Buffing the Shadespire Warbands

Shadespire Warbands in a season 4 world.

Greetings and welcome to another guest article, this time by Derek T, the captain of Canada and all about his suggested buffs for the Shadespire Warbands. As a quick reminder: these are all just his own thoughts and ideas, not a reflection of my own. I have my own ideas as to what I’d do with the Shadespire warbands but Derek came to me with an interesting topic that I think is worthy of sharing and discussing with everyone today. So with that out of the way, I’ll hand you over to Derek.


When Underworlds was first released, Games Workshop astutely made the most iconic armies as their first series of teams. These are the ones that the most people would be interested in and, hence, buy the game. This is all well and good, but as the developers themselves have stated, they were still learning what would be strong and what would be underpowered. To their credit, for shooting in the dark like they were, Underworlds has maintained its streamlined form and is amazingly balanced. With that in mind, those iconic teams from Shadepsire are a bit lacking when it comes to the current game. With Season 4 around the corner, this provides the perfect time to update Season 1 to the new mechanics while keeping them in line with Season 2 and 3 teams and, of course, some new models!

First, in every case a few “booster” cards will be released with each improvement. Calling these a “Mirrored City Reinforcements” card pack or something similar. Perhaps a gift pack for 2020?

Second, does the team need adaptation to new mechanics? Extra models? A slight tweak to rules? Each team is unique and so needs a unique solution.

Third, Balance! This may be a bit of a “wishlist” but the balance of this game and the fun of its core design are important. So keeping things fun for season 1 teams AND season 2-4 is important.

Steelheart’s Champions


The original poster boy of the Mirrored City, Severin Steelheart’s Champions have been on a rollercoaster throughout their run. Sometimes being near the top, and sometimes being derided as boring and unplayable in the current game. With the inclusion of Ironsoul’s condemners, they seem even more lackluster. So, how do we fix that without making these already strong-stat warriors overpowered? We address their biggest weakness – mobility.

This can be done by simply including a few power cards to increase their movement. An in-faction spectral wings, a two hex sidestep, and an in-faction Faneway Crystal or other Hysh based teleport would go a long way to allowing the OG Eternals to keep from turtling and score objectives and kills at the same level as their Beastgrave Counterparts.

Garrek’s Reavers


The antithesis of Steelheart. The Reavers embody fast moving and fast dying. There have been some great uses of these guys over the last couple seasons, even winning a Grand Clash out of nowhere! The Reavers can be compared to the Godsworn Hunt or Grashrak’s Despoilers and come close, but they lack the one thing that makes their fellow Chaos teams awesome – support.

I propose adding a Slaughterpriest/Bloodsecretor type model. Something that, like Grashrak, can give a small boost to your team and bring them up to that 6-model number which would put them in line with their aggro peers. The model wouldn’t need to be huge (perhaps 3 wounds with a 2 smash/2 damage attack) but would have the ability to grant a reroll or add damage to the rest of the Reavers attacks.

Ironskull’s Boyz


Da boiz! For such character and such wanton brutality, and being such an iconic warband, Gurzag and his Boyz not being on the table is unacceptable to my WAAAGH!!!-loving heart. Now, many of us are looking forward to Morgok’s Krushas, but I don’t think we should forget the original Greenskinz.

A new model is the answer to this one too. I suggest a Warchanter or a Weirdnob Shaman. Both Models are Ironjawz in AOS which makes them suitable for the Boyz, and if we take inspiration from their AOS rules, this model could be a Wizard with a spell action or power cards that add an additional hit or additional damage when the boyz roll a Crit on their attacks. This would allow Ironjawz to flex a bit into magic abilities, make even Hakka and Basha more of a threat, and that new model would make this 5 model Boyz-Band as good a choice as the new kidz on the (Underworlds) Block.

Sepulchral Guard


Grand Alliance Death teams have done a great job becoming the signature “Hold Objective” warbands. Sadly for Deathrattle fans, the Ghosts and Ghouls have left the Warden and his Guard far, far behind. Adding in an in-faction “Temporary Victory” would help and should be a part of this, but we want to keep in the vein of new models and mechanics. Enter: The Necromancer. A 3-wound Wizard with a Spell Attack and some additional gambit spells to help move your petitioners and named skeletons onto their objectives or other key hexes. By making this a 8 model warband, the Necromancer could then replace a petitioner (keeping the petitioner off the board -or in the ground- as reserve) and have a spell action that allows him to raise a model on any starting hex similar to Skritch or Vortimus and opening a large amount of gameplay options.

Spiteclaw’s Swarm


Skritch is the Greatest [200% fact], Yes yes! This was one of the hardest teams to decide on an improvement on. Since they are still semi-viable depending on what diabolical mind is fielding these dastardly rats. So how do we utilize the new game mechanics but not make the Swarm able to overrun the field? Whats more, Clan Skyre, Eshin and the rest deserve their own teams in the future, so keeping this crew as generic skaven is important.

The answer: a 2 wound Grey Seer apprentice. This Wizard would have the ability to open-up some new options for Spiteclaw, and I would love to see Skaven staple spells such as “Skitterleap”, “Death Frenzy” and “Warp Lightning”. Add a proviso that if he suffers 2 damage due to backlash (Skaven Magic is finicky after all) and you have another model/tool that will be fun on the table but not oppressive to the rest of the field.

The Chosen Axes


In comparison to Spiteclaw’s Swarm, deciding on what to do for Fjul-Grimnir and the rest of Vostarg Lodge was easy. Their chief weakness is their inspire condition and low movement, but keeping in the theme of the warband and the Army at large was surprisingly simple:

Call in a Runemaster! Even though the Auric Runemaster of AOS is not a wizard there is an argument to use the spell mechanic for a Lvl 1 wizard Runemaster in Underworlds. A spell action would be perfect for this model called “Rune of Inspiration”; 1 Channel to cast which inspires the Runemaster or an adjacent model. Although fairly reliable, the need for models to be beside the Runemaster for it to be cast and the extra model will ensure the Axes don’t keep getting the short side of the stick.

The Farstriders


The Stormcast Vanguard have long been relegated to C-tier play. With their strong fanbase and good models, I’ve always felt that their lack of use is a shame. But how do we improve these Vanguard Hunters now that they are in Beastgrave?

Yeah, this is an easy one: The Vanguard Hunters are HUNTERS! This simple keyword addition would open-up a bevy of opportunities for the team. With snare, tracking and trophy belt fast becoming staples. Another idea is to include a 2 wound Gryph-Hound model like Grawl. I always though that Vanguard should have both their usual animals on the pitch, and a little buddy to go with Sanson’s Star Falcon seems ideal. Do the Farstriders need both to be viable? Probably (definitely!) not. But if we are going to go to all the trouble to suggest improvements, we are going to have fun with it!

Magore’s Fiends


Make Aggro Great Again! The Fiends have been my first choice in murder, and I must admit, they really do not need help. Upgrade or Gambit cards that give +1 attack dice standard/+2 attack dice vs wizards would make Khorne happy, but I would like to make one small thematic change for the murder crew: Magic Defense. It will not come up every game, but Riptooth has his Collar of Khorne on the model, and with the above Wizards being added to the game, it is worth it to make this small change to the team. If a wizard casts a spell while Riptooth is on the pitch, the Magore Player may roll 1 dice similar to a defense roll with Channel being the defense stat. Plus, we need to give GW the opportunity to sell something as a part of this, so buy your $20 Collar of Khorne dice today!


If you have read this far – or more likely read your favorite warband’s entry and then decided my idea is stupid – I would like to hear your idea. Do Season 1 teams need the boost? Do you reject the idea of paying for a single model and booster pack? Do you have a different idea? Fan wishlists with enough noise do get attention in this day and age of social media and one of the greatest things about Warhammer Underworlds is that the developers are listening to us. Let’s hear your ideas and hopefully we can see these iconic teams back on the pitch!

There you have it. Derek T’s thoughts about buffing the Shadespire warbands. Agree? Disagree? Let me know! Personally I still think a lot of the Shadespire warbands are still viable and needle little to no tweaks (pray for Gurzag). New models are an interesting idea but have a tendency to break warband cohesion for better or worse. I believe most need some new cards to keep them on-level with the Beastgrave warbands as a lot of design concepts have changed from Shadespire to Beastgrave. Also bring back Time Trap. So until Ironskull’s Boyz and the Chosen Axes leave their retirement homes, remember to keep rolling crits!

12 thoughts on “Buffing the Shadespire Warbands

  1. I think S1 does need a boost or else they will slowly not see play. I do however think it’s not a great idea to add models to the warbands. It just seems like so many hurdles to successfully add models. For example, what if you want to play the warband, but don’t want to buy yet another model?
    I think they could put out updated fighter cards pretty easily as well as some warband cards to buff them. I’m a fan of chosen axes and I think just making their inspire condition “after an activation” as opposed to at the end of the round would make them much more in line with newer warbands

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think a card solution is better, especially since you can’t buy their cards anymore. Since the models are still available, GW could just release card packs with the fighter cards and warband specific cards. This would be a good opportunity to tweak any of their rules and cards to make them fit in better. Even without tweaks I feel like this should happen for people who weren’t around when the warbands were available, but still want to play them.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Making each warband having 10 factional gambits and 10 factional upgrades is quite enough to balance underpowered teams in my opinion… even Vortemis with factional Sphere of Aqushy may become playable…

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Adding new models to existing warbands is never going to happen. The costs involved, and the backlash from people forced to buy new models just to keep their warband viable, is just too much. Plus it would cut into the production schedules for other things.

    Cards are easier to add to their production schedules; relative to additional miniatures it’s almost trivial. A half-deck of cards could be retailed for around $12-15US, which isn’t too hard of an ask on consumers compared to the $25-35US it would probably cost for a miniature booster.

    Instead of your approach I’d instead want them to have ‘boost ups’ at a near cost. This would be a cardpack of 32 + number of fighters new cards; so they get a full deck of in faction cards like the Beastgrave warbands. Thus bringing them in line with Beastgrave’s ‘out of the box’ cardpacks. Giving the Season 1 models entirely new ‘in faction’ cardsets as part of the season 4 releases would be an ungodly amount of work for the designers, but the best way to breathe new life into the warbands.

    It would also allow them to address warbands across all seasons that are struggling, like Eyes of the Nine. They need a makeover more than some of the Season 1 warbands.

    For Season 4 I really hope they release boosters of all the unaligned cards from each miniatures set alongside them, so I can have multiple decks built for different warbands for both me and my daughter without us fighting over single generics. They’d sell fewer miniatures, but make bank on the card packs.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think some new strong power/objective cards would be a good idea. At least enough to allow direct play with a deck (like 20 power and 12 objective minimum). They could also Errata some of the fighter cards to modify stats or give extra abilities or something just to level the playing field. New models is a cool idea but a bit excessive in my opinion.


  5. I think

    Iron Jaws just need a reaction card GurZag roar : reaction Push all Iron jaws one or hexes closer to that enemy after Gurzag makes an attack action …& Gurzag Command : Push all iron jaws 1 closer to the Gurzag ..& an upgrade that give +2 move on charge (even if its bone and the other noob one specific) Ploy “Egg on” pick two adjacent Iron jaws one of these gets +2 to a charge in then next activation when starting next to another ironjaw

    Sepulchral Guard: Slight Rule change: when the Leader makes people move is doesn’t matter if they have a move or charge token..Their undead they dont get tired or fatigued so move move move should be fine ..An upgrade that lets the leader res on any stater hex( or even an edge hex) or in house backdoor(edge hex to edge hex one cant remember the proper name)

    Stormcast i agree with what cards you have suggested

    Spiteclaws: infaction upgrade Purple BilJu this character has become a lvl2 wizard “everybody knows the best Bilju is purple” then 3 infaction spells 1 a reaction self res on any edge hex, the other chain lighting (unlimited change range hits everyone even the caster) 3 life drain: do as it says can use on other “friendly Skaven” or enemy fighter

    The Chosen Axes: a reaction ploy or upgrade to put people on guard when the leader kills an enemy infaction earthquake infaction upgrade to prevent objectives being move or flipped (but not destroyed) …upgrade Rune master lvl1 Wizard 2 spells all about pushing on to objectives all lighting easy to cast but still a chance to fail

    Magore’s Fiends: They just need 1 upgrade range 3/4 whip/flail (can only be used at ranged 3/4) 2swords on succesfull attack pull enemy closer 1 hex on fail attack push 1 closer to enemy
    i actually think magores can still pumel hard even in s3

    Garrek’s Reavers: i think a couple Free upgrade on kill cards something to keep them alive after they charge like take damage push 1 hex if you choose to go closer thats your choice or Reaction: ignore damage take zero damage discard this card etc etc

    Rules changes a defence roll against magic spell attacks even ploy ones


  6. They could even add a few upgraded warband fighter cards to card sets such as “power unbound” or “the leader pack”. So they would t have to necessarily upgrade all of the warbands at once, maybe half and stick them in a card pack already planned to make. And then the other half in the next card pack.


  7. At bare minimum they could just add an errata to update S1 warband fighter cards. But then the cards wouldn’t be available still to those that don’t have them. But then GW wouldn’t have to do anything really production-wise, just play test a bit.
    I think many of the warbands have decent enough faction cards that updating the fighter cards could bring them more in line with night vault and Beastgrave warbands


    1. I’d love an errata but the issue would be who downloads it etc. Not a necessarily impossible wall but something to keep in-mind.


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