Monday, August 10, 2015

Age of Sigmar - Round II

Age of Sigmar is bedding in, but still proving divisive.  There are those who like it for what it is, and by GW standards of the last decade or two it certainly is a breath of fresh air*, whilst others despise it with a passion for not being their cherished flawed monstrosity of a game and for committing the cardinal sin of killing its' parents.  Personally I lean towards the former group, but doubt I would play a game unless someone specifically asked me to.  Well the other week long-time opponent Ross asked to give it a try, so I guess it was time for game two of AoS.

Due to a little lack of communication (that and the fact my life is all over the place at the minute**) I only brought one army, Ross' armies not yet being unpacked after a recent move.  Still with the small forces required to get AoS going I was easily able to split my Dogs of War into two modest 'Empire' armies.  We laid out some terrain on the table and deployed.

The battlefield for the evening
 Ross took the force to the top left in White and Red liveries, with a unit of Knights, some Crossbowmen, some Swordsmen a Wizard and a General on a (rather Small) Griffon (AKA Cecil the flying lion).  My host was in Greens and Blues mostly and featured Halfling (AKA Empire) Hunters, Crossbowmen, a dozen Spearmen, a cannon, a wizard and a Karl Franz on his warhorse (looking suspiciously Bretonnian, but you know, proxies).

So essentially it was a shooty list against a hitty list.  Would Ross be able to hit hard enough, or would fire-power prove victorious.

Ross tries to smile through the pain
 Ross got first turn and tried to approach my lines, using the cover as best he could.  As every piece of scenery was in some way special Ross found the approach offered both advantages and challenges.

Time to start shooting...
For my part I had all the scary terrain to defend, including arcane areas where sacrificing my men could've helped in battle.  Probably a bad idea with units of a minimum size though.  My plan was quickly to shoot down as many of my enemies as possible before their inevitable charge.

I began by concentrating fire on the knights who were covering the advance of Ross' crossbows.  I got two turns on the bounce, so knowing rules permitted such dirty tricks as shooting up a target with one unit, then charging another into combat with another I pumped all I could into the knights in the hope of softening them up enough for my weedy spearmen to tackle..

Get em there's only two left
 This proved easy for them, as the knights had already endured two bursts of cannon fire as well as a hail of bolts and arrows.  At the same time the concentration of spell fire from my wizard and a follow up charge from Karl did for the swordsmen on Ross' left.  At this stage Ross was ready to throw in the towel,
Team red on the back foot
 Ross moved his crossbows towards the centre, hoping to get away from the cannon.  Cecil charged the spears and wolfed down five or six of them with ease.  The rest soon fled.

By now I was having to divide my fire with the heavy stuff focusing on Cecil, and the lighter stuff clearing away the infantry.  Ross' wizard hung back in the graveyard, out of range and sight.  A wounded Cecil nevertheless landed in the trees on the flank of the Halfling hunters; clearly hungry...

This wall can't save us from flying beasties.
 Cecil attacked the nasty 'obbitses and gobbled up a whole bunch of them, battle shock saw to the rest.

 For the next couple of turns it was a case of laying as much fire as possible into the Griffonoid in the hope if finishing it off first.  But Ross' wizard did a grand task of bolstering it with healing spells from the safety of the graveyard. Cecil picked off my General and then the last of the crossbowmen.  Leaving me just with an artilleryman and a wizard.  Ross was able to use the generic wizard magic to finish off my cannon, and then Cecil did what Cecil liked most of all to do....

Omm nom nom nom.
And that is how I lose.

For the second outing 'Sigmar many of my first impressions were confirmed.  The game is enjoyable if played in an informal, non-competitive, narrative fashion. Most of our fun in play was derived from the natural storytelling deriving from the incidents on board.  Tactically it was shallow compared to Warhammer, but unit cooperation and interplay is stronger than it first appears on paper.
But again, for a game with only 30 or so models per side, it was slow.  Even if you excluded the general chit-chat and the learning of the rules, it took some ninety minutes to play the game.  Two and a half hours in effect as we played.  Really, far too long for such a small skirmish.  It makes little sense in a way.  I remain bemused by how simple a set of rules can play so slowly; I can only conclude it is the Warscroll special rules slowing things down.

With a few more games it could well get swifter, but if this was at the loss of the narrative aspects of play that injected a lot of enjoyment into the game, I doubt there'd be enough of the game left to either challenge or entertain.  I don't envisage playing these rules in any other way than as a casual system for friendly, laid back gaming.

This second battle was fun, but also showed how powerful large monsters and heroes can be. Ross though the game over when the bulk of his army died in two turns, but perhaps forgot the over 33% of the wounds of his force resided in his last two models.  The Griffon proved, enormously powerful, and with nothing to match it toe-to-toe I was utterly dependent on taking it down with artillery.

Build matching lists, or at least those of the same general composition and this would be fine, but for 'Comp' this could lead to chalk and cheese lists.  I suppose the intention is that scenarios and 'Sudden Death' rules would compensate for this, but that is not a guarantee.

Still, in and of itself, this was a nice way to pass the time, and although it is still a long way from my favourite game I would continue to play AoS if people wanted to.

Just not too often.

*Note:  Your health may be at risk by prolonged exposure to 'Games Workshop Air(TM)', may contain traces of Chaos and price gouging.

**Not a topic for the blog folks

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