PUBLISHER: GAMES WORKSHOP | RELEASE DATE: DECEMBER 5th 2020
Warhammer Underworlds is a series of highly competitive two-player fantasy combat games. The new ‘starter box’ is Direchasm, which serves as both as an introduction to the game for new players and an ‘update’ for existing gamers. It’s a strategy miniatures game that uses a deck of cards to add rules and special moves to the combat. Quick to pick up, fast to play and deep in terms of strategy it shows no sign of slowing down in terms of popularity.
In the Warhammer Underworlds: Direchasm box we get two warbands composed of four models each, cards for each warband, dice, counters and very solid gaming boards . Movement is hex based.
As always, the component quality is solid and the artwork is gorgeous; just what we expect from a Games Workshop product. The models pop together really well and yes, the pieces are highly detailed but un-painted. GW produce a range of ‘contrast’ paints in case you really need to paint the pieces (and they do look lovely), but they’re quite nice straight out of the box.
The idea behind the game is that you ‘build’ a deck of cards from your existing collection. They are roughly three types; objective cards allow you to score points in order to win the game, upgrade cards make your warband tougher and gambit cards, which are flexible effects that allow you to get an edge in combat, either through magic or cunning.
For those who are already into the game, they are only a few rules changes that come with Direchasm. The rule book is clearer and keywords are better defined. You are now limited to the number of surge objectives you can have in your deck, which shouldn’t surprise anybody. They are two new rules mechanics. Primacy is a token awarded for doing very well that round and makes it easier to score points. This effectively makes the game faster and more vicious. Hunger is a similar sort of thing; makes one warband member more dangerous in specific circumstances. Both keep the tempo of the game at its usual high pace but do make for a faster game.
The story behind the game is the sort of gothic high fantasy we’ve come to expect from Age of Sigmar. The titular Direchasm is a cursed pit, deep beneath the malevolent and magical mountain known as Beastgrave. The Direchasm lures in the unwary with promises of glory and treasure, it’s amber walls not only trapping some but also releasing terrible monsters. Its magic urges warbands to fight terrible battles and greedily delve into its labyrinthine depths. Dark stuff, but the sort of cool and weird narrative we expect from Games Workshop.
The two warbands are pretty evenly matched. On the one hand we have Myari’s Purifers, Lumineth elves who are fast and can pump out powerful magic. Opposing them are The Dread Pageant, Chaos Cultists who draw their opponents away from objectives so they can murder their enemies in the name of their dark and peckish god.
Warhammer Underworlds: Direchasm is a welcome addition to the game and we look forward to the future warbands and expansions that will accompany it. If you like fantasy wargaming but want something small scale and fast, this is your best choice. Addictive, engaging and lots of fun.