I Have an Issue with Age of Sigmar

Over the past few weeks, I have been steadily coming to a conclusion – I have something of an issue with Age of Sigmar…

Throughout the Realmgate Wars, I was pretty heavily into the game – nearly 2,500 miniatures painted, used in nearly a hundred battles, all following the storyline in the campaign books and Battletomes.

And then, around the turn of 2016/2017, things just stopped.

This first cropped up in Battletomes such as the Kharadron Overlords. In previous books, narrative Battleplans always had a story behind them (that would be the narrative part), that charted the progress of characters, the introduction of new armies, and events occurring within the Mortal Realms. These ‘minor’ characters would pop up in several Battleplans (like Slann Starmaster Zectoka), or at least be linked to others (the Vampire Mistress Cyssandra, a hand maiden of Neferata and whose sisters appeared in other battles).

This all served to create a cohesive background to the Age of Sigmar, giving it a great deal more weight.

When the ‘new wave’ of Battletomes (such as the Kharadron Overlords and Disciples of Tzeentch) started dropping, new Battleplans were included – but they were now absent story. They were instead ‘representative’ of the army, in a ‘this is how they fight’ kind of way.

I could understand this approach. It was a shame, but I could understand it.

People had been asking more from Age of Sigmar, and these Battletomes were a response to that – Matched Play was now a thing, and ‘hobby’ articles had started to appear. All good stuff, but it had been at the expense of the ongoing background story.

Things looked up with the release of the Blightwar box set. Included within this set was a new chapter in the Age of Sigmar story, along with three connected Battleplans – best of all, they had a solid story behind them.

Granted, instead of the 4-5 pages of story Battleplans in the past had featured, these only had one page a piece. But, you know what? That was fine by me. Bit of a shame we were not seeing more, but I understood that space was needed for other areas of the game, and it seemed the best of both worlds. Matched players got their bits and pieces, we Narrative gamers got our storyline.

I’ll ignore the fact that this major Blightwar does not seem to have been revisited in other books since…

Then Malign Portents appeared, an advance on the storyline as significant as any chapter in the Realmgate Wars. And, it looked pretty funky – Nagash getting up to new tricks, with the forces of Destruction, Chaos and Order marching off to stop him. Couldn’t wait.

But there is very, very little story here.

A couple of handfuls of pages cover the scope of the battles taking place and, while there are Narrative Battleplans in the book, they have no story attached to them.

Well, you say, simply make up your own stories for them. Sure, I could do that. But I could also do it for the Matched Play Battleplans the book also includes. I could have been doing that all along – but without the story being put front and centre, Age of Sigmar loses a lot.

I have a suspicion that (miniatures aside which are, of course, up to GW’s usual climbing standards) things are being done for a price, and GW is no longer justifying big hardbacks for something as trivial as story. Malign Portents is an 80 page book – 80 pages to introduce a major new plot development. The Realmgate Wars books (five of them) were each around 300 pages.

This is a big difference.

It is not as if I can delve into the Black Library to support the narrative behind the game – after a strong start with the Realmgate Wars, fictional support for Age of Sigmar all but disappeared for well over a year, and it has been fairly lacklustre since. They are now recycling short stories from their older compilations as digital releases and, aside from that, there have been precious few substantial books.

A year ago, I was worried about having to make a choice between a revived Age of Sigmar storyline and new Warhammer 40,000 campaigns. I had thought that GW had retarded work on Age of Sigmar to prepare for the new edition of 40k (which might well have been the case), and there were certainly major wars in the new rulebook that would make for great narrative campaigns – the Konor campaign they ran was a great start, and one we engaged in. For all five battles…

After that, nothing. I have a nasty feeling that the majority of feedback GW received on both games revolved around one term – Tournament Play. Even if people never went to tournaments, they wanted everything ‘fair’ and ‘balanced’ and woe betide either game if their opponent received any special advantage.

So, where do I go from here?

Well, absent a new range of campaign books from GW (and I would, at this stage, happily accept such things from Forge World, regardless of the inevitable high cost), I might well be going into a state of semi-hibernation.

You will still see new armies being painted and posted here (I have a hankering to do a Daughters of Khaine force), and I am still slowly plugging away at Heresy-era armies for a Prospero campaign (the Forge World book for that is more than adequate for the kind of games I am after). I did consider the new Star Wars Legion, but I have certain philosophical issues with the way FFG are approaching that kind of game.

For now, I think I will carry on painting up some more Crypt Ghouls and get round to doing my Kharadron ships – after that… I’ll see where my fancy takes me.

I just don’t think the Sigmar narrative is going to be part of it for a fair while.

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Thanquol & Boneripper

Continuing the ratty theme (and I still have some Blood Bowl Skaven to polish off) is a model that has been sitting on ‘waiting to be painted’ shelf for more than a year now – Thanquol and Boneripper!

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These guys have a very handy painting guide done by Duncan on Warhammer TV and I (more or less) followed his instructions to the letter. And, despite the size of the model, it is… pretty simple to do, actually. Boneripper’s skin covers most of the surface area, then the metal and brass bitz. After that, you really just have the armour plates, pipework, and Thanquol himself (who is mostly robes and fur anyway).

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The big question for me, however, was what GW was planning to do with this great beastie, in terms of the Age of Sigmar storyline.

You see, a lot of the characters from the World That Was were transported to the Age of Sigmar by various powers (mostly Chaos). So, Valkia is still a thing, because she is still Khorne’s consort. Lord Kroak is still a thing because he is, well, functionally immortal.

Other characters became generic heroes (you can usually tell which ones because they are resin and not Chaos…), such as the Bonesplitterz Prophet or Seraphon Astrolith Bearer. Other resin models were simply retired or allowed to wither.

And that is fine. But what about Thanquol?

I cannot see the Horned Rat expending any effort whatsoever to bring him forward to the Mortal Realms, and there is no way GW will abandon a big plastic kit like this. So, will he become a generic Grey Seer on Big Beastie? Doesn’t feel right, somehow. His packaging is no help, as while it is in Sigmar-style, it in fact has not been updated since the Warhammer End Times.

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So, can we expect to see a return of the fan favourite Thanquol, hatching his plans across the Mortal Realms, or is he now an ex-Thanquol?

Maybe we will see him return in the next round of campaign books, or the ones after… either way, he is now painted and I am ready for whatever plot twists come our way!

Rokkit Rats

Just a quickie before I disappear on the Great Christmas Project (next post will be in January). I didn’t manage to finish off Thanquol (getting there!), but I did get this bunch of rats finished:

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A bunch of Clanrat reinforcements, plus this chap:

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A callback to Fantasy Battle days, the rocket-wielding Warlock Engineer!

I can’t take the credit for this conversion, as I managed to swag it on eBay (for just a quid!), but he certainly has a nice Clan Skryre feel to him. On the tabletop, I’ll get round to doing a Warscroll for him in the New Year, but you could just as easily say the launcher is a representation of his Smite spell or even Warp Lightning.

The Clanrats are not a full unit in themselves, but will instead be used to bolster existing units so the Clan Verminus now has two units of 30 and one unit of 20. Having three units of 40 would be better for Skaven, but I’ll get there.

Now, I just have to finish some bits and pieces at work, and then the Great Christmas Project commences, starting off with Thanquol, some Blood Bowl rats, three Death Guard vehicles, and some other goodies I have already had prepared…

Kharadron Heroes

My painting schedule this month has well and truly been shot (James will find that funny), with huge swathes as yet untouched. Part of my grand Christmas break project will therefore be filled with catching up with the various bits and pieces I did not get round to…

However, I did finish these chaps, all the heroes of the Kharadron Overlords.

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Painting these was… extremely easy, actually.

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Starting off with an all-over gold base, you then pick out the areas of steel…

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… and then add hold-specific details to taste, plus the odd glowing gem…

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… and then you are done.

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Even the more complex models, like Brokk Grungsson with his elaborate flying endrin, is no great chore. If the ships (coming very soon) are anything like the infantry and characters, then the Kharadron Overlords are shaping up to be a very easy army to paint!

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So, what do I have planned for the Christmas break? Well, in no particular order, I am hoping to get through:

  • Death Guard Rhinos and Land Raider
  • Seven ships of the Kharadron Overlords
  • Characters for the Thousand Sons, plus a wicked looking Xiphon for them
  • A bunch of rats for both Verminus and Blood Bowl, plus Thanquol
  • Mortarion

Now, all that was what I had originally planned for December before the break. I will be hoping to add:

  • A Moonclan Grot force, complete with Squig Gobba and Fanatics
  • More Zombies, a Corpse Cart, Hexwraiths, and Arkhan the Black for Death
  • Space Woof Cataphractiis and Thousand Sons Veterans
  • The new Death Guard Lord, his bodyguard, three Blight-Haulers, and a new Nurgle Daemon Prince
  • An Eldritch Council Force
  • More Custodes
  • A few reinforcements for the Seraphon

Now, that is a big ask for a two week break, and it is still far from what I had originally planned (getting through what is rapidly becoming a Forge World mountain). Still, best foot forward!

 

Last of the Maggoth Lords

Here is a miniature that has been sitting around for a long time (a couple of years maybe!), but I finally got round to him this weekend – Orghotts Daemonspew.

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As usual, I used Duncan’s guide on Warhammer TV, and Orghott is actually the only Maggoth Lord he demonstrates, so I had to wing it with the others. However, they were relatively straight forward, whereas Orghott’s beastie has that graduation of colour from belly to topside.

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As it turned out, this was not really difficult or time-consuming at all, if you follow Duncan’s teachings, though mine ended up a little more subdued than his – it might have looked better if I had increased the surface area of the lighter bits.

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Still, I think it turned out alright, and the whole model was really not very time-consuming.

And now he can join the rest of the Maggoth Lords to form a mighty trio!

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Next up, some heavy metal for the Space Woofs…

Death & Destruction in Shadespire

I have two quite swanky models almost finished that I will be showcasing soon but, before we get to those, here are the two latest warbands for Shadespire done and dusted:

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Not too much to talk about in terms of painting these because, as with the first two warbands, I merely followed Duncan’s instructions on Warhammer TV.

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If you want a really easy warband to paint up for Shadespire but don’t want to join the Stormcast crowd, then the Orruks have to be the way to go. There are only four of them, they are 90% armour, and Duncan’s guidance will even get you past the ‘yellow problem’ (in days gone by, yellow used to be a sod to paint properly).

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The Sepulchral Guard are a little more numerous and some parts seem thin almost to the point of being brittle, but they stood up to my sausage fingers, so you should not have any issues with them. Again, Duncan will get you painting these to a decent standard, if not perfection, making them another reasonable choice for the lazy gamer.

Next up, some heavy metal for the Space Woofs

Warhammer Quest: Chaos Adversary Cards

This should be a short and sweet one – the Chaos Adversary Cards for Warhammer Quest have just arrived.

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This (actually sizeable – it may not seem that way in the photos but they are much bigger than your palm) card deck adds a bunch of new monsters to your games of Warhammer Quest, both Silver Tower and Hammerhal, and gives a handy reference to existing creatures – no more flicking between books!

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One card gives all the rules you need to implement this deck in your game. Exotic Adversaries are used as normal (you just have more choice), while Mighty Adversaries are used in the same way but only pop up once per adventure, as they are a bit harder than regular monsters.

Finally, you can just deal cards randomly when the players meet monsters, though I am not sure many people will do that.

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I won’t go through the whole list of monsters this deck includes, as GW have handily posted the list right here. However, there are absolutely no issues with tiny text, as with their Sigmar Warscroll cards, and everything you need is very accessible.

Full marks there.

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Each card has all the monster’s stats and abilities on one side, along with how many models will appear when the encounter appears, and the behaviour table on the back.

Simples!

This deck is £15 which, given the size and number of the cards, as well as the additional utility they give in Warhammer Quest, especially if you have a sizeable collection of miniatures, is more than fair enough.

I have no choice but to give this one a full ten out of ten.