40k & the “Age of Sigmar Treatment”


Pimpcron is cautious to think of what actually needs to be changed in 40k.

Hey it’s Pimpcron! I’m here today to blog about 40k and chew bubble gum. And I’m all out of bubble gum.

Oh wait; just found some more. Oh well, guess I can do both.

happy-agonizerAnd a balloon. I also have a balloon.

So I was talking with a friend the other day and he was railing against AoS (Aftershave on Scabs, no I’m kidding Age of Sigmar). He plays 8th edition instead of AoS and is angry because of all of the complexity washed out of Warhammer with the advent of AoS. Then the conversation changed to whether or not I’d still play 40k if it got the “Sigmar” treatment. I have played AoS and think it’s okay; lots of issues that have been discussed into the ground, but overall an “okay” game. Not in my top 3 games to play. Here are my thoughts on Warhammer 40k getting simplified and streamlined ala Sigmar.

Let me also make this caveat: I love 40k like no other game (Firestorm Armada is a close 2nd) and I would be happy with this edition forever. 7th Edition is my favorite edition so far and has re-invigorated my urge to play. I am not in the camp where I feel like the game is broken and there are a ton of issues with it. That being said, I am not blind and I do notice that things could be stream-lined.

Complexity is a Double Edged Sword

As wargamers we *tend* to like more complex games. Many of us love the minutia or “If this happens this kind of way, then this happens due to what happened before, modified by what just happened.” I personally love the complexity of 40k and would not like to see it changed. But on the other hand, one of my best friends really likes the look, lore, and models of 40k but the extreme complexity of the rules turn him off immediately. My wife has played all kinds of games with me over the years from RPGs to Heroclix to board games. But she doesn’t like the complexity of 40k and feels that it is “unnecessarily complex”. My Father-in-law tried 40k but after a demo game, he claimed that it was too complex as well, claiming that he didn’t “want to make learning rules for a game a part-time job”. Us existing gamers like the kind of detail and complexity you can really sink your teeth into and constantly learn something new. But I can’t help but fear that it turns off some portion of the gamer population that likes more simplified, casual games and who would otherwise play with us.

Highlander-Clan-Macleod-SwordWord to the wise: this is not how you properly hold a sword.

Complexity adds layers of depth in tactics and strategy, but makes it harder for new people to join. The million-dollar question is “Where is a happy medium?”

Wargear Isn’t the Problem

One of the most noticeable things taken out of AoS is the wargear options. You pay no extra points for these and in some cases, any model can take them at no cost. I really don’t think that wargear options are the real issue with the complexity of 40k. I mean, you pay points for the unit, and then add points for options. I can’t imagine that is what turns off potential gamers; it’s simple addition. So the point values being taken out of Age of Sigmar probably did nothing to draw in new players in my opinion. I think it has everything to do with the sometimes-wonky rules we play by.

“Soul Blaze & Mob Rule” Syndrome

This part of the rules is one of my personal pet peeves as an amateur game designer. Whenever you possibly can in game design, choose the simpler of the two options if they will *generally* give you the same output. Games Workshop seemingly loves to make rules that are mini games in themselves.

“Roll on this chart D6 times on a 4+. If you roll a 1-3, only roll on this list D3 times. Once you do that, each result will have an effect on a 3+, otherwise they have no effect. If a result has an effect, roll a D6 for each un-engaged non-vehicle model on the board. On a 6+ the table result affects them, but they can deny it by …”

confusedAll that sounds an awful lot like terrorism.

I think by the time you do your Mob Rule rolling, a D6 number of Strength 4 hits at AP -, you could have just dealt D3 wounds to the unit at AP -. Because you will roughly wound the unit half the time being that they are Toughness 4 versus Strength 4. So while my streamlined way guarantees at least one wound while the other one potentially could deal no wounds, I would much rather have the one roll versus many rolls for pretty much the same effect.

And don’t even get me started on the often-forgotten and generally useless rule called Soul Blaze.

Many Mechanics Could be Simplified or Clarified

Firing Arcs aren’t always clear, Fear is mostly useless, the Psychic Phase is wonky and overly complex, and some stats could be streamlined. For instance, why not just have the Ballistic Skill value as a 3+ or 5+? I understand that the Weapon Skills need a relative value because they are compared to others, but the BS is never compared to others. I have so many new (and some old) players constantly ask, “So what do I need to hit?” And can Bikers drive up walls to get to higher levels are can’t they? I can’t find anywhere in the rules that they can’t, but it makes no damn sense if they can.

It almost seems like 40k is still stuck halfway in the Rogue Trader days of super-complexity and halfway into the modern age. So I do feel like they need to re-assess the whole rulebook, but I’d appreciate it if they didn’t take quite as much zeal as they did with Warhammer Fantasy. But then again, after seeing what they did with Fantasy, maybe I don’t want them to touch it at all.

What are some other things they need to clarify?

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  • JontyGoesGaming

    It would probably get me playing 40k again but I suspect my attitude is a lot more casual than most 40k gamers.

    If you play very regularly, and it’s your only game I get that you’d probably be happy with the level of complexity but it just puts me off – every time I think about playing 40k and look through the rulebook I remember that I don’t have the time, the energy or the inclination to remember all those bloody rules. And now there are even more for FLyers! Crazy.

    But as I say – not a competitive or tournament gamer. Would love to see 40k be easier to dip into and would especially love it to get the scenario treatment AoS has been given – rather than the 6 different flavours of ‘Capture the Flag’ you’ve got at the moment.

    • Dyemor

      I’ve a couple of friends who are exactly the same, and hence have loved AoS.

    • Darnath Lysander

      I agree with you. If I played every weekend, sure… Bring on the complexity. But we just wanna play a game, have some beers, and make “pew pew” noises. 😉

      • ZeeLobby

        Eh, there’s two sides to every coin. I play every week, drink beer, and want to have a close competitive game.

      • Malky

        Try AoS. Apparently it’s very good with pretzels as well.

  • Malky

    40k definitely needs work but it doesn’t need set to hit/wound values or fluff that envies the kind you find in your navel.

    • JontyGoesGaming

      I’m enjoying the evolution of the AoS background, but it really did have a shaky start, and I do still like the Old World a lot. I don’t think they’d can the 40k universe though.

      • Kevin Buesse

        No the 40k universe is IP protect able enough they don’t need to trash it. That’s all it ever boiled down to, the old world was far far to open it IP theft. At least as GW’s lawyers saw it, and the board heads.

  • Ross Howard

    I’m going to advocate for AOS on this point:

    Many of us love the minutia or “If this happens this kind of way, then this happens due to what happened before, modified by what just happened.”

    Because this is exactly the strategic backbone that AOS has and that people who haven’t given it a fair shot constantly overlook.

    A Verminlord Deceiver has a spell that can teleport Itself or a SKAVEN HERO anywhere on the battlefield outside of 3″ of an enemy. Kairos knows the spells of all wizards within 18″ of him. Kairos can use this spell to teleport himself across the board and can then commence Gatewaying or summoning units into the opponents back field. The Verminlord can also then Teleport Thanquol and Boneripper to smash up a unit with its Warpfire Projectors.

    An Empire general can buff three units to stand still and gain +1 to hit and wound. Making a unit of 40 halberds auto hit and wound on a 3+

    The changeling can hide amongst enemy ranks and cast the spells of enemy wizards within range of him. He can sidle up to Nagash, cast Hand of Dust and potentially remove him instantly, and failing that he can then whack him with his own weapon.

    If a maw crusher kills a hero it gains +1 to wound and can then immediately charge another unit after and smash them up.

    The goreblade warband grants +1 attack across the board for every unit killed in the same combat phase. Blood reavers attacking last can go from 1 attack each to:
    2 Attacks from the Bloodsecrator
    3 Attacks from having a totem nearby
    4 Attacks from an Aspiring death bringer
    5+ attacks for every unit killed before they attacked.
    Top it all off with a Skullgrinder having killed a monster or hero beforehand and for the rest of the game they’re causing double wounds.

    So suddenly 10 bloodreavers could potentially churn out 60-70 attacks.

    The steps required to make these combinations happen require a lot of finesse and planning and when they work the rewards are massive.

    • Tim

      You hit it right on the head. Most people would rather complain than try AOS. Bc the rulebook isn’t 100 pages. I also am enjoying it quite a bit. My local store is seeing lots of new players there. Even some of their 40k players are trying it. And their comments after playing a handful of games is that the games is just tons of fun.

      • Ross Howard

        I think the important thing to point out is that the rules are a framework for the game. And that has resulted in people throwing their hands up about it whilst other more enterprising people have sculpted it into a very workable tournament game.

        Our current group apply a comp system and use scenarios from the books, from tournament games or homebrew scenarios to make the game fair and entertaining.

        Given the fact that the 6 scenarios that came in the box with 8th all centred around breaking your opponents face, AOS has it beaten in terms of the tactical and narrative quality of scenario based play.

        • And that is exactly one of the problem people have… that its no longer about those basic variations of battle line.

          • Randy Randalman

            People weren’t playing Fantasy anymore, however, so it doesn’t matter. An entire line could be forced to not charge because of a sideways flying eagle. A single 90 point cannon could reliably laser shot 500+ point super characters off the board, and one spell could annihilate entire armies (or themselves). You could be a master general going against a noob and lose turn one when the spellcaster in your army blows himself up, or a 200 point Giant yells and bawls and guarantees a quick, combat death against a 900 point Ancient Dragon.

            There were no tactical subtleties. 9/10 of the game was unplayable and useless, AND there were a bloated amount of rules.

            AoS is 10x more tactically rewarding – already. And a points system co-designed by the community is inbound. Positioning your models in relation to spellcasters, heroes and solos with buffs/debuffs, the balance between monsters and warmachines, etc.

            It’s less than a year into its radically designed departure and already proving superior.

          • Commissar Molotov

            Oh, please. People WERE still playing fantasy, and your silly little skirmish game is anything but “superior.” Was wheeling ranked units a little too hard for you?

          • I agree that the tactics of 8th edition were seriously flawed because of what you pointed out.

            However the point system coming was not designed by the community. GW designed the new point system and the SCGT guys reviewed them. (source: the AOS facebook where the AOS guy AND the SCGT guy both corrected me when I said that the system was co designed with the SCGT team)

            I am an AOS fan for the most part as well. I enjoy the game more than I did whfb up to this point because I get tired of internet metas and people just fielding the same thing over and over again (in 8th it was as you described, laser guided cannons and everyone fielding max wizards to try to be the first to six dice the #6 spell and win)

      • Davor Mackovic

        Putting all those war scrolls together, I believe can even be more assive than the Fantasy BRB. Man those are a lot of rules. I am so glad GW did what they did, makes AoS less daunting that what it really is.

      • Agent OfBolas

        I’ve tried it 3 times.
        The worse game I’ve ever played, and I started in 1998.

        • Ross Howard

          Try it with an army built on scrollbuilder using SCGT and the first battleplan from SCGT: http://www.heelanhammer.com/SCGTdownloads/SCGT16BatPlanV1.3.pdf

          The first three times I tried it I was clueless. If you have the models and a willing opponent, what do you have to lose?

          • Agent OfBolas

            I’m already in love with T9A rules, its best fantasy edition ever, our club is growing with newcommers and … no one plays AoS in my city, so … no thanks,

    • Admiral Raptor

      I’ve only played a handful of AoS games and I had no idea that the game had crazy combos like that. It all sounds pretty cool! I think if they implement a good points system the game might really take off.

      • Ross Howard

        It’s already pointed via the community on http://www.scrollbuilder.com pal!

        In a way, its more democratic than it was during 8th, with new army books becoming overpowered compared to older ones, and with older armies being neglected. The points or pools are tweaked independently over time

    • Heinz Fiction

      Yeah and if the Empire Player has a longer mustache than you, he wins. Sorry, can’t take this game serious…

      • CthulhuDawg

        Updated warscrolls through the app and the faction books have removed those kind of rules. If that’s all that’s stopping you maybe hit up Google play and give it a another go.

      • Countdiscount

        Because Elves, Goblins and Dwarves is serious business

    • ZeeLobby

      I mean for me, the biggest detractor was lack of points. That’s being remedied. The other biggest detractor was any base sizes, that still hasn’t.

      • Ross Howard

        I think you’ll find an answer in both the tournament and non tournament scenes.

        Tournaments will by and large insist on sensibly sized bases, and will provide a chart for those that haven’t been rebased.

        Non tournament casual players will measure from model to model, so by and large the base size doesn’t come into much contention.

        Personally I think base size is the way to go. It’s universal!

        • ZeeLobby

          And it just makes sense. It’s just crazy that they didn’t include it. I mean even casual players need points of reference. And I agree, tournaments do have solutions. I just find it hard to support a base system that has such swiss-cheesy rules. Makes me worry about what I’m (expensively) buying into.

          I will probably jump into AoS with the point system release, but only if they show that not only can they point things, but that they’ll adjust them as well. It’s not just the points I want, but a show of effort by GW to make the game consistently better, not just “good enough”.

          • Ross Howard

            That’s another worry for me too, handing back control of pointing to GW and those points being in print. I felt the same about the GA books that came out. Outdated armies that have been transcribed over suddenly seem lacklustre, and theres an attitude that what is now in print won’t be updated any time soon.

          • ZeeLobby

            Yeah, I’ll cross my fingers to be pleasantly surprised, but i’m not too hopeful. Many game systems benefit from edition releases that rebalance units across the boards, as well as consistent FAQs and erratas. GW has been all over the place with all of these.

    • Ben_S

      Doesn’t Kairos + Screaming Bell = auto-win? Or did they change that on later scrolls?

      • Tyris

        They’ve not changed it, but you still need to get a 6 on the one die you’re not changing to a 7.

    • Malky

      You’ve just listed a lot of reasons why everyone hates AoS.

      • Ross Howard

        You’ve just used the term “everyone” in a conversation with people saying how much they enjoy it.

        • Malky


          Everyone bar 2 people.

          • Ross Howard

            Bar also the 144 attendees at South Coast Grand Tournament. Down from about 160 8th edition players from previous years.

            Bar also the people at Bravery 1, Facehammer, Bad Dice, Heelan Hammer and Black Sun podcasts and their listeners.

            Bar the members of the community at tga.community. The site also lists upcoming AOS events around the UK, 5 of which are in this month alone. The game is creating a lot of buzz at local clubs because of how easy it is to organise a tournament for and how easy it is to settle disputes given how well worded the rules are.

            I don’t want to get on your case about this, but so far AOS is doing incredibly well in the UK and I don’t think that’s getting across very well on the internet. Mainly – I believe – because people are arguing from the point of view of themselves, or based on what they see in their local meta.

            The gaming club I play at once a week was purely 40k, Blood Bowl and Necromunda(?) when I first joined two years back. Me and two of my friends plus one other were the 8th ed players.

            Nobody at all played Warmachine. But I can’t say fairly, based on that information that Warmachine isn’t a successful game. Because I can walk into Darksphere, 4 miles south of the club on the weekend to pick up some paint and half of their tables are taken up by Warmachine players.

            Fast forward a few years. In that time no new or old 8th edition players joined us. We have 2 kings of war players, 10 AOS players. The 40k players are still there, but are instead playing Infinity or Frostgrave

            So from those metrics, It’s not fair for me to say that 40k is flopping. My gaming club is a microcosm.

            And that’s what I think the consensus about AOS boils down to. If it’s doing badly in your area, it’s doing badly globally. In the UK we’re loving it and there’s data to back that up.

          • Malky

            It’s weird you say people in the UK are loving it because I live in the UK too and from what I can see it is isn’t popular at all.

            Using your local meta point I think there are 4 guys in a 20 mile radius where I live play it and are constantly on the gaming forums asking for games. They usually end up playing each other, no-one else is interested even though we have fantasy armies.

            Worryingly for AoS though is my local GW has one AoS boxed set which has been there forever surrounded by 40k stuff and the window displays are almost all 40k too. There’s a table for AoS, i’ve never seen it used as anything other than a makeshift painting station. This should be where all the AoS action is happening.

            Big picture-wise, let’s use the old adage of “follow the money” and look at GW’s profits. Every article you can find is about disappointing returns that have been propped up by money from IP licensing to video games. The numbers don’t lie and they show AoS has been nowhere near the smash people are making it out to be. If it was, their profits would be way higher.

  • Malisteen

    Far too many rules force a bunch of complexity – through sheer text length, or numbers of extra rolls, or time spent checking charts, or things you have to remember & keep track of, or all of the above – yet have no meaningful effect on the game that justifies all that hassle. Rules should either matter, or they shouldn’t be there in the first place.

    • Noveltyboy

      But look at the regular rules arguments linked with 40K. If GW use a single different word in a sentence people try and loop hole it like they’re at a bloody rodeo. Rather than AoS the rules why not AOS the types of play. Simpler rules for standard games and in depth rules for completion and tourney style play and some RPG style campaign play rules. Give people the option.

      • Davor Mackovic

        >Simpler rules for standard games and in depth rules for completion and tourney style play and some RPG style campaign play rules. Give people the option.

        You have that option. People just need their hand held in how to “play” and can’t function any other way around. I swear almost everyone is like Sheldon, and if not done in a certain way, act so weird and embarrassing.

      • Malisteen

        Tournaments are exactly the kind of context in which simple, straight forward, easy to understand, fast to play rules are MOST needed. I’m not advocating AoSing the rules – AoS’s core rules are simple, yes, but they’re also terrible. I’m calling for more a 3rd ed style 40k or 6th ed style fantasy rules reboot. Streamline the core rules, and rebuild all the factions from the ground up at the same time, so everything starts off on the same foot, with the same design philosophy.

  • standardleft

    Give it a few years before AoSing 40k.

    See what works and what doesn’t in AoS and use the same ruleset for both games.

    • Admiral Raptor

      That’s…a really good idea actually! AoS has a lot of it’s own issues to contend with but it also has a lot more potential than many give it credit for. I think overall AoS has less far to go to become a great wargame than 40k does at the moment.

  • Baldrick

    40k definitely needs a revision of the rules, with a more concise basic set of rules, with optional/advanced rules. New players find the current 7th rules far to cumbersome to understand. All these FAQs do not help. Create a basic set of rules (NOT AoS), something along the lines of 4th or 5th Ed, and then have allies, detachments, formations, flyers, etc, etc, etc as options/advanced rules. In that way, there is a basic core set of rules for everyone to follow with points, and then additional optional and/or advanced rules can be added for tournaments and more experienced players. Get rid of the Physic Phase. Go back to standard Force Organization Chart, not the current mess it is, and no unbound nonsense.

    • grumzimus

      Hopefully a better laid out book. I find the new one just painful to find anything. The previous books were far better.

  • J Mad

    So you mean like 5th ed? And everyone hated it remember?

    40k needs some rules fixed/changed, but it doesnt need to be overhaul and limited to stupidity of game play.

    • Kevin Buesse

      People loved 5th when it dropped, they hated it after years due to the limited number of in book scenarios and the fact the game stayed stsle due to minimal codex releases.

      Take 7ths shooting and vehicle rules, 5ths other rules and the modern release cycle I’d be in heaven.

      • J Mad

        Right… you know Fearless and terrain rules etc.. be amazing.. /s

    • Heinz Fiction

      5th edition was the last good edition in my opinion. Not perfect of course but very solid.

  • Tim

    Have you seen the battle for vendros video? The how to play reminded me a lot of AOS. I think what it comes down to is does simplicity bring in players and more money. Or does the current group of 40k players enough to make a company sustain profits. I’ve seen two heavy 40k stores by me start to push other games and see there player base shrink drastically. One even had to shut. Then in my local GW I sera game of AOS every time I’m in there. About a quarter of the time I see a game of 40k. Three years ago, I saw nothing but 40k on tables in any store around town.

    • Fenrisian

      I’ve seen the exact opposite. Our local stores are selling more 40k than ever. Yet you see maybe one AOS game a month, and our stores are downsizing their AOS because it’s not selling. Just because 40k is having issues in one area does not mean that’s the same for all areas.

      • Tim

        That’s definately true. I do live in a fairly big city with many many flgs’. But I don’t knly know about what I’ve seen here at the 6-7 flgs I visit

        • Fenrisian

          Out group has started networking with other groups in the region, if you are willing to drive a little there are events every weekend somewhere. Maybe your region just had its fill. Around my flgs it’s only gotten stronger. Perhaps your player base is more suited to different games. Nothing wrong with that.

          • Tim

            Very true. I have to be honest I am getting semi interested in trying guildball

  • Drpx

    If it takes longer to explain/argue the rules of a game than to play it, most folks probably won’t be interested in it.

    • Drathmere

      Nail on the head. Why learn rules if they are broken by hundreds of unit entries?

    • Fenrisian

      Then why not take it on yourself to teach people the basics (how basic shooting works, basic assaults etc) and slowly build up their knowledge base.

      If you try to hit them with each and every teeny tiny rule at once, of course they will be overwhelmed.

      • Frank Krifka

        because almost all units do something “special”. its kind of hard to play in a basic way without at least touching on the complexity.

  • Paul James Harrison

    There is a simple set of rules already. It’s called ‘Dark Vengeance’. All the complexity is stopping younger players starting, it’s the reason Lord of the Rings was popular, simple rules.

    • Tyris

      Lord of the Rings was what now?

      • Davor Mackovic

        Really? There is always someone somewhere.
        Yes you know LotR was popular. It’s not now, but it was 15 years ago. Your comment wasn’t funny at all.

        • Tyris

          15 years ago? You mean when it was able to ride a wave of tie-in excitement that didn’t even sustain itself between movies, let alone after the third one was released?

          There’s no joke there, and if you think there is that might just be you realising you’re standing on one.

      • Paul James Harrison

        Lol, I know, but my point is that GW can write simple rules.

    • MClay01

      The complexity and price.

      I just think they need to go back to squad based games. Create a 40k squad game as a rule set seperate from the normal 40k without flyers and superheavies to lower the entry price and put in some form of reactionary system. Add some Necromunda elements to the game for squad based experience and clean up their rules to center missions around jungle fighting/city fighting to represent smaller skirmishes.

      Then it would be grand for them to churn out a well planned 15mm scale game that will still have the option to customize special characters and, to scale, add in the flyers and superheavies that are decreasing the size of the current 40k tables. I also would like to see flyers not be nearly matched in speed by calvery and bikes (on the charge) and stop seeing tanks being kept up with (via run) by infantry who would normally depend on those vehicles for speed not just safety during the transport.

      • Fenrisian

        If youw ant it to be a feed into 40k, keep the models the same scale, but give them the basic rules and let them be useable in 40k. When you interlock games like that, it helps make the transition easier.

        Price is probably the biggest deterant.

    • Pyrrhus of Epirus

      Lord of the Rings was popular because of the IP. If the game was called clash of fantasy races, it wouldnt have sold jack squat.

  • I’d actually welcome it to be honest. A game doesn’t need to be complex to be good. 40k’s rules are a giant mess right now and a little bent in some places.

    AoS is 4 pages of core rules and then rules on warscrolls. We have had very very few arguments with AOS and its nice to play a game where I don’t have to have my nose in the book every 10 minutes to look up some minor rule so we don’t get it wrong.

    • Davor Mackovic

      That is so true. 40K is Checkers trying to be like Chess but it’s not.

    • Frank Krifka

      the app is quite helpful too. The ability to put an unfamiliar enemy unit on your war scroll list so you can check what it’s abilities are mid game is quite helpful. And much better than asking “so, what does this one do?” over and over.

  • Lewis Anderson

    After the killing off of fantasy and the roll down the stairs of AoS I’m scared to invest anything into 40k.

    • Davor Mackovic

      After 7th edition I was scared to invest anything into GW. Only in 2016 have I actually started spending a lot of money on GW.

  • I like your take on Mob rule.

  • Lewis Anderson

    40k couple easy fixes.
    Vehicles get a armour save.
    Repoint ALL armies
    Less unique rules compile data slates to a single source
    Make small point games viable

  • grumzimus

    Dude, you really should have gone more in depth here. The games RIFE with crap that just adds time to playing. Generally takes us 5 hours minimum to get a 2000pt game these days. And half of that is re-reading the rules we’ve forgotten since the last time we could dedicate the time for a game at a weekend.

    I remember when they streamlined Fleet to be far more generalised. I can’t help but feel that they need to do this again. As there’s so many rules out there, codexes, suppliments, that you can’t know them all and half the game is spend interpreting stuff you’ve forgotten.

    Hells yes they need to make things simpler. make fear useful or just get rid of the bloomin thing. And Soul Blaze! I actually do remember about it (unlike fear).

    Definitely don’t want it to go down the AoS route, but something that helps simplify the rules sprawl and evens things out for folks is very much awaited.

    • Pyrrhus of Epirus

      than you and your group are slow players, how is that GW fault? I just played a tourney last weekend at 1850. 5 games, none longer than 2 1/2 hrs and 4 of the 5 went 7 turns.

      • Shawn

        What did you and your opponents play that you were able to get 5 full games in at a tournament?

        • Pyrrhus of Epirus

          last weekend at the canhammer team tournament. i play eldar, i played CSM, eldar, demons, demon, nids. None of my teamates played a single game that didnt finish either. offhand i cant say who they all played, but they play white scars battle company, nids and demons.

      • grumzimus

        Yeah maybe we are slow as sh*t, though lets face it. Tournament games are always quicker than beer n pretzel games at home. Never had a problem finishing up at Battle Brothers. There’s less setup and banter at the start of tourney games & everythings ready for you between games to just pick up. But I find most of the time is wasted rechecking rules & codexes. Hell we rarely play past turn 4 some nights.

        Crap we must be slow 😛

    • The reason why I didn’t go more into detail is because the article was already 1000+ words, and I had to decide to either write more on it and make it a multi-week article series or stop. People don’t usually like articles more than 1200 words because they get too long. And if I did a multi-week thing I just sound like I’m beating the issue into the ground and whining. Of course you all know the problems with it, so I didn’t feel the need to go on.

  • Thatroubleshootah

    I like 40k but it isn’t my favorite game to play because it really is needlessly complex. The basic rulebook is pretty simple, but then you go to play and your opponent has the helmet of you can’t hit him and his bikes have the wheels of flying and his psychic powers make him invisible and and and. The rules are simple, but All of the exceptions to the rules are impossible to remember for every army. Bolt action and Antares are much more streamlined and more fun than 40k. Their rules are simple there are a few faction specific rules, but not many. The USA army has only one. Even infinity which has a very steep learning curve does not have faction specific rules. It has special rules and some factions have some and some have others, but they are standard and are all in the brb. 40k is the only game I play where each faction has its own unique weapons.

    As a busy guy whose least favorite part of wargaming is reading the rules. I will read the brb and my factions codex. I won’t read and memorize every other factions codex as well.

    40k is the only wargame where I am likely to look across the table and ask my opponent “what’s my best move here? If you were me what would you do?”

  • Admiral Raptor

    7th edition 40k is hopelessly broken. Burn it down and give us something new. I used to fear the so called Sigmarization of 40k but now I really think it might be better for it in the long run. I’m not advocating for a direct port of AoS but that level of change for the game.

    • Adrien Fowl

      I could not agree more with you.

      • I disagree. I think 7th edition is fine for the most part, but all of the extra stuff around it makes it super complex. Formations, dataslates, etc Is what I’m talking about.

  • Heinz Fiction

    Complexity is usually a good thing in a game as long as it creates depth. However GW often make things unecessarily complicated to hide the shallowness of their games which can get really annoying in some cases.

    • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

      Youve hit the nail on the head. So much of the games complexity adds nothing. Lets have a Ld test followed by a wound after Perils for example, rather than having to look up a chart (as a side note decent quick reference charts would speed up things no end).

      There is much pointless duplication. Lets chuck out the vehicle rules, and treat them as monstrous creatures with a special rule ‘vehicle’ which means you must roll on a damage chart as well as take a wound. The rules around vehicles shooting and passengers are also far too complex.
      Lets give everything a M characteristic so we can chuck out all the rules for biked, cavalry etc.

  • Paul James Harrison

    Another way of looking at GWs unnecessary complexity is Battlefleet gothic, played it a handful of times and found it too complex. Started playing Star Wars Armada last year, learnt the rules in a day. Armada is what Gothic should have been. So is AoS what 40k could be?

  • Fenrisian

    There’s different games for different people. Not everyone is going to be a fan of 40k. Just like I’m not a fan of Angry Birds, or 1st person shooters on a console. 40k appeals to a certain type of person. Could GW use some simplification on some stuff? Absolutely.

    Some people prefer simple games because they don’t want to think about all the rules and interactions. Other people love that stuff. It’s just like some people love the complexity of math and others would rather never look at a equation again if they can help it.

    If you like simple rules, go play AOS, if you like more complex rules come play 40K.

    If GW was smart, they would create varying rule sets for all thsoe styles. They should have kept up with WHFB with a new edition, kept the AOS stuff for people who want more simplified rules.

    In essence that’s what Dark Vengeance did, simple models, simple rules, small game. I personally don’t like small games, they are over very quickly. But if I really want to get someone involved (which I’ve recruited plenty of people to play), I will bear with playing the game at their level to help build them up.

    I also don’t understand this the game takes 5+ hours to complete. If my opponent and I know what we are doing, we can bang out a 2000pt game in 90 minutes of play and 20 minutes of pulling out putting away models It comes with knowing your rules and building lists ahead of time. I keep a few lists in battle scribe that are my go to lists for shenanigans. People should keep a note book or a document on a phone with a list prewritten so you speed things up. A little preparation makes life much easiser. It’s also just good sportsmanship.

  • Adrien Fowl

    I have been a wargame gamer for more than 15 years and I am pretty happy with the streamlined rules for Age of Sigmar. I believe complex rules only reward the players that have spent hours and hours studying the rules and looking for blind spots or gaps.

    Some years ago I started a German army for Flames of War. I loved the idea of having up to 20 tanks on the battlefield and the scale of the game, but I just couldn’t cope with the complexity of the rules. There so many variations, situational rules and so on that I could not play without someone pointing me in the right direction, even when I have read the rulebook more than five times. This put me off Flames of War, but I was lucky to find Bolt Action, whose rules are a simplified version of W40k rules.

    I think rules should reward tactics and cunning decisions as well as being as simple as possible to make sure everybody has fun.

  • Randy Randalman

    Not a lot of people agree with you, pimpcron. It isn’t that the rules are overly difficult to understand; it’s that the rules have gone too wide. When 7th edition entered it’s maturity, and we got the Necrons, AdMech, etc, I thought things were headed in the right direction. You could still go CAD (as the individual units were strong), or this new detachment system.

    Then they gave us Eldar and Space Marines, which were laughably stronger than everything else, and had far too many build options. Then campaign additions… Then White Dwarf additions… Then more FW stuff… Then we got regular, 6th edition style supplements back…

    Now there are even tournaments where neither the players nor the TO’s realize a bunch of lists are illegal until days after the event is over. “Oh, I thought I could ally in these 14 formations from 8 different books, plus a unit from FW that hasn’t had rules published in 9 years.”

    I shouldn’t need 3 books, a handful of printed data sheets, and constant checking with my opponent to make sure I’m playing a legal list.

    Furthermore, it’s not good for a game when there are seven sequences of dice necessary to find out if someone managed to cause a wound against a death star. That isn’t tactical rules complexity. It’s just unnecessary bloat.

    Sigmar and 40k are vastly different games (and points are coming for Sigmar). I think it’s good that they don’t use the same stat style, just bastardized versions of one another. Complexity isn’t what killed Fantasy, but GW also offered no entry level core game. As Sigmar matures it will be strong. 40k does need SOME simplification, and the remaining codices need the detachment treatment. While a handful of armies fall further and further behind, GW elects to just keep adding more rules.

    Fewer snowflake rules that ignore the core rulebook would be nice, too. Would make codices a touch more balanced against each other if they pulled from primary keywords instead of adding 20 new ones of their own.

    That just one of many possible streamline fixes that wouldn’t hurt tactical complexity.

  • JP

    Yes, GW seems to have developed a raging fetish for randomized charts, and it’s rather irritating. Hopefully, this is just a phase and they’ll get past it. Seriously, my master psyker doesn’t KNOW his powers, he has to guess what they are before a battle? My C’Tan uses powers at random like an Ork Weirdboy, WTF? Certain things SHOULD be randomized, like vehicle explosion chances, and other things SHOULDN’T be randomized like what powers your character has. That’s one thing I wish they hadn’t changed from 5th edition – paying points to get the powers you want, instead of possibly paying for a character that rolls powers that don’t sync with your army and those points you paid for those mastery levels or whatever are wasted.

    • I’d agree if they didn’t make certain powers auto-takes all the time to exclude the rest that you never ever see. That gets old quick.

      • JP

        You could make those hideously more expensive than the other ones.
        OR, give the psykers one free reroll on the chart without a warlord trait, so if you do roll something you don’t want, at least you have another chance of getting something you do want.

        • Shawn

          Some named psykers have that, or a similar ability: Tigerius and Severin Lolth of the Red Scorpions. Although, that would be cool. I think the random roll is more to show that’s just a random psyker in the army and not a named character. I suppose, you could do narrative events and house rule standard abilities for your “named character” for that narrative even, or forever if your friends are willing. But yeah, I know what you mean.

        • Thats the thing though they *never* point things correctly. Those hideously over powered powers are over powered because they are usually undercost. If you had to pay appropriate costs for powerful powers I’d have no problem with that.

      • Shawn

        Agreed Auticus, or the deadly abilities of the C’Tan. If he could just choose the deadliest ability, that’s the only one that would get used. Same for the Eldar “D” weapons. Why take anything else when you can have a full CAD with ranged D?

        • Exactly and as I note in a lot of games that don’t have restrictions in place that is exactly what happens.

  • Andrei Leucuta

    I’m just trying to dip my feet into 40K and don’t have time to go to the store during opening hours….just trying to learn it with a friend in spare time with AoS proxys. We got lost very quickly in bundles of papers and special rules in both the codex and the rule book…..which may I add cost over $200 dollars here is Australia. I could buy a whole AoS army for that…..models are expensive but paying for rules like that is stupid. I’d be happy if they were simplified the rules and cut the cost right down so the barrier to entry isn’t so high

    • WellSpokenMan

      Give it some time. Walk through a game store and pretty much all of the non-GW games you will see played have free rules. Infinity, Malifaux, Guild Ball, War Machine, X-wing, and more all have made their rules available online. GW will too, eventually.

    • Shawn

      I compeltely agree Andrei, and I think the Battle for Vedros and the starter sets a step in the right direction. We just need a “Warhmmer 40,000 Basic” set that introduces the phases and a few key USR rules.

  • doodledude3

    I like age of sigmar but I also like 8th edition fantasy and would play both, the positive side of AoS for me is that one of my fantasy armies is vampire counts and I never had enough core to use all of the units I had, but with AoS I don’t need to worry about that, however, I do miss the customization of fantasy, tailor making your units to suit how you like to play, especially the general. I would not like 40k to get the AoS treatment though unless they had it as an alternative way to play quick games just for kicks, they would have to keep supporting the current 40k

  • blackbloodshaman

    Well, AoS is a flaming wreck of a game…but apparently the only thing GW thinks is wrong with it is lack of points…so if there is a new 40k edition coming soon expect to see AoS but with points…maybe they will switch to square bases too, just for lols

  • Why would GW want to sink there only sales making game ? AoS is doomed for failure.

  • LordCastellan Vas

    40k has become a jumbled and messy sprawl of rules, interactions, and randomized charts. It is extremely difficult now to teach new players how the game is played. They often find the number of superfluous dice rolls required to perform a simple task confusing to the point of comedy. Time for a teardown, I think. This article hit it on the head.

    • Shawn

      For the most part I think you’re quite right Lord C. It is time for a streamlined version as well as a basic set for beginners. However, you can, and I have, taught Warhammer 40k at a more basic level with newcomers. Low model count, standard issue gear, and a quick made up on the fly scenario on a 4×4 and you’re good.

  • Darnath Lysander

    I love this article. -Well said, sir. 🙂 I play with a group of gents who get together far less often than we would like. But when we do, our games are bogged down by a seemingly endless search for rules that usually end up not mattering much at all. Soul Blaze is the perfect example of this nonsense. And, perhaps out of pure weakness, we’ve all taken to playing psychic-less armies. I swear, the psychic phase alone must add an hour to every game. 🙁

    • Thanks Darnath! Yeah, I haven’t been a huge fan of the new Psychic rules either.

  • WellSpokenMan

    I think that a lot of gamers like the 40k complexity, because it is a barrier to entry. They might not like specific rules, but I think they want the game to be a complicated, large scale game that requires a ton of time and money to play and that they can discuss with their clique on the internet. People, like myself, who would like a simpler game seem to be in the minority. If you don’t like how complicated 40k is play something else. AoS might not be what you are looking for, but there are plenty of other games.

    • I think a lot of people like complex games simply because it presents a “rules mastery” skill that you have to devote a ton of time and energy into that proves you “have skill” where as basic games are “for little babies” because anyone can pick it up right away.

      Of course… then you have a game like chess… simple rules… very complex play.

      • WellSpokenMan

        Complex rules sets require knowledge, not skill. That knowledge can be gained away from the tabletop and skill cannot. That makes a game like 40k appealing. You can debate the game endlessly, which people like to do. Also, judging by internet comments, the last thing the 40k fanbase wants is 12 year olds playing their game. The game being so large and complicated keeps young and casual players out of the game. Everyone wants more people playing their game of choice, but we all want the “right” kind of players. People who are just like us. It’s not a knock on 40k players, it’s just human nature.

        • Perhaps but a lot of people consider mastering a complex ruleset as a skill. Just as they consider rules lawyering a skill.

          I’m not sure the 40k fanbase doesn’t want 12 year olds playing their game, but you are very correct in that you want people playing their game of choice, and also HOW they play the game should match how we enjoy the game (so if you are narrative you want narrative players, not powergaming tournament players, and if you are a metagaming tournament player you are going to have more fun against other metagaming tournament players than playing other narrative players that you will stomp because they aren’t min/maxing and you are etc)

    • rtheom

      I don’t think it’s the desire to have something overly complicated that people desire. It’s more the fact that the more complexity you have, the more unanticipated effects can come up, and thus the more ways to play, react and generally the more exciting the game is as a whole. I think this is what draws A LOT of people into 40K in the first place. Similarly, just as many as it draws in, it will turn off. That’s just the natural way of it. What we as gamers need to do, in order to share what we enjoy with others, is remember and be willing to be flexible to accommodate those that are not heavy gamers like ourselves from time to time and be willing to go with simpler options if it means greater enjoyment for the group as a whole.

  • rtheom

    What I’d really like to see is Games Workshop create dual game systems for both of its lines. An AoS simple version for both Fantasy and 40K, and then a full up, minutia heavy version also for both Fantasy and 40K. I think they’d really benefit from handling things that way, and you could just sell army books or codices or whatever with both setups in there. And I can’t see where maintaining a simpler version of the more complex game would really be all that time consuming. Heck, they’re already doing it in things like Vedross and the board games, it’s just spread out over several different items, rather than one.

    • Shawn

      An ideal situation rtheom. A great idea. AoS is already starting to get new rules, so it’s slowly moving toward WHF and WH40k complexity. However, AoS will stil always have the starter set as it’s basic ruleset. We just need a 40k version of a basic set.

      • rtheom

        We’re going to get that with Vedross. Unless the rules change significantly from the last leak, they were literally AoS rules without Battleshock tests.

        • Shawn

          That’s cool. I was under the impression it was just a model kit and not necessarily a game too. I’ll definitely have to check it out then.

  • Andrew Thomas

    Fear should buff Combat Resolution and debuff Charge rolls.

  • Kveldulf

    My rant:

    To fix 40k and fantasy, consider WFB 3rd edition and dwell on some important principles:

    Stat cost should be universal among lists.
    In fantasy battle, the premise of the game should be based on rank and file maneuvering than too many exceptional things.
    Special rules should be a signature thing to a unit than something so considered in a basic rulebook (particularly versus things such as monstrous creature – which means a number of other special rules).
    I think either universes could be less serious, more dark humour aND more Blanche.

    Warhammer was successful not because of trends but because it synthesized Disney medieval notions and violence + horror (and a diametric system to gauge and discern abilities). The gamey seriousness in modern spins of WFB and 40k simply are pandering to the lowest common denominator more than carving things that will really be lasting.

    The real essence behind warhammer is more a cult following imo.

    • ZeeLobby

      It’s crazy how good ravening hordes was, and simply because they released multiple armies at once.

  • Shawn

    Pimpcrown, I think an easy solution would be to have a true basic set with just basic rules. It could be an AOS version of 40k and designed in such a way that it could be played fast and easy. It would be a beginner’s set: “Warhmmar 40,000 Basic.” The basic set should be quick, rules-lite, and streamlined to introduce players into the game and ease them into the advanced 7th edition. And I know Dark Vengenace is suppose to be a beginner’s set, but it isn’t a good one really and still cost too much.

    • I agree with you Shawn. If I were them I’d take that route too.

  • Frank Krifka

    I played the hell out of WHFB 8th edition. When AoS dropped, par tor me was horrified at the changes, and the other part was anxious to see how it played.

    There were things about AoS I liked right from the start, mostly because I understood them. Alternating unit choices at deployment. Loose formations, range of attacks in inches. Even the silly rules didn’t bother me (mostly because we just ignored them, and took the bonuses anyway).

    It wasn’t until recently after playing a local tournament that I felt like I truly understood how to play AoS, how to best utilize unit special rules, how to build an army, and how to fully utilize things like terrain, board control, and scenarios.

    Now after some time I will say this. AoS is easy to play, but hard to play well. In 8th, it took some time to set things up, and most of the time, my units never saw action until turn 2-3. In AoS everything gets bloody turn 1 and mistakes are often punished brutally. If you forget an enemy unit gets a second activation, you can easily lose 15-20 models if your not careful. The same goes for movement, if you don’t count for the possibility your opponent can get two turns in row, you’ll pay for it.

    As far as 40k goes, a lot of the problems people complain about, unbalanced armies (Eldar), not enough tools in the toolbox (DE) overpriced units (CSM) or crowded sections of the force org chart (Nids) or even super spammy lists (everything marine) could be greatly helped by adding a dash of AoS.

    That being said, I don’t think 40k needs the full AoS treatment. AoS is a fun game, but we only need one AoS. Yet i think a less complex 40k would make the game that much more playable.

  • Me

    Great article! And based on what I read on BoLS, I thought your first explanation of AoS was the correct one…

  • Scott W

    Alongside the balance that comes from having a streamlined ruleset, isn’t this part of the reason for the success of X-wing? The game has depth in the options to build a squadron, yet the rules are very simple and quick to teach someone (and hence has pulled in a lot of first time miniature gamers).

  • Malky

    “AOS offers the greatest tactical reward to those who have the imagination”


  • cudgel

    Comments for the Comments Throne ! Salt for the Salt God ! Rust for the Rusty Pimp !

    • I’ll pass on the rust, but the other stuff sounds okay.