Review – Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Storm Ground

Age of Sigmar has come a long way. When Games Workshop originally replaced Warhammer Fantasy with a new setting, fans were greatly displeased. They called it a 40K knockoff, a sad attempt to turn Fantasy into something copyrightable, and a boring new setting with no history, it seemed doomed. Yet here we are years later with the setting’s first proper game releasing alongside the tabletop’s third edition. And while I’m sure GW’s decision to bring Fantasy back definitely helped, I can’t deny that AoS earned success on it’s own. They worked on establishing the setting and factions, created rules that work (and would even go on to influence 40K), and simply made it fun and interesting to get involved in. So when it came to Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Storm Ground, I, a devoted Age of Sigmar hater, was actually quite excited.

I admit, the Stormcast Eternals do have one helluva cool design. Bit more than fantasy space marines after all.

As everyone knows by now, Warhammer has a rather spotty track record with gaming. Especially 40K games, while Fantasy seems to do better. Fantasy gets the landmark Total War: Warhammer games, while 40K gets Necromunda: Hired Gun. So the biggest question on my mind was where Age of Sigmar would begin it’s no doubt lengthy gaming journey. Thankfully, despite some issues, I actually found it leaned towards the former. It’s not a perfect game, with some strange decisions made, but overall I really enjoyed it. It’s the kind of game that justifies Games Workshop’s liberal use of the license. Sure sometimes you get questionable games, but you can get some really fun inventive ones too.

To be honest, it’s kinda hard to describe what kind of game Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Storm Ground is. The easiest way I could think of is that it’s basically X-Com (classic, not the Firaxis titles), in Iron Man mode. Permanently. It’s a hex-based strategy game with strong unit collection and progression mechanics. And it has a strong roguelike shell on top of that, which means if you lose a battle, you lose the war. And I do mean roguelike, not lite. You can bring some things over into a new run, but overall you have to start from zero. If that sounds kinda rough for the default mode, you’re absolutely right. There’s a reason that Iron Man is usually optional, but it’s bold for Gasket games to go all in here. Now every battle literally matters, because if you lose it’s back to the start of the current campaign.

Storm Ground Angels

Angels riding dragons burning ghosts to a crisp, I’m sold.

Which brings me to the campaigns available for Storm Ground. There’s three factions to play as, and each has three campaigns of progressing difficulty. There’s the Stormcast Eternals, warriors of light and order. Then there’s the Nighthaunt, evil spooky dead things. Finally there’s the Maggotkin of Nurgle, which are just as gross as they sound. I was surprised at the number of units available for each faction and the diversity of playstyles. They took plenty of cues from tabletop when it came to customization, army compositions, and general tactics which is all for the better. When you already have a set of established turn-based rules for your turn-based game, use them. This all carries over into multiplayer which the game does have. Although due to low player counts, it’s really only playable versus AI, it’s still a lot of fun to try out new tactics and compositions.

Just a couple of quick things I noticed during my time with the game. Map variety isn’t the greatest, but it was never a problem as spawning and unit variety was. Unit animations and effects were just phenomenal, you don’t place your Stormcast Eternals they hit the board like a bolt of lightning. You can only have one campaign active at any time, across all factions. Which is probably my biggest issue with the game to be honest. Multiplayer also comes with an army painter, which in my opinion every Warhammer game should have. Yes I’m looking at you Total War Warhammer.

Storm Ground Customization

It’s not the most expansive army painter, but it’s an army painter regardless, and that’s always cool.

And all in all that’s it for Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Storm Ground. It’s a very solid fun game that I’m definitely going to be spending some more time with. I love the look of the game, the playstyles of the chosen factions, and the  roguelike nature keeps me coming back. I’m also slowly getting deeper into the Age of Sigmar setting, and this game is a great intro point. Also I can’t ignore just how easy it would be to add Faction DLC, so I’m really hoping it sold well enough to get some. Games like these thrive on new toys to play with, and Age of Sigmar has plenty of those to add. Past that though, I’m hoping this kind of game sets the standard for future games in this setting. More solid and fun, less unpolished and broken please.

Graphics: 9.0

It looks really good. Unit models and animations are especially fantastic in terms of design.

Gameplay: 8.0

It’s a well done strategy game with plenty of gameplay options, both for unit progression and customization and during battle itself.

Sound: 6.5

The voice acting is cheesy but fun. Soundtrack is forgettable to the point where I forgot that it wasn’t even playing in the background.

Fun Factor: 8.0

While the overall roguelike nature can be rough, I can’t deny the gameplay loop more than kept me coming back for more.

Final Verdict: 8.0

Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Storm Ground is available now on PC, Xbox One, PC, and Nintendo Switch.

Reviewed on PC.

A copy of Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Storm Ground was provided by the publisher.