General’s Handbook 2020 – Matched Play

It’s the most exciting time of year to be an Age of Sigmar player! A new General’s Handbook brings with it entirely new metas, making armies that were previously underpowered suddenly rise to the top and making the current winners re-evaluate what they’ve done with their lives.

Today we’ll be looking at the Matched Play changes. We’ll look at Points Changes, Narrative and Open Play changes another day as well as the new Pitched Battle rules for playing doubles events.

Changes to Matched Play

Negating Wounds

The first new rule in the book is probably the most impactful:

You cannot make more than 1 dice roll (excluding re-rolls) to negate a wound or mortal wound that has been allocated to a model. If you could use more than one ability to negate allocated wounds or mortal wounds, you must pick which ability you will use

This gets rid of the situation where units could have multiple attempts to “feel no pain” and is a very welcome change.

Set up

How players place terrain and decide who deploys first has changed. Previously players would roll off and alternate setting up terrain features, with the winner going first, and then rolling off again to decide who got to pick sides and start deploying first. Now the dice roll determines who is player A or B with player A setting up all of the terrain and deciding which rules the terrain has. Player B then decides which side of the battlefield territory will be theirs and player A starts deployment first.

This is quite a difference when setting up the board and is bound to not be fully noticed by players for a while!

Faction terrain has also changed, previously it could only be setup more than 6″ from the edge of the battlefield, 6″ from any other terrain and 3″ from any objectives, meaning it could be impossible to place your giant Bone Tithe Nexus at times. This has changed to 3″ from any terrain feature and 1″ from any objectives which should get rid of that problem entirely.


There are quite a few subtle changes here. Lots of deployment maps have switched to a more “traditional” style and lots of missions have had bonuses for scoring with a certain type of unit nearby, which is presumably to encourage more mixed armies.

Auxiliary Objectives

A new type of objective, these are what most players know as secondaries. If you complete more Auxiliary Objectives than your opponent then it changes the battle result from a draw to a minor victory.

You pick two of these at the start of the battle, in secret, then reveal them to your opponent at the same time. These are ticked off through the game, there’s no indication that they have to be achieved in any specific phase of the game, unless stated in the objective itself.

The Aggressor

Control all of the objectives in your opponent’s territory.


Pick an enemy hero when revealed. Kill it

The Bait

Pick a friendly unit when revealed. Get it killed before the third battle round (this is hilarious).


Get 2 or more units within 3″ of the same enemy hero at the end of a turn.


No enemy units in your territory at the end of the battle.


Destroy 3 or more enemy units in one turn.


When revealed, pick an enemy hero and a friendly hero. Kill the enemy with yours.


Kill all the enemy’s Leaders.


At the end of the battle you have more units in your opponent’s territory than they do.

Marked for Death

When revealed select an enemy unit that isn’t a hero. Kill it.

Mass Panic

2 or more enemy units fail a battleshock in one turn.


Kill an enemy hero with a melee attack from a Battleline unit.


When revealed pick a terrain feature in your enemy’s territory. Get a friendly unit with a wounds characteristic of 5 or more within 3″ at the end of a round. You can’t do this by teleporting a unit.

Prey on the Weak

Kill all your opponent’s Battleline units (that they started the game with).

Prized possession

When revealed pick a friendly hero with an Artefact and keep them alive until the end of the battle.

Seize Ground

When revealed pick a terrain feature not in your territory, get one or more friendly units within 3″ by the end of the fourth battle round.


When revealed pick an objective and control it for 2 consecutive battle rounds.

Vengeful Counter

Destroy an enemy unit in the same turn that a friendly unit is destroyed.

Knife to the Heart

The deployment has changed from “funny Tetris r shapes” to a diagonal deployment used for Total Conquest last year, which means armies start much further apart than before. Instead of adding up the points of units destroyed if neither player controls both objectives by the end the new Auxiliary Objectives rule is used.

Credit: Games Workshop

Total Conquest

Another change to deployment. This has gone from the diagonal deployment now used by Knife to the Heart to opposite diagonal quarters meaning that there is more choice about which objectives you aim for. You also gain an additional victory point if you control an objective with a friendly Leader within 6″ of it.

Credit: Games Workshop

Duality of Death

Gone. And there was much rejoicing.

Battle for the Pass

Gone from “pointy triangles” to a more traditional vertical deployment zone 24″ deep, making the middle objectives much easier to get to early on.

Credit: Games Workshop


The number of locations the objectives can land has been simplified back to 3 locations in each territory which makes the chances of it landing on the other side from your army much lower.

Credit: Games Workshop

Scorched Earth

Swapped from a vertical half deployment zone to a horizontal one. Means that you don’t have objectives two deep in your territory and instead you have to defend a wide front. Also changed is you can no longer raze an objective if an enemy is within 6″ of it which is utterly amazing. You also gain an additional victory point if there is a friendly leader model within 6″ when you raze it.

Credit: Games Workshop

Total Commitment

No changes here, other than the Auxiliary Objectives being the tiebreaker.

Credit: Games Workshop

Focal Points

Exactly the same as before except that now holding an objective with a friendly Monster or Behemoth within 6″ of it you gain an additional victory point.

Credit: Games Workshop

The Better Part of Valor

Again, swapped deployment. This has gone from a vertical deployment using half the board to a horizontal one. There is also quite a large change to controlling objectives in this mission called Contest of Strength.

“The normal rules for controlling an objective are not used in this battle. Instead if a friendly Battleline unit finishes a move within 3″ of the objective unless that was a retreat move. The player loses control of that objective if the battleline unit is not within 3″ or is destroyed. Only 1 Battleline unit can control each objective at a time – if more than 1 unit is eligible, then the first to arrive controls it. If an enemy unit controlling an objective is destroyed by an attack made with a melee weapon by a Battleline unit, then the attacking unit immediately gains control of that objective as long as they are within 3″ of it.”

Credit: Games Workshop

Shifting Objectives

The deployment zones have shrunk slightly, with the corners of the board no longer included. If you control an objective with a friendly battleline unit within 6″ you score an additional victory point.

Credit: Games Workshop

Places of Arcane Power

Gone from a diagonal deployment to a quartered one. There’s a slight change to the Heroic conquest rule to use the word “Leader” rather than the HERO keyword.

Credit: Games Workshop

Relocation Orb

Gone. And there was much rejoicing.

The Blades Edge

A entirely new battleplan using 6 objectives deployed 18″ on in a horizontal line in both players territories. These are simply scored at the end of the turn, 1 victory point for each. At the start of each battle round after the first, the player taking the second turn can pick one objective to remove it. Maybe you don’t want to take that double turn after all…?

Credit: Games Workshop

Forcing the Hand

Another new battleplan with 6 objectives. Each turn the opposing player picks one objective in their territory to be the Primary objective for the turn. This is worth 3 victory points, all others are worth 1.

Credit: Games Workshop

Realms of Battle

Gone are the pages of artefacts from Malign Sorcery. Instead you get one artefact and one Command ability per realm as well as the Realmspheres and Realmgate features for playing in that realm (which are mostly ignored by tournaments). We’ll go into these in more depth in a future article, but we’ll look at the changes to Artefacts and the new command abilities here.


Artefact: Incandescent Rageblade – Unmodified hits of a 6 cause 2 hits

Command: Blazing Fervour – Pick a friendly unit within 12″ of a friendly hero and give them +1 to run and charge rolls.


Artefact: Plate of Perfect Protection – Ignores rend -1

Command: Living Blades – +1 to hit rolls for a unit within 12″ of a hero in the combat phase if it made a charge that turn


Artefact: Predator’s Torc – reroll charges

Command: Feral Roar – Use on a friendly monster wholly within (sorry Khorne Dragon) 12″ of a friendly hero and always treat it’s damage table as having taking 0 wounds (this is insanely good)


Artefact: Everspring Diadem – Heal a wound in the hero phase

Command: Command the Land – You can attempt to cast Shield of Thorns, even if you’re not a wizard.


Artefact: Syari Trueblade – reroll hits of 1

Command: All-seeing Enlightenment – Pick a unit within 12″ of a hero, they then ignore cover modifiers for save rolls (nice)


Artefact: Gravesand Brooch – Reroll saves of 1

Command: Amethyst Aura – Gives a unit a 6+ ignore wounds roll


Artefact: Trickster’s Foil – Reroll wound rolls of 1

Command: On Me! – Pick a unit within 18″ of a hero, remove them from the battlefield and set them up wholly within 6″ of the hero and more than 9″ away from enemy units. Really nice

Overall Impressions

I really like almost all of these changes. The additions of Battleplans needing certain types of units to get additional points should force people to consider more balanced lists in order not to lose on points. The secondary objectives are a great addition and whilst some might seem more “auto take” than others I think there’s something there for everyone and should bring in an extra level to games. It’s a bit sad that they only affect ties, but those are a lot more common in Age of Sigmar than in 40k.

The new realm rules are… underwhelming. And that’s probably a good thing. For the last few years there have been auto take items and realms which have made entire Battletome’s worth of artefacts irrelevant. I don’t see any of these new ones being taken so people will go back to their codex to look for replacements for their Aetherquartz Broaches and Thermal Rider Cloaks. The command abilities seem like a fun addition for which you don’t pay a price.

Overall, this book has definitely been designed to stamp on some of the more overpowered aspects of tournament play as well as to make the battleplans more interesting and fun.

Thank you for reading. Next up will be the points changes, always an exciting/terrifying moment. What do you think about these changes? Let us know via or on social media!