Deck Building 101

Shadespire Deck Building

Welcome to my first of many Shadespire tips and tutorial articles. If you watched my video with the Honest Wargamer from yesterday you would have heard me touch upon the basics of deckbuilding but here is where I will expand upon it. This should be helpful mainly to players new to the game as well as those who are more experienced.

The Basics

Deck building is an important part of the game because it helps determine how you win and play (Objective deck) as well as how your warband operates in terms of combos and resilience (Power deck). If you take a selection of cards with no solid theme/goal it can often lead to inefficient glory gain and poor warband performance.

As a general rule I will be following the main rules for deck construction so 12 Objective Cards, 10 Gambits and 10 Upgrades. Some of my future articles will feature decks with more than the minimum power card limit but for now I’ll be starting with the basics.

Choosing Your Warband and Playstyle

When I approach deck building, I first look at the fighter cards and then decide on how I want to play them. Some warbands have innate ways that suit their playstyle (deffensive, offensive, keep away, etc) but viewing them first then combining that with how you want to play them is a solid way to begin. The great thing about the game is that any warband can be played however you want so don’t feel restrained to play a warband in one way just because that’s how they seem to be played mostly or suggested too based upon their stats and warband size.

Starting off we’ll be looking at the Orruks, a simple yet brutal warband that is great for beginners and the experienced alike.

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As you can see, they’re all fairly tanky, defend with shields, have an average movement and are all about the combat damage. They inspire fairly easily, only needing to take damage to do so. From this you can tell these guys want to be up, close and personal with your opponet so would be rewarding to an offensive playstyle. I want to play them as combat monsters, which compliments well with the warband luckily enough so with those things identified I’ll now focus on building my deck.


Objectives are crucial to deck construction as they are how your army will gain a lot of glory scored and win you the game. Taking the points from earlier, I want to run a super combat force so I want objectives that reward me for doing so. With this in mind, I first look at a warband’s unique objective cards and pick the ones that I feel best suit my playstyle. Next I do the same with the unique cards until I have 12. From the 12 cards I’ll be focusing on the 2 cards below, 1 unique to Orruks and 1 neutral card useable for everyone.

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Call of the WAAAGH! – Pretty straightforward, compliments nicely how I want to play, easy to score and very thematic. As a great bonus it is scored immediately so you get to draw again in your turn after scoring this card.

Annihilation – One of my favourite neutral cards, there’s no kill like overkill. An easy-ish card for the warband to score, rewards killing and ain’t nothing better than a good scrap. While some people may say that this card isn’t great as by the time you’ve wiped out your opponent you’ve usually won but it can help swing the balance against warbands with a big lead on you and is great for tournment scoring if you go down that route.


Ploys are usually the most difficult part when building a deck because there are so many good ploy cards to pick from. However I’ll still be following the same principals as with my Objective deck, so first I’ll look at the faction specific ploy cards and then universal ploys. I’ll be looking for ploys that boost up my killyness and contribute towards it.

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Leadin’ by Example – Another great Orruk card that is fairly easy to achieve. Being a reaction is a bit of a downside as it has a specific condition before use but it is also the card’s greatest strength. Once Gurzag takes someone out of action (which is almost guaranteed) you pick one of your fighters able to and make a charge. Great for doing a 1-2 combo to take out 2 enemy fighters at once.

Shattering Terrain – My favourite card in the entire deck. At first you look at the card and think it is used to stop your opponent moving towards you. However, playing this in your turn inspires any of your fighters and allows you to push a fighter back and take 1 damage in return which is great for killing a 4 wound character with Gurzag or Bonekutta. Just an amazing card in general that has more uses than what first seems apparent.

Gambit Spells

A Nightvault addition. Gambit spells are power cards used by wizards to activate their effects. While not mentioned here, they are a powerful addition which requires appropriate balancing with your ploy/spell ratios. A gambit spell takes the spot of a ploy, not an upgrade and vice versa.


Probably the easiest part of deck building. Upgrades are mainly used to make your guys tougher and/or even more killy, which is exactly how I’ll be looking at them today. Once again I will follow the same guidelines as earlier from keeping in mind my playstyle as well as looking at faction specific upgrades and then neutral ones.

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Brutal Frenzy – Probably my favourite Orruke upgrade card. It makes Hakka and Basha very dangerous, combo with shadeglass weapon upgrades to increase your chances of rolling them crits. 4 attack dice when inspired is something you can’t ignore too.

Daemonic Weapon – Another great card for Hakka and Basha but great to put on any of the Orruks. Great damage characteristic and take a wound to auto inspire! What’s not to love?

Putting it all Together

With all the points mentioned previously and the above card selections, here is my completed Orruk deck:

Objective Cards (12): Biggest an’ da Best, Call of the Waaagh!, Dead Kunnin’, Good Scrap, Too Dumb to Die, Annihilation, Conquest, Denial, Crushing Force, Swift Advance, Ploymaster, Victorious Duel.

Power Cards

Ploys (10): Brutal but Kunnin’, Gorkamorka’s Blessing, Leading by Example, Scrag ‘Em, Healing Potion, Sidestep, Shattering Terrain, More Choppin’, Distraction, Duel of Wits.

Upgrades (10): Crush and Cleave, Brutal Frenzy, Unkillable, Brutal Swing, Great Strength, Waaagh!, Deamonic Weapon, Helpful Whispers, Soul Trap, Shadeglass Hammer.

From the power and objective decks you can see I’ve picked cards that reward me for killing, help keep my fighters in the game as well as cards that keep Hakka and Basha a threat so they can’t be ignored. A solidly balanced selection that achieves what I want to do in order to win games and smash ‘eads.

In summary: Look at the fighter cards of a warband, determine how you want to play, build the objective deck looking at faction specific cards first then neutral cards and do the same for ploy cards and upgrade cards.

It helps to think of your objective deck as how you want to achieve your goals in the game and the power deck as your army list/wargear/special rules (especially if coming from 40k/Age of Sigmar).

I hope this article is useful to you with deck construction whether you’re new to the game or not but you must never forget the most important part of the game, can you roll a crit?

15 thoughts on “Deck Building 101

  1. Hi John,

    I am new to the game and is quite hooked up with it. I started the game a week ago and is naturally being drawn to the Sepulchral Guard. I wonder what is their game style (i felt like holding objectives?) and if you can provide some guidance/ deck builder for me. Greatly appreciate that.


    Liked by 1 person

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