Hey Everyone. This past week we have seen a debate regarding the controversial topic of requiring specific paint schemes to unlock certain battalion rules in Age of Sigmar. We saw precursors of this with Stormcast Eternals and Kharadron Overlords Battletomes, but the new Season of War: Firestorm campaign box has added additional bonuses to specific Free Cities from The Mortal Realms. I want to be upfront from the beginning that I respect the debate and those debating it as arguments for and against the handling of these new rules have validity. I feel the debate is necessary, but it has overshadowed other great things part of this release.
The extra battalions, in essence, add free formation rules for a specific set of allies with the requirement being that the army you deploy are from the set list of allies and are painted in the scheme of the Free City. No need to pay extra points and they can be in addition to battalions you can buy normally if you build your army within an allegiance that is part of the set list of allies. The only requirement is that your army is from specific factions and, controversially, it is painted in the colors of the Free City.
The debates have been heated in some cases and civil in others. I have seen both sides to the argument bring valid points to the debate as well. There is a topic thread going on over at The Grand Alliance as well if you wish to check it out. I don't plan on going into the debate here despite what the title of the post might indicate because T.O.'s will make their call on the subject in their event packs. Some will require the painting specifications as per the written wording while others will not. This decision will not be a deciding factor in what events I will attend.
What has really got worried about the debate is how it has overshadowed the biggest part of this release. When Age of Sigmar began we saw Stormcast Eternals fighting back against Chaos and saving people who managed, against all odds, to survive The Age of Chaos. The shattered remanents of all the cultures were clinging to the thought of surviving another day, but hope grew after Sigmars triumphant return.
That hope was Season of War: Seeds of Hope campaign which was a great event that inspired a lot of exciting games as we all enthusiasm in tracking how our allegiance was doing in our respective cities and perhaps most importantly gave us something to anchor ourselves to within The Mortal Realms. Recently we had the release of Season of War: Firestorm which is a continuation of the narrative in the form of a map campaign. It is a great box set and I highly recommend picking one up to run campaigns for your club or gaming friends to enjoy.
At this point, you might be wondering where I am going with all of this so I will get to the point. I am not unhappy that this debate has arisen as I see both viewpoints, but respectfully do not count myself in either field. What I feel is being missed and being overshadowed by this debate is we now have real cities in the realms once more. That is what I choose to focus on as it is driving my hobby more and more. Those who are debating and choosing which side of the fence they sit have every right to do so and I respect the arguments both sides are bringing as they all have a validity since Matched Play is a very large part of our Community. However, I hear very few voices talking about the importance of these cities and what they bring to the lore of Age of Sigmar.
In 8th ed. Fantasy people proudly painted their models as Reiksgaurd, Saphery, and Barak Var to name a few. Not everyone did this and many players chose to make their own schemes from a city created by their own imagination, but people rallied their army around places within the lore. I had a large army of High Elves from Ellyrion, famous for their horses so I almost always added some cavalry to my forces for example as I felt a connection to that place in my mind. There weren't additional rules at that time so there was no need to worry about a debate such as the one going on, but some of us still wanted to anchor ourselves to a specific city and feel connected to this fantasy world.
The World That Was is gone, but now we have The Mortal Realms. Instead of Altdorf, we have Greywater Fastness. We have The Phoenicium to replace The Shrine of Asuryan. We have places of importance that will anchor our stories and narratives and we have wanted it since the release of Age of Sigmar. Now we can establish Cities in the Realms as well with tools to help us build our own Free Cities, granted without additional layers of abilities. Some of the greatest Hobbyists in our Community have been embracing this with their armies for quite some time and I hope to begin building my Free City soon as well.
To Wrap up my thoughts I worry that things such as "Generating Your Free City" and all the Cities now established within the lore will be lost in the shuffle. It is a great time to be in the hobby and an even better time for Age of Sigmar as we finally begin diving deeper and deeper into parts of the setting that really give it character. I hope as the debate settles we will see more and more focus from within our community on these cities and what they each represent as more is revealed about the setting we all know and love.
Until next week, Happy Hobbying!