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Saiken

Why is it so hard to start AOS ?

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Hi guys,

After debating with myself for a while, I finally decided to start this topic, because I do think I'm not the only one in this boat, and that I may benefit the community at large.

To give you an brief summary. Discovered Warhammer 14 years ago. I was mostly a hobbyist, and never really played any game. After a 10-year hiatus, I feel back into AoS a couple of months ago.
I really enjoy the hobby, and decided it was (a last) my time to build a real army in order to play some games this winter (when the weather is going to be terrible :D ).

Though, I have been facing what I consider a real barrier to entry ( and I'm not even talking about the price). The amount of choice is just overwhelming and it's hard for people like me to take a final decision on which army to play. I don't want to end up spending lots of money and time in a faction that is going to be discontinued, or that won't be any fun to play at all.
Especially if you don't want to play stormcast or the Flavour of the month faction. It's getting super complicated just to grasp all the info, and to make sure your choice is wise.

 

In my opinion, what AoS lacks in terms of mass adoption, is a real guide for newcomers. Something that would guide their choices and make them feel less overwhelmed.
For instance it could be a simple ( and visual) flowcharts that would try to qualify what's important for the new players.

For instance :
" The most important thing is the looks of the army" => Play whatever appeals to you ( a.k.a "The Rule of Cool" )

" I want to own a competitive army" => Even if rules are changing, it's probably safer to play a battletome army (Tzeentch, DoK, Nurgle, ... )
" I want my army to be coherent in terms of lore" => *Intelligent tips from people who know about the lore*

" I want my army to fit a particular playstyle" => Classify armies (and subfactions) in terms of playstyle.  Gunline => Free Peoples  / Mortal Wounds Dealers : Spiderfang, Skryre, ...

And so on ...

I'm telling you this because I love AoS, but I have yet to find an army to play with because I just can't make up my mind. This is becoming frustrating and I can only imagine how it is for people who don't have my patience or my motivation to play this game.

TL:DR : I love AoS , but the barrier to entry (not even talking about the cost) is only growing stronger as more factions are added. And we need to give more tools for newcomers to jump right in and enjoy the Hobby.

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I fully agree.

GW has messed up on their core store website in really showing how the Alliances work. Right now it almost looks like there are 4 armies which are souped together into some kind of horrid mess. Inbetween are some factions that appear to have full diverse armies and others which appear to have almost nothing. It is honestly a mess that I'm shocked they've not resolved by now. 

 

ps for this I'm talking about matched play as narrative/open is basically whatever-you-want territory

Personally the turning point for me was when Daughters of Khaine got released and I moved from being on the outside to getting a Battletome and actually reading it. Once I read and got into it it was far easier to see that it wasn't what I thought. The "soup" was basically just the old Dark Elves factions not everything under ORDER. The way armies are pointed up and the way allies work actually is very good because it allows you alliances, but it limits what you can take quite strictly (and the new 2.0 is even stricter as its not just a points limit but a model count limit as well). 

I hope that the new Sigmar website might start to make a step toward clearing this up for new players. Certainly at present its harder to get a flavour for many sigmar armies compared to warhammer ones. This is partly the result of Sigmar's origins as when it was originally launched (under the old GW management plans) it was basically "no rules do what you want just freaking buy our models" marketing where the only rules were very jovial (if you've got a beard your dwarves get +1 attack etc...). It as taking the extreme angle of "rules don't matter just sell models". It did work (though I also think producing some utterly outstanding Sigmar models also helped), but the Sigmar of today is far more "sensible" and has evolved far beyond that point. 

 

 

Your point of the choices is very sound and yes at the extreme ends there are often two basic choices. You choose to play an army for its rules or for its visual appeal.

 

For rules I think the BEST thing is to head to a local store and read the store copy battletomes. If you don't have a local  then reading army lists online gives you a good flavour for what people take in various armies. I'm sure there must be a good wiki out there that also summarises some of this info too. Remembering that the "best" army is debatable. The local meta and skill of the player all come into it which can cause variation in what people see as "omg that's so overpowered" or "that army is just rubbish"*. 

 

For visual what I advise is to head to the website and open up a tab for each unit within an army. Then go through each tab and close any you don't like. At the end you should get a rough idea how much of an actual army you like. You might find that you like only a couple of units or that you only like a type of unit within the army. Do this for each army that interests you and it can sometimes show that whilst you might like an army overall, in the end you only like one or two things from it and that, instead, there's another army that you also really like that you also really like a lot of individual models within it. 

 

 

*In a balanced system "rubbish" armies are often just armies that have a low number of players at the competitive end for, often, totally arbitrary reasons or reasons from previous editions. One big win by a player can suddenly make that army the "most op ever"

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@The Jabber Tzeentch, see the problem I have with this is  .... How are you going to justify this reasoning for people who think that Bretonnia or Tomb Kings look hella cool ?
" The Rule of Cool" cannot be the only factor.

I was planning to start a Brayherd army as I think (on my book) it's one of the coolest looking army. But the lack of support makes me fear we are facing another Tomb King type of faction ...


@Overread Thanks for your write up. I'm glad you share my feeling about all this. And the methods you posted are definitely worth taking a look at.

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I really like the older stormcast models but the newer seem to do everything better...

cant wait for the tome this weekend to see how things compare!

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Tomb Kings were killed off under the only GW management at a time when fantasy was selling very poorly. I suspect had it remained under the old management we would have seen many more armies killed off and I suspect that TK was possibly even a more arbitrary killing off than anything else. Sigmar 1.0 turned sales around fast and in the long term the introduction of rules and the new 2.0 and the new management has totally reversed this. I doubt we'll see another army killed off (if they are it will be like the elves- splitting it into sub-armies) to the same extent as TK were. 

 

Heck wouldn't surprise me if they bring most of the TK range back in some form or another

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15 minutes ago, Saiken said:

@The Jabber Tzeentch, see the problem I have with this is  .... How are you going to justify this reasoning for people who think that Bretonnia or Tomb Kings look hella cool ?
" The Rule of Cool" cannot be the only factor.

I was planning to start a Brayherd army as I think (on my book) it's one of the coolest looking army. But the lack of support makes me fear we are facing another Tomb King type of faction ...


@Overread Thanks for your write up. I'm glad you share my feeling about all this. And the methods you posted are definitely worth taking a look at.

It was a bit tongue in cheek to be honest but the sentiment is solid. 

As far as I’m aware there’s no plans for removing existing factions. There are some that may never see new models but they will be useable for years to come. 

Brayherd and their Warherd cousins have a fantastic range already (I have an army as a future project).  I honestly think the only thing that really works in this hobby is having models and an army that you think are cool.

if you want to win tournaments and play super competitive all the time then that’s kind of a different story, but most new players aren’t going to be building and painting a new army every 6 months to keep up with the meta  

 

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I think there is certainly some truth in what you say but reassuringly GW seem to be aware of it too. You can see their efforts through:

  • Scaling down the core rules to a more digestible 14 pages (with the intention that all the other rules are optional expansions)
  • The 'GettingStarted' videos on the new ageofsigmar.com website (and hiring Becca Scott to host them for some extra geek kudos) to try and make it easier to learn the above rules
  • Providing different levels of starter set
  • Putting an emphasis on 'Open' and 'Narrative' styles of play (which are a little more relaxed than Matched play, and don't necessarily require the use of points, which also might intimidate new players)

There is certainly more work to do, but things are much better than they were pre-AoS :)

I would definitely like to see a better introduction to the different factions. The core book does a nice job, but that's unlikely to be the first thing a prospective customer sees.

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Its only a hard task, because we don't do it. :-P
 

Consicering the choice of armies, there is ONE simple rule: Does it have a Batteltomb? if yes, buy what looks cool to you. If no, leave it alone. GW doesn't know what to do with it. Might get an update, might get crapped on or might be discountinued. Stay away from it, no matter how nice the look is.

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In a game as vast as AoS with so many factions, themes, play styles etc. I can 100% see how getting started and choosing an army can be totally overwhelming.

My advice would be to

1 - start off with the Grand Alliances. Which of the 4 appeals to you more when you think about the lore / aesthetic / theme. Which do you find more ‘cool’?

2 - get yourself to a gaming club or a regular group. There are plenty spread all across the country and I bet they would love to have you along for a meet and greet. At the Dorset Doggers, my local group, we often have people interested in the hobby come along to our games nights just to watch, ask questions and generally see how the game is played. You may find yourself being drawn to an army being played.

3 - know that there is no incorrect choice. In my experience, there is often a feeling of ‘hey, the grass looks greener over there!’ when a new battletome or army hits the pre-orders. Some hobbyists embrace that and love to switch armies often. Some hobbyists (myself included) enjoy playing the same faction for a while and revel in getting to know it’s every strength, weakness and limitations. With the annual mix up from The Generals Handbook you may find that new options open up, making your chosen feel fresh and exciting.

4 - the ability to add allies to an army is a fantastic mechanic that allows you to tailor your army exactly how you want. Think a new release with your Grand Alliance is cool? Want add variety to you modelling and painting experience? Ally them to your existing army. 

I hope this helps and, along with all the other great advice on this site, you can settle on a decision.

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3 hours ago, Bloodmaster said:

Its only a hard task, because we don't do it. :-P
 

Consicering the choice of armies, there is ONE simple rule: Does it have a Batteltomb? if yes, buy what looks cool to you. If no, leave it alone. GW doesn't know what to do with it. Might get an update, might get crapped on or might be discountinued. Stay away from it, no matter how nice the look is.

Cynical though this comment is, it's good advice. While I don't think that GW will be discontinuing any of the factions or units currently in play, that's just an educated guess, and GW have past form for making random, unexpected, nonsensical decisions, so who really knows. The factions with battletomes are the safest, best supported and (generally speaking) the most competitive, so a new player would be well advised to go with one of those. Factions with allegiance abilities in the General's Handbook 2018 are the next-safest.

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It might be helpful to narrow your choices down to one with both a Battletome AND is either included in a starter set or else have a Star Collecting box.

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I also think it's a bit of an either-or when it comes to the competitive side of things.  At that level the game is really about the specific role things play in the list and how they combine with other unit abilities, allegiance abilities, command traits, command abilities, spells and so on.  And these change with the release of new battletomes, FAQs or even new editions.  The odds of accidentally assembling a functional competitive army when you don't even really know the game is very remote. 

So I'd say either immerse yourself in the larger tournament conversation from day one or just accept that you'll be playing somewhere on the spectrum of game play that is not the most competitive until you either build up enough of a collection (and knowledge base) to put together the needed lists or decide to not bother and enjoy the greater variety of viable units, available scenarios and wider game content to explore that all comes as a bonus for not pushing that particular envelope.

Edited by Nin Win

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I think it depends a bit on what you mean by "start AoS".  And by "newcomer" I guess.

I'm about to get my 12 year old nephew into the game.  He is not a gamer.

"Flavour of the Month" means nothing to him. "Playstyle", "competitive", and "lore" mean nothing to him.  He doesn't have any notions or preferences or ideas from other games.

I'm going to get him a Start Collecting box and some tools, and lend him some paints.  Whether the Start Collecting box is associated with a Battletome or a GHB allegiance or just a dumb Grand Alliance, who cares?   Just have him pick one he likes the look of, and I'll be able to enthusiastically support that choice even if it's one I don't like haha.  And then we'll play some games with stuff of mine that I pick to match up with his stuff.

He doesn't and won't grasp the difference until he either decides he doesn't like the hobby, or he loves it and knows enough to pick his own next project.

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Wanted to reiterate the point that it's very unlikely that any of the currently-sold armies will get the Tomb Kings/Bretonnia treatment. Models may get replaced, certainly - if Darkoath became a full-fledged Chaos faction then I'd be pretty amazed if they didn't replace the ancient Marauder kit - but I doubt any of the current factions will ever be made completely unusable. That was a specific consequence of the transition from WHFB to AoS.

I do think this illustrates a broader point, however, which is that AoS' history presents newcomers with a pretty confusing set of expectations. If you use Google to look for answers to these questions you still find stuff from the end of WHFB, reactions to AoS' initial launch, feedback from prior to the first General's Handbook, and so on. The game has evolved a lot but the baggage of all of those prior versions, in the form of now horridly out of date blog posts, is still hanging around.

So I guess the short version is that I agree that a comprehensive new player guide is the best step. Short of that, I'd recommend getting the new Core Book. If a faction is listed in that, or simply gets a big mention in the lore, then you can be pretty confident that GW plan to support it in the future.

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This is definitely a struggle. I'm still very new and have just been going with Stormcast because it came in the starter (and now the new one as well), it's the same reason I play Dark Angels in 40k. Even in my other games like warmachine, I play what was a starter army donated to me by a friend. I really really want to "choose" a faction for myself and AoS is the game I really want to focus on...but there are just too many good choices!

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I have to say as someone new to the game I have struggled with picking an army to focus on. This is really just down to the fact that there are so many different models I love, but also I love the play styles of the different armies as well. What help me decide was buying a few different models and finding the ones I enjoyed painting the most. That cut it down a bit. Then I just watched a few matches on Warhammer tv and YouTube and found one I liked the look of the play style. Even after all that I am still looking at doing another army. There is just so much choice!

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9 hours ago, Saiken said:

@The Jabber Tzeentch, see the problem I have with this is  .... How are you going to justify this reasoning for people who think that Bretonnia or Tomb Kings look hella cool ?
" The Rule of Cool" cannot be the only factor.

I was planning to start a Brayherd army as I think (on my book) it's one of the coolest looking army. But the lack of support makes me fear we are facing another Tomb King type of faction ...

Your worries are completely justified.  However, the chart that @The Jabber Tzeentch jokingly posted is actually pretty accurate if we are talking about collecting an army for the long-term.

If you play any faction in a GW for long enough you will find that at some point it dips in regards to strength vs other factions.  GW has never really designed their games with competitive balance as their primary goal (or else they are really bad at it) and a whole lot of the most competitive forces over the years often seem to be accidents due to oversight of certain rules interactions rather than on purpose. 

If you want to stay on the competitive edge then you honestly need to be willing to collect multiple armies or army hop.  If you are collecting for long term then you should pick an army that interests you in some way aside from simply being very powerful because that is going to be temporary to some degree.

So either collect the strongest stuff and be willing to roll with the changes, or collect for a different reason such as model aesthetics, background story, play-style, etc.

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I think in most cases it really comes down to individuals, and not the nature of the product being chosen.

Some people, like me, figure that any one of the top 1/3 of available choices will be more-or-less as fun as each other - I mean, I might get the tiniest bit more enjoyment out of the very topmost choice, but relatively speaking that other choice a third of the way down the list will still be so enjoyable compared to not having any, that the difference is insignificant. 

Other people will agonize over choosing the optimal product, and spend the next six months continually second-guessing themselves that a different one would have been better.  If they happen to pick just right, they get a tiny bit more enjoyment, but in the more likely event that they pick wrong, they get way less enjoyment.

This isn't a thing particular to AoS.  I'm the same way with what to watch on Netflix - there are hundreds of things I'd like to watch, and rather than spend an hour picking the absolute best one, I'll just put on the first "this seems good" thing I find.  I don't care about optimizing a choice between 99/100 and 96/100 - the real choice is between (anywhere in the 90s)/100 and 0/100 from not making a choice at all.

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11 hours ago, The Jabber Tzeentch said:

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What's your definition of quick? Like, Tzeentch has been top meta since it's book came out to the start of 2.0, and they remain a really solid pick for competitive play.

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6 minutes ago, stratigo said:

What's your definition of quick? Like, Tzeentch has been top meta since it's book came out to the start of 2.0, and they remain a really solid pick for competitive play.

They have only had 1 book within that time and Age of Sigmar as a whole is only about 3 years old.  We have no idea what a Tzeentch 2.0 battletome will look like and chaos has tended to be one of the armies to see the biggest shake-ups in regards to how the armies look and play between army books.

I am old and so the span of a single edition does not feel like that long to me.  Your mileage may vary.

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Just now, Skabnoze said:

They have only had 1 book within that time and Age of Sigmar as a whole is only about 3 years old.  We have no idea what a Tzeentch 2.0 battletome will look like and chaos has tended to be one of the armies to see the biggest shake-ups in regards to how the armies look and play between army books.

I am old and so the span of a single edition does not feel like that long to me.  Your mileage may vary.

I have a different view. A year is a long time to be good or bad in my opinion.

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Just now, stratigo said:

I have a different view. A year is a long time to be good or bad in my opinion.

Well, I once waited 9 years to get a new version of my 40k Ork codex.  I have also still not seen any significant change since the game released for most of my Orcs & Goblins.

If you play any single army long enough in any GW game you will see it have a period of being less competitive.  How long that period will be is up in the air.  Newly released army books do not necessarily mean that the army will be highly competitive or stay at that level very long.

Now, there are armies that are more likely to see more frequent rules updates and model releases than others.  That does not mean they are immune to having a period of low competiveness, but it does mean you are more likely to see those rules changed quicker.

With Age of Sigmar the only army that seems guaranteed for frequent updates is the Stormcast.  Historically in fantasy the armies that get frequent updates tend to be Chaos, Vampires, and Elves.

But back then chaos was a single combined army.  So if you play a specific god I would not expect fast turn-around for rules updates in Age of Sigmar.  Also bear in mind that Vampires still do not have a dedicated battletome.  They got lumped into Legions of Nagash along with most undead.  Technically Flesh Eaters are a vampire subset - but really that is an army of ghouls.

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There's some solid indication they are beginning to think about updating some of the AoS armies again. Fyreslayers, Kharadron, and I think one other have been named dropped as being planned now. So if this chatter is true then we'll likely see some updates next year which is great if its true. However I suspect its BS so don't take this too seriously. 

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