A couple of months ago, Games Workshop blew up a world. Specifically, they blew up one of its oldest properties, Warhammer Fantasy. The old world was replaced by Age of Sigmar and a whole new tide of lore was being created to support it. The question is why? Was it a quest to tell new stories? Was it an urge to showcase their ability to take chances on their properties? Sadly, the reason was a bit more financial.
With the flagging sales of the Warhammer Fantasy miniatures game, the series needed a reboot. A way to attract new fans and possibly update the rules and the miniatures towards a more modern feel. It was also a way to re-brand all their races into more copyright-friendly forms. Seriously, no one turns dwarves into “Steamhead Duardin” unless they really want those creations to be legally theirs. It would be like turning elfs into Aelfs….oh wait…
And, lets just say there are enough similarities to this reboot and another Games Workshop property that a few fans might think they are trying to ride the coattails of their sister games success.
Now, due to a lack of time and money, I never could get into the actual miniatures game. I did, however, like reading some of the stories in that world. The story of Gotrek and Felix being a particular favorite of mine. Sadly, I started tapering off over the years and it wasn’t until the end times novels that I started really getting back into it. The five books went through the destruction of the old world and it was fun seeing nations fall, heroes die, and people just not having a fun time during the apocalypse.
By the end, the old world was gone and it was replaced by a new one. A world I was beginning to like for a variety of reasons.
1) Shift From Light to High Fantasy
The original world of Warhammer was a dark and gritty place that looked a lot like the middle ages in some respects. If the middle ages had monsters waiting in the dark places getting ready to eat you. Magic existed, but it didn’t feel overwhelming in most cases. You were better off depending on your sword arm then the fickle nature of magic. Age of Sigmar is a bit different.
As Billy mentioned in his previous article, I tend towards the cronut version of fantasy. The more magical and weird a world is, the more interested I am in reading about it. Age of Sigmar takes the magic of the old world and cranks it up to asparagus. The universe has 9 realm just floating in the warp. Each one with a theme based on one of the winds of magic. The world of fire might have volcanoes and lava rivers. The world of shadows might have dark demons just prancing around. There are also extraplanar gates that look like giant lawn ornaments which allow for travel between these worlds. It has so much potential for cronut I feel like I am getting a sugar rush from just reading it.
2) Upgraded Hero Power levels.
Most of the heroes of the old world seemed out of depth compared to their chaotic counterparts. The greatest human hero was a guy on a griffon. Sure the griffon is intimidating but bird beak didn’t seem that useful against a tide of chaos horrors. The greatest chaos hero was a mutated human who was so overpowered he punched giant daemons in the face for looking at him wrong. It seemed an unfair match. I will admit, I love underdog stories, but it got to a point that whenever a new evil foe appeared, the heroes needed dumb luck or a hell of a numbers advantage to stand a chance.
The heroes of Age of Sigmar, as far as I can tell, love punching demons in the face. Sure, there might be regular people who probably don’t stand much of a chance against Skull Crusher the Crunchiness, but it feels like there are heroes who have the skill and power to face off against the best chaos can throw at them.
3) The Return of Hope.
In the original game, chaos, like the Lovecraftian monsters that inspired them, was an oppressive violent force that inexorably marched towards your destruction. Its victory was an inevitability. The good gods existed but they were weak and had to subtly manipulate their followers to help them. The older races were slowly dying out and humanity wasn’t doing much better. In many ways, the end times was a mercy.
Now, itâ€™s turned on its head. The elves (sorry, Aelfs now) are tired of being a dying race and have actually captured a chaos god. The dwarfs are putting on their steampunk top hats and getting their guns in gear. The old gods aren’t just behind the scenes subtly inspiring people. They are in your face because they have had enough of dealing with all of this chaos crap. It feels like the very tone of the game has changed from grim dark to a more somber dark. Its going to be a hard road, but it feels like they have a chance.
Of course, this is all my opinion. Watch the trailer for it below and make up your mind. As for me, I going to see if I can scrounge up some cash so I can purchase the latest novel. Who knows, it may make me want to take up the hobby.
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9 comments on “Changing Lore: Age of Sigmar”
I’m certainly interested enough to also want to buy the books and start immersing myself in the Lore, but the problem for me with this reboot is that it seems to have removed the human element from the story. The Warhammer Fantasy was so rich and interesting, and the End Times started to set up a possible out by bringing up the alternate-universe theory of Warhammer Fantasy, but then decided to destroy all of it and there’s a real sense that the history there was lost.
The GROUND MARINES! are not inherently bad, but everything in this new setting has sort of removed humans from the equation. 40K for all of its grimdark-bloodness has some genuinely touching human moments, and just enough sprinkling of hope that it feels like even though you have no idea how there could be a happy ending, they want you to believe that it is.
But for optimism news I’m really hoping that they re-introduce the Global Campaigns, and open up a story that can actually shift and evolve. Fantasy already had to take one giant step backwards with Storm of Chaos, so as long as they keep moving forward I think they’ll be able to get there.
While I absolutely love the old world of Warhammer Fantasy I also absolutely loved the End times and the epic storyline therein. I personally thought it ended on a very strong note.
The GROUND MARINES! Rub me the wrong way and, despite generally liking High Fantasy, I always felt the contrast between that kind of fantasy and the Warhammer universe was one its strong points.
Still, though it’s not necessarily my cup of tea, I feel the Age of Sigmar setting could grow up into something strong (I mean 40K didn’t start out the way we know it today).
What completely and utterly enrages me is the rules. I could rant for hours but it boils down to the most bare-bones rules possible, no attempt at balance, and is such a blatant example of pay to win that it makes anything GW has done before look saintly in comparison!
Still, the new minis are nice, I mean look at this Chaos Warrior
I really loved the End Times story as well (even if the Elven arc seemed prematurely rushed), but it ended in such a ridiculous way. It was the ultimate GM “Out of nowhere, an enemy appears and attacks you even though there are six physical Gods in the room” in order to end things, which was just kind of a ridiculously stupid way to end things. I could understand it was meant to be a subversion of the last-second alliance saving the day, but it was one low-power vampire facing the God of Death, the Goddess of Life, the God of the Heavens, and the “male” Elf of ultra-murder, and he managed to surprise them all and backstab… the God of Metal. Who had earlier survived a backstab from a Horned Rat-empowered assassin that seems like it should be a lot more deadly. Grumble.
Regarding the lack of point balance, have they released official rules yet or just the scrolls? I suspected that they released some compatability rules, but that they weren’t committing to point values because a lot of the old WHF units aren’t going to be compatible any more. All of the hero units should be dead of old age or vastly transformed, and several of the countries in there no longer exist.
I am super excited for the Slann being reverse-Daemons now though. I was a fan of them ever since they teleported a mountain range, thereby ruining the Dwarven empire forever because the feng shui was wrong where the mountains were before.
I won’t be happy till the return of Settra the Imperishable. But I am interested.
Mad respect for Settra. Giving the middle finger to the chaos gods requires an immense of willpower and arrogance. I have a feeling he might become a alternative to Nagash as the story continues.
Its up in the air, you never quite know what is going to go on when you decide to make a big shift like this. I mean before End Times Nagash, while notable, wasn’t exactly as insanely world ending as he had been during that moment. So the next step is always to just kinda look at Games Workshop and hope to god they don’t blow it.
Which is hard, because they sometimes blow it.
All and all I both like and dislike the redesign to fantasy. I like the addition or hope and more magical elements but I was never much of a fan of Fantasy. And I don’t really like Space Marines, where are my Tau
I finished reading the first Age of Sigmar book and I quite liked it and the theme behind it, but I’ve read a bit of the lore behind it and I’ve realised – the Stormcast Eternals again all seem to be Male even though they’re basically zombies in magic armour.
They had a chance to fix it and it’s gone!
Ya, I noticed that as well reading the book. Which sadly seems to give evidence this is just a chance to try to repeat 40k’s success with fantasy space marines.
According to the lore, Sigmar chose people who showed exemplary courage while fighting against overwhelming odds. You mean to tell me their wasn’t one woman who was tired of Chaos killing her friends and family and decided to take a stand?
It kinda puts in my head an image of God-King Sigmar looking down and seeing a woman defending her village from a huge chaos horde and thinking “What courage! To bad its a woman. Don’t want cooties in my magic teleporting warrior army.”