The classic shield wall.
Welcome to another installment of Warband Review, retro style! As before I’m making my way through the Shadespire warbands. I’ve started off with Garrek’s Reavers but today brings us to Steelheart’s Champions, Warhammer Underworlds first Stormcast Eternals warband.
Chosen warriors of the God Sigmar, Severin Steelheart Liberator Prime and his fellow champions Obryn and Brightshield search the Mirrored City in search of the secrets of Shadespire and how it can fix the flaws in the reforging process of the Stormcast Eternals. Everytime one dies and returns to life, they lose a part of their humanity and slowly turn into heartless avatars of Azyrite vengeance. Dispatched with Sanson Farstriders and his Vanguard Hunters, Steelheart’s Champions now wander the Mirrored City alone and lost with nothing but the voices of the dead to guide them in their journey.
Steelheart’s Champions consists of 3 Stormcast Eternal Liberators. Despite the similarities they share, each fighter is unique in their own right with Brightshield being the first ever female Stormcast Eternal too! Steelheart is my favourite of the 3 with his stoic commanding pose.
The sprues are coloured in blue plastic to compliment the red of Garrek’s Reavers. These miniatures go together fairly easily with the most complex part involving assembling Severin’s body. Otherwise these models are a joy to build as they are to paint. Special mention goes to the bases with my favourite being Obryn’s fallen Sigmarite statue head.
This warband contains 3 elite fighters. They have an average movement of 3 but all have wound characteristics of 4 while also defending on blocks. Having a wound total of 12 leaves them 2 below the total of 14 for Garrek’s Reavers funnily enough. Severin and Obryn are combat monsters with both having 2 smash 3 damage attacks which is the same as most leaders in the entire game. Steelehart’s Champions inspire when they roll a block or crit to defend, regardless of the result. This means the warband is dependent on being in combat if it wants to inspire generally.
Steelheart by name and nature, Severin packs a punch. 3 damage base with a reliable 2 smash attack. His single block and 4 wounds makes him decently durable.
Upon inspiring he goes up to 2 block making him even tougher to kill if you lack cleave or multiple attack dice. His attack remains unchanged but now he gets Mighty Swing which targets all adjacent enemy fighters. This makes him a reliable blender against more numerous horde warbands which the elite Stormcast Eternals generally struggle with.
Obryn is the man with the hammer. His 2 smash 3 damage attack makes him as strong as most other warband leaders and gives you a second source of natural 3 damage. It also comes with knockback 1 although he’ll generally be killing his targets instead of driving them back.
Once inspired Obryn goes up to the typical 2 block profile. He also gains the option for a cleave attack making him that much deadlier.
Brightshield is the third and final warrior. Despite not being as damaging as her other 2 fighters, she trades attack power for reliability. 3 smash 2 damage makes her great at weakening opponents or getting the killing blow on 2 wound/weakened fighters.
When inspired Brightshield gets Furious Parry. This is a reaction attack that occurs when an enemy fighter fails their attack action. Coupled with her 2 block this combo makes her a reliable fighter that can easily punish foes who get too close.
Now it’s time for the cards. Objectives to upgrades as per usual.
Faction version of Making a Statement. Nice but the Champions struggle to score this with their movement and numbers of 3.
Better for their hard control build but staying alive in the current game climate is extremely difficult.
Reliable but low glory. Can’t score during the first action phase. Also is a faction Determined Defender.
Assassinate in faction form again. Alright but not great.
Faction Objectives – Top Picks
Score immediately objectives are awesome and this one is rather easy to achieve due to the high damage output and accuracy of the warband.
Consecrated area is what faction cards should always strive to be. This card benefits you whether you’re sitting back or charging forward killing all those in your way. Versatile while being reliable.
The same points for Awe-Inspiring apply here. Generally scored by Brightshield with her 3 smash attack or Obryn while inspired and using cleave.
Plant a Standard but better as any fighter can score it instead of just your leader.
A riskier Consecrated Area but I still like it. Was a staple during the Shadespire days but very difficult to score in Nightvault with magic everywhere. Unless your warband is already out of action that action phase because they did technically take no damage 😉
Faction Gambit Ploys
Immunity to being driven back is nice but only really good for players dedicating themselves to the hold objective playstyle.
This is great until you realise that you play the card first then can make the reaction if your opponent attacks and fails. All for 2 pushes. Not worth it.
Niche but generally fighters are killed one after the other with damage not being spread around. Even in the old Shadespire days this would not be good as generally everyone was going for 1-hit kills.
Faction Gambit Ploys – Top Picks
I like going on guard, cards that do it for free are even better.
Fear the warbands with faction Distraction. Get around having movement 3 and range 1 attacks by pushing your opponents into bad positions.
Guaranteed +1 damage is great here due to the reliable attacks and that it makes Severin and Obryn damage 4 without upgrades.
Put 2 fighters on guard for the price of 1. Complimentary to their playstyle as generally the Champions stick together.
Did that crucial attack fail? No worries, go again! Amazing. Remember it will not help you score Lightning Strikes or any other buffs that apply to the first attack in the next activation. You’re making a new attack action, not redoing the previous one.
Surprise cleave. Great for making Brightshield even deadlier.
You’ll be outnumbered generally but this punishes opponents relying on supports. I like playing this when using Severin’s Mighty Swing or doing greedy charges with Obryn backed up by Ready for Action.
Sacrificing 1 damage for 1 extra dice is not good. You also have Brightshield for this role.
On paper this looks undesirable until you notice it has a range of 2. Shadeglass Darts is better though.
CAN YOU ROLL A CRIT? Probably not going to be used unless you’re me.
It’s nice but Furious Parry is better.
Seems kinda pointless at first until you realise this attack creates a loop where you keep making this attack action until it succeeds against an enemy leader. More funny than useful.
Faction Upgrades – Top Picks
Faction Great Fortitude. Run both!
Despite being a 50/50 this card gives to a chance to swing back while also eating potential enemy reactions. Even better once Severin is inspired.
Mainly taken for Severin but extra cleave is always nice.
I love this card. Free mobility is great and it eats up enemy reactions. Remember you can still use this as long as an enemy fighter ends their activation within 2 hexes, such as by just going on guard. Position around friendly fighters to mess up charges and get Severin sliding around all over the place.
Now we go on to universal cards. There’s a special case here once again. As Steelheart’s Champions came out in the Shadespire starter set I’ll be reviewing the universal cards that came out there. For the universal cards from the Nightvault expansion, check out my Echoes of Glory review.
Also there are not many universal cards in the starter set which means I’ll be reviewing them all together regardless of card type.
Hold Objective 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5: Your standard hold objectives. Alright and reliable but not the fastest way to score glory.
Sprint: Double the movement of a fighter but then they can’t be activated again that action phase. Alright but more of a staple for hold objective players.
Disengage: Tap for potentially 1 damage then push away 1 hex. Situational.
Total Offence: +2 dice when making an attack action that isn’t a charge but then can’t be activated again. Doable with Karsus but not recommended thanks to Blood Offering.
Annihilation: Aggro players dream. I like it and used to run it in all my pure aggro builds.
Conquest: Another great aggro objective. This time just have all your surviving fighters in enemy territory. An old staple when Shadespire first came out.
Denial: Old and reliable but another old staple. Worked well combined with Conquest. Amazing for single games but not so reliable in Best of 3 games.
Supremacy: What keeps the hold objective playstyle alive. Reliable, predictable and solid.
Confusion: Swapping 2 fighters is actually really strong. Great for hold objectives but also positioning. Always take for Spiteclaw’s Swarm.
Healing Potion: One of the few healing cards in the game anndbest 50/50 card. Always heal at least 1 wound with the potential of healing 2. A shame this didn’t appear in the Nightvault starter set.
Shardfall: Niche but really strong. Devastating for boards with narrow chokepoints. Especially those with multiple legal hexes. Messes up ranged fighters too but mainly those with range 2 attacks.
Sidestep: The universal push that everyone loves.
Great Fortitude: +1 wound is very useful. Got dwarfed by Deathly Fortitude and Sudden Growth until they got restricted.
Great Speed: +1 movement is often overlooked. It’s a great persistent buff that helps with board control.
Great Strength: Aggro players’ public love. +1 damage to range 1 and 2 attacks makes those base damage 3 fighters into monsters.
As always my warband reviews come with decklists! First I’ll do a Shadespire only deck then another featuring all available cards. If you want a deeper guide for the warband check out my warband breakdown article dedicated to my Steelheart’s Champions deck of old.
Playstyle: Flex (Aggro and Control)
Based off of my trophy winning deck of old, either charge in or sit back and rack up glory while your opponent runs into you then hit them back while you have the glory advantage for more upgrades.
Consecrated Area, Sigmar’s Bulwark and Alone in the Darkness give you all that glory while no one is next to you including taking no damage. Seize Ground, Ploymaster and Master of War are your reliable objectives for passive glory gain. Awe-Inspiring, Lightning Strikes and No Remorse give you that aggro-boosting glory. Change of Tactics, Escalation and Superior Tactician round out the objectives and take up a majority of your restricted slots.
Heroic Guard helps with Change of Tactics and free guard is nice. Righteous Zeal helps with early 4 damage attacks and No Remorse. Peal of Thunder, Distraction and Sidestep all help with positioning. Hidden Paths and Spectral Wings help your mobility. Ephemeral Shield and Inspiration Strikes help with inspiring. Tireless Assault makes your attacks more reliable and Ready for Action is just amazing.
Blessed by Sigmar and Great Fortitude give you those needed wound buffs. Fatal Riposte and Heroic Stride make Severin into a combat monster. Heroic Might is free cleave. Great Speed and Sprinter give you extra movement to mitigate the base movement 3. Shadeglass Darts gives more ranged threat. Trusted Defender and Cursed Artefact make your fighters even more annoying to attack and Great Strength makes you reach that sweet spot of 4 damage.
All Available Cards
Playstyle: Flex (Aggro and Control)
This just builds off of the Shadespire deck but makes it more reliable. There are more score immediately objectives such as What Armour? and Calculated Risk to speed up the deck. Stand Firm is great due to being only 3 fighters with Heroic Guard. Combination Strike compliments the 7 score immediately objectives. Unstoppable Strike is added to help with What Armour? Gloryseeker helps reach damage 4 more reliably. Potion of Rage boosts accuracy and Faneway Crystal helps with mobility.
Steelheart’s Champions are the defacto starter warband. They’re tough, elite and strong. They can take damage and keep on chugging, even inspiring off of getting deep into close combat. Not only that but they also allow you to build a strong control build where you sit back and reliably score glory. Objectives like Consecrated Area work for both playstyles easily.
During Shadespire’s lifetime Steelheart’s Champions were either a hard control warband or a surprising aggro one. Unfortunately they became a cancerous warband when the Katophrane Relics were fully released as their combination broke the game and made it a highly unenjoyable experience as the warband’s consistent 1 glory objectives and hard control playstyle made it easy to equip all 6 relics in 2 rounds. Thankfully this was quickly fixed but the warband never shook off the stigma. After this they struggled as the game settled in a 1-hit meta where damage 4 was everywhere and weaker but faster warbands such as Spiteclaw’s Swarm and Garrek’s Reavers had more advantages.
Nightvault made damage 4 less commonplace but now Steelehart’s Champions settle in the middle ground where they’re still tough and reliable but suffer more due to the increased range threats the game has introduced. New cards make them more consistent at what the warband wants to do but no big power boosts.
Overall Steelheart’s Champions are a fun and reliable warband to play. Highly recommended for players new to the game that want to get to grips with the game of Warhammer Underworlds. If you can’t find a Shadespire starter set then you can buy their Nightvault expansion here.
With that there you have my review of Steelheart’s Champions. Once again it was nice going back over the Shadespire days, especially with the warband that got me to start my blog, inspired my logo and got me my first wins in the competitive circuit! I hope you enjoyed it. Tune in for the next installment where I’ll be going over the Sepulchral Guard. Undead crits await!