Aman: Friends, welcome to the 7th season of Warhammer Underworlds! At Path to Glory, we’re super excited to discuss the contents of the box set and have prepared a comprehensive review for your to digest and enjoy.
We just wanted to start out by thanking everyone who has supported us over the last 5 years, including our awesome community. 5 years ago, I decided to pick this game up during the first season, Shadespire. Since then I’ve competed all over the US and UK, met a ton of people, made some amazing friends, created a lot of content, and most importantly have had an immense amount of fun doing it.
It’s how I met Jonathan during the tail-end of Shadespire, online. We then started Path to Glory and never looked back. And while Jonathan has moved on from the game, I have an amazing partner today in the form of Zach. He started playing the game in Nighvault and he’s had just much fun playing games and meeting people around the world. We would have never met if it wasn’t for this game.
We’re both just excited to be here and experience this moment with all of you. We love this game and we hope the content we provide here provides you the value, benefit, and enjoyment you’ve come to expected from us.
In this article, we’re going to go over all the major changes that are coming to Warhammer Underworlds. We’ll also have links to our 4 other review articles, here:
If you’d like to check out all the new rules in the rule book for an unfiltered, initial experience then you view the entire rule book here. Once you’re done with your first read through, be sure to join us back here to get some additional insight.
Also a big shout out to Games Workshop for providing us this free, preview copy.
Gnarlwood is the new setting of Warhammer Underworlds, and it comes with some hefty changes to the core rules of the game. While it will still be the same Underworlds you know and love, the updates will force you to rethink a few fundamentals you may be used to from years of steady practice. Forge onward, with conviction…
Aman: A quick but relatively easy to digest change is that when a fighter becomes a Beast or gains the Large “trait,” they must break all upgrades that originally could not be given to beast or large fighters. For Beasts, this means attack action upgrades mostly.
It’s a great change and one that makes sense. Fighter are designed with special traits and rules in mind, this curbs the excess and ensures fighters stay in their lane.
Move, Move, Move!
Zach: Move Tokens no longer prevent a fighter from making further Move actions that turn, though they still prevent that fighter from Charging as usual. This is a huge change for some factions, especially those that have powerful pieces they want to position and make multiple attacks with, or those with objective cards that want them to traverse more of the board at once.
While this seems like a massive change, I don’t see this making as big of an impact as one might initially think. Charging is still what most fighters want to do, and taking two Move actions has a lower impact on the board than dealing damage in general. However, where this will shine will be the positioning game – previously, pushing a fighter with a Move Token off of an Objective would generally prevent them from getting back on without using a Push of their own, but now they can saunter back on in the next Activation if they need to be on an Objective to score. Also, if you need to be in a specific spot (say, on an Objective in enemy territory), and it’s a few hexes out of reach, now you can get there. I think clever players will now be able to plan multiple Move Actions in advance to outmaneuver their opponents.
Just Keep Swinging
Aman: A fighter with a Charge Token can be activated again, but only if every other fighter in your warband has 1 or more Charge Tokens, and they cannot make further Superactions. This is a relatively interesting change. Again, I’m not sure how often this will come up, though sometimes your opponent will focus on killing all your weak fighters, leaving your biggest threat alive. In those situations, being able to Charge while still having Attack and Move threats available opens up some counter play and ability to crawl back into the game.
I think this is the most impactful for elite 3 and 4 man teams, where Turn 3 can often come down to when and how you Charge your final fighter. Now, you have way more options with your fighters and can plan to make more of an impact than you previously were able to, especially if that fighter is tough and has a good Range 2 or higher attack.
It’s unlikely you’ll be using this change on horde teams since you have more fighters than activations but when things have already gone terribly wrong, this offers a bit more to do when attempting the comeback.
The More Things Change…
In the Power Step, the player whose turn it is now plays the first Power Card. This is just a reversion back to the way it was in Direchasm and earlier, before Harrowdeep and Nethermaze changed it, so more veteran players will find this a return to comfort. Why this changed back and forth, we may never know, but it’s a change we’re gonna live with at least for this season!
It’s a small shakeup that will change the relative value of a few cards, notably ping damage cards, push cards, and heal cards that may have benefited or suffered under the previous ordering.
Out of the Darkness, into the… Objectives?
Zach: Feature Tokens now start the game Objective side up. Additionally, players no longer place other Feature Tokens at the start of the game (though some cards will allow you to place them during the course of the game). Not only does this mean there’s less initial cover to play with early on, it also means cards and factions that rely on Cover to make their mechanics work will be far less reliable. Cards like Cover of Darkness, Master the Abyss, and Terrifying Shadow will come up less – while you can still Delve Objectives to be Cover Hexes, they won’t immediately be there and the lack of 2 extras on the board from the get-go will make those effects feel more difficult.
Aman: Shadeborn in particular will feel the sting of this change, as many of their cards rely on Cover Hexes to work correctly. There will of course be some printed on the boards (in fact, every Gnarlwood board has at least one Cover Hex printed on it), and you can use Shadow Tokens, but it will make their early game much slower until they can get some Objectives Delved.
Zach: A large change with Delving now is that you become Staggered when you Delve. This means that, while flipping an Objective to a Cover gives you a defensive boost, it also gives your opponent an offensive boost, and generally a stronger one (rerolls in general being more powerful than Double Support successes). On top of this, Staggered Fighters can no longer make the Delve action, so most fighters can only Delve once per round, at a risk, unless you have ways to clear Stagger tokens.
This could boost the power level of Stagger cards and attacks, and could give some counter play if you expect your opponent to try flipping tokens, but also increases the value of cards that play off of Stagger tokens. If you expect your opponents to be Delving and therefore becoming Staggered, you can take Objectives or Ploys that benefit you when they do so.
Grasping Roots Vines
Aman: Earlier we mentioned that players do not place any additional feature tokens outside of the objectives. However, Gnarlwood does come additional feature tokens called Snare Hexes. These are tokens in which one side is a Cover Hex and the other side has the snare side. If a fighter is enters a Snare Hex, either by moving, pushing, or delving, the fighter is considered to be staggered. Zach mentioned the ramifications of this above but I wanted to highlight the uniqeuness of this particular hex.
Aman: Previously, Reaction windows could only be used by one player at a time, meaning one player could effectively block certain Reactions in the right situation. Now, Reactions are declared semi-simultaneously for a given window and resolved in order (starting with the currently active Player). This does make some cards less effective as blocking effects, though the counterplay is now simply different.
In the rare occasions where both players are reacting and it’s not a player’s turn, you roll off to see which effect happens first, though those moments will be fairly few and far between.
Reactions are likely going to continue being one of the more powerful types of cards in the game, but this change mostly means you’ll be able to use yours more often without them getting nixed by your opponent.
Baby (Minor) Steps
Zach: The cluster of steps that happen after Activations – that is, Reaction, Inspire, and Surge steps – have been clearly classified as Minor Steps and given more clarity. One point of note is that these Minor Steps also take place before the first Activation in a Phase as well, which is a nice bit of clean up and will have some small impacts in timing.
Even More Grievous…er
Zach: Grievous can now stack. While this effect isn’t terribly ubiquitous, it does mean that if you get two instances of Grievous (now Grievous 1), you can deal +2 damage on a Crit. Generally, this will be from having an attack with Grievous 1 baseline, plus Fighter’s Ferocity or something similar. However, there are a handful of other effects out there that grant Grievous, which now look a bit more interesting as stacking potential if you feel lucky on Crits!
Aman: Plunder is a new universal Reaction, and I would be remiss to not talk about it. It is only usable if an Objective Token was taken off the board and you kill a fighter to bring it back, but that is quite interesting as there are a handful of effects that can remove those tokens entirely. This means that Hrothgorn and the Gnarlpack, who in-Faction have ways to destroy Objectives, can’t keep them away from you for too long.
I want to stress, you CANNOT place Snare Hexes via the Plunder reaction. Snare Hexes cannot be placed objetive token face up.
The only way to place a snare hex would be with the following cards, at time of writing:
-Significant Find (Daring Delvers)
-Temporary Haven (Daring Delvers)
-Prospector (Daring Delvers)
I think this is a nice little change that helps Objective Holding factions from being blanked out by niche strategies that rely on removing Objectives, and it encourages those factions to engage in order to get Objectives back on the board. This is a nice change overall, though it’s relatively up in the air whether you’ll see a lot of Objective destruction or not in your games.
Aman: Every season of Underworlds comes with a shakeup in some capacity. This time around, we have a number of small but important core rules changes that have the potential to change player’s strategies. While I don’t think any of these changes will violently turn the game on its head, some factions will be affected more than others.
Zach: The biggest change here are the Feature Tokens. Going back to simply 5 Objectives face-up on the board is almost a quaint return to Shadespire and Nightvault days. No more Lethal or Cover Hexes placed to warp the board, no more mass Cover causing confusion or potentially frustration. I’ll be interested to see how modern Warbands and Decks react to having a more simple board situation in comparison to the past couple years of setup.
Aman: In addition to this, with less delving going on in general – due to the stagger mechanic making it less common and more risky – Power Steps should generally be shorter than they were in Harrowdeep or Nethermaze, though some time will still be spent considering when and where to Delve. We will likely even see games where Delving doesn’t happen at all, as long as we get good Surges to replace things like Sudden Revelation or Ever Downwards.
I really feel like they removed every way some has complained about negative play experiences with this game. Now newer, returning, and veteran players can do everything they intended to with their warbands and decks. And the best part is, the game is still skill intensive so players who are seeking to push their own personal boundaries can do so, regardless of the format.
Let us know what you think! What are your favorite changes? What changes excite you? How do you think your favorite Warband will fare in the Roothalls of the Gnarlwood? We’d love to hear your thoughts on our socials or in our Discord!
As always, best of luck on YOUR [Path to Glory]!
Aman & Zach
If you think this warband would make an excellent addition to your collection, be sure to head on down to your local Warhammer Store or FLGS to order yourself a copy of the Gnarlwood box set. If you prefer to shop online, check them out here this Saturday (later today at time of posting).
Thank you again to Games Workshop for this free, preview copy.