GW have just released two new items (actually six if you include the £10 ‘easy to build’ miniatures packs) designed to get people into Age of Sigmar at a very low price point.
Storm of Sigmar
The main one is the Storm of Sigmar starter set.
This is a small £20 box set with purportedly everything you need to start playing Age of Sigmar – and that is true, though it should be noted that it is in no way a replacement for the larger £75 set. That contains two complete armies, whereas Storm of Sigmar has 13 models, split between Stormcasts and Bloodbound, as with its larger cousin.
The bulk of the box is taken up with the thirteen miniatures (3 Liberators, 2 Retributors, 3 Blood Warriors and 5 Bloodreavers), a transfer sheet, dice, and a Construction Guide. These are the same models as those that appear in the larger set.
You also get attractive unit cards for the models – nice and clear, with everything you need. They do not have all the unit options but then, with this set, you just do not need them, and they would only clog things up for what is an introduction to the game.
All of this we have seen before – what I was really interested in seeing was the rulebook.
It kicks off with three pages of background behind the setting, explaining the Mortal Realms, and who the Stormcasts and Bloodbound are. This focusses solely on these two forces, with the other Grand Alliances not getting so much as a look-in.
Then we come to what is, in effect, a mini-narrative campaign that uses the models in this set. In terms of story, these Battleplans take place ‘off to one side’ from the big fights depicted in the larger starter set and the first hardback book. They are also going to be very quick to play.
The first battle, for example, features a single Retributor-Prime to interrupt a ritual being conducted by three Blood Warriors.
The other battles are in a similar vein, with the next featuring the Liberators trying to hold a pass against waves of Bloodreavers, then the Retributors trying to force their way through a mixture of the Bloodbound.
The final Battleplan, Lord of Blood, uses all the models and introduces the idea of Command Abilities, with a special one for the Bloodbound.
As simple as they are, I actually quite like the look of these and, with the low model count, you could probably get through them all in half an hour or so. We are going to give these a whirl, and I may do a battle report on them!
The core rules come next (on 8 pages rather than 4, due to the smaller format book), and the book finishes with some adverts/guides on where to go next – given the nature of this set, that is to be expected and cannot really be begrudged.
Overall, this seems to be a nice little starter set to get someone pushing models round the table and rolling dice, and I can see it working very well as a birthday or Christmas gift. For veteran players… well, the value is less, and it really is not targeted at you. The models are going to be of limited value as they are ‘non-standard’ unit sizes, so you are really looking at £20 for the mini-campaign. If you were to play it more than once, or use it to get someone new into the game… that could be worth it…
At the end of the day, this set is very much targeted at the new-to-Age-of-Sigmar player, and perhaps not anyone who reads this blog. In that regard, I would give it a solid A.
Getting Started with Age of Sigmar
Released the same day, there is a (much) cheaper Getting Started with Age of Sigmar book. It is just £5 and while it is nicely printed, with a spine, and weighs in at 96 pages, it may be better to look at this as a kind of special magazine, maybe even a ‘White Dwarf special edition’.
This book seems to be intended to take someone who is completely new to Age of Sigmar (from someone who has just walked into a GW store for the first time to a veteran 40k – or even Fantasy Battle – player), and show them what is what in Age of Sigmar.
Oh, and you get a single free Liberator attached to the front. Pretty sure that is the same one that originally appeared on the front of White Dwarf last year (and, in fact, it has just occurred to me – with the White Dwarf Liberator, this one, and the three in Storm of Sigmar, I have just got myself an entirely new 5-man Liberator retinue!).
The first 14 pages are dedicated to the setting of Age pf Sigmar, with all the major events, running from the formation of the Mortal Realms and the Age of Myth, right up to the All-Gates battles of the latest hardback.
A very quick guide on how and why to collect models follows, and then we dive into a battle report.
This is no ‘starter force’ battle report, but a full-on clash that pits the Celestant-Prime against Valkia and Skarbrand, with lots of Stormcasts and Khornate Daemons mixing it up.
It does not go into any detail on how the game is actually played, concentrating more on ‘cool things’ that happened during the game and how they can be applied to your own battles.This covers things like ‘active’ terrain, Realmgates, named characters (it explains who Skarbrand and Valkia are), and duels between heroes which culminates with a Herald of Khorne facing the Celestant-Prime (and winning!).
Presumably having got a newcomer sufficiently fired up, the book then dives into the different factions, and here I can see some people having an issue. Take a look at this page:
If the charge was made that this book is a 96 page advert for Age of Sigmar, that would be kind of hard to refute. However, I think that is very much in the nature of the book and if you were a newcomer to the game and were interested in getting properly started, then this is exactly what you would want/expect to see.
Not everyone is a jaded sourpuss like us gaming veterans!
Fulfilling much the same function but in a more interesting fashion, are three double-page spreads featuring complete armies with their back story – the Grand Congregation of Nurgle, Vostarg Lodge and, pictured here, Chotec’s Burning Spear. A nice selection, and it gets away from the heavy Stormcast vs. Khorne direction.
The rest of the book, forty-odd pages, is devoted to painting stuff up. The ‘Citadel Paint System’ is introduced, and it goes further than just getting base colours onto your models, going into Glazes and Technical paints, for example. Nothing too in depth, but it would get you started.
A little further on is a step-by-step painting guide for several Bloodbound and Stormcast models. These are really only basic guides, stopping at all over washes and with no highlights, but they would get painted models onto the table in very quick order.
And, of course, you have the rules as well. These are the same as those featured online and in the two starter sets, but they have been ‘prettied up’ with sidebars and photographs, extending them into eight A4 pages.
And that is about it for the Getting Started book.
Is it worth it? To be honest, this is very much an impulse purchase that someone might make while getting a new squad of Space Marines, or for a GW staffer to point a parent towards after their kids have expressed an interest.
For veterans… regard it as a special issue magazine, and you will not be too disappointed Just remember, it is not really intended for you…