Why You should try Underworlds

I’ve been playing Warhammer for 20 years – I’ve seen GW release several of these ‘board game’ looking variants and to be honest, I’ve mostly dismissed them with a “another kit that isn’t Warhammer” mentality. When Underworlds was released, that’s exactly what I thought.

Boy was I wrong.

Last week I played my first game of Warhammer Underworlds, at the recommendation of a friend who said I needed to give it a try. Long story short, I was hooked, and I honestly believe most war-gamers would be too, if they tried it. Now I’m half a dozen games in, and I need to tell the world. This game is incredible. It should be at every hobby shop that plays Warhammer. There should be events that parallel 40k tournaments, or even more (more on that later).

I think one of the reasons I ignored it is because I didn’t understand what it was. It wasn’t until I got the ‘pitch’ from a friend that I gave it a shot – So, I’m writing this quick explanation of why Underworlds is great (and you should play it).

  • It’s FAST – Games of Underworlds are only 3 turns, with 4 ‘actions’ per turn. So whether you have an elite warband of only 3 models, or a horde warband of 7+, both players make the same number of actions. That might sound short if you consider other games, but it’s not. It’s enough. Combat is fast, movement is hex based (not ‘inches’ based), cards are precise and clear. A game between two experienced players that aren’t checking rules often will be sub 30 minutes. In fact, games are so fast that competitive events actually play each round to a best of 3 (1.5 hour rounds).
  • It’s CHEAP– Underworlds uses fixed warbands. There’s no ‘list building’ aspect. This might sound like a ‘con’ instead of a ‘pro’ for people who like massive collections, but if you just focus on the game and game play it makes it so much faster and easier to just grab a warband and play. One 30$ warband box gives you enough to get started. No Battlescribe, no 800$ armies.
  • It’s BALANCED – Ok, so it’s not perfectly balanced – but it’s remarkably close. Any balancing issues are addressed quickly (they’ve already FAQed the latest Beastgraves release) and the warbands are innately balanced with each other (see my previous point about fixed warbands – because warbands aren’t customizable, it’s significantly easier to balance them with each other). There IS power creep – however because the game is broken down into ‘seasons’, the competitive rule set (which I would recommend using) limits the cards available to the last 2 seasons. This means that older cards have already been removed from competitive play. The other key mechanic in balancing is the universal card pool. There is a pool of cards for both abilities and objectives that are universal to all warbands. When all warbands have access to the same cards, it makes things a lot more balanced!
  • It’s CUSTOMIZABLE – I said the warbands were fixed – however the card decks we draw from for abilities and objectives are both entirely customizable. This means you can take your stock warband and customize it to play however you want. Some warbands have some innate strengths and weaknesses – For example, the Stormcast warband only has 3 models, so it couldn’t achieve any goal cards that require holding more than 3 objectives. That said, you can take build a warband to play in many different ways. If you’re familiar with 40k and Maelstrom cards, it would be like being able to make your own maelstrom deck of 12 cards instead of using the full deck – You could pick all the cards that your army is good at!

  • It’s SIMPLE to learn but HARD to master – With only 4 actions per turn and almost all of the rules printed on the cards you’re using, it’s quite easy to sit down and get a quick lesson and start playing within 15 minutes. However, just because you can customize your decks to make it easy for you to score points doesn’t mean you’re going to win every game – Your opponent can do the same thing, so a skillful player will put an equal (or more!) amount of effort and design into preventing their opponent from scoring points. It becomes a very tactical game of predicting what your opponent will try to do, while trying to carry out your own plans.
  • It’s DIVERSE – There are currently 22 playable warbands. The game is only 2 years old. Furthermore, the competitive scene tracks win rates for each warband with the lowest being 41%, and the highest being 55%. That’s a fairly low deviation from the target win rate of 50%, so it means almost all warbands are viable in a competitive setting. Sick of seeing events that are 50% Space Marines or 50% Eldar? Check out Underworlds.
  • It’s designed to be COMPETITIVE – The rule set for Underworlds is very well written. Coming from other games, it’s actually refreshingly clean and clear. Every question I’ve asked has had a concise answer. Additionally, in Underworlds, players bring everything they need for the game – Models, cards, dice, tokens, and their board. One of the components of your warband is their ‘board’. Each board has hazards (areas that deal damage to models that move through them) and line of sight block, so you definitely want to choose a board that contributes to your overall strategy and game plan. This means you don’t need battle boards. All it takes to host an Underworlds event is table space to play!

I could keep going, but I wanted to keep this post short. If you want to read more about it, there’s lots of posts about how awesome Underworlds is. Check this one out

If this post managed to peak your curiosity, we’re running an Underworld league at Game Knight on Monday nights. Come check it out! New players are always welcome!


Monday : 6 pm - 11 pm 
Tuesday : 6 pm - 11 pm
Wednesday : 6 pm - 11 pm
Thursday : 6 pm - 11 pm
Friday : 6 pm - 1 am
Saturday : 1 pm - 1 am
Sunday : 1 pm - 11 pm


38 Adelaide St N
Unit 2A
London, Ontario
N6B 3N5