Introducing ‘Warhammer Underworlds: Shadespire’

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Building on the success of Warhammer: Age of Sigmar, Games Workshop has been promising a new game set in the same universe since March. Announced at the GAMA trade show in Las Vegas (as mentioned in this issue of Re-Roll), the game was billed as a quick skirmish boardgame for two players. With a whole new Warhammer brand to itself, Warhammer Underworlds: Shadespire, has been hotly anticipated.

The release date is now closing in (sometime in October) and GeekDad and Agents of Sigmar have been lucky enough to receive a preview copy.

In the above video, I open up the box and take a look at its components. Apologies for the sound quality on the video. I had mic issues–i.e. it was lost in the family morass. Turn your volume up and you should be fine!

Who is Shadespire for?

Shadespire is slated to last 30 mins and rated for ages 12+, so this is a dip into the casual gamers market. It’s more a boardgame than a wargame, though is still played with Citadel miniatures. As these are supplied in pieces and unpainted, some appetite for modeling is required. The pieces are the new “Easy to Build” style and require no glue. I assume Games Workshop sees this as an entry-level game.

Shadespire also includes custom dice to drive combat, giving the game an X-Wing feel. There is also a deck-building element to the game, appealing to those who love to work out the best combinations for maximum kill potential.

The game ticks a lot of gamer boxes.

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What’s in the Shadespire box?

In the box, you’ll find all you need to play with two players. Additional sets can be combined for a 3 or 4 player experience.

  • 3 Stormcast Miniatures
  • 5 Bloodreaver Miniatures
  • Associated Character Cards (8)
  • A construction sheet
  • 2 Starter decks (1 for each faction)
  • Additional cards to introduce the deck building elements (some tailored to a specific faction, others more general)
  • 2 Double-sided player boards
  • 8 custom dice (5 Attack dice and 3 Defence Dice)
  • Various Tokens – 126! (Definitely taking a leaf from FFG’s book!)
  • Quickstart rules
  • Full rules

What are my initial impressions?

Like all GW products, Shadespire looks the business. It is easy to set up and play, compared with other Warhammer games. I’ve had one playthrough so far and it is fun to play. That initial game is in the video below. We did make one or two errors, which did affect the game, but you can still get the general idea of how to play.

The miniatures, as you’d expect, are of the highest quality. They have custom bases, which I love. There’s even a female character!

I struggled a little to put the minis together. They certainly weren’t as easy to assemble as the new Easy to Build Warhammer 40K miniatures. Nor were they like the Blood Bowl figures, which were almost impossible to take apart once you’d put them together.

I did have to use some glue (polystyrene cement) to stick a Blood Reaver’s head on. Angharad Brightshield was particularly awkward to put together. I ended up using glue for her too. I’m not sure if I was just having a modeling moment, but I struggled to align the pieces so that there were no gaps. It probably goes without saying that a pair of sprue clippers, rather than a modeling knife, will ease the process of cutting the miniatures from the sprue. This will be safer for younger hands.

All in all, I’m excited about Shadespire. Its small scale (number of miniatures-wise. The models themselves are the same size as the others in the Age of Sigmar range) gives me hope I can actually field a completely painted warband relatively easily.

It’s intuitive to play and, with games being quick, you can manage two or three in an evening. Set up/pack up time is almost non-existent too.

What’s next?

The Shadespire box sports itself as a “Core Set”; there are definitely more things on the way. These will be at least 4 more races: Skaven, Orruks, Fyreslayers, and Deathrattle (Orcs, Dwarfs, and Undead to us traditionalists). Each race is likely to come with its own cards. Whether you’ll be able to get extra arena tiles (new boards for the game) without buying minis remains to be seen. At the moment, the only way to get enough board to play 3 and 4 player games would be to buy two core sets. Then you’d have two pairs of identical warbands.

The deck building elements give GW scope to produce card only boosters. They seem to be making more card-only products in 2017, so maybe they will go down this route. I like the idea of being able to buy a single beautifully crafted mini to boost my squad, but the word on the streets of the Mirrored City is that you’ll only be able to buy/deploy complete warbands. There are currently no plans to provide points values to allow bespoke warband creation.

Games Workshop’s small box games never seem to reach the heights of popularity garnered by their two main large games. I think Shadespire could change that. There are rules for matched play, and it’s easy to imagine Shadespire tournaments being very popular.

For more information, check out the new stand-alone Warhammer Underworlds website. Do stay tuned to GeekDad too. We’ll bring you a complete review soon, and hopefully a few more video playthroughs as we hone our skills and enter the tactical world of deck creation.

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