Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Age of Sigmar: A New Age Dawns & A Look Back

At Warhammer Fest this past weekend the future of Age of Sigmar was revealed with a brand new edition coming our way alongside a bunch of new models, scenery, and other cool things. That also means the end of the 1st edition of Age of Sigmar, which is coming up on three years, and what an active three years those have been!

To say I'm excited about the new edition of Age of Sigmar is an understatement. I'm also a little too excited about all those cool new dice and objectives they revealed, though as I have said before, I'm a sucker for swag like that. At this point I feel like Age of Sigmar has gone from a somewhat thin world, to a fully fleshed out setting and game. The fact that some people still talk about how there is no background story baffles me. Warhammer Fantasy had 30 years to develop and grow, and in just three years, a tenth of the time, I think AoS is right up there alongside its predecessor in terms of depth, with tons of potential to continue growing. As far as the game side of it goes, we've had two major updates to the rules with the 2016 and 2017 General's Handbook as well as 17 full armies, with a confirmed 18th on the way. That's not even including all of the factions within the GHB that have allegiance abilities but no Battletome. That's compared to the 15 armies that 8th Edition Warhammer had. So I thought it would be fun to take a look back at how much has really come out for AoS over this time period. Forgive me if some these are out of order.

Year One

- The Age of Sigmar starter set and the new game
- Age of Sigmar: Mighty Battles
- Battletome Stormcast Eternals
- Battletome Khorne Bloodbound
- Realmgate Wars: Quest for Ghal Maraz
- Battletome Seraphon
- Battletome Everchosen
- Grand Alliance: Chaos
- Battletome Fyreslayers
- Grand Alliance: Death
- Realmgate Wars: The Balance of Power
- Battletome Stormcast Extremis
- Grand Alliance: Order
- Battletome Skaven Pestilens
- Realmgate Wars: Godbeasts
- Grand Alliance: Destruction
- Battletome Ironjawz
- Battletome Flesh-Eater Courts
- Realmgate Wars: All-Gates
- General's Handbook 2016
- Battletome Sylvaneth
- Warhammer Quest: Silver Tower

The first year of Age of Sigmar was really a tour de force of releases, and rightly so considering it was establishing a whole new game and setting. When the original starter set came out I think it was quite a shock to almost everyone. We were given something completely different to what we had known with the Old World. Gone were the settings and armies we were familiar with, and in its place we had the Mortal Realms. GW was quick to expand on this though with four campaign books that essentially told the founding story of the setting, as well as setting the Stormcast Eternals up as the main heroes. We also got a bunch of other Battletomes, and three more completely new armies with the Fyreslayers, Ironjawz, and Sylvaneth. The Grand Alliance books were quite surprising at first too, and ensured that every faction in AoS had printed rules as well as a little bit of backstory to hold them over. This was all capped off with the General's Handbook which introduced an official points system as well as the three ways to play, bringing a lot of people back into the game that were put off by the lack of points.

Year Two

- Battletome Bonesplitterz
- Battletome Beastclaw Raiders
- Battletome Disciples of Tzeentch

- Warhammer Quest: Shadows Over Hammerhal
- Battletome Stormcast Eternals (2017)
- Battletome Blades of Khorne
- Battletome Kharadron Overlords
- Age of Sigmar Skirmish
- Path to Glory

Year two was a bit quieter, having to give up some release time for the new edition of 40k. Still, we got six new Battletomes, including our first updates of existing AoS Battletomes with the Blades of Khorne and Stormcast Eternals. While some people were upset that the books were being replaced after only a year, this showed the GW was going to make sure "older" armies still got attention and new releases, as well as updating the Battletomes to fit in with their ever evolving rules and design aesthetics. With the introduction of Allegiance Abilities this was a big boon and pretty much a given for the Stormcast Eternals and their nemesis from the start of AoS, Khorne. We also got two new ways to play the game at smaller scales with Skirmish and Path to Glory. Path to Glory had been in the 2016 General's Handbook, but by making it its own thing they were able to free up more space in future General's Handbooks for new ideas. Skirmish, in my opinion, is really cool, and made sure that you can play a game right away, even if all you had was one box of models and a hero. The crowning jewel of the second year was the introduction of the Kharadron Overlords, who showed that GW wasn't afraid to push the boundaries of fantasy within AoS.

Year Three

- General's Handbook 2017
- Warhammer Underworlds Shadespire
- Firestorm
- Battletome Maggotkin of Nurgle
- Battletome Legions of Nagash
- Malign Portents
- Battletome Daughters of Khaine
- Battletome Idoneth Deepkin

This past year has been huge for AoS, with the next iteration of the General's Handbook, which included plenty of Allegiance Abilities for popular factions without Battletomes. We also got the hugely popular Shadespire game as well as Firestorm, the first narrative campaign box for AoS. On the Battletome front we had four new ones, which saw much requested updates to Death as well as the reintroduction of the aelves with two new armies. To say that people were excited for aelves is a bit of an understatement. Malign Portents also moved the story forward in a dark new direction and was the first major new plot point since the end of the Realmgate Wars series. As long as the new edition of AoS drops before July 4th then that will technically make the cutoff for year three as well, making this the biggest year for AoS since it launched.

All of that plus all of the Shadespire expansions, the 10 book long Realmgate Wars series from Black Library and another 10 novels set within the Mortal Realms, as well as all of the short stories, and all of the short stories that we continue to get on the Malign Portents website. Whew, that is A LOT of content for just three years time. The community has grown incredibly fast as well, going from around 40 people at the first AoS tournament at Adepticon to nearly 200 at this past year's.

During the three year lifespan of the first edition we also had several different ways of playing the game, from Mo Comp, to SCGT Pools, to the official GW points. The first General's Handbook also introduced the idea of three different ways to play, Open, Narrative, and Matched. There's no doubt the success of this had a huge impact on the newest edition of 40k that came out the other year. While many armies got face lifts when their Battletomes came out we also got three entirely new races with the Stormcast, Kharadron, and the Idoneth. That's not even mentioning all of the amazing models that continue to surpass each other in detail, complexity, and dynamism. From Archaon, the Stardrake, the Mawcrusha, and Allarielle in year one, to the new Lord of Change and the skyboats of the Kharadron in year two, and the new Great Unclean One, Morathi, and the Eidolon in year three, it just continues to improve.

This upcoming new edition of Age of Sigmar looks to continue this tradition right out of the gates with all of the new Nighthaunt and Stormcast models we've seen so far. To say I am excited for the new Nighthaunt stuff if a bit of an understatement. In fact, you can check out some of my thoughts on the Nighthaunt in the first Faction Focus article on the Warhammer Community Site.

The first edition of Age of Sigmar also saw in explosion in fan content, from new blogs, to new Podcasts, and new Youtube shows, and now even an announced official AoS podcast from GW themselves. I was originally going to list a selection of them, but I don't want to accidentally leave some out, so just search for AoS podcasts on google or type in Age of Sigmar on Youtube. There are a ton of really quality ones out there, so it's hard to go wrong. I'm really interested to give the official GW one, The Stormcast, a listen. I'm particularly interested in finding out who the hosts will be.

So we've had three years of jam packed AoS awesomeness behind us, and much, much more to come with the new edition. I don't think Warhammer has ever been in a better spot. I honestly don't think GW can improve on this anymore...

Well, I guess I stand corrected. 

Let me know in the comments what you favorite parts/releases/events of the first edition of AoS was and what you're most looking forward to in the new edition!

Until next time,

Tyler M.

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