Munchkin Warhammer Age of Sigmar Design Diary: Character Development
July 18, 2019
After spending several months writing over 400 cards for Munchkin Warhammer 40,000 and its expansions, I was slightly worried that I wouldn’t be able to do enough to distinguish Munchkin Warhammer Age of Sigmar from the earlier sets.
Spoiler alert: It was not a problem.
I’ll talk about how I addressed the differences between them in a future design diary. For now, it’s enough to say that Warhammer Age of Sigmar, although clearly related to Warhammer 40,000, is very much its own setting and its own game, and my concerns were completely unfounded.
As soon as I started reading through the Age of Sigmar books – thanks, as always, to the good people at Games Workshop who made sure I was well-supplied with source material! – I realized that this was a very different world, with its own tone and its own signature heroes and villains . . . and those categories were fluid, with today’s ally becoming tomorrow’s enemy.
I decided early on to make this set easily compatible with Munchkin Warhammer 40,000, and that meant sticking with Army cards rather than Classes or something else. Of course, given the Warhammer Age of Sigmar game, this was a very easy choice to make – the whole point of both games is building an army and using it to attack your opponent’s army. What was harder was narrowing all the fantastic armies found in Age of Sigmar down to the six I wanted to use in the core Munchkin Warhammer Age of Sigmar game.
Fortunately, Warhammer Age of Sigmar includes an important overall structure that helped guide my decisions. All of the warring factions in the game are grouped into four Grand Alliances: Chaos, Death, Destruction, and Order. I wanted to have at least one Army in Munchkin Warhammer Age of Sigmar from each Grand Alliance – which was easy, since I wanted six Armies total to match Munchkin Warhammer 40,000 – so I started looking through the materials to see if there were iconic groups to include.
The first Army I picked were the Stormcast Eternals. They were the easiest choice of all, because Sigmar’s creation of the Stormcast Eternals literally changed the balance of power in the entire multiverse. Age of Sigmar without them . . . well, there wouldn’t be an Age of Sigmar without them. That was just unthinkable. They were in – and the Grand Alliance of Order had its first Army.
Where there is Order, there is Chaos. Here, my advising team of Ben Williams and John Kovalic came in handy (with an assist from Eric Dow). I asked them what Chaos armies were iconic to the Age of Sigmar game. Their answers were “Skaven and Slaanesh [which later became Hedonites of Slaanesh, better to match the then-upcoming Battletome].” How to choose between them? How, indeed . . . when I had six Army slots to fill, I decided there was no reason to choose and added both of them into my game! The thieving, treacherous Skaven swarm the Mortal Realms in service of their god, the Great Horned Rat – no one is safe from their predations. And the sultry, sensuous Hedonites serve their missing god by seeking excess in all things: pleasure or pain makes no difference to the servants of Slaanesh, to whom the only sin is moderation. Both of those sounded perfect for a Munchkin game!
With two Chaos armies, we needed another Order army for balance. (I am obviously not a servant of Chaos, at least as far as game design goes.) I looked over several options but the one I kept coming back to, for uniqueness as well as fun art possibilities, was the Idoneth. They’re an aquatic, reclusive race, so we got to have a lot of fun with both the art and the design of some specific cards for them, and their abilities (both in Warhammer Age of Sigmar and in the Munchkin adaptation) are really unusual. As a teaser: one of their abilities is called Spirit-Theft. You’re going to love them!
With Chaos and Order well represented, it was time to look at Death and Destruction. The core Munchkin Warhammer Age of Sigmar game had room for one Army apiece from each of those Grand Alliances, so I went back to the books to find iconic and entertaining groups to use. After some discussion, I settled on the Nighthaunts as the Death army. They are evocative, they have a lot of cool lore behind them, and – very important! – they have a lot of miniature figures on shelves right now, so Warhammer players will be extremely familiar with them. Plus, they interact in very fun ways with the Undead monsters in Munchkin Warhammer Age of Sigmar, which is a nice counterpoint to some other powers that revolve around Chaos monsters.
Finally, Games Workshop was kind enough to give me an advance look at the Gloomspite Gitz Battletome so I could write up the Moonclan Grots as our final, Destruction-allied Army for this game. These small, vile critters worship the Bad Moon, which flies around the Mortal Realms heralding destruction for all. The Moonclan Grots cause plenty of destruction on their own initiative as well, with the Loonsmashas and other fighters wrecking everything they can come across.
The characters are only one part of the cool new stuff in Munchkin Warhammer Age of Sigmar. Next time, we’ll talk about how turning all the awesome weapons and other gear in the Age of Sigmar universe into Munchkin Treasures was both very challenging and a whole lot of fun. See you then!