Cities of Sigmar Launch Box: The Goonhammer Review

Huge thanks to Games Workshop for providing our team with copies of the Cities of Sigmar launch box for review.

Despite being part of the background for years, the common folk of the Age of Sigmar setting have largely come off as an afterthought. With a model range consisting of leftovers from the World-That-Was and the occasional hero model in a board game, the best representation for regular dudes in the setting was, funnily enough, the barbarian hordes of Chaos. This is no longer the case, as the citizen soldiery of the Cities of Sigmar have taken to the field – poor bloody infantry (and somewhat less poor but equally bloody cavalry) who are absolutely outclassed by the gods and monsters of the Mortal Realms. These common humans face those threats with nothing but a little gunpowder, a strong sword arm, and the belief that they fight for the god-king Sigmar.

What’s in the Box?

As the launch box for the Cities of Sigmar, it has a smattering of new models that exemplify the faction. Leading the force is a Freeguild Marshal and Relic Envoy, a dependable budget Hero with his little guy. Supporting is an Alchemite Warforger, a buff wizard in every sense of the word. Forming the core of the force are two ten-strong units of Freeguild Steelhelms, the rank and file sword and board troops who will be holding the line. Lastly are a unit of five Freeguild Cavaliers, brutal mounted knights meant to shatter the enemy line. Also included are a special edition Battletome with rules for the faction, a sheet of cardboard tokens representing Orders, Command Points, and so on, a deck of handy Warscroll cards, and four(!) transfer sheets with the heraldry of the Cities.

The Units

Freeguild Marshal and Relic Envoy

Greywater Fastness Freeguild Marshal and Relic Envoy. Credit: SRM

SRM: I started with this pair as they contain most of the textures you’ll find across the army – platemail, bare skin, wood, and cloth. Building them both were a breeze, although I had a slight gap in the shoulder of the Marshal’s cloak that required some green stuff to smooth over. It was easy enough to leave his shield arm off to paint separately and attach later. I wish there was another option of head or reliquary on the Relic Envoy for variety’s sake, as there’s loads of head and weapon options on the Marshal. The actual process of painting these models was largely a joyful one. I settled on Greywater Fastness for my force as I’ve never painted a yellow army before, and the Ancient Greek theme of my Stormcast didn’t really click with this aesthetic.

Cities of Sigmar Freeguild Marshal and Relic Envoy. Credit – Soggy

Soggy: One of the things that has always appealed to me about the Empire and later the Cities of Sigmar is the idea of normal men and women going up against unspeakable odds and horrors in battle. The Freeguild Marshal embodies this in my mind with the stoic stance of it just being another day at work.

The marshal kit has several options for poses and loadouts – I like that you can have the shield out front or behind. My only complaint about the kit is the seam in the cape that I really should have gap filled properly.

The relic envoy was a very simple three-piece build with no options by default. Annoyingly the head and collar are integrated into the left arm holding the sword – meaning that anyone wanting to swap the head and change for a pointing left hand will require a little bit of greenstuff to make the model your own.

Colin: I built these two compatriots but have not finished painting them yet. The kit is really nice and will give a lot of variety to a very static stock pose. The cloak did take some gap filling, as mentioned, but it’s easy enough to fill and sand down. Really looking forward to painting these two!

Alchemite Warforger

Greywater Fastness Alchemite Warforger. Credit: SRM

SRM: I tackled this fella at the same time as the Marshal and Relic Envoy. I wanted to see how well my green leather color worked with this model and his big forge apron, and I’m not totally convinced about it. Still, this model was a breeze to assemble, with the only challenge being the unseen magic cube in the cauldron. It’s attached to the long smoke trail and is very fiddly to get into position in the pot.

Cities of Sigmar Alchemite Warforger. Credit – Soggy

Soggy: I ended up doing this guy first, mostly because I was unsure on what colour scheme I wanted to use for the rest of the army. The kit itself has no variation and goes together well aside from the aforementioned smoke trail. I chose to paint this separately and glue it in later to keep things easy.

As this boxset contains quite a few models, this model should really be a palate cleanser that you do in between units, as the leather and skin textures are a fun little treat to play with.

Freeguild Steelhelms

Greywater Fastness Freeguild Steelhelms WIP. Credit: SRM

SRM: Building this crew was a load of fun, and like the Chaos Chosen before them, the instructions are far more linear than the kit actually is. They build up pretty quickly, typically consisting of eight parts per model. While certain heads and arms are positioned or proportioned a little better for each given body, you can absolutely swap them around freely for more diversity in your regiments. You can also build all 20 models in this box with only one or two repeated heads, as there’s a good 18 on the sprue. I would suggest leaving the shields off for painting as well; they’re fairly bulky and you’d be obstructing a fair bit of hard to reach detail. Honestly, I’m just jealous Soggy finished his:

Cities of Sigmar Freeguild Steelhelms. Credit – Soggy

Colin: I love the Steelhelms kit. I opted mix and match weapon arms and heads with the majority of my Steelhelms, which gave a diverse look to the unit. As I’ll certainly be building 20 more of them, the more variety the better. The kit gives a lot of individuality to models without overburdening them with fiddly bits to paint, which I appreciate.

I chose Misthåvn for my City as I like the lore for the city and I’m currently in my desaturated Blue-Grey era. The kit was easy to paint, especially focusing on dark textures for everything. I want the army to feel heavy and war-weary. I did leave the shields off to paint separately, which I highly recommend.

Steelhelm of Misthavn – Cities of Sigmar. By: Colin Ward

I do think it’s important to note just how small these Steelhelms are! They’re on 25mm bases, and though I apologize for using non-AoS models for comparison (I actually don’t have any). I love the scale, and I think it will do a great job of visually emphasizing the long odds these humans are up against in the Mortal Realms.

Blood Angels Sternguard, Misthavn Steelhelm, and Adepta Sororitas Sacresant of the Ashen Pyre. By: Colin Ward

Freeguild Cavaliers

SRM: Jesus wept, this kit has a lot going on doesn’t it? I haven’t gotten to grips with it yet but the sprues are absolutely insane, and I mean that in a good way. I’m unsure whether I’ll go the Brettonian route and do unique heraldry for each yet, but they really do look fantastic.

Cities of Sigmar Freeguild Cavaliers. Credit – Soggy

Soggy: With the recent news regarding The Old World, I have been revisiting my old Empire collection, and it’s astonishing to see how far we’ve come from the knight models of the past. Instead of the horse being divided into two halves with a head and tail attached at either end, the mount is now separated into several parts that can be mixed and matched: legs, armoured body (including the rider’s legs), horse’s face, tail and the flair behind the rider

As the rider’s legs are part of the horse’s torso, it means that certain armour plates will correspond to a rider of the same build and facing. That said each rider has a different choice of weapons, heads and optional helmets.

Unhelmeted dude with a hammer on a horse is peak Warhammer imo

The downside of having so many different customization options to make each model unique is that they are intricately detailed, requiring more time to paint than I initially expected. Don’t rush these, they deserve the attention!

Colin: I took a look at the sprues and the build instructions and immediately said “well these aren’t getting done before the disclosure date!” The kit is brilliant and provides for a ton of customization. Given that each Knight can have their own heraldry as well, I’ll have to devote some time to mapping everything out before tackling them. It’ll be a great project, though!

The Rules

SRM: While the rules are covered in full in another article, it’s part of the box set, and we’d be remiss not to talk about it, at least in passing. The edition exclusive to this box has a lovely cover with a smattering of heraldry from each of the main free cities you can base your army on, as well as gilt-edge pages and a ribbon to keep your place. It’s a lovely special edition of the battletome, with new rules, newer art, and loads of new fluff that do a great job of fitting these average janes and joes into the Age of Sigmar. It’s definitely worth your time to read through the book just for the narratives in there; they give a human context to the setting that’s been missing this whole time.

The sheet of cardboard tokens included will be extremely useful for actually playing this army. With the plethora of Orders and buffs tossed around by your average Cities force, you’ll get a lot of use out of them. The Warscroll cards for each unit in the faction are also a great set of play aids, saving time that would otherwise be spent paging through a book or the Age of Sigmar app once it’s updated.

Soggy: As a new Age of Sigmar player, I don’t have the chops to comment on the rules – but what I will say is that all the included player aids will make it so much easier to get up to speed.

Final Thoughts, Parting Shots, and What Have You

SRM: I was a mark for this faction from the moment it was announced, and my months of hooting and/or hollering have finally been rewarded. Regular Fuckin Guys are my favorite archetypes in any sci-fi or fantasy setting, and these thread the needle perfectly between fantastical weirdos and poor believable sods. I jalso just realized my Greywater Fastness scheme is basically the Pittsburgh Steelers. Guess the Pittsburgh Steelhelms will be crusading over to Wawa for Yinzmar.

Soggy: Much like SRM I’ve always been a fan of simple folk making their way through the Mortal Realms. The second this range was revealed it at Warhammerfest is was inevitable that I was finally going to take the plunge into Age of Sigmar.

Colin: As someone who doesn’t play AoS and has a handful of other games I actively play, I don’t know if they’ll ever see the table. That being said, I think the range is brilliant and it’ll be a fun painting and modeling project. The starter box is a great group of models that will be easy to expand on to make a small, themed army. For Misthåvn!

If you have questions, feedback, or you just want to share what your Cities of Sigmar army will be, drop us a note in the comments below or email us at