Age of Sigmar New Edition (4th) Explained

Age of Sigmar fourth edition has been announced. We are excited about what has been announced and want to keep you updated. Look for regular columns discussing the new edition.

Officially we have received a small teaser trailer saying “Sigmar Lied” and a longer cinematic trailer similar to what has been produced for Kill Team, Warhammer 40K, The Horus Heresy, and The Old World. Finally, we have the Warhammer Community article and the Adepticon preview to work off of. As of right now the information we have for Age of Sigmar fourth edition is more limited compared to what we had for tenth edition 40k this time last year. Adepticon reveals for tenth edition included a preview of the models, data sheets, and specified how you would construct a list in very simple terms.

As we will detail below we haven’t seen any of the models for AOS fourth , nor have we seen rules for list construction or narrative play.

Release Timing

Summer 2024. Additionally, during the Adepticon promotional materials it was said that Spearhead (see below) will be ready to play out of the box.

Given that the announcement of fourth edition was made at the same time relative to tenth edition 40k and there wasn’t a delay of third edition Age of Sigmar or ninth edition 40k, even during the height of shipping delays caused by Covid-19, it’s just about guaranteed this will be coming in or around July 2024.

Additionally, if you really really want to play it early, Games Workshop is offering hands-on demo games in Dallas and Nottingham May 19th.

What We Know – Indexing

You have permission to throw out your old books when the new edition drops. Unlike third and second editions this update will come with “its entire set of warscrolls and army rules updated and reworked.” To wit:

  • Each faction will receive a downloadable faction pack at launch (emphasis mine) with battle traits, subfactions, enhancements, spell lores, and warscrolls for every unit.
  • Updated rules for Armies of Renown and Regiments of Renown including the Dawnbringers series updated for the new edition.
  • Every faction will receive a battletome over the next few years. While you would think this is a no-brainer, third edition was the first where every faction received an updated battletome. Several factions used a first edition book for the entirety of Age of Sigmar second edition.
  • Point values won’t be printed in faction packs, keeping them entirely separate makes them easier to update and adjust as the edition goes on.

What We Don’t Know:

  • How factions will be structured and what warscrolls are making the jump to fourth.
  • The order of release books (Count on Skaven and Stormcast being the first if history is any guide).
  • What a warscroll will look like.
  • How armies are constructed.

Many of the Goonhammer Age of Sigmar crew shared thoughts on indexing here.

What We Know – Models

Black man with white beard in golden armour leading other armoured soldiers into battle across a stone ruin.
Bastian Carthallos leading the Stormcast Eternals into battle. Credit: PrinceofBielTan

Literally nothing is released at this time. However, multiple rewatches of every launch trailer has shown that Games Workshop has prominently featured and incorporated design art into the new models. Expect to see some rats on a gun, big Stormcast that go even where other Stormcast fear to tread, and a host of new models both inside the initial release box and later on. Both the Stormcast and Skaven range have a lot of models and not all of them have a distinct role on the table.

What We Know – Lore

Earlier in the Adepticon reveals they talked about the final Dawnbringers book and how it will conclude the twin-tailed crusade with two cities being found. Those sweet rats have burst forth in Aqshy, a realm that has featured prominently in the first dawnbringers books. To catch up on the Dawnbringers check out our lore discussions of the first five books:

Most importantly, the Great Horned Rat is completely and totally accepted as a fifth Chaos God. I know there are some real sickos painting little rats who can’t WAIT to learn more about this glow-up but is the agenda going to be anything except pro-rat? I’m far more interested in what Nurgle has to say about things. Or maybe a little team up where Khorne learns the joys of billions upon billions of tiny little skulls as a replacement for the bronze and shiplap wall paneling that is just everywhere the Dawnbringers have gone.

Stormcast have opened the Ruination chamber to bring forth the most veteran fighters that have died over and over and over again. Pontifex Zenestra might say that Ruination chamber Stormcast are only war heroes because they fell in battle, that she likes Stormcast that win battles. It’s been mentioned multiple times that the new edition will explore what happens to Stormcast as they lose pieces of their humanity.

What We Know – Rules

The Adepticon preview mentioned that the game will be streamlined and easier

  • “More reactive commands” (also mentioned in the warcom article) without an example or explanation of what this means. So far we know that you can cast spells and charge in your opponents turn.
  • An “underdog” benefit. This TBD mechanic is supposed to lead to “nail-biting finishes”, an unhygienic phrase we will be hearing often over the next few months.
  • Weapon ranges have gone away and everything runs off 3″ range including how characters interact with other units and how benefits can be applied. However, with a ground-up rewrite of the rules an objective could be anything.
  • Abilities occur in a phase with rules that are color-coded for what phase you’re using your abilities in.  Hopefully this will be expanded on and is made with accessibility in mind.
  • Universal Special Rules – a limited set with certain keywords, like musician or banner bearer, having the same rule for multiple armies.
  • Warscrolls fit on one card. We have not seen a warscroll card yet.
  • Stats and characteristics – More consistent now based on how models look.
  • An identity for different races and units through the characteristics.
  • “More modular rules.” Whatever this means it has been mentioned twice and explained zero times.
  • “More impactful battlefield terrain.” I can’t imagine something being more impactful than forgetting to make a deadly roll.
  • Battle Formations are something that will exist.
  • “Streamlined army list building.”
  • Tactics and battle plans from the Generals Handbook will be included in the launch box. However, the last few Generals Handbooks have had significant rules that don’t appear anywhere outside of the physical book. In my opinion the Age of Sigmar GHBs with the spiral flip design are a successful product that is easy to remember and fit in with my models.

The above list is EXTREMELY incomplete and lacks any sort of context. Without context a lot of these changes can seem scary and we don’t know what the entire package is. It is easy for GW to say that they’ve focused on streamlining, accessibility, and modularity and have retained the depth but we haven’t see any examples. What does it mean to have “more reactive commands” in a game where every movement could potentially trigger a reaction? Having consistency in language through Universal Special Rules is great, until you’re flipping through a book with 50 different rules. It is easy to say that you are making more consistent changes based on how models look and doing this during an index should allow us to start with some constancy.

What We Know – Spearhead

Spearhead is going to be a new way to play Age of Sigmar. Much like how Combat Patrol was discussed as a being perfect for beginners and “hobby butterflies,” Spearhead is talked about as having unique tactical rules and a great way to introduce the game to beginners. During the Adepticon revel it was noted that:

  • “Everything you need comes in the launch box.” What is the launch box? Is it the equivalent of Dominion, or a starter box that will available throughout the edition? Is Spearhead something that is “in addition” to the fourth edition launch or something that “comes with” items you were getting already?
  • To play Spearhead you will need models, a board, terrain, cards, and rules. Rules include making a choice of command traits and artifacts indicating that even if the models are the same a spearhead could represent multiple playstyles. Additionally, it was revealed that Aqshy and Ghyran would be available.
  • There are brand new mechanics with cards for tactics and commands. We don’t have any information yet but I was interested to hear about commands appearing in a deck.
  • Each faction’s Vanguard and Spearhead boxes will be used – meaning you may have several Spearhead armies painted and ready to go.

There are many factions that I’ve looked at, enjoyed the rules, and would like to play but don’t have the time to commit to a full army. The current recommendation is, as always, to paint your models before buying new ones. However, the prospect of painting 12-30 models and getting a complete game experience is extremely tempting.

They also provided some color on how the boxes are are balanced against the others – using Yynastra coming down halfway through the game to balance an elite Stormcast faction. Spearhead becomes a little more interesting if there are specific and new rules for balancing the game mode based on fixed force instead of “play with what is in these boxes” mode.

A Note on Change

The last thing I want to do as an Age of Sigmar writer is continually draw parallels between 40K and Age of Sigmar. I love Age of Sigmar but mirroring the release timeline of tenth edition at Adepticon makes it hard to not look back and see what is different and the same. One of the interesting things about tenth edition is that some of the rules were foreshadowed in the later ninth edition releases with Boarding Patrol having overlap between how the core rules and detachments worked. I’ve also been told by some tenth edition writers that the World Eaters ninth edition codex foreshadowed how 10th edition codices are set up.

On a completely different and unrelated note, Goonhammer has been looking at Dawnbringers books in great detail. Who knows what you can find there?

We also haven’t heard if there will be a new required app to go along with the new edition. It would be nice to use the current app that has been generally well received by the community with some odd choices in how expansion warscrolls are shown.

What Should I Do If I’m Interested in Playing Age of Sigmar?

If you already have Age of Sigmar models take a look at them. Are the various pieces on one or two rectangular squares with little numbers all over them? You have to build them using some clippers and glue before moving to the next step. Are the models all grey without any variation of color, perhaps with a black plastic base glued on them? Prime them up as the weather is getting nicer in the northern hemisphere and worse in the southern hemisphere. Okay, maybe they’ve got some sort of primer on them already but nothing looks distinct, in fact, they don’t look battle ready at all. It pains me to say this, but you must paint them. If you actually have painted and based models (or even those that are still grey) you need to find or make up a friend and start playing the game itself. There are only about four months of this edition of Age of Sigmar left and we’re on the clock with just about 40 months until the edition after that so make the best use of your time and roll some dice. If you looked at your models and they’re in a cardboard box wrapped in plastic may lord have mercy you need to get cracking.

If you don’t have any Age of Sigmar models right now you don’t NEED to do anything. I say again, and with emphasis: You don’t need to do anything right now. However, in a world of hustle and stress and constant stimulation, some of us have forgotten how to listen to our own heart’s desire. A long time ago, I would buy minis for a game that I thought I wanted to play, and imagine how a lasgun or melta would roll so well. I’d look over and see a fantastic world of turtle-riding elves and steampunk dwarves having so much fun frolicking in the Mortal Realms without a care in the world. But I never had that joy sparked by edge highlighting, and my robot/cyborg army had a lot of fiddly trim to paint. Some days I would work up the courage to take a few steps over, closer, and feel the cardboard on my hands as I turned over the boxes of dryads that spoke to me in a way that the nearly lifeless dreadnaughts never did. Weeks of longing turned to months then turned to years, and it took the entire world shutting down for me to finally muster up the courage and follow my heart in buying a Gloomspite Gitz start collecting. My goofy trolls, my beloved squigs, my poorly painted stabbas still fill me with the joy I felt driving home from my one trip outside my house in early 2020. Now, they sit painted and ready to play. If your heart has been filled with longing that only a specific set of models can satisfy, it’s okay; you can get yourself a vanguard box and if, and only if, you paint it up real nice before the start of the next edition, you’ll know it was meant to be.

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