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Getting started with Warhammer Underworlds

Welcome to the living Getting Started with Warhammer Underworlds (Shadespire / Nightvault) article written by John Rees from Can You Roll a Crit?, the best Warhammer Underworlds site on the net. Check out John’s site for warband reviews, tactics, advice, deck builds and everything that you need to know about Warhammer Underworlds. John has kindly allowed me to share his Getting Started article here.

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Keeping up-to-date with Warhammer Underworlds (Shadespire / Nightvault) is fairly easy if you’ve been keeping up with the game since it was launched last year but it can be daunting for players joining after the time of Nightvault (and beyond). This article will be a starting point for people new to the game and will be a useful way for people to decide what they need to exactly buy.

Where to Start with Warhammer Underworlds?

Firstly I’ll focus on what you need to do if you’re interested in Warhammer Underwords. Reading blogs, articles and watching battle reports are all great ways to get started. What’s best, however, is simply finding someway to play the game first. This can be as simple as asking a friend who already has the game to demo it for you or even people who play it at your local gaming club.

Another option is to pop into your local Games Workshop store or Friendly Local Gaming Store (FLGS). Either one should have a demo copy available for use as well as staff to talk you through the game.

However there are 2 online resources that I’d highly recommend. First is the Games Workshop Underworlds website. It’s a good place to gather information about the game ranging from specific warband tips all the way to finding out how to build and paint Underworlds miniatures.

Next up is a fellow Underworld’s blog called Wigglehammer. New to the scene but an amazing resource. It doesn’t have too many posts but what the blogger does cover is amazing in quantity. Probably the best blog if you’re purely a new player, it covers topics such as warband buy order as well as other Underworlds content creators.

What to Buy for Warhammer Underworlds?

You’ve played the game and should hopefully have a basic to solid understanding of the mechanics, now what to buy? Obviously a Warhammer Underworlds starter set but which one? As of writing there are currently two core sets available. My advice is always to go with the most recent one on the market (which would be the Nightvault box at the moment).

Assuming you bought the Nightvault core set, do you need to buy the Shadespire core set? My recommendation is a yes but you need to remember that is no longer in production so the remaining copies are finite in number. Yet even then, why buy the additional starter set?

I’m glad you asked! Buying the Shadespire starter set will give you two double-sided boards, 3 boards of tokens, the warbands Steelheart’s Champions and Garek’s Reavers as well as a slew of Shadespire neutral cards. You can buy this all separately (sans the Shadespire neutral cards) but at a more costly price (£57 RRP vs £40 RRP). Still, if you don’t want to buy the Shadespire core set you can always buy the Nightvault packs for Steelheart’s Champions and Gareks Reavers if desired as well as the Mirrored City Boards Pack.

Next I would suggest buying the Echoes of Glory card pack but ONLY IF you have not bought Garek’s Reavers and Steelheart’s Champions Nightvault warband boxes as you’ll be just buying all the neutral cards contained in those two packs. With those purchases, you’ll have a solid basis to begin playing!

Useful Tips

Before jumping the whole hog into buying EVERYTHING, you should take a few things into consideration:

  • Make sure you have a complete understanding of the game and its mechanics, don’t forget to familiarise yourself with the latest errata’s, FAQs and the ban/restricted list
  • Know how to build decks, I even wrote an article on how I approach the subject myself as well as how you can do the same (Deckbuilding 101)
  • Get some games under your belt, whether it be at store tournaments or regular gaming nights at FLGS and gaming clubs

What Warband(s) Should I Buy?

You may be happy with what you already have but you may also want a lot more. Now I would recommend buying everything but others prefer not to. It the comes down to what you are looking for with the game. I suggest choosing a warband you like the look of and want to play. I do recommend that Ironskull’s Boyz and Magore’s Fiends are great to learn the game with due to how forgiving and simple they are. I myself primarily used the Orruks when Shadespire first launched.

However, if you want to buy solely based upon what cards come in which warband expansion then have no fear for I’ll be ranking the expansions I deem most useful for those looking for the commonly seen neutral cards.

  1. Zarbag’s Gitz: Easily the best to buy post ban/restricted list. Extreme Flank (now banned) is gone but you still having an amazing choice of cards to use. Keep Them Guessing, Faneway Crystal, Centre of Attention, Potion of Rage and Mirror Move with still more useful cards within. All can be mixed and matched easily to create a strong deck to play with as well as getting an amazing warband to play with.
  2. Spiteclaw’s Swarm: Not only is Skritch the greatest (Yes! Yes!) but so is his expansion too! Escalation, Alone in the Darkness, Master of War, Accrobatic, Awakened Weapon, Shadeglass Hammer and REBOUND! Many of these cards are restricted and for a good reason too, they’re all so useful!
  3. Mollog’s Mob: Not only does the Troggoth shake up the game but he adds some veru strong cards too! Giant-Slayer, Keep Chopping, Get Thee Hence, Sphere of Chamon, Tansfixing Stare, Commanding Stride, Tome of Vitality and Bag of Tricks. All incredibly strong.
  4. The Farstriders: What used to be the best expansion for cards got hit hard by the ban/restricted list. Both Quick Thinker and Great Concussion are banned. Still, you get Change of Tactics, Our Only Way Out, Inspiration Strikes, Spectral Wings, Twist the Knife, Concealed Weapon and more too!
  5. Godsworn Hunt: Longstrider, Sphere of Ghur, Unfocused Blast, Ephemeral Form, Archer’s Focus, Nullstone Spear and Tome of Offerings are all very good picks from the Darkoath.
  6. Ironskull’s Boyz: Superior Tactician and Distraction are very useful cards while also containing Victorious Duel, Misdirection, Daemonic Weapon, Ploymaster and Shadeglass Darts.
  7. Eyes of the Nine: Tzeentch isn’t too bad. Fired Up, What Amour?, Abasoth’s Withering, Irresistible Prize, and Sudden Growth are all useful additions.
  8. Magore’s Fiends: Hidden Paths, Deathly Fortitude, Shadeglass Dagger and Tethered Spirit. Not too many great cards here but the ones lists are super useful with the latter 2 being restricted.
  9. Sepulchral Guard: Not bottom anymore! Sadly Time Trap is banned but you still get Tactical Supremacy 1-2 and 3-4, Illusory Fighter, Helpful Whispers, Shadeglass Sword and Soultrap.
  10. The Chosen Axes: Precise Use of Force, Earthquake, No Time, Ready for Action, Trap and Shadeglass Axe. Not bad but not necessary either, more important for Hold Objective players.
  11. The Leader Expansion: Hero’s Mantle, Shining Example, Quick Advance and Inspired Command. All nice additions but nowhere near necessary unless playing Skaven.

Editors note: There are now two new warbands (which John has also covered), Ylthari’s Guardians and Thundrik’s Profiteers.

Where Can I Play?

Places to play can be as simple as at your own place with friends and/or family. Another more common option is to play at FLGS or Games Workshop stores (but varies on the manager). Gaming clubs are also a good shout and introduce you to a potentially wider audience. My local gaming club HATE was what actually helped motivate me go deeper into the tournament scene as well as introduce me to my local Underworlds community. Store tournaments are also a great place to start as you get to see a wide range of different tactics used in one place.

Warhammer Underworlds Events is a great resource to check out as it lists most of the aforementioned places. Just remember that it’s fan-powered so requires people to upload their own events.

Accessories for Warhammer Underworlds

A purely optional section. This ranges from things such as card sleeves, deck boxes and token storage.

Card sleeves are the best optional accessory because they protect your cards, make shuffling easier and can look snazzy too. It’s important to remember that you’ll need 2 different coloured sleeves for both your objective and power decks.

You could use clear sleeves but I’d advise against it due to the fact that Underworlds cards have slightly but noticeable tonal differences which can make identifying certain cards unintentionally easier.

Next comes choices of sleeves available. GW make their own sleeves for Underworlds but I find them expensive as well as not lasting long. Your next option is checking out the different branded card sleeves used for other games. There are a lot of different companies out their but Ultra Pro Eclipse Matte sleeves and Dragon Shield sleeves are the best 2 brands currently out there. Just remember you’ll need standard size sleeves no matter the brand.

I myself use Ultra Pro matte clear sleeves for fighter cards, green Ultra Pro Eclipse matte (100) sleeves for power cards and gold Dragon Shield matte sleeves for my objective deck. As to the question over mix of brands, it’ll be covered in an upcoming product review of card sleeves.

When it comes to deck boxes GW once again make their own but I find it more style over substance. It’s not bad but there are better ones out their. With deck boxes it’s all about personal preference as there are so many on the market out there. I recommend Ultra Pro and Ultimate Guard deck boxes. Ultra Pro are cheap but effective whereas Ultimate Guard make the best deck boxes in the market at a slightly higher price point. Bigger deck boxes can also be used to hold your card collection if desired.

Card albums/portfolios are another optional investment. These are just folders with clear sleeved plastic pages to hold your gaming cards. These can range from ones with built-in card sheets to ring binders with separately purchased card sheets (just remember to use D-ring binders). Once again there are many producers on the market but I use Ultimate Guard products personally.

Next we come to my old favourite accessory; COIN CAPSULES! Make your glory and activation tokens tough and easy to flip. I even wrote an article about it (Coin Capsules). Just a fun little optional addition.


How are you going to transport all your fancy gaming stuff? Don’t worry as there are many solutions out there. First off you have Games Workshop with their Skirmish Carry Caseand Nightvault case (which is a limited print run). Both are acceptable but are unable to hold all 5 boards.

Next you have foam options like Feldherr which design foam trays to fit inside the Shadespire/Nightvault core box. These can also be used to fit in their custom carry cases for an increased prize yet it will be more long-lasting than the game box.

I personally use metal camera pluck foam cases. Currently I use this large one. For just over £30 I can hold all 5 boards, the rule book and multiple warbands. The metal case makes it super durable as well as rain resistant. You can even use the case half the size of it (which I used to use before Nightvault) for players not looking to bring everything they own. What’s even better is that it’s on sale for less than £20 currently! Buy one from hereif you desire.

Not only do you have cases for miniatures etc but also for the tokens you use. Once again I wrote an article on the subject (Token Storage). I now use a token case double the size due to all my in-game loot however the ones mentioned are perfectly fine for new starters. Any case will do, just remember to keep it cheap. My double sized case costed £4 whereas my original was £1.30.

With that, all your starting bases should be covered. The information presented here will give you all the stuff needed to start playing Warhammer Underworlds out in the big wide world.

It took me a long time to discover everything I’ve mentioned here (especially considering as I have almost no prior card game knowledge) so hopefully giving new players all this information early will help you better plan out your purchases as well as improve your foundations with the game. If you’re interested in reading more of my articles, feel free to scroll through my website or use the search bar.

Remember that all this is just my recommended suggestions and you should buy whatever you feel appropriate, especially when it comes to accessories. Still this guide should do you well and even help you roll more crits