Both of Games Workshop’s mainlines games are out with slim trim editions that want your attention – but which should you play?
I have to say I love the state we find ourselves in with Age of Sigmar 2.0 and 40k 8th. Both have new editions, are lean and mean, and have core rules about the same size. 8 pages for 40K, and 10 pages (including 2 pages of pictures) for Age of Sigmar. While the overall core rules are similar in size, the games are quite distinct. Here’s my quick guide to both for you fickle gamers stuck on the fence.
Here we have the newest incarnation of a 30 year franchise. It’s come a long, long, long way since 1988, but it’s sitting pretty right now.Here is what you get:
Extensive fluff. I’m not certain of the total pagecount of background and lore, but by the time you add all the black library books into it, I would not be surprised to see well over 100,000 pages out there. It may be closer to 250,000… That’s just crazy considering the total number of pages of such world changing franchises as Lord of the Rings, or Game of Thrones.
Tons of Factions. About two dozen and more being released all the time. The extensive lore means there are always new places to explore.
More Complex Rules. The larger statlines and larger number of units means 40K has a richer table of models to choose from. It is 30 years old after all. Now let’s be honest, there are quite a few that will rarely see play, but they are out there.
Large Community. The Warhammer 40,000 community is older and large. It may be the easiest tabletop wargame to find an opponent for, and thousands of playgroups large and small exist around the world.
I-go-you-go. The old standby turn sequence. it’s been here for 30 years and isn’t going anywhere.
Sci-fi Grimdark. It seems like everyone knows this, but 40K is a rather different sci-setting with elements of Antiquity, Religion, and half a dozen golden age sci-fi influences all mixed in. A shiny bright eyed everything is happy universe it is not.
Age of Sigmar
Here is the newcomer. It’s 3 years old with a brand new cleaned up edition ready to take off and pick up new players.
Ever Expanding Fluff. GW is blazing a trail of creativity in the Mortal Realms. I am really enjoying seeing them rebuild old tropes from the ground up into new unique incarnations for the tabletop. Things like Kharadron Overlords, Sylvaneth and Idoneth Deepkin are exciting and show the studio is really putting heart into exploring and inventing the Age of Sigmar universe. It feels like the golden age of 40K back in the early 90s where every couple months something completely new and unexpected showed up.
Fewer Factions. With only 3 years under it’s belt, Age of Sigmar realistically can’t compete with the stable of factions and models 40K has. However I think they are expanding as fast as they can and slowly casting off the shadow of the inherited Warhammer Fantasy range. While the ranges are smaller, they have been technically amazing and spectacular in design.
Easier to Pick Up Rules. With the simpler statlines, and avoiding things like giant lists of strategems, Age of Sigmar is quite simple to learn, even with the new expanded rules. It is probably a better system for a newcomer to tabletop wargaming to wrap their heads around and doesn’t have the giant breadth and depth of factions and units to wrap your heads around like 40K does.
Fast Growing Community. In only 3 years Age of Sigmar has come a very long way. I think GW is really attempting to push the game into a new broader audience with 2nd Edition and the ease of entry and solid miniatures give me hope. We have no hard figures, but I think we can say that Age of Sigmar may have a better change of growing into a new audience that is newer, and less burdened with the legacies of the past than 40K has with it long history and more venerable playerbase.
Random Initiative. One of Age of Sigmar’s key defining traits is the random roll for initiative each turn. It keeps you on your toes and makes players pay close attention to what may happen next turn. Love it or hate it – it’s here to stay.
High Fantasy. While the Old World had real world roots atop which the classic fantasy races and the horrors of Chaos were placed, Age of Sigmar has cranked that up to 11. Where there were once wood elves, we now have angry tree-people. Where once were dwarfs of the mountains, now we have gold-seeking sky-pirates. Where the Empire once fielded armies of knights and pikemen, now Sigmar has built his own immortal warriors gilt in gleaming Sigmarite. Where Archaon once destroyed the Old World atop his (demon) horse, now his mount is 30 feet long with three heads and flies. You get the picture.
So stop resisting and choose your poison. It’s all fun and games, and of course your choice could always be -“both”
~What system would you pick if you got to start all over – and why?