Warhammer Underworlds: Starter Set Review

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Thinking about throwing yourself into Warhammer: Age of Sigmar but unsure where to start? Tempted by TTRPGs and but not big on having to haul around (or store!) boxes of miniatures? Well, Warhammer Underworlds might just be the introduction that you’ve been waiting for.

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Warhammer Underworlds: Starter Set Review – Summary

As far as non-imposing introductions to the world of Warhammer games go, Warhammer Underworlds: Starter Set is right on the money. Whilst it’s not going to blow any minds, it is everything a novice player needs to get to grips with the Underworlds game.

Warhammer Underworlds: Starter Set Review – Introduction

For the unfamiliar, Warhammer Underworlds is sold as the following.

Warhammer Underworlds is a hybrid arena combat game, where players battle it out in the Mortal Realms with warbands of models, using decks they’ve built to swing the balance in their favour. Each battle sees fighters grow in power and skill, combining elements from Warhammer, RPGs and card games into one awesome experience – the ultimate competitive miniatures game.

Warhammer Underworlds: Direchasm Website

It’s like someone took League of Legends, set it in the Age of Sigmar universe and seasoned it with a liberal splash of Magic: The Gathering.

Over the last few years, Warhammer Underworlds has been drenched with expansion material. We’ve had Beastgrave and its tie-ins, Direchasm, and an impressive roster of new warbands for players to choose from. Each has been relatively well-received, with the figures included in each Waband deck proving as popular amongst modelers as wargamers.

But now, in an effort to re-market the franchise to absolute beginners who may feel put off by the stack of expansions, and greatly expanded rulesets. Games Workshop has released the Warhammer Underworlds: Starter Set. Specifically marketed at people with absolutely no experience of modeling, tabletop gaming, or the Warhammer universes, this product aims to open up the (under?)world of Warhammer to the completely uninitiated.

Warhammer Underworlds: Starter Set Review – Contents

The Warhammer Underworlds: Starter Set comes with everything you need to start grappling with the fast-paced arena combat of the Age of Sigmar universe.

The box contains:

  • A 36-page Learn to Play Rulebook
  • The Storm of Celestus warband. This is the Stormcast Eternals bit of the box – three Castigators and a Gryph-Hound.
  • The Drepur’s Wraithcreepers warband. This is the Nighthaunt bit of the box, and comprises of four Glaivewraith Stalkers.
  • A pair of double-sided, fold-out game boards
  • All the tokens and objective markers you need to get started
  • 8 dice

Those of you with Mortal Realms subscriptions will recognise these figures from issues 3 and 4.

I’ve always been a fan of a good sculpted base, and those on the Nighthaunt models are particularly dramatic.

Warhammer Underworlds: Starter Set Review – Unboxing

Compared to the last few Games Workshop boxes I’ve received in the post, this one is both small but also blissfully light. The postie didn’t give me that “What the heck have you bought now?” look when I opened the door this morning.

So, here it is:

Warhammer Underworlds Starter Set Review Unboxing 1 Alt

Cracking it open, we have the rulebook on top and two small sprues of plastic beneath. The creamy-yellow coloured one is for the Nighthuant. The blue one beneath is for the Stormcast Eternals.

Warhammer Underworlds Starter Set Review Unboxing 2 Alt

Removing the sprues from the plastic tray, and the tray from the box, we find the cards, dice, boards, and push-out counters.

Warhammer Underworlds Starter Set Review Unboxing 3

There’s not much pomp and ceremony with the box. Those of you hoping for a nice glossy divider to put on your hobby room walls will be disappointed. But this box does have all the fundamentals you need to start playing Underworlds, so let’s have a closer look at the contents.

Warhammer Underworlds: Starter Set Review – Learn to Play Rulebook

Recently, I’ve been impressed by the quality of the Games Workshop rulebooks I’ve read. Good news: the Underworlds rulebook in this set keeps the tradition alive.

Warhammer Underworlds Starter Set Review Rulebook

Page 3 outlines a little of the narrative background to the game, telling the story of the city of Shadespire and Nagash’s beef with it. The Introduction across pages 4-9 details the contents of the box and a little more narrative information about the Mirrored City and the two warbands included in the box.

On page 10, we reach the rules, which states the objective of the game – the acquisition of more glory points than your competitor – as well as a breakdown of what everything means on each character card. There’s a little background on deck building, objective cards, upgrade cards, and gambit cards.

Pages 14-15 provide an outline of the battlefield and how to correctly set up the board, as well as how to use tokens correctly. After that, we get into a guide on how to play the game properly.

Warhammer Underworlds Starter Set Review Rulebook Open

The steps to playing the game are outlined across pages 16-17, and a more detailed breakdown of each phase follows afterwards. Each game lasts three rounds, and each round is made up of an Action Phase (pp. 18-26) and an End Phase (p. 27). We’ll have a more detailed look at how these all work later in this review when we try the game out.

Also of note is that the building instructions for the figures in the box can be found on pages 30-31.

Warhammer Underworlds: Starter Set Review – Models

All the figures in this set are push-fit, which is great for beginners. If you’ve never put a model together before, those in the Warhammer Underworlds: Starter Set will not be much of a challenge.

Each model is made of 3-5 components that can easily be clipped from the sprue and pushed together. There’s no need or glue, but, as is the way with most push-fit figures, you will get some gaps across the model where the components meet up. If these are particularly irksome for you, have a look at our article on filling gaps and seams on miniatures.

The Storm of Celestus

I’m a huge Stormcast Eternals fan. I always will be. As the faction that got me back into the miniatures hobby just over a year ago, I have a serious soft spot for them.

Warhammer Underworlds Starter Set Castigators

Sure, by and large they aren’t the most exciting models in the world. And sure, to an extent all the units look the same – big blokes and blokettes in big armour with big weapons – but so what.

These figures in particular are nice. The sculpted bases really contribute to the overall atmosphere of the model, whilst the figures themselves are both striking and dynamic.

The only thing to note is that Drakan Celestus’ head (that’s the chap with his weapon over his shoulder) has a little bit of wobble to it. If you’re planning on painting these figures, you might want to secure this in place with a dot of glue.

Drepur’s Wraithcreepers

I love Glaivewraiths.

There’s just something so weird, creepy, and devilish about them. Whilst they are all very samey to look at, this does help characterise the models. Here’s a rank of indomitable and merciless monsters drifting across the battlefield, pikes lowered, brittle jaws parted as silent-lipped screams echo from their fanged mouths.

Warhammer Underworlds Starter Set Glaivewraith Stalkers

*Shudder*

It’s always difficult to make a figure that’s floating not look like it’s attached to a base. When a flying figure is anchored to a sculpted base, it can looks forced. You know what I mean: there’s a knee or an elbow in a weird place that just to happens to be connecting with a piece of masonry the size of your thumb.

But whoever sculpted these bases did an absolutely spectacular job. The connection points to the bases are much more subtle: a tendril here, or a ghostly limb touching a gravestone there.

There are a few flaws, though. The Patrician’s right arm doesn’t quite connect up with his hand. Again, this can be fixed with a dot of glue. Also, be wary when push-fitting some of the thinner parts. Unlike the bulky Stormcast Eternals, the Glaivewraiths are much more prone to breaking under pressure. They are also much more prone to gaps, as you can see on the image above.

Also worthy of note is that you will not need component no. 7 to complete this build.

Warhammer Underworlds: Starter Set Review – Wargear

This is the section where we take a quick look at all the tokens, dice, boards, and other paraphernalia that comes in the box.

Cards

The Warhammer Underworlds: Starter Set comes with two decks of cards, one for each warband.

Warhammer Underworlds Starter Set Review Cards

Each deck has four “Fighter” cards – warscrolls for Underworlds, if you will, and the box also comes with 40 power cards and 24 objective cards.

The art on each card is really nice, and the design is compact and easy to follow. Beginners won’t have any trouble wrapping their heads around what means what on each card.

Boards

The Warhammer Underworlds: Starter Set comes with two double-sided, fold-out boards.

They’re good quality, solid cardboard with a nice matte finish, and are decorated to look like Shadespire, the fantastical city where the game is said to take place. Whilst there isn’t an enormous amount of difference between each side of the board, the art is nice and will help create an immersive experience.

The boards above are each reprint from previous sets. With the Soul Refractor and Cursed Oubliett (top) coming from the Nightvault set and The Mirror Well and Shyishian Stardial (bottom) coming from the original Shadespire box. Both Shadespire and Nightvaoult are now OOP, but you can still get these earlier Warbands

Tokens and Markers

I was surprised by the number of tokens in the box.

Warhammer Underworlds Starter Set Review Tokens

Breaking this down, we have:

  • 10 Move/Charge tokens (the square chaps with red “do not enter” signs on them)
  • 10 Guard tokens (the square ones with shields and arrows)
  • 30 Wound counters (you guessed it, the red ones)
  • 5 Objective tokens (the hexagonal ones with the fancy art on them)
  • 1 First Player token (the hexagonal one with a face)
  • 8 Activation tokens (the little blue skulls with the grey backs)
  • 36 Glory Point token (the gold and silver circles)

That’s a lot of tiny geometric card cuttings. That the box doesn’t come with any plastic baggies is a little bit of a shame. They’d be useful to have in a set like this to help keep all these grouped.

Dice

There are eight dice in the box.

Warhammer Underworlds Starter Set Review Dice

The five white dice are attack dice, whilst the three black ones are defence dice. Each dice has five different symbols.

The attack dice have:

  • An exclamation point for a critical success
  • A hammer for a “Smash” attack
  • Crossed swords for a “Fury” attack
  • A half-circle and full-circle, each representing “Support”

The defence dice have:

  • An exclamation point for a critical success
  • A shield for “Block” defence
  • An arrow for “Dodge” defence
  • A half-circle and full-circle, each representing “Support”

They aren’t particularly exciting, but they’ll get the job done.

Warhammer Underworlds: Starter Set Review – Playtesting

As is becoming a norm with these starter sets, the Dark Council of FauxHammer decreed that I, as the noob of the writing team, have to see how beginner friendly this box is.

And, as regular readers will know, this means my poor partner Lizzie gets made to do these with me.

As a subscriber to Hachette’s Mortal Realms magazine, I already have the figures in the Starter Set all painted up. So, in a FauxHammer first, this playthrough will use actual painted miniatures!

Yup, not a scrap of grey plastic in sight!

(Well, there isn’t any grey plastic in this box anyway. The sprues are coloured. Eh, you know what I mean.)

Set Up

The rulebook contains a step-by-step guide to setting up the gaming board and preparing the cards and tokens. It’s super easy to follow, as you’ll see below.

First off, we each chose a warband. I went with the Sigmar’s Cheerleaders and Lizzie took the Ghost Gang.

Next, we needed to place the board. After a roll-off which I won, I chose one side of the game board and placed it. The rules state that at least four hexes have to be completed by the connecting edges of the board. Once I had done that, Lizzie did the same with the other part of the board. For simplicity’s sake, we kept things nice and square.

Warhammer Underworlds Starter Set Review Set Up 1

Once we had our square, the next thing to do was place the objective tokens. After shuffling the objective tokens with the numbered sides face-down, we each took it in turns to place a token face-down on the battlefield without looking too closely at each token. As I won the roll-off, I went first.

Objectives contribute towards scoring your warband glory points (the objective of the game is to win the most), and your characters are said to be in control of an objective if they are standing on it. You are allowed to place the objective token on any square on the battlefield as long as it’s not in a starting hex, a blocked hex, an edge hex, or within two hexes of another objective token. The only exceptions to this rule are…

  • …the final token can be placed on an edge hex.
  • …if another token cannot be placed due to the above exceptions, it can also be placed on an edge hex.

This is what we went with:

Warhammer Underworlds Starter Set Review Set Up 2

With our objective counters placed, the next thing for us to do was draw our Objective and Power Decks. We each shuffled these in two separate piles, then drew three objective cards and five power cards. Throughout the game, there are opportunities to draw further cards.

At this point, with our cards drawn, we had the opportunity to do over once. This allowed us to discard either all our Objective cards, all our Power cards, or all of the cards we had drawn and draw them again. We were both happy with our hands, so kept our cards as they were.

Finally, it was time for us to place our fighters. Once again, we each rolled off to see who would go first and one again I won.

Warhammer Underworlds Starter Set Review Set Up 3

With our fighters placed, we were ready to begin!

Round 1

Drakan Celestus’ sharp eyes scanned the roadway ahead of him. As a veteran Castigator Prime, he had walked the ruins of a hundred battlefields, but nothing quite compared to Shadespire. The Mirrored City was a hellscape of crystalline mezzanines and sweeping boulevards bedecked in dusty rubble. Waning blue light that seemed to come from everywhere yet nowhere and caught every corner and edge, casting ghastly shadows across the city’s nexus of abandoned towers and ruined promenades.

At his side, his gryph-hound, Sleek, suddenly stopped. His cold yellow eyes were fixed on something in the distance, a low growl rumbled at the back of his feathered throat. Every muscle in his canine body was taught, poised to spring.

‘Hold,’ Drakan said, raising a fist.

Behind him, his companions Aphus the Brave and Mellisan Star-sighted froze, thunderhead greatbows pointed forwards. The blue light glinted on the gold of their heavy armour, the identical visors they wore hiding any reaction that may have crept onto their features. They appeared indomitable. Fearless.

Something moved ahead.

As silent as a wisp on a breeze, four hunched figures drifted into the road ahead. Black shrouds covered their stooped backs and elongated skeletal faces. Tendrils of ectoplasmic green flame wreathed their pallid limbs. Desiccated hands clutched long, savage weapons, caked in rust and dried blood.

With a single movement, the figures turned to face the Stormcast Eternals. For a moment, they were still, their ethereal forms hung on the chill wind. Then, one of them moved, beating out a slow thump-thump-thump on a battered old drum. Slowly, the grim figures began to advance, weapons lowered.

‘Glaivewraiths,’ Drakan said, spitting in disgust and hefting his thunderhead greatbow in his hands. ‘Weapons ready. The dead are here.’

With the roll-off going the way of the Nighthaunt, in their first of four “Activations” (or “actions”), the ghastly Viceroy Drepur, leader of the Nighthaunt warband, floated menacingly across the battlefield. The Nighthaunt began confidently, and to meet them in kind, the Stormcast Eternal turn saw Drakan moved up on to the nearest objective to block the viceroy.

Warhammer Underworlds Starter Set Review Round 1 2

In their next turn, the Nighthaunt moved Drepur up again to try and drive Drakan off the victory point. This was met with an attack from the veteran Stormcast Eternal, which missed. Drepur responded with not only a successful attack, knocking two of Drakan’s four wounds off him, but also a Horiffying Shriek gambit card, which drove Drakan off the objective – but he was able to retake it with a well-played Reconsecrate card.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the battlefield, Aphus the Brave moved to grab another objective, as did Mellisan in the next turn. The Nighthaunt play, however, remained focused on the objective currently held by Drakan, and in their next Activation, the Nighthaunt slew Drakan outright with another successful attack.

Warhammer Underworlds Starter Set Review Round 1 6

The Stormcast Eternals tried to see out the round with similar aggression to which the Nighthaunt had so successfully mustered. Mellisan fired her thunderhead greatbow at the nearest Glaivewraith, but the attack harmlessly whistled by.

With the activation phases at their end, we tallied up our glory points. In spite of a turn beset by dreadful rolls, the Stormcast Eternals were up 2-1 thanks to their control of the objectives. Lizzie and I each replenished our stock of cards and moved onto the next round.

Round 2

Melissan Star-sighted watched on helplessly as Drakan fell beneath the glaive of the largest wraith. Beside him, his faithful gryph-hound, Sleek, leapt in to attack the foul creature. “Sigmar save you,” she thought as her captain fell, “and may we meet again before the Anvil of Apotheosis.”

The undead were truly upon them, and had attacked with sudden swiftness and brutality. Glaives hissed through the chill air and yellowed teeth rattled in skeletal mouths, whilst the echoing thump-thump-thump from the wraith’s drummer beat out a mournful overture to the carnage.

Standing her ground, she rammed another bolt into her greatbow and hoisted it in her hands. Already, the empty eye-sockets of the vile Glaivewraiths were turning towards her, looking past the snapping and slavering grph-hound as if he were no more than an inconvenience.

She glanced back to where Aphus stood a few yards behind her. He clapped a hand to the stock of his greatbow and nodded, his face hidden behind his golden mask. ‘Sigmar protect, sister,’ he said. His voice was deep and strong; if he was afraid, he certainly wasn’t showing it. “There’s a reason why they call him ‘the brave’,” Mellisan thought.

She returned the nod. “Sigmar protect, brother,” she said, gritting her teeth against the rage she felt boiling inside her. “Now let’s put these bastards down.”

Round two began with the Nighthaunt winning the roll-off again. They continued to maintain the same aggressive play, and Viceroy Drepur tried to attack Sleek the gryph-hound, who was hoping to claim the objective lost by his late master, but missed.

In response, Sleek savaged the Nighthaunt warband leader with his beak and claws, becoming inspired and landing two points of damage on the wraith. At the end of the turn, I decided to play all my upgrade cards to try and cash in on one of my new objectives: a glory point if every remaining figure has at least one upgrade at the end of the phase.

With Drepur also now inspired, the Nighthaunt warband leader attacked the gryph-hound again, this time landing a successful hit and two points of damage. Meanwhile, on the other side of the battlefield, Mellisan Star-sighted picked out the Glaivewraith with the drum – called the Patrician – as her target. Her first salvo of shots missed.

Warhammer Underworlds Starter Set Review Round 2 2

At the start of the next Nighthaunt activation phase, once again Drepur attacked the gryph-hound. This time, his savage attacks landed, and Sleek died by his master’s side, leaving the objective open for the Nighthaunt to claim.

Meanwhile, Mellisan Star-sighted continued to fire at the Patrician, striking the Glaivewraith drummer for two points of damage. Her successes were short-lived, though, as at the start of the next Nighthaunt activation phase, Drepur abandoned the objective and charged her, hitting her for two points of damage. To reinforce their charge, Drepur’s Nighthaunt accomplice, Godrig, moved to his side as part of the Murderous Accomplice gambit. Although their objective was abandoned, the Nighthaunt were pushing hard into Stormcast Eternal territory, and Mellisan was almost surrounded.

Warhammer Underworlds Starter Set Review Round 3 1

In response to the encroaching wall of undead, Melissan fired a shot at Drepur, but even with the ability to re-roll one of her fails thanks to an upgrade she had received, the attack was blocked.

With the phase at its end, we counted up our glory points and cashed in our cards. In spite of another disastrous turn for the Stormcast Eternals, with half of their number now out of action, they had managed to fulfil a few more objectives and were pulling ahead on glory points.

The round ended with the score 5-1 to the dwindling Stormcast Eternals. Whilst Sigmar’s chosen were pulling ahead, Nagash’s scions had a number of heavy-hitting objective cards still to fulfil. If Lizzie could only kill the last two Stormcast Eternals, she would land a heap of victory points and tip the game in her favour.

Round 3

Mellisan Star-sighted staggered backwards, the rusted blade of a Glaivewraith’s filthy spear embedded in the haft of her greatbow, its point mere inches from her face. She breathed hard, and with a yell forced the creature back.

They had hit her. She could see blood staining her tabard and the broken carapace of her armour where the Glaivewraith’s blow had pierced the metal. In spite of their insubstantial appearance, the wraiths were inhumanly strong. Pain seared up her side and she tasted blood in her mouth. But she was not done.

Heaving her weapon into her hands again, she aimed a shot at the nearest Glaivewraith, but before she could fire a projectile whistled over her shoulder and struck the creature. She raised her hand against the sudden flash of light that swallowed the luminous green monster for a moment, and looked back.

“I have you, sister!” Aphus yelled over the din of the skirmish, loading another stardrake breath-infused bolt into his greatbow. “Fight on! For Drakan, for Sigmar!”

“For Simar,” Mellisan breathed, though she almost lacked the energy to make the words. With the blood oozing from her wound, so too went her strength. She stumbled, falling to one knee.

Behind her, Aphus was yelling, but Mellisan barely heard. More bolts whizzed past her, each bursting against fallen masonry and incorporeal undead bodies. The stardrake breath housed in each exploded in a brilliant, lingering flash that drenched the Mirrored City in a haze of brilliant starlight. For a moment, the dead disappeared behind the glare, their spectral bodies blotted out by the sheen of light, and Mellisan allowed herself to hope that they had won.

Thump-thump-thump.

Pain was replaced by fury. Melissan spat blood and phlegm inside her helmet. Figures – luminous green and clutching battered weapons – emerged through the dissipating glow.

And there was that infernal drummer, thump-thump-thumping away.

“It’s like that, is it?” Mellisan snarled, pushing herself to her feet and gripping her greatbow. “Come on then you monsters! Let me grant you a second, permanent death!”

The final round began as all the others had: with the Nighthaunt winning the roll-off.

Determined to drive the Stormcast Eternals off their objective points and cash in on their objective cards – all of which heavily rewarded butchering the remaining golden-armoured Sigmarines – in their first turn, the Nighthaunt charged again. The final unengaged Glaivewraith closed on Mellisan and made to attack her. But thanks to the Covering Fire upgrade on Aphus, the attacks were successfully blocked.

Warhammer Underworlds Starter Set Review Round 2 5

At the end of the phase, the Stormcast Eternals used the Healing Tempest gambit to restore 1 wound to Mellisan, taking her total from 2 to 3, and hopefully buying the embattled warband a little more time. Melissan followed this up with another barrage from thunderhead greatbow, which killed the Patrician. However, thanks to the Deadly Vengeance gambit, she still took 1 point of damage.

Drepur spearheaded the attack in the next Nighthaunt turn, scoring a glory point for successfully cleaving Melissan, as per the Piercing Blow objective. The attack would have killed the Castigator were it not for the Greatbow Block gambit that had been played at the end of the last turn.

At the start of the next Stormcast Eternal turn, Melissan responded in kind, hitting Drepur and reducing him to a single wound. Both were now on one wound, and it came as no surprise when, at the start of their next activation, Melissan was finally slain. With the Stormcast Eternals down to their last man, and the Nighthaunt still with three figures on the board, there was a real chance that Drepur’s undead warband could snatch victory in the closing stages of the game.

The final Stormcast Eternal model, Aphus the Brave, began their penultimate turn firing his greatbow at the nearest Glaivewraith and dealing two points of damage. In their final turn, in one last-ditch attempt to drive the Stormcast Eternals from the board completely and secure victory, the Nighthaunt leader charged Aphus, but hopes of a Nighthaunt victory were dashed when the attack failed to connect.

Warhammer Underworlds Starter Set Review Round 3 2

In one last attempt to try and kill the Nighthaunt leader, Aphus attacked the wraith, but his attack missed.

With the phase now at an end, the last few objective tokens were allocated. In spite of their losses, victory went to the Stormcast Eternals with a score of 6-4.

Post-Game Roundup

Aphus the Brave stood alone in the city of Shadespire.

Bright particulates of residual stardrake breath rose around him, glinting brilliant white light in the cold air. Like diamond dust, they settled on the collapsed masonry that lay like tombstones across the street, or lingered as reflections in a hundred surfaces like miniature stars. It were as if a dew of gemstones had fallen across the battlefield.

The undead had disappeared as quickly as they had come, their defeated becoming dust on the cold wind that whistled through the silent city, and the undefeated vanishing as if they had never been there – as if the whole thing had been some sort of nightmare.

With the undead, so too had disappeared the corpses of the fallen. Lightning had taken the bodies of his comrades, whisking away their remains to Azyr. Aphus knew all too well the trials that awaited his friends before they could be reforged upon the Anvil of Apotheosis. If they could be reforged.

Everything was silent. Everything was still. Aphus almost couldn’t believe there had been a fierce skirmish taking place but mere seconds before.

It was almost serene.

But then there was the blood.

It pooled where the others had fallen, torn apart by the hellish weapons of the Glaivewraiths. A large crimson slick where Drakan and Sleek had fallen side-by-side, overwhelmed too quickly to properly fight back. A few paces away, great red splatters and smears covered the debris and the roadway in uneven splodges, as if a giant artist had been careless with his brush. Mellisan had gone down fighting, and the ground still wore the shadow of her blood.

With a deep sigh, Aphus reloaded his greatbow and set off at a purposeful pace. The city of Shadespire stretched before him – and his mission lay somewhere within.

He would not let the deaths of his friends be for nothing.

Here are my thoughts on the game we played:

“After a quick glance over the Stormcast Eternals’ objectives and upgrade cards, it seemed to me that the deck favoured defensive play. I knew the Nighthaunt would have the edge in melee combat, so I had to do whatever I could to grab objectives early on and start racking up victory points before Lizzie’s overwhelming melee superiority could drive me off the objective points and start cutting my characters to pieces. For the first phase and a half, I was convinced I was going to lose. The dice were really not in my favour: every attack I made missed, and every defence roll I made failed. I realised my only chance of winning was to try and keep Lizzie’s Nighthaunt at a distance, cling to whatever objectives I could and trust in my cards!”

Warhammer Underworlds Starter Set Review Round 3 3

Lizzie had the following to say about her experience:

“In my first turn, I drew some hard-hitting objective cards: one that scored me two glory points for downing two or more of Rob’s Stormcast Eternals, and one that would have got me three points for killing them all. Given how successful my opening attacking plays were, coupled with the aggressive playstyle the Nighthaunt deck possessed, supported by their upgrades and gambits, I had hoped to abandon the objective points in favour of overwhelming Rob and scoring points with my objective cards whilst simultaneously denying him his. Although I got off to a great start, my plan stalled after killing two of Rob’s characters, and I couldn’t get the others down quick enough to prevent him from scoring glory points from controlling the objectives. Still, I kicked the crap out of his warband, which was a nice feeling!”

We both agreed that we felt the game felt balanced. The whole trick with mastering your warband is figuring out how they play. Are they defensive? Are they aggressive? How does this factor in to how they score glory points? Whilst the system worked flawlessly, we both felt the box would benefit from a step-by-step, phase-by-phase introduction to the game a la the 40K Command Edition.

Whilst the game was fun, our first attempt at playing took well over the 30 minutes billed on the front of the box. In fact, it was closer to two-and-a-half hours. But with each battle round that passed, as we gained a greater understanding of the rules and became more familiar with how play worked, the rounds passed quicker and quicker.

With time, patience, and practice, this starter set could be the key to unlocking an awesome, exciting, and varied tabletop experience.

Warhammer Underworlds: Starter Set Review – Price and Availability

At £40/€50/$60USD on Games Workshop’s website, the Warhammer Underworlds: Starter Set is reasonably well priced. Other tabletop games following a similar vein as Underworlds would likely cost you a similar amount. As ever, it’s always worth shopping around a bit and checking your local independent store. They may be able to offer you up to 20% off.

If you want a host of miniatures to paint, and aren’t bothered about the game, this isn’t for you. This is very much one for the gamers, not the painters. Whilst the figures are really nice, £40 for eight is a bit on the steep side. If you do like the miniatures, try and order yourself Mortal Realms issues 3 and 4. Alternatively, just pick up the sprues on eBay for next to nothing.

Warhammer Underworlds: Starter Set Review – Where to Next?

As mentioned at the start of this review, Warhammer Underworlds is already a well-established Games Workshop franchise. This means there is already a host of expansion material available. Following on from the Starter Set, you can expand your play with the Nightvault, Beastgrave, (if you can find them) and Direchasm sets.

FauxHammre himself hunted down a copy of the original Shadespire after being baptised by Nightvault, only to find an Italian version arrive on his doorstep.

If you’re tempted by Underworlds but perhaps feel that Stormcast Eternals or Nighthaunt aren’t quite to your tastes, you’ll be pleased to know that the Underworlds range is home to a host of other heroes and villains you can choose from, including the extremely popular (and currently sold out online) Crimson Court.

Warhamer Underworlds Starter Set Review GW Crimson Court

There are some lovely and unique figures available across the range, so if you’re particularly taken by the miniatures available, have a look at some of the other warbands.

Each is also a solid little side project for painters out there.

Recently featured as a freebie in White Dwarf 462 is Warhammer Underworlds: Online, which takes the tabletop game and ports it right into your computer. No more carting around caseloads of cards for you!

A fan of the small-scale of Underworlds but looking for something else set in the Age of Sigmar universe? Perhaps Warcry will scratch your itch. Of course, if you’ve been bitten by the fast-paced, action-packed, arena-style tabletop warfare championed in Underworlds, but are looking for an alternate setting and sweatier more in-depth rules, the iconic Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team might appeal to you. Also worth carefully considering is Warhammer 40,000 tie-in Necromunda.

Warhammer Underworlds: Starter Set Review – Final Thoughts

ProsCons
Beginner-friendly
Good price
Nice figures for beginners
Legitimately good fun
Why can’t I hold all these tokens?!

That the game requires so few figures and comparatively little prep is a good thing. It’s not too intimidating a game, and acts as a great starting point for people looking to get into TTRPGs and wargaming. The figures are nice, too, and whilst the box isn’t going to find its home on the shelves of dedicated hobbyists who are all about the model-making and painting, the push-fit figures are a great starting point for anyone unfamiliar with the miniatures hobby.

The lack of plastic bags, elastic bands or other storage solutions irked me a bit. There are a lot of cards and tokens in this box, and a game that prides itself on being quick to play shouldn’t be interrupted by digging through a stack of counters, or fumbling around with cards.

But that’s a very small criticism. On the whole, Warhammer Underworlds: Starter Set is a neat little box that promises hours of tabletop fun. For the truly new to board games and hobbying, it could be the perfect first step into the world of TTRPGs, wargames, and miniature painting.

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Author

  • Rob has spent most of the last 15 years playing World of Warcraft and writing stories set in made-up worlds. At some point, he also managed to get a Master's degree by writing about Medieval zombies.

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Warhammer Underworlds: Starter Set
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Warhammer Underworlds: Starter Set
About VoltorRWH 48 Articles
Rob has spent most of the last 15 years playing World of Warcraft and writing stories set in made-up worlds. At some point, he also managed to get a Master's degree by writing about Medieval zombies.

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