Sunday, July 24, 2016

Deep Thoughts: The General's Handbook for Age of Sigmar

Yesterday I hiked myself down to my local Games Workshop store and picked up a copy of the latest game book for Warhammer: Age of Sigmar: The General's Handbook. There has been a LOT of hype around the book's release and most of the discussion has been around the addition of tournament rules and points values and army structure. The short version of my thinking is the book lives up to the hype. A more complex version requires that we jump into the Way Back Machine and travel to the year 2003.

A lot of stuff for $25

An amazing resource for wargaming!
That year saw the release of The General's Compendium, a book created by the US Studio and an aid for playing battles in Warhammer Fantasy Battle 6th Edition. At the time, I was super excited because I'd been invited to contribute photos of some scratch built ship models that I'd been using for army displays. I had thought it a great honor and was super pumped for the books release.

I made a boat! Get on a boat!
I had a lot of pride that my Marauder ship made the back cover.
Little did I know just how cool The General's Compendium would be. It had rules for naval battles, map campaigns, running tournaments, and more. It was less a gaming aid than a source of inspiration. The General's Compendium was a guide to embracing the creative spirit that should be present in all wargames. It let players know that there was more to the game than the six scenarios in the rulebook or the rigid structure of their army lists. It encouraged storytelling and creating deep, personal connections with the tabletop armies you were spending so much time building and painting and tinkering with. Looking back at it 13 years later, I consider myself extremely lucky to have been involved with that book in even the most tangental way.

Fast forward to yesterday and reading through The General's Handbook I really felt as though it was calling back through time to the spirit of The General's Compendium. While lacking some of the inspiring scratch building of The General's Compendium, The General's Handbook really pushes the idea of letting loose your  imagination on the tabletop. It encourages every aspect of the game to the detriment of no other part. It is crammed full of ideas, scenarios and suggestions. Even if you aren't an Age of Sigmar player, I think you will find this book worthwhile as just inspiration for how it shows in how many directions miniature wargaming can be played. At $25US, this book is a steal.

It contains rules for running 5 different campaign styles, most of which could be adapted to other game systems with ease. I was particularly impressed by the map campaign system which only requires 2 pages of rules! That's crazy! No more getting stuck because you can't cross a river! Or not playing someone the whole campaign because they are on the other side of the map! Or having to devote the same time as to a college course to learn the rules! I was blown away.

Everything I read in The General's Handbook had me thinking "Oh, I want to play that!" My mind was racing with possibilities and coming up with ideas. I am absolutely chomping at the bit to dive into gaming with this product. With The General's Handbook I think GW has propped themselves up where the initial launch of Age of Sigmar faltered. In an attempt to let people do their own thing, they didn't offer as easy to follow set of guides as they have in The General's Handbook. As I told a friend, they wanted people to be creative and do their own thing; but the crowd wanted them to hold one mode up in the air to the animal kingdom and proclaim "This is How You Play!" I think The General's Handbook clarifies GW's current vision of having players view the rules as toolkit rather than holy writ.

Mufasa likes tournaments and structure, but Scar likes tinkering
with the rules and being creative.
Scar got a bad rap.
In closing, I think if you're most excited for this book because it includes structure and points you are missing out on a tremendous amount of what makes The General's Handbook special. Tournament play is like fast food - its fun and greasy and delicious, but if you eat it all the time it will kill you. So take a chance, eat a green vegetable and flex your creativity. I see too many people create amazing and wild model armies that then end up playing the same pitched battle over and over until they lose interest. Take the same passion you have for building models, painting models, thinking about tactics and strategies and invest some of it in creating scenarios or tinkering with the rules. It may not end up perfect and balanced, but the result will be games that will become stories you will tell for years to come.

So enough proselytizing; I managed to finish up all the Ork models from Assault on Blackreach this week along with 5 Ork Stormboyz. Damn, I love these models and am looking forward to building more. They ooze character and I'm looking forward to getting more to paint!

All three Deffkoptas finished up.
Stormboyz!!!! 5 of them isn't even worthwhile in 40K, but I love the look.
Arrrr! Looking like a proper Sky Pirate.
I tried carrying a red swirl theme throughout the jets - I was
trying to evoke the penguins in Tim Burton's Batman Returns.
"You merely adopted the Waaagh. I was born there. Moulded by it!"
Love the Bane mask.
Its important nobody knows who this one is.


No comments:

Post a Comment