General's Handbook 2017 review

   It finally happened – the thing anticipated by most of the Age of Sigmar players. The release of General’s Handbook-2017. Some tried to name it the second (or even the 3rd) edition of AoS, just like in 40K. So, the book is here and we are ready to discuss it.

   In fact, calling it «the new edition» is wrong. It doesn’t change basic rules like 40K new books do. It only corrects the balance and develops gameplay possibilities. And it says much about basic rules of AoS. Those 4 pages remain the same from the very beginning, with just small adjustments. And they feel great. The game is being developed by adding new game modes, special mission conditions, and interesting units. It doesn’t make you change the whole army after the new rules release. (Yes, 8th edition?)

   The book is still divided into 3 parts – Open Play, Narrative Play and Matched Play. And even the easiest of them suggests something new. What could be simpler – just to take all your favorite miniatures and use them? But even Open Play suggests us new Open War cards – random battlefield, victory conditions and special rules for each battle, being chosen just before the game. (40K now has something similar) Besides, this section suggests new rules for multiplayer games. Special army traits for mono-alliance armies, random events and so on. All this stuff appeared only in this book. For example, how do you like the fact that in some missions players from one team are not allowed to talk to tach other unless their generals are 3 inches close. Otherwise, they have to exchange written notes before every game turn. All interesting rules from this section can be used in other gaming modes as well.

   Narrative game section has become smaller due to Path to Glory that has moved into the separate book. However, here you can find new rules for special narrative battles, new places al over Mortal Realms with their own unique rules. For example, neutral monsters, roaming all over the battle board. Or bonuses to some factions in particular places. Also, there’s a Siege mode, but it’s a bit simplified – the separate book for it will be released soon, and here we have just a demo-version. However, now you can check the mechanics, new siege phase and different siege tactics are chosen before battle. Again, nothing prevents you from using this even in tournament games. 

   Finally, the most playable mode – Matched Play. And it has also overcome some changes. There are two additions to the core rules – now you can’t modify the turn roll (quite logical) and take two similar artifacts (also logical). Also, there are new rules for the allies – now you have particular points (not many) for them, depending on the scale of the game. These allies don’t prevent you from using allegiance abilities and can benefit from your special rules if they have proper keywords. So, these are all the global changes. As you can see, you shouldn’t change weapons for half of your army or buy thousands of new miniatures just to be permitted to play.

   The price of some units has changed. There are stars near the units that have changed, so you won’t miss anything.  Somebody is more expensive, somebody is cheaper, but again, just small thoughtful changes, without a global revolution in balance. I’m playing Stormcasts and Blades of Khorne and haven’t noticed any gamebreaking changes. A lot of units got an option to take up to 30 models with a certain discount. And it makes sense, since such units now have the preference in scoring.

   Next there are artifacts, traits and army special rules for the armies without a battletome, or for those, with an old one. It’s great that nobody is forgotten.

   All in all, the fears were unreasonable. The book improves gameplay by adding new stuff without changing its basics. The book is not expensive, and it’s ok to buy one each year. GW have chosen the right way and such refreshments let them keep old players and correct the game and balance according to their gaming experience without breaking the whole system. It’s great. Who else, but players can give valuable insights on the gameplay?