Warhammer Age of Sigmar Dominion Review and Unboxing – AOS 3rd Edition Launch Box and Core Book
This is the time of turmoil. This is the era of war. This is the Age of Sigmar.
Since 2015 in the aftermath of The End Times, we have been playing games in the Mortal Realms – Great discs of reality hanging in magically infused space, formed of the remnants of the World That Was. We have seen Sigmar reclaim the realms against the forces of Chaos, we have seen Nagash bring about the Soul Wars and most recently we have seen the realms break under a multitude of plots of betrayals. And now with Kragnos released from his temporal prison we come to a new era in the Mortal Realms, the Era of the Beast. Warhammer Age of Sigmar Dominion is the launch box heralding in this new era, and with it comes the 3rd edition of AOS, a game we have seen go from strength to strength over the years.
Warhammer Age of Sigmar Dominion is up for preorder on Saturday the 19th of June, but Games Workshop have been kind enough to send us an early copy to review and delve into with you all!
If you would like to support the site, then why not order Dominion or expand your Age of Sigmar army through our affiliate Element Games and save yourself 20% too?
Accompanying this full write up we also have a full unboxing of Dominion and look through the entire new Age of Sigmar 3rd edition rulebook, so make sure to check that out over on YouTube or watch just below!
So grab yourself a brew, settle into a comfy chair and join us on a journey across the Mortal Realms as we dive into our review of the Dominion launch box, take a look at the models inside, check out the new profiles and points for the Stormcast and Kruleboyz and have a full deep dive into the new Age of Sigmar 3rd Edition Core Book in this bumper sized review!
Warhammer Age of Sigmar Dominion
The first thing I feel I need to say here is that this is a massive and heavy box! If you picked up Indomitus last year then you will know the drill – the box is absolutely jam packed with stacks of goodies! We get 2 entire armies, the Stormcast Eternals resplendent in their Thunderstrike Armour and the Kruleboyz, a new part of the Orruk Warclans who specialise in being sneakier than their more brutish relatives.
These are split over a number of sprues that perhaps points to how these might be packaged separately once the box is no longer available (Games Workshop have stated that this is a limited edition item, once it is gone it will be gone!). Each faction gets a big sprue with a number of models on – it is this sprue for each side that I imagine will be exclusive to this box (For Indomitus these later got released separately, but cost considerably more than you get them for in the launch box!) The Stormcast frame contains the 3 Annihilators, Yndrasta and the Knight-Vexillor, while the Kruleboyz contains the Man-Skewer Boltboyz, Murknob and Killaboss on Great Gnashtoof.
We then get a frame containing the Swampcaller Shaman and the Lord-Imperatant, and a frame containing the Knight-Arcanum and the Killaboss with Stab-grot. I expect we will see combinations of these two sprues across the various starter boxes that will no doubt be released after this set.
For the Kruleboyz we also get a sprue of Gutrippers and 2 sprues of Hobgrots, with the Stormcast getting a sprue of Praetors and 2 sprues of Vindictors. Again I would expect these to also make up the contents of starter sets, and as each is a separate sprue I would also expect to see these sold separately as individual boxes. Interestingly the Praetors has enough options for you to make a different enough looking unit of 6 despite you only getting 3 in the box, with the Vindictors also having lots of parts options to give you a decent amount of customisation in a push fit kit.
The models are absolutely stunning, I spent a night building the Stormcast and immediately fell in love with them – Games Workshop have pulled out all the stops to give people a really fun box to build! But, it’s not all about the models as we also get a load of other stuff in the box.
As with other recent Games Workshop products the instructions are really easy to follow with handy features such as a base size guide within the box that allows you to make sure you have the correct size base for each model. Also included is a “Start Here” guide titled as “War at Amberstone Watch”. This acts as an introduction to the factions and units in the book from a narrative point of view, so the kind of lore info we would see in the first half of a battletome such as background and information about each and every unit – there’s some interesting stuff in here such as the Hobgrots working for the Chaos Duardin, a nod to the Hobgoblins and Chaos Dwarfs of old, and hopefully a sign that we may well get those evil craftsmen in plastic at some point in the not too distant future!
We also get the full Warhammer Age of Sigmar 3rd Edition core book with a gorgeous limited edition cover depicting Yndrasta craving through a chaos abomination while wreathed in celestial lightning – we’ll be having a full dive inside this mighty book shortly, but first let’s take a look at the new units contained in the box. One of the things that you get in the Dominion box are individual card warscrolls for each of the units in the box along with an Allegiance Abilities card listing the points values and abilities – so let’s take a look at these and see how each of the new units perform!
We’ll kick things off with the Stormcast Eternals who have a rather hefty 1360 points worth of models in the box – incidentally, another unit of Vindictors give you a round 1500 points!
We also see a new allegiance ability here, while the Stormcast still have the Scions of the Storm rule allowing them to be set up in reserve, they also have a new ability that has a chance of causing mortal wounds to enemy units who are within 1″ when they die – this is really cool representing the lighting shooting out of the Stormcast back to Azyr when they fall in combat, and also makes even your basic Vindictors a threat to kill in close combat with each one fallen having the chance to deal up to 3 mortal wounds to whoever killed them!
The Vindictors are the new Battleline choice for the Stormcast and are clad in the new Thunderstrike armour created by Grungni to combat Be’lakor’s storm that is ravaging the skies of the Mortal Realms. While more expensive, these are superior to Liberators boasting not only a 3+ save, but also a better weapon profile boasting a 2 inch range allowing them to fight in 2 closely knit ranks (Something we will see later is a key thing to consider in the new edition of the game) They also do mortal wounds on hits of 6 in some tricks borrowed from the Lumineth!
The centrepiece of the Stormcast side of the box is Yndrasta, and not only does she have a gorgeous model, she also has a great statline with her able to put out some serious hurt with their weaponry! As the forces in this box are hunting monsters, she has a suitably fitting rule that drops the profile of any monster she is within 3″ of by 10 – this is massive and can really hinder loads of monsters in the game. She also causes friendly Stormcast and Cities of Sigmar units wholly within 12″ to not take battleshock, saving you precious command points for some of the ace new command abilities in the new rulebook. Last but not least, every hero phase she returns a model with a wounds characteristic of 3 or less to each Stormcast unit wholly within 12. This is massive and makes her an amazing asset to have with even expensive units like the Annihilators getting topped up in models if the enemy is lucky enough to take one out – meaning that people will need to focus fire to ensure units are destroyed.
She also has a 4+ Ward, this is what round shrug abilities are referred to in 3rd edition – so she ignores any wounds or mortal wounds suffered on a 4+
The Knight-Arcanum is an interesting new Wizard who has a 3″ anti-endless spell bubble – they cannot get within 3″ of her or pass across her, making her a great of protecting any key units from endless spells with some clever deployment. She also has a spell that is essentially a long range Arcane Bolt (Well, the old version, this has changed too as we will soon see!) that extends its range based on however many Thunderstrike armour wearing units are nearby.
Knight-Vexillor with Banner of Apotheosis
Not only is the new Knight-Vexillor a mind-blowingly good model, it is also a really cool unit – backing up Yndrasta’s healing by allowing you to return 3D3 wounds worth of models once per game. What’s nice about this is that you can choose to either split this across multiple units or focus it on a single unit making this a really useful ability from an options point of view. It can still allow units to reroll charges, however this has dropped from 18″ to 12″
The new Lord for the Thunderstrike Stormcast and he has a very 3rd edition flavoured ability allowing him to issue a command for free each turn. He also is a teleport beacon of sorts allowing a unit of Stormcast to come down outside of 7 inches of enemy models rather than 9 inches. What’s good about this is that he just needs to be on the battlefield, he doesnt have to be near to where they drop making him a nice way of making those deep strike charges more successful. Other than that he is a nice combat hero with a ranged attack to boot!
The big chunky “terminator” Stormcast, the Annihilators are absolute beasts. Boasting a 2+ save, 3 wounds and a seriously nasty combat profile these are sure to be firm favourites in Stormcast armies. When they first arrive on the battlefield they can do mortal wounds to units within 10″ (Combos great with the Lord allowing them to come down outside of 7) and they also do a number of mortal wounds on the charged based on the charge roll – looking forward to seeing how these perform on the tabletop!
Finally for the Stormcast we have the Praetors, these also have a decent profile, but it’s in their defensive abilities where they really shrine – they pick a hero on the battlefield to protect, and while they are in 3″ of them they roll a dice whenever a wound is allocated, on a 1-2 nothing happens, on a 3-4 the wound is allocated to them instead, and on a 5+ the wound or mortal wound is negated! Essentially giving whatever hero they are assigned to a 5+ ward save
The Kruleboyz are the new greenskin force introduced in Dominion, and all have the Orruk Warclans keyword allowing them to be mixed with the wider greenskin race! Interestingly the Hobgrots are not battleline meaning that the Orruks only have a single battleline unit in the box – they also have fewer points than the Stormcast, clocking in at 1070 points. Their allegiance ability is pretty cool dealing mortal wounds on hits of 6 equal to the damage of the weapon! Sadly the Hobgrots don’t have the Kruleboyz Orruk keyword, so no mortal wound dealing grenades as a charge deterrent (boooo!)
The Battleline of the Kruleboyz, the Gutrippaz don’t have the greatest profile, but then with 2 attacks they are really just fishing for 6s to cause those mortal wounds. Where they really shine however is with their Scare Taktikz – this lets them roll 2D6 at the start of the charge phase and add one to the result for every 5 models in the unit – if they equal or beat the bravery of a unit within 12″ then that unit is -1 to hit. So while they only have a 5+ save this actually makes them pretty resilient as on average most units will be -1 to hit against a unit of 10 with a couple of exceptions such as undead or daemons. Reinforce them to a unit of 20 and on average they will equal or beat the bravery of any unit in the game making them a frustrating tarpit to shift.
Killaboss with Stab-Grot
The non mounted version of the Killaboss is pretty nice, weapon has 2 damage to take advantage of those 6s to hit, and can be given a flail for a couple of additional attacks – alternatively you can give him a shield for +1 save but I really feel the Kruleboyz allegiance ability keys better off having as many attacks as possible. Stab Grot is a free wound with a 1 in 6 chance of not being removed, but not really as reliable as a ward save. All Part of Da Plan limits your battleshock losses to a single model meaning you never really need to spend a command point to autopass if you are near key units.
Killaboss on Great Gnashtoof
The big beastie in the box (Seriously, it’s massive!) and basically a much better version of the on foot Killaboss boasting more attacks, more wounds and a better save – it also gets +1 to hit on the charge! This thing will hurt when it hits you!
The Murknob is a great unit offering nearby Kruleboyz some brilliant magic defence, simply ignoring the effects of spells or mortal wounds to boyz within 12″ on a 5+. It also has the change of dealing mortal wounds to enemy units within 3, but I feel he is better acting as a command focal point with his Totem keyword and as magical defence to your key units than being in the thick of the fighting.
The caster for the Kruleboyz half of the box is an interesting one, he can give a unit either +1 save or make their poison trigger on a 5+ instead of casting a spell – that said, his spell is pretty good in that it increases friendly charges by 1 and reduces enemy charges also by 1 across the entire battlefield – really like this guy for the utility he offers!
I mean, I was sold on the tease of Chaos Dwarfs, but these are pretty cool – pitiful in combat but with 2 attacks base and exploding hits of 6s these can chuck a surprising amount of dice! They also have grenades that are more reliable damage wise than their knives.
Finally we have some surprisingly decent Orruk shooting! These have a split profile, you can’t choose between them, it’s conditional based on if you moved and are out of 3″ of enemy units – if you stand still you get a long range shot that hits on 2s, if you move or are near the enemy you get 2 short range shots that hit on 4s – ideally you’ll want these to stand still and offer covering fire for your units – works nicely with the new Unleash Hell command ability that allows you to shoot with a unit if the enemy completes a charge within 9″
Age of Sigmar 3rd Edition Core Book Review
The final item in the box is a big one, the new 3rd edition Core Book for Age of Sigmar. Age of Sigmar Rules have evolved considerably over the editions of the game, from the handful of pages in the original ruleset, to the expanded core rules in 2nd edition. Games Workshop have also been tweaking and improving the rules through General’s Handbook releases in order to improve how the game works and adapt to any trends that they saw at events. Lore and universe building was also given a massive boost in the arm in 2nd edition, fleshing out the Mortal Realms and giving us maps and illustrations of the people and places within them.
So it’s with the 2nd edition Core Book as a great benchmark that we come into the 3rd edition of the game. The 360 page book is as gorgeous as you would expect from a Games workshop release, filled with some absolutely stunning new artwork such as this piece depicting the Dawnbringer crusades:
The first 245 pages of the book are dedicated to lore, artwork, miniatures showcases and a history of the Mortal Realms so far. We see events from the Broken Realms series bringing us right up to the “current” timeline – the Era of the Beast. What I liked about this section is that it really drove home how much of an effect Chaos had on the lands, its corrupting tendrils getting into every nook and cranny before Sigmar took to battle to reclaim the Realms. We learn about the “Dawners” members of the military expeditions known as the Dawnbringer Crusade, these are great forces who trek out from the Cities of Sigmar in order to reclaim the land around them in the name of Sigmar. We see some interesting nuggets of info that might hint at things we seen added to the Cities of Sigmar (probably under the name of the Dawnbringer Crusades) when they get their next battletome – Braziers lit from holy flame that lead these armies into the darkness, massive floating islands that are pulled behind the crusade that are loaded with prefab structures and supplies in order to create new outposts in minimal time and mighty standards provided by the Order of Heralds that become focal points of the newly formed cities. I’m really excited to see how this is reflected in the game, and there are a number of images of new scenery within the book that shows some of the new construction of these new cities.
We also see new maps fleshing out more cities and locations, something that has been continued from the 2nd edition book here, giving us more of an insight into the locations we are fighting over. As you would expect, we also get full outlines and summaries of every faction in the game, bringing both old and new players up to date on the current standing of the factions across the realms.
Throughout the book we also get double page spreads detailing some of the gorgeous armies by members of the studio!
We mentioned earlier that the rules for Age of Sigmar have been expanded over the years from just 4 pages in the original game, to a more meaty 10 pages in 2nd edition – this has now grown to a core rules section of just under 40 pages, plus additional areas dedicated to each of the 3 ways of playing. Part of the reason why the rules cover 4 times as many pages is that each individual rule is broken down into numbered sections with subsections (and sub,sub sections!) for every related rule beneath – for example Section 1.0 covers Core Concepts with 1.2 beneath this covering the concept of what a Model is and 1.2.1 explaining the distinction between friendly and enemy models. In addition to this we also get a side bar down the page offering more clarifications and detail that ensures the reader understands the concepts detailed.
This makes it much easier to address rules queries than it has ever been, and means that future supplements can even refer directly to the section and sub section to spell out exactly how rules interact with each other.
For any concepts that need clearly explaining there are also associated diagrams showing exactly how things are meant to work
Let’s take a look at any changes in the rules and how they will affect our games of Age of Sigmar:
The first big change that we get to in the new edition is unit coherency – this is now similar to how it works in 40k and to be honest this is a change I really wanted to see. I always disliked “conga lines” from an aesthetic point of view much preferring units to look like blocks of troops marching in formation rather than a string across the table!
A unit of 2 – 5 models have to be within an inch (6 inches vertically) of at least 1 other model in the unit while a unit of more than 5 models has to be within range of 2 models. As you can see from the above diagram this will mean that most large squads will need to be either deployed in 2 ranks or in a zig-zag formation to maintain coherency. Units with a 25mm base are small enough to be in a line base to base to keep coherency, though you will have to be very careful that your opponent doesn’t use any abilities to remove a specific model and break your chain – so I don’t think this will be a viable strategy to using small based models. If a unit is not in coherency you remove models until they are, very often this will mean removing models until they are down to 5 models for large units or until any gaps in the chain are no longer there – making this something you will really need to keep in mind when moving around your units. Now there has been a lot of doom and gloom online about this, personally I think this is better for the game as people will have think about positioning rather than simply making fences of models which was nether fun to play or pleasing to look at on the table! People have been concerned about their big units being difficult to manage, but as we shall see a little later you may not necessarily be running large units any more in this edition…
Endless Spells and Invocations
We see a couple of tweaks to how Endless Spells and Invocations can be taken with a maximum of 1 in your list per Wizard/Priest. This may shift some people’s lists that went heavy on these, but be honest I think most of these will be tweaked in the General’s Handbook 2021 (at the time of writing we have not seen this yet, if we receive a copy from GW prior to release I’ll update this post with the details)
Endless spells have seen a couple of tweaks – firstly they are automatically removed if they hit the edge of the board, making moving one a possible way of getting rid of it. Secondly, Predatory Endless Spells are now much easier to control – as long as the caster is within 30″ of it they control it, if they are within 30″ of multiple endless spells they have summoned then they pick which one they control. All controlled endless spells are moved by the caster that summoned it every hero phase – yes, that includes during your opponents hero phase too! The current player moves all their controlled endless spells and then the opponent moves theirs. Once the controlled spells are moved, all other predatory endless spells that are out of range are deemed as wild and players alternate moving these starting with the player whose turn it is. And again, this is in each hero phase making endless spells more impactful and much more reliable than they currently are. As mentioned above, endless spells are getting new profiles in the General’s Handbook and I imagine we will see considerable points increases to reflect how good they now are!
Oh, and priests can now dispel Endless Spells too!
Invocations have also changed in that enemy priests can now Banish any within 48″ of them in the hero phase by rolling over the summoning value on D6 – more on priests later, as it seems you’ll be wanting to bring some along to battle with you!
Triggered Effects and Simultaneous Effects
We get full clarifications in the book of when events trigger, what takes priority and how triggered effects work. Something that has been FAQd in the past, but is spelt out in black and white here is that a dice roll can ever only trigger a single effect. If two or more effects are possible the player who made the roll picks which one takes place.
So for example, if you had a unit that had overlapping buffs allowing hits of 6 to cause extra hits but also hits of 6 to do mortal wounds then the player would have to pick which effect they get the benefit of. This may well change from turn to turn, as you get to pick which one you can benefit from once you have made the roll allowing you a little flexibility in how you use these.
We also get clarification that if 2 or more abilities happen simultaneously then the current player does all theirs followed by their opponent, with a roll off happening for any simultaneous effects that happen between turns.
Finally we see a “stack” system for contradictory effects with the last effect that is applied taking priority.
This should clear up some of the things that often required FAQs to resolve in the past!
Command Points and Command Abilities
One of the biggest changes in the new edition is how Command Points and Command Abilities work. We speculated in our Soulblight Gravelords review that we would have many more command points to play with in the new edition, and this is indeed the case!
At the start of the battle round the player who is taking the first turn gets a command point and the person going second gets 2 command points. In addition you get an extra command point if your general is on the battlefield (Note in the Gravelords book lots of characters count as being your general in addition to the model chosen as your general…) and at the end of the battle round all command points are lost.
There’s a couple of points here – firstly it means if you are going second then you have command points ready to use within your opponents turn, as in previous editions of the game you would not generate any until your turn. Secondly as you cannot save them from turn to turn then you really should try and use them all! Where the skill in command point management will show is judging how many to keep for your opponent’s turn, as a large number of “reactionary” command abilities have been added that you can use in your opponent’s turn!
We also get new rules on how you use command points with some restrictions added that will lead to some tactical thinking about how to use them.
Firstly, more models can issue them and ranges have changed somewhat.
Unit Champions can now issue commands, but only to their unit.
Heroes can issues commands to units wholly within 12
Generals can issue commands to units wholly within 18
Totems can issue commands to units wholly within 18
I’ve always loved “Battle Standard” models – and with this new rule they make a great secondary command bubble able to issue commands at long range! Champions make it easier to get commands onto your units far out of range of your general
Another big change is that each model can only issue a single command per phase and each unit can only receive a single command per phase, meaning that you will not be able to stack some of the ace new abilities available and instead will have to make important decisions on which ones to do.
Also you cannot use the same command ability more than once per phase leading to a game of chicken with your opponent as they try and draw out your precious command points with throwaway units.
One of my few criticisms of the new book is that we do not have a page listing all the command abilities together in one place – instead they are spread throughout the book under their relevant part of the turn sequence. This does make it easier to look things up, but it would have been nice to have a sheet showing them all in once place – hopefully we see something like this in the General’s Handbook. For completion I’ll list them all below here:
Used at the start of the hero phase on a unit outside of 3″ of enemy models – you roll a dice for each slain model and for each 6 you can return a model to the unit. This is an amazing way of replenishing units, especially elite units such as Varenguard or Gargants – it may have a small chance of success, but imagine the look of horror on your opponent’s face when your single remaining Mancrusher Gargant suddenly turns back into a unit of 3! Don’t forget there’s nothing to stop you using this in your opponent’s hero phase either!
At the Double
A few little changes here, you now have to declare this before you roll the dice when making a run move – instead of rolling they simply move an additional 6″
A great ability that is used in the enemy movement phase, you pick a unit within 9″ of an enemy unit that has just finished a move and is outside of 3″, your unit can immediately make a D6″ move. This is an amazing way of dodging out of charge range when an enemy units moves close to you – there are some restrictions however as you cannot shoot with that unit later that turn.
Forward to Victory
No changes here, allows you to re-roll a charge!
Overwatch for Age of Sigmar! You use this when an enemy unit completes a charge move – you pick a unit within 9″ (It doesn’t have to be the unit that was charged) and they get to shoot the charging unit at -1 to hit. This is amazing and will lead to some supporting banks of ranged units to cover any precious units you have.
Can be given to a unit in the fight phase or in your shooting phase, gives that unit +1 to hit! Due to the wording this can’t be used in conjunction with Unleash Hell (Technically it wouldn’t be possible anyway, as each unit can only be issued one commend per phase, but at least the rule is tidy to completely disallow this)
Used when a unit is picked as the target of a ranged or melee attack, that unit gets +1 save.
Used at the start of the Battleshock phase, the target unit does not take a battleshock test.
As you can see, these new command abilities add some new interactivity in your opponents phase and give an element of cat and mouse as you try and manage your resources to counter their actions. Really love this and look forward to seeing these expanded in the battletome specific command abilities going forwards.
This is another new feature added to the game, Heroic Actions allow a single hero on each side to perform one of 4 actions each player turn at the start of the Hero Phase – these are separate to Command Abilities so there is some potential for stacking here!
Gives you a command point on a 4+ that can only be used by that hero, however if your general is dead this triggers on a 2+
Gives some nice magical defence to non magical armies as this allows you to unbind or dispel a spell in the same way as a Wizard
Their Finest Hour
Can only be used by each hero once per game, but gives that hero +1 to wound and +1 to their saves for the turn – can make a massive impact if timed correctly! As this is not a command ability you can also stack this with All-Out Attack to also give them +1 to hit.
Nice way of fixing up your characters, you roll 2D6 and if the result is less than your bravery you regain D3 wounds, if you match your bravery you restore 1 wound. This could be a great way of bringing a hero up to a better profile when they drop down a bracket.
I love these and hope we see this expanded with some army specific heroic actions too in future!
There’s a lot of detail clarifying movement and how it interacts with other rules, for example a “Normal Move” is now distinct from a run or retreat move, making abilities such as those on the Blood Knights much clearer!
How terrain interacts with movement is fully detailed too, with a model essentially measuring the movement “up” and down the vertical as part of their full move.
No massive changes here, units can still shoot in combat at who they are in combat with and look out sir is slightly different now not applying to heroes with 10 or more wounds making some non-monster heroes more vulnerable.
We see some more tweaks here in how attacking works, firstly we get a full sequencing list of how always strike-first and strike-last abilities interact finally giving us clear guidelines on at what step each unit fights!
A big change is that in 3rd edition to hit and to wound modifiers cap at a maximum of +1 or -1, unmodified 1s always miss/fail to wound and unmodified 6s always hit/wound. This limits a lot of stacking modifiers in the game and makes combats much more straightforward
In a similar way saves also cap at +1 however there is no cap to negative modifiers. Unmodified saves of 1 always fail, so no more unkillable units!
Ward Saves are what wound shrugs are now referred to as in 3rd Edition and a maximum of one ward save can be applied. I imagine we will see FAQs at release clarifying abilities such as Deathless Minions or Disgustingly Resilient as Ward Saves. This will also mean that GW will be able to create rules that interact with this, such as weapons or abilities that can negate Ward Saves etc.
Sadly, we have not seen a 40k style overhaul to terrain with many of the existing rules still remaining. We do have a couple of new things such as defensible terrain – this is terrain that can be garrisoned and you cannot move over these unless you do garrison them. This clears up how movement around things such as the Lumineth shrine should be done, as essentially the space under the overhang of the island counts as part of the terrain feature.
We also get clarifications for large and very large terrain pieces and how they count towards recommended pieces of terrain per battle
Wyldwood rules are also included reflecting the updates seen in the recent Broken Realms Kragnos regarding visibility through them and how the open ground in the centre works.
We also see details on “Demolished” terrain and how this remains on the table, just can no longer be garrisoned once demolished.
Magic gets some updates in 3rd edition, including the return of miscasts! If you roll snake eyes on a cast you now take D3 mortal wounds and that wizard cannot cast any more spells that turn! The core spells in the book have also changed!
This has been completely reworked – it casts on a 5 and has a range of 12″. If you cast it your wizard essentially summons a magical ball that floats in the air until they choose to launch it, at any point before your next hero phase you can pick an enemy unit within 12″ for it to strike – dealing 1 mortal wound, or D3 if the target is within 3″. Basically this means that instead of shooting at someone offensively, you can instead stick arcane bolt on a friendly wizard to act as a charge deterrent with magical overwatch! It also means you could cast it in your turn and launch it as an enemy unit moves past you. Really like this and could see some sneaky ways to use them!
Mystic Shield now casts on a 5 and once again improves a friendly unit’s save by 1!
Priests are now really good and well worth bringing along as they all now get access to 2 generic prayers in addition to any on their warscroll.
This goes off on a 4+ and gives a friendly unit within 12″ a 6+ Ward save!
A long range anti-priest prayer that is cast on a 2+ and can cause up to D3 mortal wounds to an enemy Priest within 48″
Monsters also got buffed in this edition of the game! Firstly everyone will be happy to know that unless otherwise stated monsters now count as 5 models for the purposes of capturing objectives and models with 5 or more wounds that are not monsters now count as 2 models! This is a much requested change to the game and will make people more likely to take these units.
We also get access to Monstrous Rampage abilities – like the Heroic Actions these are a list of abilities that each player can use for each monster at the end of the charge phase. There are only 4 of these and you can use each a maximum of once per phase.
On a 3+ a unit within 3″ cannot issue or receive command in the following combat phase – this is a great way of shutting down some of those combat buffing command abilities.
An enemy non-monster within 3″ takes D3 mortal wounds on a 2+
+1 to hit a target Monster within 3″ that combat phase
Smash to Rubble
Similar to a few abilities we have seen recently – this can destroy defensible terrain (potentially damaging the unit inside) and shutting down its warscroll for the rest of the game if it was a faction terrain piece. Nice way of getting rid of any frustrating faction abilities.
Like with the Heroic Abilities I really like these as gives you more fun things to do with your big stompy monsters!
In Age of Sigmar 3rd edition we see a few shifts to the way we build our armies. The biggest one of these is the concept of “Reinforced Units”
In previous editions of the game each unit had a minimum and maximum size, this is no longer the case in 3rd edition – each unit will have a single size. This can be reinforced once, doubling its size for most units in the game. Or in the case of battleline choices they can be reinforced twice allowing them to be taken at triple the size.
So for example if you have a battleline unit that is bought in blocks of 10 then you could take it as is, reinforce it once to take a unit of 20 or reinforce it twice to take a unit of 30. While your elite non-battleline unit of 5 could only ever be reinforced once for a maximum unit size of 10
What makes this even more of a army construction thinking point is that in matched play games there is a maximum number of reinforced units you can take with an average 2000 point game only allowing 4 reinforced units (A battleline unit reinforced twice counts as 2 reinforced units for the purposes of this)
Because of this we are going to see a lot more variety in units taken as you simply wont be able to max out all those units! You might be able to take a couple of elite blocks, but if you spend all your resources here you wont be able to max out those battleline squads either.
I feel this is going to lead to some more interesting list building where people will be looking at units they have not looked into before simply because they operate well as a non-reinforced unit in order to plug gaps previously taken up by multiple “deathstar” units
We also get clarification that conditional battleline units (those that become battleline under certain conditions) replace all other battlefield roles when they become battleline, meaning in the case of monster heavy options they no longer eat up your behemoth slots!
With existing Warscroll Battalions no longer being usable in Matched Play games (they can still be used in other battlepacks however such as Open and Narrative games) Games Workshop have instead created a list of 6 core battalions that you can form your army into. These don’t cost any points however and there is no limit in the Matched Play battlepack in the book as to how many you can take.
These offer you a number of different benefits based on which ones you take including extra enhancements (more on these shortly), bonus command points, once per game command ability effects that don’t count as having issued a command (meaning you could use that command ability again that turn on a different unit) or the ability to drop the entire battalion as one “drop” during deployment. What’s great is that you could well build your army around a drop army, but if you do you are sacrificing the other abilities meaning again you will have to make a decision between trying to get the first turn and having more artefacts and abilities, or perhaps a balance between the two.
I love this change and the fact that it puts all armies on the same playing field without some forces having much better battalions than others
As part of building your army list you also pick a number of enhancements – this is similar to how you picked a command trait and artefact, but much expanded! These fall into a number of different categories and you get one of each when creating your army, with some core battalions allowing you to pick additional options
The command traits we all know and love, and we get some new generic ones in the core book:
Battle-lust: Re-roll run and change
Skilled Leader: You get an extra command point in your hero phase on a 5+
High Priest: Re-roll chanting rolls (prayers)
Heroic Stature: +1 Wound on their profile
Master of Magic: Once per phase reroll 1 cast, dispel or unbind roll
Artefacts of Power
Again no changes here, you can still get extra ones via some of the battalions, but we also get some core ones in the book:
Amulet of Destiny: 5+ Ward save on the bearer
Vile of Manticore Venom: this is an ace one increasing a weapon’s to wound by +1
Arcane Tome: Bearer becomes a Wizard, if they are a wizard they can cast an extra spell
Seed of Rebirth: You can re-roll heroic recovery rolls
As part of your army list you can pick an extra spell for each wizard in your army, these can all be different ones if you want including one of the new universal ones in the core book or alternatively one out of any lore they know. This is much how it works in current battletomes, but what’s really cool is that by taking a Warlord battalion you could choose to give every wizard ANOTHER extra spell
Flaming Weapon: Casts on a 4+ and improves the damage of one of the casters weapons by 1 – really good on a combat character with magic!
Levitate: Casts on an 8+ gives a target unit within 18″ Fly
Ghost Mist: Casts on a 5+ and causes a terrain feature to block line of sight.
Just like with the spells this adds some universal prayers that can be picked instead of ones in your battletome, and again battalions can be used to add additional picks here!
Guidance: on a 5+ gain a command point
Heal: Heal a friendly model within 12″ D3 wounds on a 3+
Curse: on a 4+ an enemy unit suffers a mortal wound in addition to any other damage for each hit of 6 against them
Again these make me want to try and fit a priest into as many armies as I can!
You now pick a Triumph as part of your army building, but you only get to use it if your points total is less than your opponents, and yes you can stack multiples of these with the Warlord battalions too…
Bloodthirsty: Once per battle reroll charges on a friendly unit
Inspired: Once per battle +1 to wound on a friendly unit
Indomitable: Once per battle do not take battleshock on a friendly unit
I imagine we will see army specific ones going forwards as teased for the Kharadons in Broken Realms Be’lakor.
In keeping with tradition, Age of Sigmar 3rd Edition still splits out 3 different game modes to cover the “3 ways of playing”
Starting with Open Play the book has a battlepack allowing you to generate some quick and easy games by using tables to generate a map, victory condition, twist and a ruse. This is AOS at it’s most easy and is perfect for creating a battle without having to do much in the way of setup. If you are limited for time and just want a quick game you can easily roll up a mission and get playing right away!
While I’ve always tended to play narrative or matched play games in the past, I can see myself using those charts for creating a fun game to play through, especially on our gaming streams – and these could easily be integrated into narrative play battles too!
Narrative Play – Path to Glory
One of my very favourite things about the latest edition of Warhammer 40k was the Crusade system and when rumours started circling about a new edition of Age of Sigmar we had everything crossed for something similar in 3rd edition.
The good news is our prayers have been answered and Path to Glory is essentially the AOS equivalent to Crusade!
While it may share it’s name with the previous Path to Glory, the new one is something completely different taking many of the elements that made Crusade such a fun way of playing games of 40k, and adding in really cool stuff such as having your very own Stronghold and surrounding territories and outposts as your force grows in size and experience over the course of the campaign.
If you have played Crusade before you will feel right at home here, you start off by picking your faction and starting size. Path to Glory is scalable starting with a force as small as 600 points allowing people to get going with just a couple of boxes while they slowly grow their army as the campaign continues. The Core Book gives options for starting at 600, 1000, 1500 and 2000 points giving you loads of options in how you want to go about your campaign. The size of the campaign will also determine how many resources you start with, but these can all be increased over the run of events.
At 1000 points for example you have your starting Stronghold with a cap of 8 units in your starting army, 8 glory that can be spent on upgrades and improvements to your force, and a single starting territory.
Each territory has different benefits assoiated with them such as increasing the number of Monsters you can have in your order of battle in the case of Wild Lands (loads of savage beasts live here making it easy for them to be brought into your army. Or perhaps you have a realmstone mine on your land allowing you to gather additional resources after each battle. Or what about ancient roads offering good trade connections to other cities? This is such a great concept and I’m already excited to put together maps of the expanded settlements of the Sprues and Brews team members, tracking their home base expand from a small stronghold into a mighty city in its own right! While the stronghold starts small as you win battles and dedicate resources into it the settlement will grown along with your armies, offering benefits into the availability of units in your order of battle.
The rules also tease at further expansion to this stating that as your stronghold grows you can start to establish Outposts, though the rules for these will follow in later suppliments.
Speaking of supplements the book says we will get a series of books each dedicated to different realms and containing the rules to run your Path to Glory campaigns in those environments, presumably with bespoke territories and upgrades that reflect the buildings and cities in those realms. I’m very excited to see these as the 40k Crusade content has been excellent
Your stronghold and surrounding territories also determine the number of specialist units you can bring in your army, for example starting out you can only have a single wizard, so you may want to focus your expansion on increasing the number of wizards you can bring.
Glory is spent in a similar way to Crusade, with you being able to buy units, heal up wounded units, reinforce units to larger sizes or even investing in upgrading your territories and stronghold in order to gain further benefits.
Another new twist on Crusade is that you pick a Quest for your army, and you try and complete this independently of the games you play – you might for example choose to hunt for an endless spell and spend a game hunting woods and graveyards for a wild spell you can later add to your army, or maybe your quest will be to drill your warriors so they operate together as a battalion, with the success being to add that core battalion to your army. What I love is that you are not just buying an endless spell or battalion, your forces have to head out into the wilds and earn it!
After each battle your warriors earn experience in order to level up and gain more abilities, or if they are unlucky and are slain during the battle they may gain injuries – this again is very similar to how it works in 40k. I partially like how heroes work, with every hero gaining a command trait when they get to a certain level!
We get 6 missions in the book designed for Path to Glory but the game stresses that any battleplan can be used from Open or Matched Play and that we’ll be getting many more missions in upcoming expansions.
Amazingly we also get rules that allow you to use your Path to Glory force in a matched play tournament without it impacting the other player’s experience – you wont get access to any of your Path to Glory specific abilities and you may not necessarily have the most tournament tuned list, but you will be able to use your army and still gain experience and complete quests!
I am very excited to start on a Path to Glory and seeing how our armies grow and develop over our games as the narrative forms around them!
Another area with some considerable changes is Matched Play – this again uses the battlepack format seen in 40k meaning that GW can put out multiple different rules packs for events without it impacting the core rules.
In the Contest of Generals battlepack in the core book we see a range of game sizes from 750 points to 3000 points across 3 different sizes of battlefield – again these mirror the new 40k sizes that use multiples of the card tiles that GW sell. Keep in mind there’s absolutely stopping you from using a 6×4 board, but I imagine most events will be using these new sizes.
As mentioned earlier, maximum reinforces units and maximum number of endless spells are also baked directly into the pack making it possible to restrict certain lists.
There is no restriction on the number of core battalions you can take, however old warscroll battalions are not valid in this matched play battlepack.
A big tweak seen in this battlepack is the fact that whoever finishes deploying first HAS to take the first turn! You no longer decide! With the changes to command points this is something you may want to consider when building your army. – UPDATE – Actually this is still the same, the person to deploy first has priority, but they can still pick who goes first!
Another new addition is that each player has to pick one of 3 Grand Strategies at the start of the game:
Sever the Head – you complete this if your opponent has no heroes on the battlefield at the end of the game
Vendetta – you complete this if you slay the opposing general but yours survives
Hold the Line – you complete this if you have any battleline units on the battlefield at the end of the game
Each of these are worth 3 bonus victory points at the end of the game.
In addition to this you also have to pick a battle tactic at the start of each hero phase – these are worth 2 victory points if you achieve them however you can only pick each battle tactic once meaning you will need a well rounded army able to score all of these:
Break their Spirit – Destroy a unit in enemy territory
Broken Ranks – Destroy a unit from the enemy’s starting army
Conquer – Control a specific Objective Marker that your opponent controlled at the start of the turn(You choose at the start of the hero phase)
Repel – Destroy a unit in your territory
Seize the Centre – Have more models than our opponent within 6″ of the centre of the board
Slay the Warlord – Slay the opponent’s general
This mixes up things massively in that you are going to need to complete these each turn in addition to trying to achieve the objective of the battleplan itself and again I think this will reward adaptable armies that will be able to cover any of these secondary objectives on the fly.
Similar to 40k I suspect we will see additional entries in battletomes too that are suited to that specific army.
We only get 3 new missions in the book, and these are variations on old favourites – however the General’s Handbook 2021 is released the same day as Dominion, so I would expect this to be packed full of the missions that GW will be running in this year’s events.
Finally we end the book with a trio of rules packs for “non-standard” battles.
Firstly we get Siege Warfare using rules we have previously seen in the Broken Realms books along with a battleplan for fighting a siege!
Next we get the much loved Triumph and Treachery allowing multiplayer games filled with backstabbing and betrayal! These games are a firm favourite of ours from the World that Was, and it’s great to see this in the core book again as this is always a fun game to run!
Finally the book includes rules for fighting underground battles in tunnels! In a nod to the old Realm of Beasts rules we also see wild monsters inhabiting these tunnels!
While they may not often be used, I’m glad they have been included and would make an ace one of game during a Path to Glory campaign!
So after a couple of days with Dominion and 9000 words later what do I think of the new launch box and the new 3rd edition Core Book? Games Workshop have once again put out an outstanding launch box containing not only the entire new rulebook but also 2 armies of entirely new models each clocking in at over 1000 points.
At the time of writing we do not know the cost of the box, but suspect this to be in the region of £125 making the contents an absolute steal! Now, I imagine this is going to be very popular and unfortunately some people may be very disappointed if they can’t get hold of it, my advise would be to just make sure you are on the Games Workshop webstore before 10am on Saturday as that will be your best chance of getting it.
The miniatures in the box are stunning with some of the best Stormcast and Orruk models they have ever done, and after spending a little time with them I’m already excited to build up a small army of each of them!
The rules look the tightest they have ever been and look to address some of the issues we have seen previous with the game, and I cannot wait to play Path to Glory and start building the narrative about our armies as they expand across the Mortal Realms.
My only real disappointment is that terrain is much the same with random traits and all, I really thought they might take the opportunity to rework these completely closer to what we have for 40k. Fingers crossed we see this expanded perhaps in a future suppliment.
We haven’t been able to have any games of the new edition yet, so we’ll be following up in the next week with our thoughts from some “real world” experience after rolling some dice and trying out the 3 ways of playing, but after reading the book cover to cover and building the incredible miniatures in the box I’m very excited for the future of Age of Sigmar.
Warhammer Age of Sigmar Dominion is available to order Saturday the 19th June and is released Saturrday the 3rd of July
Games Workshop provided Sprues & Brews a free copy of Dominion for review purposes