I don't know what the deal is with all this. I saw another post where someone was 'fixing' 8th edition to put out a homebrew called 9th Age. It isn't that I don't applaud what they are doing if that is what they want to do. But I shudder to think about playing a system with errata, an upgraded magic system, and a host of special rules - no, for me simple is the key. I love what they've done with Age of Sigmar. The biggest argument that people make (despite the fact GW actually destroyed the world) is that it is no longer ranked combat in a heroic fantasy game. So while there were people playing Kings of War previous to this, now it is officially the Games Workshop Ranked Combat Battle System if you listen to the people posting on the interwebs.
But why? Why do I have to play an entirely different system to use my models on movement trays? What else don't they like about it? Is it simply the wheeling and moving troops around in big blocks? Is it the tactical advantages you can get by laying traps and flank charges? Is it heroes in the units loaded with customized war-gear chosen from the best selection of magic items in your army book? Maybe people just miss making lists before playing the games. Maybe people miss the fact that options had values and if you built your list better than your opponent you could have some advantage (playing with painted figures) to assure your ultimate victory. Maybe the biggest push is that we can't have tournament play any more that is mechanical balanced.
I'd argue a lot of this is a little biased, but then again you know my opinion. I've actually had a pretty good week every since I quit reading the comments sections of the articles on Bell of Lost Souls and Spikey Bits. People are just too damn mean. But I am getting away from where I really wanted to go with this.
Here it is: Ranked Movement
During the set-up phase, a unit selected from a single warscroll may be placed in base to base contact. The command figures (champion, standard bearer, musician) will occupy the center of the front rank. For most units these ranks consist of at least 5 models. During the movement phase you may move straight ahead without penalty, but any deviation from this path requires you to wheel. This is done by measuring the arc and it is super handy to have a template like this one:
Without getting to carried away the concept is no one in the unit moves further than the units movement characteristic. You'll also notice the template also says Arc of Visibility on it. That means ranked units have a front, side and rear of the formation. So if you are shooting or charging you can only attack other units within your front arc (I believe the angle is like 135 degrees or some such). For moving backwards or sideways - you can still do so at your standard movement but are treated as running. So you cannot run, shoot, or charge if you do so.
Okay, now that is out of the way and we are clear on the set-up phase and how you actually move. Let's talk about the Charge phase. Measure from the closest model and make the charge roll like normal. You don't have to wheel during a charge. Place the unit in such a way to maximize the models in base to base combat with the enemy even if it means deviating from the typical straight forward movement or you have to close the gap by wheeling to contact more enemy models.
One benefit comes of being in ranked unit comes in the close combat phase. All of the models in the first two ranks can fight. Models with a 2" reach or better can fight in three ranks. Casualties are removed from the rear of the unit just like the old days, and if your standard bearer or musician goes down in the battle another troop model picks up the flag or instrument effectively replacing them in the battle. Sorry the champion doesn't get this special rule, so allocate hits to him separately in the close combat phase.
The second benefit of ranked units shows up in the Battleshock phase. Units with more ranks than their opponents get a +2 Bravery modifier for battleshock tests. It makes ranked units much more durable than unranked units, but it doesn't offset casualties taken normally in any way. You wouldn't get this benefit fighting a larger unit, but for battleshock tests due to magic and missile fire you always gain a +2 modifier.
Other little tidbits to mention would include stuff like monstrous creatures and monstrous cavalry (you know who you are) only need three models per rank instead of five. Models with Monster, War Machine, or Hero keywords cannot form ranked units. Use your judgement quite literally it is just a game. You can forgo your movement to switch from a ranked unit to typical Age of Sigmar formation (all models within 1"), but don't try and exploit this. That would be like going from a five by four block of infantry to a twenty man conga line. I don't write rules for silly people, but I thought it deserved a mention. If you get charged in the flank or rear of the unit, I don't really care. It would just make it exploitable since other models can move in any direction, so let's just ignore that one. If you charged in the flank or rear you probably won't have your champion close enough to fight anyone, so that is a bit of a benefit. But I would allow the champion to move to the front during the next close combat round. It is just the small little things that make sense based on how we have played in the past.
It isn't perfect, but it is a small little sidebar for those people who want to run games with movement trays and square bases. What do you think honestly? Is this too simple? Does it provide enough of a benefit for ranking up? Do you like the idea where I said point blank in combat biggest unit gets a +2 Bravery? Guess we'll have to try a few games and see how it comes out.
As a side note, I think I am totally convinced that I don't like troops being able to shoot within 3" of enemy models or shooting at troops within 3" of friendly models. I am also not fond of splitting fire between separate units either. Something about firing a cannon shot over here and a cannon shot over there just feels weird. Maybe that is just me.