When The End Times finished, we were left with the notion that everything had been destroyed in the old world, everyone died, Chaos wins, go home, and thanks for buying all of these books! However, there was a man who still existed and held onto the fragment of the old world's core, with the promise of a new beginning. That man was Sigmar, and the promise of the new beginning panned out in the events I'll detail below.
- The End Times was real, and wrecked most everything in "The-world-that-was" AKA The Old World/Warhammer world. Thats stuff all did actually happen, so it isn't a complete wipe of the slate/reboot, but a continuation of the main story. What this means is that all of the history and lore we have loved continued to exist as 'history', and for that we should be somewhat grateful. Anyhow, Sigmar floated through space for a bit until a nice space dragon showed him 'the mortal realms', one for each wind of magic and then a chaos realm.
- Things went pretty well for a while and many of the incarnates seems to have made it through as gods in their own right. Sigmar forges an alliance and makes the new realms prosper and everything goes great for thousands of years, but Chaos is always trying to break through 'The Realm Gates'. This period of time is known as The Age of Myth.
- Thanks to treachery and betrayal of some of Sigmar's allies (notably Nagash chasing power and Tyrion thinking he can capture Slaanesh while he's in a soul-food-coma) following their own plans and allowing things to crumble, Chaos gets back in and starts the End Times 2: Asymmetic Bugaboo. During the interleaving period The Gods of Chaos have found Archaon again and he promptly sets out to make a mess of all the realms. We aren't given details, but we're told that what follows made the previous End Times seems like a warm-up.This time is known as The Age of Chaos
- Sigmar bails on the Mortal Realms after attempting to save them through warfare, but is outnumbered and outgunned. He retreats to Azyr, the Realm of Heavens, and locks the doors behind him. The remaining realms are now embroilled in Chaos and overrun with all sorts of battle, and things are not looking good for non-chaos individuals. Many believed Sigmar abandoned the world, but really he was brewing up a retaliatory plot and he's just now ready to roll. With the help of Grungni, who is basically his forgemaster, he's created Stormcast Eternals, immortal warriors with lightning power and is out to reclaim the realms from Chaos. These warriors cannot truly die, and are reborn within the Realm of Heavens upon their 'death', but 'something is lost' each time this happens to them, and so perhaps they may know fear after all...
- This box set details the beginnings of that battle campaign to retake the mortal realms, and begins with the attempt to seize the Gate of Azyr in Aqshy, The Realm of Fire, and the forces that participate in that set of battles. As of now, therei s hope for the mortal realms and the possibility to either retake what was once firmly in the grasp of the Forces of Order, or to lose it to Chaos once and for all. This campaign sets off our new setting and timeline, henceforth known as The Age of Sigmar.
- The rest of the forces not in this box set include everything you've heard of before, but with some name changes so that copyright issues go away. The new broad factions are Order (Stormcast Eternals, Dwarfs, Humans, Elves and Lizardmen), Chaos (Warriors/mauraders, Beastmen, Daemons, and Skaven), Death (Vampires Counts, Tomb Kings, and all things Nagash), and Destruction (Orcs, Goblins, and Ogres)
- The opening battles seem to comprise the Stormcast Eternals against Khorne forces in the Realm of Fire, and The Sylvaneth (The treemen of the wood elves, minus the elves) fighting Nurgle forces in the Realm of Life.
- Slaanesh has gone missing for the time being, and while his supporters wring their hands in agony, the other dark gods celebrate the opportunity to seize power.
- It would seem that the Horned Rat, patron deity of the Skaven, has ascended to the pantheon of chaos gods and for the time being appears to occupy the fourth spot in the great game while Slaanesh is missing.
PERSPECTIVEThe good news we can glean from this is that nothing you own has been thrown out. You can still use all of your old armies and units, and we have lost nothing we had before, other than the setting (and rules!). Many were worried we would lose unique and interesting forces like The Lizardmen or Ogres, or have long-established armies like Brettonia or Beastmen tossed because of poor sales. This is no longer a concern! You can still field any of your old models and should be able to do so in perpetuity. The rules for the old models have been released, and can be found here.
Factions have been renamed in the fluff, however. We have seen the impact copyright law and third-party knockoffs have had on Games Workshop, and we have now seen a full transition from generic names that GW can't own being changed to something that they can. On paper, many of these look really dumb (Elfs are now Aelfs, Ogres are now Ogors, Orcs are now Orukks) but mostly these spelling differences don't change how you pronounce the names, which means you can keep referring to them vocally the same way. I imagine most of us will keep writing them the same as well.
If you want a glimpse at some of the new artwork and vibe of this release, feel free to check out the YouTube video GW has put out to promote it and get yourself hyped up for this new setting. Regardless of how the rules might turn out for competitive play, I'm pretty excited myself - some mockingly call this "Warhammer - Diablo Edition", but I was a big fan of Diablo myself and the similarities are not detrimental to the story in my opinion. Regardless, the silliness of some of the unit cards will make for an excellent beginner's game, and might make Age of Sigmar the best tabletop drinking game this side of Cards Against Humanity.
Of interesting note, Games Workshop looks like it's going all in on this new game. They have replaced the Space Marine statue outside of the headquarters with a Stromcast Eternal, and even the Imperial Aquila has been supplanted by some new Ghal Maraz crest.
How does this all sound to you? Are you excited for the new setting in the Age of Sigmar, or are the changes driving you up a wall?