Thursday, 30 July 2015

Amit and Warhammer - A Giant's Tale

A rare and special treat today. Famous primarily (as much as he would like to think it is for other reasons) for being the breaker of that international sensation and internet heartthrob Sewell (there was a bucking bronco involved… It’s a Cardiff thing), Amit is also one of the scene’s Good Guys and is now Chairman of the South London Legion (comparisons with Chairman Mao unfortunately don’t really work, as much as we wish they did).

The South London Legion, for those uninitiated in such things, are the most handsome, and arguably best smelling, gaming club in the UK.

Located in what estate agents would call “up and coming” Croydon in South London they play pretty much everything that can be played, as well as running some very cool events (big events in London, with a bar, was never something I expected to see). They even have some very good painters, if you are into that sort of thing (perverts).


I don’t get down there enough, but would recommend anyone passing by (or even living in) London to check them out. Over the past year they have really got all organised (which is something I am naturally suspicious of) and have their own blog up –


The below rambling remembrances are the story of Amit the Mighty and his time with Warhammer  is taken from there – go check it out!


Let me start by saying I have been a big fan of 8th edition since I started (re-)playing almost 4 years ago, and my initial concern was regarding what would happen to tournaments in the 7 seconds it took me to realise out the box AOS was unsuitable to such a forum. I raged (and by that I mean I became more sarcastic) and slowly drifted through the stages of denial (no, I'm not going to rebase my armies, yes I'll accept new stats for Warlocks however sad that makes me) and decided as an excersise to write down why I was concerned. Below you'll find my introspective ramblings. Beware reader, I start at the beginning, the very beginning.
I played Warhammer as a child, with the usual youthful innocence that leads you to take units of 20 Orc Boys (single sculpt plastic, all facing diagonally forwards), 30 Goblin Spearmen (with helmets that caused scars to the soles of my feet I still have to live with) and a metal Wyvern so heavy I could use it was a weapon if someone were to break into my apartment. These were good times. It was the start of 5th edition, and Slann Mage Priests could kills Orc Lords in combat, and Vampire Lords were strength 7. It was Hero-hammer at its finest. And I was hooked.
By the time 6th edition rolled along, I was a teenager and had managed to amass an Orc and Goblin Army, and a Lizardmen Army. With the onset of a new edition, I chose to buy and paint my first High Elf Army. Metal Swordmasters. Metal Imrik. A mage making the devils horn's at the world. I loved that army. I still have no idea where it ended up. I can only assume it’s in a box in my parent’s attic waiting to be dusted off. Much like Ulthuan now, I suppose.
It was at this point I began to take the game more seriously - heading down to my local Games Workshop and obliterating (other) noobs with Swordmasters with the Banner of Might (+1 to hit). After a year of this, I managed to grow a beard. I don't mean in the gaming sense, that had been there for years, but the literal. I could now get served. Warhammer went out the window, and the Age of Beer began. This edition would last through university and the first few years of employment post university, and a year out travelling the world. Then I took a job at a well-known investment bank.
Tedium. Boredom. A lack of motivation. I'm not sure what it was. I found I had almost nothing to do. I could do my entire week's work in sub 6 hours if I put my mind to it. I'm pretty sure my colleagues could too if they put their minds to it (no one ever did!). I found I had hours to spare. And I had the internet. I spent the first six months learning things. I learned of sharks and badgers, of wasps and of spiders. I learned a new language. I taught myself European history. When trying to learn about Komodo Dragons I stumbled upon a website. Lustria Online. This was not a Komodo Dragon fan site. It was Warhammer. And ten minutes of reading in, I was hooked again.
8th edition had been around a year. I was in my mid-twenties and had enough disposable income to purchase a new army or two. I chose Orcs and Goblins.
Buying the book at my local Games Workshop, I then proceeded to buy pretty much every unit in the book. And paint them in a month. The painting style was poor, the colour choices clashed and frankly I had no idea how to use the army, but I cared not. I was in love with the hobby once again. Now, during my respite from all things Warhammer, I had gotten into online gaming. This included Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning, a PVP MMO. I have always been competitive, and my forays into the online world had taken me to a new extreme. No longer content with simply being involved, I was a Power Gaming min-maxer. How is this relevant you ask? Well, with my re-found hobby, I wanted to take it one step further. I wanted competition. I found TWF.
The Warhammer Forum. It advertises itself as 'Doing exactly what is says on the tin'. This is false. It does so much more. It provides access to the independent tournament scene. Which is where I found my home.

Reading around the interwebz, I noticed an army that seemed to play how I wanted to . Dark Elves and 12 dice Mindrazor. I found a YouTube channel recorded by a young gent named Tom Richards. If you could get past the huffing, puffing and whining (take that Tom!) his videos were very good. They taught me several things about 8th edition tactics and list building. Note, at this point I did not own a rulebook, belong to a club or had met anyone from the UK scene (other than Sami Michaels – met at my local Games Workshop) decided to build a Dark Elf infantry army, and book myself into a tournament. I chose a Wandsworth Waagh, a one dayer around 40 mins drive away. I had fully built and painted my Dark Elf army, and was ready to play my first competitive game of Warhammer. Against Dwarfs.
I drew the game. I cannot remember how. It finished 10/10. And I was lucky. My redirecting was poor. My target selection was abominable. My opponent and I finished the game inside 1hr 30, and then he offered me some tips. I listened intently and decided to put them to action. I won game 2 20-0. I then won game 3 19-1. My first tournament (16 players). And I won the damn thing. I made friends with my opponents - all really nice guys. And I became a member of OG Games in the process. Next step was a 2 dayer - AGOM, followed the weekend after by South Coast GT.
AGOM went well, I came 8th/64. I realised I could do this. I could make an impact. Roll on SCGT.
Day 1: Win game 1 20-0. Game 2, up against a (now) friend of mine in Michael Pritchard, I lost 11-9 and suffered my first lost in 8th edition. I then lost 12-8 to Adi Mac, The Nicest Man in Warhammer. I was pumped. Still around the top third by the end of day 1, and 3 great games. I proceeded to do something I'm now well-known for. I got smashed.
Day 2 post hangover was interesting. I won game 4, 20-0. then game 5 17-3. Table 4 for game 6. And i won, 20-0. I did not know where I'd finished. As Wayne Kemp read out the podium places, I heard my name mentioned. I was third. And had two trophies. The next half hour was a blur. I had multiple people come and congratulate me. I was invited to a podcast (what the hell was one of those?). I had landed.
Over the next year, I proceeded to make friends and take names. While throughout the rest of 2012 I never managed to hit the heady heights of that day at SCGT, I laid the foundations for a new assault the following year. I got to spend time with the Black Sun. I made friends with Bad Dice. All the while playing Warhammer with my own unique brand of always being hammered and games never taking very long. I got to experience the highs of the Cardiff scene, and meet the 'Northerners' at Warlords. By the end of the year I was pumped. And I like to feel, had made an impact on the scene.
2013. A new year. A new army. Games workshop released the Warriors of Chaos book. And so I built an army. And due to their nature, I could play even drunker. And faster. Games would pass in the blink of an eye. I picked up my second podium (Tides of Chaos) and became 'part of the furniture' around the scene. By now, I'd also moved jobs and had much less free time. A girlfriend didn't help either, but I managed to just about balance my time. All was well, until November 2013 when the new Dark Elf book came out.
Over the following 3 months i theroycrafted and painted. And theroycrafted and painted. I painted 6,000 points in 3 months. And must have written hundreds of lists. Thus for me, began the 'Golden Age of Warhammer'. I went to every tournament I could, picking up multiple podiums and generally ruining hobbies with the Dark Elves. I tried different lists. Cold One busses, Shadestar, MSU, Witchstars, Flying Circus (with Beasts Magic on one now infamous occasion). All seemed to work fine. I even (finally) joined twitter. The gaming meta changed significantly. No more could you simply ball up lots of 1+ save units and ball them forward. Ballistic skill shooting was key, and the movement phase (or as my opponents liked to call it, Amit’s avoidance phase) became key once more. I think my favorite moment of this time in my tournament career was coming 2nd at Stormlords despite being too drunk to roll dice. Dark Elves took skills. I  helped run the first 50+ player 2 dayer in London (London's Calling) and during this period became a member of South London Legion, and later Angel Wargamers. I was asked to ref at multiple events – and for the most part enjoyed it. What shocked me the most was that people listened to my rulings. I couldn’t get my pets to listen to me. But these people did. I was first bemused, then aghast. Finally I settled on smug and remained that way henceforth.  After 12+ tournaments this calendar year, I made the Masters, during the backdrop of the End Times hitting.
I took Wood Elves. Why, I have no idea. Every tournament up to that point I'd placed at was with my Dark Elves. I think I needed a break. The Masters was great, and I loved the social side more than anything. Stopping Chris Tomlin from scoring was without doubt one of the most enjoyable moments I’ve had with other gamers.  After a solid start to 2015, I started attending team tournaments. They. Are. Epic. Team tournaments are the best thing on the scene. If you have never tried one, I feel for you. Over the course of the first 5 months of 2015 I played in 10ish tournaments, and again helped TO London's Burning, and helped Ming run HMV15. My tournament life was perfect. Every single one I went to, I knew people I could chat to. Hell, I play 5 a side football with some of my gamer friends, and was voted in as Chairman for South London Legion. I took a short break, and decided to bide my time until 9th. And then the Age of Sigmar rumors began.
To say I was not pleased was an understatement. It felt like a large part of my life by this point (the tournament scene) would simply vanish. And then, after 3 days, the comp pack writing began. It was as if everyone felt the same thing. The game we play matters. But it's the people we play it with that matter more. Over the last two weeks, I've played Age of Sigmar and seen multiple packs come out that try and translate the game into something we can play on the independent tournament scene. It's like the scene became a living, breathing thing. No one wants it to die, so it's evolving. I'm less apprehensive, and more excited now to see what happens. The game won’t be the same. The people playing the game won’t be the same. I was not around at the onset of 8th where apparently something similar occurred, but it seems like the tournament scene is in such a healthy state now, it'll take something catastrophic to kill it in its entirety.
Am I happy the game I loved has changed? No, I guess I'm not. But I am excited to try a new game, and help to build on the current tournament scene, so that if some fresh-faced mid-twenties young man suddenly re-discovers the hobby there is a tournament scene to enter. I'm a little older now, a little wiser. It's not the game that keeps me interested, that's just the backdrop. It's the people. To quote Mr Jon Warmington ‘I'll do whatever game the tourney scene moves to. It's the people I want to hang around with, and I'll play whatever I need to make it happen'. Jon is an example to us all. Except on the dancefloor at Popworld. Then he’s simply making an example of himself.
I think my initial trepidation has gone. What I would have missed most will still be there. There has been a huge shakeup. We'll need to build our own comps now - effectively decide how we want the game to be played. Forget Warhammer: Age of Sigmar. Bring forth Warhammer: Age of Discovery.
Amit Hindocha

I’d keep an eye on the club as they lead a charge into AoS, as well as carrying on with, I think, pretty much every other game out there (seriously, its mad – think they must all be teachers with all their spare time!). I ‘think’ some of the players even have Warmahordes, but I don’t like to think about that too much…

Follow the club on twitter and keep an eye out on their blog and TWF for upcoming events and pictures of Men In Black At Events (it’s a thing).

Seriously, after the ETC is out the way I am looking forward to getting down there more often.

Follow them on twitter: @sthlondonlegion

 Until next time...


Monday, 27 July 2015

Where only fools dare thread 2: Points (The Dice Abide Article)

Whilst the meek sit safe in their homes and offices I have braved where only the foolish dare tread in the search of articles of (at least partial) interest in the parsnip soup of detritus and rage that accounts for what little of the internet isn't taken up with Facebook games and po rn.
The price of art
Hello again.
Personally been caught up in ETC-prep and work. Our last practice weekend was at Warhammer World this weekend just gone (too much tequila and balls-to-face, perhaps not enough warhammer), so wasn't there to see the Midlands event (which was meant to be the last 8th event, but now there is one in October too). Daemons won it, so not very exciting in the end high level wise (the nature of the win makes me want to look at the comp pack again and see if there were some comp loopholes, or whether it was simply German efficiency).
I would look further into AoS, but not only am I busy, I want to leave a bit of time for more to be out/more games having been played. I may also look at a couple of other games, but who knows.
In other news:
- Things I have learnt this week:
Apparently The Hobbit has quite the vibrant tournament scene in the UK. Seriously, who knew!?
- Deathwatch, the new game by the creators of the incredibly fun WarhammerQuest game, a game about... the Deathwatch... is proving incredibly good. Try it out. Just watch out for the damned Carnifex...
- Debate of the week within the England ETC team (rather than discuss the intricacies of ETC lists/matchups):
What is the best GW-related cinematic scene?

Warhammer Total War


Mark of Chaos

Warhammer Online Age of Reckoning

Dawn of War
I think my vote (based on impact of first viewing) has to be either Dawn of War or Mark of Chaos.
Today's main story: 
Today I stumbled upon an article from The Dice Abide ( ). A blog I associate more with 40k, its subject matter was something I have been thinking about - Points.
I have been rather fascinated with the Points issue that has exploded since the release of AoS. Those that know me will not be surprised by the fact I love looking at ideas that fundamentally challenge the validity of accepted truths (heck, I am even on record for changing my mind at least twice based on well reasoned internet arguments - I worry that such flexibility of thought will see me banned from forums... but so far so good).
So, all credit for the stuff in the box goes to Adam and The Dice Abide, whose views are their own. I found it interesting. Brought to you without the added spice of Trolls. If you want those, check out the original!

 Hey everyone, time for an opinion article, haven’t done one of these in a while, so this will be fun! Right now, the internet is...

Hey everyone, time for an opinion article, haven’t done one of these in a while, so this will be fun! Right now, the internet is all ablaze with righteous indignation in response to the gall that Games Workshop should try something new to revive a good game that had abysmal sales. It seems that everyone agrees that something had to be done, just a lot of people aren’t particularly pleased with totally changing the game.
Against my better judgement, I spent some time browsing some forums to see what people think about this new game. Of all the mechanics in Age of Sigmar that people seem to get riled up about, it’s by far the lack of a unified point measurement system. Not only did people seem to think that without points the game would be impossible to balance, but also, if you self imposed any sort of limitation, you’re not playing “real” Age of Sigmar… which is really what got me to start this article.
What’s in a Point?
First of all, lets talk about points, specifically in relation to 40k (since that’s a readily available comparison). Points are simply a fairly standard mechanic of allowing players to come up with some sort of baseline limitation of their army composition before they start a game. Many games have points, and they seem to get the job done adequately enough. When you play a points-based system, players typically agree on some limit, then do their best to take the most effective army they can within said restriction (I’ll mention what happens if you don’t in a minute). After deciding upon their army, they’ll take it to the battlefield, assuming that the points mean that their armies will be suitably matched for a fair game… This however, is frankly just not the truth. Every army for every game (that I’ve personally encountered) that uses points, has units it’s units that are winners, and losers, must-haves, and garbage. There are many units in 40k which never really see the day of light in a competitive tournament, because in an environment driven by points, efficiency is key.
One big limitation of using points as your basis for determining fairness is that they are not readily mutable. By that I mean, points remain consistent, even when they become a hugely incorrect assessment of efficiency. For example, Draigo, by himself, isn’t all that great for his points, similarly Centurions aren’t over the top either. When you take Draigo and put him with Centurions, their value can definitely be worth more than their cost. Using force multipliers is a big part of playing the game, and often times the army with the best force multipliers do so well in competition. Another example is adding 25 more bodies to a unit of 10 cultists… you definitely don’t see this very often, and why should you? It’s not an efficient use of points. You get the picture.
Well back to what I mentioned above, what happens when you don’t take the best units?  I like Berserkers (and I also agree that they’re too many points for what they do),  but when I take them, I’m aware that against a more point efficient army, I am essentially at a point handicap equal to the difference in what their cost should be for their efficiency. There are tons of units like this in the game, and most people who do take them, are doing so knowing the implications. Points never have been a balanced solution, they’re just a quick and dirty way to get balanced-ish games. Sorry, but not all 1850 armies are created equal. Ironically, the most balanced way to play with points is for both players to take whatever they can make the most point efficient, forsaking units that might otherwise be fun. If one player takes a “fun” list against a “competitive” list, the game is not likely to be balanced.

Morkanaut with KFF and riggers is more points than a Wraithknight with two wraith cannons. Yay points!
Culture of Restriction
Before you start a game of 40k, you probably have a whole pile of other implicit agreements. My local gaming group assumes all games will be made with Battleforged armies, consisting of 1850 points, with no more than 3 detachments, Forgeworld is totally allowed, as are most, but not all super-heavy vehicles, the base of ruins count as part of the ruins, and the list goes on and on, unless people agree otherwise. If you’ve been playing 40k long enough, you’ve probably encountered veteran players who are new to your group, and they have different customs and unspoken rules. In this case they’ll show up, have to change a little bit about how/what they play, and the next time they come, they’ll probably be prepared to play by those local customs. Those things don’t make either of your ways better or worse, just different, but in either case, there are going to be plenty of changes to just the “real” rules of the game.
Now, with Age of Sigmar, we have what is essentially an entirely new game. There are no long-standing traditions, or local rules built upon years of game play and evolution, and the game doesn’t use points as a limiting factor for army composition. So because of that, we shouldn’t play it, right? Or maybe we should take the army that we think can abuse the lack of a point system the most, that’ll be good. Since it is such a new game, it will take time for manners to develop, but you can be absolutely certain that gaming groups will self-regulate on what is considered acceptable practice in the game, just like they do with other systems.
Playing it “Real”
Back to what I said in the beginning about playing “real” Age of Sigmar. This isn’t something people do for any other game, why should they do it for Age of Sigmar? If you’ve ever gone to an ITC event, you’ll notice that there is a 19 page document of FAQs and rules changes, on top of playing 6 custom built scenarios! Does this mean we’re not playing 40k? Sure, I give Reece a hard time whenever they change the rules for their events (boo, Destroyer nerf!), but that doesn’t make those tournaments non-40k, it’s just the expression of the wishes of the people playing the game.

I’ll get down now.
With or without points, it is always up to the players to decide what they think is fair for the game they want to play. People will come up with agreements or systems that they want to use to come up with quick approximations of a balanced enough game, and that’s totally fine. This isn’t all that new of a concept, it just now means my Cygor is no longer 100 points more than it should be.
PS – iIf you want some good laughs, check out the Rage of Sigmar Facebook group, where I borrowed the masthead from.
About Adam B
Despot of the Black Legion, Seneschal of House Terryn, and Sentinel of Titan. Tyrant of the Frostgorger Tribe, and Guardian of Loren.   
Personally I see points as nothing other than the most basic of balancing mechanisms.
I do, however, think that GW need to put *something* out, fast, or momentum for their new game will be likely die...
Until next time

Friday, 24 July 2015

Where only fools dare thread 1: The importance of fluff (BoLS article)

Whilst the meek sit safe in their homes and offices I have braved where only the foolish dare tread in the search of articles of (at least partial) interest in the parsnip soup of detritus and rage that accounts for what little of the internet isn't taken up with Facebook games and po rn.

Something a bit different today.

My one true love

Killing some time over a morning coffee as I am wont to do on those beautiful and fleeting brief quite days, I was browsing BoLS. Not sure what the Venn Diagram crossover is between readers here and those brave enough to read a lengthy article there – those trolls be fierce! It's an interesting site, good to keep on top of things, a black hole of depressing vitriol and vile if you let it catch you... so basically like any other website visited by too many geeks...

I am often accused, probably with some justification, of being too level headed (something that invariably gets me in trouble with the wife – I really need to learn the signs for when not to play Devil’s Advocate and just *agree*). When the fans of outrage are a’blowing it is easy for people to think I taking a stand against whatever silly and baseless snap judgments they have come up with on a given day.
The truth though, is that I just like good, well put together arguments. Rage for the rage god is for four year olds and avid football fans (arguably the two most terrifying types of people out there).
With this in mind, I stumbled upon the below essay (or “guest Editorial”) from “BoLS Lounge Alumni Muninwing” on Larry Vela’s regular column. And I think, think I agree with a lot of it…

So I thought I’d share, because I am lovely like that

Copied from:
(with some superficial grammatical corrections).

Once again, all credit to Muninwing and BoLS 

I've realized my problem with AoS...
I have a guess that the Age of Sigmar will eventually become something interesting, maybe even worth playing. But I started seeing what it was, heard that there was no WHF 9th, and wrote it off.
It took me some time to realize why.
Flashback: fall 2001. I had seen 40k as a game before, almost bought a starter set when I was much younger and my brother had gotten a catalogue, but I’d been turned off by my utter lack of painting skill, and the money I’d need to get started. a friend of mine, who would go on to co-own my LGS heard me voice my curiosity about the game, and offered me a ton of models -- he'd gotten three of the 3rd ed starter sets, and as such had about 90 Dark Eldar models he had no use for. "$30 and they're yours, and I’ll throw in an extra copy of the rules"
I went home that day, wondering if I should. I did some research, looking up info about the game online. I found a page that had collected transcribed fluff from various sources and hyperlinked to more fluff. I read about Sanguinius' fight with a Bloodthirster, about the drop site massacre... I learned about the treachery of Horus and the failure of the Emperor. I learned about Magnus pleading for continuance at Nikea, and later for sanctuary when the wolves came for his children. I learned about the nameless guardsman whose sacrifice gave the mortally wounded Emperor the chance to stop Horus, and felt as I did when reading history books of great deeds, or when reading quality fiction of depth and richness. When the sun came up, I was still reading.
And that was how I got my start in war gaming.
But I was an avid reader. And I know the gravity that a good background, a good story can create. The author can either create a fully fleshed-out world, or show you enough of the world to make you believe that it is fully fleshed-out -- and those hints are often far more compelling. I wanted to see Gilead before the fall far more than Camelot (I hear it's a silly place anyway). I wanted to read the narrative of Beren and Luthien as a whole story and not as snippets through the Silmarillion. I wanted to know who made the labyrinths from where the Balrog rose, or what Delirium claims is "on the other side of the sky," or what great adventures Li Mu Bai and Yu Shu Lien had with the Green Destiny, or exactly what Mance Raider saw in the frozen tombs. There’s completeness that each of these holds and creates that spins an air of weight about itself.
40k had that, for me, from the beginning. sure, I was three editions in, and it would expand in its own way from there -- sometimes in rich and interesting ways, like much of the HH novels... and sometimes, as with the "Oll Persson was an immortal" it would be obvious that the new writers did not understand why the old fluff had the significance it did. When I realized that those I played 40k with were more into WHFB, I pondered the entry into another arm of the hobby.
I again did research. This time it was easier -- I got a copy of the old WHFRP books, and the Liber Chaotica, and similar sources so I could read up on the history of their world, and understood that it too was a fully-realized place that felt as if it was an alternate history. The rise of Ulthuan, the corruption from within, the struggles of humanity, the whispers of the primal compulsions of chaos -- it all felt real.
Some people throw themselves into a fandom. I have enough students even still who come to school wearing their house colors, doodling snitches and brooms when they should be taking notes, and who look surprised when I tell them I’d be a Ravenclaw. I’m amused, and I like a good read, but I don't feel like it's my home. even with GW worlds, I hold myself back from jumping in headfirst... but the genius of the Liber Chaotica was that it made me forget to hold back... it was as if I’d found the hidden library that inserts itself in my dreams, and I found the worst possible book to pick up and bring home to read. It felt real. And thus, the time I would invest in creating my armies felt as if I was sharing in something far larger than myself.

I bought in, somewhere around 6th, and played strongly throughout 7th. 8th saw my army severely changed, and for the lesser -- I don't say for the worse, because they could still function on the table... but the arbitrary shifts they had made turned them into lesser and less important than they had once been. They lost gravity.
What I’ve recently realized is that Age of Sigmar has no gravity to it.
To sidestep for a bit, I should mention that gravitas -- that sense of weight and significance and importance I was alluding to above -- is actually hard to create. Often it takes years and revisions and alterations and a massive amount of work in order to capture that feel. Many good, experienced writers cannot do so. One of my favorite classics - The Count of Monte Cristo -- has virtually no weight to it, and the same author's better-known Three Musketeers has perhaps one scene of weight (the former priest executing his totally-not-a-ninja ex-wife) amid a ton of action and fun and swordfighting. But both of them have real history to draw from in order to create that weight for them. Fantasy and science fiction have to construct it themselves.
Games do not need this if they have good rules, but without it the drive to be a part of it is largely just another fandom, just a general hobby. If it lacks depth, it lacks weight, and therefore it cannot hold my interest.
Malifaux is like this. It’s an interesting system (but not interesting enough for me to want to play it too much), with an interesting background (which I’d like to read more about, but there isn't much effort made to flesh it out), and some not-terrible characters. It is, therefore to me, a novelty and not a serious game because I’ll have fun and put it aside without a second thought.
Warmachine is like this as well, and Hordes. being that they are both nation-sized games with brewing political and martial machinations, the fact that there are only really about ten people in each country that actually matter is remarkably shortsighted. It reads less like a complete and fleshed-out world, and more like a one-off module for D&D. it tries to substitute gimmick and unsuccessful tropes for quality writing. this is of course my own opinion, and others may find the depth in these that I have not, or they may have bought into the fandom which is related, but I fail to see the compelling elements in these that make me want to be a part.
More likely than not, this gravity is really just my own justification for buying in, and the "fandom" argument is nothing more than my own bias. So interpret as necessary, and insert your own as needed.
Age of Sigmar has been, from my limited perspective of fourteen years' worth of paying attention, the second-worst implementation in wargaming that I can point to. The worst -- certain parts of the 5th ed 40k FAQs that forgot what a FAQ is for -- is also admittedly a personal grudge of mine. allowing the fan base to believe that WHF 9th was coming to allow everyone to dust off their rank-and-file units and play afresh a game steeped in its own constructed and complete history, only to provide a game that is not fully imagined and plays so markedly different was asking for backlash. Plain and simple.

It might turn into an interesting game. It might develop, and enrich, and grow. It might be the very reworking that others have claimed (with far too much gusto to not be blind to the missing weight) that WHF needed.
It might not. And since it was released with so little attempt at a fully-fleshed-out setting (relying on its history and the game equivalent of name-dropping), as well as blatant gaps in acknowledging what the players truly wanted, "not" seems far more likely.
The worst thing? I’m part of the problem. WHF has been slipping, stagnating, for years. I’ve bought exactly three boxes of WHF models in the last five years -- the Wood Elf stag riders because my wife wants to paint them, a 50% off box of Witch Elves I’ll be converting to DE, and the new Bestigors when they came out just before 8th dropped. I’ve got 5000 points of Beasts (formerly of Nurgle, then mysteriously just... not), and another 3000 of Ogres. I’ve got a 3000-point High Elf army in mostly secondhand bits and pieces that I never got around to in favor of other projects. Why would I buy anything? And with that stagnation, something big needed to come out of it.
But AoS wasn't what was needed.

the End Times was interesting, but ultimately just a gimmick that they probably should have milked for far longer, made more of the limited models (I’d love to just assemble and paint a Nagash, or kitbash it with a Chaos Knight), and extended with a community-involved campaign. show that the railroading at the end of Storm of Chaos was a mistake, planned out what would happen in each next phase based on player involvement, and then steer it to a slightly different end based on whoever ultimately won, tied into some design elements and game specifics of the new game.
That’s why a "40k end times?" is at heart a foolish idea to entertain -- they could only do it if they wanted to poison their cash cow.
AoS may still grow, and it may have enrichment opportunities in the future, but it had a botched introduction. And unless they put a lot more work into the next phase of the product, they are not going to keep it afloat. alienating many of their fans was a bad idea from the start, but they still need to sell models and books to stay in business, so they need avenues by which to do these things... but they have not realized that it's the fluff just as much as the game that makes or breaks them.

I propose a "what if?" situation. I want anyone who bothers reading this to imagine what WHF would be like if they had decided on doing it right -- releasing AoS in such a way that it grew its gravitas, connected with its roots, and added to the experience of its fans. Imagine for a moment that they were a little more up-front with their community, and that they created the best possible environment in which to debut and grow their new product. Incidentally, the "appropriate time" for something, or the creation of such a situation in which the appropriate time comes to be, is what the rhetorical term "Kairos" means. For those Tzeentch fans.
Imagine, for a moment, that they extended the End Times throughout another year, but explained that it was going to be exactly as it says on the tin -- the end of the world as you knew it, to be replaced and not rebooted once the ET campaign was over. Now also imagine that they supported ET as a full campaign. then, once it came to a close, imagine that they did not release the final story... they announced the victors, and anyone who had bought one of their books could use a code inside to set up an account that would allow them to access a website that was filled with all those questions that you always wanted to know the answers to, as well as the final explanation of the end.

Now imagine that they gave a definite release date for the new product.
Imagine that rather than being lazy and using the same bulletproof plot-armor characters, they used the goings-on to kill off some of them, building both new characters and the feeling that there were many other worthy people you just hadn't heard of. In other words, escape the warmahordes problem of boiling international conflicts down to the goings-on of a class president election. they could use some for their fluff purposes, but as the game finds its footing they should all be phased out gradually in favor of a new generation (or many) of characters that will change as the game grows.

Now imagine that, since 40k is largely caught up to 7th ed, they then devoted monthly product releases large or small to AoS, in order to bring that game up to speed.
Imagine, for a second, that the release had gone something like this:
Month 1: fiction piece, novella length, from the point of view of someone who had become a Stormcast, about rising to battle and being redeemed, filling in many of the blanks at the end of the End Times books. also, this could introduce the idea behind the new shift in such a way that did not have players scratching their heads at release, and even would drum up interest in what the models would look like.
Month 2: starter set announced with Stormcast vs khorne (now that people know what a Stormcast is), with a steady slow stream of leaks about what the game will be... including a definite announcement that WHF9 will not be a thing (the sooner your diehards get their anger out, the better), had it not been made clear even sooner. this month could feature a 40k release, and then the actual starter could have come out to an expectant crowd instead of an annoyed one.

Month 3: fiction piece, novella length, about the eternal wars of chaos from the point of view of a Nurgle warrior, seeing the rise and primacy of Khorne... and the capture and blunting of Slaanesh (but with care to note that the daemons are still around, setting the stage for an all-chaos campaign or game or the like for later), ending with the resolution to be patient (for eventually everything rots away). release the new starter a week later, having also added new excitement to Khorne's side of the new game.
Month 4: hardcover book like an atlas -- detailing how the worlds interact, who is where, what is happening, why players should care, and how their games make sense in the new format... with a section at the end with rules for campaigns, and a teaser at the end announcing a forthcoming larger campaign.... this way, it both encourages play in a variety of ways, and the new cosmos and maps of various places and worlds and their interactions could actually make sense. 90% fluff and information and 10% relevant game resource would mean that it wouldn't be a must-buy for everyone, but it would definitely add depth and weight to the surroundings.
Month 5: AFTER all allegiances and factions and worlds etc are detailed (in month 4), release of warscrolls for each old model, so that players can get a feel for how it will all come together, and can accurately feel out how their army will play and fit into the greater puzzle, instead of attempting to force the old system to make sense with the new rules. be clear that (a) there will be a later expansion to army-sized conflict, and (b) the old models are not necessarily going to have anything to do with the new game.
Month 6: release of three new starter sets and a small campaign for them, so that they (and the two already-released) were completely up-to-date... maybe focus on Nurgle, Humans, and whatever the Orcs/goblins become. take care to fit it into the atlas.
Also unify the online element of the game -- including the creation of an online record-system for campaigns (maybe a once-a-year $10 subscription that you can use to make army lists, upload pics of your units, share lists with other registered users in preparation for games, buy from the webstore, access your datascrolls/warscrolls/etc, and set up long-term campaign structures). Debut it with the 5-army campaign, but have the ability for the other factions to use it as well, as helpers to one of the existing sides.
Month 7: full-sized novel. fluff piece from the point of view of the former generals of Slaanesh, competing with each other and the skaven and others for supremacy... including some hints at shamylanesque twists. pave the way for the rumormill, invest in creating the background, and show chaos in various forms by depicting more information as to what it really is or what it wants. if the new game wants to use a varied interpretation for of what Chaos is, use this novel to describe and depict it.
Month 8. another 3-faction release, with starter sets for each, new generals (named or not), and a campaign focused around the three. maybe the old-world lizardmen, and the undead, as well as tzeentch. create a campaign around them in order to drum up interest. given the lizardmen's ties to the creators of the former world, and the legends of Nagash that were so integral to the old fluff, the three primary factions could be competing for a number of different causes. map and track based on the month 6 program, and use that later.
Month 9: rules expansion: how to use more complicated magic, additional rules for supporting units, and additional rules for groups of models that act and operate as one.
Month 10: novel-length fluff piece from the point of view of a human in the new world-construct, rising through the ranks and pondering the past as well as the future, and some seeds of chaos beginning to take root. show the effects of the month 8 campaign, and use the novel to broaden information about exactly how the worlds are organized and implemented.

Month 11: another major release: Slaanesh, dwarves, skaven, and Elves, with a campaign that focuses on some dramatic upheaval. during the expansion, it would start laying out everything people want to know about Slaanesh and its place in the new setting, and the idea that nothing is set in stone in the new expanding and developing plot.
Month 12: release rules for integrating old Bretonnians into humans, giving varied elves specific flavor, and reincorporating Beasts into chaos... think like dataslates (or the new DA codex) providing new detachments that fit a specific theme, as well as giving benefits and flaws (only actually add flaws as a balancing tactic instead of just giving away the rhino farm).
Also, expanding off of the month 6 online tools, debut a chess-style/fencing-style ranking system for players of a competitive mind. it'd allow for finding matchups at appropriate skill levels, as well as reincorporating a tournament/competitive nature to the game. it could be simple or complex, could be expanded later to be useable via apps or xbox live or the like, could be used to unlock special achievements via campaigns that would perhaps give their characters further options or ranks or the like in later applications/expansions, and set up a system that would translate into tournaments.
Reinstitute prize support if it goes well.
Have the standings of the various factions influence (a) faq-balancing of warscrolls, (b) benefits/perks in the next campaign, (c) elevation of certain generalities to named heroes, including the ability for campaign/tournament winners once a year to create new named characters for inclusion into the fluff and perhaps the game.
And, most notable, be up-front and clear at the debut of this new plan that this is the direction they want to go in, and why.

Month 13: major campaign: The Return of Slaanesh, with plot and historical/current battles, and using the above-mentioned tracking system for determining the next phase of the world-building. have it span many months, incorporate many phases, and show how the development of the new world is going, even as new events and personnel changes alter the game.
Month 14: release apocalypse-style rules for larger battles, including the use of larger flying beasts and war-constructs. have it play into the Slaanesh campaign.
Month 15: release small-scale skirmish rules for the creation of mordheim-style warbands for use in a specific setting, including specs for treasure-carrying, possessions, equipment, and stealth. include in the campaign the reasons for warband action, and lead it to a finale partially based upon the effects of the players.
Month 16: release a new expansion. no new armies, but a new world/realm/area to play in. a fragment from the past that somehow broke through time, with potential treasures. set up a campaign that would require smaller skirmish games, stealth, and trickery (perhaps using space hulk blip rules) in order to raid the wealth of the new plane... individual maps and mods would come out every week for a couple months to play different scenarios. it would also require standard play, and allow larger play. if successful, make it a once-a-year big release and add warscrolls specific to the new arena (next year could be sea combat, or flying, or jungle, etc etc.

In the future... two releases per year. one would detail a new method of play and/or add new locations to the atlas. the other would be a campaign. each would have in it new models for various factions (1-2 specialized kinds for each faction that fit the new playstyle or events), each would further the plot, each would expand the world. occasionally, a named character might die and no longer be playable. new ones would come along. maybe best-scoring players as per month 12 could be allowed to help design new characters.

If these were once-a-month releases, with the occasional step aside for 40k, you'd have a completely new game, less old player loss, reasons for new models, events that would get players active, reestablishment of tournaments and the competitive end, a feel for the new world, and a fanbase that would feel actively involved in their hobby. in a year and a half or so, it would become as established as the old WHF was, and begin to feel as complete by way of feeling like it is developing and living instead of just existing.

Rather than making it obvious that GW was trying to shed the dead weight of WHF, as they had begun to consider it, they could have (and still could) build something new and aspire to the same scale of what they used to have. instead of a new game that is not really for old models, and the distinct feeling of shame at having believed in WHF9, that so many of us have acting as a roadblock to actually enjoying AoS for what it is and what it could be.


Perhaps pseudo hindsight errs towards the 20-20, and the hypothetical is easy, but there are some interesting point there I think.

I hope (and believe) that in time (hopefully not too long!) the background to AoS will be as rich and ‘real’ as 40k, but I can understand that the lack of a solid grounding – this aforementioned “atlas” is hard for players to get bought into. If GW keeps up the momentum this can be resolved, but it is an interesting point.

On an entirely separate note, big shout out to Saskia on Twitter, who, having found a box of GW stuff with my name on it on a train, ignited an international twitter detective effort to figure out whose it was (it wasn't mine!). Thankfully it was Craig being silly (and probably tipsy), so the mystery was eventually solved. But this just goes to show there are Good People out there.

Until next time