The Good Games Melbourne store championship for Warhammer Underworlds: Shadespire was on the weekend, and as the store is close to home, I thought I’d head along to get some additional games in.
Having only played six or so games since picking up Shadespire, I was desperately inexperienced and so elected to netdeck something for my Ironskull’s Boyz (orcs/Orruks) warband, given orks have always been my first love and figuring that they’d be a relatively simple “charge and bash” team. The official Warhammer Underworlds site actually has deck builds listed on it, and so I picked the Adepticon 2018 Grand Clash winners deck and put that together for the event.
Good Games Melbourne was a little awkward to locate, with the signs at the building entrance only visible from one direction and it being up a poorly lit flight of stairs. Once you get in there, though, you’ll find a well-lit and neatly laid out store with plenty of playing space. There were six attendees for the tournament in all, with the attendance likely depressed by the fact it was Mother’s Day. Of the six, there were two Stormcast Eternals, one Magore’s Fiends, one Farstriders, one Chosen Axes and myself with Ironskull’s Boyz.
I got paired with Rob running Magore’s Fiends first off the bat, and figured this would be relatively straightforward given we’re both likely to be trying a similar game plan (move up and kill stuff). In the first game, I massively overextended turn one, which saw Gurzag get killed early in the game and was scrambling to try and make something happen thereafter. I lost with a score of 9-4.
Having learnt from my mistake, the second game I got blessed with some luck and was able to achieve an early lead in the game, with an early take down of Magore himself. This lead allowed me to snowball into a convincing win, with a score of 1-14. As a key lesson, it’s not always advantageous to kill your opponent in this game. I cost myself two glory points by using my last action of turn three to kill Rob’s final remaining fighter (generating one glory), whereas I could’ve left him be and instead scored the Containment objective by leaving him alive for three glory). Not game changing in this instance, but important to bear in mind for more closely fought games.
We ran low on time for the third game, so only played one turn, but Magore’s Fiends had basically removed my warband by the end of it, so I wasn’t unhappy that it got called early. Another loss for me at a score of 5-1.
Round two saw me facing down Jesse and his Chosen Axes (dwarves), a classic rivalry. Unfortunately my lack of game knowledge was on full display in game one, and Jesse systematically took me apart. The heavy hits from the dwarves, coupled with several ploys that increased damage (like Trap and Twist the Knife) he was able to get one-shots on most of my warband. Also interesting to me is that he didn’t aggressively play to inspire the Dwarves, it was almost incidental for the one he inspired (excluding his use of the Furious Inspiration ploy). Needless to say, I lost the first game, 0-14.
I made a better go of the second game, playing slightly less aggressively and attempting to isolate and take out his lesser models. One key decision I made in this game was the mulligan of my objectives, where I threw away Victorious Duel (my leader kills theirs) and Annihilation (kill all enemies) realising I had limited chance of achieving either. It still felt like Jesse was comfortably in control of the game the entire time, but after a couple of last minute objectives (Alone in the Darkness and Denial I believe) the final score ended up a narrow loss at 9-10.
My opponent for the last round was Mark, who was running Stormcast Eternals with the Katophrane Relic setup, which, according to the internet, is currently the most broken scourge of the Shadespire community. The deck is challenging (and somewhat boring) to play against given it is completely non-interactive and its ability to generate glory and get the relics into play is pretty strong. I was surprised that I was paired against Mark given he’d won his first two rounds and I’d lost both of mine, but them’s the breaks sometimes.
I got lucky in game one, getting to determine the battlefield (so preventing the long, narrow setup), as well as Mark getting a fairly ordinary opening draw by his admission. I was able to get across the field early and took down two of his models over the game. This was enough to see me secure a win with a score of 11-7.
The second game went exactly the opposite direction, as whilst I was able to determine the board setup, Mark had enough early tools to allow him to get setup and position one of his models where I wouldn’t be able to get at them (I think via the Hidden Paths ploy). I managed to score a couple of glory over the game, but with the relic train running I took a convincing loss at 3-23.
Game three saw Mark get the longways board setup he wanted and I figured that that would be the game given my relatively low movement would see me spending two turns slogging across the pitch before my weapons could become effective. I also left Gurzag and Hacka deep in my zone to threaten anyone cheating their way across the board. I think I made two attacks all game, both of which missed spectacularly, but managed to generate some glory from Alone in the Dark, Denial and Containment (all effectively non-interactive incidentally). The game was a lot closer than the second, but still saw me lose 8-13.
Thoughts on the Relic Deck
I’m not sure I agree that the relic deck is broken, although it’s certainly powerful and feels like you need more than a couple of tech choices to beat it. This, of course, then opens the meta question of does countering relic leave you weak to everything else given in this field it was one of six players. I don’t really have the experience in this game to build effectively against it and I think Ironskull’s Boyz will struggle regardless given it runs counter to their playstyle. More egregiously to me is it’s just not fun to play against given the lack of interactivity but in tournament play I can’t begrudge someone bringing a winning strategy.
Since writing this GW has released beta rules for testing increasing relic cost to two glory, so I guess it’s seen as a real problem.
I had a lot of fun, learnt a lot across the three rounds of play and ended up walking away with some loot as well for my top eight finish (easy to do when there’s only six players!). I think a lot of my mistakes are driven by inexperience at this stage, so definitely need to get more games in and start refining my decks. I am definitely enjoying the low model count and how quickly the game plays, as it makes it easy to iterate strategies and try things out without significant investment. Keep a look out for an initial thoughts post on this game in the near future.