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My AOS Skirmish Review


wayniac

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So I picked my my copy of Skirmish yesterday, and have played a few games with it, so I figured I would give my thoughts on it.  Overall, I find it does what it says in a relatively basic way, but I feel that it was rushed in that it seems not a lot of thought went into it.  There are already several clear issues that could be abused heavily by certain types of players, and while overall I love the fact a game takes about 30-45 minutes (all the test games I've used so far were at 50 Renown) it feels a bit bland, almost like there is something missing; I'm not sure if it's a result of using the base AOS rules or what, but everything feels incredibly fast but to the point of losing any sort of flavor.

Some gripes about it:

  1. Only including models available in plastic (and not all of them at that) seems a bit weird if not understandable
  2. The campaign suggesting 25 renown is far too little when most leaders alone are 20 or more points, and I think it should be higher
  3. The warband-wide Battleshock rules seem to really ****** over high Bravery armies as a key component of them disappears when the General is slain (as Bravery drops to 5)
  4. Certain units such as Daemons and Skeleton Warriors have zero reason to take a banner because they cannot use the replenishing mechanic due to Skirmish rules
  5. It seem statistically better to gang up on models and some models that get a general buff become even more deadly; Putrid Blightkings for example, where each one of them gets their Virulent Discharge ability due to each being a separate model, so if you have 2 Blightkings engaging an enemy, that's two chances at mortal wounds (or 3 if you have the Lord of Plagues and give one of them Nurgle's Rot)
  6. Newer armies tend to lose many of their special abilities that are tied to allegiance abilities since you are explicitly limited to only the grand alliance abilities, and those rules are vague at best (it does not indicate if you get a Command Trait or not; we played it that you did) 
  7. Several battleplans are ripe for abuse; Clash at Dawn, for example, you can place a model exactly in the center point of a square and thereby force enemy models to deploy at the edge to not be within 9", as well as the random deployment often makes it really easy to gang up on the enemy and wipe out half their force to seize an immediate victory; the Cargo one can easily be won by fast moving flying models who can just get off the board almost immediately, thereby essentially forcing the game to go on for 6 turns at which point the player automatically wins, and the Relic a fast moving force can clog up the enemy's entrance to the sanctuary, preventing them from entering and forcing them to take mortal wounds from the storm.

Those gripes aside, I do really enjoy the fast play even if I think balance was, almost to be expected by GW, totally ignored despite having a page dedicated to how to run Matched Play skirmish games and even a section about how to do a Skirmish tournament, which I feel would be grossly abused by people on account of being a tournament.  I really like the campaign idea, although it's very basic and as mentioned before the 25 renown suggestion seems far too little.  The fluff parts about Shadespire were actually really well written.  The execution I find to be a bit lacking overall, in the sense it is extremely basic with not much given and the scenarios as mentioned above seem way too easy to win or abuse if you bring the "right" list.

Overall for such a cheap price, I think it's a great entry way to the game if you want to play a series of fast games; I often play at a Warhammer store that only has one dedicated AOS table so it helps to have something fast that can be played on a 4x4 as this means we could get two games going on, and people are going to be less angry at waiting 30-45 minutes for a game than a couple of hours like with larger games.

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Wow. Those are my feelings exactly (as seems to often be the case with you ?). In addition to putrid blight kings models that are Wizards (such as pink horrors or doomfire warlocks) all individually become wizards as well which gives you a lot of cheap spell casters. Zombies are also totally useless, none of the abilities on their warscroll work except for their musician due to each model being a seperate unit.

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I agree largely with what Wayniac said, although I think some of the points are fairly minor and/or are a sympton of downscaling a game. Nothing is ever going to translate perfectly when you do so.

I don't care that Standards don't work for Skeletons as an example. Many races have standards, which usually increase bravery in some form or another which are just as useless.

2 hours ago, Oppenheimer said:

Wow. Those are my feelings exactly (as seems to often be the case with you ?). In addition to putrid blight kings models that are Wizards (such as pink horrors or doomfire warlocks) all individually become wizards as well which gives you a lot of cheap spell casters. Zombies are also totally useless, none of the abilities on their warscroll work except for their musician due to each model being a seperate unit.

In the end it'll probably come down to house rules to ensure that in a more competitive matched play environment that things don't get out of hand. For example, you could say "For units that count as Wizards, only one model in the unit may be a Wizard." and "You may only take 1 spellcaster per warband", 2 simple house rules which would curb abuse around spellcasting.

I'm sure if 'competitive' skirmish takes off, someone will find some warband that's abuses the ****** out of abilities on warscrolls. But at the moment at least, it looks like most people are just enjoying coming up with creative warbands.

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11 hours ago, wayniac said:

2. The campaign suggesting 25 renown is far too little when most leaders alone are 20 or more points, and I think it should be higher

I thought the same thing until I started playing and we played the battleplans in the order recommended.  A hero like a Saurus Old Blood and then 2 Saurus Warriors made for a great warband for the first scenario (EDIT: Though because of an error, it's actually 28 points so I cheated.  Oops).  And then even the loser is at 31+ going into the next scenario.  I was super sceptical but then actually tried it and it works.  There is one obvious place where it doesn't work though:  those factions that have only higher than 20 point heroes.  While I understand people have access to the entire allegience, people really want to play factions, so a points value where some can't, is an oversight. 

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3. The warband-wide Battleshock rules seem to really ****** over high Bravery armies as a key component of them disappears when the General is slain (as Bravery drops to 5)

I can't decide if this is a feature or not.  My friend who plays skaven is like "well, then don't lose your hero to my horde of rats" and I sort of agree with that sentiment.  Maybe it's just from playing against people with bravery 6 generals that they all start pre-screwed over and I just join them in fair land when I lose my 10.

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4. Certain units such as Daemons and Skeleton Warriors have zero reason to take a banner because they cannot use the replenishing mechanic due to Skirmish rules

I totally agree here.  I would have loved a page on how to interpret banners and a few replacement banners for those ones that do nothing.  Like generic ones for each grand alliance or a summoning specific replacement.  This is definitely going to be where our local group starts with fan made content.  Interpretations of unclear banners (Saurus Warrior Icon) and replacements for non functioning ones.

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Relic a fast moving force can clog up the enemy's entrance to the sanctuary, preventing them from entering and forcing them to take mortal wounds from the storm.

That actually sounds awesome.  Not nice, but awesome.  I'll have to play more, but I definitely want to play at least once where an opponent does this. I take your meaning though.

I enjoyed your review!

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5 hours ago, Nin Win said:

I thought the same thing until I started playing and we played the battleplans in the order recommended.  A hero like a Saurus Old Blood and then 5 Saurus Warriors made for a great warband for the first scenario.  And then even the loser is at 31+ going into the next scenario.  I was super sceptical but then actually tried it and it works.

I don't have my book in front of me, but isn't Saurus Old Blood 24 renown and warriors are 2? that would be 34 renown instead of 25 :). Even a priest (16 points) can't bring 5 warriors from 25 points.

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6 hours ago, Nin Win said:

can't decide if this is a feature or not.

Is there such a thing as accidental features ;) 
For me it works as an added tactical choice but narrative wise it does not really fit with every army, oh well can't have everything. 

 

12 hours ago, wayniac said:
  • Only including models available in plastic (and not all of them at that) seems a bit weird if not understandable
  •  

Find this really tough to accept as well. To be honest we already made some 'fair' points for some models we would like to use but aren't there. (such as the skaven assassin). 

8 hours ago, someone2040 said:

I don't care that Standards don't work for Skeletons as an example. Many races have standards, which usually increase bravery in some form or another which are just as useless

Fully agreed. 

 

12 hours ago, wayniac said:

The execution I find to be a bit lacking overall, in the sense it is extremely basic with not much given and the scenarios as mentioned above seem way too easy to win or abuse if you bring the "right" list.

I get what you are saying (the whole review) but for me it nowhere feels like a competitive system but as a open/narrative system for which they HAD to add matched play rules because that is how they now roll... Could be me of course but so far I enjoyed my few games on sunday immensely and can't wait to finish the start out campaign and build a custom one. 

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I would normally agree but the issue is it has matched play rules and even a little blurb about how to set up Skirmish tournaments so therefore it has ways to play it competitively and as a result in my opinion should be able to cater to those without breaking down so much with so little effort. I showed some people to book and these are casual players and they were already like I found ways to break this with barely looking at it so to me it seems not much effort went into it other than the typical GW naivety nobody would try to break this mentality

Sent from my SM-G930T using Tapatalk

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Well the only thing that pissed me off was the lack of support for a ton os models.

But we already have a formula to deal with it, my club settled on it, so no big deal in the end.

I do get most of the negative points, and while i agree they are there, i really think they are just a.matter of scaling down the game.

 

In the end  we had a blast. I was positively surprised as how much fun it was.

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1 hour ago, wayniac said:

I would normally agree but the issue is it has matched play rules and even a little blurb about how to set up Skirmish tournaments so therefore it has ways to play it competitively and as a result in my opinion should be able to cater to those without breaking down so much with so little effort. I showed some people to book and these are casual players and they were already like I found ways to break this with barely looking at it so to me it seems not much effort went into it other than the typical GW naivety nobody would try to break this mentality

Sent from my SM-G930T using Tapatalk
 

No don't get me wrong I agree, they should have made more effort on that part. Only it works for 2/3 of playstyles so for a 8euro supplement I won't be complaining. So for me it feels like they somewhere made a strategical choice to always include all three playstyles and thats the reason it's in there. But let's agree then on: if they do include matched. It should tried harder to balance it. 

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12 hours ago, Oppenheimer said:

In addition to putrid blight kings models that are Wizards (such as pink horrors or doomfire warlocks) all individually become wizards as well which gives you a lot of cheap spell casters.

Technically, all of those Pink Horrors are from the same Warscroll (since you can only take one of each war scroll), so they collectively can only cast one spell per round.  Alternatively, it would be very easy to rule that only the Champion gains the ability to cast spells.

Correspondingly, I think a case can be made that since all models of the same type are from the same war scroll (since they have to obey weapon restrictions as per a single war scroll), I think it makes sense to grant them the ability for having larger numbers from their war scrolls (like with Zombies) as well.

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14 hours ago, wayniac said:

Newer armies tend to lose many of their special abilities that are tied to allegiance abilities since you are explicitly limited to only the grand alliance abilities, and those rules are vague at best (it does not indicate if you get a Command Trait or not; we played it that you did) 

Same issue here with the command trait.

My other only point of concern is the Knight-Azyros. The 8inch D3 mortal wounds can really ruin a lot of warbands if they are close to each other, and he's only 16 renown (I run Azyros, 3 prosecutors, 1 Liberator warband).

I was also hoping for a vampire lord, but I guess the healing skill would be a little too much.

It's a pretty good game at launch, but I do hope for a faq and additional models being added. I am looking forward to playing more games of this.

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I got my digital copy this weekend and am working my way through it... I did a little practice with the rules last night and found it to be a very different game. I had thought it would be simply "AOS with small units" but I think it's something more.  I think there's more tactical stuff going on here, than it appears at first blush. The rules seem to encourage people to really tinker with mixing the various factions, which people seem less inclined to do..

Sample warbands:

Chaos 50 pts

Slaughterpriest (general)

Blood Warriors x3

Blood Reavers x4

Wrathmongers x2

 

Order

Fleetmaster (general)

Corsairs x10

Liberators w/shields x3

Prosecutors x2

 

I did run into a couple questions...

Movement: Do you need to move each model individually; ie does every model potentially get its own run move? I was thinking each unit had a single run score, but thinking more about it I suspect they don't...

Set-up: Is there any reason why I need to set up units with models at all close to each other? Seems like no..

 

Thanks for your help!

-J

p.s. I'd be interested to see other people's opinions on power levels? Seems like at smaller sizes chaos really has the edge? 

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Things like Blightkings seem way over the top due to how their aura works; they can heal themselves and deal up to 3 mortal wounds to anything they are in combat with, along with the chance at up to 18 attacks per guy, plus 3 wounds (4 for the champion).  Plus Enlightneed/Skyfires can abuse the Cargo mission so yes, it seems like Chaos and Stormcast especially have a big leg up due to how their synergies work.

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I found a wight king with master of the black arts to be just brutal, cleaving through a whole Pestilens warband almost single-handedly while his skellies stood about a bit.

The 6+ Death save made for some great narrative moments, but so outclasses Chaos' Unpredictable Destruction it seems unfair!

Ultimately we broke the campaign after 3 games, with enough of a disparity in renown that the back end of the campaign would be academic.

We found 25 renown to be too limiting so started with 30, but this let me take a decent hero so did that help break it?

Might be worth a replay with renown auto increasing by 10 each round, buying replacements for all the casualties you took (allowing you to change heroes and try different artefacts/command abilities). Just ditch the whole in between battles bit, and definitely the ludicrous bonuses for winning each campaign game - a triumph should be a fine substitute.

Still theres such a load of stuff that doesnt work, like the aforementioned banners, unit size bonuses, insane impact of multiple blightkings or wrathmongers, glaring absences in the list of plastics available (chaos sorceror, devoted of sigmar for a start) let alone the absence of all the resin units...

Will try a 50pt game before passing final judgment but this seems like a missed opportunity, even for just six quid.

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5 hours ago, Sleboda said:

Not saying it is right or wrong, but just wondering why people are thinking command traits are ok to take.

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ALLEGIANCE ABILITIES
Every warband owes allegiance to one
of the Grand Alliances– either ORDER,
CHAOS, DEATH or DESTRUCTION. The
units you choose to make up your
warband may make it eligiblefor
allegiance abilities from a number of
different sources, such as battletomes
and the General’sHandbook. However,
in a Skirmish battle, your warband can
only use the allegiance abilities of the
Grand Alliance from which they hail.

The fact that it just says Allegiance abilities:(GA) is the issue. Technically, everything on the Handbook page is part of the ability. Some clarification would be nice. If it said 'Battle trait' or 'Command trait' it would help clear up any confusion, but as it is, it is very vague.

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I think it' s the simple way to bring new gamers to the hobby...very easy to play and low painting entry level.

In italy many people play Aos with unpainting armies ..this is no good fir the hobby, its a bad promotion for new player.

 

I like skirmish because its a great possibility to focus on the different hobby s layer

1 strategy

2 painting and create a lore for your mins

3 read book, learn AoS story, narrative game way

 

We are playng a narrative campaign in Hammerhal..we implement rules with treasure and monster....some players play 2 warbands, an oppoerunity to try different faction or reasume old models

 

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The book says to use GHB Allegiance abilities, so for each Alliance thats the battle trait and a command trait from the GHB, an optional command ability from skirmish, and an artefact either from GHB or skirmish.

Where it gets silly is the between battle bits where the intent seems to be for heroes to have multiple command abilities and artefacts... though with artefacts at least this goes against the rules of Allegiance Abilities.

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4 hours ago, Sadysaneto said:

Doesnt the book say you can?

Nope.  I don't have a definitive "no" to point to,  but until there is a definitive "yes" I won't do it.  I am directed to the warscrolls for reference,  but that's not enough to tell me I can use everything in the battletome, a book that tells me how to build AoS armies, when building a warband.

I know AoS and Skirmish are very similar, but they aren't the same game.  If they were,  the rules for Skirmish would be once sentence long:  "Play very small games of Age of Sigmar."

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I had the same issue, the question is if Command Traits are part of Allegiance Abilities, or separate; so far everyone I've asked has said that they are one and the same, so getting an Allegiance Ability also unlocks a Command Trait; the issue is it doesn't specifically say one way or the other and so either is up for interpretation, while it explicitly states you can pick an artefact from The General's Handbook list or the Skirmish list.

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