The ring-bound layout is perfect for gaming and can be easily left open on the table without damage. Sadly, this is about the only thing I like about the layout of the rules.
TL:DR or "Wall of Text" Syndrome
Pages are in 'wall of text' format in 2 columns. I find them a chore to read. 2HW is not a big company, but it I doubt it is any smaller than the guys who put out the amazing "Song of Our Ancestors" - the rulebooks are priced similarly but poles apart in production values and 'readability.'
Off in their Own World
Like THW's 5150, WH:AA has own setting. That is fine, but since the game is supposed to be for any minis, their naming conventions add needless confusion. Force alignments of "full sun" "twilight" or full moon" are simply good, neutral and evil respectively, so why not simply say so?
Using "benchmark" terms such as those used by D&D and Warhammer would have helped.
I mostly am hunting fantasy rulesets to allow myself to use Confrontation Minis. Now OOP, they are very interesting sculpts who were ahead of their time. The studio paintjobs - like this one - were awesome.Make your own Army
SoBH's best feature is the ability to customise your own warband. WH:AA has a few stats - Weapon, Reputation, Armour, Movement, Hardiness. There are only a very few skills to chose from, so despite having a much better, more detailed 'stat line' than SoBH they effectively have less variety between troop types. I was definitely hoping for more skills and variety here. A little disappointed.
2HW usually revolves around a few charts. The "Reputation" of the character is the defining stat. You test against this stat with a pair of d6. I.e. if you are a powerful Rep 5 character then you roll a 5 or less to succeed. If you are a weaker Rep 3 character you would need to roll a 3 or less to succeed or "pass".
You roll 2 dice and compare your results to the relevant chart. Two successes gives a good result, one success means a modest result, and two fails are usually bad.
The defensive and active characters 'react' to each others actions by rolling reactions, until one character is unable to continue.
Example:1. An active character moves around a corner
2. A reactive character sees him and rolls a reaction test. Perhaps the reacting character passes the test and fires
3. The active character rolls a test to see how he reacts to being fired at. He passes and gets ot shoot back etc.
4. Perhaps the reactive player is hit and falls down. Since he cannot react again, the reaction sequence is over.
A new character is moved and a new sequence of reactions is played out if applicable.
To recap: individual units are moved one at a time Warmachine style, and they can trigger reactive actions by the non-moving player. Reactions and reaction tests continue back-and-forth between units until one unit is unable to react. The another unit is chosen to move, and the process is repeated.
The process is a lot simpler than it appears in the rulebook. It is interesting as it takes some control from the player and places emphasis on the quality of the troops, who do not always react the way you would like them to. 2HW has free demo games which give you the feel for their system, a move which impressed me a lot.
The game Malifaux itself has a ridiculous and offputting amount of special rules, but their terrain boards are perfect for fantasy. I review them here.Combat & Magic
Combat is quite interesting and whilst not, I feel, as cinematic and 'fun' as SoBH the unpredicability and reaction charts add interest.
Magic is much more interesting and comprehensive than SoBH, with a wide range of spells (40 or so). It would be quite easy to create your own and add them into the list. I was quite impressed with this section.
Scenarios and Campaigns
This is the always very comprehensive in 2HW games. The ability to play solo or co-op is very handy. Although it can at times feel like a bunch of house rules thrown together at 5 minutes notice, the depth and comprehensiveness in their campaign rules are hard to beat and give a real RPG feel to your games. The toolbox is very comprehensive and can be as simple and complex as you like. There are a lot of good ideas here that could be applied to other games and genres. I also like the fact they allow you to calculate a figure's points, unlike many other scenario-based games where they say "Points values are the antichrist - we insist you be scenario-loving individualists just like us!"
In fact, I would suggest this is the best reason to buy this rulebook instead of just playing the free CR.3 Swordplay demo.
An overpowered, nigh-unkillable hero typical of GW. Yours for only $61! Citadel Finecast - so much better than metal..Heroes
I like the way they treat heroes or "Stars" as they call them. Unlike WFB's impossible-to-kill warriors with improbably high stats, heroes are more defined by their ability to chose their reactions rather than 'react' at the whim of the dice. If killed, they can even return next game, having cheated death miraculously, albeit with reduced stats.
If you can wade through the rulebook, a decent skirmish game with a very comprehensive campaign and scenario building toolset. In fact, they fulfil their boast of meshing RPG with skirmish game rather well.