Unlike most people on the web, I decided to wait until I had actually played a game of Sigmar before I passed Judgement.
This resulted in me revisiting Games Workshop Enfield to give my Empire Army a run out against the Sigmarites.
Like everyone else I was confused by the whole "Just put what you want on the table, and I will do the same" way of balancing the game. Knowing the blokes I do (yes I am looking at you Ed and Russell), I can see this being abused in all sorts of ways. If you are out numbered by a third you can declare a 'Sudden death victory" but this just means your opponent will set up one less figure than you require to be able to claim this. Also how can plonking 3 bloody great Dragons on the table mean you are at a disadvantage if I field ten Spearmen?
Anyway I set up all my painted cavalry, Steve who runs the store and was kind enough to walk me through a game, fielded some Sigmarites from the starter box set.
A misreading of the rules meant we set up as follows,
What we should have done was split the table in two and then set up alternate units, more than 12" from enemy territory.
Steve was kind enough to print out all the Empire war scrolls for me to use. They are very, very simple.
All my units move forward.
Now I get to shoot. Very simple system of hit on a 4+ (for example), than roll to wound (again 4+ for example). There do not seem to be any modifiers for moving but certain weapons can get a -1 rend (armour saving throw modifier).
NOW you charge. Mounted troops with spears get a +1 bonus to wound and damage on the charge. Horses still kill more then the Knights!!
In order to charge you have to be more than 3" from the unit you wish to charge and then roll 2D6. The resulting total is your charge distance.
There are changes to the melee attacks. Once again it's a simple "hit everything on a 4+, regardless of what you are attacking, and the charging unit can get first strike, so no more striking last with Greatswords! The big change is that "the player whose turn it is picks a unit to attack with, then the opposing player must attack with A unit". Being a warmachine player I see no where, where it says it has to be in the same combat, so you can just pick another unit in another combat to strike first!
After the melees is the 'Battleshock phase'. For each combat where you have taken a casualty, roll a D6 and add the number of casualties. You loss an additional figure for every point you roll over your bravery, i.e. I have a bravery of 6, roll a 4 on a D6 and took 2 casualties. This equals 6 which is the same as my bravery so I do not take any extra casualties.
One thing you do have to do now in roll after every round to see who goes first on the following turn!
And thats really it as far as the game goes! Yep it's a 4 page rule book, what do people expect?
This is definately a 'plug in and play' set of rules designed for instant action and gratification. Being a teacher I can see how this has totally been designed to engage the younger player. I also wonder if GW has looked at the success Nintendo have had with the wii and it's sudden appeal to casual gamers. I can imagine a kid playing a game with his mate and then the mate popping in to a GW to buy a dozen miniatures to play the game now and again.
The nearest comparison I can think of is Chess to Checkers. Their both board games, and there are some tactics involved but lets be honest Chess is just the more rewarding game because of it's complexity and higher tactical thinking.
I kind of hope it goes the same way as Chess and Checkers in regards that all kids play checkers at school, but the thick kids can never advance on to chess! But they still like playing Checkers and if your stuck for a opponent you can always 'dumb down' and give them a game of draughts rather then bang your head against a wall trying to explain the rules of chess to them! Who knows you might get a close game, just not on the level your used to.
One problem I have with Warhammer is forgetting the rules, especially after a break of several months and playing several systems. This does hinder me playing Warmachine after a hiatus as I have to read the bloody great rule book again to get up to speed. There is none of this with Age of Sigmar and you can read the rules and be back up to speed in less then 10 min. Try doing that after a 3 month break from Warhammer!
GW have made an obvious attempt to lighten thing up with a set of 'inside jokes' involving facial hair and grumbling etc but I feel it just makes the players (especially kids) of the game even more open to ridicule by their peers as the jokes are just crap and made everyone just sound REALLY geeky!
One way I can handle this mentally is to call this game "Age of Sigmar" and treat it as a seperate entity to "Warhammer". They are played with the same figures but are VERY different animals.
This way if I ask someone if they want a game of "Age of Sigmar" I would expect a very different gaming experience than if I offered them a game of "Warhammer". A bit like if I walked into the Creative Biscuit and asked someone if they wanted to play "SAGA" or "Warmachine", they are very different games and I should expect different gaming experiences.
On thing I will say is 8th edition Warhammer grabbed me as soon as I played it and I saw it's potential straight away! Age of Sigmar has not had this effect on me.
Do I see 'Age of Sigmar' replacing me playing 8th edition . . . . . NOT A CHANCE!!!!!!
Do I see this version replacing me playing SAGA or Warmahordes when I have an hour free . . . . . Maybe!