Goonhammer – Age of Sigmar Las Vegas Open Overview

The Las Vegas Open is this weekend, boasting the largest Warhammer tournaments in the world. Andrew “Marchettus” Brennan is on site this week, and dropped this preview of the event as the event kicks off this morning.

What is Las Vegas Open  (LVO) For Age of Sigmar?

LVO represents the end of the International Tournament Circuit (ITC) season and is one of the leading Age of Sigmar events. In the U.S. it is often the largest event of the year and typically trades with Cancon and the London GT for “Largest Ever Age of Sigmar Event”. As long as the game (and event play) continues to grow in popularity this should continue. It’s VEGAS, a city with a proven ability to provide fun and entertainment not just for miniature players but also the promotional products association, concrete subcontractors, and consumer electronics. Festivities are held at the Rio, a casino and convention center that is off-strip and is trending to “disrepair” over the last few year. However, it has a lot of space, carpets, and historically had plenty of chairs. Last year they even had water for people. At present, 360 people are signed up for the Age of Sigmar Champions Event and 53 teams are signed up for doubles on Sunday. Based on my records there were 325 people who attended the 2023 LVO event so even with a 10% drop rate this would be a slight increase over the 325 that competed last year.

A very fine and very fun game of Age of Sigmar played in 2023 in Las Vegas. Note the foam blocks in the middle of the table.

While different tournament circuits exist (including the Unified Tournament Circuit) and reward a best player the ITC has made getting a token and submitting results fairly easy and it is one of the most widely used player ranking systems. The ITC has also been embraced by Games Workshop with an announcement last year that top performing players in the ITC would receive prizes and provide feedback on the balance dataslate.

One of the choices the Front Line Gaming has made is to make larger events provide more ITC points for those with higher ranks. Thomas Guan, the top rated ITC player going into this event earned 214.86 points for a 9th place finish at the 165 person Nova Open compared to 206.46 points for a first place finish at the 46 person Boise Cup GT. Giving out additional points for big events is a logical choice for an organization that is focused on running large events throughout the U.S.A.. This has led to some people, particularly those in areas where large events aren’t feasible, to say that winning or placing well in smaller events with a more dedicated and competitively focused group is more impressive and a better judgement of skill expression.

While strength of schedule is often used during an event as a tiebreaker there isn’t an accepted system of “Player Skill” that would allow events to be judged on difficulty. Other player ratings systems include those provided by Woehammer and The Honest Wargamer have different metrics and goals compared to the ITC system. Some might argue that an Elo system is the best way to rate player skill but there hasn’t been a way to unite the mortal realms.

In addition to the competitive event there is a sold-out Age of Sigmar narrative event going on that involves an escalation league over three days. The player pack is much much more extensive compared to the competitive package.

A few contributors, and future contributors, on the Age of Sigmar side will be there competing in the main event. Then, on Sunday, Ragnarok Angel and I will be participating in the teams event together. We have not practiced and will likely be full of “cheer”.

How Is This Year Different From Other Years?

Last year a new GHB had been released prior to the event that completely changed the rules and missions but LVO was run on the old missions. This was a good choice as it allowed players the ability to play missions they were familiar with and served as a swan song for the bounty hunters detachment. Additionally, Gloomspite Gitz and Beast of Chaos (piloted by the 2023 winner using the white dwarf/2.0 book) had preorders and rules coverage released during the event. This year there isn’t any major update on the horizon excluding The Mad King that was announced at the World Championships but not released.  For those attending LVO Age of Sigmar has received a balance dataslate update that significantly changed the game prior to the LVO. Late last year a few rules related to reducing attacks were cleaned up giving a side or upgrade to the largest dragons in the Mortal Realms.

In 2022 Kragnos received a big warscroll update that allowed him to count as more models on the objective and provided a 3D6 charge for destruction models. This was a big deal and led to many people painting him up and bringing him after not using him at all. Last year the update changed around a lot of points and modified a really janky interaction between the 2.0 Khorne book and the 3.0 Slaves to Darkness book that some lists were being built around. This year nothing of note occured beyond some specific FAQs to Cities of Sigmar that have been hinted as being a preview of what Games Workshop will release in the near future. A Mid-December FAQ/balance patch is ideal for two reasons. First, there is typically more downtime over the holidays to make last minute adjustments to lists and get some extra games in. Second, it would allows for a last minute gift (given or received) for the mini player who has everything.

Probably the biggest adjustment from prior years is the inclusion of Armies of Renown. These armies are alternative allegiances that have new artifacts, battle tactics, grand strategies, and limits on the models that can be included. Many of the Goonhammer writers did not think they have been a positive addition to matched player because of the wildly imbalanced impact. LVO could serve as a coming out party for Ionus Cryptborn as he banishes Khornes invocations and casts spells without fear of some silly skulls.

Of note, the Flesh Eaters Court box that included a new battletome is not legal and this army is using the old book. While disappointing for Flesh Eater Court players, GW has not updated the Age of Sigmar app and this the best thing for a large events. Last year a full release of the Slaves to Darkness range allowed them to be legal and painted up in time for the event.

Long-time Age of Sigmar players might be disappointed to learn that the big long foam “rock barriers” we’ve come to know and love might not be used anymore. The issue with these barriers is that depending on how you view line of sight and charging lanes the defending player could have an extreme advantage. Rumor is that the new terrain rules at LVO Some events have used a “terrain map” that allows players to assign different features such as wyldwoods, garrisons, or impassable terrain, while others have TO placed terrain.  Several “mystical terrain” features, such as sinister and inspiring, are unusable due to forcing a unit to be wholly within 1″ when combined with garrison and impassible terrain while others, like arcane and damned, being sought out and impactful since they are impacting units or models within 1″. For LVO players are placing terrain in an extremely prescribed manner that means many of the boards will look similar. It is unfortunate that Age of Sigmar terrain rules have been something to play and organize around throughout third edition. While they are fine for home games and pickup games they are not well thought out for event play.

How can we miss the foam if it won’t go away?

Based on what is submitted there will be a lot of sharks, Khorne, Gitz, Slaves to Darkness, Bonereapers, and Stormcast. Given the meta I’m surprised to see so many Slaves to Darkness lists. Pour one out for all seven of the loyal Bonesplitters players in the world who didn’t make it to Vegas this year as it is the ONLY faction without representation. Additionally, successive updates seem to have finally caught up to Soulblight Gravelords, Lumineth Realmlords, and Disciples of Tzeentch. I’m personally surprised that so few Skaven lists (5) are submitted despite how well they can perform with the changes to screaming bell.

Competitive mini players are like farmers – always worried and complaining about something. Too much water, not enough water, Big Waaagh! is too weak, Big Waagh! is too strong, battle tactics are too easy, battle tactics are too hard. At this point, over two and a half years and three LVOs into third edition we can say that the meta and balance is pretty ok.

So Who Or What Is Going to Win?

As the ITC season ends there are three big competitive prizes. First, just getting into the top eight is a huge achievement and winning LVO is a really big deal. Second, because of the way that the the ITC competitive track works a high score at LVO is going to be worth significantly more points than any other event. Notably, the 2nd place finisher in 2023, along with three other top ten players, don’t appear to be registered at this time.

Whoever wins LVO is going to have a base of skill, preparedness, and understanding how to win matchups so any of the top ten or twenty attending could be a good bet. Of note, the 2022 and 2023 LVO winners both elected to go with very different Cities of Sigmar lists. If there was smart money, and a sports book putting a bet on cities might be the highest expected value on the board.

Over five round, and including a potential shadow round, armies that have been figured out like Sharks, Gloomspite Gitz, Khorne, Bonereapers, and Big Waagh! might a more difficult time against the top players or run into a bad matchup. Some of the higher winrate armies and factions, like “opps all sharks” and Kharadron Overlords, have done well from a winrate perspective but have some big weaknesses that can be exploited.

If you want to follow alone apparently the official stream for Age of Sigmar is the Warhammer twitch account.

So is that all that’s going on in the world?

No, actually there is a lot of Age of Sigmar being played outside of Vegas this week too. Bair, Joshua, Cronch, and Chimp will all be finishing the story at Brotherhood in the UK.

Even more people will be playing games at smaller RTTs and larger GTs. Many of them will be attempting to record them using Goonhammer’s own Tabletop Battles app.

Finally, The Goonhammer Age of Sigmar crew will have an update with our thoughts Friday after the Games Workshop preview and will be active on our discord. Additionally, we’re going to attempt to post our results on the Tabletop Battles App during the event. Hopefully this will allow us to discuss how honor was won in the mortal realms in the near future.

Have any questions or feedback? Drop us a note in the comments below or email us at contact@goonhammer.comAnd if you want regular updates in your inbox, subscribe to our newsletter.