The revelation has unfurled as of yesterday revealing the very first Warhammer Underworlds restrictions and bans for cards within the game. In a game that will soon feature a card roster nearing a thousand in number, this was only inevitable. Pegged as “the ultimate competitive miniatures game”, Warhammer Underworlds continues to sweep into hobby circles across the scene. Blending card play tactics with skirmish miniature warfare, it continues to rope in hobbyists by the boatload. You may have missed it, but we’re still enjoying it since launch. These changes are interesting and exciting indeed, but how could these bans and restrictions impact you? Might they hinder or bolster your deck or warband? Let’s do a little digging…
The bans and restrictions will work in different ways. Firstly, these limitations only apply at official organised play events. You are, of course, welcome to play these cards in friendly games and more ‘structured’ events with the discretion of the organisers. Should you wish to win the coveted Shadeglass trophy, you’ll need to adhere to these rules. We’ll look at restrictions first.
The Underworlds restrictions list comes to 26 cards in total. Ten Universal Objectives, seven Universal Gambits and nine Universal Upgrades. At this time there are no restricted cards which are warband-specific.
In short, you can only take five cards from the Underworlds restricted cards list in total within your deck. This is seemingly in an effort to diversify strategies and tactics, with many decks featuring mostly the same cards up until now. We’ll take a look at a handful of the restricted cards and deduce what this could mean for your games. We’ll also provide a quick summary of which play-style is likely to suffer as well as how likely it is we could see these cards withdrawn from popular use.
Escalation grants glory points to a play if a number of upgrades were fielded in the preceding phase. This card was featured as a must-take in every deck I have fielded or played against. Playing upgrades on fighters is a core part of the game and attaining points for doing so was an utter no-brainer.
This card still ranks highly for me and will likely find its way into my decks furthermore. I strongly suspect this will be the case for most. However, there is still something whispering in the back of my head encouraging me to experiment. It’s still a safe and strong card, likely only being removed from decks in extreme circumstances.
Play-style Likely Hindered – All
Likelihood of Withdrawal – Low
Defensive play sees low but easy glory points from Perfect Planning. Making its way onto the Underworlds restrictions list, this feels like it’s come too little too late. The impact would have been at least somewhat more noticeable during the dark age of Katophrane Relic decks. A single glory point for not moving your fighters for a whole phase at this point feels like a hammer to fix a cracked phone screen.
In my local meta, at least, I’ve witnessed darting Skaven with Skritch and relentless charging from Magore and his fiends. For me and my area, this will likely have minimum impact. It feels like a damp squib for me. It simply feels like Perfect Planning will never see the table whilst other cards like Defensive Strike or Extreme Flank exist. These two example cards are less restricting and risky yet allow identical if not better rewards.
Play-style Most-Likely Hindered – Defensive
Likelihood of Withdrawal – High
One of the big “anti-objective” cards joins the Underworlds restrictions in an effort to bolster objective-based decks, and about time, too! Earthquake has all fighters in-play move a single hex in a direction of the player’s choosing. This is ideal for shunting some Petitioners or Skaven off of some high-scoring objective markers.
Aggressive players were likely taking this and/or Great Concussion (which you’ll be seeing shortly). In light of the change to Great Concussion, this is now the core strong option against objective-based play. I doubt we’ll see it removed from decks outright, but the card has jumped the ranks in how critical it is against objective-hoarding warbands.
Play-style Most-Likely Hindered – Aggressive
Likelihood of Withdrawal – Very Low
Pit Trap, Trap
Pit Trap and Trap are two cards that recently wrought frequent combinations in games since the release of Nightvault. These two cards together enabled near any fighter to be one-shotted simply providing they were successfully attacked once by a great deal of the available fighters. Taking one of these cards would naturally bring the other with it, hoping to play one after the other for maximum damage.
This is likely why we see both finding their way onto the Underworlds restrictions list. Players will now be more likely to consider taking one or the other, rather than both. Of course, some players could still try to take both and field the same strong plays around them. However, it could hamper the inclusion of other supporting cards with them. Twist the Knife, for example, or even My Turn could drop in priority over the option of bringing both trap cards.
Play-style Most-Likely Hindered – Aggressive
Likelihood of Withdrawal – Moderate
Cards on the banned list cannot be used in decks at official organised play events. Clear-cut, straight to the point and impossible to misconstrue. You simply cannot play these cards, so don’t bother bringing them. The cards on this list feel like valid inclusions, though one I’m certainly not pleased about.
Again, you’ll find which play-style will seemingly be most hindered. We’ll also mention which warbands will possibly benefit or suffer from the decisions.
This card was the ultimate ploy against holding objectives and is a sensible inclusion, I feel. With both this and Earthquake in a deck, you can abolish plans for nearly any form of objective-holding play. Play one at the end of the first round, then the other at the end of the second. This sees most objective holding cards rendered useless for two-thirds of the game, lest some very specific and hard counter cards are fielded.
It’s entry into the banned cards of the Underworld restrictions update opens up the possibility of many avenues for players. Aggressive warband players will now have to be more sparing with any forced-movement cards. Sepulchral Guard can now crawl out of the woodwork and start staking their claims once again. With Great Concussion not permitted at all, Earthquake becomes far more important to decks. More important than My Turn or Twist the Knife? Well, that’s something you guys will have to work out.
Play-style Likely Hindered – Aggressive
Warbands Likely to Benefit- Sepulchral Guard, Spiteclaw’s Swarm, Thorns of the Briar Queen
Warbands Likely to Suffer – Magore’s Fiends, Garrek’s Reavers, Steelheart’s Champions
Where Great Concussion was the biggest aid to combat-focused warbands, Quick Thinker was their bane. Quick Thinker allowed a fighter to move away from an enemy that had charged, leaving the charger high-and-dry and waiting to get shredded to bits. The ban of this card is a strong blow against all warbands. This, if anything, keeps the decision and impact balanced. Any play-style would benefit from this card, making it a must-take in most decks I had witnessed.
As a Sepulchral Guard and Eyes of the Nine player, the removal of this card pains me. Previously I’d try my hardest to avoid combat where possible, striking only when necessary. Quick Thinker was often a saving grace whenever Riptooth acquired Spectral Wings and Lethal Strike. One of my strongest ploys has now been torn from my grasp! Whilst I can appreciate objective-focused play has been more bolstered than hindered with the other card restrictions, this particular choice leaves a sour taste in my mouth.
Play-style Likely Hindered – Objective/Defensive
Warbands Likely to Benefit – Magore’s Fiends, Ironjaw’s Boyz, Garrek’s Reavers
Warbands Likely to Suffer – Chosen Axes, Farstriders
Time Trap landed with something of a thunderous crunch when folks started using it regularly in decks. It would permit players to activate a fighter twice in a row, providing they skipped their next activation. This would often involve players using it to pour damage into a single, high-wound fighter and remove them from the fight as soon as possible. The biggest issue with this card in my experience is that players would sometimes use it incorrectly. Often, it would be due to simply misunderstanding the card, but it soon became the source of a lot of contention.
Finding it added to the Underworlds restrictions list makes some sense to me, for sure. If this card is causing contention or disagreements it could well be hampering the gameplay experience as a whole. I have witness such disagreements costing valuable time due to discussions and bickering. The card itself is undoubtedly powerful, but from my experience it was something that would impact extrinsically on players as opposed to a lasting effect on warbands within the game.
Play-style Likely Hindered – Aggressive
Warbands Likely to Benefit – Magore’s Fiends, Stormsire’s Cursebreakers, Farstriders, Steelheart’s Champions
Warbands Likely to Suffer – Spiteclaw’s Swarm, Garrek’s Reavers
Who Are the Real Winners?
Overall, it seems somewhat clear that combat-led play has taken something of a blow to the head with these restrictions and bans. Every warband seems to potentially be impacted negatively or positively in some way. Perhaps the decks being built and used were noted as being too one-sided and Games Workshop decided to enact changes in response? As someone who would most often be against Fiends or Orruks, this certainly felt the case for myself. Admittedly, my Sepulchral Guard have seen very little action on objective markers since they were first released. Perhaps now is the time for that to change? From the positive reception I’ve seen from the players online, this might be just what the game needed.
What sort of changes will you be making to your decks for upcoming organised events? Have you found yourself scratching your head on how to account for these changes? Perhaps the Underworlds restrictions will see you try a different warband? Let us know on our Facebook page and, as always, keep checking back for new tabletop content.