AoS: Season of War Postmortem

Nagash-horz

The Season of War is over – Let’s talk about the how the First World-Wide Campaign for AoS was run!

The Global Campaign for Age of Sigmar: Season of War ended earlier this week. We’ve seen a bit of what the implications are already but we’re still waiting for the full impact to be felt. We all have see the results: Order Won – and it never really looked like it could be dethroned. But I don’t want to talk purely about the results; I want to do a “Postmortem” on the event itself.

If you don’t know what a “Postmortem” is – well, it’s literally an examination of the dead. But in the business world (and other places) it’s meant as expression to signify a review of a past project (if you have had a quarterly “Start, Stop, Continue” review – it’s like that only the project is typically done). It’s used as a tool to figure out what went well, what went wrong and what can be improved for next time. So, let’s get started!

Age of Sigmar Banner Crop 1

What Went Right

  • The Technology Worked – I just want to say kudos to Games Workshop for the Season of War Website. It worked pretty much the entire time and it had (mostly) real-time updates. You could punch in your Postal/Zip Code, find stores near you and see how those battles were going. The integration between results and the “tech” was great.
  • Store Participation/Managing Reporting Worked – I thought this was a great move. Having the stores control the reporting and only being able to report battles for their own store was smart. It controlled reporting so no one faction could defraud results and get a “boost” at the last minute and claim victories that never happened (looking at you Tau players – Yes I’m still bitter about it you dirty cheaters). Players could fight over their own store but could also travel to other stores to participate there if they choose to.
  • Player Participation – Army Generals & Hobbyist got to participate in meaningful ways. I know at the end of the day GW is a company and they are trying to stay in business and sell models. Awarding points to players for buying units is a way to promote that. But it gives players who are new a feeling of participation and lets them feel invested in the results. On the flip side if you already had an army you could start impacting the event by just playing! If you factor in hobby time, players who had an army should have been able to get in a ton more games. That should have helped to balance out the Gameplay/Hobby impact.
  • Mini-buffs – I thought the Mini-Buffs that Games Workshop announced via their Facebook page were a nice touch. I didn’t think any of them were super “over powered” or game breaking. They (mostly) seemed like cool, flavorful buffs that could slightly boost a faction for the week. I’m sure there is probably some player out there that feels like “that one thing” cost them the game. That stinks you feel that way but I hope it was at least fun playing.
Age_Of_Sigmar_Banner crop 2

What Went Wrong

  • No Real Battleline Movement – From the start of the event it felt like Order jumped to a huge lead (I’ll get why that happened). It was an uphill battle for the other 3 factions and there didn’t seem to be a way to unseat Order. If there was a way to form alliances or consolidate attacks… I’m not sure if that would have helped. But I do know that it can be discouraging for the players who want to win battles to feel like they aren’t even making a dent. I know a lot of players think that it was due to “Order has the most armies” but I don’t think that’s the root problem. The real problem was…
  • Release of new models influenced results too much – What army came out at the very start of the event? Sylvaneth! Remember, if you bought a unit you got a point. If you painted the unit you also got a point. Well I know that locally the Sylvaneth models pretty much sold out and checking in with other retailers it was more of the same (Kurnoth Hunters are STILL hard to get!). There were LOTS of people who wanted to or have been wanting to update their “Wood Elf” armies for a long time. It was massive boon to Order which explains their explosive dominance at the very beginning of the campaign. Destruction got a small boost as well with the release of the Beastclaw Raider – but those weren’t new models so the impact was much smaller. To top it off, Chaos and Death didn’t really get anything new so they had nothing to throw their wallets behind to get those same boosts. It was the perfect storm for Order to pull ahead and stay there.
  • Vague Reporting Metric – While I really liked the website the results were too high level. Having a colored circle with no real numbers to support that visual data was frustrating at points. It also didn’t help that there was no way to compare or track progress day-to-day or week-to-week. I know that I would have been more motivated to play more if I could see that Chaos was only a few more games shy of pushing ahead. And I feel for Death & Destruction players who were pretty much stuck at 3rd and 4th place with no real way to compare how close they were to each other. Pie charts with no numbers aren’t informative.
  • Mini Buffs should have been on the website, too – I think this was just an oversight. Or maybe the buffs were an afterthought, I’m not sure. Players participating in the event should be able to go to the event page to see the rules. They should haven’t to go to another 3rd party site to get the full information (even if that site is Facebook). It’s okay to post them elsewhere or link to them, but they should all be on the same official event page.
ageofsigmarmural

Improvements for Next Time

  • Better Reporting – I’d Love to see Percentages and/or games played and if we are really stretching: actual player counts! I know there were over 1000 stores playing but there was no way to see them all in a single view. If you could have clicked on a zone and then had the option to see the full break down that would have been cool. I liked being able to find my city and see an impact there but it would have been even better to have some other filters available. I’m a data junkie – give me more data!
  • Weekly narrative updates – Short battlefield updates under the stories tab that talk about the overall battle. We did them from a high-level/techincal reporting point-of-view. Games Workshop could have a staff writer sit down and add a touch of narrative flair to them. I know that would have added some impact to the story and given players a sense of the over-all engagement. I’m a narrative junkie – give me more narrative!
  • A way for faction players to communicate with each other – Did anyone else feel like their games took place in a lonely void? Maybe you were lucky and you could at least interact with the local players but even that felt…well, local. There while there was local participation and interaction I don’t feel like the over-all community interacted very much. Sure, there are forums and other places players were talking but there was no centralized hub of “hey all the Chaos players, come over here to talk” or anything for the other factions. Building the Local Community participation was great. But boosting the Global Community participation would have been amazing! I’m a community junkie – give me more community!
  • Give every faction something to buy at the start – I know this seems like a simple concept, however, I know it’s way more complicated from a logistics standpoint. But imagine that at the start of the campaign each faction got one new model or unit added. Even if it’s just one Warscroll per faction. I would have totally bought a new “Chaos Commander Model” for my existing army just for the fact that it would have been two more points! A single model or unit per faction helps to cut down on that “hobby advantage” a new army for a faction provides. A new character would have been perfect for players with existing armies. Stores get to sell more, players get a new toy and the campaign gets impacted. I’m a hobby junkie – give me more hobby!
  • A Stated Goal – Why were we fighting again? I know we had the story page on the season of war website but it was basically a blurb per faction. I would have loved to see things like a faction leader give orders for the week. Can you imagine if you were a Death Player and you had Nagash have a section where he “relayed his will” to you? If they tied that into the Narrative Updates I mentioned that could make for a really cool and semi-immersive experience.
death rpg box

Overall, I think the Summer Campaign was a successful endeavor and I hope we get to see more of these for BOTH systems. I really think they had a good format and some great ideas. It’s actually a very solid foundation for how to build on these types of event in the future. I hope they use the lessons learned to make the next one even better!

 

What do you think? Any other suggestions or feedback you would offer to Games Workshop about how the event was run?

  • Tim

    at my store you only got a point for painting and winning not for purchasing. and that was a gw store… ours ended about even between the factions and order did NOT win

    • Slite

      Same here. Chaos won by 2 points at my store from a final battle where Skaven conquered Stormcast and the undead host of Manfred.

      • ragelion

        Yup was the same in my store as well.

  • I was not a fan of how this campaign was run. It seemed pretty stacked. The primary reason being as pointed in the article, if you bought stuff you gave points to your side, and the Sylvaneth release gave Order a huge advantage that was not going to be taken down.

    I appreciate hobbying being part of the score. I don’t think buying models should contribute to the score.

  • SupPupPup

    Didn’t have points for buying stuff at my local GW store.

    • zeno666

      So it things was calculated differently in different stores?
      Wow… awsome.

      • SupPupPup

        Seems so. I don’t think it was very tightly controlled.

        Was fun though.

  • shiwan

    This is how you fix that all: Arrange a registration process and calculate progress based on the relative numbers. This way 100 order players all playing and winning 1 game are equal to that one destruction player who also played 1 game and won. 100 bought and painted order units are equal to one bought and painted chaos unit in the same situation.
    This is fair unlike the system they used now in which order was bound to win just by sheer numbers.

    • That’s still not fair though. Why are my efforts as an order player worth 100x less than the destruction player? The incentive then isn’t there in the other side.

      I think limiting points to just games played and painting (not buying) would have been a good start.

      • shiwan

        Because it’s got nothing to do with you or the destruction player and everything to do with the level of participation per faction. You 100 ganging up against a solo destruction player is not fair unless that one destruction player has equal chance to contribute compared to you 100. Now I get that it feels bad but if it’s not done like that we do not have an equal chance for each faction. It’s not like there’s 100 order players per 1 destruction player in real life, it’s likely closer to 3 or 4 to 1 ratio.

        If you have a better idea the by all means share it.

  • Simon

    “Did anyone else feel like their games took place in a lonely void? Maybe you were lucky and you could at least interact with the local players but even that felt…well, local.”

    Well, GW did stick the mortal realms in bubbles out in the void. Maybe they wanted the players to have that feeling to reflect the setting.

  • Malisteen

    I think the main issue wasn’t the recent sylvaneth release and lack of releases for other factions, but rather the lack of counted losses, and the sorting of armies into uneven alliances. Points could only be gained in SoW, not lost. A win is a point for the winner’s alliance, even if the game was played against another member of the same alliance.

    Half of all oldhammer factions are in Order. Half of the remaining factions are in chaos, with tge quarter left over split between destruction and death. Releases since AoS have continued this ratio, more or less, and as a result, whether we’re talking about new players or old, we can assume that about 50% of players play order, 25% chaos, and only about 12% each for death and destruction.

    Even if we ignore the boost from the sylvaneth release, and assumed equal hobby participation among all players, we would still expect points derived from hobby participation to look like the results that we got.

    Likewise with gaming points. Assuming equal participation and win rates, we would still expect the same skewed results, with order taking half of all wins simply on the basis of order having half of all players.

    If points were deducted for losses, then order would also theoretically take home half of all losses, possibly evening things out, but that wasn’t the case.

    If gw wants future events to look any less lopsided, they’ll need to either start counting losses (easiest solution), or they’re going to have to focus releases on the least played factions (completely reversing gw release strategy), or they’re going to have to split up order (wood elves and sylvaneth into destruction, dark elves into death?).

  • Tim

    dont know if links are ok but heres my stores results

    seasonofwar.games-workshop.com/?storeId=GPpu5hpZBixCLicyX

  • James Eggers

    As the facilitator of the campaign at my store, I was really annoyed by the lack of support we got from GW. We got some in the campaign kit; however, when the website went live, there was nowhere to actually put purchasing points (only painted and games won were the fields to allocate points). While the packet gave the facilitators a lot of flexibility in terms of how to run events and stuff, the “yes there’s points for buying” to “there is no place to log them” was annoying for those of us who mentioned such.

    Overall, it was a fun event and I would have loved to have seen how the results would change if all 4 factions had the same number of new releases and new kits. Order has the most new models and most battle tomes printed now. Death has the least with 1 which isn’t a surprise how they placed – especially at stores running matched play rules where summoning gets hit hard.

  • Stormbane

    Eh, I’m not complaining about the results if the lore follow up doesn’t go “And suddenly, Archaon appeared, killed everyone, and Chaos fell over all the Realms again.”

    Which is not impossible given GW…

  • Ross Allan

    Good article.

    And the best news? GW seem quite receptive to feedback these days, so the issues you’ve flagged as worth considering/reconsidering for future campaigns may well be acted upon.

    You know what could be *very* cool? Special ‘boost’ scenarios, which are sent out to stores where say, Death are playing lots of games, but not winning many. Boost Scenario would represent a highly risky enterprise, perhaps even a largely stacked victory condition for Death armies. If they pull it off, and it’s a ‘verified’ victory? Might shake things up.

    For instance, and to continue the theme….Death have repeatedly failed to breach the enemy walls. So instead, off-camera there’s an artillery bombardment campaign, where corpses and Skellingtons are lobbed over the enemy walls.

    The high risk missions are about trying to get Necromancers/Vampires through enemy lines or over the walls, where they’d be able to swiftly summon up an army, so the enemy is suddenly fighting on two fronts?

    I’d love that, me.

  • Pity they didn’t have registration in store where you can only log in the store so you could see your stats as the event progressed. Stats versus other players in store would also have been nice.

    Purchases gaining points I think could be done with a limit, if buy 4 units get those points, any more purchases can’t be logged. So that would hopefully mitigate wallet spam.

  • Drasek

    When submitting which army did what during the campaign there were only options for Warscrolls painted and Battles Won, not how many warscrolls were purchased. Buying and painting a warscrolls worth only awarded a single point, not two.

  • Randy Randalman

    It was their first foray into this very young game, and the General’s Handbook came out just before. Order does have access to more armies than everyone else right now, but it isn’t a power-level things. I imagine another event the same time next year will be more balanced in terms of the results. Every faction is perfectly playable right now, and no one army out-classes another.

  • Dweezil

    *AoS fanboys are saying it’s not Pay to win.*

    *Campaign was a pay to win event promoting new armitis*

    Lol, keep trying to defend this terrible table top game.

  • Drew

    At our local shop, you got a point for building a unit, another for painting it, and then of course for playing games. I think the Sylvaneth release certainly helped, but the Order players at my local GW had a tough go of it holding off Chaos and Death.

  • Admiral Raptor

    It was about as successful as most of the old summer campaigns were. That is to say, not at all.

    Hopefully this time we won’t get a massive retcon that invalidates the whole thing a la Storm of Chaos and Eye of Terror.