Games Workshop wrapped up Warhammer Fest’s week of big reveals by announcing a new edition to its fantasy wargaming line Age of Sigmar. This third major iteration of the game’s modern incarnation plans to further refine rulesets and push the in-world narrative towards the good guys finally earning a solid tick in the win column.
Announced May 8th, Warhammer Age of Sigmar’s third edition doesn’t yet have a release date or anything one could format into a bulleted list. The company promised in the announcement post a “ruleset that’s been refined, revised, and retested” for more enjoyable games, along with a new story-focused mode that seems like a progression of the already implemented Narrative Play for the miniatures wargame.
In a video interview with three studio designers - Phil Kelly, Jes Bickham and Ben Johnson - the third edition was characterised as “without doubt the best one we’ve done,” according to Kelly.
“It’s gonna blow your socks off mainly because it builds on the really strong foundations of the second edition where we spoke about what the Mortal Realms were like,” Kelly said. “Now, we’re putting in new cities, a new protagonist, new gods and new wars. We’re seeing a whole new frontier open up.”
Mortal Realms’ storylines up to this point have focused on key factions and leaders as a way of showcasing the admittedly overwhelming number of players in the universe’s game of cosmic domination. This recent overview reads like an alphabet soup of proper nouns, but the broadest gist is that the forces of Chaos won and put everyone else on the back heel. Order has been slowly recovering, and the next phase of the story will zoom in on the initial effort to seek justice.
Called the Era of the Beast for portentous and yet-unexplained reasons, this new epoch of storytelling will not immediately show humans, Elves and Duardin immediately punching out with a powerful backswing. The campaign into the Chaos Wastes will be a costly attempt to “expand those pinpoints of light in the darkness”, according to Johnson.
“We’ve gone back to the background - the world - and asked, ‘What detail does this need? What stories are we telling here? What’s the ultimate version of this we can do?’” Bickham said. “Then we pulled it all apart, re-engineered it, and we’ve added a load of exciting new stuff as well. It’s going to be the ultimate version of Age of Sigmar.”
It’s unclear whether Bickham meant that the third edition will be Games Workshop’s ultimate text for Age of Sigmar’s current iteration or just the latest attempt at improving the game. Age of Sigmar supplanted its forebear, Warhammer Fantasy Battle in 2015, with the second edition launching in 2018. Since then, fans have lauded its rules system and handling at the table, garnering a considerable fan base even considering the massive, Space Marine-shaped shadow of its wargaming sibling.
Helping sell this new narrative turn are a small spread of new models, led by Yndrasta, the Celestial Spear. The winged lord of Azyr will be leading the charge and represents the god Sigmar’s redoubled influence in the Mortal Realms. Yndrasta boasts a storied spear called Thengavar, as well as an advanced stage of the crumbling memories and personality that accompanies the endless series of life, death and reforging.
Speaking of, the Stormcast Eternals sport some new battlegear to represent their own revived connection to Sigmar. Thunderstrike armour provides Age of Sigmar’s poster children a new profile and a path back to Azyr that circumvents the demonic meddling of Bel’akor (more story shenanigans).
Johnson said a guiding design goal for the third edition was ensuring the rules either remained as “clear and concise as possible” or were revisited to achieve that level of polish. Additionally, the team has worked to embrace the double turn manoeuvre and how it affects both a player’s army build and their tactical decisions during play. The inherent imbalances of warscroll battalions in match play were also on the team’s radar. Johnson feels they have addressed the “haves and have nots” by reworking that part of army building into something they called core battalions. Dicebreaker has reached out to Games Workshop for more information about these more granular changes but did not hear back before publication.
At the moment, Age of Sigmar’s third edition doesn’t have a release window or price point. There’s one more core book planned for the second edition, Kragnos, which will wrap up the War of Souls and likely serve as a segue into third edition’s new status quo. Games Workshop is remaining characteristically squirrelly on solid dates, but keep checking Dicebreaker for more information as it becomes available.