Age of Sigmar Fourth Edition Adepticon Announcement Roundtable

NOTE – This article may be updated over the next few days as your favorite writers are able to tear themselves away from work and the tables at Adepticon.

Let’s not stand on ceremony. How did you feel about the fourth edition announcement?

Cronch: I don’t think Indexhammer is the way I would have chosen to go as I’m really happy with third, but I do understand the possibilities that it opens up for the design team and I’m excited to see what they do with the space. The animated trailer absolutely went hard, and if it’s the usual glimpses at new designs that will soon be models then I’m very excited for the new release.

Marchettus: As a player of Age of Sigmar I don’t have enough complaints about the current game to say “tear it down to the studs.” However, I’ve had enough conversations and learning games with people in the past year to know that frequent players have internalized some counterintuitive concepts as just normal. The rules team has done a really good job of providing regular updates so the game doesn’t feel in need of a full rewrite. “Things are good, but they could be better.” 

Chimp: Excited and anxious. I don’t think the game needed big sweeping changes, and I don’t think the aspects of the game focused on in the reveal video are areas I would have wanted the game to go – the “interactive” command abilities are some of the biggest failures of this edition for me. On the other hand, AoS at the end of third edition is the best the game has ever been, and this is the team that has been in charge of making that happen, so I do have some faith in what they can achieve with a grand rewrite. 

SRM: I’m in the same boat I was in back in 2021 when third edition was announced. I loved second edition and didn’t think it needed a change, but once it finally happened, I found the game to be richer and stronger than ever before. I’m hoping it’ll be similar, as the Age of Sigmar team has been doing an excellent job all edition and then some. The reveal trailer was also real dang cool, and I’m looking forward to adding those elite new Stormcast to my army.

Bair: Very excited. Not for rats or more Stormcast, but for a reset. An index edition. This is what the game needs to progress and I’m glad they’re doing it.

Saelfe: ‘If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.’ AOS 3 is definitely not broke; it’s balanced, engaging and in a great place right now.  However, I’ve still got a Nokia 3310 in my drawer that’s not broke.  Doesn’t mean I’m going to use it instead of my smart phone.  The idea of keeping something the same because it’s good inevitably leads to mediocrity and decline.  The rules team have been smashing it lately, so I’m trusting they’re going to deliver on 4th.  Still doesn’t mean I’m not a little nervous though.

What is on your wishlist that didn’t get discussed? If you could redo the edition from the ground up, what would you focus on?

Marchettus: Three things: First, Terrain rules just need a rewrite. As it stands now most events use a “two wildwoods, two impassable, two garrisons, and two other” terrain setup with no size or shape of the terrain considered. Outside of move-blocking and giving +1 to cast if the terrain is arcane there are very few rules that are compelling and fun. Second, priests and invocations need to have more ways to interact with them OR there need to be more priests in the game. Third, I don’t want battle tactics or grand strategies to be part of the allegiance of an army. If you’re redoing every faction hopefully they don’t need to be used as a crutch to prop up balance issues.

Cronch: As a matched-play lover I’d like it to be slightly streamlined. I like the seasonal realm rules to keep things fresh, battle tactics for turn by turn strategy, and grand strategies for overall game plan, but I don’t think we need all of them at once. My ideal would probably be a streamlined version of battle tactics, perhaps with a wider spread of 12-15 to better cater for the wide range of armies, but the removal of faction battle tactics, and removing grand strategies altogether. Something like the 40K Leviathan deck could be an interesting route to explore, although I am keen for AoS to retain some of its own identity and not just be a fantasy 40k clone.

Chimp: I echo the desire for Priests and praying to get reworked. I’m honestly not that fussed about terrain rules beyond tidying up being able to walk up and down them at will. The area I would like to see changed up a fair bit is list writing. I’m not sure that battalions have worked brilliantly in any of their incarnations, and the one-size-fits-all approach to the reinforcement mechanic doesn’t feel like it’s achieved much in a positive way. I’d like there to be more levers for the designers to be able to pull in the pitched battle profiles to address things in specific ways, rather than taking this broad approach of reinforcement or copying 40ks rule of three.

SRM: I’ll echo the request to change Battle Tactics. They can absolutely add more character to an army, but they’re all over the place balance-wise. The Leviathan deck for Matched Play in 40k has been a consistent delight, and I wouldn’t be upset to see something similar in AoS. I feel like there’s some staleness in the opening salvos of current AoS, where two Battle Regiments roll off for their single drop deploys, then the player who drops first chooses to go second so they can potentially tee up a double turn. Maybe that’s just my local meta, but I’m looking forward to a change in that rhythm. 

Bair: As a Fyreslayer player I’m totally fine with how Priests and prayers work! However I understand how boring it is for my opponent, it’d be cool if Priests could stop prayers from other Priests. Really though the amount of save stacking just needs to go and Rally (and any other form of resurrecting minis that isn’t in a Death army) should go! Keep Death unique in their resurrection mechanics but don’t give that to every army all of the time.

Spearhead was discussed as a concept. What would you like to see in a smaller scale game?

Cronch: I really enjoyed Combat Patrol’s introduction with tenth edition 40k, as it was a way of dipping into a faction and having a short, (relatively) balanced game of a system that I don’t always have a lot of patience for. I’m less in need of this for AoS, which I’m fully immersed in, but I am absolutely on board with the idea of buying myself a Spearhead box as a little treat and then actually being able to use it in a game. I’m intrigued by Phil Kelly’s mention of the Stormcast Spearhead, with Yndrasta and the Annihilators arriving later in the game, and I’m curious to know whether that’s specific to that faction or whether phased arrival might be a core concept of Spearhead, like Warcry. Did somebody say Meeting Engagements?

Marchettus: So the most interesting thing is that the Spearhead boxes that have been released (FEC, Stormcast, and Cities) are being designed with the rules system in mind. The original start collecting boxes were not great at including a cohesive force and it would be great to be able to pick up a box, paint it, and know I could play a game. I also think the ability to have three or four different armies just sitting around for a game is going to make it easy to get into new armies. I tend to lose things, or have my kids lose them, so I’m a little apprehensive about having cards or a tactical deck that needs all of the cards to be in one place.

Chimp: I find the limitations on my getting games in are around getting me and another person in the same time and space, and that making the game shorter doesn’t really help me there. But for people who can make lunchtime gaming work, it sounds like a good solution.

SRM: I found Combat Patrol to be a good way to learn 10th edition 40k, and it serves as a stepping stone before moving on to the full-fat version of the game. I’d like to see a focus on balance and easy to use forces in Spearhead, as it’s such a good introductory tool. 

Bair: It’s fine and cool for the people that want and will play this format. Good for beginners, probably, too. It really is not for me though at all. I play AoS for full-army sized games, not skirmishes; there’s many other games out there that do skirmish games well!

Saelfe: I’ve recently started playing Underworlds purely so that I can start painting, and playing, something which isn’t one of my main armies.  Most of the time I’m painting Nurgle, so slapping a bit of gold on one of those shiny thunder knights has been fun.  For the same reason, I hope Spearhead takes off.  I like the idea of getting myself a couple of different factions to dabble with as my little bit on the side, knowing I can just pick up a box for a set cost without having to agonise over lists, or get intimately acquainted with a new ruleset, or shell out hundreds of pounds.

As part of the new edition a full rewrite of every faction is happening. How do you feel about that, and what faction has the most potential with a completely new set of rules?

Marchettus: KO. I have several KO models built and painted but the rules and playstyle has never clicked for me. I had hoped that the 3.0 book would lean into using tricks to hold objectives or something beyond “we have guns”.

Chimp: Third time’s the charm on gargants.

SRM: I was hoping they wouldn’t do the full indexhammer thing here. I genuinely enjoyed indexhammer in eighth and tenth edition 40k, but both of those games really needed that clean slate approach in a way I don’t think AoS does. I don’t feel many armies are suffering from identity crises at this point, and I think more armies need expansion than revision. 

Bair: Similar to Marchettus Kharadrons would be great to get re-worked a bit. The 3rd book is a far cry better than previous iterations but it’s not quite there; making the army more melee focused with the backing of some guns would be amazing. Fyreslayers though, as my main faction, just need something to work better as an army.

Saelfe: Would it be too obvious to say Skaven?  My brother and I started playing AOS together about 18 months ago, so I’ve played against Skaven more than any other army.  They’re like a nephew to me.  A really neglected, shrivelled, old nephew.  I love the way they play.  The chaos of it.  The sneakiness.  But they’re clearly in need of some love, which I hope 4th will give them.

Games Workshop made a choice to discuss the rules and thought process behind designing the game instead of showing off models. Considering we don’t have a lot of context, what are your thoughts?

Marchettus: Games Workshop is a publicly traded company and has typically done a new edition every three years. Towards the end of second edition it was clear that a lot needed to change. Right now the game feels in a good space but if you’re going to need to launch a new edition I’m glad they’re redoing everything. I’m not sure I’d feel this way if I had just bought into FEC and maybe cities as there is a lot left to explore in those books for the average player.

Cronch: New FEC player here. I’m not too worried that my army is suddenly going to be put in the trash, but knowing it’s an index edition is perhaps slowing my planning somewhat for the next few months. As usual, I expect meta skew lists are at the biggest risk of suddenly being completely invalidated. I think not showing models was a pretty expected outcome given that we still have Dawnbringers to wrap up, but I certainly wouldn’t have complained if we’d seen one or two as a tease.

Chimp: Guess who else is a FEC player. It is what it is. People will say “oh but you can go back and read the lore in your old battletomes,” but I have never done that and never will. Truly, if this is an opportunity to get away from the battletome format and into something more organic, I’m all for it. 

SRM: Without context I can’t do much but say, “sure, dogg” to most of it. I do like it whenever Phil Kelly talks about lore though, he brings powerful Weed Dad energy and I think that’s core to the identity of Age of Sigmar. I would have liked to see some new models from the launch box, but I think we can intuit what quite a few of them will look like from that extremely shiny trailer. 

Bair: Until we actually see the full thing it doesn’t really mean much in my opinion. I really dislike the drip-fed rules that they tend to do leading up to a new edition where people that totally play games complain very loudly online for weeks on end. It’s tiresome. I’m excited for an index edition but going to try and stay as offline as possible (really, not at all possible) leading up to it.

Saelfe: Yeah, I got excited and bought a load of FEC too.  It’s all still in the box until I finish painting my Daughters of Khaine.  Which should be around June.  Damn.

Games Workshop are forever criticised that all they want to do is sell models, so it was pretty refreshing to see the lore and rules spotlighted, instead of the minis.  It didn’t feel like an advert.  I dunno, maybe I’m just gullible, and it was all merely a good piece of PR.  Perhaps there was some sort of sinister, suited CEO off screen eating money and telling them what to say, but I got the impression that the blokes in the video all actually care about the game, the rules and the universe it’s set in.

How do you feel about Skaven as the antagonist?

Marchettus: One of the prime ways I resisted getting into tenth edition was the fact that I didn’t want to play Tyranids and my son would have taken the Space Marine side of the box. I have enough horde armies and don’t need another one. However, despite the recent resurgence Skaven didn’t get much love and attention in third edition so I’m glad they’re getting the starter army treatment and a refresh.

Cronch: People should have realised by now that making assumptions about GW’s next move can be a recipe for disappointment, and that they aren’t always as pattern-driven as we assume. That said, if we look at the last few big edition releases for 40k and AoS, we had factions with some old plastics, some newer good plastics, and some finecast/metal (Necrons, Orruks then Tyranids) get big range revamps and additions, alongside the poster faction (Marines/Stormcast) getting some new models. So turning our eye to Age of Sigmar Fourth, it’s probably fair to say that Stormcast were a given, and Skaven is a great candidate for a range update. I’m excited for Skaven players to be dragged into the 21st century and, although I’m not desperate to start an army, the existence of Spearhead means that I’ll probably be keen on whatever launch product might arrive.

I’m really excited by the Stormcast though. The mounting toll of repeated reforgings has always been one of their most interesting pieces of lore, and if the new minis reflect the characters in the trailer then I think we’re in for some darker, bleaker Stormcast models.

Chimp: The Skaven shown in the trailer were conspicuously a lot of old and bad models, so I think it’s safe to assume there’s a fairly major revamp of them coming in the style of S2D and Soulblight. That would be a very welcome update, as a lot of those models are fairly embarrassing to still be selling, to say the least. The third edition Skaven tome felt like it was holding back a lot, so I’m very excited to see what they’ll bring out for models and rules this time around.

SRM: Skaven are part of the primordial stuff that makes up Warhammer, and their sidelining for the entirety of AoS has been a consistent bummer. Every release that was just, like, a single plastic character and a bunch of old stuff was a missed opportunity. There’s a strong chance that you, dear reader, are younger than many of the currently available models for that range, and it’s about time they got a healthy revamp. They’re a rare army that I’m not interested in starting myself, but absolutely adore. I’m looking forward to killing a couple thousand clanrats over the course of 4th edition. 

Bair: It just makes sense. The minis have needed a refresh for years now and this is a great way of doing it, fortunately I won’t be sucked into the warp-stone-loving-rat faction but I’m excited to see them on the table and play against them!

Saelfe: I feel like Skaven is probably one of Games Workshop’s most unique and quintessential creations, so the fact that we have come this far without them really getting properly baked into the AOS is crazy.  SRM’s right about the models, but also in terms of lore, they’ve just, kind of, been there – ready to pop up whenever the plot needed them to lubricate the story a little bit, or provide a bit of incidental action.  They’ve been a Fantasy Battles army wandering about in a new setting.  But now here they are!  Blight City smashing its way into Aqshy and being all like “we’re a proper part of AOS now!”  Blight City! Billions of rats! New weapons and abominations!  The Mortal Realms should be so totally screwed, but we all know they’re going to mess it up, and I am so excited to find out how.

Chaos is also getting a new champion as part of the last Dawnbringers book in addition to updates for several Slaves to Darkness models. What are your thoughts on what we’ve seen? 

Darkoath Savagers. Credit: SRM

Marchettus: While I don’t like the rat models in general I LOVE the look of the Darkoath and part of my current painting motivation is to reduce my backlog and get those models. I love the combination of textures and don’t want to paint spiky metal that is typical in the Slaves to Darkness range. While Abraxia looks like an incredible model, I’m still working on my destruction centerpieces.

Cronch: Abraxia rules! Varangard are one of my favourite parts of Slaves to Darkness, so a cool Varangard hero who lets you take them as battleline in an Army of Renown is definitely a development that I’m a fan of. I enjoy the idea that Archaon has given her this ongoing test in the form of a spear that really wants to mess her up, and it really helps to reinforce how focused and disciplined she must be. Also, it’s always nice to see female characters appearing as important named entities in the lore. Broadly it feels like the AoS designers have made huge leaps in improving diversity and representation throughout unit and character model kits and lore, and it’s nice to see one of those that spans both aspects.

SRM: I thought we were done Bringing Dawn (I erroneously stated that Dawnbringers V was the final book in my lore review) but I guess we can do it one more time. The new Darkoath range falls outside of the scope of this preview, but Chaos barbarians are so firmly My Shit that I can’t help my excitement bleeding into this article too. Abraxia the Gatorqueen is cool as hell, and while I was thinking the “horned daemon empress” alluded to in Dawnbringers V was Valkia the Bloody, I’m pleasantly surprised to see someone new. Also good on her for actually rising the ranks from the Spire Tyrants onwards; I don’t feel like we get many success stories from the warbands of the Eightpoints. 

Bair: Incredibly cool model. Similar to SRM I thought we were done with Dawnbringers with book 5 but, uh, we’re not? Is this the last one? Probably? If they said so in the preview then I missed that bit, but don’t forget to shout at me about it anyways. The model is amazing and I can see it getting picked up by both AoS and Old World players alike (with added wings, probably).

What are your thoughts on the Dawnbringers story concluding?

Cities of Sigmar Ironweld Great Cannon. Credit: SRM

Marchettus: I’m the first to admit that I’m not a lore motivated person. However, the models that have been released for Dawnbringers have been incredible even if some of those models could have been released as part of an army book (Gloomspite Gitz and Slaves to Darkness come to mind as releases that could have been done in conjunction with the army book). Games Workshop spoiled whatever the ending was because whatever well thought out plan that Chaos always has to come back on top is just going to read rats, rats rats, big rats, rats, rats, rats, rats.

Cronch: I’d be lying if I said I’d kept fully on top of the Dawnbringers arc, but it does feel like it’s reaching a compelling crescendo. We’ve known from the start of the series that only one of the new cities of Emberguard and Verdigris is going to flourish, with the other torn down in some great cataclysm (rat-aclysm, perhaps?). Broadly, I like that AoS seems to exist in defined narrative arcs, about to move into the Hour of Ruin, and it seems like the Era of the Beast might have quite a dramatic end.

SRM: I felt the last book set things up pretty nicely for the next era of AoS’ ongoing story, so I was surprised to see another Dawnbringers book announced, period. I want to find out what all the mysteries around the Cult of the Wheel are about, and I’m hoping the newly founded Cities of Sigmar can stick around long enough to develop their own heraldry, lore, and color schemes. I’m also happy to see Age of Sigmar’s story move on from the Era of the Beast and for the focus to move out of Ghur. 

Saelfe:  I’ve enjoyed the Dawnbringers lore.  It’s done a great job of weaving some factions into the narrative that were, perhaps, not as anchored before – for example all the stuff with Usheron and Flesh Eater Courts.  It’s also given a really compelling focus in Cities of Sigmar.  I’ve always been more drawn to the ordinary people of Cities than to Stormcast superheroes, so this story has been great.

However, I kind of feel like AOS lore has been tinkering around the edges of its lore a bit.  Since the Necroquake, there hasn’t been a huge amount that has truly shook the foundations of the Mortal Realms.  It looks like that’s about the change with 4th.  We all know Sigmar’s a big fat liar.  He’s been up to all kinds of shady shenanigans throughout AOS; what with Stormvaults and the like.  But now that we know the “Sigmar lied” line was actually delivered by a Stormcast, suggesting a shred of disillusionment, we know shit’s about to get real.  The central premise of AOS’s poster faction is a terrifying one; that a god can bring you back and force you to fight for him perpetually, and you lose a piece of yourself every time, and you should thank him for the honour!  It’s just grim.  And I’m so excited to see how that will be played out with the new Stormcast chamber.

What are your thoughts on the Warcry models?

Cronch: Both of the new warbands are very visually appealing! I’m a big fan of the Sylvaneth lore, and the way it’s manifested as stuff like hair made of thorny roots on the models. It’s always fun to look at these kits and imagine what they could imply for the future – a unit of Tree Revenants with bows? Ossiarch skeletaur cavalry? Who knows.

Marchettus: Warcry has gone from providing “cool looking models” to providing units that are actually useful in Age of Sigmar. I wish that the terrain worked better in a full Age of Sigmar game but I understand that this is a secondary concern for the game.

Chimp: I like the bees.

SRM: Neither warband is really for me. The Sylvaneth feel an awful lot like more of the same, perhaps heralding a new Dryad kit to update the old WHFB one that Sylvaneth players are still saddled with. The Ossiarch warband is definitely more interesting looking for the faction, and “bone golem centaur beastmaster” is a hell of a word combo to pull. 

Some of the Underworlds Models shown will likely be part of Age of Sigmar. Any Thoughts? 

Cronch: Underworlds is an absolutely fantastic game, and every single warband released is a visual marvel. I’m a big fan of the chef Ghouls in this box, but I think the lightning fanatics are a little more of a miss for me. They don’t feel like they quite cohere with the overall Cities faction in the way that I’d like. That said, everything doesn’t have to be for everyone, plenty of people seem to like them, and the joy of Underworlds’ contained design space is that we can have these slightly more off-kilter ideas alongside the more established Grand Alliance stuff (see also: The Exiled Dead).

My real issue with Underworlds is the release model at the moment – I absolutely feel like I just can’t keep up when every other release is a big “starter” style box, especially now that the RRP has jumped from £40 for the original Shadespire core set to £65 for the most recent Deathgorge, and individual warbands have jumped from £15 to £26. These are cardboard- and printing-heavy products, so it’s not a surprise that they’ve increased so much given the modern challenges of printing and shipping, but as a consumer it’s certainly hard to stomach. Still, there are fewer releases to contend with, which somewhat makes up for it, and for me it’s encouraged a more pick-and-choose attitude to which warbands I buy and broken my collector’s mindset, which can only be a good thing.

SRM: I’ll admit, I haven’t really kept up with Underworlds since second edition, when the pace of releases outstripped my bowling ball-smooth brain’s ability to build decks. As a Warhammer Weirdo Repository it has continued to deliver consistent hits, but this set gets a rare shrug from me. I could have sworn the Skinnerkin had already been released, but I was thinking of the Grymwatch from 2019. The Brethren of the Bolt are almost there for me, but I feel are a bit too much. I’m going to sound old as hell here, but I like the older Flagellant aesthetic more than this one. I like the bigger two fellas alright, but the three other guys are the first Cities of Sigmar models I haven’t been wild about. 

Bair: I really have no clue what Underworlds is doing these days. I’m very curious to see if the warbands will continue to have rules in Age of Sigmar, I imagine they will so people can use their minis, and they’ve generally gotten more useful over time too. Fine if they do, but fine if they don’t also.

Any final thoughts on the reveal, or the future?

Cronch: I really enjoyed the new format for the reveal, with pre-recorded chat segments. I’m sure this is better for the GW staff, being able to prep content and not rely on livestream tech, but it’s also nice on the receiving end to see the games’ designers talking about all of the releases in a relaxed environment with each other. It’s still marketing material, ultimately, but I liked seeing the faces behind it.

Overall, I’m very excited for what this year holds for Age of Sigmar especially! I’m already signed up to quite a few events across the year, and it’s going to be a lot of fun scrambling to get to grips with the new edition once it lands.

Chimp: Why have they timed the new edition launch to coincide with the birth of my second child?

SRM: With the predictable cycle of major GW games, we kind of all assumed AoS was getting a new edition this year, so I can’t say I felt any major surprise there. As impressive as that trailer was, nothing has the same “wow” factor as new models, so it could have hit a smidge harder. While third has been a great edition that hasn’t yet outstayed its welcome, I’m optimistic about the new edition regardless. Tenth edition 40k has been a slam dunk, and the rules/app/model teams have been killing it. I’ve got a local event coming up in September, so I’ll get to put the new edition to the test in a major way. 

Marchettus: If I didn’t know that a new edition occurs every three years I would wonder why we needed one. I think that AOS players can look at the third edition and wonder why they are overhauling things from the ground up when the game seems to function fine. I can almost promise that the people most likely to look at every bit of information (me and people who are reading this site) are the ones who are the least likely to need one or two pieces of information without the full context. What I’m going to be saying over the next few months is simple. If you had liked Age of Sigmar in the past 12-18 months I think you’re going to like Age of Sigmar in the next edition.

Bair: Really just very excited to know what this index-edition means for my armies (KO, Slayers, Gitz) and I may well be starting a 4th army as well for it. Orruks have been on my mind, the models rule, but not something I’ll start doing before the new edition drops. Best piece of advice leading into a new edition: don’t buy anything unless you really do simply want to build or paint it, the rules are going to change. 

Saelfe: I only started playing Age of Sigmar 18 months ago, so I’ve known nothing other than 3rd.  Before that I didn’t play any table-top games at all, so it has also been my introduction to the whole world of war gaming.  As such it’ll always be pretty special to me.  But one of the big draws of the game for me is that it evolves over time; new lore, new factions, new rules, so I’m looking forward to it.

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