Hell, it’s about time.
Note some of the images in this article come from a post that Reddit user Dimble made. If you want to see images of pretty much everything contained in the set i recommend his post here.
Finally the long awaited Nightvault is actually being released and now that copies are out at stores we can begin the process of dissecting its contents. This article is going to be focused on how Nightvault will impact the competitive scene so i’m going to skip some of the basics like explaining how magic works etc
My absolute first impression is that we need to change the name of our blog, er… we’ll get on that.
The magic system is well thought out and a nice addition to the game. I was worried that it was going to be too ‘RNG’ but it seems like the odds of casting spells are reasonable and you can manipulate those odds if you commit your deck to it. Where spells fall down is in the quality of the cards, right now the only must have card that i can see is the spooky ghost (this is their official faction name) faction specific one to push all enemy models up to one hex. It seems a mild shame that the primary spell-casting faction doesn’t have anything of this calibre (more on that below) and that the neutral spell casting cards are so lacklustre, i think going forwards i hope to see at least a couple of very strong neutral spell cards to properly sell this system.
The new boards, hmmm, its hard to fully analyse something this important on your own because you can be sure that other super competitive people will see something you miss. Given that, my initial assessment of them is that they are generally sub par compared to the boards we already have, the side that looks the best is in the image below – this looks like a potentially strong option for defensive 3 model factions when they lose the board roll off.
Neutral ploys and objectives? Nothing really to see here. Literally nothing that affects current warbands1 and as already mentioned some rather weak spells. Instead of releasing a slew of neutral cards GW seem to have reprinted a bunch of staples from phase 1, in order to allow players new to the game a chance to play.
Warning – subjective rant ahead.
I personally think this is a really weak way of solving a rather complicated problem, namely the issue of pleasing people who have bought all of phase 1 vs allowing new players an easy way to buy in to the game. Right now people who want to buy in to the game still need to buy absolutely everything if they want to be playing at the top level of competition2. I think this is very bad for the games future. Any game no matter how good is going to need a constant flow of new players coming in to at least maintain a steady player base. I have friends who didn’t quite get on board with phase 1 and were eagerly awaiting phase 2 but now they have found out that they still need to buy all of phase 1 … they aren’t buying in. I worry that GW will take all of their feedback from the fan communities on social media who are made up of people who are super invested into the game and miss out that there are a large proportion of potential players who are turned off by how the 2nd wave is being released. I am aware of the general counter argument that you don’t need everything to build a “competitive” deck and that you can do just fine with a smaller card pool, to me this is nonsense, Shadespire/Nightvault is sold as a competitive tournament game, and GW did a good job of making sure each different expansion in phase 1 has its own super powerful card and that’s not even mentioning stuff like keys which are literally spread out over each expansion. The reason i am saying all this is because i am super invested into Warhammer Underworlds and absolutely love the game, I don’t want to see it die.
Note my favourite solution to resolving aforementioned problem would be to do a reprint of all the neutral cards as either a separate SKU or as a deluxe version of the core Night Vault set. This way new players would have access to all of phase 1 but would still have to buy the specific warband expansion if they wanted to play that warband.
Ok, rant over, back to analyses.
The Thunder Bro’s – Otherwise known as Stormsire’s Cursebreakers
Well where i might have been mildly disappointing in parts of Nightvault, the warbands certainly don’t let me down. The Thunder Bro’s have a very easy inspire condition and look to be the most spell caster focused faction in phase 2. What really grabs my attention here is in some of their faction specific objectives, Harness the Storm and Magical Supremacy. One is 1 glory score immediately for casting a spell and the other is score 1 glory in an end phase for casting 2 or more spells. Both of these seem incredibly reliable and i can really see this warband shining as a defensive one. Defensive decks are always looking for objectives that they can score no matter what their opponent is doing, while staying out of harms way. Both of these fit the bill and synergise with the objectives Shining Example and Heroes All, which both want your fighters to be inspired. Right now i think they are close contenders for the Steelheart defensive crown, if any half decent neutral spells come out then i expect these guys to take it.
Outside of defensive play these guys start to fall over a tad, they have very weak stats for a 3 model warband, with the exception of the excellent ranged spell attack on the leader. Again this might change depending on what other magic cards we see as phase 2 gets released but i think these guys will always be one step behind at aggro play, as for objectives, they have 3 models enough said.
Spooky Ghosts – also known as Thorns of the Briar Queen
Oh my. These guys are good. Before i dive into the hype that i have for this warband i’m going to talk a little bit about the Sepulchral Guard.
As we were nearing the end of phase 1 I had become of the opinion that the Guard were no longer at the bottom of the faction tier list. I felt like leader expansion cards like Well Guarded and Quick Advance had pushed them back into viability, even taking them to a tournament where i only lost one very close match in. After said tournament there were a few more tweaks i wanted to make to the deck before i tried it again but with a Grand Clash coming up (me and the team are going to one on October 6th) i shelved them for the reliability of my Farstriders. Seeing the skinless legion win a grand clash in Australia and post good results at other small tournaments has only cemented my opinion of this warband.
So given that The Sepulchral Guard are actually fairly good right now i hope you will appreciate the madness that is a warband that does exactly what they do but better in almost every conceivable way. Lets list the advantages that the ghosts have over their material brethren:
- They can push 5! models in one activation – note pushes>movement and 5>2
- They ignore lethal hexes meaning you can setup on a lethal board and use those hexes to your advantage
- They have access to magic, how good this is will depend on what we see in later expansions but at the very minimum this gives them the push all enemy models 1 hex card which is possible even better then the beast that is Great Concussion
- They have some insanely strong faction specific objectives, score immediately for using a reaction and score immediately for having 3 of your fighters adjacent both look like auto includes.
- They have higher base move and inspired move then the Guard
- Your two most important models start with a 2 dodge dice defence and all models at least inspire to 2 dodge dice – even Skaven look at this with envy
- They have a faction specific ploy which is essentially hidden paths 2.0, it acts like Illusory fighter but works on any starting hex, oh they also have an upgrade that works like this for the banshee queen.
These are the main benefits i can think of straight away, and for all this you are losing the small factors of:
- A resurrection mechanic which is only actually good through the use of a ploy card, to be fair that is a legit strong use of it.
- Slightly easier access to cleave.
I don’t think i need to say much more for people to realise the potential of these powerhouses. Its worth mentioning that i think these guys can actually work as an effective aggro deck but their super strength is likely to be objectives.
Objectives are back baby.
1 I have given up on trying to use the words warband and faction with separate distinct meanings anymore. According to the FAQ a warband is the combination of your fighters and both decks and yet according to all GW promo material and when they talk about factions they just call them warbands anyway.
2Actually interesting point, if you have phase 1 and you are concerned with playing at a tournament level then probably the one product you can skip is the Night Vault core set. Unless you want to specifically play one of the 2 new warbands, which are great by the way, then this offers very little for you, although if you ever want to play a magic based warband in the future you are going to need the dice and scatter token from this set.