Not all armies are treated equally in Warhammer. Hell, just ask Tyranid players, or anyone else who plays a non-power-armoured army in Warhammer 40,000! In Age of Sigmar, it’s definitely the case that different armies receive different levels of support.
Now, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Not all armies actually need a huge amount of support, and some armies might not warrant the investment. I get that. It’s fair. It’s also very noticeable in many cases.
I do feel that the armies of Age of Sigmar can, in terms of support from GW, be broken down into 5 categories:
- Poster boys
- New Armies
- New and Expanded Armies
- Repurposed Armies
- Recycled Armies
Let’s explore them, shall we?
Type 1: Poster Boys
Examples: Stormcast Eternals
Now, I’m not using the term ‘poster boys’ in a derogatory way. Games Workshop chose to make the Stormcast Eternals the face of Age of Sigmar and whilst I don’t find them especially interesting, I can appreciate that there needs to be such a faction. Certainly, it’s better than 40K where you can’t seem to move without bumping into a Space Marine.
In terms of releases, each edition of Age of Sigmar (that’s three now, for those who are counting) begins with a large, new Stormcast release, and then there’s usually some more stuff released in the course of that edition. There are also individual character releases, including limited edition ones like this year’s Store Anniversary model.
Type 2: New for Age of Sigmar
Examples: Fyreslayers, Ossiarch Bonereapers, Idoneth Deepkin
When Age of Sigmar was launched, the vast majority of players used their Warhammer Fantasy miniatures. There wasn’t much more available, so of course this was the case. You either used your WFB minis, or the Stormcast Eternals or Blades of Khorne that released alongside the game.
Since then, we’ve seen a number of new armies released for this edition. There’s been the Fyreslayers, Kharadron Overlords, Ossiarch Bonereapers, and Idoneth Deepkin. You could also lump the Hedonites of Slaanesh, Blades of Khorne, Sylvaneth, Daughters of Khaine, and Sons of Behemat into this list as generally new armies, although they do use one or more older units as part of the army, which may put them into the repurposed category below. I don’t claim that this is a science, pals!
These new, AoS-specific armies are often quite small, with only a few boxed sets, several of which can be built in multiple ways, along with a few characters, some endless spells, a terrain piece, and a centrepiece model. They get occasional support with the addition of a new character to accompany campaign books and a new unit or two when a new Battletome comes out.
Type 3: New and Expanded
Examples: Lumineth, Stormcast
This category is similar to Type 2 in that it represents a new force, created for Age of Sigmar. Unlike the other new armies, Type 3 armies not only get an initial release, but they also get a really significant subsequent wave of releases.
The best example of this comes via the Lumineth Realmlords. When they were first released, they looked a lot like a Type 2 army, getting a few boxes of troops, some characters, a couple of bigger centrepiece miniatures and a terrain piece. That was the Lumineth. All done, yeah?
Not long therafter, there came a second wave of Lumineth Realmlords, with lots of kangaroo cavalry and magic foxes or whatever. Yeah, I’m not really a fan of this range at all… But my point is that this second wave was a really significant addition to the range, going well beyond the followup releases that other armies receive and massively expanding the options that the army had.
Type 4: Repurposed Armies
Examples: Soulblight Gravelords, Flesh-Eater Courts, Gloomspite Gitz
In addition to the properly new armies that have come along in Age of Sigmar, there are a few armies that have their roots in the old Warhammer World, but which have been repurposed for the new game. This could be a change in background, tone, or even the whole concept of the army.
A really excellent example of this is the Flesh Eater Courts. Games Workshop took a handful of miniatures from the old Vampire Counts line and grouped them together, writing some new background that turned them from generic undead minions to tragically deluded feral monsters who believe themselves to be proud and virtuous knights. Suddenly they were a lot more interesting. They’ve not had much added since the launch of Age of Sigmar, except for some endless spells, a terrain piece, and a single character miniature.
Type 5: Recycled Armies
Examples: Cities of Sigmar, Beasts of Chaos, Seraphon
Type 5 armies are largely unchanged from their previous incarnations in Warhammer Fantasy. Their lore will have changed a little, but the most they will have gotten in terms of updates are a character or two (at most), possibly a terrain piece, and maybe some endless spells.
The Seraphon and Beasts of Chaos are the ideal examples. Terrain pieces? Check for both! Endless spells? Check for Beasts! Extra character? Check for Seraphon! No other models were added, and they are pretty much the same, contentwise, as they were in Warhammer Fantasy. The Seraphon lore has changed a little bit, but unlike Flesh Eater Courts, it’s exactly the same line as before, without being broken down or expanded.
Another interesting example comes in the form of the Cities of Sigmar. This is a book I really like, but it is very much a catchall book that combines a lot of the old units from Warhammer. There’s stuff in here from the Empire, Dwarf, Wood Elf, High Elf, and Dark Elf lines, all mashed together. I love the themed cities, but ultimately this is a bit of legacy book, gathering the old miniatures from various lines that have not been used elsewhere and giving them a home. A couple of new characters appeared during the Broken Realms series, but otherwise there’s been nothing new for the army. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as there’s a lot in the book, but it is what it is.