Sunday, 5 July 2015

Age of Sigmar and Realms of Chaos.

Apparently there's been a seismic shift in our hobby, many people seem to be upset about it, yet for me it feels like little of importance has changed, what I like about the game/hobby is still around and in fact has become more important. Or at least re-emphasised.

I never really loved the mechanics and huge amount of rule of previous editions (my favourites were 3rd and 7th - but the former was especially clunky) and I hated how "rules lawyers" would know tiny loop holes to exploit the game in their favour. I love narrative and scenario based gaming, which helps me choose which models I want to play with, not "net lists" that are optimised to fuck. I love the fluff around the game (not so much the history/events of the Old World) but the details that were intrinsically linked to the lavish illustrations and photos of models. Nowhere was this link clearer than in the original Realm of Chaos books where stories, written descriptions and illustrations fired my imagination and gave me reason to collect, sculpt, convert, paint, base and sometimes even name my models (with a backstory).

So imagine my delight having read the new AoS rules and the "Warscrolls"! No more points, army lists, restrictions and pages and pages of unclear rules. Instead a simple game that is defiantly not for tournaments but for fun game play with your models against someone else's models. The 4 pages of rules opens with this:

In order to play, you must first muster your army from the miniatures in your collection. Armies can be as big as you like, and you can use as many models from your collection as you wish. The more units you decide to use, the longer the game will last and the more exciting it will be! 

And concludes with this gem:

THE MOST IMPORTANT RULE In a game as detailed and wide-ranging as Warhammer: Age of Sigmar, there may be times when you are not sure exactly how to resolve a situation that has come up during play. When this happens, have a quick chat with your opponent, and apply the solution that makes the most sense to you both (or seems the most fun!).

Perfect. I'm sure there are similar quotes in the Realms of Chaos books, although with the latter they may have advocated a GM, but he was there to ensure that sensible solutions were found in the same way as the quote above. Those same RoC books provided a wealth of imagery for Nurgle, provided by the texts and illustrations from the Lost and the Damned. But where are the following quotes from, 1989 or 2015?:

Nurgle’s Rot: Nurgle’s Rot is the most dreaded and contagious of all diseases, for it gnaws at the victim’s soul as well as their mortal body. In your hero phase, roll a dice for each unit within 3" of any models with this ability. On the roll of a 6, that unit suffers D3 mortal wounds. Nurgle units do not suffer wounds from Nurgle’s Rot – they rejoice in the afflictions visited upon them by their putrescent god.

Lord of Nurglings: Wherever Morbidex goes, Nurglings emerge from hiding places or tumble from his fleshy folds to caper along in his wake. In your hero phase, pick a unit of Nurglings within 7" and add D3 models to it. If there are none within range, set up a new unit of Nurglings that has D3 models anywhere within 7", more than 9" from the enemy.

Towering Arrogance: If Gutrot Spume uses this ability, keep count of the number of wounds inflicted by him until your next hero phase. If he inflicts 7 or more wounds he has won Nurgle’s favour, and heals all wounds he has suffered. If he inflicts 6 or fewer wounds, Nurgle punishes him for his arrogance and he suffers a mortal wound.

etc, etc.

I've chosen Nurgle examples for obvious reasons and all of these are of course from the new, free to download game, but could easily have been from 1989 and the accompanying text for the Chaos Attributes from the Lost and the Damned. I think these details (rules) are awesome and add character to the game and to the heroes on the battlefield. I think the 4 page rule-set and the abolition of "points" is genius; use whatever models you have at your disposal. Excellent. Any issues with the rules, sort it out with your opponent in the name of a fun game.

  • Oh and did I mention that the new warscrolls use Nurgle's number 7 (and multiples of) for casting values, range from models and in one case the number of wounds on a particular character? 
  • And there are benefits for just choosing one Chaos God. 
  • And you can summon Great Unclean Ones/Plaguebearers etc again.
  • And one Warscroll is for a Chaos Warband, where if your hero slays an enemy hero or monster, then the Gods have favoured him and he becomes a Demon Prince. The Path to Glory! 
Familiar? (Actually they get a Warscroll too).

I for one can't wait to get a game in. Oh and I wish that I had had the balls when I got back into the hobby 5 or so years ago, to base all my miniatures on round bases (or hex), they do look so much better than squares and rectangles. I considered it.

I also feel there are renewed links between Oldhammer and Games Workshops new vision of Warhammer (I'm well aware that if you look for something hard enough...- yet I'd never say I was a GW fanboy, I've barely bought any of their new miniatures for years and haven't even played a single game of 8th - mainly because I was tired of the same old, same old).

So this link between the old and the new. Well the Oldhammer community is growing and as ever there are the questions as to what it represents for individuals. Orlygg posed the question "What's your philosophy?" on his blog and here's my response:

Ensuring the other player/s have even more fun than I do in a game.

This comes from time and thoughtfulness. 

Time spent creating models/scenery that have been thoughtfully collected and caringly painted. This makes the game look great. Understanding that rules are there to help a game be played and are not the be all and end all. This is sportsmanship. And making sure your opponent enjoys the game even more than you do.
This is all why I love scenarios and why I am liking what GW have done to WFB with AoS. 

I feel that this philosophy was encouraged during the times of Realm of Chaos, those books were not interested in "balance" or "win at all costs" and instead encouraged narrative games, ideas for scenarios, converting unique models and using whatever models you had at your disposal. Perhaps my ideals were formed/nurtured by this era. But does it not sound familiar in GW's brave new world?

So the company that started this whole hobby have dramatically changed their latest reincarnation of Warhammer Fantasy Battle, not just the game's mechanics but also the background fluff which they've developed over the past 30 years, a background which many of us have grown up with.  For me there's no rage for AoS (my only gripe is that ranked up units have gone, and I don't particularly care for the new minis - but I have plenty of old that I can use); instead I see fun and also a return to lots of the key principles for what Oldhammer is for me. And in that I can draw comparisons with the Realms of Chaos, which in my mind is the zenith of GW's oeuvre, but perhaps that is about to change..... Have the old and the new met up and come full circle?

I can't wait for my first game of AoS using my Nurgle models and ensuring my opponent has more fun than I do. Thanks Games Workshop, you've renewed my love for the game (and I haven't even played it yet)!

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