Age of Sigmar Fourth Edition Explained – May 6th

What We Learned – The Models

What a nice model, and another replacement for a model that was stricken as part of the retirements. Trading a flight stand for a not flight stand is always good in my book and the upsweep of the wings appears to more forgiving for those who actually push models around the table. Thunderstrike Armor seems to be the only choice for new Stormcast Eternals and those that preferred the proportions of the third edition Stormcast models have a lot to look forward to. Even with all the changes that have been shown these still look close enough that if you have older Prosecutors, you will still be able to use them on the table without issue.

Credit: Games WorkshopThese models look like an incredible way to add a pop of color to an otherwise coherent order army. Additionally, these models can be built with the open helm faces or the more traditional closed helmet style. It’s likely that these models, specific to the starter box, well be pretty easy to paint but still reward the more advanced hobbyist. Prosecutors might not be losing the hammers they have traditionally had as there is a long tradition of the first available models being push-fit with a later box released with more customized options (think Annihilators in the last edition).

We also learned that there will be a Spearhead box – it sounds like we are looking at two releases at launch, the to be named Dominion style box and a Spearhead box.

What We Learned – Indexing

This was a pretty light week for new rules related to what we expect see in the indexes.

Stormcast Eternals

First, Ruination Chamber units can, once per term army-wide, make a resistance roll when targeted by a non-core ability; on a 4+ that ability has no effect on this unit.

This is going to be an interesting ability to monitor as we don’t know exactly how auras, ranges, and passive debuffs will impact enemy units. Presumably a big part of the “Declare” and “Effect” wording on abilities will be making it known who exactly is being affected for abilities like these.

Second, Prosecutors get extra dice when making a charge roll for the unit, to a maximum of three. Impacting the number of dice in the charge was something that was greatly expanded during third edition, especially when you consider the impact of Kragons. “To a maximum of 3” might be the type of wording you see on a lot of abilities that increase charge range through additional dice. At Goonhammer we hope that the core allows the science of applied physical brutality in the Mortal Realms to allow four or even more dice to be rolled.

What We Learned- The Rules

Spearhead will be discussed tomorrow as it is going to be its own game with specific rules, strategies, and warscrolls. Another format, Path to Glory, was discussed and this is as good a place as any to talk about it.

First, we have heard you make requests to look at and discuss Path to Glory rules in Age of Sigmar. In about six years I’ll be three years away from turning in my review of the third edition Path to Glory rules at the current rate that I’m painting my Sylvaneth models. Second, the Dawnbringers series of Path to Glory content is extremely disappointing as the requirement to use a Cities of Sigmar army is quite the choice. A better world would have seen a path to build a new city while opposing the forces of Hell bent on preventing it from coming to pass.

First, the new edition of Path to Glory will focus on a specific Warlord and their retinue. This fits in better narrative nature of the games and hopefully will allow one to add battle honors from real things that happen in battle. I’ve often taken a mini that has overperformed at an event and put some extra paint and attention on it as a reward (My stab-grot who tanked 2 wounds without dying is a hero).

Advancement of your units will occur after fighting battles along a paths and receive ranks. Each rank will let you select an ability until you’ve received the final legendary ability. We saw two paths below, one for Heroes and the other for troops with a promise that more paths will follow. When you combined with new warscrolls that encourage specific rolls for units the possibility of planning out how your force will grow and either push your strengths or react to the local meta by shoring up weaknesses. As shown below, some of these abilities will be extremely powerful.

Credit: Games Workshop

There will be six narrative battleplans at launch with some returning favorites and new scenarios. One of the benefits of narrative play is the you can write and balance against an unfavorable scenario instead of having a matched play. With the addition of terrain with wounds characteristics I hope they take some of the best parts of the Dawnbringers V narrative campaign. The Underdog will benefit from boons and may be able to inflect banes on enemy units. Based on a random roll, you can add to a units control, inflict mortal damage to a unit, or pick an enemy unit to give Strike-Last too. As new books are released, each will include Path to Glory rules. These books will include the Anvil of Apotheosis – so whatever army gets the FEC spot this edition is going to be very sad.

As somebody who has bounced off of third edition’s version of Path to Glory several times, I like that the focus and growth is on the units themselves and not a more esoteric resource like territories. There is no wrong way to play Warhammer, and after the first few sets of books there isn’t anything that says you can’t create your own paths for your beloved faction. The real tests of this mode are going to be how many models you need to have painted to start, if the battles scale correctly, and if you can start a Path to Glory with the contents of a Spearhead box. Allowing a single box to provide double duty isn’t going to get that many new people to try the hobby, but it will get people to start new armies.

What We Learned – Spearhead

Marchettus: Thanks for Triphos for taking the aux on this part. This gave me some time to continuing painting up my Cities of Sigmar Spearhead.

Matt “Triphos” Jett: This week we have two articles diving into the new Spearhead mode that’s coming in fourth edition. The intent of the new mode is to be a faster, simpler way to play Age of Sigmar that both stands on its own merits and also eases new players into the full matched play experience. To that end, games take place on a 30” x 22” board, which works out to one-fourth of a normal battlefield. The launch box includes a double-sided board that has printed objectives on it, which implies to me that objectives will be somewhat fixed in Spearhead, but we didn’t get confirmation of that either way.

Spearhead will use armies made out of the existing Vanguard boxes, plus the Mancrusher Mob box if you’d like to play Gargants, and the new edition’s launch box, which will have a Spearhead force for each faction in it. It sounds like Stormcast will have two options for Spearhead play:

  • The current Spearhead box with Yndrasta and friends, and
  • Whatever section of the launch box is used.

The Skaven Vanguard box isn’t being sold (and leads to a 404 error at the GW webstore) and has clanrats, models that have already been scheduled for replacement. 

The core book in the launch box will have all of the rules for Spearhead in it, including the battlepack and the rules for every faction in the game. The rules will also be available online after launch, so if you’ve already got a Spearhead box you’ll be able to play without having to buy any extra stuff. It’s unclear at this point if the cards will be online as well, but it probably won’t be hard to find a solution for that.

The major news comes in two areas: the way the Spearheads are being balanced against each other, and the custom battle tactics and commands players will be using in place of the versions in their advanced rules modules. . 

The first way the Spearheads are going to be balanced against each other is through the use of custom warscrolls that are only valid in this mode of play. They’re simplified from the core game version, with some abilities being removed entirely and others, like spellcasting, being changed from the flexible system you’ll find normally to a single skill. The Magister on Disc of Tzeentch, for example, takes the Bolt of Change spell that you find in their full spell lore and makes it a simple ability where you try to roll a 6+ on 2d6 to attack a unit and potentially heal your own Tzaangor unit.

Notably, while this is a simplification from the full spellcasting rules, the actual ability itself isn’t dumbed down or simplified. The ability keeps the full timing/declare/effect formatting from the advanced rules and the effect itself is relatively complex for a “beginner game”, which is great for both teaching new players and keeping the game mode fresh over time. New players won’t have to relearn how to play the game from scratch, they’ll just have to deal with having more options.

The other major way Spearhead forces are being balanced against each other is in the deployment (and redeployment) rules. Powerful units, like Yndrasta and her Annihilators, are deployed later in the game instead of being on the battlefield from turn one. In the case of Yndastra’s unit, they come down on turn three, which means they’ll be missing for a full half of the game, keeping them from destroying any less powerful units before they get a chance to do something cool.

Those less-powerful units get some help in the form of the Reinforcements rule, which lets you take a fully-destroyed unit that has the Reinforcements keyword and redeploy it back to the battlefield at full strength. You can only do this once per game for each reinforcement unit, so they don’t have infinite lives, but you can worry less about a turn one or two mistake costing you a unit for the whole rest of the game. The example given for a unit with the Reinforcements unit was Skaven Clanrats:

Units with the keyword have the refresh symbol on the top right of the card to make it harder to forget they have the ability. As an aside, for people looking for matched play news: the only way Clanrats are changing for matched play is that they lose the Reinforcements keyword and gain a command group and auto-wounds on a critical hit.

We learned how Battle Tactics and Command Abilities are going to work in Spearhead, and it turns out they’re closely intertwined. Each player will have a deck of 12 cards that serve as both battle tactics and command abilities. Some of these command abilities are the similar to what we’ve already seen while others won’t make it until the main game. You have to choose one: if you use the command ability you cannot then score the battle tactic and vice versa. The scoring is simplified in Spearhead (one point for holding an objective, one point for holding two objectives, one point for holding more objectives than your opponent, and one point for scoring a battle tactic), so the cost of sacrificing a battle tactic to use an ability is a lot lower than it is in matched play. 

You start the game with a hand of three cards, and each card is discarded when either option on it is used. At the start of each turn, you can discard any of the cards left in your hand if you don’t want them and then you draw back up to three, with some caveats. The double turn is alive and well in Spearhead, and if you take it you can’t draw new cards unless you’re significantly behind.

Finally, we learned about the other decks of cards in the launch box: decks of six “twist” cards that are specifically themed to the Ghyran and Aqshy sides of the included board. There’s no real reason you couldn’t mix and match, but they’re presented as a thematic whole. At the start of each round, a card is drawn from the twist deck and the effects are resolved. They all provide a benefit for the underdog player (the underdog is whoever is behind on VP at the beginning of the round), and some of them also have universal effects that apply to both players.

Credit – Games Workshop

What Needs To Be Done

One thing I don’t advocate for lightly is buying stuff. With an expected few months until the release of the new edition it might be time to start grabbing faction terrain and endless spells if you don’t have them. With manifestations being free and terrain being confirmed to still be in the game these appear to be essential parts of the game. If you’re looking to start the game, or get others to join, it’s time to count up the spearheads you have built and painted. Painting up four or five units prior to the new edition is much easier task than working to a 2000 point army when we don’t have any idea of what the points are going to be.

As somebody who paints primarily for events I’ve noticed that I have several half finished projects that were part of potential lists that just didn’t make it to the big show. These half-finished projects are some low hanging fruit until we get more information on the game, rules, and what the release schedule will be. Additionally, we’re going to finish one of our half-finished projects and have a proper fourth edition page this week.*

As we speculated earlier it seems like May 16th in Dallas is going to be the “full reveal” so get ready for a Thursday night release in the U.S. that will have a strong AoS focus.

*This is given it the spirit of Warcom articles promising to discuss things in the future

Thanks for reading! If you have any questions or comments feel free to drop us a note in the Comments below or email us at That’s also the best way to suggest topics for future articles. And if you want regular updates in your inbox, subscribe to our newsletter.