So, finally got a game of Age of Sigmar in. Or, at the very least, a game of Page of Sigmar from OPR, since the current AoS rules are full of holes you can drive a truck through, and PoS at least patches those in a way that imo is quite true to the original material.
Also, since AoS still lacks anything remotely resembling army composition rules beyond vague hand-waviness or detachments, we went with the Age of Sigmar Point Calculator, which tries to balance units as much as possible without delving into Special Rules. It works (ish), but far preferable would have been for GW to have done this crap themselves rather than having the players have to figure out the unit balances.
So, Warscrolls. First impressions here with actually using them for listbuilding was surprisingly positive. It feels a bit like drinking from a firehose, and overwhelmingly so without point costs. I went with Spirit Hosts for my army, but disappointingly they have changed a LOT from what I remember them as in 6/7e Vampire Counts lists, which was as crappy, nigh-unkillable tarpits. They had a handful of crappy attacks, absolutely yawn-inducing statline, with the exception of Ethereal.
Ethereal was a gem; Only units with magic weapons or spells could hurt them, which meant that barring edge cases like a unit champion loaded with flaming swords, a bog-standard regiment couldn’t do jack against a unit of Spirit Hosts, which meant that when combat resolution rolled around the regiment had to pray their standards and ranks outweighed the ranks and piddly number of wounds the Hosts had inflicted, because failing a combat against Fear-inducing units usually (iirc) inflicted an immediate, instant Flee from the losing unit.
Now, Spirit Hosts per their Warscrolls are a glass cannon. They only have 3 Wounds, and Ethereal now means they just ignore Rend, rather than laughing off 95% of the attacks in the enemy army. In fairness though, they got a couple more attacks, and all of their attacks cause Mortal Wounds on to-hit rolls of 6. Given that a unit has 6 attacks each, this means that you can reliably kill off hardened and elite units (In theory), although the crap to-hit and wound (5+ and 4+, respectively) means you basically are good for nothing else.
The armies we played with were approximately 250 points as determined by the Point Calculator:
5 Spirit Hosts (48 points per model)
3 Demigryph Knights with Lances and Shields (38 points per model)
10 State Troops with Halberds (6 points per model)
1 Warrior Priest with Hammer and Shield (76 points per model)
We deployed with 3 Objectives, all in a triangle close to each other near the map center. He had to deploy on the other side of a river, which slowed him down a little getting across.
The battle was…meh. Like a lot of reports are saying, it quickly devolved into a scrimmage in the center of the table, and after 6 turns of slogging, it devolved to a tie as his halberdiers and priest engaged my surviving spirit host next to the last objective, with nobody controlling an objective for a clear win.
Overall, the point calculator felt off, and I think it has to do with it overvaluing Bravery on high-Wound models, but another big issue is that it doesn’t take into account special rule costs, which can account for huge unit ability differences. However, the other method people have been playing with a lot, equal numbers of Wounds and not just models, also seems screwy, as models like Nagash are clearly superior to 10-15 1-Wound State Troops.
Despite all my bitching, AoS’s biggest sin is coming so close to having an absolutely killer ruleset. Scrapping the army composition % values and such, releasing rules for basically every model they’ve ever made, these are fantastic things that could have made AoS an absolute game juggernaut right out of the gate (And are things I honestly hope for for 40K one day as well). Combined with a price cut (Ha! As if!), GW could have absolutely gutted Kings of War and other games and companies that have sprung up in WHFB’s failing health.
Instead, GW managed to fumble the ball at the one-yard-line by not including army composition rules, and given their glacial pace at including these sorts of updates in the past, it will likely be another three to six months before a bandaid is procured for this sucking chest wound. Combined with the copious heaps of sexist, ableist, and ridiculous bullshit with the Charades special rules, and GW has managed to throttle AoS’s chances within a calendar month of release.