Op/Ed Age of Sigmar

When I say a lot of of folks have weighed in on this, I mean almost everyone with a blog or unsoiled piece of toilet paper and a half decent command of the language has said something about the latest rendition of Warhammer fantasy.

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To say some are upset about the recent changes could be labeled as a bit of an understatement, I fully understand the feeling of having the rug pulled out from under you. The idea of investing so much into one particular system, not just money, but hours, days and years of your life into your passion. Only later to have it swept aside for the new hotness.

I am not one of those people. Namely because my investment in fantasy prior to AoS consisted of a lizardmen army book and a handful of well-read Gortek and Felix novels. So in that regard I am not nor have I ever been a fantasy player. Complex rules and high model counts with miniatures from a genera I have long since lost interest in kept me at arm’s length for a good while. This time around, the promise of free rules and smaller games brought me back to the worlds of swords and sorcery, well that and a few unopened Christmas gifts sitting on my hobby pile.

What I found upon my return was a game that was very accessible, with a large model range and a play time of just over an hour. For all the vitriol and venom being aimed at the game, it is undeniably playable and engaging. This is not to say it is any better or worse than WFB, they are two completely different games from my perspective and while AoS is a great many things, it is equally lacking in several other key areas.

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Before I get to into things, I would like to take a moment to review the AoS app expirence. One of the really appealing things about Age of Sigmar is the fact that it is a hybrid of digital and traditional formats, there were almost no physical rule books involved with the game I played, just an iPad and the rules insert from the box set. The app itself performed well, though on the iPad I could not (and as of this article being published still can’t) access the rules section, granted I am using an old 1st gen iPad 2, so that may play into it, on my iPhone 6 everything worked fine. GW also released PDF’s of all the units as well and I did download a few of those when they launched, but having everything organized and in one place is much more convenient for me. There are no real lists in AoS, the “my battle” tab is decent enough and keeps all the relevant stuff in front of you, having to switch back to the scrolls screen constantly is a bit annoying though, I wish you could just scroll through your current units as well. They also didn’t include pictures for most of the unit entries, they have a small preview thumbnail on the home screen, but not on the actual scroll. This was probably done to keep the file size down if I had to guess, they may update them later though. Those minor issues aside I have no real qualms with the app, it’s basic and functional but it doesn’t need to be much else. The fact that you can play this game using just your phone, a tape measure and the models (digital dice roller since competitiveness is no longer an aspect) could be very appealing to the younger generation who is being raised on Minecraft and iPads and would not normally be looking at table top games.

While the combat system of Sigmar flows well and pushes the game pace forward, it is not the type of system that high minded folks would enjoy. What I mean by that is the almost total absence of strategy involved with actually playing the game. There is some strategy in AoS, much in the same way there is some strategy in checkers. If you are playing AoS straight out of the box it’s pretty much “I punch you, you punch me and then we punch each other while the Celestant kills everything else” Eternals really are just space marines with spears swords magic hammers axes dragon horses. When you start looking at the data slates warscroll’s for the other armies you see a little more granular control over unit deployment and positioning, but it’s almost negligible. While I have not read all of them, most of the spells/magic abilities are not that different, common thread is, one buff, one offensive one heal/shield. Lizardmen have some pretty interesting abilities, namely they can spawn blobs of skinks seemingly on demand, up to 20 per turn if I read that right, which with AoS’s already dodgy list building/model count setup is a little broken in my own opinion.

sigmarine

For those reasons and more the Fantasy community of old has taken all their toys and left the sandbox, at least in some have. There is a growing faction of WFB players that and I quote “don’t mind the change” To the best of my knowledge this group is mostly made up of newer or the more casual players who are not part of the competitive core. Competition and strategy was what attracted so many of the original WFB players to the game, it stood apart from 40k for decades in that regard when it came to tournament play. Outside of historical systems, there were very few games out there that could match the depth and complexity of Warhammer, only recently have we seen games like Warmachine and Kings of War show up to offer any sort of real alternative.

That is the real issue (from my perspective) that’s driving the rage behind the Fantasy community railing against AoS, GW essentially took everything that the players loved and threw it in the trash (and pee’d on it) So yeah, peeps be justifiably upset.

But what about the game? Age of Sigmar is a good game, there I said it. It is not a great game and it is certainly not going to be my first choice, but I will play it from time to time. Call it a guilty pleasure, there is something in the mindlessness of the game that is appealing, it’s like a palate cleanser after a rough bought of 40k, you throw dice stuff happens, nobody’s arguing about rules, you roll some more dice. All wrapped up in a neat little package. It’s easy to get caught up in the simplicity of it, which I am sure is a big selling point for younger players, but it lacks the level of complexity that excites me. So personally, it’s going to be a once in awhile affair.

What of Fantasy players and the tournament scene then? Well early rattling suggests that the aforementioned “Kings of War” ruleset from Mantic games is going to be the top choice for tournament play, that or Warmachine. Call me dorky but there is a great line from the first Harry Potter book that pretty much sums up my thoughts on the matter.

“They have enough stored up to set their affairs in order and then yes, they will die” 

People will still play with the old rules and there. are more than a few tournaments coming up that are still using 8th, but with no new army books and no new players being drawn into the system, a long slow death awaits WFB. Unless of course AoS is just the precursor to a more advanced version of the game, which some have hinted may be the case down the line, only odd rumors at this point though, so only time will tell on that one.

Final thoughts, play it and decide for yourself. If your looking for a casual skirmish game its not bad, its pretty bare bones and as stated, not very strategy driven. It’s not the fantasy we knew, but it got me working on my lizardmen again, I’ll leave it at that.

Cheers

-Scott
BH Senior Pixel Herder

New podcast episode up.

Join hosts Scott, Ian Chuck, Bill and special guest James for another action packed episode of Bay Hammer Radio! Episode 5: Blinded by the Light is all about the Bay Area Open. We also see the return of Salty/Sweet and the guys talk hobby progress and share their thoughts on the latest releases from GW and Forgeworld. In addition, we are now on iTunes! Check the link below to get to our iTunes page, if you like the show, please rate us, we are always looking for feedback and new ways to continue to improve the show.

In addition to a little light Karaoke, Ian regales the gang with his adventures in SoCal at the San Diego Comic Con. You can see a few of the choice pics he took at the convention after the show notes and you can view the whole gallery here. Check out bayhammerradio.com for the full show notes.

Bonus: Scott announces some big news about Bay Hammer and plans for the future, check the show notes for further details on how to be a part of our growing community. You can also check us out on Facebook by clicking here.

iTunes:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/bay-hammer-radio/id1021766986?mt=2&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

Direct Download:
https://bayhammer.podomatic.com/entry/2015-07-24T11_16_48-07_00

Show Notes:

New Releases GW

AoS Book http://www.games-workshop.com/en-GB/Warhammer-Age-of-Sigmar-Book-ENG

Liberators
http://www.games-workshop.com/en-GB/Stormcast-Eternals-Liberators

Lord Celestant
http://www.games-workshop.com/en-GB/Stormcast-Eternals-Lord-Celestant

Gold Spray
http://www.games-workshop.com/en-GB/retributor-armour-spray

Archway
http://www.games-workshop.com/en-GB/Ophidian-Archway

Gateway
http://www.games-workshop.com/en-US/Baleful-Realmgates

ForgeWorld

Chaos Knight
http://www.forgeworld.co.uk/New_Stuff/CHAOS_KNIGHT.html

Perturabo
http://www.forgeworld.co.uk/New_Stuff/PERTURABO.html

Kytan Deamon Engine
http://www.forgeworld.co.uk/New_Stuff/KYTAN.html

Cor’bax Utterblight?
http://www.forgeworld.co.uk/New_Stuff/CORBAX.html

Warlord Titan
http://www.forgeworld.co.uk/New_Stuff/MARS_ALPHA_PATTERN_WARLORD_TITAN.html

Titan Head
http://www.forgeworld.co.uk/New_Stuff/MARS_ALPHA_PATTERN_WARLORD_TITAN_HEAD.html

News

Bay Area Open results and pictures (They used my pics whoo!) https://www.frontlinegaming.org/2015/07/14/results-and-pictures-from-the-bao/

LVO Hotel Booking (get on this now!) https://www.frontlinegaming.org/las-vegas-open-2016/lvo-2016-hotel-booking-information/

Team Bay Hammer Web application guide https://docs.google.com/document/d/1vd3IjwF7qavCvKtx9YU1i99mEp16h3Txsz7aUo6aFy0/edit?usp=sharing

Check out a few awesome shots from Ian’s trip to Comic Con this year. Unfortunately not all the original photos made it back, due to unforeseen technical errors.

That’s all folks, enjoy the show and we’ll see you next time!

Cheers

-Scott
BH Senior Pixel Herder

The road to BAO

Lists are being tweaked and final touches are being applied on key units and somewhere Reece is standing on a sun blasted loading dock watching a literal metric ton of FAT Mats being loaded into a rental truck. That’s right folks, it’s that time of year again, time for the Bay Area Open.

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While most players have been stressing (or not) over lists and getting their armies ready for this weekend’s big bash, I have spent most of my hobby time packing for my upcoming move and watching that new internet soap opera “Age of Sigmar” which if you haven’t caught the last few episodes, you are really missing out. This year I will not be attending as a player, though I will be there covering the event for BH and getting in a hobby class or two. That said expect a lot of pictures and maybe a few interviews in the not to distant future. If you see me wandering around feel free to say hi, I will be the tech priest covered in photography gear (me pre techno virus infection)

Representing the home team this year (not really :P) will be Mr. Durret and Chuck (the hivemind) Marshall. Bill has really been getting in those practice games lately, while Chuck remains somewhat of a well-tanned horse (some might say dark). I am looking forward to seeing what the mad Metrologic master of LED lighting and hometown hero Mr. John Feuerhelm will be bringing to the table this year (see crazy radiant bike list from LVO pictured below.)  

lvo John Fuelehelm powered play

It would be great to see a West coast player/team take home the top spot, after seeing Sean Nayden (East coast) take the championship title at LVO this year, having a win for the locals would be nice. Regardless of where you’re from, I wish everyone the best of luck. With codices being cranked out at breakneck speed and new tactics and combos being discovered every day, this is should be one of the most brutal ranked events to date.

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In other exciting news, brother Ian managed to get some tickets to Comicon, I have idly suggested that he document that experience to share with all of you, I was assured that someone loaned him a camera for the trip that does not have hello kitty stickers plastered all over it. While BH does not have enough pull to get any really cool interviews (laughs and cries inwardly) Comicon is so awesome just to attend that it would be foolish not to do at least some coverage while one of us is there.

 

Cheers

-Scott
BH Senior Pixel Herder

Op/Ed What codecies are getting updated (UPDATED)

Happy Friday and what better way to celebrate the end of the work week than with a little educated guessing about the next wave of codex releases.

UPDATE:

A lot of info regarding Age of Sigmar has been pouring out across the sphere lately, if even remotely valid it would make any major 40k releases highly unlikely in the next month or so. GW will most likely be shifting its marketing efforts towards getting AoS off the ground before the next holiday season. What this most likely means for 40k players is more WD battle reports and missions and maybe a supplement or data slate.

On the last episode of Bay Hammer I somewhat sarcastically lamented the lack of viable formations for the imperial guard (or Astra Militarum for you young folks) Honestly this is only part of a larger question I have been repeatedly asking myself about whether or not I actually have a 7th edition codex. After some long nights spent leafing through the newest books, harlequins, elder, admech and space marines I came to the conclusion that the current guard book is most likely a 6.5 edition codex. This was based off a few observations and a little guess work on my part which I will go over in the next section.

How to tell if you’re going to be buying a new codex in the next 6-9 months. The following list is a general breakdown of how to identify whether or not your book is up to date with the latest edition.
-It’s in softback format
-Art splashes dominated by older re-used artwork
-No formation entries in the main book (supplements don’t count)
-Vertical box style timeline instead of newer horizontal bar style
-Codex/army does not come with data cards.
-Older than three years
-Back index is flip out style
-You play sisters of battle

To break things down a little further, when I came up with that list I was thinking like a product manager and not a gamer, the sort of things you look for in a product like this to indicate incremental changes are very subtle but not too hard to pick out if you are paying attention the changes in design and layout of the newer books. One of the big things is formations, this can get a bit confusing because of books like the Ork and Tyranid books which both feature formations, but in essence require supplemental books or dataslates to make them wholly functional (I would argue that is less true of nids) If anything those two codices are 6.5.

The other details I looked for related to the overall design language of the newer books compared to those that came out more than a year ago. As mentioned above, there is a new trend at GW to use the codices as showcases for the models more and more, there was also a big shift in formatting moving descriptions of the units to the “art section” and putting the rules with pictures of the actual models, followed by formations. Little things like that, though even then I really can only make an educated guess.

So what educated guess did I make? Using the list above and a bit of common sense I believe that these are the codices that will be updated in the next 6-9 months if GW’s current release schedule holds true, please note that this list is in no particular order.

-Astra Militarum/Tempestus

-Inquisition/assasins

-Sisters of battle (not trying to be funny)

-Tyranids

-Chaos Marines

-Tau

-Necrons (UPDATE Crons already got their bump, I totally forgot about it in the maelstrom of releases)

That’s my best guess, you’ll note I did not include Orks, the reason for that is more opinion than observation and it is my opinion that Orks do not move enough units to get priority treatment in the timeline provided. This is again in my own opinion tied to the tournament and local meta of the western market. Orks are not competitive and while I love them in fluff and on the table model wise, there are few players I see regularly fielding them at games and from what I know of those that do a good portion of their forces are purchased through ebay or through other second hand markets because of the sheer bulk required to play them in most cases. That’s just my take on it though.

Barring the fantasy remodel (read: complete teardown) butting in here and there I think this is a pretty accurate list, no one can really see the future (we burned all of our psykers in the 1800s) but if we dig deep enough it’s possible to peek around the corner now and then.

What do you think will be the next codex update? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section, no chair throwing.

-Scott BH Senior Pixel Herder

Episode 4: Pounded by greatness

Hello party people, another day, another glorious episode of Bay Hammer. In this episode Scott and Ian are joined by newcomer and black templars veteran James to talk about the new(ish) space marine codex release and how the new book fairs on the table top. The guys also talk hobby progress and games played and a little bit about what everyone has been up to since the last episode. Grab it at the link below.

Direct Download:
http://traffic.libsyn.com/bayhammerradio/BHR_episode_4.mp3

We went with more of an open forum format for this episode, so the show notes are a little light. I also didn’t get to go over recent news so I will include all the recent updates with the show notes below. After editing out all the swearing and exasperated sighs, the final runtime clocked in at a little over an hour.

News:

Real quick in case you missed it, there is still time to enter in our #nofriendswithbenifits contest, just give us a like on our Facebook page between now and July 5th and you’ll be automatically enter to win the new Eldar Autarch kit. Check out the full contest rules here, open US and Canada residents.

The No Mercy GT went down on June 14th over at Great Escape games up in Sacramento. In the end it appears Paul McKelvey of team ‘Left Coast Corsairs’ took the top slot with tau. You can find event info and pictures from the event on the League of Underwhelming painters blog and Facebook.

Paul McKelvey Tau no mercy

McKelvey’s Tau pictured above from a previous event.

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On June 6th our good friends over at Games of Berkeley celebrated their 35th birthday with a massive sale and some limited edition dice (which I am trying to get my hands on) Games of Berkeley runs wargame and board game nights on Thursdays and Sundays in their awesome dungeon/bank vault (more on that later) You can check out their event schedule via Facebook.

On a final note, we are in the last stretch of the lead up to the BAO which is fast approaching. With a flush of new codices in the mix, it will certainly be an interesting tournament this year. Tickets for the BAO have long since sold out for the 40k tournament, but Bay Hammer will be there covering things table side and with luck (and wifi) possibly grabbing a few interviews with the top tables.

Cheers

-Scott
BH Senior Pixel Herder.

Open box review: Space Marine Devastators

Happy Friday everyone. It’s been a bit crazy at work this week so things are a bit delayed. This week I am taking a look at the latest offering from GW for codex space marines, there are a (figurative) ton of bits in this kit, way more than the last one and certainly more than your actually going to use in a five man squad. At almost $50 USD I can safely say you get your monies worth.

On a side note, I have noticed that our review videos tend to get the most interest, that being said we are always working to improve the quality of our productions. This means trying new things and learning new techniques, being the units only tech priest (at this point I am pretty sure I qualify for dominus) I have to do this all myself, so I apologize in advance for any AV quirks in the more recent videos.

We still have a contest going, all you have to do is like us on Facebook and live in the US or Canada and you’ll be instantly entered into a drawing for a chance to win the new Eldar Autarch kit. You can check out the full details here

Have a great weekend!

-Scott
BH Pixel Herder Dominus