Getting Started with Warhammer Underworlds

Find all the information you need to get started with the game!

Keeping up-to-date with Warhammer Underworlds is fairly easy if you’ve been keeping up with the game since it was launched in October 2017 but it can be daunting for players joining after the time of Direchasm (and beyond). This article will be a starting point for people new to the game and will be a useful way for people to decide what they need to exactly buy.

In a change of sorts, this post will be pinned to the front page and act as a “living article” which I’ll aim to update as the game goes on.


Where to Start?

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Image Credit: Warhammer Community

Firstly I’ll focus on what you need to do if you’re interested in Warhammer Underwords. Reading blogs, articles and watching battle reports are all great ways to get started. What’s best, however, is simply finding someway to play the game first. This can be as simple as asking a friend who already has the game to demo it for you or even people who play it at your local gaming club.

Another option is to pop into your local Games Workshop store or Friendly Local Gaming Store (FLGS). Either one should have a demo copy available for use as well as staff to talk you through the game.

However there are 2 online resources that I’d highly recommend. First is the Games Workshop Underworlds website. It’s a good place to gather information about the game ranging from specific warband tips all the way to finding out how to build and paint Underworlds miniatures.

Next up is a fellow Underworld’s blog called Wigglehammer/Well of Power, an amazing set of resources. Probably the best blogs if you’re purely a new player, it covers numerous helpful topics, Warhammer Underworlds content from various content creators and regular deck guides.

Games Workshop also put out a great video that teaches you how to play the game:

https://players.brightcove.net/5778310444001/tEqh4qwjNN_default/index.html?videoId=6215682069001


What to Buy?

You’ve played the game and should hopefully have a basic to solid understanding of the mechanics, now what to buy? Obviously a Warhammer Underworlds starter set but which one? As of writing there are currently two core sets available. My advice is always to go with the most recent one on the market (which would be the Direchasm core set at the moment).

Assuming you bought the Direchasm core set, do you need to buy the Beastgrave core set? My recommendation is a yes but you need to remember that is no longer in production so the remaining copies are finite in number. Yet even then, why buy the additional starter set?

I’m glad you asked! Buying the Beastgrave core set will give you two double-sided boards, 3 boards of tokens, the warbands Grashrak’s Despoilers and Skaeth’s Wild Hunt as well as a slew of Beastgrave universal cards.

For brand new players, I highly suggest reading and following the tips I’ve set out in my How to Collect Warhammer Underworlds article. It’s specifically designed for those players new to the game to give you more information about rotation and what products to buy in order to get the most out of your purchases.


Useful Tips

Before jumping the whole hog into buying EVERYTHING, you should take a few things into consideration:

  • Make sure you have a complete understanding of the game and its mechanics, don’t forget to familiarise yourself with the latest errata’s, FAQs and the ban/restricted list
  • Know how to build decks, I even wrote an article on how I approach the subject myself as well as how you can do the same (Deckbuilding 101). For more advanced deckbuilding tips, check out my following articles on archetypal playstyles, the objective deck and card combos. Here’s a useful article on how to shuffle those decks too, simply called Shuffling.
  • Get some games under your belt, whether it be at store tournaments or regular gaming nights at FLGS and gaming clubs
  • For more advanced tactics for Warhammer Underworlds check out my articles on board placement and lethal hex placement. As I said these are more advanced articles for use once you have a solid understanding of the game. They aren’t necessary reading but offer a huge wealth of knowledge into understanding the hidden depth of Warhammer Underworlds.

What Warband(s) Should I Buy?

You may be happy with what you already have but you may also want a lot more. Now I would recommend buying everything but others prefer not to. It the comes down to what you are looking for with the game. I suggest choosing a warband you like the look of and want to play. I do recommend that Skaeth’s Wild Hunt, Grashrak’s Despoilers and Khagra’s Ravagers are all great to learn the game with due to how forgiving and simple they are while demonstrating pretty much all the mechanics in the game.

The new Starter Set is also a great way to start playing Warhammer Underworlds with as the Storm of Celestus and Drepur’s Wraithcreepers are really good warbands to learn how to play with. Remember that this Starter Set comes with no universal cards though. If you want to find out more, check out my review of the Starter Set here.

The new Warhammer Underworlds Essential Cards Pack is a must-buy for any player, especially new ones. It contains 60 universal cards from Shadespire to Beastgrave. Bringing back these old cards is great as they will never rotate out, as stated by Games Workshop. The pack is also cheap and a great buy. If you want to find out more, once again I have another review on it here.

If you want to buy solely based upon what cards come in which warband expansion then have no fear for I’ll be ranking the expansions I deem most useful for those looking for the commonly seen universal cards. Sidenote: due to rotation the previous seasons’ expansions (Shadespire and Nightvault) have been removed as they cannot be bought anymore.

Please note. With the June 2021 update, only buy the Beastgrave products if you desperately want to play physical competitive games now. If we assume a future season 5 is coming in September/October 2021, the Beastgrave products have a very short lifespan now due to rotation. If you are going to buy Beastgrave warbands, aim to buy those teams you like the look of most and can see yourself using in the future. I have left the Beastgrave warbands for prosperity’s sake but please remember this before buying any Beastgrave products now.

  1. Kainan’s Reapers: A different and power aggro swarm/horde warband thanks to the mighty Kainan and surprisingly hard-hitting Mortek fighters. Cards like Perfect Strike, Scant Resources, Eternal Chase, Carnivores All, Untapped Resources, Wicked Lash, Soundless Step and Primal Lunge are all powerful and useful to a wide range of warbands and playstyles. A strong warband with a good selection of universal cards to buff your collection.
  2. The Grymwatch: A strong warband with amazing universal cards. Coveted Spoils, Path to Victory, Scrum, Swift Capture, Desperate Flight, Madness Dart, Restless Prize, Larval Lance, Survival Instincts. Just so many good and useful cards. Perfect if you’re new to Beastgrave or an experienced player.
  3. Rippa’s Snarlfangs: The best aggro warband in the game with great universal cards to boot. Brought to Bay, Gathered Momentum, Temporary Victory, Tracking, Invert Terrain, Lethal Snares, Sting of the Ur-Grub. Useful universals, especially for aggro players.
  4. Morgwaeth’s Blade-Coven: This is a weird one as I’m not recommending this warband expansion for the warband but for all the amazing universal cards it contains. Hidden Purpose, Test of Courage, Glorious Triumph, Hunting Bolt, Malkyn Grace, Quick Search, Victimise, Amberbone Mace and Predator’s Trinket are all amazingly strong cards that can fit into a multitude of decks.
  5. Starblood Stalkers: A really strong and technical warband. While difficult for new players at first, this warband rewards dedication and practice. The universal cards it comes with are good too: Bold Deeds, Clean Kills, The Greater Hunt, Compelling Hunger, Living Land, Outrun Death, Eagle Eye, Proud Runner and Savage Visage. These cards work really well with the Beastgrave warbands and onwards, giving lots of tools to Hunger, Primacy, Hunters and Quarries.
  6. Hedkrakka’s Madmob: A good aggro warband that requires a little more technical prowess to use effectively thanks to their reliance on Primacy. Fleeting Primacy, Primal Display, Cunning Paths, Heeded Instinct, Suffocating Heat, Biting Axe, Hunger for Success, Silent Sword and Soultooth Net are all nice buff cards, more so to Primacy and Hunger builds thus lowering the priority of needing this warband.
  7. Khagra’s Ravagers: A great well-rounded aggro warband to get to grips with Warhammer Underworlds Direchasm. It also comes with some really useful universal cards for the new season such as: Magical Mark, Starvation, The Hunt Advances, Beast Trail, Energy Drain, Feign Strength, Feral Symbiote, Geomancer’s Gauntlet and Ravening Stone.
  8. Elathain’s Soulraid: One of the weaker warbands for the Direchasm season, Elathain’s Soulraid are not forgiving for new players. Avatar of Famine, Everything to Prove, Puffed Up, Master Duelist and Soultooth Darts are some solid cards but generally support Primacy or Hunger so only invest if you want to power up said playstyles for yourself.
  9. Morgok’s Krushas: An amazingly strong warband with really good faction cards to-boot, this warband expansion also contains some very good universal cards. Feed the Beastgrave, Master Poisoner, Show of Force, The Avatar Risen, Go To Ground, Amberbone Sword, Claws of the Ur-Grub, Cursed Blade and Strength of Terror are all powerful cards which factor to heavily power-up aggro decks.
  10. Hrothgorn’s Mantrappers: Team Effort, Unexpected Pitfall, Buried Instinct, Chain Attack, Rocksnake Toxin, Sudden Scarcity, Amberbone Spear and Cryptic Companion are some of the many useful universal cards in an already strong warband expansion.
  11. The Wurmspat: Perfect Match, Sorcerous Volley, Collapse, Nightmare in the Shadows, Leave Nothing to Chance, Amberbone Dagger, Substance Siphon and the Scattered Tome are all very useful and powerful universal cards but are more dependent on specific builds for maximum efficiency.
  12. Crimson Court: While a Direchasm warband, the warband is okay at best. The issue is their complexity and token management. They are better than Khagra’s Ravagers but their real strength is their amazing miniatures. Notable universal cards are: Season of Famine, Claim to Supremacy, Punching Up and Soultooth Dagger. This expansion is only a must-buy if you want to play just Hunger and/or the Crimson Court. People looking for cards to buff other warbands in general may want to skip this expansion.
  13. Silent Menace Universal Deck: An oddly expensive (comparatively) 32 card universal expansion. Only buy if you want to fill out your collection or need all the cards for competitive play’s sake. Demolish the Opposition, Promise of Destruction, Hidden Sting, Hypnotic Buzz, Membranous Wings, Swarming Advance, Symbiote’s Call, Augmented Limbs and Silent Ring are a mixture of good aggro cards and tech cards so not really necessary if starting out. Also consider if you’re a heavy aggro player.
  14. Beastgrave Gift Pack: This goes in the middle. Great for new players and those dedicated to hold objective play. Older players don’t really need it. Bold Conquest, Cover Ground, Victorious Duel, Distraction, Jealous Defence, Mischievous Spirits, Rebound, Spectral Wings and the Keys are all very useful.
  15. Arena Mortis: A separate multiplayer expansion for the main Warhammer Underworlds game. It has some powerful cards but only gambits and upgrades, even then a few have already been restricted with more likely to be restricted too. Either way, I wouldn’t prioritise this unless you want the updated Sepulchral Guard Restless Dead and Warden Fighter cards. Some cards of note are: At Any Cost, Enhanced Blow, Shattering Howl, Gauntlet of Command, Gauntlet of Dominance, Tight Defence and Vision of Glory.

Where Can I Play?

Places to play can be as simple as at your own place with friends and/or family. Another more common option is to play at FLGS or Games Workshop stores (but varies on the manager). Gaming clubs are also a good shout and introduce you to a potentially wider audience. My local gaming club HATE was what actually helped motivate me go deeper into the tournament scene as well as introduce me to my local Underworlds community. Store tournaments are also a great place to start as you get to see a wide range of different tactics used in one place.

Try checking out the website of local gaming stores or Warhammer Underworlds Facebook pages to find tournaments to play at.


Accessories

A purely optional section. This ranges from things such as card sleeves, deck boxes and token storage.

Card sleeves are the best optional accessory because they protect your cards, make shuffling easier and can look snazzy too. It’s important to remember that you’ll need 2 different coloured sleeves for both your objective and power decks.

You could use clear sleeves but I’d advise against it due to the fact that Underworlds cards have slightly but noticeable tonal differences which can make identifying certain cards unintentionally easier.

Next comes choices of sleeves available. Games Workshop have stopped making their own sleeves for Underworlds but you may be able to find some still in the wild. Your next option is checking out the different branded card sleeves used for other games. There are a lot of different companies out their but Ultra Pro Eclipse Matte sleeves and Dragon Shield sleeves are the best 2 brands currently out there. Just remember you’ll need standard size sleeves no matter the brand.

I used to use Ultra Pro matte clear sleeves for fighter cards, green Ultra Pro Eclipse matte (100) sleeves for power cards but now just Dragon Shield matte apple green sleeves for the power deck and gold Dragon Shield matte sleeves for my objective deck. To find out why I changed brands you can read my review covering Ultra Pro vs. Dragon Shield card sleeves.

When it comes to deck boxes GW once again make their own but I find it more style over substance. It’s not bad but there are better ones out there. With deck boxes it’s all about personal preference as there are so many on the market out there. I recommend Ultra Pro and Ultimate Guard deck boxes. Ultra Pro are cheap but effective whereas Ultimate Guard make the best deck boxes in the market at a slightly higher price point. Bigger deck boxes can also be used to hold your card collection if desired.

Card albums/portfolios are another optional investment. These are just folders with clear sleeved plastic pages to hold your gaming cards. These can range from ones with built-in card sheets to ring binders with separately purchased card sheets (just remember to use D-ring binders). Once again there are many producers on the market but I use Ultimate Guard products personally.

For a full breakdown on this, I’ve written my own article for this topic: Warhammer Underworlds Card Storage. It covers all various means of storage and protection as well as recommended products and what I use myself.

Next we come to my old favourite accessory; COIN CAPSULES! Make your glory and activation tokens tough and easy to flip. I even wrote an article about it (Coin Capsules). Just a fun little optional addition.


Cases

How are you going to transport all your fancy gaming stuff? Don’t worry as there are many solutions out there. First off you have Games Workshop with their Skirmish Carry Case and Beastgrave case. Both are acceptable but are unable to hold all available boards.

Next you have foam options like Feldherr which design foam trays to fit inside the Shadespire/Nightvault/Beastgrave core set box. These can also be used to fit in their custom carry cases for an increased prize yet it will be more long-lasting than the game box.

I used to use metal camera pluck foam cases. For just over £30 I can hold all 5 boards, the rule book and multiple warbands. The metal case makes it super durable as well as rain resistant. You can even use the case half the size of it (which I used to use before Nightvault) for players not looking to bring everything they own. What’s even better is that it’s on sale for less than £20 currently! Buy one from here if you desire.

If you want a more in-depth review of transport options check out my article covering my generally recommended transport options as well as my review on Feldherr products.

Not only do you have cases for miniatures etc but also for the tokens you use. Once again I wrote an article on the subject (Token Storage). I now use a token case double the size due to all my in-game loot however the ones mentioned are perfectly fine for new starters. Any case will do, just remember to keep it cheap. My double sized case costed £4 whereas my original was £1.30.


Closing Crit

With that, all your starting bases should be covered. The information presented here will give you all the stuff needed to start playing Warhammer Underworlds out in the big wide world.

It took me a long time to discover everything I’ve mentioned here (especially considering as I have almost no prior card game knowledge) so hopefully giving new players all this information early will help you better plan out your purchases as well as improve your foundations with the game. If you’re interested in reading more of my articles, feel free to scroll through my website or use the search bar.

Remember that all this is just my recommended suggestions and you should buy whatever you feel appropriate, especially when it comes to accessories. Still this guide should do you well and even help you roll more crits 😉

29 thoughts on “Getting Started with Warhammer Underworlds

    1. A charge action is a move action immediately followed by an attack action. If a Git charges, adjacent Gobbos can move via Scurry.

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  1. Thanks for the write up.

    If I’m starting new and can’t get the “old” Shardespire box. How do I get the Shadespire neutral Cards? Are neither in the warband boxes nor in the “echos of glory” pack if I’m not mistaken.

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  2. Just a PSA regarding camera bags/cases for carrying gaming equipment: I always recommend against it. Not because the bags aren’t good – they are usually designed for protecting the contents very well – but because the contents may appear to be much more valuable than they really are. It makes them very attractive to the more unscrupulous in this world. Sad, but true.

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    1. That’s understandable and a fair warning but you just have to be more careful with your belongings. Luckily I have had no problems since I purchased mine a year ago.

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  3. Hi. I have a question yet unasked in FAQ: is Potion of Rage combined with Mighty Swing or any other All Ajacted Attack giving:
    A) two dices to first attack
    B) two dices to any attack(s)
    C) two dices for every attack
    D) something else

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      1. Thanks for the answer. Here’s another question: if a fighter with a wound characteristic of 4 is equipped with cursed amulet by the ghoulish pact does he have 3/3 or 2/3 wounds?

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      2. You resolve Ghoulish Pact first. You take 1 damage then lower your wound characteristic by 1 to 3. As you already have suffered a wound, you now have 2 wounds left instead.

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  4. Also UltimateGuard have good portfolios/albums and the best deck boxes on the market (playing card game’s since 1997)
    Really nice blog!

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  5. With the Mollog’s Mob warband comes another really fast and not expensive startup setup possibility,
    all you need is Echoes of Glory (centre of attention, elixir of grace, aggressive defence, brute force, butchery and many more)
    + Shattered City Board Pack; alltogether under 50£
    optionally you can add Deathrattle’s with soultrap, reaper and the harvest begins..
    Pure carnage, don’t you think?

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    1. No because you’ll always need a core set. Can’t play the game without the rules as well as the tokens too.

      Mollog’s Mob and the Nightvault core set will be a better option than the one you suggested as for £7.50 more you get: 2 more warbands, the rules, 1 more double-sided board, tokens. You might be slightly less competitive but you’ll have far more tools at your disposal as the Shattered City Board pack is not good as your only board choice.

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  6. Hi John,

    I wanted to get your take on balance in the game.

    Briefly to give context: I’m a newbie to WH:U, but historically I’ve played a lot of Malifaux. I’ve bought Nightvault and the Orruks which I’m currently painting, but I’m yet to play a game (hopefully soon, but I hate playing with unpainted minis). Nevertheless I’ve read a lot of your articles and I’m really keen to get started!

    Anyway, on the subject of balance. One of the really common themes when you examine and give your opinion on new cards seems to be “this card X is basically the same as existing card Y, but not as good”. Eg. new weapons that are less good than Shadeglass Darts, or objectives which require you to incapacitate two fighters for the same Glory reward as a similar card that just requires one.

    Is there a point to these cards? Is their existence a symptom of a relatively narrow game design space that requires new cards but doesn’t have enough game mechanics to support that much variety? Can I safely put these cards away or in the bin because they’ll never be used?

    Interested in your opinion as a competitive player, and also, should I be assessing these cards differently as a more casual player?

    Cheers,

    Mike

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    1. To elaborate slightly, I have no issue believing the warbands are balanced against each other, but I don’t think the cards are. Surely in an ideal world every card would be situationally useful in some circumstance, rather than having some which are universally not optimal?

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    2. I believe they exist to fill out niches. Nightvault has been really tight with card design so far, only being let down by the really strong universal cards from Shadespire.

      I don’t really recommend going too deep into cards as the game is 40% deck building and 60% movement and positioning.

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  7. Hi,
    I’m starting new and I get all the starter box (Shadespire, Nightvault, Beastgrave and direchasm)…do you recommend starting with Shadespire and then with the others in chronological order?
    Regards

    Like

    1. If you mean buying then I’d recommend getting Direchasm only.

      However if you already own all 4, going in chronological order is fine (:

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