So, after giving us all a 24 hour countdown, Games Workshop have made their big announcement for Age of Sigmar. With what will presumably be a wave of releases, downloads and updates this summer, they will be pushing three different approaches to playing Age of Sigmar.
This looks to be the basic rules approach – bring what you like, fight, have fun, no stress. They mention ‘any number of players’ so I am guessing this angle will not just be presented as the basic 4-page rules sheet and then all but ignored, but will have some other bits and pieces hung off it.
This is billed as ‘recreating the great battles of the age’. It would be tempting to think of this as merely following in the footsteps of the existing campaign books (and this is, indeed, the main way my group have been playing Age of Sigmar), but I suspect this will also get more support in the way of tools that show players how to create their own campaigns.
This is the big one, of course. Designed for tournaments, a points system is being added and it looks to be based upon the SCGT system (found here) which has gained a good following.
So, What Does This All Mean?
Well, until everything is actually unveiled, we do not really know yet. However, while some people have openly welcomed a full points-based system for their games, others have expressed concerns.
And I can understand why.
You see, these people (and I can be counted among them) fully embraced the lack of points/narrative style that Age of Sigmar was first presented with, taking to it like ducks to water. The fear is that a points system will ‘infiltrate’ all styles of play and become the ‘default’ type of game. Even in a purely narrative campaign, people will start off using points to help ‘eyeball’ the forces.
The opposition to the points system comes from a belief that this is just not needed and, indeed, my own experiences with the game have borne this out – if you take a look at the many battle reports here covering the Realmgate Wars campaign, you will notice that none of them have even come close to being unfair.
Panic Stations, Then?
Well, maybe not. First off, and by no means least, the recent release of the Godbeasts book means I easily have enough Realmgate Wars battles to play through until the end of this year – that is juts playing through the Battleplans as presented, without creating my own spin-offs and side-campaigns. I have more than enough to be getting on with for the immediate future without worrying about points creeping into my games.
Second, I am not against the use of points by any stretch – I am a dedicated 40k gamer after all, and have been playing through fairly extensive campaigns in Fantasy Battle. I can certainly see myself attending a points-based tournament, perhaps at Warhammer World, when the time comes. Taking part in a such a tournament in no way invalidates what I am doing in my own campaigns.
All that said, I ca well understand the reservations some have with points, where their use becomes the default method of play. So, to that end, I would be very, very happy if GW constructed tall (yet permeable) walls between these three different styles of play.
So, for example, if the points system incorporates tournament-style Battleplans – this would encourage people to only use the points system with those Battleplans in a tournament setting. At the same time, the campaign systems that are provided for narrative play have zero mention of points. Basically, the points system is kept in its own little box. The campaign system(s) instead have their own set of mechanics and rewards.
This is not to say players cannot port the points system to narrative play, only that it is not the default. The walls between the three styles are present, but permeable.
If this can be managed, everyone will be getting the best of the world they want to play within, and can completely ignore the other styles if they so wish without them ‘poisoning’ their own games.
For my part, I can foresee me delving into both narrative and matched play styles, probably leaning towards the former.
Overall, I see this as providing many new options for Age of Sigmar, and I am looking forward to what happens this summer!