Wednesday, August 12, 2015

3 Games of Age of Sigmar: A Look at How the Stormcast Eternals Play

I have now gotten the chance to play three games of Age of Sigmar, all against different armies and have even been able to try out the Stormcast Eternals. What do I think of the game with a little more experience under my belt? Just as fun. Read on to see a few of my thoughts on how the Stormcast play as well as what else I have discovered about the game.

Game two and three of AoS for me took place against one of my long time wargaming friends and opponents. He was bringing his Lizardmen and had had a rather disappointing first game against another one of our friend's Beastmen. Basically he wiped out the Beastmen in two turns and wanted more of a challenge plus he wanted it be fun for his opponent. Determined to show him that the game was fun, and fairly balanced I brought two armies with me in the hopes of getting in multiple games.

My first army was of course my Tomb Kings, my first love in Fantasy. The second were the Stormcast Eternals from the starter set which I had finished assembling the day before. I had also contemplated bringing along a third army, with my Nurgle Demon army, which had previously been 40k only, but didn't have enough hands to carry all the carrying cases. I figured we could do one smaller game set at 50 wounds, similar to what I had played before, and one larger one if we had time. He wanted to get the smaller game in first, so I decided to play my Stormcast Eternals since I only had 50 wounds of them anyway.

We played a battleline game, with no special rules besides scenery. He took his Lizards, which was a fairly hard list containing 20 Temple Guard, 3 Kroxigors, a Stegadon and a Slann! No wonder those poor Beastmen didn't last. My list was 2 units of Liberators, one at 5 models, the other at 6 (thanks free White Dwarf mini!), 3 Retributors, 3 Prosecutors, the Lord-Celestant on Dracoth, and the Relictor. Having not had the opportunity to use a formation yet since the Tomb King ones really only work in larger games, I opted to use the Stormcast formation which consists of all the models from the starter set. The main benefit to it is that any number of unit from it can start the game in reserve and "deep strike" anywhere on the board as long as they are nine inches away from an enemy model. Wanting to get the most out of the experience I opted to keep my entire formation in reserve and so finished deploying first, winning me first turn.

This is where I made my first, and most fatal mistake of the game. Not thinking ahead I gave my opponent the first turn so he would lose a turn of shooting and possibly charging me. This was a huge mistake since it allowed him to strategically move his force around to make it really hard for me to "deep strike" close to him in my turn. He essentially created overlapping denial zones, preventing me from getting close to his Slann. He also gained an unmolested turn of summoning. Slann are allowed to cast three spells a turn, three! I believe he brought in two new units that turn, some regular Saurus and an Old Blood. If I had been smart about it I would have taken first turn and just thrown everything I had at his Slann and prayed to Sigmar that I killed it right then and there, or at the latest by turn two.

Slann are immensely powerful, as they should be, but it makes them priority number one to kill in any game against the Lizards. Not only can they spam summoning like nobody's business, but they also grant bonuses to Temple Guard if they are close enough, which he had 20 of. Over the course of the game I managed to almost kill his Slann, bringing it down to one wound, but in the end I was left with only my Relictor when we called game.

What I took away from that game with my Stormcast are a few things.

- They need shooting, so invest in some Judicators. I had very little to soften up my enemy before charging. My only ranged attacks were the Prosecutor's throwing hammers, the Dracoth's breath attack, and the Relictor's lightning prayer.

- They could greatly benefit from a wizard, so I really hope that will be an addition to the army down the line. In the meantime I will probably pick up a Lord-Castellant to get the armor save buff he grants.

- The contents of the starter box are not an ideal force when going up against someone who is able to tailor their army more due to a more extensive collection. There's no real surprise here. Starter set forces have never really been an ideal army to use and almost always require a few add ons to optimize. At the very least I would add on a Castellant and some Judicators like I mentioned.

- Lastly, for the love of Sigmar, kill any Slann you see as quickly as you can, nothing else matters.

Game two I brought out my Tomb Kings and my friend took a turn playing the same Stormcast list against me. We did 50 wounds again, so I took a King, a Priest, three Chariots, 10 Tomb Guard, a Casket of Souls, and two Ushabti with Great Bows. My friend also decided to use the formation and kept his whole force in reserve. Knowing that they were going to lightning strike down as close as possible to me I castled in a corner, protecting my Casket and Priest. He took first turn and brought his whole force down nine inches away from me. After an ineffectual shooting phase he tried to charge with everything. All the units made it into combat except for his Retributors and Prosecutors. Luckily for me my Tomb Guard took the charge from his two characters while my Chariots got all of his Liberators. He failed to kill many Tomb Guard or kill my King and I managed to take a good chunk of wounds off of both of his characters. The Chariots also withstood the charge, only losing one model. Long story short, due to the effects of the Tomb Kings unit banners I kept replenishing my units faster then he could kill them. The Ushabti were perfect for killing multi wound models with their bows and the King himself is an absolute beast in combat. We ended the game with him only having one Prosecutor left while I had summoned in 14 additional Tomb Guard, who didn't contribute much if anything, and was only short one Chariot from my original starting force.

Summoning wasn't a huge factor at all in the game, and really my resilience was more due to the effects of my unit banners. Tomb Kings are definitely a contender now after suffering through much of 8th edition as one of the worst armies. Summoning isn't a huge factor for them since their Priests only get one chance at a spell a turn, but it can certainly help. Their strength really lies in their actual unit stats and abilities. I'm very excited for all of my Age of Sigmar armies now and will continue to paint my Stormcasts as I rebase my existing Tomb Kings and touch up the paint job on my somewhat aged Nurgle Demons. I have a lot more Tomb King stuff to paint, but until I start playing larger games what I already have painted works for me. Although a sphinx could be fun to play.

Until next time,

Tyler M.

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