“The Soul Wars are over, but a new conflict brews in the Realm of Beasts.“
Age of Sigmar doesn’t seem like it has been with us long enough to have a third edition but low and behold 3E is here and it’s arrived in epic style, the dominion box set.
Before we delve into the box and it’s rules I guess I should briefly explain my wargaming history. At my core I’ll always see myself as a Warhammer Fantasy Battles player (WFB) and I met the end times and the dawn of the Age of Sigmar with the expected levels of salt. However, the call of the horned rat is strong and I’ve popped my head in several times over the first two editions but it wasn’t until Broken Realms began that I became invested in the lore.
Hot off the heels (or hooves) of Broken Realms the Dominion box is upon us and the Games Workshop Community Team kindly send us a copy.
My excitement can be summed up with one word, Yndrasta! The Celestial Spear, Sigmar’s Huntress. I don’t (didn’t) have a Stormcast army but Yndrasta means I most definitely will. I love everything about this character, the fluff, her rules and of course the miniature! Strangely, I have a kit-bashed Autarch that looks kinda similar.
As well as this new Stormcast character we also have a host of new Stormcast, the Thunderstrike, their armour forged by Grungni, the great maker.
I won’t go into every unit here but the standout for me has to be the Annihilators, these chaps are CHONKY, they look absolutely every bit as powerful as their name suggests, they also have a pretty nifty ability on the charge(as always, no rules will be presented here out of respect for GW).
I was surprised as you to be so excited by Stormcasts, especially given that this box also comes with a whole new sub faction of greenskins, called Kruleboyz.
Immediately these guys bring The Lord of The Rings to mind, these savages look to have been inspired by Uruk-hai at first glance but once you get the spruces in your hands they are most assuredly their own thing. They have a very hobgoblin aesthetic (given that one unit are actually called Hobgrots, it makes sense), they are more slender than their fellow greenskins, this I assume to represent the fact that in character they are a cunning, deceitful and cunning bunch. In fact, these dastardly boyz remind me more of Goblins after a growth spurt as opposed to skinny orcs.
None of the Boyz charmed me the way Yndrasta did but I do want a horde of Man-skewer Boltboyz, in fact I intend to use their weapons and my limited sculpting skills to make myself some Eshin Jezzails. The Kruleboyz very much have their own flavour and it’s perfectly demonstrated by their models but the fluff also backs this up. As with all starter boxes it comes with a booklet to set the scene for the battle contained within. War at Amberstone
Watch sets the scene amazingly well and this is when I started to feel the pull towards Age of Sigmar. The booklet also acts as a mini battletome for the new units and contains all the nerdy fluff you could want…well, that’s not exactly true as I will always want more fluff, just look at my Black Library backlog if you need proof.
Models? Check. Scene setting booklet? Check. What am I missing?
Oh yeah, the 360 paged third edition rulebook. The rulebook, has the same contents as any other version of the rulebook, be it the standard or limited edition, however the Dominion edition features are full virgin (insert cliche joke about wargamers here) cover featuring Yndrasta striking at the forces of destruction as she rides the divine lightning of Azyr into battle.
The majority of the 3E tome is fluff, from bringing you up to speed on the plight of the mortal realms, to a faction by faction breakdown of those who wage war in them. Then we get to the rules. The previous editions of Age of Sigmar were very light on rules, two pages about summed it up and it left a lot of space for wording to be open to interpretation. Third edition rules are much more defined and there’s a clear attempt to make battles resemble something that actually looks tactical, Unit coherency has been adjusted so that units actual move and are organised in vaguely militaristic manner. Stand & Shoot is back although it’s now called Unleash Hell and is now an a command ability but I’m very happy to see it return in any form (as are my skaven weapon teams).
Narrative play gets a huge upgrade and Path to Glory is now much similar in scope to Crusade in 40k. I can’t wait to jump into a Path to Glory Campaign I’ve already settled on using Nighthaunt despite my love for Yndrasta.
I won’t spill all the details here but some exciting facets involve battling for territories (underhive vibes) and attempting to compete quests to increase your forces power. Just like in Crusade your units and champions can gain new abilities, suffer injuries or perhaps even die. It all helps to raise the stakes and helps build stories that wargamers will be sharing across a table at Bugmans for years to come.
Pitched battles are still a thing, although generally you’ll need to invest in the new Generals Handbook to get all your points values, a must have for the competitive gamer. I would suggest it offers a balanced approach to battles but I really don’t want to start a wave of “This is over-costed, or It’s OP for its points in the comments. I always enjoy pitched battles and as I mentioned being an old school WFB player i was basically the bread and butter of my gaming youth. However, as I stepped away from the end times I fell deep into the underhive (and on to the Blood Bowl pitch) and suddenly stakes mattered and the tension of knowing that every aspect of a battle would have a lasting impact is something I can’t wait to experience in the Age of Sigmar.
Open play is of course still an option and a great way for those just starting in the hobby to be able to use anything and everything they buy as they go. I don’t ever envision myself or my local gaming group ever getting up to much open play but I understand why it’s a game mode that Games Workshop are happy to support.
So, do I think Age Of Sigmar Dominion is worth picking up, well based purely on it’s contents yes. It’s so obviously a must have even a snotling could work it out. The virgin cover rulebook is entirely enchanting, I actually like it more than the Limited Edition. As for the models, its the same deal as always, for now they are exclusive to the box but as new Battletomes are released they’ll be available separately. I will add that this is easily my favourite starter box since The Island of Blood and for those of you who know me, that’s high praise indeed.
The changes in 3E while not suddenly making AoS into WFB it defiantly feels like a step in a more strategic direction and if you’ve not yet climbed down from your salt throne, I would say now is definitely the time to do so.