When Games Workshop literally blew up the Old World of Warhammer Fantasy, The Age of Sigmar began with mixed reviews from fans and long-time gamers.
While Age of Sigmar has risen to heights once thought unimaginable by most, wargamers the world over have missed the specific skill set and strategy that comes hand in hand with the rank-n-flank nature of Warhammer Fantasy.
While new games and variants alike have risen from the ashes of Fantasy, they suffer from their own flaws that prevented any of them from truly filling the gaping hole left by the destruction of the Old World.
Games like Kings of War offered a solid rules set, but was severely let down by a lacklustre model range and what some fans thought was not enough of a departure from 8th edition Warhammer.
Likewise, 9th Age is a fan-run continuation of Warhammer Fantasy which suffers due to the obvious lack of support from any official body like Games Workshop.
It seemed for a long while that wargamers who wanted a true rank-n-flank experience that harkened back to Warhammer Fantasy would be left in a void.
Released in 2018, A Song Of Ice And Fire Tabletop Miniatures Game (ASOIAF), may be the answer to what many fans are looking for.
ASOIAF is a game set in the world of Westeros created by George R.R. Martin, based on his long-running book series of the same name. Most everyone on the planet will be familiar with this setting from the HBO series Game of Thrones.
Designed by Eric M. Lang and published by Cool Mini Or Not (CMON), ASOIAF is a tabletop wargame that combines a love of the old world rank-n-flank, with the innovation that gamers have come to expect in this new century of tabletop.
CMON has really solidified its position in the industry as they continue to produce some of the finest single-mould plastics on the market. ASOIAF is no exception.
While fans of building may be disappointed, the ready-to-play, colour-coded plastic miniatures are fantastic, nicely detailed and completely unique from unit-to-unit, army-to-army.
Every unit also comes packaged with it's very own movement tray, which is a godsend to those of us used to playing playing games with large numbers of units.
CMON has incorporated the tray into the game's design, making clear cut rules for positioning based of measurements of the trays. This also allows for individual models to be mounted on round bases, making them (arguably) better looking when judged as stand-alone minis.
ASOIAF plays like a streamlined miniatures game. A unique incorporation of cards carves out the game's niche in the market. Each faction has its own deck of tactics cards, which is modified based on the character you are using as your commander.
This also adds a vast amount of replayability and stratedgy, as a Lannister army lead by Jaime will play and function very differently to an identical list lead by Gregor Clegane.
It wouldn't feel like Game of Thrones without political infighting, and CMON have nailed this aspect of the game.Each army can take a number of non-combat units (NCUs) which have points costs and abilities just like all other models in the game, which the very strong exception that they are not deployed on the battlefield.
Instead, NCU's are deployed onto a map of political positions, each one giving you a temporary benefit, buff or ability which will influence and change the flow of battle.
Given that the game is played using alternating activations, this particular mechanic add many decision points to ASOIAF, and takes what may look like a simple positional dice-rolling game into the higher realms of strategy that many wargamers seek out.
While the starter set features full armies for both Lannister and Stark, it is not a required purchase for play. If the Free Folk or Night's Watch are more your jam, then their army boxes also contain the full rules, terrain templates and cards- everything you need to play straight out of the box.
Or, if you're like me, you can build an entire army of neutral (and I use that word lightly, given the story), units, and charge House Bolton into battle.
ASOIAF is one of the best war games released in recent years. It has been designed both physically and mechanically to appeal to the modern-day gamer, and is available right now at your local Good Games store.
Additionally, game night event kits are already in distribution, with plenty of swag and alternate-sculpt models up for grabs- sure to tickle the fancy of collectors and strategists alike!