it’s a great game to introduce to your kids
1. You can play right out of the box.
It takes about 40 minutes to put together and another 40 minutes to learn the game in a play thru but after that we got the hang of it. The box costs $60 https://thecorncoast.com/products/warhammer-underworlds-shadespire. It has everything you need to play a game. Miniatures are provided to play with two different warbands. They clip together without glue. (In theory anyway; a little super glue may be needed.)
The box has enough cards to make decks for both warbands, plus extras to add some tactical variation and nuance. Your decks won’t be as competitive as somebody who has access to all the cards (and this situation is likely only to get worse as more cards are released), but if you’re playing in the home environment, you have what you need for many great games. Caveat: one of the warbands, Khorne, has the motto of “Blood for the Blood God” and one of the models carries a severed head. Whilst not overtly horrific, this warband may not suit children raised by non viking parents.
2. Its small miniture count make for great painting.
The small model count makes for an excellent introduction to the artistic side of the hobby. The highest number of models that it’s required to paint is seven (only 3 and 5 for the warbands included in the base set). An achievable target, unlike a tabletop wargame, where you’re looking at something in the region of at least 30 models before you have anything resembling a full army. The small model count won’t overwhelm younger players, making Shadespire a brilliant way to inspire them to paint and model.
Note: it isn’t even necessary to paint the models, even for tournament games. Something of a departure for GW. All they ask is that the models can be known to who they belong to in the game. Each warband comes in a different plastic color.
3. Makes for a quick game.
Certainly by Games Workshop standards. Full games of Warhammer or Warhammer 40,000 take hours. Warhammer Underworlds games take 30-45 minutes, which is probably the average set up time for GW’s tabletop wargames. This makes it great for smaller attention spans and people that have other things to do than move 8 feet 6 inches at a time.
4. It’s a social game.
It’s easy for a few friends to get together and play a few games. The short game time means Shadespire can easily fit in as an after-school activity or a few games before bed on a school night. You can switch between opponents quickly or even play full 4 player games, if you have 2 sets. The game is very portable for a Games Workshop game, too, making it easy to take along to a club night or even start your own club at school. Like many board games, it teaches sportsmanship, winning and losing graciously, and a bit of give and take by giving your opponents some leeway in taking back their mistakes
5. No blind boosters.
This is not a collectible card game. There are no rares to hunt for, no duplicate artworks that you “need” to collect. You won’t be spending money looking for an elusive card, only to see the new packets discarded because they don’t contain it. And, because in Warhammer Underworlds decks may only contain one card of each type, you don’t need to purchase the same thing multiple times to build up a stack of a particularly potent card. This is not a pay to win situation, where the person who can afford the most cards is going to have the best cards.
Caveat: if you don’t buy all of the boxed warbands, you won’t have all the cards at your disposal, putting you at a slight disadvantage. This doesn’t particularly matter for playing at home, but may end up being so if your child wants to play competitively. If, within your family, you have two players who want to play the same card, most of them aren’t duplicated. This potentially means for two, strictly legal, decks, you may find yourself needing to buy two boxes that are the same. A bit of negotiation (or color printing) can work around this problem.
6. It teaches forward planning.
Shadespire is all about planning. From the outset, you have to decide which objectives you’re going to include in your deck. Then you have to build your power deck to help you achieve your chosen objectives. Your entire game strategy will be built around the plans made before your games start. After that, you have to think about board placement and warband placement when setting up, all with the intention of fulfilling your objectives. Much more than many games I’ve played, Shadespire is about creating a plan and executing it.
7. It helps improve memory.
You have two decks, one of 12 cards and one of at least 20. Remembering what you put in them is vitally important if you want to win games of Shadespire. Not only that, if you play best-of-three matches, remembering what your opponent has in their decks helps you plan for what’s coming, making it easier to defeat them.
8. It teaches what can go wrong will go wrong.
Of course, the moment your warband hits the tabletop and starts interacting with the enemy, your plans usually start to go wrong. One of the most important parts of the game is adapting your plan whilst keeping in mind what you want to achieve and using the resources you have in your hand to make it so. Being adaptable when things don’t go your way is a hugely important life skill and one that is transferable from playing Shadespire.
9. It teaches probability.
There are two sets of probabilities to learn about in Warhammer Underworlds: card and dice probabilities. This can be as simple as the chances of drawing a particular a card from your objective deck (1/12) or rolling a critical to defend an attack (1/6), or can lead you to learn about more complex probabilities from rolling multiple numbers of the game’s custom dice and how to improve the odds with cards or figure placement.
10. It teaches perseverance.
One of my favorite things about Shadespire is that it isn’t over until the very end. Even when all can seem lost, there is a chance to sneak a victory (or at least a less crushing defeat). Not giving up is an important life skill, and whilst a game of Shadespire is hardly a character-defining moment, the understanding that things can and do get better may be helpful when more serious real-world setbacks arise.
Let us know what you think in the comments below!