Ruleshammer: Age of Sigmar Special April 21st, 2023

With 9th edition of 40k winding down, we’re going to focus on some other games from time to time. This week on Ruleshammer we’ll pivot over to the Mortal Realms and some questions regarding the rules of Age of Sigmar. These are mostly a grab bag of common questions that occur across the community to hopefully clear up some confusion.

If you have any AOS (or 40k or Kill Team) questions submit them via the usual form.

List Building Sequences

One of the more obtuse parts of Age of Sigmar is in what order things are added to lists. The newer Battletomes have started including a list building sequence, which is quite helpful. First you pick your Battle Pack, then your army, then subfaction, then units, then Battalions, finally Enhancements. While you might want to consider what battalions you’ll use before models, it won’t break anything to do it this way.

The real nitty gritty comes in with enhancements. Enhancements cover a whole swathe of things, and it can be confusing to consider what order to add them in. The bad news is there isn’t really a clear answer, and Games Workshop has never really given one. The good news is that in the absence of a clear answer, you can do it in any order you want. This means you can choose things in the manner that most benefits you.

This doesn’t mean as much as it used to, but the biggest culprit of this was the Arcane Tome. Since enhancements could be picked in whichever order you wished, you could take the Arcane Tome artefact first, then pick a spell for them as an enhancement and it was all good. This was never explicitly stated, but with a lack of counter-example it stuck. The fact that Arcane Tome goes out of its way to tell you you do not get any extra spells for taking it beyond Arcane Bolt and Mystic Shield is a pretty good “Exception that proves the rule” i.e. they wouldn’t tell you you couldn’t, if it wasn’t normally allowed.

So in some edge cases where an artefact or command trait might qualify you for another enhancement, just pick them in the order that helps you most.

The OG Arcane Tomes Credit: Swiftblade

Deep Strike/Teleports and Redeploy

Common question about Redeploy is what exactly causes it to triggered. Let’s look at the rules text first

8.4 Redeploy – You can use this command ability in the enemy movement phase after an enemy unit finishes a normal moverun or retreat. The unit that receives the command must be within 9″ of that enemy unit and more than 3″ from all enemy units. You can make a D6″ move with the unit that receives the command, but it must finish the move more than 3″ from all enemy units and cannot shoot later in the turn.

First, let’s focus on the 9″. As one of the most powerful generic command abilities, many players want to avoid activating it whenever possible. If someone rolls a 6, that is going to make your life harder in some way whether it’s moving away from a potential charge, screening out a unit or moving onto an objective you want to keep control of. So in most cases the answer is just, don’t get within 9, if you can avoid it.

But what about Teleports or Deep Strike? In most cases, this isn’t really a problem. Almost all Teleports and Deep Strikes stipulate you must arrive more than 9″ from enemy models, so it’s pretty clear.

But there are exceptions. Spells like the Verminlord Deceiver’s Skitterleap allow a Hero to Teleport within 6″ of an enemy model or a Lord-Imperatant allows a unit to deep strike in 7″ away instead of 9″. Some ask, in these edge cases if it triggers. The answer is no, as these aren’t moves!

The rule specifically states Normal moves, runs and retreats which these are done instead of those things. Also on that note, out of movement phase moves are very powerful specifically because they also circumvent this – Ironjawz can exploit this to great effect with Mighty Destroyers.


Pile-Ins and the Closest Models

During the combat phase, when nominating a unit to fight, you get to pile-in 3″ before making attacks. Pile-ins require you to move a model to the closest unit, which is generally pretty straight forward but can become confusing in some edge cases due to the use of both model and unit.

12.2 Pile-Ins When you make a pile-in move with a model, it must finish the move no further from the nearest enemy unit than it was at the start of the move.”

If a unit is stuck between two enemy units, equal distance apart, you may in fact need to split the unit up. Since pile ins are done by model some may in fact need to move closer to a different unit, even if the rest of the models in that unit are going in another direction. This can actually get you stuck because you are still required to obey coherency when you do it, so make sure to measure carefully.

Prince Vhordrai
The Pestilent Breath of Prince Vhordrai has a random number of attacks. Credit: chimp

All Out Attack, Assigning Attacks and Random Attacks

I’m going to end this one on a bit of a mystery as there isn’t a clear answer to come of this, and that comes down to Random Attacks. I have seen a two part question in regards to random attacks, namely can you use All Out Attack before or after generating the number of attacks for a unit, and also how you can break up the attacks for that unit.

To clarify, in case it’s not clear, when I say Random Attacks I mean something like the Arch-Warlock which gets D3 number of attacks (or D6 if it isn’t a coward). Random attacks are stated as such.

22.2.4 RANDOM CHARACTERISTICS Random Attacks or Damage: If you need to know the value of a random Attacks or Damage characteristic for a weapon being used by a unit to make an attack, make the random characteristic roll shown on the unit’s warscroll. The roll is the characteristic for that attack. If you need to know the value of a random Attacks or Damage characteristic for a weapon at a time other than when it is being used to make an attack, count it as having a value of 1.”

That’s…not actually terribly helpful. It says “If you need to know the value”, but it’s not clear at what step we need to know this. Let’s look further at All Out Attack and Assigning Attacks

“All Out Attack You can use this command ability when you pick a friendly unit to shoot in your shooting phase or fight in the combat phase. That unit must receive the command. Add 1 to hit rolls for attacks made by that unit until the end of that phase.”

Ok so good start here, this actually says when a friendly unit is chosen. We don’t actually need to know how many attacks they have for it, so it’s not yet needed. The act of choosing a unit is before any other step. So I think it’s pretty safe to say that is before rolling attacks characteristic.

But what about assigning attacks? It’s possible to split attacks, especially in the case of ranged attacks.

13.2 NUMBER OF ATTACKS The number of attacks you make with a weapon is equal to its Attacks characteristic. Make the attacks one at a time, unless you are making combined attacks (see 13.2.1). If a weapon has an Attacks characteristic of more than 1, you can split the attacks between target units.”

This is where a lot of the arguing comes. Some argue that you need to generate the number of attacks first to even see if it’s more than 1. Others argue that you are simply assigning D6 attacks to a unit before you roll. Again, the random characteristic rule doesn’t say at which point the roll happens, just “when it’s needed”.

Personally I’m in the former camp. I think you can’t know if an attack is more than 1 until you roll the characteristic first, so at that point it becomes “needed”. However many still argue the opposite and there’s some good arguments for it.

So overall I’m going to say the order is

  1. Pick a unit to fight.
  2. Use All Out Attack (If you wish)
  3. Roll Attack Characteristic
  4. Assign Attacks accordingly
  5. Roll Hit and Wound as needed.


Pretty simple for this week, focusing on some simpler or beginner friendly questions, but as stated above we would like to continue our focus on Age of Sigmar rules so if you have any brain busters for our AOS team we’d love to hear from you!

Have any questions or feedback? Got a rules question you want answered? Drop us a note in the comments below, ask a question in our Ruleshammer form, or head over to r/ruleshammer to discuss.