Whether we're covering the latest releases for Warhammer Underworlds, the newest entry-point into Warhammer's skirmish game Warcry, or flinging ourselves into the far-future with our review of the Warhammer 40K Introductory Set, we've got a pulse on everything going on Games Workshop. So when the company announced that they'd be revamping and releasing an entirely new range for the Cities of Sigmar army, we knew we'd have to take a close look. Luckily, Games Workshop provided us with an early press copy of the army's intro set, so read on for our Cities of Sigmar Army Set Review.
Cities of Sigmar Army Set Review - What's Included?
The Cities of Sigmar Army Set contains the miniatures, rules, and extra accoutrements needed to begin fielding a Cities of Sigmar army. This is not an introduction to the game itself, and therefore doesn't include any dice, measuring tools, or the core rules for Warhammer: Age of Sigmar. The full contents include:
- 160-page special edition Order Battletome: Cities of Sigmar
- 52 Warscroll Cards
- Token Sheet
- 45 Enchancement Cards
- 4 Transfer sheets
- 1 Freeguild Marshall and Relic Envoy
- 1 Alchemite Warforger
- 5 Freeguild Cavaliers
- 20 Freeguild Steelhelms
All models are provided unpainted and unassembled, and require hobby tools and glue to put them all together.
Who Are The Cities Of Sigmar?
When I'm playing a game of Warhammer: Age of Sigmar, the battles are usually on an epic, near super heroic scale. Fiery dwarves clash with rampaging orcs, ghostly phantoms swoop toward rows of lizard-men... it's all very fantastical. But, as we learn in the Order Battletome: Cities of Sigmar (the rulebook for this army), so much of the fight against Chaos, Destruction, and Death comes from ordinary people picking up whatever weapons they can find to defend their homes.
With the launch of this revamped Cities of Sigmar army, we get to play as those everyday heroes. Comprised of 11 Free Cities scattered across the Mortal Realms, the Cities of Sigmar army is a rag-tag group of allied forces.
This new release, and the new miniatures coming out for the army, are focused on humans. But traditionally (and as still-accounted for in the rules) the cities are a rare conflagration of humans, elves, and dwarves (with other order-aligned factions making an appearance as well).
Cities of Sigmar Army Set Review - So Many Choices
The first thing that became immediately clear to me as I dove into the Battletome was just how many choices there are for Cities of Sigmar players. One of the first choices you have to make when building an army is which of the Free Cities you'll base your army around. Not only do these dictate (or at least suggest) the color scheme of your army, but each city imbues its followers with a special ability.
Here's a brief rundown of each of the Free Cities and a quick recap of their special abilities:
- Hammerhal Aqsha, the poster-children of the army, can give out extra orders during the hero phase.
- Tempest's Eye, a wondrous city of soaring towers, allow you to retreat and still shoot in the same turn.
- Hallowheart, a city of wild and living magic, boost magic rolls, but raises the risk of failure.
- Hammerhal Ghyra, a city known for the sheer number of soldiers, let you take extra reinforced ranks and in some instances raises the bravery of units.
- The Living City, a green and growing city, allows you to deploy your army among Hidden Paths, much like their Sylvaneth allies.
- Greywater Fastness, an industrial behemoth, allows you to use All Out Attack up to three times in your shooting phase.
- Lethis, a death-focused and solemn city, turns your heroes into priests and gives them a prayer to eliminate ward saves from the enemy.
- Vindicarum, a zealous city devoted to Sigmar, allows you to rally lost troops closer to the enemy than you're normally allowed.
- Excelsis, a city that trains beasts to fight alongside them, boosts allied monsters and your horseback riders.
- Settler's Gain, an aelv-led utopian city, boosts casting roles for your friendly wizards.
- Misthåvn, a city of scoundrels, allows up to three units to move a little bit at the end of your hero phase.
Even from these very brief descriptions, it's clear how varied each of these cities are, and how you could build a tactical advantage around all of them.
I decided in our playtesting rounds to get that extra movement with Misthåvn, and even though it messed with my lines of communication a bit as I was trying to assign orders (more on orders in a moment), it was a thrill to rush out into the battlefield.
How Does The Cities Of Sigmar Army Play?
The first thing I want to note here is that Cities of Sigmar is not a simple army to play. Because most of your units are human, you won't find a lot of over-powered, easy to snap off abilities built in. Where they do shine, and what makes this a more complicated army to run, is in the issuance of orders, commands, and heroic actions.
There are special orders for humans, Aelves (elves) and Duardin, and the way the work is as such: you assign an order to each of your heroes in your army. These orders are assigned in secret (with tokens included to help keep track), and trigger at different times.
Tied to the hero who received the order, but usually radiating out to other units near them, these orders may allow you to charge during your opponent's charge phase, while another sneaks in extra mortal wounds.
Pair that with an emphasis on utilizing your command points to the fullest, and you'll end up with an army full of stacking buffs. This creates a thrilling, dynamic experience (and one that can be hard for your opponent to anticipate), but leads to a lot of mental calculus to ensure everyone's using their bonuses appropriately.
That's an overview of the army as a whole, now let's dive into the units included in the box.
Cities of Sigmar Army Set Review - Included Units
First up is our fearless leader of the box set, the Freeguild Marshall and Relic Envoy. With a choice of different weapon loadouts (including dueling pistols, which I love to see), the Freeguild Marshal uses his Relic Envoy to great effect.
At the start of the Hero Phase, the Relic Envoy (which has its own miniature but is not considered a model for rules purposes) can "Attend the Marshal" which allows the Marshal to use a heroic action even if another hero in your force is using a heroic action. Alternatively, you can say that your relic envoy will deliver a message to a nearby unit, and when that unit is assigned a command, you don't lose a command point.
So even with this one ability, you can see the complexity and lines of thought needed, as well as the importance of using commands and heroic actions as smartly as possible. He's a solid fighter, but he truly shines in how he boosts the rest of the army.
Next up is the Alchemite Warforger, who we kept referring to as "the chef" because A. he's holding a giant pot of embers and B. we're ridiculous. The only spellcaster in the box, the Alchemite Warforger can choose at the start of the hero phase to either boost his own spellcasting or boost the saving throws of nearby allies, and his spell Blazing Weapons gives nearby units a chance to dish out extra mortal wounds.
The Freeguild Cavaliers are mounted forces, and strike super hard with their weaponry. These units are, blessedly, more straightforward, as their main special ability improves the wounds they deal and their rend when they charge.
Design-wise, these Cavaliers are absolutely stunning, with each knight looking different from the next. Just looking at these models, you can begin to craft a story around this rag-tag group of knights, each with a very different personality.
Finally, let's look at the workhorse of the box, the Freeguild Steelhelms. With a 4+ to hit and a 4+ to wound, these units (10 models in a unit, so 2x total units are included in this box) may not seem like a huge threat, but each Steelhelm has 2 Attacks! That's a lot of dice to throw, and if you power them up with the Warforger's Blazing Weapons spell, you could dish out some serious damage.
Cities Of Sigmar Army Set Review - Final Thoughts
I had a lot of fun playtesting the Cities of Sigmar Army Set. Though, and this isn't a hidden fact, what's included in the box isn't enough to start even the smallest sized Cities of Sigmar army (it clocks in at around 560 points). That said, in our playtests we built an equally-valued army of Slaves to Darkness, and they completely mopped the floor with my Cities boys. But that makes sense, the Cities of Sigmar Army is an army that thrives in great numbers, and I need to field more units to feel the full, combo-centric effect of my army.
I do wonder at the units included in the box set. While the Steelhelms and Cavaliers are great, it would have been nice to add a little more punch to the box. With cannon-wielding Freeguild Fusiliers coming to the line, or a Fusil-Major sitting atop a Ogor Warhulk, there's plenty of muscle still to release for the army, and it would have been nice to see some of that in this box.
Should I Buy The Cities Of Sigmar Army Set?
If you know you want to build a Cities of Sigmar army, and are excited for all the combinations and possibilities, this box will serve as a great starting point. If, however, you're unsure if this army is for you, or are looking for more of the show-stopper pieces coming out for this line soon, it may be better to hold off and do more research into the army.
The Cities of Sigmar Army Set used in the creation of this review was provided by Games Workshop. The author read through the rules, built the miniatures, and playtested the army over the course of around 15 hours. All photographs courtesy the author.