Age of Sigmar Fourth Edition Explained – April 29th (Battle Tactics)

What We Learned – The Models:

Warlock Engineer

This is a rat standing on a pipe looking through a tube. If last week the Memorians made me think of surly teens who couldn’t get to a Slipknot concert, this week I have only one thing to say about the model:

“Oh Cedric, why would you think in a million years that would actually work. You look so ridiculous now.”

Credit: Games Workshop

For a faction of warpstone-addicted rats the Warlock Engineer seems very plain. My hope is that as we get more models Skaven don’t fall into the issue that several factions have, where the foot heroes look mostly the same. The way the gun is being held feels very much like a wizard staff and there isn’t enough “yesyes ratrat” energy coming off that model. Skaven are one of the best factions that can go “full Sigmar” and really embrace the weirdness of soulless fish-elves, dwarves flying in really heavy metal ships, and bug mutant elves, so I hope that some of the future models go for it.

What We Learned – Indexing

This was an extremely light week for index information. There were rules that accompanied the Warlock Engineer, including the ability to target Hero units by Warplock Jezzails wholly within 13″.

Secondly, and repeated again: All of the battleplans, battle tactics, and the 2024-2025 Season Rules will be included in the unnamed launch set.

What We Learned – The Rules

This was a hefty week for rules. First, it was shown that a version of “Look Out, Sir!” is going to be in place. Heroes that are not Monsters or War Machines who are within combat range of a friendly unit that is not a Hero will get the following: 1) Hit rolls from shooting attacks that target the Hero will be at -1 to hit and 2) If the Hero is Infantry, they cannot be picked as the target of shooting attacks made by units more than 12″ from them.

Without the core rules it’s impossible to make a final judgement, but over the past few years there has been an effort to distinguish between “big Heroes” and “little Heroes” with a further distinction within little Heroes between “riding something” and “not riding something.” This has caused a lot of confusion when using “mounted” since the core rules state that companions are considered mounts for rules purposes. An Akhelian King is a “little Hero riding something,” but people questioned if Lotann, with his Ochtar Familiar, was a “little Hero riding something” or a “little Hero not riding something.” Generally little heroes riding something are pretty good in combat and want to be in the fight while little heroes not riding something are wimps. Third edition has suffered from the strictness of the one drop deployment needing up to one big Hero and up to two little Heroes, which didn’t feel evenly distributed between factions. One of the benefits of indexing is that being forced to go over every warscroll should mean that we can put heroes into the right spots so that rules like Guarded Hero don’t impact little heroes holding a pet.

Next, the Generals Handbook (“GHB”) and battleplans were discussed. First Blood is this edition’s version of “Contest of Generals.” Three battleplans, four rounds, and limited utility after the first game or two since everyone is going to be playing Matched Play anyway. Based on the way these battleplans are being shown it’s clear that EVERYTHING is being done in a formulaic manner. Every battleplan has a twist (bold coming from GW directly) that is clearly labeled.

For the first GHB, each mission round will have a possible ten points with a maximum scoring of 50. There have been a lot of different scoring systems that have popped up over the years based on the fact that several missions give lots of points (like Geometric Pulse), while others (like Nexus Collapse) have a much lower scoring potential. Winning by two points on Nexus Collapse is much more significant than winning by two on Geometric Pulse.

The mission set will be pulled from a “best of” from prior editions GHBs and will feature beloved missions like The Vice and Jaws of Gallet. GW is being upfront that the plans are recycled instead of giving a slightly different name to a similar battleplan. I think this is a really good thing as often times a battleplan gets given a nickname that doesn’t make sense to new players. No matter what you call the plan where the objectives go towards the center, we’re calling it The Vice.

Credit: Games Workshop

Additionally, we got a sneak peak at terrain – there appear to be keywords connected to specific terrain like Cover, Unstable, Obscuring, Place of Power and sizes with a general setup on the map. Throughout third edition TOs have basically rewritten the terrain rules and the standard package of two garrisons, two wyldwoods, two impassible, two other is a result of the third edition rules being insufficient for the task. The suggested terrain map looks EXTREMELY familiar to anyone who has played in an event and I think it is a good idea to just accept what players have been doing.

Credit: Games Workshop

One mission component from all of the battleplans was the deployment ranges. It’s likely that this is something covered in the core rules and won’t shift between maps unless there is a “twist” changing the deployment.

We also saw a brief view of the season rules, an honour guard ability that reduces melee weapons attacks characteristics by one. Warcom articles, being marketing material first and foremost, leave out the most interesting parts of the wording. Currently, the vast majority of abilities that reduce attacks characteristics specify that they cannot be reduced below one. In third edition we have a few rules (such as modifiers to hits and wounds) that cannot be modified more than +1/-1 after all modifiers are applied.

One of the most debated parts of third edition, battle tactics, were discussed and have undergone some significant changes. First, there are six “Universal” battle tactics that are used in First Blood (a four-round game) and the GHB. This should ease in a newer player moving from the First Blood starter missions to the real meat of competitive play in the GHB. Additionally, based on what has been said about modular rules, there is nothing that would stop a new GHB from ripping out these six tactics and replacing them with something else in the future. We saw three of the six tactics:

  • Seize The Centre – You complete this battle tactic at the end of your turn if two or more friendly units are within 3″ of the centre of the battlefield and are not in combat.
  • Take The Flanks You complete this battle tactic at the end of your turn if you have at least 1 friendly unit within 6″ of each short battlefield edge, none of those units are wholly within friendly territory, and none of those units were set up this turn.
  • Slay The Entourage – Pick a unit in the enemy general’s regiment. You complete this battle tactic if that unit is destroyed this turn.

We have come a long long way from “Ferocious Advance” (AKA “hold hands and run”) in difficulty level. If these tactics are representative of the remaining three tactics there is going to be significant planning involved both in deployment and after the first turn. All of these tactics have multiple points of failure or require cooperation from your opponent. It’s pretty clear that multiple screening units aren’t going to be included in your general’s regiment without a GREAT reason. Additionally, the countercharge command ability makes “Seize The Centre” and extremely difficult tactic to guarantee you can accomplish. Unlike the current edition, you’re not going to be bailed out by book battle tactics yet as each Grand Alliance is going to receive two additional tactics. One for each alliance was previewed below and none of the appear to be a “gimme.”

Credit: Games Workshop

What’s so interesting about the above two tactics is the amount of counterplay you can have against them. Any ability that allows you to damage your own unit is going to be used to potentially invalidate the entire death battle tactic. With only seven potential battle tactics, harming your own units like Skaven could become very much in fashion for everyone this season. Additionally, the destruction battle requires you to successfully charge with three units and fight while paying attention to positioning on the battlefield.

Credit: Games Workshop

Order and Chaos don’t fare much better, with each requiring some help from an opponent. Ordained Charge requires an opponent to control an objective, contest that objective, and control it. I’m already imaging Chaos players flipping through indexes looking for units that can retreat instead of fight so they can maximize the bodies on a point. Reclaim the Realms is another tactic that could be easily impacted by countercharge or redeploy of an opponent.

What We Learned – The Lore

Not a ton was revealed this week, but four books were suggested as “lore explainers” for each grand alliance. After consulting with the greyest of greybeards on lore we can offer no opinion on these books. Dawnbringers VI is still out there floating around; I’d expect some discussion on how we get from where we are (parts unknown) to where we’re going to be (Ratapalooza on the Great Parch).

What Needs to be Done

Honestly, if you’ve been reading these articles you know that I keep saying “don’t panic, wait for more rules,” but I decided to switch it up this week. I spent some time at home playing with myself and trying out the battle tactics, smaller objectives, and new unit coherency and the game has changed based on what we know. If you’ve done the same, and the only flavor the new rules give you is salt, it’s time to panic, and abandon any future plans to play Age of Sigmar especially if you have the following models and armies:

  • Ironjawz (very interested in big pigs and brutes)
  • Kruleboyz (boltboyz or hobgrots need not apply)
  • Cities of Sigmar
  • Ogors
  • Gargants

If your models are unpainted, it’s no hope for you friend, go ahead and keep them that way. However, if they’re painted and based use the contact below and Goonhammer will take them off your hands and relieve you of the pain of having to worry about Sigmar in the future. While we won’t find homes for every model, I personally guarantee the factions above will be safely taken off the streets.

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