Arena Mortis

We’re back again in the Arena Mortis!

Welcome to my Product Review for the Arena Mortis game mode expansion for Warhammer Underworlds. This is a new redux version of the original free game mode of Arena Mortis which you can find me review of here. Before getting into the review, once again thanks to Games Workshop for giving this to me to review for free. Despite not paying for it, I always try to maintain being honest and aim to give impartial feedback. With that out of the way, onto the review!


Narrative

Beastgrave – The Mountain God (Phil Moss)

Thanks to the Necroquake by Nagash, god of death, the Katophrane Curse has spread far across the mortal realms, its vile curse of undeath seeping into many realms and battlefields. Even aspects of the Mirrored City spur and shudder into the realms, forcing its architecture to merge with that of the local surrounding area. In certain areas after enough bloodshed and with a handful of survivors, the curse’s effect magnifies into a whirling vortex which empowers the fighters trapped within. These warriors now instantly return to life upon being slain while the deathly energies flow through them, seeking blood retribution against those who had dared to slay them. Thus, this phenomenon is called the Arena Mortis.

Nagash, ever hungry for more deathly power, sent his Mortarchs to harness this energy in his name. However, not even these mighty warriors of Death could contain the energy of the Kataphrone Curse produced in the Arena Mortis. The artefacts they used to try and harness these energies ended up being forever lost and scattered throughout the Mirrored City and wherever it bled into the realms.

Now Mortis Lenses sporadically appear whenever the Arena Mortis has taken hold. Whoever is brave enough to peer into these items gain varying boons. Those that stand in the lenses for too long after the battle is over should not do so for long. Otherwise the lens will trap them inside for all eternity or until Nagash comes to claim their soul for himself.


The Game

Arena Mortis is a new way to play games of Warhammer Underworlds, focusing on having a single game on 1 board with anywhere from 3 to 6 player. All players control a single fighter from any warbands which could be the mighty Gurzag all the way to the sinister Festering Skaven. Rules for the game mean fighters who could summon fighters (such as Vortemis and Skritch Spiteclaw) cannot do so. Fighters that require another fighter to be used ignore such restrictions mean you can use one of the solitary Squigs if so desired.

There’s also a special caveat for the Horrors as shown below. You also cannot use the Brimstone Horrors on their own. Aka you can’t “start” as the Brimstone for your fighter.

Your chosen fighter also starts with a number of upgrades depending on their wound characteristic. For example Bloody Saek starts with 2 upgrades whereas Mollog starts with none! This means fighters with lower wounds characteristics start with more upgrades from the start allowing even the weakest of fighters to be true combat monsters from the start of the game! All fighters also start inspired so everyone is fighting at their peak. You also gain an upgrade before you activate your fighter each time so you really do speed through your upgrade deck.

There are 2 more rules that are important to cover. The Rule of One means only a single copy of any upgrade can exist at once (so can’t have everyone with Great Strength at once for example) and The Mortis Curse which causes you to discard any upgrades that grant additional glory (like Tome of Offerings and Crown of Avarice) which are great rules for balancing the game. The Rule of One specifically incentivises the use of faction cards as they’re much hard to displace by the opponent.

Another interesting point is that there is no objective deck. You still have 2 decks however, a single deck comprised of upgrades and a single deck of gambits. Both decks need to be of equal size and you can’t have more upgrades than gambits as well as having a minimum of 10 cards each. Fighters gain upgrades in the end phase and when they return to the battlefield. Due to the speed which you go through upgrades, however, I would recommend building much larger decks as the rulebook recommends.

Victory conditions are simple. If you have the most glory at the end of the game, you win! Upon a tie in glory it goes to the player with a fighter that is not out of action. If that’s still a tie then whomever is tied with glory has their fighter standing in the same hex as the Mortis Lens is the winner. If there is no one on the Mortis Lens then the game is a draw. Simple, right?

A game of Arena Mortis has a varying duration depending on the player count. The more players, the fewer rounds. That may seem weird at first but games of Arena Mortis can be surprisingly long with lots of players so the reduction in length as the player count increases is a really good implementation.

Initiative is determined via dealing out random numbered cards depending on the total players. Initiative cards always include the “First Place” and Last Place” cards. Then you add additional initiative cards as shown below.

The initiative cards are then shuffled and dealt out every round and determine how players will activate. The “First Place” card lets rolls of full supports for that player’s fighter count as successes and, after that fighter’s activation, if it’s the only fighter on the battlefield you then gain an additional glory point. This is necessary as going first in a round of Arena Mortis is quite the disadvantage. The “Last Place” card deals 2 damage to that player’s fighter after their activation, or 1 damage if that would take the fighter out of action. If even that would take the friendly fighter out of action, then the fighter suffers no damage. This may seem strange too but going last in Arena Mortis is very powerful indeed.

After revealing initiative cards, each player takes turns to Raise fighters which are out of action. You place your out of action fighter on any starting hex on the game board then place a Raise counter. You can use anything to represent Raise counters but Arena Mortis does come with 6, enough for the maximum numbers of players. The only weird thing is that the end phase doesn’t say Raise counters are removed from fighter cards so I guess they just stack forever?

Wound characteristic totals have changed slightly. You now have wound characteristic trackers to place above your fighter’s fighter card showing their current wounds characteristic. It’s okay but not really necessary. Does this replace wound counters? I’m…not sure. I don’t think so? It’s not very clear.

Power steps work a little bit like the main game as shown below.

Reactions work like how they do in the main game too. If multiple players want to play a reaction at the same time within the same window, then don’t worry as Games Workshop has you covered with a great rule! HIT IT BEYONCE!

That’s right, the player to the left of the player starting the chain/reaction window gets to react first. What happens if no one is to the left (such as if players are setup in a line)? Well, er, then technically no one can play a reaction. Is it too open ended for abuse? Just remember this game is for fun. FUN.

Persisting effects are no longer such a big issue. Persisting effects that only affect a specific fighter end when said fighter is taken out of action. Persisting effects and ploys also end in general at the end of a round during the end phase. This means cards like Frozen in Time are no longer the negative play experience (NPE) cards like they were before.

Finally there are a few more rules to keep in-mind for your games of Arena Mortis. First is Headtaker which lets you take a single glory token of an opponent who’s fighter you take out of action if they had they most glory or were tied for it. Then there is An Inglorious Death which triggers when your fighter is taken out of action during your own activation, discard one of your glory tokens if you have any. No lethal hex suiciding for you! Just watch out for opponent attacks during your activation like Gore Fists.


Fighters

Image credit: Warhammer Community site

As stated earlier, fighters start a game in Arena Mortis with a number of objectives depending on their starting wounds characteristic which offers some interesting fighter combinations. Personally I would go for low wound fighters. While you are fairly weak you start with 3 upgrades. Sure your durability isn’t great but you start the game with a much better advantage and can specialise into more defensive buffs (or just go aggro mad). High wound fighters are still a good option and have a reliable chance of being alive at the end of the game but will take a while to get going. Like in my previous article on Arena Mortis, here are some fighters with recommended upgrades.

Card Review - WUOnline - Universal Card Release 03

Skritch is the Greatest for a reason! He starts off with 2 upgrades and has a base range 2 attack with 3 damage. Strong faction and universal cards turn him into a combat monster that pushes himself around the board.

Recommended Upgrades: Skitter-Scury, Sneaky Stab-Stab, Great Strength.

Festering Skaven! He starts with 3 objectives. Give him Expendable so no one gets glory from you. Festering Blades and Concealed Weapon make him do 5 damage on a crit! Combine with Army of One and Challenge Seeker to make him a 5 attack dice monster.

Recommended Upgrades: Expendable, Festering Blades, Concealed Weapon.

Averon Stormsire embraces his turret power. While wizards generally suffer in Arena Mortis due to limited gambit access, he can become the turret he’s always dreamed of. 4 damage range 3 from Gloryseeker and Tempest’s Might ensure magic always has a place.

Recommended Upgrades: Gloryseeker, Well of Power, Tempest’s Might.

The Harvester sheds durability for multi-attacking power! Once you get him to 4 damage and some juicy attack action keywords, this reaper makes quick work of densely packed foes!

Recommend Upgrades: Sting of the Ur-Grub, Claws of the Ur-Grub, Predator’s Trinket.

Duke Crakmarrow is a great choice. He’s fearsome when inspired and has the faction upgrades to make him stick around while powered-up with safe faction upgrades.

Recommended Upgrades: Heroic Vision, Well Motivated, Duelist’s Speed.

Brodus “the BRO” Blightbane is especially fearsome in Arena Mortis. His inspired attack actions are monstrous and he can live off of strong faction cards to keep going.

Recommended Upgrades: Sanctified Armour, Claws of the Ur-Grub, Incredible Strength.


Arena Mortis Cards

Image credit: Games Workshop Arena Mortis store page

Outside of the specific deck building rules, you’re free to use your entire card collection! No need to worry about rotation. This is good and bad for many reasons but I think it’s a good thing. Arena Mortis is supposed to be some casual fun. I’ll get into balance later but feel free to use any cards at your disposal. Do note, however, that Arena Mortis contains a forsaken list as shown below.

Arena Mortis also comes with 20 gambits, 20 upgrades and…an updated Warden fighter card along with an updated Restless Dead faction card. You also get 6 initiative cards which helps with player order. My issue with the update of the Warden and Restless Dead is that you have to buy this expansion if you want updated cards for Sepulchral Guard only. It’s weird the same wasn’t done for Spiteclaw’s Swarm and Duke Crakmarrow (you could argue they don’t raise fighters but instead summon replacements from the numerous/shambling hordes that follow them around as per the narrative). I do wish this will be fixed in the upcoming free Fighter Card Update in October as per the Warhammer Underworlds roadmap as it would solve the problems I have with this change. The issue with that is that a lot of the Raise counter cards would be fairly broken with Spiteclaw’s Swarm being able to use them freely so it’s kinda a lose/lose situation for everyone.

Arena Mortis is fun but still has cards you’ll always want to include for your decks. I’ll go over them here but remember this game mode is primarily designed for fun but is quite easy to abuse. As always I’ll go with cards I consider fine then my top picks which are cards I feel are the best from the expansion. As the cards kinda have a dual role between either Arena Mortis games and general Warhammer Underworlds games, I’ll try and include how I feel each card does in both settings. I’ve also kept any watermarks off so if you want to share any cards before Games Workshop drop the official images, I’d greatly appreciate it if you could include my site as the source please (:

Arena Mortis Gambits

A Risky Prospect is a great card for the risky. A 42.1% chance to gain at least 1 glory but an 87.5% chance to do at least 1 damage to that chosen fighter instead. A decent card for Mollog, Ironskull’s Boyz and the Sepulchral Guard due to being able to raise a fighter, however as you either inspire him faster and/or get glory out of it for your troubles as well. For Arena Mortis though, there are still better options.

Bitter Memories is a card that will trigger on a 44.4% chance and then requires you to have 1 or more Raise counters on said fighter for a free attack action. Just too many points of failure to be relied upon whether playing the core game or Arena Mortis. For the main game, the Sepulchral Guard have much better cards to choose from.

Divine Reward is…alright. Good for getting out upgrades faster and for free with aggro warbands. Really good for the Godsworn Hunt but other warbands will find its usefulness debateable. It’s an alright pick for Arena Mortis though.

Fancy Footwork

*ahem* If you like combo then run this for a +3 draw card bonus (+2 card economy). Outside of Arena Mortis it will struggle to find use but it’s alright for Morgwaeth’s Blade-Coven and even dedicated combo only decks. Amazing name though.

Last Gasp let’s you to deal 1 damage to an enemy fighter within 3 hexes. Alright but better for warbands focusing on ping damage. Even then the cost of your own fighter for 1 damage is not ideal.

Making Ends Meet I’m not 100% sure on but I’m putting it on the alright list for now. Recycling your own glory isn’t bad but I don’t feel it’s amazing either. Good for the Godsworn Hunt but others will find it debateable in terms of usage.

Outrageous Fortune let’s you reduce damage by 1 for the cost of an equipped upgrade. It is very balanced but not overpowered. Generally, I would not run this as I love my upgrades. Even in Arena Mortis, were death leads to a free reposition, this won’t be that beneficial for you.

Revel in Death has a 75% chance to grant you a glory token when a Raise counter is placed on a friendly fighter. It’s alright but more useful to the Sepulchral Guard to counteract losing a glory for inspiring a fighter (as your chosen fighters would have given the opponent 1 glory via going out of action). Decent for Arena Mortis but not necessary. Also needs an FAQ/errata because that reaction window is incredibly vague. Reacts to anything at…any time?

Soulsurge is a 50/50 chance to attack again with any friendly fighter after you take an enemy fighter out of action. It’s super risky so only worth it for the pure aggro fiends. Even if you trigger the effect with the successful dice roll, you have to take an enemy fighter out of action to trigger it and then hope your chosen attack succeeds after the 50/50 roll.

Strength from Death grants Cleave and Ensnare to a friendly fighter that receives a Raise counter. It’s alright but I prefer Cold Fury. Better in Arena Mortis. Sepulchral Guard don’t really need it as they have the Champion with Cleave and Claws of the Ur-Grub is a great way to get permanent Ensnare.

Winded requires you to have at least one Combo upgrade and a spent glory to give an adjacent enemy fighter a charge token. A good backup for a failed Combo attack but not something I’d run.

Arena Mortis Gambits – Top Picks

At Any Cost is a huge glory investment but 3 glory for an out-of-sequence charge in the power step for a fighter with no move or charge tokens is worth it in my book, especially for horde warbands. Even in Arena Mortis it’s great as you have excess glory fairly quickly and lose move and charge tokens quickly too. Elite warbands will find not so great rewards and it’s tough to use effectively round 1. Round 2 onwards is where this card shines.

Cold Fury, despite requiring a Raise counter, is a great reaction for a persisting +1 damage and Awakened Weapon effect that you can sit on until you use it. Amazing for the Sepulchral Guard as well as Arena Mortis.

Distracting Wealth is Twist the Knife but a little more balanced as it now requires 2 glory to be used. Even with that cost it’s amazing. Not so good early on but amazing late game. Surprise and consistent damage is always a boon. It works on any range of attack too! More important in the core game over Arena Mortis.

Enhanced Blow is spend up to 2 glory and then the first attack in the next activation gains extra dice for each glory spent. While Haymaker exists this isn’t such a great choice but once it rotates out it becomes much better. Extra dice for no real downside outside of spending glory is great, another great card for aggro warbands whether playing the main game or Arena Mortis.

Fractured Memories is really useful due to all the multiple defence fighters that exist now. It doesn’t even have a cost too. Another great card for aggro players in general. Even in Arena Mortis, most leaders have multiple defence characteristics so this will help you to no end.

Grand Offering is another “win more” gambit. After taking an enemy fighter out of action, spend 1 glory to gain a spent glory. It’s a 1-for-1 but puts you ahead in glory. Once again very useful for aggro players. In Arena Mortis, however, it’s eh at best.

Invigorating Return is a great positioning card for fighters with a Raise counter. Very strong with Sepulchral Guard when combined with Restless Dead for power step objective grabbing. Situational for Arena Mortis.

Shattering Howl is guaranteed upgrade removal at the cost triggering only when one of your fighters are taken out of action. It’s amazing, especially so on horde warbands. It’s also a surprise reaction meaning your opponent can’t really prepare for it unless they’ve already seen you play it before, generally in the 2nd or 3rd game of a best of 1 round. Plus it targets any enemy fighter, not the one that attacked! More useful in the core game than Arena Mortis though.

The Old One-Two is amazing and essential for Combo decks. +1 dice to both the first and second attacks relating to combo are huge. Makes cards like Finishing Blow even more of a terror and something that Khamyss loves too.

Arena Mortis Upgrades

Deserved Confidence is basically an upgrade that is only useful in Arena Mortis, which is fine. It’s balanced but yeah, don’t take it in the main game. Nice buffs though.

Frenzied Assault is a guilty pleasure but…it’s not great. At range 1, 1 fury and 1 damage with it being unable to have its damage characteristic modified (but importantly its dice characteristic can be) it may seem rather bad until you read its special effect. This allows you to attack again with this attack action when you make it successfully against the same target, meaning you can potentially keep on attacking infinitely as long as the dice are on your side. Hilarious but leave for the fun builds.

Gauntlet of Command is a Mortis Relic which grants +1 wounds if the equipped fighter has 2 or more Mortis Relics. In addition, after this equipped fighter’s activation you can spend 1 glory to push them 1 hex. The second effect is pretty damn good but that glory cost is debateable as it will be unlikely to use early in the game when it’s most needed and is tied to a fighter’s activation unlike the amazing Quickening Greaves.

The (Infinity) Gauntlet of Dominance is a Mortis Relic which grants +1 damage if the equipped fighter has 2 or more Mortis Relics. In addition, after this equipped fighter’s activation you can spend 1 glory to push them 1 hex. Exactly the same effect as Gauntlet of Command but pushes an enemy fighter instead. Still, my feelings are the same.

Head Bash is alright. Range 1, 2 smash, 2 damage and Combo. On a successful attack action with this card via Combo, give the target a charge token. Generally you’re investing in Combo attack action upgrades to kill, this just helps against targets you can’t kill, which goes against what a Combo deck wants to do. It’s fine but only run if you desperately need another Combo reaction weapon.

Heart Thief is a range 4, 2 fury, 1 damage attack action upgrade. Against enemy fighters with a higher wounds characteristic than the user, it’s has +1 damage. Would have liked it to be 2 smash or even 3 fury with reduced range, as it stands it’s fine but needs attack dice investment to be reliable. Range 4 is really nice though.

Invigor Mortis is an upgrade that grants the reaction of doing 1 damage to all adjacent enemy fighters when you place a Raise counter on the equipped fighter card. Alright in Arena Mortis, kinda hilarious in a Sepulchral Guard for a very niche deck but not great still. Very situational.

Spiteful Lunge works on a crit and when a friendly fighter equipped is taken out of action, choose an enemy fighter within 3 hexes and TAKE THEM OUT OF ACTION! A 16.67% chance to trigger but hilarious (for you, RIP your opponent) when it triggers. Equip to a fighter who can be Raised for continual crit fishing and enemy killing. Remember it doesn’t discard after use so you can keep using it if you can resurrect the fighter it’s equipped to and no it doesn’t work with Expendable you sneaky Skaven players (Crown of Avarice, however, will need an FAQ). Outside of Sepulchral Guard and Spiteclaw’s Swarm, it’s not useable at all unless in Arena Mortis.

Weirding Staff is weird. Range 2, 2 fury and 2 damage. Can, as a reaction during the deal damage step, spend 2 glory to add the equipped fighter’s wizard level to the damage characteristic. Funny in Arena Mortis but not so good at all in the main game.

Arena Mortis Upgrades – Top Picks

Ambusher is amazing for fighters who return to the battlefield (leave me alone Sepulchral Guard). Return to the battlefield on any starting hex with a Raise counter and equip this for free before a friendly fighter is taken out of action. “Right behind you” – The Champion

Audacious Feint is a really reliable Combo starter that also grants you a guard token after attacking. Sure it’s only 1 damage but 4 smash is one of the most reliable attacks in the game. The effect isn’t even a reaction too so it won’t block or be blocked by reaction windows!

Desperate Swing is a really nice upgrade attack action. 2 fury, 2 damage, Combo, range 1 which boosts to 4 fury when your opponent has more glory than you. Great for Combo and amazing as a comeback attack action.

Draining Leech is a 1 damage, range 3, 3 fury attack action which cannot have its damage characteristic modified. If it’s successful, discard one of the target’s upgrades. Unfortunately it is discarded even when you miss (which is too harsh) but that ranged way to destroy upgrades is great.

Flashy Follow-UIp is a range 1, 2 smash, 2 damage, Combo attack action which (when used with Combo) gives it +1 dice and damage. It’s good but I prefer Finishing Blow myself. Still this is a must-take for any respectable Combo deck.

Gravesiren lets you push an enemy fighter 1 hex after placing 1 Raise counter. Equips for free before a friendly fighter goes out of action. It’s situational but amazing for objective grabbing and even setting up attacks with supports. Not as straightforward as Ambusher but amazingly useful in the right hands and at the right time. Just gets even better for the main game with Sepulchral Guard.

Hungry for Vengeance grants +1 dice to a fighter’s range 1 and 2 attack actions if they have 1 or more Raise counters. Like similar upgrades, you can equip it for free when a friendly fighter goes out of action. Amazing for Arena Mortis and the Sepulchral Guard. So much accuracy you can put on 1 fighter, especially for the Sepulchral Guard with their high attack dice fighters.

Ignoble Blow is an…interesting attack action upgrade. Range 1, 3 fury and 2 damage with Combo. Its special ability is that you basically always count as having 1 more success than your opponent if you are both tied on successes. It’s a great Combo starter but even then it’s great as an attack action on its own.

The Crown of the Dead is the 3rd Mortis Relic and the best of all 3. If you have 2 or more Mortis Relics you can re-roll 1 dice in the attack roll. More importantly you can spend 1 glory after this equipped fighter’s activation to draw 2 power cards then discard 1 power card. It’s costly but very strong for people relying on draw tech.

Tight Defence only works on range 1 and 2 attack actions but gives the equipped fighter a guard token after the declare attack action step. Run with Buried Instinct for all the reaction guard fun. It’s really good and blocks reactions like Potion of Rage too. Survival Instincts has been replaced (until this gets restricted too, as it’s Survival Instincts with no downsides).

Vision of Glory allows you to spend 1 glory after an activation to remove one move or charge token from the equipped fighter then discard the upgrade. Amazing. Fearsome on fighters like Mollog and anyone looking for extra activations from a key fighter. There’s still a lot of setup and counterplay involved but this card is still really strong.


General Cards

Outside of the included cards, here are my favourite Warhammer Underworlds cards to use in general for Arena Mortis. They’re pretty much essentials if you’re looking for victory.

Army of One is my favourite upgrade for Arena Mortis. You’re the only single friendly surviving fighter so enjoy those +1 attack and defence dice.

Tome of Offerings is just silly good. Allows you to get the glory gain needed for the win. It only lasts once after a kill but it’s still a great card to run.

Crown of Avarice rewards you for being killed by your opponent while they get nothing unless they have glory boosting kill cards like Tome of Offerings and Scavenge. It’s also only a 1-use effect in Arena Mortis but 1-use is better than no-use.

Spoils of Battle and Ghoulish Pact give you free upgrades, what’s not to love?

Ready for Action needs no introduction. Best used when returning to the battlefield for surprise extra attacks.

Rebound. You love it or you hate it. In Arena Mortis you can use it to Rebound attacks between 2 opposite players as well as to protect yourself! No one is safe.


Token Sheet

You get a token sheet! It’s fine. The lone activation token is kinda pointless but harmless to. The game also has 6 Mortis Lenses which have the effects shown below:

They’re fun additions and each one has its own unique effect. They also can’t be flipped or removed so no sneaky tricks! I’m watching you!


New Game Boards

This is my favourite part of the review. I LOVE game boards for Warhammer Underworlds. I love them so much I wrote an article on them which you can find here (I’ll update it soon!).

Shade-Cursed Lair

First up we have the Shade-Cursed Lair. This board has 2 single lethal hexes and a single 2 hex blocked hex. While this board is alright for placing first I feel it performs much better as a Reaction Board. Place this board 2nd and in diagonal configuration for a very defensive setup with the blocked hex on the 3 hex gap. Add a lethal hex for insult to injury too. It even works when orientated in the opposite way with the lethal hex instead. Sorry aggro players.

Ravaged Hall

At last we have the Ravaged Hall. This board has a central-ish lethal hex and a blocked hex in each corner of the board. I categorise this board as a Flex Board. It works really well being placed 1st or 2nd. Great if you’re unsure what your opponent is going to do as well as very good for diagonal configuration too.


House Rules

Arena Mortis is fun but has its own flaws due to weird card interactions that cause potential abuse. The main problem is certain cards become quite toxic in this environment. I’m not saying you have to enforce these rules but it does help make a more enjoyable experience for all involved. The Rule of One helps address this issue but can result in players taking random upgrades to stop the opponent from using them. Funnily enough Arena Mortis does have its own ban list but adding the 3 upcoming suggestions really improves the game. Anyway here are some of the rules I suggest for your games of Arena Mortis:

  • Ban 2 of the Katophrane Relics – Having up to 5 is fine but once someone gets all 6 it’s pretty much game over in Arena Mortis.
  • Ban Frozen in Time – A rather innocent card at first but can potentially locking a player out of the game really hurts in Arena Mortis and isn’t very fun at all.
  • Ban Expendable – Yeah I did mention them as key cards but the game can become almost unwinnable to other players once this upgrades is equipped as it just denies your opponent from glory.

Closing Crit

Overall Arena Mortis is a fun game mode that can be played at home, gaming nights, or even in-between tournament rounds. It’s a fun game mode that exchanges a lot of Warhammer Underworld’s main mechanics for who can make the toughest, upgrade toting, crit spewing eternal warrior. The biggest and unavoidable issue is that this has been released during a global pandemic when it’s not safe to play in groups. As I’ve said previously this isn’t Games Workshop’s fault but you can’t really use this game mode as intended due to that. As someone who works as an intensive care Nurse and has looked after COVID-19 patients, I can’t happily endorse the multiplayer aspect of Arena Mortis at this time. If it’s totally safe for you to do so in your part of the world then that’s your call but please stay safe.

Next is the cost. The price for Arena Mortis is £30 directly from Games Workshop. Now this is great at not being £35+ like I feared it would be but Arena Mortis is packaged like the Gift Pack which was £22.50 (it’s now out of production). Previous board packs costed £15 and Power Unbound was £12.50 for 60 cards (let’s be fair and say £8.50 for 40 cards). This puts the board and cards at a combined price of £23.50. That leaves £6.50 for the 8 page rulebook, 6 initiative cards and the 2 updated Sepulchral Guard cards. And also previously Arena Mortis was given for free in a White Dwarf (with far less rules). Personally, I think the combined price is tolerable. I would have loved it if this was £25 but £30 is still acceptable in my books to an extent. Others may feel differently but yeah.

Another really minor and petty nitpick is the card art. It’s fine but the card art from Morgwaeth’s Blade-Coven warband expansion was top-notch, just wish that was the standard going forwards for all Warhammer Underworlds card artwork. The Arena Mortis card art is just kinda a little too…rough/cartoony for my tastes. Again this is just really minor and totally subjective.

So would I recommend Arena Mortis? If you’re a competitive player you kinda have to buy this for the new game boards and cards alone. Also if you’re a Sepulchral Guard player. You literally need this expansion to play with your warband. Not to mention you technically now have any universal card that mentions Raise counters count as basically a faction universal card when not actually playing Arena Mortis. Arena Mortis? More like Arena Sepulchral Guard! For people who don’t play the Sepulchral Guard, you may be quite miffed due to having any universal card that relates to Raise counters (which totals to 9 cards out of the 40 released in Arena Mortis for those who are interested) being basically useless to you outside of Arena Mortis games

Outside of that? Arena Mortis is fun but it really needs to be played with at least 3 people. So, due to my love of game boards, I give it a hesitant yes. It’s not a priority but definitely adds to your Warhammer Underworlds collection. Arena Mortis also makes many upgrade destruction decks and Combo decks reliable things now too, which is great to see new ways to deckbuild and play bolstered. If you want, you can buy Arena Mortis directly from Games Workshop here. Alternatively you can also buy it via my affiliate link at Element Games here for 20% off during pre-order week which then reduces to a 15% discount after that, all at no additional cost to yourself!

So there you have it, the last final release for Warhammer Underworlds Beastgrave. We now have all the season’s cards and warbands. From now till December is going to be an interesting time. We still have the free fighter card downloads in October and then a free game mode in November as per the Warhammer Underworlds 2020 roadmap but yeah. This is Beastgrave in its finality with Nightvault. The game is in an…interesting place one could say. Still, Arena Mortis is a nice twist in terms of game modes and the influx of unintentional Sepulchral Guard buffs as well as the Combo deluge. So until you get to play Frenzied Assault yourself, always remember to ask yourself before the attack roll; Can you roll a crit?

8 thoughts on “Arena Mortis

  1. Grashrak seems interesting as a fighter. His stats aren’t super great, but he does get a ritual token whenever an enemy fighter is taken out of action, which seems like will happen very often. He’d basically have a permanent reroll on all his attacks

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  2. Under “revel in death” you say “ Also needs an FAQ/errata because that reaction window is incredibly vague. Reacts to anything at…any time?”
    It seems that was supposed to go under “bitter memories”? Since that is the card that seems to have the most vague reaction window of basically any time. Almost like the reaction word is a typo and shouldnt be there at all.

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  3. Also, Soulsurge has got to be one of the worst artworks on any underworlds card. All I see is a mans face with buck teeth licking the bloody tip of the arrow it’s holding.

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  4. How I read “The Horrors”rule it seems like you can’t choose the brimstone as your fighter, but when you choose the blue horrors, when it gets out of action you set up the brimstone as normal, as it says the BLue Horror “uses the rules printed in its fighter card as normal”.

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  5. Grimnir, or even Tefk, seem like good picks as well. Chosen Axes have some solid ploys and upgrades. A speed 5/6 Grimnir seems fun. Although I wonder if “Piercing Starr” should be banned? Seems to strong to potentially shut down A fighter for a round, especially if said fighter activated last

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    1. The chosen axes are great in this. Piercing Stare should be fine as it only last a round but it is a candidate for banning to stop NPE

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