Warhammer Underworlds is a competitive skirmish wargame that combines board and card game elements. Set in Games Workshop's fantasy Warhammer Age of Sigmar setting, it's now entering the new stage of its new roadmap, with the second starter set this year, Warhammer Underworlds Nethermaze. In this article, we'll take a look at what's in the Nethermaze box, the two new warbands, their cards, and discuss any new rules.
What Is Warhammer Underworlds?
For those new to Warhammer Underworlds, rather than players building their army from a list of available warriors, Warhammer Underworlds has fixed rosters of fighters to choose from, known as warbands. Players then create decks to work with their chosen warband from a set of warband-specific cards, cards from their warband's grand alliance, and neutral cards available to everyone. Players create two decks, the first, the power deck, includes ploys that can be played during your turn, and upgrades that are played to boost your fighters, the other deck is a set of objective cards that are scored throughout the game.
Both of these decks allow you to create variations in warbands so that even if you and your opponent are playing the same warband, the way you play might be entirely different. The objective deck can be built around scoring objectives, eliminating enemy fighters, or even your fighters avoiding damage. The power deck can be built around offsetting the weaknesses of your warband, capitalizing on its strengths, or a mixture of both.
Warhammer Underworlds also includes other interesting elements, like custom dice for attack and defense and a hex board to keep movement simple. Both of these make it extremely beginner-friendly, but the huge competitive scene makes it challenging to master. It's also very fast to play, with entire games taking place over three rounds, with each player getting four actions each per turn to score as many glory points as possible to win the game. This makes it easy to play tournaments, or get a best of three in during your lunch break.
What's a Warhammer Underworlds Season?
Warhammer Underworlds Nethermaze continues the Warhammer Underworlds season that started with Harrowdeep but acts as the new starter set for the season. What that means is that some cards from Season 1 (Shadespire), Season 2 (Nightvault), and Season 3 (Beastgrave) have rotated out of competitive play, but will still be available in friendly games. All previous warbands and their faction-specific cards are still legal to use in competitive, just not the neutral cards from Seasons 1, 2, and 3.
This happens for two reasons. The first is balance and control. Limiting the card pool allows the developers to maintain balance in the game. The second reason is to keep it entry friendly for new players. Having to buy all previous packs to be competitive to a huge buy-in, but with the rotation, it means that you're only ever one season behind the current. New players can pick up the new sets as they release, any previous season they need for decks, and any warbands before that if they want to play that particular warband, but there's no requirement to buy older warbands they don't want to play.
This makes Nethermaze the perfect time to start playing Warhammer Underworlds, it contains everything you need for two players to play, as we'll discuss below in the box contents, but it also continues the current season and acts as the new starter set.
What's In The Warhammer Underworlds Nethermaze Box?
Warhammer Underworlds Nethermaze contains:
- Warhammer Underworlds rulebook
- Two full warbands (Skittershank’s Clawpack and The Shadeborn)
- Two starter decks for both warbands, plus extra cards to expand
- Two double-sided game boards
- Eleven custom dice
- Objective and lethal hex tokens
- Wound, glory points, status, activation, and gloom tokens
Both included warbands are push-fit, which means no glue is required. They simply need cutting from the sprue and then slotting together in order for them to be ready for use.
Nethermaze contains everything for two players to play Warhammer Underworlds, and afterward, the only purchases you need to make are the warbands you want to play. Players looking to get into Warhammer Underworlds competitively will want their own set of Nethermaze, rather than sharing, and will want to pick up the future expansion for the season.
The new Rivals format of Warhammer Underworlds makes getting into competitive play extremely easy, as warbands used fixed decks from their sets, which means you don't need to worry about picking up any previous expansions to get access to cards if you only want to use specific warbands in the Rivals format.
This new starter set adds a couple of new keywords, Map and Domain, which we'll discuss below in the card discussion part of the article.
What Are The New Nethermaze Warbands?
Skittershank’s Clawpack are a bunch of Skaven assassins who've been sent to remove any challengers looking to control the Nethermaze. Each member of the Clapack are fast and they excel at racing across the battlefield to swarm and take out the enemy leader, which is their inspire mechanic. They're very limited in defense and wounds though, so make sure to pick your battles, and keep your important fighters safe.
Our favorite cards from Skittershank’s Clawpack's Rivals deck are:
- Misplaced Optimism - As well as some awesome flavor text, this card is great for drawing out enemy leaders who try to hide.
- Poisoned Traps - Domain is a new keyword with Nethermaze and gives a persisting effect until the end of the round, or another Domain is played. Play this card early in a round you plan to attack an enemy fighter a lot, as if successful, you'll be able to reroll one attack dice in every attack against them for the round.
- Sweep The Leg - In an awesome movie reference, Sweep the Leg is code for fight dirty, which is exactly what the Skaven do, and I will forever look fondly at the Warhammer Underworlds design team for this card.
- Shadow Paw - An upgrade that gives you a single-use teleport to you know, stand close to a vulnerable enemy and give them the good news.
- Killer Supreme - A single glory for scoring a crit during an attack with Grievous. My friend and Underworld's extraordinaire over at Can You Roll a Crit will love this card.
The Shadeborn are a group of Daughters of Khaine, aelves that follow the Shadow Queen. This group of four assassins are led by the Shadestalker, and they love to attack from cover hexes for unique benefits. They're fast, but have low defenses and average wounds.
Our favorite cards from the Shadeborn Rivals deck are:
- Tenebreal Manipulation - This ploy gives a shadow counter to a fighter, which allows them to treat the hex they are in as a cover hex for the rest of the phase, which is great for the Shadeborn as they each have an ability that's boosted when in a cover hex.
- Rippling Darkness - A free damage to an enemy that's in a cover or edge hex, which is ideal because the Shadeborn inspire if they attack an enemy with a wound counter.
- Dusklure Bracers - An upgrade that lets you deal damage to nearby enemies whenever they are dealt damage in a cover hex.
- All Is Shadow - A three glory objective that is scored in the final phase if you have two or more friendly fighters in an edge or cover hexes and no friendly fighters are in your own territory. You'll be playing aggressively from cover, so keep two fighters alive for an easy three glory in the final round.
- Fighting In The Shade - Another movie reference, that gives you one glory if you make four attacks in a round. An easy score for later rounds, or a very aggressive first round full charge. Three of the four fighters have some kind of ranged attack, so it's never difficult to score.
What New Universal and Grand Alliance Cards Are There?
Our favorite cards from the new grand alliance cards are:
- Lethal Advance - Death warbands tend to have a lot of fighters, so any ploy that helps them move multiple fighters towards the enemy is a win.
- Brigade Strength - A fighter rolling three dice rarely needs help, but this upgrade really gives them a boost, and if they're a brawler, it gives them plus one dice as well. Play it on The Chosen Axes' Mad Maegrim to make them devastating.
- Opportunistic Mob - This plot lets you draw more power cards for taking out an enemy while being supported, which plays into a lot of the Destruction mob tactics.
- Reckless Pact - This upgrade lets the fighter take damage to reroll attack dice after defense dice have been rolled. If played on a Tzeentch fighter, they can reroll one more dice, taking zero damage to reroll one dice every attack.
Our favorite cards from the new universal cards are:
- In Too Deep - I don't think this card will see much play, but I like the theme of it with Harrowdeep/Nethermaze, with the cursed waters interfering with strategies.
- Tainted Waters - A nice reaction to the new Domain keyword, dealing one damage to an enemy after a Domain is played.
- Cursed Cutlass - Tying in with the Order Brigade Strength card above, this makes a fighter a Brawler, and gives them a four-dice attack. Gaining glory through attacking with them is spent glory unless they're on a feature token though.
- Detailed Map Fragment - This upgrade has the new Map keyword. It has two options for play, as a one time action, you can gain a spent glory and let your opponent play an upgrade for free, so hold this until their hand is empty, or if the fighter has four map upgrades and is on an objective, they can gain two glory points. It will be interesting to see with future map upgrades how this plays out.
- Feeding Fear - A one-glory surge objective that can be scored if an enemy fighter is taken out during a round where a Domain has been played. It can also be scored in round three if a vulnerable fighter is in enemy territory.
- Lucky Find - This is a one-glory objective that can be scored if one of your fighters has a map upgrade. As with the map fragment, it will be interesting if a high-scoring glory deck will come with a map theme.
What If I missed Harrowdeep?
If you're coming into Warhammer Underworlds with Nethermaze you can now pick up the two warbands from Harrowdeep in their own boxed set, Rivals of Harrowdeep. This set contains both warbands, Xandire’s Truthseekers and Da Kunnin’ Krew, and their Rivals decks which can be used straight away. If you want to know more about the warbands, and our picks of their cars, you can read all about them in our Harrowdeep preview.
This copy of Warhammer Underworlds Nethermaze was provided by Games Workshop.