Age of Sigmar: Fourth Edition Explained, April 15th Update

Another week; another set of teases about 4th edition Age of Sigmar.

What We Learned – The Models:

As far as antagonists for Stormcast go, the time of the Kruleboy is over, and the time of the Rat has begun.

Credit – Games Workshop

We got our first look at the followers of the Great Horned Rat that will be included in the to-be-announced launch box for fourth edition. They are definitely a modern kit with a host of textures like fur, skin, cloth, leather, wood, teeth, and metal to paint, but don’t appear to have too much detail. Considering you’re likely gonna have A LOT of clanrats if you decide to chew through the mortal realms, one of the best things about this kit is that they will fit in well with your current clanrats for those who have been collecting Skaven for a long time. The current kit, like many of the troop options such as stabbas, ogors, dwarven hammers, and various demons, isn’t horrible and experienced Skaven players shouldn’t feel the need to replace every single clanrat they’ve painted over the years.

Credit- Games Workshop

With the new Liberators shown last week we’ve gotten the most basic of troops out of the way and hopefully we can start to see some more models that will be available at launch. Additionally, there should be a good number of kits for Skaven and Stormcast that aren’t included in the launch box that should have some models that aren’t retreads.

What We Learned – Indexing:

Allegiance Abilities are now Battle Traits – and it appears like we received three, or possibly four, for the Stormcast Eternals who will have four Battle Traits when the new edition starts. Traits we were shown include:

  • Their Finest Hour – Once per turn, in your hero phase. Declare: Pick a friendly Stormcast Eternals unit that has not used this ability this battle to use this ability. Effect: For the rest of the turn, add 1 to wound rolls for that unit’s combat attacks and add 1 to save rolls for that unit.
    • This rule makes me want to know what a combat attack is. While I think I have a pretty good idea I wonder how narrowly they are defined.
  • Heavens-Sent – Once per battle, in your movement phase. Declare: Pick a friendly non-unique Stormcast Eternals Infantry or Cavalry unit that started the battle with two or more models and that has been destroyed to be the target. Effect: Set up a replacement unit with half the number of models from the target unit (rounding up) more than 9″ from all enemy units.
    • Two things pop out – first, this ability costs a command point and is a once per battle ability. Second, it will be possible to declare with units that are not just off the battlefield, but have been destroyed.
  • The Celestial Realm – In your deployment phase. Declare: If there are more friendly Stormcast Eternals units on the battlefield than there are set up in reserve, pick a friendly Stormcast Eternals unit that has not been deployed. Effect: Set up that unit in reserve in the Celestial Realm. It has now been deployed.
    • First, the Deployment Phase is a new part of the game that we could assume existed. However, it is good to see that even abilities that happen outside the turn phases are grounded in the rules somewhere.
  • Scions of the Storm – In your movement phase. Declare: Pick a friendly Stormcast Eternals unit that is in the Celestial Realm. Effect: Set up that unit anywhere on the battlefield more than 9″ from all enemy units.
    • In reading the Warcom article it is unclear if Scions of the Storm is a Battle Trait, or just paired with The Celestial Realm. If it is, that means there is room for an additional Battle Trait for the Stormcast Eternals. Given the slow roll-out of rules I’d expect this to be the case so there will be an additional Allegiance Ability for Stormcast in the future.

We also learned that each Faction Pack will have four Battle Formations – the new name for subfactions. One Battle Formation shown is the Thunderhead Host where multiple chambers are taken together. The second was the Lighting Echelon, a Battle Formation with Stormdrake Guard, Dracothian Guards, and other Extremis warriors. We saw one ability from each:

  • Thunderhead Host – Passive. Effect: Add 1 to hit rolls for combat attacks made by friendly Warrior Chamber units while they are wholly within 12″ of any friendly non-Hero Stormcast Eternals units that do not have the Warrior Chamber keyword.
    • This feels like “All out attack” with a lot more steps. If bonuses to hit are dearer in the new edition this could be really good.
  • Oncoming Storm  Once per turn (army), Any Combat Phase. Declare: Pick a friendly Extremis Chamber unit that charged this turn. Effect: Roll a dice. On a 3+, that unit has Strike-First for the rest of the turn.
    • What is going to be fun, depending on what side of the dragon you’re on, is that now every army has the ability to charge in your opponents phase.

Stormcast weren’t the only faction to get a hint about what is next. Relentless Disciple will no longer provide additional command points for the Ossiarch Bonereapers who will get new mechanics.

What We Learned – The Rules:

Command abilities were the big features this week. First, buried a little in the command abilities is the promise that priests are included both in the rules and in the core rules. In third edition, priests and invocations often were forgotten about (please faction lock Fyreslayers invocations summoning to Fyreslayer priests).

The designers have said that you can can’t get additional command points from a warscroll or faction ability. The only way to exceed the four per round is through having fewer auxiliary units in your army compared to your opponent. This week we learned a second, the underdog mechanic, where the player with fewer victory points at the start of the round gets an additional command point.

Here are some high level thoughts on Command Abilities :

  • Restrictions on who can issue commands are gone. Some armies won’t care about this one bit as they were overflowing with leaders. Ogor players who failed a charge with Stonehorn Beastriders will rejoice.
  • Most abilities are going to be familiar with players of third edition. All-out attack, All-out defence, At the Double, Redeploy, and Forward to Victory appear pretty much as they were. With a full rewrite of the rules, and not having a copy of the Core Rules to review, there isn’t much to be said about them.
  • Rally has been reworked completely and can be used on individual hero units. As shown below, this ability is now more consistent and should heal a couple of damage when used. Gone are the days of hoping to highroll a 6 and bring back a Dankhold Troggoth or Dragon.
  • Unleash Hell is now replaced with Covering Fire. Now, instead of being reliant on a charge to shoot, you’re able to fire at the closet visible enemy unit with a unit that is not in combat. This is the an interesting change that is going to have a major impact on how units are positioned. Combined with a new general command below this is going to change how the units are positioned to disrupt plans. Now, if you have shooting, you are positioning for a screen or other unit to absorb the impact of the charge but be close enough to execute unleash hell. Now, the player who has an active turn needs to position the movement phase to protect key units from a shooting attack. To get a full view of how Covering Fire operates we’re – say if with me – going to need to review the core rules.
  • Counter-Charge is another ability that seems intuitive and is a two cost command ability. While this is technically a new ability the concept has been around, and increasingly used, by armies like Cities of Sigmar and OBR. Using half of your command points for a battle round is a big investment.

Credit- Games Workshop

  • Magical Intervention is an EXTREMELY exciting ability that allows you to use a spell or prayer ability with a -1 to cast. There are several buffs that certain armies love to use (Protection of Teclis) or even a teleport spell to remove a unit from danger or reposition to prevent a deepstrike on your opponents turn.
  • Power Through – Okay, this is a completely new ability that has some restrictions (seen below) that gives a huge ability at the end of any turn. The D3 mortals are fine, but getting additional “out of phase” movement is going to significantly change how points are contested. Most armies have at least one or two units with a large health and movement characteristic.

      Credit- Games Workshop

We also saw a warscroll that included the rules for the Stormstrike Chariot – a few notes on it:

  • In third edition we typically rolled a dice to see if mortal wounds were caused and then rolled a D3 to see how many wounds were caused. In the Azyr Unleashed ability you roll a single D3 dice and on a 2+ inflict an amount of mortal wounds equal to the roll. This works out to the same expected value (1.666667) in mortal wounds caused and reduces the number of dice rolled, dropped, and cocked during the game.
  • We’re starting to see some more of the Universal Special Rules on weapons with the addition of Anti-Infantry (+1 Rend), Crit (2 Hits) on the Great Stormbow, and Charge (+1 Damage) on the Stormstrike Axe. I know I typically say “wait for the core rules” but I’m willing to bet the Great Stormbow gets additional against infantry units.

What We Learned – Lore:

Nothing learned, nothing lost.

What Actions Need To Be Taken?

No actions beyond the painting of your unfinished models. If you really were an eager beaver you could start painting up fun looking objective models on a 40mm base.

Knowing that there will be four Battle Formations should ease some of the worry that our index edition won’t have optionality.

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