Goonhammer FAQ Hot Take: Age of Sigmar January 2021 Update

After being delayed by about a month from their usual release of December, the AoS FAQ updates are finally here! What’s changed? Our Age of Sigmar team are here to walk you through it. Included in this discussion are:

  • RagnarokAngel
  • Ellarr
  • Silks

To preface, Games Workshop has asked people to temper their expectations. In a letter from the design team they stated that there are no points changes or serious rule overhauls, because COVID-19 has limited the number of events that they can use as data for possible rule changes. We understand this and have taken into account when commentating on the changes that were made.

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Base Sizes

RagnarokAngel: Just one tiny change snuck in there. Mork’s Mighty Mushroom is now 60 mm instead of the 50 mm it was. Odd change, why?

Ellarr: They also forgot to give the Endrinmaster with Dirigible Harness a base size, so that’s something.

RagnarokAngel: A lot of new stuff isn’t listed, like the Sons of Behemat. Baffling.

Broken Realms: Morathi

Ellarr: Let’s start with Idolators, who received the biggest changes of the whole FAQ update by far. Firstly, Idolators armies that take an Idolator lord may give a Mark of Chaos to all Idolators Cultists included in the army, provided they have the same Mark as the Idolator Lord. Putting aside for a moment that suddenly this means that Cultists can finally benefit from a core mechanic of Slaves to Darkness in the Aura of Chaos, it also suddenly unlocks the ability to take Cultist units in some Warscroll Battalions, which can have a dramatic effect on army construction now that more potential armies can go low drop.

It’s locked to Idolators only, so you’re still priced in to taking a rather underwhelming Legion with no Artefacts of their own, but we might see some experimentation here as Nurgle Cultists that act as cheap battalion filler and benefit from the -1 to hit ranged aura are suddenly quite compelling. Plaguetouched Iron Golems that can Marauder charge with a 4+ save reroll sound quite spicy, and I’m interested to playtest.

In addition to this rather substantial change, the Idolator Lord also gains the Eye of the Gods keyword, meaning he can finally make a start on his path to damnation, rectifying a rather bizarre oversight from the original book release.

Speaking of bizarre oversights, the Darkoath characters and the Ogroid Myrmidon are left out of the party, because despite buffing the Cultist keyword they lack the keyword themselves, meaning you still cannot live out your dream of giving an Ogroid Myrmidon a Mark and going off.

RagnarokAngel: I’m consistently baffled by how Games Workshop must know what the people want from Warcry Cultists and consistently just don’t do it.

RagnarokAngel: The rest is woefully underwhelming compared to all of that I’m afraid. First, a slight change in how additional Misthaven Narcotics are assigned. Additional narcotics (past the first) are handed out for each Artefact you include instead of Battalions, presumably this includes the first artefact you get for free so you actually start with 2 narcotics now instead of 1.

For Stormcast Eternal players a quick sentence was slipped in that Mortal Auxilaries (your 1 in 4 Cities of Sigmar unit rule) cannot be your general, mirroring the inverted rule in the Cities of Sigmar Battletome and puts the kibash on a Freeguild General fighting like one of Sigmar’s Reforged. Ah well.

Core Rules

RagnarokAngel: Rules clarifications, broken into 2 groups here. The first is clarification around capturing objectives. If there’s any dispute about gaining objectives, the player whose turn it is considered first, and if for any reason a model is within 6” of an objective they control and one they do not control, that model cannot count for purposes of controlling the latter. These are both niche scenarios that nonetheless can come up and will help settle rule disputes.

The other is more mundane and straight forward, if your unit is off the field, it can’t use any abilities or spells in reserve, period.

Disciples of Tzeentch

RagnarokAngel: Just two rules clarifications under Designer’s Commentary. The first is that the Changecaster can cast additional spells if its casting roll is 9+ more than once, allowing you to keep casting as long as your luck keeps up, or you run out of spells. We also receive official confirmation that the Lord of Change’s Mastery of Magic ability counts as a modifier for purposes of dice rolls.

Flesh-Eater Courts

Ellarr: The Royal family warscroll battalion now specifies Abhorrant Ghoul Kings that do not have mounts, meaning the battalion cannot consist entirely of Ghoul Kings on big bois.

General’s Handbook 2020

RagnarokAngel: Just a clarification in the Narrative Play battle Skies of Slaughter that the Recovery step occurs at the end of each Impulse, in case there was any confusion. Doesn’t affect matched play in anyway.

Kharadron Overlords

Ellarr: Few minor things: Emergency Ventplates relic now only lasts until the end of the phase, ending the era of dank smoke so thick that it lasts the entire battle. There’s also now confirmation that units can’t garrison into a Skyvessel locked in combat, meaning that tying up a Skyvessel with a flying unit can limit your opponents options if they play KO. Rounding out the changes, it is stated that units in an Iron Sky Attack Squadron cannot disembark from a Frigate after it has used the fly high ability, or the Barak-Zilfin footnote ability. The wording on this is still a little unclear, but it does at least somewhat clarify things.

Lumineth Realmlords

RagnarokAngel: The Seeing Stone of Celanarr, one of Teclis’s abilities that allows him to potentially ignore an Endless Spell and deal mortal wounds back to the caster cannot be used on friendly endless spells, in case you had any clever ideas around deliberately hurting your own guys.

Malign Sorcery

Ellarr: Morathi-Khaine is no longer able to cast the Balewind Vortex spell, meaning no uber boosted range to her spells (and in particular Black Horror of Ulgu, her signature spell). Not a huge change but a nerf to her nevertheless.

RagnarokAngel: Probably an important change. Rules as Written she would be allowed to but it makes complete and total sense why you would want to clarify that.


Ellarr: The Briar Queen gains the Wizard keyword, and in a rather bizarre move they’ve reverted all the previous points changes that came to Nighthaunt with the GHB 2020 update. We assume this is simply a mistake in updating the PDF as it feels rather mean spirited to kick Nighthaunt while they’re down like this.

RagnarokAngel: While a lot of these FAQs feel very lazy, the point adjustment thing is just downright sloppy. There was an extra month to get these done how did this happen?

Chaos Warriors. Credit: SRM

Wrapping Up

RagnarokAngel: I gotta be honest I’m very disappointed in this. This got delayed a month later than usual, which I can excuse because times are tough right now. The end result is pretty much just rules clarifications with very little in the way of actual new stuff which would be a welcome respite right now. Armies like Khardaron Overlords need some real rule changes to tone them down a fair bit, and the usual suspects like Sylvaneth and Gitz need something to make them stronger and there’s very little even approaching actual rule changes here. I think this could have used more time in the oven rather than releasing these in this state.

Games Workshop did clarify that this was because due to the lack of events they did not feel confident they had enough data to draw conclusions about what changes to make, especially to make point changes. I understand this but there still are a fair few obvious outliers that could have been fixed before sending this out there. Stuff like accidentally publishing old Nighthaunt points or not updating the base sizes with the new models that have come out in the past year is just sheer laziness and should have been checked before sending it out there.

Ellarr: I understand why GW acted the way they did, as they gave a statement to explain their reasoning, the problem for me is that this hasn’t stopped them from changing 40k in the same manner, and there are a lot of factions who are in a rough way one way or the other who won’t see an update for seemingly quite some time. I love my stupid steampunk dwarven sons, but they’re a bit oppressive for people to play against at the moment and needed a knock on the head. As a Slaves to Darkness player I’m happy with the Idolators buff, but it still feels a half step towards what fans really want, and daft things like Ogroid Myrmidons still being left on the shelf despite having a stupidly good model because it doesn’t really fit with how Slaves to Darkness lists are built. It makes me think that GW don’t really have their finger on the pulse of what players want, leading to some rather odd stabs in the dark.

Silks: I’m not going to add too much to this that my fellows haven’t already said, other than to add my thoughts that this was a massive disappointment. When so much has been done to 40K recently, using Covid as an excuse just seems like a feeble attempt to deflect the lack of understanding of the game (despite many people collating stats and feedback quite openly). The rumours have now shifted to “well, AoS 3 must be on its way”. I can only hope that this is indeed the case, rather than GW losing interest in AoS which can surely be the only other alternative.

And that’s that. The new update has come at last. Anything stick out to you you feel we missed? Anything making you rethink your strategy? Let us know at or on social media!