Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Age of Sigmar Siege Warfare: The Great Wall

Due to a lot of other things happening I have nog been able to paint this week. Instead I thought it might be fun to make a quick battle report of my first siege battle with the new Age of Sigmar rules presented in General's Handbook 2017. I rather fondly remember drooling over the pages of the venerable Warhammer Siege expansion for Warhammer 3rd edition. It contained a lot of detailed rules for simulating sieges that eventually resulted in battles (to be fought on the tabletop). Unfortunately due to (among other things) a lack of time I never actually got to put any of the fancy rules to practice. To me it is a bit like the old Realm of Chaos books, even to this day wonderful to drool over, but never really practical to play. Having said that, let's take a look at the Age of Sigmar ruleset.

A ragtag unit of fifty Moonclan Grots managed to line a rather large part of the wall.

This should come as no shock to anyone: the rules have been simplified. The General's Handbook 2017 offers two battleplans for those of us too lazy to come up with our own. The siege battleplans don't assume you have a fortress and can work just as well if you use different terrain. As an example the book shows a picture of Sylvaneth defending a forest outcrop against invasion by Khorne Bloodbound. The two battleplans assume a 'fortressy' shape to your terrain. Battleplan one: The Relief Force marks out a rectangle that needs at least five pieces of terrain as the defenders deployment area. Battleplan two: The Great Wall draws a wall shaped line over the center of the table. This is the plan we picked for our battle. I fought with 2000 matched play points of Greenskins versus a Gutbuster army. I took the plastic fortress I had at home and we sprinkled some club terrain on the board.

With a roar the hungry Gutbusters assembled to eat my supplies (and probably the Greenskins themselves too).
In both Age of Sigmar siege battles you place objective markers on the board. In this mission the table half on the defender's side of the wall contains two objective markers (one about nine inches behind the gate, and the second one nine inches from the small table edge).

My Grot artillery clusters around an objective marker made with Rendera barrels.
To balance ownership of walls (or other terrain) at the start of the game, the defender has to deploy one unit in reserve for each one fielded on the table. You start the battle taking on the enemy with about half an army until reinforcements show up. To simulate the preceding siege, the attacker chooses to focus on starving the enemy, battering the walls or tunneling. The defender picks between gathering supplies, re-building walls or counter-tunneling. You check both choices against a small table and this gives a bonus on three pre-game rolls you make for: starvation, battering and tunneling.

After the initial battering of the walls, a tower and a section of wall completely collapsed. This was expertly simulated by a badly glued wall, a random ruin of just about the right size and a lot of squinting and imagination.
In our case I assumed my Orruks had been feasting after taking a 'umy fortress' (Gather Supplies), the Ogor player did what any brute would do and chose to break down the walls to take the Greenskin's food (Batter). First we took a starvation roll for each Orruk unit. Normally a unit would suffer D3 mortal wounds on a 5+, in this case it was a 6+ thanks to the Gather Supplies action. After that we rolled for each piece of terrain, usually it would be breached on a 5+, that turned into a 4+ thanks to the Batter action by the Ogors. Two sections of the wall collapsed before the battle began. Luckily for me the final roll-off showed that no tunnels were dug beneath the walls.

Moonclan Grots and Orruk Arrer' Boyz tried to shoot the Aleguzzler Gargant as it advanced towards the breach.
AoS Siege makes it possible to play a quick and fun siege battle in an evening. It does require some creativity. For instance the Batter rule actually states that no abilities for a battered piece of terrain can be used, but that it still provides cover. As GW has only produced terrain rules for their plastic kits (and my opponent and I had not planned any homebrew rules in advance) it would have had no effect on the fortress walls. We decided to replace the broken tower and wall section with 'ruins' as a result of the 'broken' action. Another thing we agreed on beforehand was a way to quickly simulate defenses. The movement rules of AoS state that a model can move over terrain by measuring horizontally (assuming it climbs). To give the walls a bit of spice we decided that moving (or charging) onto a garrisoned wall required a deadly terrain test (roll for each model, on a 1 it is removed as a casualty). This made the breaches extra valuable to the attacking player.

With a roar the mighty Stonehorn charged the gate...only to bounce of it on the first attempt.
Another rule we decided on was for the gate. We gave it 8 Wounds and a 4+ Armour Save. The Stonehorn made some horrendous die-rolls, taking two turns to bash the gate out of its hinges.

With two mighty blows from its horns the Stonehorn battered down the gates and charged the courtyard.
As mentioned the garrison is waiting for relieve troops (in both siege missions). In this mission I got to roll a die for every unit not on the table, it would move onto the table in the rear of my deployment zone on a 5+. I was not very lucky with the reinforcements. My General actually failed to appear on the table during the game. The sneaky boss probably saw his troops failing at defending that part of the wall and decided to fly off on his Wyvern and 'get sum lad frum over 'zer to 'elp out'. Perhaps I should rename my army 'Da Lads Frum Over 'Zer'.

Slowly but surely reinforcements entered the fray to support the archers on the walls. Unfortunately the Orruk Warboss never turned up....
In the final turns I tried some heroic moves to stop the Ogors from taking my stolen supplies. It was to no avail. The Ogors managed to claim both objectives and had a fantastic lunch on my Greenskins expense.

Being a sporting player I immediately upended the table and started stomping on my opponents models while yelling the rules where bad between tears of rage (either that or I'm subtly trying to cover up that I forgot to take a picture of the table in the last turn ;).

All in all the siege rules work quite well and lead to interesting themed battles. They will work better if there are some homebrew rules for general terrain (like walls with ramparts). This might be a nice community project, especially in combination with the unofficial Warscroll Designer. The basic scenery rules for Age of Sigmar should serve as a decent starting point. Now to find the time...


  1. Seems like a fast way to knock out a siege in an evening!

    but AoS as written has no rules for walls? How odd.

    1. I may have been a bit too blunt on that part. AoS has some terrain rules in a separate warscroll (I added a link to it in the text above). This includes rules for walls (as in obstacles) and for garrisoning buildings. The Battletome for Chaos Dreadholds expands on that (a bit) although both the basic rule for a wall and garrisoning seem to be the same everywhere. Going back through older editions of Warhammer I was surprised to see that there are actually no rules for storming or defending city/curtain walls in 3rd or 8th edition either. The only decent set of rules on that part are in Warhammer Siege (a link to RoC80's is included in the text above).