Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Soulbound – Starter Set
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment
Release Date:  May, 2021
MSRP: $29.99
Editor: Christopher Walz
Number of Players: 2 – 7
Product #: CB72510
Age Rating: 14 and up
ICv2 Rating: 3.5 Stars out of 5

The Warhammer Age of Sigmar setting has, since its creation, been one of remarkably rich detail, supported deeply and broadly through supplements, fiction, and game products.  It is only natural that fans of the miniatures game and other titles would want to explore it as a role-playing experience.  The challenge, of course, is to attract fans of the setting in a compelling way, particularly those who may not have a lot of experience with role playing games.  This makes some form of Starter Set a logical choice indeed.  But does the Warhammer Age of Sigmar:  Soulbound Starter Set ease this passage?

Summary:  The Starter Set offers a small trove of materials to help new Soulbound players get up to speed.  Upon opening the box, one is greeted by a brief "read this first" pamphlet that ably describes the setting and the core concepts of role playing games.  Then comes five pre-created characters, each presented as a deluxe character sheet with a character portrait, notes about their personality and motivations, and all of their game stats, followed by reference sheets that present the main elements of the game system, distilled down to six easy-to-read pages.  The heart of the Starter Set is the Faltering Light booklet, which presents a complete introductory adventure crafted to teach the game rules to the players as they play, allowing them to jump into the action quickly.  Also included is the Brightspear City Guide, a 64-page sourcebook that describes the setting for the adventure in detail and provides a number of potential follow-up adventures, full color maps of the city and the surrounding area, eight 6-sided dice with a Soulbound key emblem on the "6" face, and 30 tokens for tracking things during play.

The Faltering Light adventure tells the tale of the heroes’ arrival in the city of Brightspear and their first mission:  to descend into the warren of unmapped passages beneath the city, locate and activate the magical machinery located there, and thwart the nefarious plots of Chaos.  All in a days work for a band of Soulbound heroes, it would seem!

Originality:  I really like the abstract approach that the Starter Set uses to deal with some of the common issues in roleplaying games such as exploring the dungeon and movement during combat.  And as someone who has taught role playing to more than one group over the years, I very much appreciate the philosophy behind an introductory adventure that teaches new players the system as they go rather than front-loading new players with a mass of information.

Presentation:  Aside from the depth of the setting, one of the hallmarks of the Warhammer hobby is its compelling visuals and artwork, and the Starter Set delivers here as well.  The cover shows a suitably dramatic scene with our heroes standing among foes in all directions in powerful red and yellow hues.  Though I find the cover a bit dark, the title is easily read even from a distance.  The back of the box has a nice description of everything inside along with a sharp picture of the components.  There isn’t too much air inside the box, so it has a pleasing "heft" when you pick it up.  The lavish use of artwork continues on the inside, with nearly every component illustrated gorgeously.

Quality:  Everything in the Starter Set is of excellent quality.  The box is strong and suitable for use as storage or to transport components after the introductory adventure is completed.  The character sheets are extra-thick, the reference sheets are sturdy cardstock, and the tokens are thick and solid.  The dice are good quality with large, easy-to-read numbers.  The two books are nicely bound and printed on full-color glossy pages throughout.  The language in the books is well-written and very readable, and I noticed far fewer errors than I have come to expect in role playing books on my first read-through.  However, considering the stated purpose of the Starter Set to help players "begin your perilous adventures in the Mortal Realms," I felt that it really would have benefited from more practical illustrations in a number of places: maps of encounter areas, artwork depicting all of the monsters faced, and so on.  There were also a number of places where I felt the tutorial aspect of the product should have been stronger.

Marketability:  Though perhaps not as popular as its science fiction counterpart, Warhammer Age of Sigmar has attracted an enormous world-wide following, in part, I believe, thanks to the quality and richness of its setting.  Role playing games in general are enjoying something of a "golden age," with growing popularity.  It would seem like a perfect match to bring those two popular items together, and the Starter Set could be an effective bridge between them.  Considering what is in the box and its very reasonable price point, there is plenty of "bang for your buck" here, and the new material could attract players who already enjoy the Soulbound system and are looking for more adventures and references.

Overall:  There are a lot of things that I really like in the Starter Set.  I like that it offers an easy jumping-on point for new players.  I found the starter adventure and the Brightspear City Guide to be both interesting and compelling.  I do not doubt that as a player or a GM I would very much enjoy exploring more of what Soulbound and the Mortal Realms has to offer.  And from that perspective, I would say that the Starter Set is a resounding success.

But I am a seasoned role player, and I am just not convinced that the Starter Set is quite basic enough for new role players.  I wanted there to be more help along the way and a more structured first adventure that would serve as a guide to first-time game masters trying to find their footing.  And that’s why I’m giving this game 3.5 out of 5.

- Will Niebling