Product Review: Leader Cards

Let’s see how Shadespire’s first card-only expansion fares.

Welcome to the first of my reviews for this week. Today I’ll be focusing on the newly released Leader Card pack. Normally I don’t do reviews on cards but with a special release I thought why not. I’ll be looking at the good, the bad and how the cards will impact the game.

To begin with, I always go over how the products were sourced. For me clarity is always important so people can make the right judgements over my views. I bought the cards myself, no freebies this time. For me the price isn’t too bad and quite fair too, the cards even come in a nice box you can use as a deck box if you so desire.

I read through all the cards on Thursday when they were releases on the GW Underworlds Card Library. On first impressions, I wasn’t very impressed. However, I decided to wait and see before jumping the gun with a review immediately. Going through the cards in-person on Saturday morning helped me see more possible combinations and uses for these new cards.

It’s very easy to just try and imagine how cards will work together, in fact I do it all the time myself. Although I still test out my plans to see if they work before committing fully (most of the time). The tournament I went to on Sunday was a great testing ground. While I was only using 1 of the new cards, I got to see how other people used them and implement into their game plans.

Now while this still isn’t a thorough test like I normally carry out, I feel it was enough for me to come to a decision on my views about the Leader Cards. Of course I may have missed a few sneaky combos that will come to the surface in time, I have a solid grasp of what I think and eagerly await to be proven wrong as time unfolds.

The Winners

I’ll be going over the neutral cards first.

Easily my favourite card and the best one in the expansion. I’ve already included it in my warband. A card that is extremely easy to score for Skaven or any warband with easy inspire mechanics and/or cards to inspire fighters.

My next top pick. The downside is it cannot move your leader and is useless when they are dead yet still moving 2 fighters is huge. Skaven inspire 2 rats and it helps Hold Objective play as well as warbands with 4 or more members for moving up.

The same drawbacks as Quick Advance but has the great ability of being 2 cards in 1 (3 for Skaven). Put a fighter on guard who is in a tight spot or when trying to score Change of Tactics. Even then you can always use it to position a fighter as well.

Sadly it doesn’t work on your leader but has so many uses. Play it on a fighter that has already moved for double movement or a new charge. Use it after Quick Thinker or Hidden Paths to give your warrior back their mobility. Very useful against people trying to keep away. I’ll sure I’ve only reach the tip of the iceberg in regards to the potential of Tyrant’s Command.

You laughed at Grimnir with his movement 2, but who’s laughing now?? Seriously I love this card and was expecting a neutral upgrade of something like this before the last Shadespire cards were released. Great for slow warbands and just the extra range as a whole, also helps against the use of Quick Thinker with canny positioning.

At first I thought this card was useless until a friend pointed out to me how good it can be. An easy passive scoring objective for warbands with 4 or more models. Stackable with Unbroken Wall as well making it very easy to score for 3 warrior warbands as long as they don’t lose and member.

Now for the faction specific cards:

As a fan of the Orruk ‘Ard ‘Ead upgrade, I think this is great for Magore. Makes him tougher and better at grinding out opponents like the gory wall he is.

Not a bad card for Farstriders. An instant that can be fairly easy to score thanks to Farstrider’s movemenr 4 and his crazy bird that always rolls crits (seriously).

Farstrider’s own POCKET SAND! Automatic 1 damage cards are let down by range or your fighter dying. Range 4 auto 1 damage? Yes please. Helps wear down opponents quickly for the Farstriders to swoop in and kill. Beware using on Skaven as you inspire them, they just really love that bird to the face

The Losers

Now I’m not going to lie, there are a lot of bad cards in the Leader Pack. Not bad as in useless but just bad because they have weird limitations or are designed to be ran in addition to the better cards they are based on. While that is a fair idea, it’s just let down by how tight power card selection is at the moment with so many good cards in the game. Regardless, I’ll be starting with the neutrals.

I loved this card at first. Then I realised it can be only scored in the first phase. A very situational card that you only have a 1 in 12 chance of drawing unless you muligan and search for it. Just remove that first phase stipulation and I would be running it myself.

Another first phase only card. Somewhat easier to score thanks to it being the enemy leader just flat-out being out of action but just run Victorious Duel (or the Riptooth version for you doggo lovers out there) instead, it’s an instant objective and helps cycle the deck. Or even just run Assassinate so it’s not an entirely dead card even at 1 glory. I say make it that your leader has to take them out of action and remove the first turn stipulation. A slower but double Victorious Duel.

Somewhat nice if your opponent uses their leader offensively. Or. Just use Invisible Walls. Has the same effect but effects your entire enemy warband. While true, you could run both. Why tho? Maybe make it work for the whole action phase? Although that would probably be too strong.

A very specific and weaker Healing Potion. If you’re that desperate for healing, take the potion and Tainted Vitality. I think the card would be fine if it healed 2 wounds due to how specific the card is already.

It’s just bad. A card that is useless if drawn in phase 3 and unusable in phase 1. You shouldn’t really be cycling your objective deck if it is constructed well unless you’ve already lost and are just cycling to get glory. Maybe the card would be better if allowed you to draw and ditch 1 to 3 objective cards instead?


The faction specific cards:

Grisly Trophy is a better card that, while being an upgrade, works on any fighter. Plus it doesn’t eat up a precious ploy spot.

Very hard to score, somewhat eased by the no phase limitation.

Just take Chosen Champion or Escalation. Would be fine if the card wasn’t limited to Chosen Axes upgrade cards.

A worse version of Spectral Wings and Tantalizing Prize. Really don’t know why the card doesn’t work with charge actions, just remove that stipulation and the card is fine.

Like, why. It’s a thematic card but very hard to score. An opponent I played ran it with the idea of killing his opponent then suiciding his fighters into leathal hexes. A valiant effort but too much work to get this card scored.

The Potentials

Here I’ll look at the cards I think aren’t amazing but have potential. Definitely need more time to see how I can use these cards effectively.

Mainly a Skaven card but “choose” ploys are very common for both players. Definitely a consideration if you run a leader-focused warband.

A very interesting objective. Can take work to setup but also works as a back-up plan if your leader’s charge fails to take out a fighter. The downside is it puts you at a disadvantage if you lose the priority for the next phase.

A card that works even if taken out of action, makes it sort of nice for warbands like Ironskull’z Boys or the Chosen Axes or any player using their leader offensively.

A potentially easy to score objective let down by being 1 glory and 3rd end phase only. Not terrible but not amazing either.

Downside is it is leader only but when combined with Cursed Artefact and any other bonus defence dice upgrades, can leave you with a fighter on 1 to 2 wounds with 3 to 5 defence dice. Just pray your opponent never rolls crits for attacking.

Has potential for warbands like Garek’s Reavers or Magore’s Fiends where the leader isn’t crucial to the warband. I just don’t like building plans around having your fighters die but it would make characters like Saek into even more of a monster.

Like Tyrant’s Command but now for leaders too! A shame that it is a leader-specific upgrade but helps make your leader useful again after a Quick Thinker or Hidden Paths etc.

An interesting weapon, a slightly more balanced Heroslayer. Shame it is only 2 swords but the re-rolls vs Leaders is interesting. Just let down by the existence of Shadeglass Dagger and Shadeglass Hammer.


After a negative start I’ve warmed up to the Leader Cards. Sure nothing is really a “must have” but it adds a new dimension to the game without completely changing the balance of everything. There are a lot of bad cards but there are a lot of good and interesting cards as well.

I’d say that overall Leader Cards favour warbands that don’t really focus on their leaders, this is because there are very few cards that actually buff your leader and instead focus on effects for your warband that just require your leader being alive. I think the Farstriders and Sepulchral Guard benefit a lot from the new cards to name but a few. Still there are some cards that help Leader-focussed builds such as Commanding Reach.

In regards to buying, if you’re playing competitively then you’ve probably already bought it haha. If not, I’d recommend a purchase. For casual players, however, it’s not essential but would provide a nice twist to your games.

Tune in next time where I’ll be looking at the newly released boards. It’s something I’m very excited about. Almost as exciting as when I roll crits.

7 thoughts on “Product Review: Leader Cards

  1. Good review.

    I just picked up my cards last night and played a few games with them. Overall I agree with what you’ve said.

    I do like Rising to the Challenge, one you found questionable. I used it with my Orruks and it worked out well, putting it on Bonekutta.

    I think any warband that has an offensive leader can make good use of this. You don’t want your leader to die, but if it’s an offensive one then there’s a good chance he will, so why not have a backup plan?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! That’s true but my leader usually doesn’t die even tho I play very aggressively with him. For me I don’t really like it but I think it’s a decent card. My upgrade space is very tight and there’s nothing I would drop to add it in.

      For other people it will probably be more useful however.

      Liked by 1 person

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