Warhammer is best known for its two main franchises; Warhammer 40,000 is the science fiction brand and until recently, Warhammer Fantasy was the (rather obviously) fantasy brand. The world was recently rebooted into Age of Sigmar, a more high-fantasy and more original take on that genre. Sigmar was a much-needed breath of fresh air, combining some of the highlights of the source material and adding fresh ideas to the mix to make something new yet familiar.
Age of Sigmar Soul Wars is the game’s new starter set and firmly establishes its place in the World of Warhammer. It’s a mammoth box, filled with everything you need to play the game and also plenty of setting and source material for those who require storytelling in their miniature wargaming.
The box is eye-catching and beautifully put together. The slipcover has a picture of a Stormcast warrior looking moody, with a shadow war in the background. Take the dark looking cover off and we get another bit of artwork, an illustrated diorama of the battle in full swing. Delving inside and it’s a huge box of goodies.
For a start, they are absolutely loads of models here, and they are quite varied. They are 52 pieces in total, split between the undead Nighthaunts and the divinely heroic Stormcast Eternals. With the good guys, we get commander on the back of a gryph, which is an impressive looking gryphon-like beast. We also have a Knight-Incantor (a wizard knight commander) accompanied by three evocators, (also wizard knights). We get sword and bow-wielding Stormcast and a ballista. These are all pretty easy to assemble and they will push fit. They paint easily - spray, drybrush, add shade and they’ll come up great. Those with more time and skill can make them look even nicer, but even a beginner can get good results.
The Nighhaunt models are similarly easy to assemble and paint, though they are a little pointier so tiny hands beware. We get a lovely horde of horrors here, as well as some scary-looking leader types. No siege weapon for the undead, but a gallows wielding spectre is just as good. We also get a soul summoning horror called the Guardian of Souls and their lead by a ‘Knight of Shrouds’ who looks like it’s galloped off the cover of a heavy metal album and into your nightmares.
In addition to dice, rulers, transfers and the contents/set up guide, we also get Warscroll cards for each model. The layout is good and they’re easy to consult; you won’t have to thumb through a rulebook to look up a minor detail, it’s all on the cards. There’s a 16-page summary version of the rules as well, for ease of play. A ‘start here’ pamphlet gives us an overview of the world and game and the Battle of Glymmsforge tells us the story behind all the models and what the Soul Wars are. As well as painting ideas and inspiration. Oh, and a short preview of the Josh Reynolds tie-in novel of the same name.
Last but not least is the 320-page Age of Sigmar core book. It would be unfair to call this a rulebook. It has rules for playing Warhammer in it, but it’s more than that. It’s a lavish, beautifully illustrated affair filled with setting information and story. It’s rather pretty and rather nice. It also has guidance on different ways to get into the gaming hobby and has rules on different ways to play the game. If you like lots of story, it’s got you covered. If you just like rolling dice and moving models, it’s got rules for that as well. If you like a mix of the two, it can do that. This is the pinnacle of Games Workshop’s game crafting art - they’ve produced a game for anybody who wants to play.
This is the box that will make you return to the world of Warhammer, and it’s also the box that will be fondly remembered by a whole generation of gamers to come.
WARHAMMER AGE OF SIGMAR SOUL WARS / PUBLISHER: GAMES WORKSHOP / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW