Age of Sigmar Dallas Open Spearhead “Tournament” Results

Full disclosure – Fred and I are both members of the Georgia Warband gaming club where we frequently banter. We spoke for about 35 minutes about his experience technically getting first place in the first public Spearhead event. He and I both talk A LOT so the interview and answers have been edited for clarity. As he is a fast talker I attempted to type and transcribe as best I could, but some answers below may be paraphrased.

We had an opportunity to sit down with the first winner of an Age of Sigmar new edition event – Fred Schmidt. Along with three other participants Fred was undefeated at the Spearhead event in Dallas.

GH: Talk about your army – was it one you were familiar with from playing? Did it feel in line with the other armies you played against?

Fred: I played a little bit of gitz about half a year ago and knew about and play against them but not a gitz player. All of the models for the event came assembled and primed and included two units of 10 Stabbas, a Loonboss, a unit of 3 Rockgut Troggoths, and two units of five hoppers. With most of the profiles hitting on 4s was really good so the -1 to hit  was really good. The recursion in the box was really good. Each stabba unit could bring back D3 models with an enhancement and the loonboss can bring back D6 if the Stabbas are not in combat. All the Spearhead armies were constructed with a hammer, your chaff, a leader, and another piece. Gitz made sense – Stabbas were chaff and hoppers could hold objectives on the side. The moon was powerful and gave Stabbas more 3 more OC per unit and Troggs +1 to save. 

GH: Did you play on both sides of the board? How was the experience different vs other factions?

Fred: I got to play on both boards. The defender picked the board and then chooses if you have the vertical or horizontal deployment. Whenever I was able to pick I would look at my opponents army and when I matched up against what they could do. Against  nighthaunt I picked the more spread-out board because they wanted to push in and I could use the hoppers to get the objectives at the end. The twist cards were different and Ashy was based on denial and damage while Ghyran was gaining more points.

GH: How did pulling cards and the twist cards feel? –

Fred: Getting a new card with a power or ability every turn on the battle tactics cards makes the game mode. It didn’t feel like smaller warhammer and felt much more like a board game. Without the cards the game is going to flounder and just be trading stats and pieces. Twists were fun and it is a cute mechanic. The underdog felt really swingy but you wanted to control your scoring a little bit so you didn’t get hit by a big twist unless you could run your opponent off the board. There was one underdog where you could choose two objectives to get an extra point in your turn and if you’re underdog I’m going to put those in my territory and sit stabbas on them. 

It feels like Nexus Collapse where you want to maintain your score because you don’t want to get hit by a big underdog but the random nature of the cards might mean you also might not get the underdog you needed. Some of them turn off a ward and that is a waste of time.

GH: As you played more games were you able to start counting your “outs”? 

Fred: A little bit – I didn’t know the twist cards super well but I was always fishing for  reinforcements battle tactic card that would let me bring back D3 models from a destroyed unit. When I had that I could throw the hoppers into something or use them to pin things know I could bring them back 6″ away to do more things on turn. I would cycle through cards in the deck trying to get that card.

GH: How did your approach change as you played more games?

Fred: The first game was just having fun – from first to third to fourth I was keeping track of the underdog and then thinking about how quickly the game was going to swing based on who picked the twist. Making sure to control that twist and underdog was more important as the games went on. I was often Playing to tie or being 1 under my opponent and cycling through cards to have good cards for the end of the mission.  Maybe we got the rule wrong and cycling through the deck for the reinforcements card was really powerful.

Most times I put out the stabbas with Troggs behind them and you’re going to get stuck with +1 to save troggs and -1 to hit stabbas with extra control score under the moon. Sometimes to control the score and pace of the game I would move my Stabbas off a point to maintain the underdog.  

GH: Do you feel like the other Spearhead boxes had a similar trick to the reinforcement card that you were fishing for?

Fred: I don’t think that the other boxes had a combination as good as the -1 to hit and recursion from stabbas. I knew when I went into the mirror match that I had to put my hoppers into the stabbas to avoid the -1 to hit since they weren’t infantry units. The -1 is extremely powerful and 3 Kroxigors just stayed in combat with 10 stabbas for an entire game. Most of the armies hit naturally on 3s and 4s so making them hit on 4s and 5s was really powerful.

Moonclan Grot Stabbas Credit: Bair

GH: How did you think about the enhancements and did you pick different enhancements throughout the event?

Fred: I liked them but I’m a Johnnie type player and wanted to have more to pick from. I would have really like to be able to pick different units [note; at this part of the interview we had a talk for a few minutes about there being a large format fantasy game called Age of Sigmar that allows you to pick units and the point of Spearhead is that it’s easy to get into]. Teleport is a lot less useful because the size of the board and having to be 9″ out so I didn’t pick that. There was another trait that allowed you move the loonboss after fighting that I picked a lot. Choosing it before the game was cool and the recursion ability on the stabbas was too powerful to not pick.

GH: After playing would you play more Spearhead?

Fred: Sure, I like board games and we have a whole wall, but it didn’t feel like a substitute for what I like in Age of Sigmar. I’m worried that there won’t be people to play with and I’m not planning on getting more boxes because I own a lot of the stuff I want to play. It really felt like more of a board game that has Warhammer type rules but it isn’t the same as playing a full game.

I love a lot of games like Kings of War Armada, or Song of Fire and Ice, but where I live people mostly play Warhammer. 

GH: You have had a great run in third edition – winning the Kansas City Open in 2023, playing at the World Championships of Warhammer, and doing extremely well at multiple events. However, as news has come up about the new edition we’ve talked and you’ve been concerned by some of the changes. After playing spearhead have some of these concerns changed?

Fred: I was concerned – playing Spearhead was fun but it wasn’t what negated the concerns. Getting a chance to talk to people who have played the new edition that I respect and talking to them and hearing that they are positive has helped and I trust the design team.

Some of my favorite things are being taken out. I might be the only person ever but I loved weapon ranges and think it added a cool micro dynamic. I love the model to unit pile-in rules. I think that a lot of the issues that people have are specific to the faction books or GHBs or FAQs that came out and if you looked at third edition core rules and there was some jankiness but they are really good rules. One of the biggest things I like about Age of Sigmar is knowledge checks and how different the armies are. My favorite board game is Root and I love how every faction in that plays differently. In Age of Sigmar I like how Nurgle plays differently from Khorne and it becomes a knowledge and matchup check when you are playing.

GH: Anything you want to add?

Fred: I think there will be a lot people who won’t like change but the willingness to have a good time is going to the biggest thing in determining if you have fun. If there is something that is frustrating, you about the game the mechanics can change but there is always going to be something like that. There will always be strong and weak books and that is good because you don’t want a perfectly balanced game. You want to get rid of outliers, but everyone can’t be the best army and having low tiers are important.

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