However Stephen wanted to give it a go, and apart from morris dancing and incest, you should try anything once, so I was in.
At Stephen's suggestion we went with 60 wounds each for starting forces. I chose Ogres. 60 wound is not a lot of Ogres (they have four each) so I ended up with a Tyrant, 3 leadbelchers, 5 bulls and 5 ironguts. He had considerably more dwarfs. A unit of 21 warriors, some firedrakes a cannon a boltthrower and some handgunners. Because of the disparity I got to take advantage of the sudden death rule and decided I'd try and finish turn four with models near a tower on my left (if you only have 1/3 as many models as your opponent you get to pick an objective that can win you the game regardless of what else happens).
Not really knowing what to do I simply advanced across the board - running in most cases.
Stephen elected to unleash a hail of fire and my leadbelchers went the way of the Old World. Oh. (Shooting is quite powerful)
Stephen then got to go again (you roll a die each turn and whoever wins goes first) and continued to shoot me up. The bulls lost a model, failed a Battleshock test and lost another. (For each number you fail the battleshock test by you lose a model - which is bad for Ogres. On the other hand you only have to take the test if you actuallyn lose a model - which is good for Ogres)
In my turn what was left of the army charged. The Ironguts proved to be properly frisky (they get three attacks each, and each successful wound becomes 3 wounds - so four will on average cause 12 wounds). The Dwarfs struck back but failed to force a battleshock test on the Ogres.
The bulls didn't quite do so much damage to the handgunners, but still bested their opponents.
In his turn Stephen chose to pull the handgunners out of the combat - which allowed the cannon to shoot and kill a couple more so only the leader remained. Meanwhile my ironguts finished off the dwarf warriors.
In my turn I charged the remaining bull into the dwarfs and he was ultimately pulled down and slaughtered.
Stephen's go and all I had to do was hang around with the ironguts near the tower and I'd win at the end of turn four.
Unfortunately the Firedrakes killed an Irongut and I rolled a spectacular eleven for my Battleshock test and the entire unit fled the field.
Well, that was over quickly.
Shooting proved pretty devastating and although the ironguts handed it out good and proper in combat it was never going to be enough.
On the upside the game had been quick to get a handle on and we'd finished in under an hour, So we fiddled with our army lists and went again.
I dropped the Tyrant and replaced him with a butcher and dropped a bull so I could take a Gorger.
Stephen got rid of most of his shooting, instead taking an organ gun, some longbeards, trollslayers and Bugman and his rangers.
I again went first and went for the same underdog option. I forgot to bring the Gorger on, but the butcher put a shield spell on the ironguts.
The dwarfs advanced to meet me and (once we'd checked the rules a couple of times) the organ gun went from rubbish to awesome to pretty average in turn, killing no ironguts in the process.
The trollslayers and longbeards both tried to charge, but failed
Stephen got the next turn and started applying steam (to no real effect) from the gyrocopters. He this time managed to advance and charge with both units of dwarf infantry. The ironguts gave the longbeards something of a pasting whilst the trollslayers wounded the butcher several times.
The butcher pulled back from the combat, and cast a spell that killed a few trollslayers. My leadbelchers now charged the gyro whilst the bulls did the same to the second one. Weirdley the 'belchers then shot out of the combat, severely wounding Mr J Bugman in the process. The ironguts continued to wail on the longbeards, killing them all, whilst the leadbelchers smashed their gyro to pieces, a feat the bulls couldn't match.
Then I got the next turn. The Butcher tried to cast three spells, the fact that he failed one didn't stop him, and he regained a wound with each succesful casting - so he was back to full health. Butchers are awesome. The spells meanwhile wreaked havoc on the trollslayers. The ironguts then charged them.
Over by the tower the Gorger sneaked into position to charge whilst the leadbelchers shot down Bugman before thundering into his rangers. In the combat phase the bulls killed some rangers, the ironguts pulverised the trollslayers and the rangers failed to hurt the gorger - at which point the Dwarf white flag was raised.
ConclusionsSo what did we learn?
Shooting is pretty devastating.
Ironguts are fearsome in hand to hand combat
You can play two small games in the course of an evening.
Truth to tell it wasn't as terrible as I think I was hoping. There are some neat mechanics and it rattles along at a good old pace. It has all the hallmarks (to me) of a Jervis creation with lots of neat little gaming mechanics, most of which have parallels in other game systems. As a game it works pretty well.
As Stephen has pointed out elsewhere it's a bit like Lion Rampant - it's not a full skirmish game, but nor is it a traditional ranked up unit wargame - it's somewhere between and that's very much the direction the wargaming world seems to be going (think SAGA, Lion Rampant, Bolt Action and CoC - all of which follow this principle).
Like most other GW games it has a simple core with plenty of "chrome" ladled on top. It may only be "four pages of rules", but then there are twenty (or more) pages of rules modifiers for each army. The challenges with WFB were never around the core mechanics - it was all the endless special rules that added character but also added complexity (and problems).
The issue of points values is interesting - but Stephen and I play regularly, know each other well and will doubtless work something out that means we end up playing games that make us happy - we're (at least in this context) grown-ups so it won't be an issue.
I'm also pretty sure GW will come out with something that will allow pick up type gamers to get something resembling a balanced game. My personal thought is that it'll be something akin to the DBA 12 elements rules - a limited number of either/or choices. But that's pure speculation.
My issue remains that I'm not sure why I'd play this instead of WFB 8th edition. It seems clear to me that the current armies are going to change in terms of style and unit types as the updated versions are released - Ogors won't look or feel quite like Ogres. These PDFs won't ever be updated they're a "bridging" tool to keep you playing with existing models until a new version of your faction appears - so they'll kind of be like the 8th edition army books.
So (unless I buy a new Ogor or whatever army) I'll be playing a legacy, "historical" version of Age of Sigmar. The rules even make reference to these warscrolls belonging to "the world that was". I'm not particularly interested in playing Dispossessed (the new Dwarfs) versus Ogors (the new Ogres) and that being the case, if I want to fight Dwarfs against Ogres why would I not play 8th edition?
And the answer to that will be because Steve or General Ballroom or whomever else chooses to play with these rules. They'll never be my first choice, but I'm happoy to play them again if my opponent wants to.