Learning Champions is a series of tutorial videos and blogs that teach the Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Champions trading card game. This guide is updated continuously to provide the most current information.
First, if you want to learn how to play Warhammer Champions, you have made an excellent choice. Whether diving in digitally via the app or buying physical cards and playing at your local game night (or both), the game is an incredible amount of fun.
Start by watching this full tutorial video that we recorded with the Starter decks – in this case Destruction against Death. This will give you a basic understanding of how actions are exchanged, how cards rotate over time, and how Champions complete their quests (and why that matters!).
If you watched the video, we recommend skipping ahead to the next chapter to learn how to actually start playing Champions!
How to Play Warhammer Champions
To recap from the video, there are a number of important things to understand about the mechanics of the game. For a detailed look at the rules, and as a nice supplement to the video above and summary below, check out the official rulebook from PlayFusion.
At the beginning of each player’s turn, every card on the board that has the circular rotation symbol in its top left corner (known as “smooth”) will rotate counter-clockwise. This is the critical feature of the game, and both players are responsible for making sure that is happens on both sides of the board.
The vast majority of cards are smooth, meaning that they have circular symbols in their corners and rotate automatically. Champions and a number of special cards are clunky, meaning that they have boxy symbols in their corners and only rotate when the necessary conditions have been met. You can see examples of both types of corners in the image below, with smooth on the left and clunky on the right.
This rotation mechanic is the hardest thing to remember when first starting with the game. Always remember to start your turn by rotating all of your cards on the board with that circular symbol – and make sure you rotate counter-clockwise!
Once every card has been rotated (from left to right, always), any passive effects on your newly-rotated cards come online.
Then you discard, from left to right, any cards that are exhausted which means that they either do not have a symbol in their top left corner or they have moved through all four of their corners and are now back in their original facing.
Finally, you resolve (from left to right) the effects showing on any of the newly-rotated cards that remain on the board.
Most of the time, the effect of a card will be dictated by the number in its top left corner. Anytime you see the rotation symbol, replace it with whatever number is showing in the top left corner. In the image above, you can see that both the Trampling Grunta has an effects that references the top left corner via the rotation symbol. Most cards do – but never assume it is damage! Read the card to see what kind of effect is happening.
If the top left corner of a card displays an X, that card is essentially nulled out – it does not apply its effects and it does not count as a value – though it does maintain its traits and counts toward any effect that references those traits.
If the top left corner of a card is blank, that card is active and resolves its effect, it just does not require a value in order to resolve. This might be an effect like “Remove a unit” which does not need to reference any particular value.
After everything on your side of the board has been rotated and resolved, you get two actions. There are three things that you can do with an action:
- Play a card (most common)
- Activate a heroic act on a card that was not played this turn.
- Pass current action and all remaining actions.
Playing a card
You can play a card into any of the four empty slots in front of your champions. Barring special text on individual Champions, Warrior Champions can only play units or non-Wizard abilities. Wizard Champions can only play spells or non-Warrior abilities. Warrior Wizards can do anything they want!
The first caveat is that any Wizard with a spell occupying their slot cannot play an ability in that same slot; Warriors can play abilities in their slot even when that slot is occupied by a unit – because magic is harder than barking orders.
The second caveat is that you can only play one copy of any card in a turn. So if you play a Bloodfury Wrathmonger as your first action, you cannot play a second Bloodfury Wrathmonger as your second action (more on this below).
Units and Spells typically stay on the board and rotate through their corners until they are exhausted. Abilities are a one-time effect that is immediately resolved and discarded.
A Heroic Act is a special ability on a card in play, which takes an action to resolve. You can only resolve one Heroic Act per turn, and you cannot resolve a Heroic Act on any unit that you played a copy of in the same turn.
This is a hard-to-remember rule and its full representation is “Cards of a specific name can only be played or have their Heroic Act used once per turn, even if the player has multiple copies of the card.”
For instance, if you play an Aetherwing Scout as your first action, you cannot activate its Heroic Act as your second action. Further, you cannot activate the Heroic Act of a separate Aetherwing Scout that was already on the board. Even further, if you use the Heroic Act of an Aetherwing Scout on the board as your first action, you cannot play another Aetherwing Scout as your second action.
When you pass an action, you also pass any remaining actions. So if you pass as your first action, you pass both of your actions. Then you enter the draw phase and draw cards equal to the number of actions you passed.
This is the beauty of the game. Do you sacrifice tempo now in order to draw more cards and have better turns later? Or do you keep pressing the gas instead of drawing cards?
Winning the game
Once you take your turn, your opponent takes their turn, and that continues until one player has been reduced to “0” life. Remember that you never directly attack creatures on the board – there are no engagements, defenders, blockers, etc – instead, all damage goes right through to your opponent’s life total and reduces it accordingly.
If you run out of cards during a game, nothing fancy happens. You just keep playing without the ability to draw cards and hope that you can finish it up before you run out of cards in your hand!
Champions and Blessings
Champions would be good enough with this basic ruleset, but the addition of Blessings really takes things to the next level. Every Champion that you bring to the table is capable of completing its quest, which is outlined by the icons in its four corners. Those icons correspond to certain objectives that the Champion must achieve, as laid out in the rulebook.
Think of the “lane” formed by each Champion as the place that these objectives must be completed. If your current objective is to remove a unit, then anything you do in that lane that removes a unit will achieve that objective – whether that is through a unit, spell, ability, or Heroic Act.
Some Champions are incredibly fast at completing quests, while others are remarkably slow. This is based on the order of their objectives and the cards that you have in your deck. Take a look at the Lochian Prince as an example of a fast quester, an archetype that every faction has.
On your first turn, you can use your first action to play a unit in its lane (make sure it does damage in its second corner), which advances its quest by turning the card counter-clockwise. You can then use your second action to play an ability, like Tactical Formation, which rotates the card again.
On your next turn, the unit you played last turn will rotate and do damage, completing the third objective and leaving Lochian Prince one step away from completing his quest! Once the current unit leaves play, you can play an Aelf unit and boom, quest complete.
Keep in mind that you can only ever satisfy a single quest objective with an effect, so if you play an ability that does damage it would not satisfy both the second and third corners of the Lochian Prince in one fell swoop.
Questing is not only an incredibly fun secondary objective during the game, it also yields a serious reward in the form of Blessings. At the start of every game, you randomize the four blessings that you bring to the game and then place one under each Champion. Once that Champion completes their quest, the Blessing flips up and is immediately active!
And these are serious, serious effects. Just look at something like the Ork blessing Smash n’ Bash below.
That card can absolutely win games! Or, if you have no units on the table, be a relatively insignificant five damage. The beauty of blessings is that they range from “always pretty useful” to “situationally game-breaking”, and all of them are worth hitting. How you oscillate between pursuing your blessings and making the “best plays” regardless of what objectives you are trying to hit is one of the more critical dances that happens in Champions.
The best decks find a way to do both most of the time.
Putting it all together
So, during a game of Champions, you take care of the rotations and automatic effects at the start of your turn, and then decide how you want to spend your two actions. You will be playing units, spells, and abilities, while determining when it is best to pass your actions in order to get more cards. The dance is an incredibly fun one, and you will find yourself getting better and better with each game.
Remarkably, Champions hits that perfect balance between simplicity and near-unlimited depth. You can start playing right away by downloading the app (App Store, Google Play, Steam, or Nintendo Switch), but to get the full experience you will absolutely want to dive in by playing with physical cards. The strength of tabletop games is their ability to facilitate human connection, after all, and being a part of a community like this is one of the greatest joys in life. Having been down this road many times, we can say that without any ounce of hyperbole.
And your physical cards can be scanned right into the app and become a part of your collection anyway, so you do not lose anything by diving into the physical, tangible game, even if you only go to a few in-person events a year.
Next up, how exactly to buy the cards in order to get the most value based on the experience you want to have. Continue on to our Buyers Guide!