Don’t be bored for boards!
Those big pieces of cardboard that come with the game. A lot of you stick to a single board or put very little thought into choosing one, which is perfectly understandable. But that’s all wrong and today I’ll be expanding on boards, why they’re important and how they win you games.
Now I’ve been “threatening” to do an article about game boards for a while now but I was never really happy on the word-based format of it. That was until I got my hands on the new White Dwarf last week (thanks to being a subscriber 😉)!
After reading their new monthly column named Glory Points written by David Sanders who is the head rules writer for Warhammer Underworlds, my mind was changed. It can be considered a bit of a cop-out but that article is so amazing and accurate that anything I write currently would just be a re-worded copy. Thus for board knowledge I highly recommend buying at least the January 2019 White Dwarf for a comprehensive overview of board choice and placement as it literally goes over how I choose boards every game in my head. Not to mention this will be a regular monthly instalment meaning we’ll be getting more dedicated Games Workshop Underworlds tactics.
For those who missed the physical release, Games Workshop now do digital copies again which you can buy here!
So with my White Dwarf spiel out-of-the-way, there is something I’ll post covered in the aforementioned article: board layouts and names!
Board placements can be summarised into 3 commonly seen sights. These have been defined by Games Workshop.
Wide and long are the most commonly seen choices with diagonal covering any slanted board choices. Each have their own distinct uses as well as downsides that all need to he considered.
The most common board placement choice by many in most games. It can be deceptively simple as it offers easy board access to both players and is generally favoured by aggro players. It’s also the default option for a lot of players due to just being an easy choice with not much consideration needed.
This is the placement most players generally hate with the sigh that your opponent will now be sitting back drawing cards while you slowly advance up and you wouldn’t be wrong. Control players love this setup. Did you know, however, that there’s more to this than simply stalling?
A great use for this placement style is to make all 3 objective tokens within range of easy grasp if your playstyle requires a majority of objective control. Combined with canny objective token placement you can force your opponent to place the 3rd token (their 2nd) in your half by placing the 2nd token (your 1st) in their board, allowing you to place the 4th token (your 2nd) in your territory with an suboptimal choice to place the final token. Beware that this generally only works once per opponent, they usually catch on after the first time you do this!
Aggro players can use this board setup too! Honest! I use it to hamper high mobility warbands that rely on objective control or aggro play. High movement is great but not when there is no room to safely run past fighters who want to smash you good. With a net board width of 5 hexes, you can force scrums in the middle of no man’s land and slowly box your opponent in for their doom.
It’s a rarely seen board choice that sees a lot of hate. Play it. Understand it. Master it. Let it be a useful tool in your arsenal instead of a forgotten or unwanted pick.
What if I told you that Long wasn’t the furthest setup you can have for fighter-to-fighter? This is a common misconception and the greatest strength for diagonal boards. If you want your opponent to face a long time getting to you then this is actually the best board setup choice. The distance from furthest corner hex to furthest corner hex is longer than in Long boards.
Another great point is that you can set up the alignment so that your opponent cannot make any action phase 1 charges factoring in your warband size, movement of your opponent and their board choice. Punish them for an unintentional mistake!
This style can also be used by aggro players to create a choke point. Ideally you do this against a warband that outnumbers your’s to ensure a fair trade when the killing begins. The boxing-in effects works as in Long albeit more subtly.
Another sneaky tip is to remember you can attack through the gaps in corners with Diagonal. Edge hexes don’t block line of sight so feel free to abuse those range 2 or greater attacks. Many a time I’ve had Skritch kill from afar.
Organised Play Board Rules
As per the June 2019 FAQ (found here) Games Workshop have introduced a rule where you can only use a board facing once per game for Organised Play tournaments. Basically you’ll need to take a minimum of 2 boards with you to events as in a best of 3 game you will potential need up to 3 different boards.
I really like this change. It punishes people relying on a single board as well as forcing people to get better with what boards they use. You’ll need to keep in-mind which board to use when as once it’s placed it can’t be used again. Will you place the Molten Shardpit first for example or leave it till you’re already 1 game ahead so you can ensure a second win? Choices have consequences so now always take your time (within reason) when placing your board instead of just throwing whatever down.
All the boards now have official names! No longer will the same board have multiple different aliases! Stolen directly from the White Dwarf article, here are the boards and names with my input on each one.
The Mirror Well
There is one important thing I have not covered. Generally all boards can be placed in whatever manner chosen bit I feel some only excel at being placed second. For this, I call them Reaction Boards. The Mirror Well is a board I consider to fall under this category. You can place it first but I feel it works best when reacting to your opponent’s board choice (hence the term).
This is a Shadespire board from the original core set and is a great board for a multitude of playstyles. Best used either as is for a 3 to 4 fighter control warband or flipped 180 for an amazing aggro board.
More than just a toungetwister, the Stardial is one of my favourite boards. Another Shadespire special, this board functions well in any scenario as a solid basis for placing first or second. It also fits well with all 3 battlefield configurations. Extremely powerful for warbands with 5 or less fighters.
The good old “aggro triangle”. Flipped 180, this board is amazing for warbands looking to get stuck in quick while supporting each other along the way. It’s also great for scoring Extreme Flanks from the start without having to move!
All warbands can use this board effectively but it’s best to use this as a reaction board so not to be punished by canny players who have a guess on how you play.
The Shattered Tower
This board is amazing. When used as a reaction board. Never place it first as it can be easily exploited by your opponent. Aggro players can use it for the top 4 starting hexes but control and hold objective players will find more use out of this when played as a reaction board.
The Arcane Nexus
Our first 3 lethal hex board as well as part of the first 2 board expansion set. Careful usage of this is required (unless you’re a Thorns of the Briar Queen player) unless you want to be killed by your own board! Ideally a control player’s dream, aggro players can use this if they have a small mod count to deter enemies foraging into your territory.
This board’s greatest strength is as a counter to Long play. Feel your opponent is control or looking to play Long ways? Throw this bad boy down. No matter what, you’ll have 3 advantageous starting hexes for getting to those cowardly enemy fighters!
The Animus Forge
Originally coined as The Forge (I was close!) this board has a great mix of blocked and lethal hexes. For the best use of this board, play it as a reaction board. It can be placed first but has the problem of being punished. Good for aggro players but great for flex players mixing aggro and control.
The Cursed Oubliette
Our first Nightvault board. The most neutral board in the game. It doesn’t truly excel in any given area but covers all bases evenly. A great all rounder. Especially great for 3 to 4 fighter warbands who want to sit in the middle of a board.
A very interesting boars choice with an even mix of lethal and blocked hexes. Ideally a reaction board, this is also works well as a starting board. Generally placed by control players, put an objective token between the 2 lethal hexes for extra fun.
Originally the Pyramid to me, this boards works whether placed first or second. The Soul Refractor works ideally as an anti-warband choice oddly enough. I use it to punish range 2 or greater warbands (The Farstriders) as well as to make Snirk (Zarbag’s Gitz) likely to kill himself if he dares to come to you. It even works as a counter to Long configuration although not as efficiently as the Arcane Nexus.
The Ruptured Seal
This ominous board is the second 3 lethal hex board after the Arcane Nexus. Favourable to all the main playstyles it is a very flexible board but still one I would only use as a reaction board to get maximum use out of it.
The Shattered Refractor
The first board from the Forbidden Chambers Board Pack which I originally reviewed here. It now has an official name as per the June 2019 FAQ: the Shattered Refractor! Just like what I originally named it haha. This board is evenly balanced for placing first or second if you’re using a 3 fighter warband but gets worse to use as a reaction board the more fighters you have. Still this board is amazing for Zarbag’s Gitz no matter the orientation.
The second board of the expansion pack and one of the most powerful boards ever made. So variable and flexible for any playstyle. Won the board roll-off? Place as above in diagonal configuration to force a 3 hex gap with the 3 lethal hexes beneath the gap which effectively forces your opponent down a single path. Even then spin the board around for the perfect aggro deployment with 4 starting hexes leading into your opponent’s face. This is the most powerful reaction board you can play. Can almost win you games by itself if played correctly.
There you have it, an insight into boards and the battlefield configurations available for use. Remember the White Dwarf issue can be digitally bought here if you missed the physical release. Now this is still only a brief coverage in my eyes. I’ll do a more in-depth look later but seriously read the Glory Points article as it breaks down everything clearly from boards to starting hex risks and fighter charge ranges. It’s a comprehensive read that’ll boost your player skill without the need of crits 😉