Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Balancing Age of Sigmar for competitive play

Now that the dust has settled somewhat its time to really look at the new game from fresh eyes.

The one thing we can be sure of is Games Workshop is not interested in competitive play, thus the community will need to address the shortcomings of the Age of Sigmar rules to make them work. I also wouldn't hold your breath for a FAQ!

This of course will provoke untold RAW vs RAI conversation, but the reality is, the rule set is not solid and needs a peer review. And the list is long. The time for that argument is over.

However, this process is simpler than it has been in the past, as the player base only needs to review 4 pages, not 150! This enables us to re-write the whole thing a lot clearer and with little ambiguity. 

Now the only issue with doing this as it will not be considered "official", and therefore there will always be detractors, and will be unacceptable by some. That is ok, as I expect any review/re-write to be aimed more as part of a player pack for a tournament. Think ETC or even Swedish comp systems.

So some of the game mechanics and rules that I think need fixing and/or clarifying.

  • Bases - Moving forward a chart will need to be created to standardize base size (both square and round) for any competitive play. All measurements will need to be made from the base. The ETC chart is a good place to start.
  • Spells and abilities - I think a move to "a model must be present at the beginning of the phase" to be able to use their spells and abilities in the command phase. This is to stop the endless summon cycle or the special command bomb drop.
  • Shooting - Models cannot be shot at in combat - period (includes spells) and models may not shoot if engaged in combat.
  • Removal of all the silly antics that GW has felt need to be in the rules for people to have fun. We all know how to be clowns on our own merit and it adds nothing to an enjoyable game. The model shall just have those rules on a roll or X+
  • The keywords in all warscrolls allow us to easily group units for specific rules and limitations. This needs to be taken advantage of.
  • Introduce cover mechanics. In previous editions we used modifiers to hit targets with ranged weapons. We have the opportunity to look at this differently now that the mechanics have been simplified. I think a bonus to save will work better now. So, for example, if a unit was shot in soft cover, they would receive a +1 to their save. A unit in a building would receive a +2 to save. Its nice and simple and will allow terrain and buildings to play a part in the game.
  • Actually include some rules for moving and or fighting in buildings!
  • Look at a simplified line of sight system to suit the simplified rules. True line of sight leaves to much ambiguity.
Then there is the general clarifications to the rules themselves such as who gets summoning spells or how multiple wounds are handled. There are a few rules that have multiple interpretations, and it wont be difficult to fix.

I personally would like to see an alternating turn introduced so that it engages both players in the same turn and introduces a more tactical approach in the other phases besides the combat phase.

And finally, a army selection system will need to be created. This will most likely be the most difficult. Many people are suggesting a wound based system, but that in itself will not work. Not all wounds are created equal.

I have some ideas around a tournament based on scenarios. Each player in the tournament would select X war scrolls to bring to the tournament. These would be the available units to the player for the entire tournament. They would also decide what summoning spells a player will get. Each round in the tournament is a specific scenario. The scenario would set win conditions (and even secondary conditions) to achieve whilst also setting scroll limitations for that game eg 

  • Scenario "Kill stuff" would allow you to select 7 warscrolls to field in this scenario. They may be chosen as follows: 1 Hero, 1-3 monster, 0 war machine, and 2-5 troop scrolls.
The victory conditions might be to kill the opponents general (primary) and kill a monster (secondary). Basic stuff but you get the idea. Scenarios could be made very interesting and killing things could become entirely secondary in some.

Now there would need to be some limitations of warscrolls (which could be wounds based) or the total army to ensure that things like the goblins have a fair chance vs the sigmarites.

So in summary I think the above could be what some of us are looking for and a way to salvage Age of Sigmar/Warhammer for those of us who want a more balanced and/or competitive experience to amuse us. Out of the book AoS is not an option...


  1. Promising idea's Jossy, I will watch with interest. Been looking at Homebrew rules myself, but going to skip AoS think the system is too inherently flawed and lacking in depth. Looking to draw from War of the Ring/Warmaster with flavour from wfb 3rd through 8th and the odd rules borrowed from other sources.

  2. I like your ideas, in fact if GW were to implement them then i would be eager to try AOS.

    While my blog may give the impression that i am 100% negative on AOS that isnt the case, if GW were to polish the game, make improvements very similar to the ones you suggest and make the game good then i would be all over it.

    Hopefully with how hard they are pushing this it means they will be willing to revised and edit its rules in order to make a game worth promoting

  3. Hi Joss. I've been thinking along the same lines. Some form of comp must be possible, and a balance can surely be struck somehow to make this game playable for more advanced players, rather than the entry level it is clearly aimed at.