Reviewing the season 7 core set!
Welcome to my review of the Warhammer Underworlds Gnarlwood core set! I go over the core set in-depth from contents to all the rules changes as well as the warbands inside. Just how does season 7 of Warhammer Underworlds shape up? Before we go further, thanks goes to Games Workshop for giving this to review for free. As always, I aim to be honest, impartial and constructively critical.
If you want, I’ve done a more in-depth YouTube review which you can watch here:
What’s in the Box
Inside the Gnarlwood box you find everything else you do in previous core sets. You get: the rulebook, instructions, 2 double-sided game boards, token sheets, 2 warband decks, 2 32 card rival decks and the 2 new warbands. It’s a lot of content and everything you need to start playing games of Warhammer Underworlds.
Now I’ll go over the rules changes from previous editions with the launch of Gnarlwood. There are quite a few big changes and I’ll cover them here.
Traits have been changed, along with large fighters. Now when a fighter becomes a beast or large fighter (a fighter with 5 or more wounds), all their upgrades that can’t be equipped to a beast or large fighter, automatically break. This means they are discarded. It’s an interesting way to nerf cards that make someone a large fighter as well as the niche scenario of becoming a beast.
Next a new card type has been added for decks. These are plot cards. They work like Primacy and Desecration, you can only include 1 in your deck and they’re interesting. Gonna have to see how they when rolled out fully but it’s some nice design space.
Feature tokens have also changed. They start face up with the objective side and the back sides are still cover hexes. 2 extra feature tokens are also not placed after the 5 objectives are placed, which is weird. Snare hexes are the new hex for this realm as we’re back in Ghur. They stagger you when you enter one. They’re fine but it’s a bit weird to have normal hexes, blocked hexes, lethal hexes, cover hexes AND snare hexes. Kinda just too convoluted, especially when season 9 will add another new feature token. Just make the back of objectives snare hexes, just feels a bit much to keep all of the hex types.
Cards overall haven’t changed too much except for the fact GW have switched the order of playing power cards again. Basically after your activation, you get to play a card etc first instead of your opponent. I don’t mind going back to how it worked before. I guess feedback was not positive to the change in Harrowdeep?
Tokens remain the same except for the actions they revolve around.
Move actions have changed. Now you can keep moving even if you have a move token. This is something I don’t like. It weakens the need of movement cards as well as cards that give move tokens and warbands that already have rules to move/charge while having move tokens. You still can’t charge but I just don’t like the change.
Next are charge tokens. When you make a charge action, you get given a charge token and while you have one you cannot be activated. Now if all your fighters have charge tokens, they can be activated. I think I hate this change. While you can’t move or charge again, being able to do stuff like go on guard or just keep attacking feels like another destruction of the core principle of the game. E.g. playing around activations. This also triggers when you’ve lost a lot of fighters too. This is especially powerful on range 2 or greater upgrade-stacked fighters. Just not a fan.
There’s also a new rule called Plunder. When you kill someone you can place a feature token with an objective face up in the hex the target was in. You can only do this twice basically due to the 2 spare feature tokens but it’s…an interesting change for sure. I guess it’s a hold objective buff?
Delving has also changed. Now when you delve a feature token in the power step, you gain a stagger token. This is actually pretty neat and a nice way to weaken the mechanic, although if you do it in the last power step of the round there is no downside. Still, this is a great change.
Sequencing has changed too. Now it’s a roll-off unless specified. Just weird and adds more time to something that was already fine before. So weird.
Reactions have changed. Big time. And I hate all of the reaction changes. Reaction blocking no longer exists. Now if reactions happen at the same time, both players get to use their reactions. Like, this really annoys me. Reacting blocking is a good thing to know and play around, now it’s gone. But it gets worse. Reactions then start a reaction chain where the react off what causes the trigger. If you then play a reaction in response to a reaction, you start a new reaction change that allows other reactions. If someone reacts to your reaction chain from a reaction card, that causes a new reaction chain. What this means is we have reactions inside reactions and become a huge headache to track.
I don’t understand this change, all it does is make reactions and chains more confusing. While this may not occur too much due to the small card hand size of Underworlds, it’s just a ridiculous thing that can happen. Such a bizarre change.
The good thing is that reactions are clearly noted when they occur. This is really helpful and is the best part about the reaction section in the rule book.
End phase remains unchanged and you get your standard multiplayer rules for 3 or 4 players which is neat.
Inside Gnarlwood you get the Gnarlspirit Pack and the Sons of Velmorn. I cover each warband seperately in their own article and video but in brief, I like both. They’re fun with interesting mechanics and solid cards. Great warbands to be in a core set. The Sons of Velmorn are also stunning, amazing new Grave Guard models.
Sons of Velmorn:
Next you get 2 rival decks which are 32 universal cards each. Now this is a lot less than all the universal cards we got in Harrowdeep and Nethermaze (for the same price) but I’m okay with this. Having 2 much tighter focused rival decks with better universal cards is a huge improvement over the deluge of cards we got before.
Thanks also goes to Aman from Path to Glory who got all the card images for me. He’s an amazing guy who does great Warhammer Underworlds content. You should check him out on his website and YouTube now!
Tooth and Claw
The plot card for our first rival deck is pretty interesting. Really like how savage works and is quite easy to trigger for both players.
Overall this rival deck is pretty neat. It’s strong and thematic, really focusing on that need to be savage and aggressive. Definitely the best Rival deck we’ve had so far and a lot of warbands will love to use this.
Daring Delver’s plot card is alright, focused around exploring. What I love the most is the counter design…counter on the sides of the card. It seems minor but I find that as great token tracking design. Whoever did this needs a raise.
The Daring Delvers is definitely the weaker of the two rival decks but it’s still a solid deck in its own right. What lets it down is its focus on domain cards and great board control but it’s still lots of fun to use and solidly fits the theme of its plot card.
Overall Warhammer Underworlds Gnarlwood is a great starting point for a new season. It’s my favourite core set since Warhammer Underworlds Direchasm. While it does have quite a few flaws, these are mainly for regular competitive players but even then those are not enough to be a huge turn off. The better rival decks and solid warbands , along with Nemesis format, are great changes for the game as a whole.
- Two solid core set warbands to play with
- Sons of Velmorn are stunning miniatures
- Rival decks are streamlined and solid decks in their own right
- Great starting point for new players
- Less cards for the same price, so technically a slight negative for vaule
- Regular competitive players are likely not to be a fan of the many new changes for rules, especially for movement and reactions
- 6 monthly seasons may not be to everyone’s liking
Overall I’d recommend Warhammer Underworlds Gnarlwood. It’s a really good core set and especially so for new players. Both warbands are also really good and fun to use. As mentioned, competitive players may not be happy with the rules changes but it is what is. Still a great box as a whole.
If you want to pick up Warhammer Underworlds Gnarlwood you can pre-order it directly from the Games Workshop website or use my affiliate link at Element Games to net you a 25% to 15% discount at no additional cost to yourself while helping to support me and my work.
So until next time, once again big thanks to Aman. Underworlds is looking good so it’s time to see where the Gnarlwood takes us. Even in the depths of Ghur, there’s always hope as long as you can roll a crit!