutely awful cultist and was
carried almost entirely by the bigger “hero” units, who were annoying as
hell and have all kinds of pseudo-spells and bubble effects. The chaos
taskmaster had this one effect that prevented his cultists from fleeing,
while the priest would occasionally give them rerolls to hit. One of the
cultist squads actually manage to tie up a tactical squad for three whole
Each unit also had a very specific battlefield roll. The tactical marines
played like normal tactical marines, decent enough at everything but I
never found myself thinking they were ever as powerful as I wanted them to
be. The assault squad manages to zip around the battlefield harassing
enemy units with their ranged attack, however the 4+ to hit and wound made
sure there was never any point where those hammers could do any significant
damage. The devastator squad was my personal favorite because their
attacks would do d3 wounds apiece, and can therefor sufficiently deal with
a cultist blob. I had planned on using the priest as a support unit, and
hopefully heal some wounds, but the whole “mortal wound” thing is kind of
ridiculous and I found that I only ever used chain lighting to take
potshots at his chaos space marines. If there was a unit that felt
overpowered it was definitely the captain, who managed to bum-rush the
chaos space marines and wipe them all out in a single turn, and then take
out the daemon a few minutes later. I managed to take out about 3/4 of his
army by turn 6, while my friend had only killed two devastator marines, the
chaplain, and about 6 of the tactical marines, so we called it a minor
For our second game I decided to try something radical, and I lumped all my
tactical marines together into a single 10 man squad. I figured this way I
could really do some damage with them, and just steamroll my way through
his cultists. This is when the game went to shit, because as soon as he
had the chance my friend’s daemon made a b-line straight for my marines and
then managed to destroy the unit outright in two turns flat. After having
half of my army slapped off the table things very quickly went downhill for
me, and chaos manage to take a minor victory at the end of turn 6.
Rules wise, a lot of it feels like a 40k knockoff or clone, with many of
the rules being just different enough to bug me. The assault rules took me
a while to really nail down, I would keep on rolling to charge and then
think I fail, move on to my next squad, and then be reminded that I only
need to be 3” away. I remember thinking that the ability to just flee from
combat was super neat and useful, but because of old 40k habits I never
actually decided to fall back with any unit. On paper the battleshock rule
really gave me a scare, but I don’t think it ever came into effect. With
leadership 6, rolling on a d6 means that the odds of marine running away
are slim to none, and those ridiculous leadership 9 units we had running
around basically had no chance of getting cold feet. The marines in this
game even had their own version of ATSKNF, and could outright skip the
battleshock phase thanks to my captain’s bubble effect. The cultists only
lost units to battleshock once, and that was because I had manage to body
slam one of his cultists squads with my devastators while his taskmaster
was too far away to try anything funny.
All and all it played like a beta-test, /tg/ homebrewed 40k knockoff. I
had fun with it, and I would defiantly play some proxy battles, or give it
to a friend as a gift, but personally I don’t need the models and the rules
in the box are free anyway.
Updated: with a response email from the author of it.
With everyone on the forms arguing that I didn't kiss GW's ass enough, I'm
taking the time out of my day to write about all the things I liked in Age
For starters, do I have a bias? Yes. I play 40k, and I have never had any
interest in WHFB. That being said, did I enjoy Age of Sigmar? Again, yes.
One thing I found quite cathartic about the game was that many of my units
only existed for the soul purpose of killing things, and there was really
nothing more satisfying than blindsiding an unsuspecting cultist squad
while his priest and taskmaster weren't looking. The fullest extant of
my "tactical prowess" was when I flew over his champion with my assault
squad, so that when I assaulted him with my devastators I made what we
called a "hate sandwich".
If you're looking for something to stoke your massive ego and really make
you think, than play chaos. Almost every turn my friend would have to
measure 12 to 24 inches away from various points in the map to make sure he
was getting the most out of his bubble effects. And he did seem to have a
lot of fun pumping his normally units full of chaotic rage-lighting to turn
normally awful units in to decent one's.
Would I recommend you buy? If you had $125 burning a whole in your pocket
and a friend who really likes hammers, yes. Go for it, its an interesting
game, and I haven't even been able to enjoy the fluff booklet properly.