Gotta Play ’em All

Owning all the warbands is nice, playing them all is even better.

A lot of you out there own the whole Shadespire collection meaning you have a lot of cards but also some very nice plastic miniatures. However I know a large number of people only ever play 1 warband and hardly touch the others. Today I’ll be going through why it’s important to use all those lovely miniatures.

Now I do play every warband myself. I usually play with a newly released warband for 2 to 4 weeks before going back to my main one. Up until recently though, I had only played my Skaven for a very long time. When I decided to use different warbands for store tournaments, it was very refreshing to be playing with the teams I hadn’t used in such a while. It was only recently that I realised just how beneficial it was to me. So for today I’ll be going through those points and it’ll be helpful for you whether you’re playing competitively or casually.

So what are the benefits? They are:

  • Matchup knowledge
  • Shows the strength and weaknesses of each warband
  • Helps builds familiarity with the game
  • Allows you to use different playstyles
  • It’s fun to play something different

Listing the points is simple but don’t worry dear reader, for I’ll be explaining each one.

Matchup Knowledge

A lot of the time, I get a lot of questions about how to deal with certain warbands people have problems in facing. Now while a lot of my experience is based on playing many, many games and it’s also because I’ve used the warbands myself.

One good thing you can do is play the warband you are having difficulties against. Doing this helps you approach the situation from a different angle, namely from the opponent’s point of view. You’ll know the strengths of your own team and just play against that. It could show that it’s not really the warband you’re having problems with but your own gameplay instead. A lot of my friends do this after a tournament or Grand Clash, where they start playing with the warband they had the most trouble against

For example, with my Skaven, I used to have a problem against Orruks when I first started playing with the rats. I would always try to kill Gurzag first, just like I did with my Steelheart’s Champions before. My games where either won or lost depending if Skritch could kill Gurzag. It was not until I tried using the Orruks again that I realised my super aggressive play was at fault. All I was doing was pulling Skritch out of position to have either Gurzag or the rest of the Orruks to kill my glorious leader, making it easier for the Greenskins to win by negating the ability of the Skaven’s greater movement.

Approaching the game from your opponent’s point of view just helps you understand how to better beat them. Know your enemy, after all.

Shows their strengths and weakness

Playing all the warbands lets you understand them better than just simply reading their fighter cards and basing your opinions off of those. It helps find a team that suits how you play instead of just asking for what is “the best”.

This ties in a lot with matchup knowledge. As well as learning the differences from how they approach the game, using each warband shows you first hand what they’re good at as well as what they don’t do so well.

Another example of this is when the Farstriders and Fiends came out. From the previews, I had assumed I would love the Fiends due to their numbers, aggression and power whereas I was cold for the Farstriders due to their very low damage output and risky inspire mechanic.

Upon playing them both, I ended up actually loving the Farstriders and going cold on the Fiends! This was because while the Khorne warriors were great at aggro play, that was all they were good at. Their neutral game was weak and they realised on being inspired to kill anything that had 3 to 4 wounds. The Farstriders, on the other hand, I found far more enjoyable to play. The damage output was a problem but they are so flexible that you can literally have them do almost what ever you want these warriors to do, not to mention their strong upgrades

Builds familiarity with the game

Different warbands bring in various ways to interact with Shadespire. Such things can open your eyes to new mechanics or shine a light on something you didn’t realise until now.

For example, Sepulchral Guard make you realise just how important each activation is as well as their finite number, Skaven show the importance of ploy card management to build a balanced deck, Steelheart’s Champions for how to work around only have 3 warriors and even the Fyre Slayers with their rigid inspire mechanic.

Different Playstyles

Now while Shadespire offers a very flexible way to play and any warband can do almost whatever you want them to, some excel at certain jobs compared to others. Fiends are amazing at the aggressive game but when it comes to playing around with Hold Objectives, they can’t compare to Sepulchral Guard.

Yet this doesn’t mean you need to follow the static archetypes that prevail in popularity for each warband. Bringing your own unique spin on things based on how another warband plays can be surprisingly successful.

My favourite example is near the start of Shadespire’s life. Steelheart’s Champions were universally played in a defensive keep away manner. I decided to play them very aggressively and it caught almost everyone I played off guard, caming off the heels of my time playing a very defensive Garek’ Reavers. Now I’m not saying I coined the style of aggro Steelheart’s (they’re not Skaven after all 😉) but it’s a favoured example as before I was bored off of them due to the defensive style everyone was using, even after using that way to play myself.

Sometimes using a different playstyle to your normal one can help you to better understand how it works. Who knows, you could even grow to like it.

It can even help highlight the flaws with your own gameplay. When I used to have problems against defensive play with my aggressive warbands, I found playing defensively with teams that excelled in such areas just helped me to better learn how to play that style as well as what I needed to do in order to take it apart as an aggro player.

It’s fun to play something different

Variety is the spice of life, especially if you limit yourself to only playing with a single warband.

What helped with my burnout period with Shadespire was by playing the various warbands available. Just playing something entirely different was refreshing, even if it could be frustrating at times. Despite all the problems I had with Sepulchral Guard, it was still fun to approach the game from a Hold Objective/defensive style compared to my previous aggressive warbands.

Another helpful point is that it’s great for intro games. I run a lot of these myself and I don’t use my Skaven for such things. Not running your main warband allows you to have a little more fun and not be so serious. Plus if you’re not using warbands from the core set, you’ll be showing that person what other teams can do compared to those in the base game.

That pretty much wraps it up for today. The only thing left to say is that the miniatures are so varied that they do offer great painting opportunities as well as gaming. I, myself, have painted 3 out of the 8 teams. Although such things aren’t strictly necessary with Warhammer Underworlds and it’s a little deviating from the main title. Either way, science does say painted miniatures roll more crits.

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