How to Prepare for an Age of Sigmar Tournament
There’s a ton of ways to play Age of Sigmar, depending on what you love most about the hobby. Most players will spend their weekends in a Warhammer store playing among friends, while others forge great narratives of rising factions, playing for the story. That said, the kind of player which rifles through metawatch articles, winrate data, and knows their warscrolls front-to-back has another way to engage with AoS in mind: Tournament Play. As someone who’s historically played a lot of competitive 40k (most notably in 7th edition, topping multiple times with Iron Warriors), it may come as a surprise that I wasn’t really drawn to competitive Age of Sigmar at first. I dabbled in it, in 1st & 2nd edition, but at the advent of 3rd edition, the nagging urge to grind some tournaments once again rose to the surface, and off I went. This article is an overview of how I personally prep for a tournament, using 3rd edition AoS as an example, and how I’ve recently dragged some friends into joining me for the upcoming Armed Forces Day GT.
Part of my entry into competitive AoS was facilitated by the ease of entry due to my army; in the middle of 2nd edition, I fell in love with the Beasts of Chaos (who were frankly awful at the time), and grew accustomed to their playstyle. In 3rd edition, though, there’s never really been a time when Beasts were a bad army, per say. Whether it was triple Chimera, Dragon Ogor Spam, or the current hybrid lists that currently take top spots, getting good with goats has propelled me to dominant performance with an army I never expected to be a competitive darling.
From my experience, the tournament scene for Age of Sigmar is a lot less vitriolic compared to 40k, though slightly less strictly competitive. Even at high level events, you’ll see ‘pet units’, suboptimal battalion arrangement, etc, but you’ll rarely face someone in your matches who’s unpleasant to talk with, and play against. Part of the falling-out I had with 40k was due to experiences in contrast to that (as well as the 8th edition ruleset), so it’s been a tremendous joy to play well, and play often, when it comes to AoS.
One of the best ways to approach a tournament is to do so alongside friends, and starting a team is as easy as entering in the same moniker in Best Coast Pairings (the app most tournaments use for sign-ups). In this case, I’m entering alongside a pal who’s played at a few RTTs, using Slaanesh, and a friend whose first tournament experience will be this GT, using Skaven. As one can surmise, I’m the player with the most competitive AoS experience, so I ended up as the de facto organizer, a role I took to with gusto. In the lead-up to the tournament, us three jammed a variety of practice games, talked listbuilding over dinner, and settled on our 2000pt armies with regards to early sign-ups, tailoring tools to face magic-heavy foes like Lumineth & Tzeentch.
Practice games are especially interesting when you’re prepping for opponents whose armies you don’t have to bounce off of; due to the fact none of my teammates played the armies we were most afraid of, a lot came down to theory, and reps. Slowly tweaking a list over the course of a dozen or so games helps keep you sharp, teaches you your models, and most importantly, smooths out play. Tournament rounds are generally 3 hours, and playing a full 2k to completion in that time can be difficult for newer players.
In the end, the list I settled on was an unusual, but efficient one: Gavespawn, featuring a massive 18 Enlightened on Foot. Once I realized I could fit 6 spawn in with my remaining points to hit 2k on the dot, I was settled, and after that it mostly came down to figuring out deployment, artefacts, etc. The unfortunate fact of the matter, though, is that I only had 2 Chaos Spawn to my name, so my hunt for 4 more began.
After tracking down the spawn I needed, I also took time to work on 2 distinct, new Great Bray-Shamans, given the ones I had were duplicates. The tournament is this upcoming weekend, and I’ve still got that selection to get painted up, but I’m confident that with a little crunch, they’ll be ready for the tables when the time comes.
Below is my finalized list for the GT, and I’m confident I’ll be able to perform with it! It’s entirely based on efficiency, taking the most cost-effective tools for every job, at the expense of raw power & trading tools, like Bullgors. That said, the consistency provided by so many Spawn & Enlightened is unmatched, clogging up combats with command denial and reduced attacks, and hitting our required 8” charge rolls more consistently with the added Krondspine Incarnate. This list is me living up to the advice I’ve given prior concerning Beasts of Chaos, and for better or for worse, we’ll see if it holds up at the top tables!
BoC, and tournament lists in general, tend to rely on ‘packages’ of units that you swap in & out like tools from a toolkit. Need consistent casting and a way to Alpha Strike? Tzaangor Shaman & Wildfire Taurus will get you there. Need a way to ensure your charges? Krondspine Incarnate, for any army that can take it. Knowing how these sub-groups interact, and how to use them at the right times, is the most important part of tourney play at the micro level.
As for more broad considerations, always have a physical copy of your Battletome, and multiple copies of your list. The easiest way to solve an argument is to provide the appropriate text, and when games have a constant clock, questions can eat into ones’ time more than the gameplay itself, if someone’s unfamiliar with their opponent! Having a cheat sheet for common queries can also be helpful, or just the necessary FAQs from Games Workshop.
Beyond the game, pack light, and dress comfortably! You’ll be standing for at least 9 hours, given 3-round days are standard, so good shoes & wicking material are highly recommended. Protein-rich foods you can eat without making a mess are also a godsend, so things like granola bars are a must-have in my book.
There’s far more to say, from mag-cases to objective markers, but with so much left to prepare for this coming weekend, I’ll be sure to follow up in another article! There’s only so much one can do to get ready for a big tournament like this, and hindsight is sure to be 20-20.
So, with that, wish me luck at the GT! What other questions do you have about tournament play? I know this was a brief overview, so there’s certainly much more to say! Any chance I’ll see you during the event? Let me know any thoughts you have in the comments below!