The Beastgrave calls, will you answer?
Greetings brave reader. Whether you be a veteran of the Underworlds or a brand new soul ready for eternal battle, welcome to my product review of the Beastgrave core set. Thanks go to Games Workshop who gave me this core set to review for free.
For people new to the blog my name is John and I’ve been a veteran of Warhammer Underworlds, starting my journey with the launch of Shadespire all the way back in October 2017. Since then I’ve won multiple Grand Clashes and store tournaments as well as having written a wealth of articles to help players improve their skills with the game and understand it better, such as my Getting Started with Warhammer Underworlds article. I’ll be able to give you the best understanding of the game and its new mechanics.
So with all that out of the way, it’s time for the main review!
The Beastgrave is a humongous mountain, possibly the biggest in all of Ghur. It towers into the clouds and is visible no matter how far you stray. Rumours speak of the Silent People, an ancient tribe of humans who lived inside and worshipped the Beastgrave. Yet now they are long gone, all that remains are their bone statues surrounding the mountains, their trinkets and relics as well as the endless sigils carved in everywhere.
Size is not the only odd thing about the Beastgrave. It has a strange and fascinating ability to instil in the mind of all those who see it to seek the urge of battle. It creeps in bit by bit at first until visions of the Beastgrave and battle continually haunt the unfortunate target. They are then drawn inside the mountain were they seal their fate, never to be seen again. Even those resistant to the call of battle are drawn in by whispered promises of vast treasure.
With Nagash’s Necroquake, however, things have taken a dark turn. The magical backlash it caused across all the realms has allowed the curse of Shadespire to escape and now it has seeped into the Beastgrave. Long-dead creatures of gigantic might and primal ferocity stir with the power of un-life. Those trapped within Shadespire have now made it to this monstrous mountain.
The curse of the Katophranes has twisted the already torturous Beastgrave. What was already an ever-changing maze of stone, acid and hazardous beasts has been “blessed” with the ability to be reborn constantly for an endless battle of bloodshed. What’s worse is now the call of the Beastgrave spreads ever more. Enticing and corrupting those in Ghur and beyond.
Warhammer Underworlds Beastgrave is fully compatible with all other previous releases of Underworlds seasons; Shadespire and Nightvault. The Beastgrave cards are designed to clearly work within this season and beyond but older cards still work just as well. For competitive play Shadespire universal cards have been rotated out. This has nothing to do with the core set but it’s worth bringing up.
There’s been a lot of change in Beastgrave, more than just a new setting! The Beastgrave is a primal and ravenous place. Shadespire had you face the risk of being trapped and tormented by eternal life, Beastgrave has everything trying to kill each other constantly. Survival of the fittest. This is represent by Feature Tokens and the ability of each player being allowed the option to place a lethal hex.
Objective tokens have changed! Now one side represents the Beastgrave numbered objectives you know and love, featuring the desirable treasures of Ghur. However things never stay safe for long in the Beastgrave. To represent this the other side of the Feature Token contains a lethal hex.
One minute you’re standing on a safe objective, the next a ravenous jaw is trying to eat you! This brings a neat little mechanical mini-game that will develop as Beastgrave goes on where players can use cards and abilities to flip Feature Tokens to deny opponents crucial objectives.
Lethal hexes are placed after feature tokens have been set. These feature a different design to the lethal hexes on Feature Tokens so it won’t be confusing to players as to which is a Feature Token lethal hex and which is a normal lethal hex token. The person who placed Feature Tokens has the option to place a lethal hex then so does the other player. Remember this is optional so you don’t have to but you always should in order to appease the hungry Beastgrave.
This has to be my favourite new mechanic for Beastgrave. It may not seem that important at first but lethal hex placement allows you to punish opponents for sitting back or those who make predictable charges forwards. There’s so much depth to it that I can’t wait to see how people place them. Really forces you to have good positioning skills.
Lethal hexes have also had a slight change in terms of rules. In addition to taking damage from lethal hexes when pushed or moving into them, you now take damage for being placed in one (such as with Confusion). Note fighters do not take damage when standing in a hex with an objective token that is flipped into a lethal hex.
One more thing for lethal hexes is just a slight option for players of old. To make lethal hexes stand out more I use the official Games Workshop acrylic Shardfall tokens from the Shadespire Organised Play set. They’re big, stand out and finally give me a use for the 16 of them that I have. It’s purely optional but I feel it’s a nice use of those acrylic hexes.
The next new change is the combat sequence flowchart!
This handy table shows you each step of the attack action process and when reactions can be played. New cards are designed around this. Older players will find this extremely useful for their old cards too. Overall it helps clarify exactly how an attack action work.
Board placement has also changed. Before the winner of the roll-off was forced to place boards second. With Beastgrave, winning the roll-off means you choose whether to place boards first or second which gives more tactical freedom.
Guard has also had a handy improvement, now fighters on guard are immune to being driven back! Stand on objectives and next to lethal hexes without fear. It’s a great little defensive buff to the action.
General Game Flow
Other than that, the game remains the same. After deciding warbands players roll-off to place boards, feature tokens then lethal hexes. Once this is complete players draw 3 objectives and 5 power cards, choosing to optionally discard (do over) one or both hands. Once hands are decided, players roll-off for deployment then roll-off for action phase 1 priority with the player who finished deploying first gaining +1 crit to the priority rolls.
If you’re new and want a full play-by-play of how the game works then check out the official GW video with Becca Scott here:
Charge Tokens and Superactions
The game retains mechanics from Nightvault, namely scatter and magic (with the latter being slightly more refined in terms of wording). Tokens remain the same as Nightvault, denoting what action a fighter makes. An important distinction occurs here. Charge tokens are gained after the move action is completed and before the attack action occurs for a charge action.
Now we get to superactions. These are unique actions which combine 2 or more actions within a single activation. Currently the only superactions are a charge action and Scything attacks but who knows what the future may hold? Also if you inspire during a superaction, you inspire after the action is resolved but this is the same for all actions that involve inspiring.
Counters have also been expanded upon in Beastgrave. Instead of just wound counters there are now universal tokens players can use to represent the myriad of cards that require the use of various different counters. Counters and token can be easily confused but there’s a clear different. Tokens like move and charge tokens are placed next to the fighter’s model, counters ritual counters are placed on the fighter’s fighter card. The exception are wound tokens which are only placed on fighter cards like counters.
We also have new universal keywords! Card design has been revamped to include keywords to help improve wordings and rules. It will be much easier for players to follow and identify what a card does. The glossary has a selection of common keywords used throughout the game. Common ones you will see are those related to attack actions.
As above cleave remains the same. Ensnare has been added to deal with those pesky dodge fighters. Scything now clarifies how attack actions work against multiple fighters at once and if an attack action with scything targets 2 or more fighters then it follows the rules for a super action.
There are many more keywords which highlight actions and other common occurrences during the game. Hunter and Quarry are not mentioned in the glossary. Those 2 are special keywords which allow a fighter with access to those keywords to use special and unique abilities. Hunter and Quarry represent the apex predators and the cautious prey in Beastgrave. Having the corresponding keyword allows said fighter to interact with cards related to Hunters and Quarries.
With keywords objectives have been changed too! Score immediately objectives are now Surge objectives. Dual objectives are cards that have 2 conditions that need to be met to score the card. Hybrid objectives give you 2 different options to achieve for glory, giving you a bit more freedom in objective deck building.
Despite being cleared up in the online FAQs, modifying characteristics and dice rolls havd been clearly clarified and stated in the core rules.
Finally we have the reference sheet. It includes the combat flowchart as well as useful tidbits such as how to determine successes clear in attack and defence rolls, activation options as well as round sequence. If you can’t remember it all, just keep this handy page nearby.
Alternative Gameplay Modes
Outside of the standard game mode described within the main rules, the core set rulebook expands into different ways to play. The first one is Matched play, the standard format for most players. It details how best of 3 games works and tie-breakers for if a winner is needed after the set.
Ladder campaigns are a new addition. This section just goes over how to run a monthly ladder campaign which allows new players to join with ease. I’ve seen many used in various gaming groups so it’s great to see it get official recognition. Ladder campaigns are great ways to help grow and maintain local gaming communities for Underworlds.
Finally there’s multiplayer for 3 to 4 players. Nothing much has changed but multiplayer remains refined as usual for all the specific rules changes related to multilayer games.
Beastgrave comes with 2 different warbands that total in at 11 miniatures. The 2 warbands are Skaeth’s Wild Hunt which contain 4 Aleves and a Malkyn, the other warband is Grashrak’s Despoilers considering of 6 Beastmen. As usual each team comes in colour coordinated plastic and can be push-fit together without need of glueing. For an in-depth look at each warband check out my reviews for them here:
Warhammer Underworlds Beastgrave comes with a lot of stuff for you to play with. As always you get the crucial core rulebook. Next you get 2 pairs of double-sided boards.
These are a bit busier than the Shadespire and Nightvault boards but still look great and fit the theme of Beastgrave with numerous skeletal remains as well as many-fanged pits.
Dice are a crucial element to any good game. With Beastgrave you get 11 dice. 5 attack dice (white), 3 magic dice (light blue) and 3 defence dice (black). Enough for all your gaming needs while giving you 11 ways to roll crits!
There are also 3 double-sided cardboard token sheets that come in the Beastgrave core set. They provide you with all the tokens you need to play the game with. A neat addition is that wound tokens are now double-sided too, the flipside acts as universal counters that you can place on cards to represent the effects of counters in-game.
As with all core sets Beastgrave comes with extra clear plastic bags you can use for token and dice storage, always nice to see. The box also contains a QR code you can use to scan and get a free chapter from the new Beastgrave novel for all those avid readers out there.
The Beastgrave core set comes with 38 universal cards available for use between both warbands and any others in your collection. As usual for me I’ll go over the whole set with cards I consider alright and then over my top picks, cards which stand out as my favourites.
Annihilation is your standard enemy wipe-out objective. Alright but great for those dedicated to all things aggro.
Hold Objectives 1 to 5 are another old staple. Stand on the corresponding numbered objective to gain 1 glory.
Eldritch Haze is doable to cast needing only a single focus. It’s fine but remember it only buffs the caster.
Universal Cards – Top Picks
Conquest is a reliable 3rd end phase objective. Only 2 glory but very easy to score.
Denial has surged back into fashion. Getting into your opponent’s territory and staying there is no longer the easy thing it used to be.
Supremacy. 3 glory for 3 objectives. If you can hold your ground then it’s worth the investment.
Confusion has always been a good card but with the lack of push enemy fighter cards it becomes even better. Let your opponent move or charge onto an objective then steal it from them! It also has countless other uses too.
Marked is great for the potential it brings. Making ANY fighter a Quarry permanently is huge.
Sidestep is the good old free push.
Snare is Trap but can only be used by Hunters. A great trade-off to keep a powerful card in-check.
Caltrops allows your fighter to do damage to range 1 attacks as long as your fighter survives. Great but predictable. Still very useful for fighters like Mollog.
Great Fortitude: +1 wounds, what’s not to love?
Great Speed: Gotta go fast.
Great Strength: Never underestimate the power of +1 damage, remember it’s only for range 1 and 2 attacks.
Predatory Instinct is great because it makes you a Hunter. Also counts as Awakened Weapon against any fighters who are a Quarry.
Bonus Round: External Accessories
GW were also kind enough to give me some of the external accessories you can buy in addition to the core set! I’ll be reviewing: the Beastgrave neoprene playmat, warband card sleeves and warband dice.First up is the playmat. Remember last year’s controversy with the Nightvault playmat being folded in a box? Well…
…Not anymore! That’s right folks, the Beastgrave playmat is rolled up!
Outside of that the playmat is really nice. Feels smooth and clean while neatly outline where decks, discard piles, activation tokens and glory are placed. It even includes a hand turn marker. A bit big but otherwise fine. Overall really nice, can happily recommend.
Warband sleeves are back! Now in packs of 70 with 20 upgrade sleeves, 40 power card sleves and 10 clear sleeves for fighter cards. At a £2 price increase you now get double the number of sleeves you used to compared to previous Shadespire and Nightvault sleeves. They seem tougher and more durable but I need to do thorough testing before giving my recommendation. Still these packs are an improvement over the old ones.
At last we have the warband dice for Skaeth’s Wild Hunt and Grashrak’s Despoilers.
Skaeth’s dice are fiery orange while Grashrak’s are marbled black/grey with both having bone defence dice. They’re nice. I’m a fan of green dice myself but they’re worth picking up if you’re a fan of either warband.
In conclusion I’d highly recommend buying Warhammer Underworlds Beastgrave. It’s a great value box that gives you everything needed to play. For new players it’s perfect to jump and learn. Experienced players will need it for the new boards and core rules updates as long as having 2 great new warbands to play with.
Beastgrave is pretty much a completely new game that still retains the core principles of Underworlds. Everything has been improved to and streamlined. The game is faster and cards a clearer. If you want to buy the Beastgrave core set, get it direct from Games Workshop here.
Now that Beastgrave is out the game truly begins. Join me as I’ll be going over future changes and helping guide you through the deadly Beastgrave. Just remember to always roll crits.