State of the Steel City 2019

As the year draws to a close I (we) reflect on how the blog has been doing as a whole over a year of content. This post is almost a direct mirror of last years but there is a bunch more content/data to talk about this time as last year we had only been going for approximately 6 months while we are now over year old veterans in the field. For anyone looking for content specific to the game this is probably not the article for you, it’s aimed more at regular readers who are interested in the madness behind our content creation.

Was 2019 a success for the blog?

Almost frighteningly so.

Since last year we have quintupled our total views and unique visitor count, of course this year we have been producing content for twice the length of time so its fair to say that we have roughly doubled in size, that’s still a sizeable achievement and one we can give ourselves a pat on the back for.

We undertook some very ambitious projects with a two part article written by 5 different authors and containing over 10,000 words of content that came off fairly well. I also used the opportunity afforded by me Warhammer TV’s excellent coverage of the October Warhammer World Grand Clash to go into exquisite detail on the semi-final and final games of the tournament. Unfortunately those type of posts take a lot out of me, as organising the logistics for 5 different people contributing to an article is akin to herding cats, and trying to convert the board-state from Warhammer TV into images for the article tested my mighty photoshop skills to the point of almost causing me physical pain (I really had to force myself to finish that series). The view numbers for those articles didn’t stand out much from our usual fare as well so I think I’m going to put crazy projects like that on the back burner for a while, I’m also specifically going to shy away from the blow by blow style tournament reporting in future, it’s really just not enjoyable to write.

The articles I have personally loved to write this year has been our now infamous reviews of new content. When new expansions come out it is very exciting to talk about all the ways in which new cards (Temporary Victory) will break change the game and I think that comes through in my writing. The other content I really enjoy writing is deck guides, Troll Tomes being the happy poster child for when this succeeds and influences the meta, while the less said about bookshElves the better.

The most popular article of the year was a post breaking down all the data we had from the January Warhammer World Grand Clash, thanks to Freya for getting all the data sorted for me to talk about. One of our blog competitors has actually taken the torch on this one with Jonathon over at Well of Power aggregating all the publicly available data from every single tournament that posts results. He seriously does such a good job at it and there is no way we would have the time to trawl through all the events like him so that specific type of content is probably not something you will see from us in the future. What I would like to focus on is the breakdown’s of what specific cards are popular as its a space that is not covered by anyone else and provides a very useful tool for players to see what is strong, Freya did this for the July Warhammer World Grand Clash here. Unfortunately this content is getting almost impossible to produce because Grand Clashes are not publishing the deck lists of players who attend their events. This is something that I really want to challenge Games Workshop on, as a community we need to see what top players are taking to Grand Clashes in a format that is available to all. We still don’t even know the deck list for one of the finalists at the October Grand Clash and that’s pretty shocking.

As for general content production, if you want to measure it by quantity, we have produced 50 articles this year (excluding this one). That’s not a bad number and I’m fairly happy with how regular it has been. Talking to other blog writers burn out can be an issue, being good at this game requires constant practice and when you are trying to regularly produce blog content on top of that it can often feel like a second job, at Steel City we are uniquely positioned to pick up each other’s slack when we need a bit of a break and so far it has been working out really well.

Honestly I am over the moon at how the blog has done this year.

Was 2019 a success for Steel City at events?

Get in.

If you have been hiding under a rock then you might not be aware but I won the October Warhammer World Grand Clash, taking home my first ‘big’ glass trophy at the highest attended two day tournament in the games history. Winning a Grand Clash was literally my main goal for this year and I specifically focused on doing it to the point of stopping trying to win with all the different warbands.

On the other hand I did attend 6 different Grand Clashes over the course of the year and if you exclude my recent win then I’m not actually consistently placing that highly. I like to think that I have learnt something from each performance (such as never taking the megabus if you want to sleep the night before) so hopefully I am on an upward curve but that could just be the narrative I am telling myself to feel good.

My main co-author Tom is performing much more frequently then me, with 10 Grand Clash match wins in a row but alas he has never managed to convert into the juicy trophy. Freya and our almost mascot Oli are also consistently placing at top 16 at every Grand Clash they attend.

My personal aim for this coming year is to make top 4 at the invitation only NOVA masters tournament with the side goal of hitting at least top 4 at a couple of other Grand Clashes. NOVA has some crazy prizes up for grabs but more then that it will have the highest concentration of top players from around the world we have ever seen, I’m actually incredibly excited for it even if the cost of flights is a bit daunting.

As for local ‘normal’ glass tournaments, I’m in this weird place where I feel like I shouldn’t go? The winner of a store tournament gets a code that enters them into a lottery for competing at NOVA, which I already have an invite for. As I am not allowed to trade a code to anyone else (doing so could result in my invitation being rescinded) it feels like winning one is simply denying local players the chance to go. I do like that Games Workshop have given this cool incentive into the tournament packs that ties local level play to the very top of the game but feel like the details could have been handled better.

So consistency at the top events is my main goal for 2020, I would be over the moon if either Tom or Freya managed a Grand Clash win and could join me at NOVA as well, an all Steel City final at NOVA would be the absolute dream scenario.

What can you expect from the blog in 2020?

Lat year I identified the biggest issue with the blog being a lack of regular content and promised to deliver a minimum of 4 articles per month. Well with 50 articles over the year we averaged just over 4 each month so I managed to keep that promise, its nice to actually keep a new years resolution for once.

This year I’m going to focus on writing the type of content that I know I enjoy and stay away from the massive projects that I mentioned above. This should not only lead to better articles but also a slight uptick in the amount that are written as I am less likely to burn out.

We are also aware that the blog (despite my incredible photoshop skills) does not have the most professional presentation. A side project that I really want to sort out for 2020 is to organise cartoon style avatars of all the authors and to get us a proper logo we can use.

We have also discussed and probably will create a Facebook group with the explicit purpose of posting our content to, we know that regular readers sometimes miss our content and it seems like a sensible way to keep anyone who is interested in the blog up to date. This group is very much not intended to compete with the existing Facebook groups as they are already places where you can discuss the game with like minded people, also I don’t want the hassle of trying to moderate discussion about Rebound.

So some reasonably exciting news for the blog all round then, if I manage to keep all my promises this year then the blog is going to be on the up and up… BUT wait there are more reasons to be excited about the Steel City Underworlds team in 2020:

Announcing the Steel City Podcast: Chatting Crit

This podcast is the brainchild of Tom and he is pulling most of the legwork on it (I just join in to throw shade at him during recording sessions) so I will let him explain it in his own words – Mike

TOM – During my hiatus from Warhammer Underworlds to go gallivanting around the world, I found myself on a lot of long bus/train/plane journeys. Podcasts became one of the go to ways I killed time, and the selection of Warhammer Underworlds podcasts out there is phenomenal. Aman and Johnathan do a great job with Path to Glory, What the Hex is amazing, and there’s also Battle for Salvation I had to check out. I think Crit Defense is also an emerging podcast which I’m going to have to look into, assuming the title doesn’t trigger some underlying PTSD caused by multiple games against Mike. The podcasts were a great way to deliver a lot of information in an informal way, and I really wanted to get involved in making one. The only problem was that there were already so many to choose from!

So for Chatting Crit I decided to make a podcast series that focuses on the principles of competitive gaming, so in theory it cannot go out of date! The series is called So You Want to Win a Grand Clash? It’s going to be six episodes (maybe 7/8, because the outtakes are pretty special and we might do a Q&A episode) and will cover everything you need to do to prepare for your next big tournament. We talk about the whole process, from evaluating the meta to not tilting off of the face of the earth on tournament day! Mike will join me as co-host, and a different guest will feature on each episode to bring their unique expertise to each topic we discuss.

We’re hoping the podcast will be educational, fun to listen to and a little bit different from what is already on offer out there! If you are at all intrigued by the concept, the promise of Mike abusing me or just the idea of my dulcet tones lulling you to sleep, guess what!??

You can listen away!!!

The first episode of Chatting Crit, called Meta Matters, is out now! Aman Singh Khusro helps us define and dissect the Warhammer Underworlds meta in our first foray into the audible arena. If you’re at all wondering how to work out whats strong for the next grand clash, give it a listen! We talk through old metas and how they came about, followed by a look at the current meta and why it exists the way it does. We even dabble in some anti-meta discussion, so you can surprise opponents at your next big tournament.

So if you want to listen to a badly edited and hilariously poorly recorded first attempt at a podcast give it a listen. Aman is excellent and I will get better…

Hopefully.

Click on the delicious banner to listen to the full first episode! If you need more persuading, enjoy our tasty soundbite below!

ITS A LINK! CLICK IT!
Mike demonstrates his limitless knowledge of Spheres

A final note on the State of the Game

Are you fed up with the overly positive tone that this article has been hammering out? Well you might want to stop reading here then because I am really happy with the game right now, I do however have one specific issues that I think is worth bringing up before I start gushing.

Currently I am writing this article on December the 30th with a two large Grand Clashes (one in the UK and one in the USA) scheduled to take place in about 19 days and I have no idea if a BFAR update will come before then. The UK tournament (not sure about the American one) has a big prize on the line in the form of paid flights and accommodation to NOVA, so there is a strong incentive to start practicing over this holiday period to get the most honed deck/warband you can in preparation. If you do this though there is a not insignificant chance that we will get a FAR update in a week or so, to tune some of the more powerful (Temporary Victory please oh god please) cards down, in which case your practice could have been wasted. The key issue here isn’t that we will or won’t get a FAR update before these big events but that we have no idea either way. If any of the wonderfully talented and incredibly sexual Games Workshop staff who read this blog have any control over FAR updates then having some sort of published schedule would be of fantastic benefit to the community.

Game play wise I am absolutely loving the focus on hold objective play that we have with this season. I might have been bashing Temporary Victory for being a bit too strong on its own but the fact is that in the current meta we all care about objective tokens, they are worth fighting over instead of simply Faneway Crystal portals like in the past. Aggro and control are certainly suffering a bit right now, especially control, and it would potentially be nice to see some more end phase objectives to support those play styles but hey we are only half way through the season, those type of cards could be coming in the next expansion.

The cycling out of Shadespire cards has been such a breath of fresh air to the game, no longer do we have to play around staples like Escalation Rebound Ready for Action and Superior Tactician, which after two years of doing so was starting to feel a little stale.

The introduction of lethal hexes alongside the new 6 surge limit have also been very welcome additions to the game that add a lot of depth to both deck building and gameplay.

It’s crazy when you start to list all the new changes to the core game just how many there are and that’s not even talking about the pure new content from universal cards and warbands that we get. I think its safe to say that Games Workshop really care about Warhammer Underworlds and will keep providing us with new content and rules tweaks to maintain our interest for years to come.

So I’m very happy with the game and also with how we have been performing, both as a blog and as players. We won’t let that happiness dull our desire to get better though. Steel City will keep providing content throughout 2020 and challenging the top spots at grand clashes. To all our readers, thank you taking the time to look at our little corner of the internet and we all hope you have a great deal of both success and fun at events this year.

I think this one is going to be my new ‘avatar’ for the year.

At Steel City we would love to have your feedback. If you have something to say about a specific article then feel free to comment below, if you want to get in touch about the blog in general, or just prefer to communicate privately then you can get in touch by emailing us at team@steelcityshadespire.com

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