Warhammer Underworlds: Shadespire

Only the bravest warriors have a chance of escaping the cursed city of Shadespire!
Warhammer Underworlds: Shadespire is an action-packed combat game for two players. Gather your warband, enhance your warriors with unique skills and upgrades, and lead them to victory against your foes.

The latest offering from Games Workshop, Warhammer Underworlds: Shadespire is billed as being ?The Ultimate Competitive Game?

Having played a couple of games now all I can say is ?Wow!?. I?ll be honest, I was expecting something that would be fun to play but without legs. The sort of game you get out once in a blue moon, play a game or two, then put it away for the next few years.

Shadespire

But instead, I found the game to have a depth of tactics that surprised me. Why? Well for two reasons, the gaming boards and the decks the players build…

Gaming Boards

The core comes with two double sided gaming boards. Each design is different meaning you have 4 different boards to play. The fact they are double sided is a little disappointing. It reduces the number of combinations possible but the way you can lay the boards when starting a game actually makes for some interesting layouts. Also, I believe more boards will being released in the future.

As I say, each board facing has a different design on it so your gaming experience is different because of the boards you use. Each board has predefined deployment points and some have LoS and movement blocking sections.

Both players use the board they want too, so players can build tactics around the board they prefer. When setting up the gaming area, the first player places their board, then the other player places their board following some simple rules which means you aren?t always playing on a rectangle gaming area! This makes for some really fun and interesting gaming areas! Check out the examples from the rulebook below.

Shadespire Two Player Board Layout

Power and Objective decks

Players use a Power deck, which comprise Ploys cards and Upgrade cards. The former has short term effects on the whole game itself, whilst the later effects models and last the rest of the game.

Players built their deck prior to the game, so the ability to build the deck to your playing style is great and helps to add a lot of depth to the game.

As each round plays out, you are playing Power cards during the power phase, which takes place after each action phase, to boost your models or scupper the opponent for the next action phase then claim objectives you have in your hand during the rounds end phase. Ploy cards can be played at no cost whilst Upgrade cards can only be played if you have Glory points to spend, which you get by either killing enemy models or achieving objectives. But the key is the order in which you do things.

During the end phase, you can also play Upgrade cards before discarding those you don?t want and drawing you hand back up to 5 Power cards. But you do this AFTER claiming and discarding objectives and refreshing that part of your hand. You can end up spending a turn trying to achieve an objective, decide you can?t manage it so you discard it.? Then play and discard Power cards before draw your hand back up to to five Power cards. At this point you discover you now have the cards needed to do achieve that objective! I did this very thing! Argh!

Multi-player!

Oh yeah, I almost forgot… The game is playable with 3 and 4 players too! Each player brings their own board, and you make the layout like in two player mode but with the extra players and boards. Makes for some exciting layouts! Check out the examples from the rulebook below.

Shadespire Four Player Board Layout

Gateway game?

There has been some talk about this being a perfect gateway game, I’m not so sure on this.

For me, a gateway game needs to have the ability for someone who has nothing to do with this hobby to pick up the game, open it and play without any barriers or additional costs. Star Wars X-Wing The Miniatures Game is a perfect example of a gateway game. You can open the box, place the models on the bases, read the rules and play the game. You do not need to buy anything else, you do not need any special skills, knowledge or tools.

Shadespire requires side cutters, a hobby knife and glue plus the basic knowledge of how to assemble models. In addition to that, the models require painting. This is often a barrier to new people on the edge of hobby.

This doesn’t stop the game being amazing, it’s just not a gateway game, in my opinion.

So, it’s all great then?

There are a couple of weird things that I’m not overly sure on. If one player kills all the opposing players models, they still pay the rest of the game out to earn Glory points. This seems a bit weird to me. I’d much prefer it if the game ended there and then as it allows for the ‘earn Glory early on then try and kill the enemy’ type game play. But it’s not a biggy really.

Another issue is not with the game itself but the card sleeves they sell. You get the amount you need for a single deck so you will be re-sleeving cards when you change your deck. A small thing, but very annoying. The sleeves are a very tight fit and it’s oh so easy to split the sleeve or bend the card when trying to put them in. I’d recommend getting some other sleeves and not bothering with GWs.

Watch some videos

I?m not sure I have done a great job at explaining all the fun, so why not watch this YouTube playlist by Watch it Played. They explain it in depth in the first video and then go on to play a game over three short videos which is a great way to see how the game plays out.

Shadespire models in Age of Sigmar?

Oh, and wouldn?t it be great if you use your warbands in Warhammer Age of Sigmar? Well don?t you know, Games Workshop has your back! They are releasing free warscrolls for each warband. Just check out the product pages on the Games Workshop website and download them!

Tell us what you think!

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