WARHAMMER UNDERWORLDS: BEASTGRAVE / PUBLISHER: GAMES WORKSHOP / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Warhammer Underworlds is a small-scale, competitive fantasy skirmish game set in Games Workshop’s relatively new Age of Sigmar. It’s a card and model-based game, highly dependant on quick strategy. It’s also regularly updated, with each ‘season’ providing a new place for fantastic warbands to duel.
Beastgrave moves the action away from the shattered and cursed glass city of Shadespire and takes us to the mystic mountains of Ghur. A curse from the jealous god of Death (the theme of the previous seasons) has seeped into the mountain, poisoning this once sacred space with a thirst for war. The change of scenery is good for the game, and it lets Games Workshop introduce wilder characters into the game.
The new box is crammed full of cardboard and plastic, as you’d expect. The models are very pretty and a doddle to assemble. They are fixed pose, but that’s what you get for simplicity. The pieces are very pretty and look fine unpainted, though if you like using the brush, the fine details on the pieces are surprisingly easy to paint. The models are Gashrak’s Despoilers and Skaeth’s Wild Hunt. That’s Chaos Beastmen versus Wood Elves in old money, though in this case, when they say ‘wood elf,’ they mean elf that’s fused with nature in an explosion of leaf and bark. The Beastmen look angry and raw in equal measure and are very evocative of classic monsters.
As we’d expect from Games Workshop, all the components are solidly worked out and very pretty. There are enough dice, tokens and boards to play the game and the models look fine unpainted. The rule book is a lavish thing, filled with prose and some very nice art. They’ve tinkered with the game a little to make it run smoothly. Warhammer Underworlds is partially a deck-builder and partially a miniatures skirmish game. Or to put it another way, the deck of cards you assemble is a critical part of the game. With this is mind, the arrival of Beastgrave means that some of the older cards from Shadespire are no longer allowed in tournaments. This is standard for card games and only matters if you’re playing the game at a competitive level. Still, taking the old cards out of the game does make it run smoother.
Other changes include improving keywords, especially when it comes to snares and traps. Blocking and defensive actions are now more useful and the strategy just feels a little broader. The fact that Games Workshop seem dedicated to rolling out a new box every year or so means it looks like Underworlds isn’t going away any time soon. Given that it’s a great introduction to fantasy wargaming and plays very quickly, we are very happy to hear that.