Now, I'm the least qualified person to actually speak with any authority on the world of Warhammer. I know exactly jack shit about the history and fluff, other than enough to name the various factions. I had a Vampire Counts army back in '03, but gave it up shortly thereafter for a more rewarding experience playing Confrontation 3.0 and it's brilliant Dogs of War narrative/semi-RPG campaign system (to this day, I believe it remains the best in the genre).
But something about the boldness of this shift was intriguing. When the internets exploded with rage and love (but mostly rage) over the new Age of Sigmar release, there were a few sore points with veteran players, chief among them that this new set of rules replaces Warhammer 8th Edition (something I still don't think is exactly true). There were also some 'interesting' rules like one about dancing while rolling a die to get re-rolls on misses or some such madness. Basically, the noise I was getting (and there was s shit ton of noise) was basically that this new game was too simple, it's stupid, and how could they replace the time-honored WHFB with this tripe?
Well, not all the noise is negative. There's a ground swell of support for the system among the 40k crowd. Interestingly AoS after-action reports looks more like a 40k game than an old-school WHFB game with loose formations as opposed to rank-and-file. The rules have been streamlined into something vaguely more familiar to a 40k player (and dare I say, a FoW player such as myself). So it's a big change for traditional Warhammer players to swallow.
Or is it?
Chatting with my old friends back in the states, who are well-respected WHFB players and whose pedigree in the system is unchallenged, I was surprised to find a very reasonable outlook on AoS. Expecting to hear staunch opposition, what they actually thought greatly impacted me. I've taken in what they and others have said and after some internal reflection and potentially misplaced optimism, have come to some conclusions:
This is pretty huge considering my history with GW games, but I really want to have a genuine try with the rules and see if its rubbish, ingenious, or neither.
2. Warhammer is now more accessible for me.
It's well known that Warhammer has been cost prohibitive for a very long time. I'm not about to go out and drop a paycheck or two on a new army. The financial cost for building an army is huge and is only going up as we press on toward our own earthly End Times. However, I'm still free to use my old miniatures from my collection. Where before my collection struggled to top 1000 points (at the comparative cost of 3 or 4 Flames of War 1500pt armies), I can now use everything I have and play some games (even if they have square bases, because this honey badger don't even care...).
Furthermore, they have made the rule set and army-specific war scrolls totally free to download online (and soon on an app), and contrary to the rumors and fears, all of the classic factions are represented. So for the low, low price of free, I'm able to start playing with my old VC army. I can take that collection of old figures, break it up into smaller interesting skirmish groups and get some potentially fun, quick games in.
3. Warhammer lore is now accessible for me.
I feel as though now I can become involved with Warhammer tradition The whole fluff world itself is more accessible. The fluff of Warhammer is often touted as an amazingly woven tapestry of rich backstory, and I'm sure it really is that great. But frankly I find that intimidating to learn. I feel confronted with a huge world, and a host of bards that will always know more than me. But that was chapter 1 and we've just started chapter 2 where the old stories are still relevant, but new fluff is being created. I'm kinda keen on having a chance to be a part of these new beginnings.
4. The rules are more accessible.
I've said it before, I've said it a thousand times, my brain has limited hard drive space remaining for wargames. I can't fit another epic set of wargames rules in my brain without deleting something first. I'm not going to uninstall Flames Of War and I like Warmachine just enough to play it now and again. I've got lots of space for small things like AoS's 4-page rulebook and a VC war scroll, so I'll just delete my old Malifaux 1.0 files and start installing AoS. It is a faster game and it fits more with my busy wargames schedule.
I'm totally prepared for this game to be total rubbish. I've not invested a dime into this, other than a few hours of getting my WHFB figures out of the box and tidied up after 12 years of being packed away. So if it turns out to be a bust, I'll put them away again and that'll be that. You can bet an AAR and some follow-ups will be forthcoming on this!
Time will tell, but it's a big moment in wargaming and one that everyone who's got a passing interest should be appreciating. As the immortal band Semisonic once put it, "Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end."
And here we are.......