General’s Handbook 2017 – Key points from the Age of Sigmar FAQs!

Games Workshop has released new and updated Age of Sigmar FAQs to accompany the release of General’s Handbook 2017.  This show will focus on those Age of Sigmar FAQs and what you need to know for matched play.

The Age of Sigmar FAQs not only clear up interpretation disputes, or provide extra clarity, but in some cases they completely rewrite or errata existing rules.  Therefore, it is important to read them.  As a result, I’m also not limiting this show to the changes introduced alongside the General’s Handbook 2017.  I’ll also try to cover the key points in the FAQs which may not be known to newer matched play players.

The key points that I’ll cover are:

  • how Games Workshop has addressed stacking abilities;
  • the changes to reinforcement points;
  • a brief comment on deployment, movement and measurements; and
  • the most significant army specific changes which will impact tournament play.

I’m also going to use separate shows to cover:

  • the order of activation between rerolls, modifiers, and multipliers; and
  • allegiances, factions, and allies – especially amongst the Chaos factions;

because both these topics seem to have caused much consternation online recently.

Now, before we get into the heart of the show, I’d like to draw your attention to a few handy resources available on the resources section of AoS Shorts.

  • I’ve compiled a text-searchable and indexed PDF that contains all the FAQs and Forgeworld and Compendium warscrolls – the site also has a single PDF of all the old FAQs if you need them for some reason.;
  • I have also created an allies matrix for each Grand Alliance, so you can easily see who allied with whom; and
  • finally, I started a thread on TGA to compile new questions that people have regarding the new rules.  So check it out and add your own question if something is not clear.

FAQs: Stacking abilities

The default position in Age of Sigmar is that spells and abilities are stackable unless stated otherwise.  By stackable, I mean that the same ability can be applied from multiple sources to the same target unit (for instance, to give several +1s to hit).  Unfortunately, this can lead to some perverse outcomes and incentives.

Now, the rules of one that apply to matched play mean that spells can’t be cast more than once per turn so they won’t be able to stack.  However, there is no such restriction on abilities (presumably, given the current variety in wording and sources of abilities).

Therefore, Games Workshop seems to have addressed some of these abilities by amending them through the FAQ so that they don’t stack.  Take for instance the Aether-Khemist ability which allowed them to select a weapon type in a nearby unit and give it +1 attack – now the FAQ has confirmed that “a single weapon cannot be augmented more than once per hero phase”.

Games Workshop have also clarified that if an ability says that it applies to units “within 6″ of any models with this ability” the ability will only apply once.  This approach has been used specifically for the:

  • Bloodsecrator, Portal of Skulls, Rage of Khorne – add 1 to the attacks characteristic for melee weapons used by friendly KHORNE units while they are within 18″ of any models with this ability…
  • Treelords’ Groundshaking Stomp – “at the start of the combat phase, roll a dice for each enemy unit within 3” of any models with this ability”

However, it is important to read warscrolls closely because some abilities still stack – for instance:

  • the Cauldron of Blood’s Bloodshield will stack (the “any” in the rule applies to the target unit rather than the unit with the ability and so is not caught by the recent FAQ);
  • abilities like the Bloodwrack Shrine’s Aura of Agony is effectively the equivalent of a shooting or magic attack and so will apply multiple times to the enemy units in range; and
  • the Harbinger of Decay’s Morbid Vigour rule also stacks as it applies to units “within 7″ of this model” (not “any” model etc).

While we are talking abilities, I note in passing that the latest General’s Handbook 2017 FAQ has fixed a typo and made it clear that command traits (rather than command abilities) and magical artefacts do not affect mounts (unless specifically stated).

FAQs: The changes to reinforcement points

With General’s Handbook 2017, we have seen a number of changes to reinforcement points which allow greater freedom in matched play.  Primarily with some of the Seraphon and Death artefacts, for instance the Ring of Immortality etc  which no longer require you to pay reinforcement points.

The FAQs have also confirmed three issues in relation to reinforcement points:

  • you need to pay reinforcement points every time you summon a Balewind Vortex (even if you only have one in your list);
  • If an ability, allows you to replace a model with a different model,  such as Alarielle’s ability to create Dryads from the enemy, the new models cost reinforcement points.
  • the splitting of horrors in Tzeentch armies is now clearer – you can use horror splitting to add models to an existing unit until the unit contains 10 models – but must keep the new horrors wholly within 6″ of the original unit (so can’t string them out in a line).

 

FAQs: Deployment, movement and measurements

The Age of Sigmar FAQs cover a number of points which I’ve loosely grouped into deployment, movement and measurements.

Deployment and battalions

Starting with deployment of battalions.  One of the key advantages of a battalion (and one of the reasons for the recent points increases) is that it allows you more control over deployment and the first turn.  This is because a battalion can be deployed in three ways: in one go, unit by unit, or a group of units with the remainder deployed unit by unit (what I like to refer to as 3,1,1).  See the warscroll battalions section of a battletome and check out my deployment episode for more on this topic.

Now, there had been some confusion about whether you can deploy battalions on a 3,1,1 basis because of answer in the previous FAQs to a question on the special deployment rules of a Wanderers battalion.  This answer had said that a battalion can only be deployed in one go or unit by unit.  However, this answer has now been removed, so there should be no doubt that a battalion can be deployed 3,1,1 (but you’ll just have to pay the higher points cost associated with battalions).

Deployment, moves and “set-ups”

“Set-up” is typically when a unit is placed on the table during deployment, but can also refer to a unit being deployed in a location other than on the battlefield or being put into play once the game has started (a unit using the Stormcast Eternal Warrior Chamber’s Lightning Strike, or the Treelord’s Spirit Paths ability, for example).  Models can be set up within 3″ of the enemy, even if they are set up in the movement phase, unless noted otherwise in the rules for the ability that allows them to be set up once the battle is under way.  Most abilities now however make it clear that you have to set-up 9″ away.

A common feature of some movement abilities is to allow a unit to move in the hero phase “as though it were the movement phase”.  What does this mean?  It means that you can move the distance based on your move characteristic, can’t move within 3″ of enemy model, it can run and retreat, and so on.  However, it will count as having retreated when it comes to later phases (for the purposes of shooting, charging etc).

Teleporting and special movement abilities

A number of models in the game have an ability to “teleport” from one part of the board to another – for example Sylvaneth through their Wyldwoods and now Seraphon with their new battle trait.  The issue was whether using that ability on a unit in combat counted as a retreat (meaning that the unit couldn’t shoot or otherwise act for the remainder of the turn).

The FAQ has now confirmed that “If an ability or spell allows a model to be set up elsewhere on the battlefield, and the model is originally within 3″ of an enemy,” the model is not counted as retreating unless the rule specifically states otherwise.  Note the difference with the abilities that allow a “move as though it were the movement phase”.

Pile-ins

A pile-in is a move in the combat phase.  Any unit that has charged or has models within 3″ of an enemy unit can attack with its melee weapons in the combat phase.  When you select a unit to attack, you may move each model in the unit up to 3″ towards the closest enemy model.  This is your pile-in move.

The new Age of Sigmar FAQs have confirmed that:

  • if a unit has charged, but all enemy models within 3″ are slain before the charging unit is activated, then the charging unit can still pile in, even if it can’t get within 3″ of another enemy unit.  This is a useful confirmation for combat armies wanting to get another 3″ move towards the enemy or an objective.  However, note that it only applies to units that have charged – if a unit has been charged, or it is an existing combat, and models are removed that mean it is outside 3″ it will not be able to pile-in.

Just a final note on pile-ins with units that have special pile-in rules.  It is important to check whether the unit can pile-in 6″ or be selected to pile-in even if it is outside 3″.  For example,

  • Units like tree-revenants can pile in 6″, but must have charged or been otherwise within 3″ of an enemy unit to pile-in, but once selected they can move 6″.
  • However, units like Yhetees can be chosen to pile in and attack if they are within 6″ of the enemy and then move 6″  – This is great for these units because they can sit safely outside combat, avoid being hit, and then pile in when needed.

Measurements – within / “wholly within”

The Age of Sigmar FAQs make it clear that if a rule requires a unit to be “within” a certain distance, you only need part of one model within that distance.  However, if the rule or ability requires the unit to be “wholly within” then you need to have every part of every model in that unit within the distance.  This rule is most common in relation to cover.

FAQs: the army specific changes

The last section is to note that there are a large number of army specific FAQs that are worth reading.

Order

  • As is probably well known by now, there are a number of changes to the Kharadron Overlords warscrolls;
  • Stormcast Eternals
    • Clarified Celestial Vindicators Warrior Chamber – Paladins can be set up within 12″ of the Prosecutors instead of 6″.
  • Sylvaneth
    • Silent Communion – “models” includes wyldwood
    • Confirmed that all of the Treelord Ancients, Branchwychs and Branchwraiths in the Gnarlroot battalion can cast and unbind one extra spell.
    • Drycha doesn’t hit herself or her own units when she uses her Flitterfuries attack

Destruction

  • The Stonehorn (and also the Tomb Kings equivalent) has had its Stone Skeleton rule changed.  Previously the rule halved all damage taken by the Stonehorn.  In a rather elegant change, now you have the damage characteristic (rounding up) of weapons that target the model.  What this means is that Stonehorns will take full damage from damage 1 units (such as infantry hordes) because 1 damage halved is still rounded back up to 1.  What makes it elegant is that these units will often have low rend, so the Stonehorn will still have a decent armour save.  High damage attacks (think Kurnoth Hunters with scythes) will still have their damage halved, but at least have the benefit of higher rend. The Stonehorn still halves the number of mortal wounds that it suffers.  That part of the rule is unchanged.
  • Staying with Destruction – Units of fanatics hidden in a unit must now all be released at the same time, and must all be placed within 1″ of the unit that is hiding them.

Death

  • With Death there isn’t much new, but the existing FAQs still provide for Zombie units to be able to merge to make really large units, and for you to be able to resurrect champions and hornblowers into skeleton units.

Chaos

  • Blood tithe in opponent’s phase
    • Change to the Blood for the Blood God battletrait – Blood tithe points can be expended at the start of either player’s hero phase, but only once per phase.
    • Blood Tithe points must be expended before your opponent uses any start-of-turn abilities in your own hero phase, or after your opponent has used any start of turn abilities in your opponent’s hero phase.
  • Tzeentch
    • Confirmed that Wizards gain one spell from one of two lores – the Lore of Fate or the Lore of Change – depending on whether they are a mortal sorcerer or one of Tzeentch’s daemons
    • Changehost – can only switch units in a pair once.
    • Changeling –
      • explains what enemy units treat it as part of their own army – they can move within 3″…
      • formless horror, can’t use weapons that have a star for the range, attacks, to hit, to wound, rend and damage – effectively excludes the large characters – no more losing Durthu to his own sword.
  • Balewind Vortex – no Changehost switching a Lord of Change up there.  You can’t put a Monster on a vortex by any means.  However, this change does not stop you putting a unit of horrors up there.  So you can still summon the balewind on an objective and watch the horrors claim the objective (in certain scenarios) from 5.5″ away on top of the vortex.

Final Thoughts

As should be clear by now, the Age of Sigmar FAQs are vital to understanding matched play.  While the core Age of Sigmar rules are four pages, we are increasingly reliant on a wider rule-set for matched play that includes the General’s Handbook 2017, battletomes, FAQs, Forgeworld and Compendium warscrolls.  It can be difficult stitching this material together unless you know the answers are out there.

So check out the resources section on AoS Shorts, get in touch, let me know what you thought of the show, and what outstanding questions you have.

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