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Enoby

The Best Problem: Will AoS have too many armies?

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A few friends and I were discussing how good of a year 2019 was for AoS, and that it looked set to continue into 2020 with Tzeentch, Kharadron, Pointy Aelves, and maybe Gargants - and probably Seraphon in some form too. 

Assuming these make up all of the releases for AoS, we will have every existing AoS army updated, and two new ones. This leaves us with 25 updated armies (if I can count). 

25 well made armies with battletomes is great - but it is a lot, and as AoS shows no signs of stopping new factions (which I really like). It does however raise the question: will we ever have too many armies?

By this I mean, "will there ever be so many Age of Sigmar armies that the sheer quantity has a negative effect of the game as a whole"?

Time between updates

In the old days of WHFB, some armies would languish with for years without an updated book, and I think most would agree this isn't an ideal state. AoS has come on leaps and bounds when it comes down to update speed, but they also have a lot to update, and eventually it may become too much - keeping 25 armies updated is hard enough, but they keep releasing new armies at a break neck pace which just adds to the challenge.

I don't think anybody wants to be left with what may end up feeling like a forgotten battletome. Generally, the more battletomes they need to write, the longer between an army's updates. 

Powercreep

To top this off, I think most can agree that new books (overall) tend to be more powerful than old books (with new rule types and interactions developing), so with the pace that armies release at it's easy for older armies to be swept away. 

So if we do get a quick release schedule (let's say 7 updates every year), it might be that battletomes find themselves outclassed more quickly. This can likely be frustrating if you liked those older battletomes.

Burnout

Finally, a point that a friend raised which I think is very worthwhile is that people may get burned out with such a rapid pace of releases. So even if every army does get constant updates, it may end up feeling the game is changing too quickly and it never feels like it enters a stable space for the 'meta' (casual or competitive) to take a breather.  

Also, while new stuff is cool, I do wonder if people will reach a saturation of new armies they can buy/fit in their homes. Not everyone can/will sell things, so I wonder if the market for new armies shrinks over time? Totally unsure about that though.

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I don't want to sound like this is a complaint - I really like how active AoS is - but I do think it's something we'll have to face at some point in the future. 

I mostly wonder how these potential issues can be addressed - or perhaps more importantly, how do we think they will be addressed?

 

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On one hand I think more new army is a good thing and essential since AoS is still a new and needs to develop more unique looking army to settle ifself into it own IP, since universally I heard that crazy stuff like Kharadron, IDK, DOK, Gloomspite, and Nighthaunt really push people into playing AoS.

on the other hand bloat can be a big problem since updating and expanding ranges for so many army can be a big problem in the future, especially since AoS has almost or has surpass 40k in terms of amounts of Army.

one of the solutions is to update army through digital subscription means so the process is faster and timelier but it unknown if GW feel if that model is profitable or if the fanbase would actually adapt into such a model.

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I think that, once we're up-to-date, the rate of the addition of new armies going forward will slow down and there will be more replacement of older existing models and the introduction of new models for existing armies.  There is also the possibility of new Battalions and Sub-factions for existing armies being released, perhaps in WD or on line.  2.0 should remain relatively stable for a few years with minor annual tweaks to keep it fresh, so the armies should continue to be relatively viable during this time.

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I can understand the anxiety, especially after the last few WHFB editions;however it seems that GW has an easier time producing new rules without a huge model release to go with it.  free rules .pdfs and the GHB also tends to make updates somewhat easier as a FAQ and updating a few warscrolls can do what use to take WD articles and waiting for reprints to distribute. This means that a  project team can spend a few months updating rules where and when needed without waiting on conventional distribution and release schedule.

while this doesn't gurantee the neglect and power creep of the end of the old world wont return, but the tools to mitigate it are in place

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A larger number of armies has an effect on what stores stock. It's already almost impossible to get hold of anything for Seraphon beside the Start Collecting box, and I can go suck on a railspike if I'm ever hoping to buy anything Skaven on a whim that isn't Clanrats, Plague Monks or Stormfiends. More armies are going to whittle down the space per army in GW shops, and I don't think that's a good thing. At the same time, I want to see more shiny new races and armies as much as anyone... 

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I think GW long ago stopped worrying about storespace.

 

I think that in their view store space is best spent on beginners. New people who need specific entry way products to get into the game and hobby supplies - the latter of which tend to have the highest markup and are often the cheapest items with smaller storage space. Paints, for example might take up a whole shelf unit, but you've a lot more chance at selling most of them so the turnover can be pretty high. 

The internet makes up for a lot of GW's sales and I think their strong brand and structure means they trust gamers to get online. Either to their own store or to 3rd parties. Plus local stores can stock models and order them in too.

 

I suspect that the slower nature of wargames (you've got to build and paint) and the somewhat higher prices mean that this business model works for GW. 

 

I think with 800 odd products GW knows that nothing but the biggest of their own stores will ever stock everything - as long as stores have those gateway products I think GW is confident they'll be in a fine position. 

 

 

Army support is thus more a case of what GW can write rules and produce new models/new content for over time. Not forgetting that they support more armies in 40K than is apparent because so many are tangled up with Marines and alternative marines. 

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So I think that a refresh rate of a new book every 4 years would be acceptable, with campaign books, underworlds warbands and the like coming in between refreshes. At a rate of a new book every 1.5 months gw can have up 32 armies before it gets too unwealdy. There are 22 battletomes right now, so we could comfortably have another 10 armies. 

 

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Back to the End Times, when it became clear that the unbelievable rumours of WHFB dissapearance was true, one of the central pieces of information was a change in business model. Whereas WHFB worked around people having large collections of one or two factions and offering them new centerpieces, and some core units, for every edition of the game, the new warhammer would change this to a model of limited releases. That is: new, smaller armies would be constantly invented and released, but would phase out. GW would incentive frequent rotations of armies.

AoS might.have been originally designed that way, with people throwing new GA armies into their collections. They probably changed along the way and decided to be more traditional, thus forming large enough factions that are less chaotic than GA collections. What I think did not change, because it was a big success, is the idea of constant releases instead of the old model of constant recycling. 

Short answer: GW will keep adding new factions or new "chambers" to old factions. I think they threw away the aggressive model of not updating older armies. Endless spells, terrain and heroes, as well as large battletomes, show that they are feeding old collections. But don't expect the old focus on renewing completely the old ranges with each new edition. 

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Another problem could be rules bloat: With so many armies, all with their own special rules, it becomes increasingly difficult, especially for beginners, to get at least a rough overview of what the other side of the table is capable to do. Which makes it more of a game of luck than one of tactical thought.

Also, some of the newer armies consist of just a few kits. I think fewer armies with more troop choices would be the better way.

Edited by Beastmaster

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Weirdly I think from a game perspective, having more armies will ultimately help to encourage people to rethink how they write their lists.  It'd be really embarrassing to create an army that blows away all of the latest hotness but then falls over as soon as a grot breathes heavy.  Time will tell on that theory though!

My own view is we're going to see something similar to what's happened in 40k.  So a slow down in what we've had over the past year and a half and more in the way of campaign books that add one or two new characters/allegiances/rules etc.  Possibly two or three new armies and between 2 and 6 revised battletomes - with a load of supplements that perhaps focuses on one slice of an existing battletome (e.g. adding a named character to a Legion of Blood army).

I could also see grand alliance armies being removed entirely - we've recently had a trend towards certain armies that can include other units plus mercenaries, that should ideally help to scratch that itch of having mixed armies as time moves on.

Will too many armies be a problem - I think it will for those of us that collect an army and never sell them as I fear we'll run out of space before GW runs out of ideas 😂

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8 hours ago, Overread said:

 

I think GW long ago stopped worrying about storespace.

 

I think that in their view store space is best spent on beginners. New people who need specific entry way products to get into the game and hobby supplies - the latter of which tend to have the highest markup and are often the cheapest items with smaller storage space. Paints, for example might take up a whole shelf unit, but you've a lot more chance at selling most of them so the turnover can be pretty high. 

The internet makes up for a lot of GW's sales and I think their strong brand and structure means they trust gamers to get online. Either to their own store or to 3rd parties. Plus local stores can stock models and order them in too.

 

100% this

GW stores are for people new or just starting with options for experienced players to collect essentials such as paint or some kits. With the internet, I have loads of choice from who I want to buy models from and less likely to go into my local GW. I think last time I popped into a GW is near where I work and I think that was around September last year because I had a gift voucher (I got a white dwarf). Most of my purchases are online.

Back on topic...

11 hours ago, Enoby said:

By this I mean, "will there ever be so many Age of Sigmar armies that the sheer quantity has a negative effect of the game as a whole"?

I don’t think so. I like there is lots of choice and how the game is structured you can swap and change armies with allies and but things up. Will it always be a bit “messy” due to these updates? Yes but that only becomes an issue if you like to play competitively and want to know everything. However, it doesn’t seem to bother many of the top players so this is probably more of an issue if you just like things neat and tidy. 😁

Without the variety, I think the game would get boring and I think it would just end up where we were years ago. With the change it’s exciting and if I was to complain, there too much change because I want it all! 😁 

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What I'm kind of hoping for is a more flexible way to use kits in different forces.

The keyword system means that they can release a new army, with a brand new book, and all the associated gubbins, with relatively little investment in models.

For example the hypothetical gargants. I could see them making a couple of new giant kits, each with multiple builds and various weapon loadouts, throwing the existing trolls and giants into the mix, and having a solid army roster which is unique, even though half of those models could already be used in Gloomspite etc.

They can thus keep remixing things, and releasing new stuff, while still updating the old.

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4 hours ago, Beastmaster said:

Another problem could be rules bloat: With so many armies, all with their own special rules, it becomes increasingly difficult, especially for beginners, to get at least a rough overview of what the other side of the table is capable to do. Which makes it more of a game of luck than one of tactical thought.

I think to a degree this is inevitable. Very few players are going to know every army or every unit in the depth required to seriously change their tactics, even if we had half the number of armies.

It does lead to a related issue of game design though, that of when it becomes difficult to make a new faction with a meaningfully distinct or fresh play style and identity. I'm not talking about necessarily making sure a new army's competitive builds are radically new but ensuring that they don't tread too much on the conceptual space of an existing faction, most of which do have a bit of a range of play styles.

This can be done with the model design and background much more easily but taking the example of the hypothetical Grotbag Scuttlers, the designers would need ensure a faction of airship-borne goblins are not too similar to Kharadon Overlords. I think it can be done and the fact that one's destruction and the other's order makes it less of a huge issue but still, there is a range of space for new armies and that shrinks over time.

You want a new elf-y faction for order? Have to make sure it plays relatively differently to the existing three. A new destruction faction? It shouldn't tread too much on the styles of Mawtribes/Ironjawz or the range of Gloomspite builds. That's obviously compressing the more subtle details of how these forces are different and there's nothing wrong with, say, having multiple cavalry/big guy/swarm/magic-centric forces but it's something that will only get harder as the number of factions increases.

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AoS has been in a period of rapid expansion due to being a relatively new IP. AoS 2.0 sped this up, but we're nearly at the end of the 2.0 cycle. Things will slow down.

AoS doesn't nearly have the same problem of rules bloat as say 6th/7th edition 40k did or could, as the way rules are presented is fundamentally different. Furthermore, it would be an issue if every new army had the rules of the previous army plus one, but they don't. For example, Ossiarchs don't have Strike First/ Last (as far as I know). In fact, Ossiarchs don't really introduce any rules not already in the game, and they're a big new IP release.

AoS is just a lot more resilient against bloat than previous systems, and power creep is usually kept in line with regular FAQs. It's also much less rock paper scissors than in previous systems, as it's quite possible to win with anything. I beat Slaanesh using a Troggherd, even with powerful safety nets like 2+ locus that require almost zero thought to use and profit from. This is probably the healthiest rules system GW have created.

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Current model definitely isn't sustainable in the long run.

Even the next iteration is highly questionable. Try to imagine any of the 2019 books getting update. What will they have? Triple fight per phase and super fight first?

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6 minutes ago, Smooth criminal said:

Current model definitely isn't sustainable in the long run.

Even the next iteration is highly questionable. Try to imagine any of the 2019 books getting update. What will they have? Triple fight per phase and super fight first?

I doubt we will see rules like that. GW learned their lesson about strikes first, or extreme summoning etc. The big bads have mostly been rectified. Petrifex will have their time.

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4 hours ago, Dankboss said:

I doubt we will see rules like that. GW learned their lesson about strikes first, or extreme summoning etc. The big bads have mostly been rectified. Petrifex will have their time.

I doubt it will be exactly that. But the argument that to make the new army unique and exciting through rules is definitely a possibility. 
and GW occasionally has a miss hit  that becomes OP for awhile. 

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On 1/20/2020 at 4:39 PM, Aelfric said:

I think that, once we're up-to-date, the rate of the addition of new armies going forward will slow down and there will be more replacement of older existing models and the introduction of new models for existing armies.  There is also the possibility of new Battalions and Sub-factions for existing armies being released, perhaps in WD or on line.  2.0 should remain relatively stable for a few years with minor annual tweaks to keep it fresh, so the armies should continue to be relatively viable during this time.

They have left space for some factions to be expanded on in the future while not creating new armies too.

  • The Gloomspite have the Gitmob both listed in their battletome and in Underworlds. If they ever wanted to have a new release for them they could have new Gitmob or more Spiders.
  • Sylvaneth have the Kurnothi and possibly Wanderers to expand with in the future. Kurnothi seemed to be popular and have a strong and unique aesthetic that pairs well with the Sylvaneth.
  • While not present currently, we know normal Orruks still exist in the mortal realms alongside the Ironjawz and Bonesplittas. Ardboyz are normal Orruks who want to mimic Ironjawz, and Bonesplittas are normal orruks who go crazy, so the standard ones have to exist somewhere.
  • Ogor Mawtribes have the Suneater tribes that the Firebellies come from, as well as Maneaters that they could expand on.
  • Stormcast have a chamber or two unexplored. I think it's called the Ruination chamber?
  • There has been a suspicious amount of Dispossessed pieces in newer kits, from Gloomspite trophies and weapons, Skaven terrain, and now as a piece of scrap in a rumor engine. I am not saying anything will happen with them, but designers seem to really like using their bits.
  • Many newer AoS factions like Ironjawz and Idoneth don't have many unit options, and are likely to get stuff eventually.
  • etc, etc, etc.

I think the faction bloat will slow down eventually. Either that, or we will start seeing the smaller factions combined in the future a la Gloomspite/Skaventide (with things like Duardin Realms, Aelven Conclaves, Legions of Nagash 2.0, etc).

Edited by dirkdragonslayer
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8 minutes ago, dirkdragonslayer said:

They have left space for some factions to be expanded on in the future while not creating new armies too.

  • The Gloomspite have the Gitmob both listed in their battletome and in Underworlds. If they ever wanted to have a new release for them they could have new Gitmob or more Spiders.
  • Sylvaneth have the Kurnothi and possibly Wanderers to expand with in the future. Kurnothi seemed to be popular and have a strong and unique aesthetic that pairs well with the Sylvaneth.
  • While not present currently, we know normal Orruks still exist in the mortal realms alongside the Ironjawz and Bonesplittas. Ardboyz are normal Orruks who want to mimic Ironjawz, and Bonesplittas are normal orruks who go crazy, so the standard ones have to exist somewhere.
  • Ogor Mawtribes have the Suneater tribes that the Firebellies come from, as well as Maneaters that they could expand on.
  • Stormcast have a chamber or two unexplored. I think it's called the Ruination chamber?
  • There has been a suspicious amount of Dispossessed pieces in newer kits, from Gloomspite trophies and weapons, Skaven terrain, and now as a piece of scrap in a rumor engine. I am not saying anything will happen with them, but designers seem to really like using their bits.
  • Many newer AoS factions like Ironjawz and Idoneth don't have many unit options, and are likely to get stuff eventually.
  • etc, etc, etc.

I think the faction bloat will slow down eventually. Either that, or we will start seeing the smaller factions combined in the future a la Gloomspite/Skaventide (with things like Duardin Realms, Aelven Conclaves, Legions of Nagash 2.0, etc).

Let's not also forget the Daughters of Khaine Temple of Khelt Nar, which is in the book but has not yet been given rules ( I predict their appearance when Slaanesh finally escapes).  There are plenty of snippets of lore involving sections of existing factions to keep GW going for years - plenty more Cities for example. 

It will still be nice to see the odd new army now and again, though.

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I think after perhaps another 1-2 new armies (the rumored light and dark elves) things will slow down a bit.  
There's still lots of room for expansion eg Kurnothi, Grot SkyPirates, rumored Vampire Sea Pirates, rumored Gargant faction etc....   
The beauty of the new setting is they can literally make up any new faction (eg Deepkin) and slot it in pretty easily.  

Of course there's still lots to expand in existing factions. Skaven can be split into multiple major factions (and get refreshed kits for all that super old stuff. Eshin and Moulder could do with more fleshing out). 
Most factions, but especially the smaller ones could do with a new sub-faction (like Legion of Grief) or an extra unit or two (perhaps a new type of Troggoth) or like those new characters in the dual faction boxes. 

So I don't think we'll see much of a slow down in terms of releases. GW has shown for quite a few years that they can keep up with a weekly release schedule (admittedly across all their product lines, but still). Personally I think that's a crazy pace but they seem to be pulling it off pretty well for quite a while now. Apart from maybe the Sylvaneth book release hiccup? 
 

Here's the problem though. While warscrolls are free, the majority of the army rules are hidden in battletomes. And GW's stubborn reliance on expensive, slow to develop, print and ship physical books is going to hurt them eventually. We're already seeing rules bloat. For even the most basic matched play game you need the Core Rules, GHB 2019, Malign Sorcery book, whichever Battletome and that number again in FAQ and errata.   

I think GW desperately needs to move to an online living document for the various rules. Do away with separate FAQ and errata..... just keep one document updated to the latest version. One for core rules, one for each battletome etc.... 
 Just like Legion and X-wing do. 
like why on earth is the Underworlds rulebook not available online? There's a learn to play video, I can look through the whole card library including every warband card.... but I can't read the actual game rules? They're only in each starter box.... Which technically isn't even necessary if you don't want those warbands or game boards. 
Or how the Legion of Grief rules don't seem to be available online anywhere (officially) so if you didn't happen to buy that WD a few months ago, you're going to have a hard time finding those rules. Same goes for those battalion warscrolls locked in the limited edition dual faction boxes. 
It's stuff like that which makes getting into these games annoying for new players.  

For those who like nice pretty hardcover battletomes, perhaps they can still make faction books. Just focus more on painting guides, hobby guides, lore, maps, background etc.... and keep the rules online.  Almost every book released this year had multiple erratas straight away. Incorrect weapon load outs on units, incorrect damage table numbers, wrong printed points values.  
We already have an app and a website based builder. Why do you even need to print points in a battletome or GHB at all?  
This way we just end up with multiple sources and multiple documents floating around.  

It's my biggest pet peeve about GW in general right now (followed closely by the prevalence of horde units/armies in AOS and summoning). 

Back on topic.... if we had these living online battletomes, GW would be free to add new units and heroes and sub factions to any army (like those found in my examples above). You could easily do that without breaking armies, without having to wait for some big battletome re-release, or a new AOS edition or whatever. The WD extra subfactions are a good start, but as mentioned before, they have their own issues. 
It also lets you react to balance issues, errata or FAQs in a more timely manner. Half yearly isn't too bad for a big FAQ update.... but doing maybe 2-3 monthly smaller ones is probably better imo. 


 

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16 hours ago, Dankboss said:

LFor example, Ossiarchs don't have Strike First/ Last (as far as I know). In fact, Ossiarchs don't really introduce any rules not already in the game, and they're a big new IP release.

Ossiarchs introduced terrain that deals damage, Relentless Discipline points, taking away command points and whole command abilities from heroes. Aside from armywide battleshock immunity, which I think is a first.

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2 hours ago, zilberfrid said:

Ossiarchs introduced terrain that deals damage, Relentless Discipline points, taking away command points and whole command abilities from heroes. Aside from armywide battleshock immunity, which I think is a first.

None of those are really new rules though. They are variations of current rules. A simple new rule would be the Ogre's hunger mechanic, but even that is based in the base rules since it affects stats. Ossiarchs, as far as I know, haven't invented a new rule like Strikes First.

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3 hours ago, Inquisitorsz said:

Here's the problem though. While warscrolls are free, the majority of the army rules are hidden in battletomes. And GW's stubborn reliance on expensive, slow to develop, print and ship physical books is going to hurt them eventually. We're already seeing rules bloat. For even the most basic matched play game you need the Core Rules, GHB 2019, Malign Sorcery book, whichever Battletome and that number again in FAQ and errata.   

Didn't GW recently release a small A5 rulebook that contained the core rules, a bunch of ghb2019 missions and the malign sorcery artefacts/spells? So then you only need that rulebook + battletomes + faq/errata (especially now errata includes the points) Still a bunch and you still need the battletomes, but less books than you intially claimed. 

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4 minutes ago, Dankboss said:

None of those are really new rules though. They are variations of current rules. A simple new rule would be the Ogre's hunger mechanic, but even that is based in the base rules since it affects stats. Ossiarchs, as far as I know, haven't invented a new rule like Strikes First.

Strikes first is merely a variation on priority in combat. I think Relentless Discipline is a larger diversion from the core rules. But that's just an opinion.

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