Age of Sigmar: Is It Time For ‘The Rule Of Three’
Does Warhammer: Age of Sigmar need “The Rule of Three” or is this a Pandora’s Box of other issues waiting to be opened?
There’s been some debate about “The Rule of Three” in the Old World lately. And recently, this has trickled over into the Age of Sigmar, partly due to the latest Metawatch, and partly because of some other extreme lists options (looking at you 200 Zombie Soulblight Gravelords). So let’s talk about the rule, why it’s not currently in Age of Sigmar, and what are some of the implications of adding it.
What Is The Rule of Three?
The Rule of Three was implemented in Warhammer 40,000 back in April of 2018. The gist of the rule is that for Organized Events, you can’t run more than three of the same datasheet in an army. Now, there ARE points brackets where this applies. And, as always, it’s up to the Tournament Organizer’s discretion. However, it’s become fairly common practice.
The reason this was created was because there were quite a few lists floating around at the time that “spammed” the same units. Hive Tyrants, Land Raiders, Shield Captains, Dark Reapers….the list went on and on. This new rule was quite effective in stopping that practice. Although, it wasn’t perfect as there were still a few ways around it as some datasheets were 1-3 choices so you could still get up to 9 of a particular unit/model in a list. Look at you Leman Russ Tanks.
What Does This Have To Do With Age of Sigmar?
Warhammer: Age of Sigmar has basically had an entire edition without the need for this rule. So why has it “worked so far without it” and why is discussion of adding it now popped up? There’s a couple of factors that have helped curb the “spam” in AoS but, again, there’s always a few outliers. Let’s tackle why the edition has worked so far without it.
First up, there’s the Core Battalions. These have helped to corral a lot of the builds because of the benefits you get for bringing them. You can still fit quite a few units into specific Battalions however. But having that frame work of required units vs optional units does push players away from “spamming” things.
Another factor has been Reinforced Units and how those work. Depending on the game size in points, you can’t just max out all your units. Again, this helps curb a lot of those spammable options when you have to take minimum sized versions.
Yet another factor are the Command Points and abilities units have. For the most part, you cannot use the same command ability more than once in the same phase, even for different units. This really cuts down on the need to “spam” the same unit with that one weird trick as they can’t all do it every turn.
There’s more factors but the main point here is that the Core Rules have had safeguards against the need to impose the Rule of Three. And, so far, it’s worked for this edition of Age of Sigmar. So why is it a discussion now?
Not to pick on Gavin Grigar here, but this is his list from Las Vegas Open and WarCom posted it in a nice, easy to understand format so we’re using it as an example. To keep this short, there’s five Steam Tanks in this list. Is that a problem? Depends on who you ask.
This isn’t the only example though. As mentioned above the 200 Zombie lists has been an issue as well. That’s an army that has two units of double reinforced Zombie units and then various other units of 20 to fill out the rest. It’s unsurprisingly effective thanks to how they can cause mortal wounds when they die and how they can come back thanks to unit recursion. Oh and they can really bog the game down…
Again, there are other examples out there. So let’s get into some of the implications of applying the Rule of Three. The first major issue is what impact would it have on the Reinforced Units Core Rule?
Because of the Implications
For example, does each time you Reinforce the unit count as “one” of the “three” from The Rule of Three? Let’s take those Zombies as an example. So if I wanted to double reinforce the unit, would that count as all three of my Zombie units? Well that would certainly cut down on the number of times I could take zombies then, doesn’t it!
Or does each warscroll still count only once? So I could have two units of double reinforced Zombies, and a third regular sized? This would certainly make an impact on those Zombies as it drops the number down from 200ish to 140 to start. But in the Steam Tank’s case, this would still only drop it from 5 Steam Tanks down to 4 as the Steam Tank Commander is technically a different warscroll. Plus, you can’t reinforce Steam Tank units anyhow.
Depending on your stance these limits might go too far or they might not go far enough. Not having to deal with 60 more zombies or one more Steam Tank is going to be a noticeable change. But you can still play those armies — you’ll just have to choose different options.
Personally, at this point in the edition, I don’t think adding the rule is going to help. Frankly, it’s just too late to make that much of a difference. We’re stuck with the current General’s Handbook for another 5-ish months at this point. While adding the rule could help the next five months go smoother for some armies, it sure feels like we’re on the cusp of an edition change. Or at least a new GHB. That might be the perfect time to re-examine The Rule of Three and see if it need to be added to AoS. At that point, yeah, let’s play around with it and see if works!
What do you think? Does the Rule of Three need to be executed in AoS now or should it be looked at later?