Age of Sigmar Fourth Edition: The Advanced Rules Review

A thank you to Games Workshop for sending us these rules and the Skaventide box set to be able to cover and review. Over the coming weeks, and with the benefit of having played dozens of games, we will be having faction experts provide insight into how they are building and running lists with these factions. For this overview we’re looking at what stands out for the faction, how much has changed, and how we would approach dealing with some of the common threats that are present in all wargames.

We’ve covered the core rules and how to play Spearhead in a prior article but that isn’t the entire story. Advanced rules include Commands, Terrain, Magic, Army Composition, Command Models, and Battle Tactics.

Spearhead is an example of how far these modules can be bent to accomplish a specific goal. Magic and Command Models are completely missing from the game. Terrain, Army Composition, Battle Tactics and Commands (through the tactics deck) are heavily modified to suit the goals of having a fast-paced small scale game. The way a lot of events have been structured, with teams events and specific terrain FAQs, can be accomplished by just rewriting sections of the advanced rules.

Before we dive in we’d like to thank Games Workshop for providing us with a copy of the Skaventide box for review purposes.


Rockgut Troggoths – Credit Bair

Commands are a part of the game that has undergone some big changes. To start, all Commands are Abilities, and you don’t “Issue” or “Receive” them. Any unit can use a Command, not just units with Champions or Heroes. You also don’t get any extra Command Points for having a general on the field, so you can send them barreling in to die gloriously and not lose out as badly. 

At the start of each Battle Round each player gains four Command Points, plus one extra if they’re the underdog (have fewer Victory Points than their opponent at the start of the round). You also get an extra one in the first battle round if you are 50 points or more under your opponent’s list. Unspent Command Points are lost at the end of each Battle Round.

Commands allow you to do most of what you can normally do in your own turn during your opponent’s turn: casting magic, moving, shooting, charging, and so on. However, these are at a penalty, whether it’s -1 to the hit rolls, -1 to casting/chanting, or only moving D6″ instead of the full amount. 

Hero Phase Commands

  • Magical Intervention (1 CP) – Lets you cast a spell or chant a prayer in your opponent’s turn at -1 to the roll. Helpful for getting off big prayers early or getting out necessary buff/debuff spells. 
  • Rally (1 CP) – Lets you heal and/or return models to a unit. 

Movement Phase Commands

  • Redeploy (1 CP)  – One of your units can move D6” if they aren’t in combat. 

Shooting Phase Commands

  • Covering Fire (1 CP) – One of your units that isn’t in combat can shoot the nearest visible enemy unit with -1 to hit.

Charge Phase Commands 

  • Counter Charge (2 CP) – One of your units can charge as if it were your Charge phase.

End of Turn Commands

  • Power Through (1 CP) – Pick a friendly unit locked in combat with an enemy unit with a lower Health characteristic. That enemy unit takes D3 mortals and your unit can then move through their combat ranges and can choose whether it wants to end in combat with that unit.

Bair: It’s difficult to overstate just how incredibly good Power Through is. Being able to just leave combat at the end of a turn gives you so much power, and you just have to have a command point spare to use it! Units with Fly are going to really love this though being able to move over units; Kharadron ships, Mangler Squigs, and others benefit greatly.

Reaction Command Abilities

  • At The Double (1 CP) – One unit automatically runs 6”
  • Forward to Victory (1 CP) – You can re-roll the charge roll for a unit.
  • All-Out Attack (1 CP) – Add 1 to hit rolls for a unit’s attacks. This ability affects weapons that have the Companion ability.
  • All-Out Defense (1 CP) – Add 1 to save rolls for that unit in this phase.

So let’s get the big things out of the way first. Because of the “Rule of Ones” you can’t chain together command abilities. If your countercharge fails, you can’t use Forward to Victory to reroll the charge. Second, reaction commands aren’t locked into any specific phase. While “At The Double” and “Forward to Victory” are included in the movement and charge phases in the rules they are activated by using a “Run” or “Charge” core ability.  They also have keywords associated with them, Redeploy has the “Run” keyword, so you can’t use shoot or charge after using it unless your unit is able to both run and shoot/charge in the same turn. 

These are all powerful abilities and you are not going to be able to afford every one every turn. While some armies simply won’t be able to make use of them you only get four command points to use across the whole battle round, five if you’re on lower victory points. 

Norman: This is probably my favorite part of the edition. The ability to have agency during every part of the game makes it much more interactive and allows for much more clever plays.

Bair: There are very, very, few ways through warscrolls or army rules to make use of extra commands. Gone are the days of slamming All Out Attack or All Out Defence every turn!


Credit: Kevin Stillman (You want to be behind terrain for the cover bonus)

Terrain has been overhauled in Age of Sigmar fourth edition. Terrain features now have specific Keywords which determine how units are affected by them and interact with them. Rolling for terrain abilities is a thing of the past and has been replaced with Universal Terrain abilities. For example, Obscuring Terrain blocks line of sight for shooting attacks to units on the other side of it unless they have the FLY keyword, while attacking across terrain with the Cover keyword will give you -1 to hit. Impassable and Unstable terrain effect movement and terrain with the Place of Power keyword can be activated by Heroes within 3” to gain a bonus to casts and unbinds or to gain the ability to make an unbind if they couldn’t. 

Faction Terrain is still free for the armies that have them and typically you’re always going to want them. They now have Health and a Save value so can be killed by normal means and can be charged by enemy units while not counting as a unit itself; importantly this means that “deepstriking” or teleporting units that come in mid-game normally needing to be more than 9″ away from enemy units don’t count the terrain piece. 

Bair: When I got to play some fourth edition I found this extremely interesting, basically being able to charge a piece of faction terrain on a very easy charge roll then between piling in and the new combat range that’s always 3″ got to attack units I’d have normally failed the charge against! You’ll need to be very careful how you set these up now.

Marchettus: Some factions that have traditionally relied on terrain, like Gitz or Sylvaneth, are going to have strong emotions about having terrain that can be targeted by shooting or in combat.


Magic may be the single most changed part of the rules. Prayers have been completely reworked, as have endless spells, incarnates, and invocations. 

On that note, Magic in Fourth Edition refers to manifestations, spells cast by wizards, and prayers chanted by Priests. You can only attempt prayers, spells, and summoning manifestations once per turn unless they have the UNLIMITED keyword. The number of times a wizard can cast or unbind a spell and the number of times a Priest can chant a prayer are indicated on the unit’s Warscroll, usually with something like “Priest (2).” All of the universal lores like Arcane Bolt and Mystic Shield are gone.

Endless Spells, Invocations, and the Incarnate of Ghur have all been rolled into the same set of rules, and are now called Manifestations. 

Beasts of Chaos Endless Spells Credit: Mugginns


Casters now need to declare a target for their spells before an opponent chooses whether to attempt to Unbind them and Miscasts are now unmodified cast rolls of “two or more 1s,” suggesting that some abilities will allow you to use extra dice in your casts. As with everything else, Spells are abilities which have the SPELL keyword and a number in the upper right corner of their rules indicating their Casting Value.


Prayers have been overhauled in a big way – When a Priest chants a Prayer you roll a single dice; on a 1 the Priest loses D3 ritual points and on a 2+ they gain a number equal to the amount rolled. This can either be used to complete a prayer or saved for the following turn. When you hit a prayer’s Chanting value, you can spend the ritual points to gain that effect. The kicker here is that Prayers tend to have two effects – one for a low value and one for a high value. So a Priest might be able to give a single unit a 5+ Ward value with a chanting value of 6, but could give the effect to three units with a value of 12+. 

Prayers can’t be “stopped” by other Priests but you can stop a Priest from chanting a Prayer by killing them.

Marchettus: This is one of the best changes in the game. Even those factions that had priests, like Fyreslayers or Khorne, often suffered because there wasn’t any interactivity. Now, priests have flavor, and the interactivity of “gotta kill that girl before she does the superbuff” is something that every faction can participate in.


As we mentioned, endless spells, invocations, and the incarnate have been rolled into Manifestations and they’re now fully interactive in combat. Nearly every manifestation has a Health characteristic, melee attacks, and counts as an enemy model in movement and combat. Since manifestations no longer move in each player’s hero phase and spells can’t “go wild.” They also have counterplay now, even if you don’t have wizards – just go kill them. 

Norman: Manifestations are also all free now and the Lores have some really powerful pieces you can put on the board. Notably you can do some nasty movement blocking with these. While Manifestations with a move characteristic of “-” can be ignored for the sake of combat ranges, they can generally be set up within 9″ and some of them have very large bases, allowing you to really muck up your opponent’s movement, especially since you can cast in your opponent’s turn!

Marchettus: The downside if impacting the movement is that you’ve set up another charge target for your opponent. Even if your force one unit to fight against a manifestation a 3″ pile-in with a 3″ combat range means a second unit could threaten a lot of units behind it if the Manifestation is destroyed.

Bair: We all have thoughts here, go figure. Getting used to which manifestations “count” for setting up units X” away from enemy abilities (deepstrikes) takes getting used to. You can set up within any range of move “-” but can still charge them making them an easy target to pile in around and attack enemy units with lower charges. Same for faction terrain.

Picking Spells 

Spells, Prayers, and Manifestation Lores are picked during army construction and instead of having each Wizard know a specific spell or spells you’ll choose a spell lore or prayer for all of the wizards/priests in your army to know – and they can cast any of the spells within that lore.

Building An Army

It shouldn’t be a surprise that army composition has changed in fourth edition, but you may be surprised at how extensive the changes are. Battalions are gone completely, and subfactions have been replaced with Battle Formations. Likewise, armies in fourth edition are built from Regiments.


Each army in fourth edition consists of one or more Regiments. Each Regiment is lead by a Hero and can include up to three other units, or four if that Hero is your General. An army can have up to five Regiments total. The Hero leading your Regiment determines which units can be added to the Regiment, and these are pretty intuitive, such as a Lord of Khorne being accompanied by Gorechosen units. You can still reinforce units in your regiment, doubling their points cost and unit size, but you can’t reinforce a given unit more than once. Note that your General doesn’t have to be the one to take your Heroic Trait or Artefact of Power. If you have any Warmaster units then they must be your General, that’s now a negative trait and has no upside to it just forces your hand a little in list building. 

Outside of your Regiments you can take as many Auxiliary units as you like but this comes at a steep cost: the player with fewer Auxiliary units in their army at the start of the game gains an extra command point every battle round. With how powerful commands are that can be a tough ask but does keep list building open for those who want the option! With Battleline gone this effectively means you can just take whatever you want, throwing caution to the wind (mostly).

Insta: bair_paints

Bair: Just to butt in here and say that allies are also just gone from the game. There’s no way for you to just slot in a single unit of Aetherwings into a Kharadron Overlords army, or any other army that isn’t Stormcast.

You may take a Regiment of Renown allowed by your faction which takes up one of your five Regiments and can be deployed like any other Regiment could; you cannot add or remove any units from the Regiment of Renown, it simply is what it is what it is!

During deployment you can choose to deploy whole regiments or single units. Once you’ve placed a single unit you cannot then place the rest of the regiment as a whole; you’re stuck deploying the rest of it piecemeal. If you and your opponent have the same number of Regiments then whoever starts deploying first will want to deploy entire Regiments to guarantee choosing who takes the first turn. The player deploying second or that has more Regiments will almost always want to deploy single units at a time; dropping this way won’t change who chooses to go first but gives you much more information about where your opponent’s army is!  

Norman: The regiment system adds a really interesting aspect to list building which impacts how you’ll deploy. Regiments effectively become your number of drops, but if you get to the table and see your opponent is going to finish deploying before you, you can instead use the Deploy Unit ability to deploy your units one at a time, letting you better react to how your opponent deploys their regiments.

Enhancements and Spells

After picking your regiments and faction terrain you pick enhancements. Enhancements still can’t go on unique units and you’re able to select one enhancement from each provided table. Every faction should have Heroic Traits and Artefacts of Power they can use but there may be other traits specific to your faction.

Command Models

Command models for a unit are specified on that unit’s Warscroll, and denoted with Keywords: Champion, Banner, and Musician. Champions give you an additional attack for their weapons (both shooting and melee if they have both), Musicians allow an additional rally roll when using the Rally Command, and Standard Bearers add 1 to a unit’s total Objective Control Score. That’s just a simple +1 so a unit of 20 Gtiz Stabbas with a Banner will count as 21 models instead of the usual 20. 

Battle Tactics

The Advanced Rules have six battle tactics. As we’ve seen on Warcom the General’s Handbook has additional battle tactics by grand alliance (Order/Death/Chaos/Destruction) and they are not included in the advanced rules. Battle Tactics are now worth four points each and you cannot select a battle tactic if you went second in the previous battle round and chose to go first in the current battle round.

We’ll have more to say about the specific tactics when we discuss the General’s Handbook but they appear to be much difficult to achieve 5 in a game.

Putting This All Together

That’s a lot and can easily seem daunting if you’re new to wargaming or Age of Sigmar. There’s plenty of minutiae and niche situations we didn’t get into which players will discover as they play more of the edition but these are the biggest changes. As said, the game is still noticeably Age of Sigmar but there are enough differences that players will need to get used to the new game and naming conventions. We suspect that doing this will take most players three to four games to unlearn old habits and learn the new mechanics well enough to begin really working with them.

Once you do get the hang of those new rules and mechanics, there’s a lot to love here. The way abilities are written in the new edition makes things much more clear and helps speed up play, while universal weapon abilities make it really easy to read and understand what a unit is supposed to do with just a glance at their Battlescroll. The simplification of spell lore and the changes to prayers and manifestations make those feel substantially different, with counter play for each. And with Core Command Abilities and more points to work with, players can be more active in their opponents’ turns.

Hopefully we’ve given you a solid framework to work from when it comes to getting started with Skaventide and Fourth Edition, and you’re as excited as we are to play the new game. See you out there.

Have any questions or feedback? Drop us a note in the comments below or email us at Want articles like this linked in your inbox every Monday morning? Sign up for our newsletter. And don’t forget that you can support us on Patreon for backer rewards like early video content, Administratum access, an ad-free experience on our website and more.