AoS: Playing With Points – First Impressions

Khorne Chaos Horz

With the General’s Handbook in-tow, AdamHarry busted out his Chaos Warriors for an AoS Throwdown!

Hey BoLS Readers! AdamHarry here and I recently got some games in with the new AoS General’s Handbook army lists & construction rules. After getting some first hand experience with them and some games under my belt, I thought I’d share my experience. The army I played was my Warriors of Chaos aka Slaves to Darkness.

List Construction

AoS-Army-Construction crop

I’ve mentioned this before but list building is super easy and familiar. As a long time 40K player, I really like the army construction chart. It’s a force organization chart – key word “organization” – which I still feel is what AoS needed. It’s really nice to go up to my FLGS on Warhammer night and say to another AoS player “Hey, would you like to play a 2000 point game?” Everyone is on the same page and it’s great!

Monsters Are Cool Again


I’m sure that this will vary based on your local scene but players are taking monsters and it’s great! I saw all kinds of big, beefy monsters running around on tables. I ran a Chaos Lord on a Manticore against a Dwarf list with a Flame Cannon and regular Cannon and he didn’t get shot off the board in 1 turn. Actually, he eventually died in close-combat after demolishing a line of Dwarf Clansmen – it was awesome. The point is that while yes, you can fire into close combat, close combat actually happens! With MONSTERS! It looks very eye catching on the table and makes for an epic looking game.

Battleshock is Weird…


…But I’m okay with it. If you’re not familiar how it works – let me explain:

“At the end of combat, for every unit that lost at least 1 model, roll a d6 and add the number of models they lost to the roll. If that number is greater than their Bravery value pull that many extra models from the unit.”

It was strange at first because I was trying to wrap my head around it. Coming from a heavy 40k background and WHFB I’m familiar with Leadership checks and units breaking. But that’s all based on wounds and not models. This can make some units very tough to kill and some units evaporate off the board. Units made of Multi-wound models can be punishing to break but when they start losing models due to battleshock it can really sting.

I think that’s reflected in the points cost for a lot of units as well. I’m sure there are some winners and losers in terms of points efficiency but, because we’re all still exploring these points together, I don’t really mind. It’s nice to come together as a community of players and figure that stuff out.

Paying Points For Battalions Is A Good Thing

Clan Skryre Battalion

40K players, we’ve all seen the rise of the Formation – well Battalions are the same thing, only in AoS you pay for them. The point cost is minimal with most of them running under 100 points. I hope as new Battalions come out Games Workshop continues to apply a point cost to them. Getting more “free stuff” just because you’re using a data sheet for the same army might be a way to sell more models but it can really break the game on the balance side. At least getting charged points for running the Formation/Battalion helps to mitigate some of that.

Command Abilities – Use Them

Holy Cow, use those Command Abilities. Your Heroes cost those extra points for a reason and that reason (besides extra wounds) is the command abilities! Specifically your Army General will probably have a Command Ability but ALL General’s have the “Inspiring Presence” ability which will let one unit within 12″ ignore those pesky Battleshock tests.

just do it shia

That makes units of multi-wound models even tougher to uproot but it can also make those super cheap units annoyingly difficult to kill! Need to hold that line? Use Inspiring Presence! Some armies also have ways to let the non-General Heroes use their abilities. That can really help you turn the tide. And hey, you paid the points for them so why not use them!

Summoning Is Tricky

This is something that has been hotly debated. Having to set aside points for summoned units really is a double edge sword. On the positive side, you’ll be able to drop a unit of summoned “things” right where you want them at a possibly pivotal moment. On the other hand it’s a roll and thus can be failed. And then your summoner can be killed. Which means all those points go to waste. Protect your summoner, people!


This can certainly reign in those armies that are built around summoning free units. And by “reign in” I mean complete negate them. Personally, I’ve seen it get out of hand very quickly (looking at you Chaos Daemons in 40k). Fortunately for Age of Sigmar that is addressed from the get-go. It’s basically Deepstriking but more random. If you don’t like it then just deploy those units, problem solved.

Combined Arms Armies Are Back

Ranged units are generally more expensive than non-ranged units. Why is that? Because shooting will happen during the shooting phase. If a unit has a shooting weapon attack, they get to use it during the shooting phase. Period. That includes units that are currently in combat. Did you charge that cannon hoping to tie-up the crew? Well I hope you blocked the cannon too, because unless you blocked their LoS they will totally fire that thing at something.


Ranged units can also fire INTO an ongoing combat. As long as they can see the unit they can shoot it. Suddenly having effective screening units, using cover and terrain, or getting to those ranged units becomes a priority. It almost sounds like you have to play tactically or something. It’s weird, I know – but that’s just how it works in AoS. If you know that going in, you can prepare for it. And you can do it too.

Final Thoughts

There are still things I’m learning about the units, points and army construction. Until I have everything memorized, I’ve decided to print out my units stats on some index cards. I have the app and it’s great for looking up rules and the books are also handy – but having some “cheat sheet” cards will make it a lot faster in the meantime.

Right now is a really exciting time to go exploring in Age of Sigmar. The army construction framework makes list building a breeze and points are basically all increments of 20 so the math is easy. I’m having a blast trying out stuff I thought I’d never get to use – everything is an option in my army right now because I’m in data collection mode right now. I’m sure I’ll become more picky (aka jaded) overtime but right now it’s all new and shiny! And I’d like to keep it that way for as long as I can.


Have you gotten poke around with the General’s Handbook and the points? How have your games been so far?

  • Valeli

    Having an engaged cannon still be able to fire strikes me as… terrible.

    But on the whole I think this is a great set of improvements. I know, I know, what wouldn’t have been a great set of improvements, right? But still, this looks fairly fun.

    I’m busy for the next month or two, but there’s a decent chance I might hop back to GW if they keep this moving in a positive direction over the the next 3+ months.

    • Axis Mundi

      Cannons firing even though you’ve flown a unit over to tie them up does seem terrible.. at first.

      But when the crew somehow survive combat (very unlikely) and then blow their attacker’s head off with a lucky shot – then you start to see that it’s actually quite cool. And, more importantly, you were able to actually do something with that unit you paid for and painted, rather than just have it nullified.

      The shooting into and out of combat seems to have definitely been one of the stumbling blocks for players moving from the old system to the new one – I cetainly struggled with it, and played a quite a few games (and one tournament) with rules that nerfed it to something more like 8th ed. It didn’t work – shooting units need to be able to fire in all shooting phases, at any targets they can see/reach, because the movement in AoS is just too fluid – it’s really hard to stay out of combat if someone wants to get to you.

      • Dongmaster

        Bla bla bla… You had me at hello. 😉

        I am actually glad to see new things in AoS, even if they seem abstract “compared” to 8th ed. WFB.

      • Jamie Kelly

        Whilest thematically it’s not exactly stock standard (but then neither is WFB, how again does an eagle wheel a 50 man unit 45 degrees on the charge to present their flank?) it doesn’t kill the game badly, in fact it just means those low probability short range weapons are actually useful. Remember that shooting into combat may not have the effect you desire. The player being shot gets to chose models to remove. I’ve been able to remove an engaged model in his turn, allowing me to recharge a unit of cavalry in mine, or prevent a unit from being attacked. AoS is one of those games you have to play to see how tactics is more than just which unit you can charge in the flank.

        • Aezeal

          So true.. WFB was MOSTLY about winning combat with static combat modifiers… that is gone.. but there are other tactical choices now (and flank charging in an already engaged unit remains good since there will be a limited attacks to divide between the 2 units and battle shock might be punishing)

      • Malky

        “Cannons firing even though you’ve flown a unit over to tie them up does seem terrible.. at first.

        But when the crew somehow survive combat (very unlikely) and then blow their attacker’s head off with a lucky shot – then you start to see that it’s actually quite cool.”

        “Arrgh, I’ve managed to fight off this flying creature momentarly! Quickly, aim the cannon and fire it!…Shit! It’s not got a cannon ball in it! Stop defending yourselves and help me load this cannon!…Hurry up!!…STOP DYING!!!”

        Another great rule from AoS.

        • Benjamin E

          yeah, it’s not like gunners have ever loaded their cannons under duress before, geez.

          • Malky

            To be fair, loading a cannon while fighting in hand to hand combat is a forgotten skill. Much like firing into a pitched battle and hitting none of your own guys. Geez!

    • Aezeal

      Having an engaged cannon technically doesn’t prevent it from shooting.. but it also means it’s crew is likely dead (3 wounds with usually a max 4+ save).. and then the cannon cannot fire anymore or mostly dead and it will shoot less.

  • Jonathan B.

    But, but… AoS is teh suck?!? Sigmarines look stoopid! 8th edition WHFB is better than AoS because.
    Ok now that is out of the way, let’s have a discussion.

    • nurglitch

      Shush there Jonathan Z.

    • Jay

      I’m still waiting for this bad dream to end. #remainWHFB

      • euansmith

        A dream to some. A nightmare to others!

        • Jay

          Haha yeah. I think it’s great we have points now, but the game is becoming so much more like 40k and warmahordes!

      • Agent OfBolas

        go play T9A. Best warhammer edition ever, also F2P

    • Valeli

      Despite all my praise for the new changes to AoS, I firmly stand by “Sigmarines look stupid”.

      I also stand by 8th ed is better, but they definitely took AoS in a better path.

      • Beefcake the mighty

        They look stupid in 40k as well.

      • Aezeal

        Stormcasts are beautiful buffed knights.

  • DeadlyYellow

    How does the points thing work with creatures that convert rather than summon? Is it differentiated?

    Say, I take a Mutalith. Do I have to pay points for the Chaos Spawn that may pop out of a targeted unit?

    • Malisteen

      Yes, if an ability brings a new unit on the table, you have to pay for that units’ points out of points set aside from your army. It is heavy handed, and over reaching, but summoning was an extreme hole in the system that called for an extreme fix, and better to go too far than not far enough, imo.

      For the most part, it seems like the restrictions on summoning have been taken into account in unit points values, at least, though the fairness of the points values does vary from unit to unit.

      • EnTyme

        I definitely see a few more balancing passes coming for the summoning mechanic. It was extremely OP in the core rules, now in matched play, it moved to somewhere between “unwieldy” and “pointless”. I think the sweet spot will be somewhere in between.
        I’m just imagining the frustration of having 500 points in summoning when your only wizard goes down on turn one due to either poor planning on your part, great planning on your opponent’s part, or just plain bad luck. Doesn’t sound like much fun to me.

        • Koonitz

          I’d like to see a mechanic that any units still held in summoning reserve when your last summoner dies have a chance of coming onto the board anyway (likely on your board edge or some such), so you don’t completely lose out if that happens.

          But give it an element of risk. Something like “If your last summoner is lost, roll a dice for each unit still remaining in summoning reserve. On a (3-4)+, that unit enters the battlefield from your board edge at the start of your next turn. Otherwise, the unit is destroyed.”

          • EnTyme

            That’s one of the things I plan to experiment with as I get deeper into the game. One house rule I’m definitely going to implement, though is that summoned units cannot cast summoning spells. That’s how we got into this situation in the first place.

          • Koonitz

            Eh, if the summoned units have to come from the same pool, and points-based games limit you to casting a spell only once, regardless how many wizards know it, who cares WHAT wizard casts the spell?

            The only way I can really see (on my knee jerk response) to abuse that would be to piggy back summoned units forward on the field. But you’re still only really doing it once a turn (unless you summon a summoner who then summons another unit as a different spell).

            Considering the restrictions, combined with some proper unit placement to protect valuable assets from a surprise charge, I don’t see how this can be game breaking.

          • Koen Cambré

            Thing is, you don’t have any UNITS in your reserve pool. You’ve got points there. Points that can basically become whatever you want…

            But I agree, some type of reinforcement via your table edge would probably balance things out.

        • Jared van Kell

          I think the mechanic when you lose your summoner should be that one unit turns up a turn on a 4+ but from a random board edge to represent other summoners near by directing forces to the battle. On a 6 the controlling player gets to chose the board edge.

        • Countdiscount

          If anyone has 500 pts in reserve for summoning and only takes one wizard that dies, they deserve to lose those points. They had a bad army construction and deserve to pay the price for bad army construction.

          But let me suggest the other end of the coin. If you have 500pts reserved for summoning, you might take 3 wizards, or maybe 1 or 2 wizards that won’t die easily like a Keeper of Secrets. In Matched Play you can only attempt to cast each spell once per turn… but each summoned demon unit is a different spell. There is no such spell as summon, there is only Summon Deamonettes, or Summon Seeker Chariot, or Summon Seekers of Slaanesh, etc… Each is a different spell. So as long as you have the models to place, and the reserve points to Summon them, you can try to Summon each of your Demon units in turn, by the same Wizard, one after the other till you successfully Summon something.

          This ensures your Summoning points won’t go to waste if you have a good selection of units and aren’t stupid enough to take one wizard when your plan relies on them living.

          • Erik Giersdorf

            This seems overstated. Your average wizard gets one spell per hero phase. Really good ones get 2 sometimes.

          • Countdiscount

            That’s true for most, but what I’m saying is if you have 3 wizards you get to try to summon different things 3 times. It’s not like 1 attempt to summon something each turn. Sorry I wasn’t clear. Got distracted while I was typing 🙂

          • Geko747

            You can only cast a number of spells equal to the wizards power level as such. Most only can cast 1 per turn. The majority who can cast 3+ spells a turn you wouldn’t be able to afford the points cost in a standard battle to take more than 1.

        • Aezeal

          ” I’m just imagining the frustration of having 500 points in summoning when your only wizard goes down on turn one due to either poor planning on your part, great planning on your opponent’s part, or just plain bad luck. Doesn’t sound like much fun to me.”
          Stupid tactics are stupid.. that will remain.. and having 500 points in summoning and only 1 wizard to summon them definitely qualifies (especially if you position him in LoS of ranged units).

          • EnTyme

            I think you missed my point by focusing on the numbers instead of the concept. A 100 point wizard is now worth 100+ summoning pool points when he dies before summoning goes off. That’s a major blow to any army. The point is that summoning still isn’t balanced. The pendulum has just swung the other way.

          • Aezeal

            hmmm it also seems like you are missing my point. Even it’s it’s only 100 points it’s just not smart to not have a backup for it. The ability you get is to summon it into critical situations where it might be needed and you pay for that by the risk you mention.. which can be migitated by getting more summoners.

        • Malisteen

          It’s a heavy change from age of sigmar, but again probably necessary. If summoning spells in general are re-worked to either healing spells (undead) or deep strike abilities (daemons), I think things will be better off.

    • Bug

      No, if a unit has a special ability to bring on units it doesn’t come out of points. Only summoning does

      • Koen Cambré

        Might want to reread those rules. It clearly states any ability will cost you points.

  • crcovar

    Really the only thing in the this article that is actually impacted by match play is the summoning. The majority of the article is just about how awesome Age of Sigmar plays.

    • Axis Mundi

      That’s because it’s awesome. 😉

      • crcovar

        No arguments here! Battleshock is a surprisingly fun mechanic, that definitely helps speed the game up.

        • Ross Allan

          Makes it really hard to simply ROFLstomp your opponent as well. The days of ‘ld10, stubborn with a re-roll’ are gone!

        • Aezeal

          It’s a good mechanic, better than the all or nothing roll for units breaking in WFB.

    • Koonitz

      I agree. While the article is nice for pointing out some of the neat mechanics of AoS, very little of it actually dealt with the real reason I read the article.

      “Playing with points” (y’know, the thing RIGHT IN THE TITLE!)

      • Korvalus

        Its not much to say, however. I’ve made some lists and played some 900-1000 point games and I’d say that the armies brought to the table look like armies, not “overpowered unit+support” or “gargantuan creatures stomping their way”, which is nice.

        • Koonitz

          I have the Sylvaneth battletome and I’m incredibly stoked to pull it out for a few games. I love some of the rules, especially the “Fighting on a Place of Power” rules.

          I also hear that it’s more balanced between armies compared to, say, 40k, which is nice (this is before points, though, so we’ll see how that turns out, which is what I was hoping this article would touch up on).

      • Severius_Tolluck

        IT seems it came from someone who never touched the game until points came out. I am more than likely wrong, but just saying.

  • I actually saw part of this game that AdamHarry is writing about as I was on my play to deliver a beat-down to some Rebel scum in X-wing at the FLGS. We chatted for a few about the game, the changes, and the armies on the table.

    It actually looked like a game of WHFB, and not the confused gaggle of random assortments of spare models that I’ve come to associate with AoS games that I’ve seen. I don’t know if that’s what people wanted or not, but it certainly looked like “happy days are here again”.

    • Koen Cambré

      The restrictions and need for battleline units definately helps with that.

      You can still field odd alliances by mixing a ton of order factions, but let’s hope they just reward players for playing themed armies more.

  • Alpharius

    The only thing still giving me pause is the lack of distinction between ranged and melee attacks. If at least ranged attacks could only be targeted at a unit you’re in melee with, but I’ve literally seen bowmen ninja sword fight off their attackers while also using their bows to snipe a wizard across the table.

    • euansmith

      It isn’t realistic and it was something that struck me as weird; but, it is kind of cinematic which is, I guess, the object of the rules.

      • Xodis

        Maybe not realistic, but using Legolas as an example of what magical badass archers can pull off, we see him firing away at more distant Orks while others fight around him during the battle of Helms Deep. So it would make sense that an Archer might be able to launch a precise shot during the middle of his engagement only to quickly find himself having to fight in the melee right after.

        • The difference being Legolas is a hero and bog standard goblin archers are not 😉

          • Xodis

            They survived the Chaos apocalypse without being in Valhalla….they are someone’s hero.

    • nuggy

      I would love to have seen them word it as any UNENGAGED models can use ranged attacks instead of everyone. It would make more sense that the “first rank” in the unit would drop their bows if they got charged and the rest providing support fire from the rear.

      • Alpharius

        I would accept that, or even just limiting the attacks to models in base to base only (overwatch!). Something.

    • euansmith

      Spambots are getting hilarious these days. I wonder how it works. Is is a clever algorithm to strip out the pertinent data (the article is about a game and was written by AdamHarry), or is it a Mechanical Turk.

      • Commissar Molotov

        Finally, a spam message where I’m actually interested in the product!

        • euansmith

          This explains the storm bolters on the 40k shipping containers .

      • wibbling

        Download and scan the webpage, find relevant content such as ‘author’ and ‘title’ tags, find repeated content and then manipulate it.

  • euansmith

    “The point is that while yes, you can fire into close combat, close combat actually happens!” 😀 😀 😀

    • Commissar Molotov

      My eyes are rolling so hard right now that I’m getting a bit nauseated.

  • Grizz

    summoning is meh, I’d rather stick with units that might generate free units like Kharnak and Mutaliths.

    • Koen Cambré

      You cannot generate NEW free units. They all need to be payed for with your reinforcement pool.

      The only thing that’s “free” are abilities that resurrect units or adds new models to units you already payed for. But you can’t grow units above it’s starting size. (Things like undead banners, abilities like “to the king” from varghulfs,…)

      • Grizz

        Unless there’s something besides the limited summoning that’s already been posted, Kharnak, Mutaliths and Morghur still create new units because they aren’t summoning anything.

        • Koen Cambré

          The general’s handbook states that both abilities that generate new units and summoning spells have to be payed for… so it doesn’t just limit summoning, it limits all abilities that create new units. 🙂

          • Grizz

            Ruins those units then, there’s no way you could have any idea of what you would need ahead of the game for random abilities you’re already paying for and may never need. Glad I didn’t order another Mutalith though, or the handbook then.

          • Koen Cambré

            You aren’t paying extra for those abilities though. My ghoul king can summon 100p worth of ghouls per turn while costing only 100p himself… so no, those summon abilities don’t raise the point cost.

            Adding extra units to a balanced army is OP and I’m glad they balanced that…. in balanced play.

          • Bingo. In competitive play, getting free points is not competitive or balanced. Its broken.

  • David Cloutier

    The only deal breaker left now with AoS is the fact that it’s not made to battle “armies”. It’s a skirmish game that allows you to play with lots of models. Which is fine, of that’s what you’re into… Just not my cup of tea. I played warhammer because of the “napoleonesque” battles of humans vs monsters.

    Points are a minium for a game like this though, I’m glad the people who enjoy AoS got it.

    • Countdiscount

      That’s not really true if you don’t want to play in skirmish formation. You want to play with ranked up units you can play with ranked up units. There’s even a pretty good reason to run them like that depending on if you run a horde army on small basses. Most of their weapons will probably be 1″ range, allowing the second row to attack past the first row, so having them ranked and organized will ensure you maximize your number of attacks.

      Outflanking a unit does nothing, except for allowing for assassinations of key heroes and wizards and such hiding in units or behind the main line.

      • Aezeal

        And having 2 units attacking will help the battleshock phase (assuming they actually do damage ofc).

    • Drpx

      Correct me if I’m wrong but the Napoleonic era didn’t have guys on dragons dropping comets on people.

      • David Cloutier

        I’m not sure how I’m supposed to respond to this other than….”duh!”

        That’s what made the game special. Renaissance era style battles with a fantasy overtone.

        Now, people might like or dislike AoS, I’m not arguing someone’s feeling over a game. I’m just saying that AoS is not a “Renaissance era style battles with a fantasy overtone” game like warhammer fantasy battles was.

        AoS is a skirmish game with monsters and men from space.

    • wibbling

      No, points are unnecessary. It’s players who create equal forces.

      That in itself is odd, as no battle in history is even sided.

  • ChubToad

    Shooting into combat makes you feel a lot like Ramsay Bolton.

    • Except that your own troops never need worry because you can never hit them.

      • ChubToad

        It’s debatable but I think he thought that too. 🙂

        • Severius_Tolluck

          Well, honestly most of his casualties were his men firing into the clash indiscriminate, but i get the joke 😉

  • Satyan Patel

    Just got done getting my dirty mitts on the General’s Handbook at my FLGS. Never played Warhammer Fantasy and have not played AOS. Though I did like this book. It was a store copy and that book is packed with so much info. I love the battle plans and narrative play options. Im a huge fan of narrative. 25 bucks is a smokin’ steal for this book. Now to get a battle box to play against my mini squad from Silver Tower and preorder the book.

  • Jared Swenson

    The game I love has just gotten even better, and one of the things I am most enthused about is battalions costing points. I had a dilemma about a battalion I was thinking of taking to the LVO. The rules for it were excellent and it seemed like a no-brainer, but with it being 120 points, about the cost of another entire useful unit, it became debatable. So taking a battalion, or just a bunch of loose units had both pros and cons, and that’s the way it should be. 40k needs this so much.

  • jcdent

    Kirby kills WHFB with a game with a lame new lore and lighter rules with no force org and no points. Well, the new guys are fixing the no force org, no points nonsense, but the fluff remains.

  • Shiwan8

    Are there any proper terrain rules in the game when this is released?

    • Aezeal

      Terrain works as intended. It gives cover and it has an ability which has limited effect unless it’s mystical and then it’s impact can be larger (and that sort of terrain can really influence my movement and attacks)

      • Shiwan8

        Are these the terrain rules from the 4 page rules?

        • Aezeal

          Yeah short but solid. My opponent yesterday wanted to ignore it at first.. but I said I’d just roll and it was fun. Most stuff has only minimal impact anyway and fighting or positioning for the few things that are more important give another layer of tactics which isnt’too complicated to implement.

          • Shiwan8

            So, not really proper terrain rules. There are so many things those do not handle well or at all that it’s ridiculous. One of the reasons why I skipped WHF was that people play on football fields instead of battlefields. If the terrain does not matter, why put it on the table?

  • Aezeal

    I completely agree with this article.

  • Aezeal

    They are costed approptiately… archers are expensive and elite archers are VERY expensive (10 sister of the watch/avalorn) cost 240 points, that is equal to 30 models of some horde armies and to 20 + models of regular human troops.

  • kloosterboer

    My group still prefers playing without them.

    But, if people need it to understand balance, or a good game, that’s fine, too.

  • Shiwan8

    I’m genuinely torn here. On the other hand this intriques me a lot, but then again it’s hard to be excited about something that gets only bad reviews from experienced gamers.