Shadespire is Games Workshop’s response to the plethora of easy to play but tactically deep miniatures games that have been hitting the market recently. There is a growing market for games that don’t require boxes and boxes of models and can be easily played in most places. It’s a spunky gameset in the high fantasy ‘Age of Sigmar’ world, but the core set focuses on ‘Holy Knights’ versus ‘Bloody Barbarians’. Though eye-catching, neither of these factions are the ones many readily associate with Warhammer fantasy. Crazy red-headed dwarves with a mad-gleam in their eyes and axes bigger than them, however? Yes please.
The Chosen Axes set for Shadespire features four bright orange plastic Fyreslayers (this is the new name for Troll Slayers). These manic looking warriors are a specific team; each has its own name and story, plus appropriate cards and rules. The game takes its back story seriously, being set in a miraculous city filled with magical glass, trapped souls and roving gangs of horrors. These dwarves heroically throw themselves into danger in order to atone for past sins. In game terms, this means that they’re heavy hitters designed to keep the foe from fighting back.
They aren’t the fastest or strongest choices for Shadespire, but each hero hits hard and keeps hitting, designed in a way to slow your opponent down just long enough so you can hit them again. One model is designed to be tough and control the board, but when the chips are down can be turned into a powerful enemy for a short while. Another keeps enemies on the floor, and the other two do consistent high damage. This allows for a blunt strategy, which is often the way to go in Shadespire.
Half the cards provided can fit in pretty much any warband and the rest are specific to these dwarves. There’s enough in the pack to make it worthwhile to collect them even if Fyreslayers aren’t your thing (more options are always more fun), but there’s nothing ‘crucial’ in here; you don’t need this pack to keep winning, but you might want to grab it because it’s entertaining.
The models click together easily (though you should always use glue) and look good unpainted. They’re Citadel miniatures so of course they look great painted regardless of actual skill (if you can drybrush then you can make the models look nice). A nice addition to Shadespire and any Age of Sigmar collection. Overall, a welcome addition to the game.