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Warhammer Age of Sigmar Skirmish is an expansion offered up from Games Workshop for Age of Sigmar. An expansion that allows you to play your games of AoS in a skirmish setting.

So, no more having to move 60 gobbos in a unit. With Age of Sigmar Skirmish, each model acts by itself. Your force is considerably smaller than a normal Age of Sigmar force.

This is what Games Workshop have to say about just what Age of Sigmar Skirmish is:

Lying forgotten in the Desert of Bones, the ruins of the spectacular ancient city Shadespire are brimming with untold riches and power, ripe for the taking. Though it is now a mere skeleton after being put to the torch by Nagash, the city’s treasures remain, a morbid hint at the splendour that existed before Shadespire’s soul was torn away…

Take command of a small warband of warriors and put your skill, wit and determination to the test with Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Skirmish: a book containing the information and rules needed to fight Skirmish battles – including a hard-fought campaign amidst the ruins of Shadespire! Assemble a small warband of single models and take to the gaming table, building renown and adding to your warband with every glorious victory.

Age of Sigmar Skirmish 1

Book quality and layout decide

The book itself is a staple bound book with just 40 total internal pages. Doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you consider GW have priced it at just £6 it’s actually great value.

The layout of the book is nice, with the design being the now expected Age of Sigmar light layout. It’s broken up into 5 sections.

  • ‘How to use this book’
  • ‘Vengeance of Azyr’
  • ‘Shadespire’s Curse’
  • ‘Skirmish Rules’ (which include the battle plans and the campaign rules)
  • ‘Choosing a Warband’.

How to use this book

Taking up two pages of the book, with the majority of that being text, the first section of the book doesn’t really live up to the title. Instead of telling you ‘how to use this book’ it more tells you ‘what this book is about’. It gives a good overview of what Age of Sigmar Skirmish is and some of the benefits to playing it.

Background/fluff

The book contains two main fluff pieces, ‘Vengeance of Azyr’ and ‘Shadespire’s Curse’, with both of these split into sections.

The first of these pieces, the Vengenance of Azyr, tells us about the time things went a bit ‘pete tong’ for good old Sigmar, his great alliance fell apart and the Mortal Realms felt the brunt. It is at this time he retreated to Azyrheim and set about creating his Stormcast Eternals. It then goes on to tell us about each of the Mortal Realms and is a good introduction to them.

Age of Sigmar Skirmish 2

The second fluff piece, the Shadespire’s Curse, tells us all about the rise and fall of Shadespire. A city built in the Desert of Bones. The ruling elite, the Katophranes, create this special glass stuff called shadeglass. It would appear shadeglass was able to capture the life essence of someone when they died (Eldar spirit stones anyone?). This pissed off Nagash because as far as he is concerned, those life forces are his. As such, he had a bit of a tantrum and stomped on all those at Shadespire.

So, that sets up Shadespire as a perfect place to go for an adventure. The stage is set for some fun!

Skirmish rules

Taking up a whopping two pages, the Age of Sigmar Skirmish rules tell the budding skirmish band commander how to go about playing their games by what is removed from the Age of Sigmar core rules, what is amended and what is added. Fear not, it’s not a lot as it’s only two pages, and they are all pretty simple to remember. So what exactly is there?!?

Firstly, all models are treated as individual units on the table. This means models from the same warscroll do not have to stay within 1” of each other! Because the models from a warscroll can now be wherever you want on the table GW has amended the rules for things like icons or standards. These items will now affect models from the same warscroll that are within 6”.

Age of Sigmar Skirmish

When you build your warband, see below, you have the choice of one of the four Grand Alliances. You can’t go any deeper than that, so you can leave those Battletomes on the shelf.

Each warband must have a leader, this must be a model from a warscroll with the ‘Hero’ keyword. They can’t make use of the ‘Inspiring Presence’ command ability but can make use of any others on their warscroll. If you don’t like the command ability on the warscroll, you can generate a new one. When it comes to Artifacts of Power, you can either get it from the General’s Handbook or roll for one on a new table.

Battleshock tests are also looked at. Instead of having to make battleshock rolls for each unit that has removed models that turn, you now make a single roll for the whole warband.

Summoning is out, it seems. Any rule that allows you to add models to an existing unit, or add an entirely new unit on the table, have no effect in Skirmish. Just ignore the rule as they just don’t work.

The three rules of one see a slight change for Skirmish games too:

  • You can attempt each spell just once per turn, period. Not once per caster.
  • Rolls of 1 always fail.
  • Any extras gained from a rule or some such cannot generate additional gains of the same type. For example, if you generate extra hit rolls, those rolls can’t generate more hit rolls.

Age of Sigmar Skirmish 3

Campaign rules

The Age of Sigmar Skirmish book also includes a set of rules and six scenarios that allow you to play a campaign. I was really looking forward to the campaign rules but ended up being slightly disappointed because the campaign rules are for two players only. There is a ‘Designer’s Note’ part at the start of this section that says:

With a few minor tweaks to the rules presented on these pages, it is simplicity itself to increase the number of players or the duration of the campaign.

This is pretty frustrating as this is something I feel should have been included. If it’s just a few minor tweaks, why the hell didn’t GW do these?

Anyway, the campaign requires two people to play six scenarios in a specific order. The players start with 25 renown (see the ‘Creating a Warband’ section below) and their warband increases in size as they play their games.

The campaign winner is determined by whoever wins the last scenario. So it doesn’t matter on your performance during games 1-5, it’s the 6th that really matters. Of course, doing poorly in 1-5 makes winning the 6th a lot harder.

After each game, the players determine the result of the game and earn a certain amount of renown. Even losing the game will earn you 6 points of renown. Players also roll on the Rewards of Battle table. 2d6 will determine your reward. If you won a Major or Minor victory, you can roll 3d6 instead and choose the best two results.

The Rewards of Battle table has special rules for the warband’s general that last for the next battle. Or, you can gain additional renown. I like the special rules as they add a nice little bit of flavour without being overpowered. And as they only last for the next game, there is little to worry about them combining to make you general mega butt-kicking hard.

You can expand your warband’s membership by spending the Renown earned from playing games, as well as rolling on the Rewards of Battle table. Or, you can store it for later.

As you play the campaign, there is a simple flowchart to follow for each game. It’s a linear chart, so no branches depending on the games outcomes. But the winner does get extra rules, outside of the scenarios themselves for each game. For example, the ‘Fragile Cargo’ scenario specifies which role the winner of the previous game is to take. They can also deploy in a larger deployment zone.

The winner of each scenario also gets some additional bonus’ such as a new Command Ability.

Two last things to mention about the campaign rules. The first is the Underdog Bonus. Players add up the total renown value of their warband (this is the value of renown they have spent on models. This doesn’t include any renown they are saving to spend later). The player with the lower renown value gets an underdog bonus of some rerolls. The different in renown values determines the number of rerolls.

No one ever dies!! Yep, that’s right. Any model removed from the table as a casualty is never dead! They recover after the game and rejoin the warband. The same goes for models that ran away due to a failed battleshock test.

Skirmish matched play

After the campaign rules, you will find the matched play rules. These rules set you up for playing Age of Sigmar Skirmish as a normal matched play game. They recommend building your warbands with 50 renown instead of the 25 you start the campaign with. As these are one-off games 25 renown can make for a pretty boring game, IMO.

Of the six scenarios provided in the book, three are suitable for matched play. The other three are not due to the deployment zones and objects not being symmetrical. But for pick up games, you could use the other three too if players didn’t mind having different objectives.

Age of Sigmar Skirmish

The scenarios in the General’s Hand Book are compatible but you do need to them to a table size of 4’ x 4’. As such, maths!

They also touch on the subject of tournaments in this section. Recommending a starting size of 50 renown. They do say you could allow the players to go through the Between Games process but also mention you can increase the renown by a fixed amount each round. I take it they mean roll on the Reward of Battle table only. If you allowed them to gain renown for victories etc then it makes game 2 less balanced for tournament play.

With the Underdog rules, I suppose you could run a tournament with the players earning renown normally. But I like the idea of the renown increasing each round by pre-determined chunks.

They don’t really go into any depth on the running or structure of a tournament though, leaving it mostly up to the players to decide. They do suggest a set of Victory Points you could use, however.

Lastly, there is a paragraph on house rules. I feel this is about getting the players to fix issues themselves to save the developers time testing the system.

Creating a warband

The final section of the Age of Sigmar Skirmish rulebook takes the player through how to create their warband. The rules for this are pretty simple.

Each warband is from a single Grand Alliance, so nothing more specific like Ironjawz. You can’t use their special rules anyway.

While I say ‘No drilling down to a specific alliance’, you can restrict yourself to a specific alliance. But part of the enjoyment of Skirmish is in building a warband of desperate warriors from a whole Grand Alliance.

They recommend a renown value of 50 – 100 for pick up games but just 25 for the campaign. Personally, I think this is too low. We had a few games of 25 renown and found them to be boring and very restrictive in warband construction.

So, when building your warband, you have to keep several things in mind…

  • All models from the same Grand Alliance.
  • Your warband must have a minimum number of three models.
  • At least one of your models must have the Hero keyword.
  • You can only include a warscroll in your warband once.
  • You must still abide by option weapon restrictions. So if a warscroll says one model in three can have the big stabby thing, you can only include a big stabby thing for every 3 models from that warscroll in your warband.
  • You can ignore warscroll minimum model restrictions. All warscrolls have a minimum model count of 1.
  • You can take each warscroll champion (Liberator-Prime for example) once.
  • You can’t use warscroll battalions.

Profiles are next, with their costs and the minimum and a maximum number of models you can have in your warband. It seems there isn’t every model in the Age of Sigmar but there is a bloody good amount.

As you build your warband from the Grand Alliance, you can mix and match all sorts in a force. For example, a 50 point Chaos warband could be:

  • 1x Lord of Plagues – 20 Renown
  • 2x Putrid Blightkings – 14 Renown
  • 1x Chaos Knight – 6 Renown
  • 2x Ungor Raiders – 4 Renown
  • 6x Plague Rats – 6 Renown

There are a lot of options to choose from for each Grand Alliance. This allows for a great variety of warbands. Players have a wonderful opportunity to buy and paint those models they have fancied for a while but may not have normally done. Plus, all the conversion possibilities that present themselves when you don’t need to assemble 200+ models is wonderful

Check out the following images of some warbands that some of the kind people of the Age of Sigmar Fans Facebook Group were kind enough to send me for this article

Warhammer Age of Sigmar Skirmish – Last words

So, overall I like the Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Skirmish expansion. It’s not without its faults but for what you pay I think you get a good product. You and your local gaming group are free to amend it in any way you want, which on one hand helps make the game yours. But on the other hand, it makes it harder to then have pickup games with people outside your usual group. Agreeing on rule amendments before the game can start can be a bit of a put-off.

Age of Sigmar Skirmish games are fun and fast, being able to play several games in an evening is great! The campaign they provide in the book is a little disappointing. Just two players can take part in the campaign. You could amend the rules to allow for more; you just shouldn’t need to be doing that.

They do talk about tournaments in the book, but not in great detail. They don’t even touch on the options to run Skirmish as a ladder or league! Either way, normal leagues and ladders, as well as tournaments are easy enough to set up and run.

All in all, Age of Sigmar Skirmish is not without its faults but I do think it’s a book every Age of Sigmar fan should have in their library.

Buy it, buy it now!

Tell us what you think!

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