GTM #215 - Warhammer Underworlds: Shadespire
Reviewed by Thomas Riccardi

The city of Shadespire is legendary as countless tales have been told about this accursed place. Some say treasures beyond belief lie behind its walls, and your thirst for knowledge will be forever quenched if you venture within its gates. These are all lies, as those who are either too brash or foolhardy are trapped within these walls forever. The city periodically warps and shifts as various beasts and warriors clash on the deserted streets to sate their craving for blood or glory. Will you be among the fortunate few to conquer the foes in the twisting corridors of Shadespire, or succumb to defeat by your rivals? This is Shadespire, a standalone board game from Games Workshop.

The main difference between this and other Age of Sigmar games has to be the scale. While most of the Warhammer board games require an army to assemble and unleash against your foes on the battlefield, Shadespire uses warbands, which are small squads of warriors (usually 3-8) that skirmish on the city streets. There are two factions included with the game: Garrek’s Reavers (servants of the blood god Khorne) and the Steelheart Champions (of the Stormcast Eternals). Other warbands will be available and are useable with this boxed set, or can be incorporated into your Age of Sigmar games, as well. Also in the box are two double-sided game boards, dice, cards (power and objective), and a rulebook.

Shadespire’s miniatures are intricately crafted — you can make out every fold of cloth and minute detail on their weapons and armor. However, there’s a major difference between this and other Games Workshop product — these miniatures don’t need glue to assemble (Yes!) You heard right! They’re a cinch to snap together straight off the sprues, and are ready for priming, painting, and playing. I was floored when I saw how quick and easy this was, and am hopeful that GW will adapt this to other lines in the future!

The rules of Shadespire aren’t too complex, even for newcomers to the hobby. First, the city is laid out by using the game boards and placing objective markers. Then you draw cards that correspond to the faction that you’re playing and place the fighters on the board. The game is broken up into three rounds of play, each with an action and end phase. During an action phase you can move your fighters, attack, charge forward, take an action (meaning upgrade attacks from a card in your hand), and draw or discard a card or pass. All the attributes of your fighter is represented on their corresponding card which shows how far they can move, how much damage they can take, etc.

Combat is resolved by choosing your attack and selecting your target, then rolling the number of successes (matched up with a symbol on the card). The defender also gets to roll the defense dice equal to his defense stat. If the attack total is less than the opponent’s defenses, then the attack fails. However, if the attack total is equal, it still fails, but the combatant can push the defender back one hex. If the attack total is greater, then the target takes damage, with wounds tallied. If enough damage is rendered, the token is removed from the battlefield and the antagonist is awarded one Glory Point. Another way to gain Glory Points is to secure objectives prior to the end phase, where players can score objectives, discard unwanted objectives, play upgrade cards, discard unwanted power cards, or draw objective and power cards (to a maximum of three objective and five power). The player with the most Glory Points by the end of the third round wins the game.

With easy-to-assemble miniatures, an in-depth story, and fast-paced rules, Shadespire is a game that new and veteran players will come to enjoy. For more information about the Shadespire line and the up and coming projects, visit https://warhammerunderworlds.com/ and prepare to do battle in this twisted city!

Fast Facts:

  • Number of Players: 2
  • Age: 12+
  • Duration: 40-60 minutes
When not writing or playing games, Thomas Riccardi can be found in Sacramento preparing for the day when zombies, vampires, or aliens invade.\