The following review was written with a free copy of Warhammer Underworlds Deathgorge provided to us by Games Workshop.
Warhammer Underworlds, the ultimate competitive Warhammer game, is now in its sixth year of delving deep into the caves, dungeons, and canyons of the Mortal Realms. Nearly 60 warbands have been released; scrabbling over ancient relics and valuable resources to take back to their armies, or empower themselves.
Deathgorge is the new boxed set containing seven new miniatures, four rivals decks, a 63 page rulebook, two boards, and all the tokens and dice you need to play. It’s a fantastic starting point for new players, a great way to get back into the game for lapsed players, or another source of rivals decks if you’ve been playing all along.
I was in on the ground floor when Underworlds started – I do truly believe that it is the ultimate competitive Warhammer game. The combination of limited resources (actions) + deckbuilding is a very compelling game mechanic that makes the game extremely interesting. I have since fallen off the wagon – not because the game is bad or I didn’t want to buy stuff, I just had a lack of time to build a community in my local area.
Deathgorge and other recent releases are a great way to get back into the game. It seems like the momentum is definitely moving toward universal Rivals decks (a card deck usable by any warband) being mega important to standard play, either via the Nemesis format (use a universal Rivals deck + your warband deck) or via just straight up Rivals pre-constructed play. AdeptiCon 2023 used the Nemesis format, for instance.
Rivals decks are either made up of all the cards that came with that warband when they came out either in a big box or an expansion pack… or a specially crafted universal Rivals deck that can be used by anyone. The earliest warbands don’t have the unique Rivals decks as they didn’t have enough cards to do so; if we look at the list of releases for Underworlds:
Anything before Beastgrave didn’t have a unique Rivals deck, so you’d just have to use a generic one that you can get from GW – like Breakneck Slaughter or Force of Frost that are included in Deathgorge. To give you a better idea and hopefully clear up any confusion, this graphic shows each deck and the icon that each one will have on the bottom of the card so you can sort them easily.
The minis themselves are some of GW’s best for what I would consider a warband size box. I love that Cyreni’s Razors have all the themes you’d expect for an Idoneth warband – the lantern, the coral, swimming animals, big glaives, etc. The octopus, Cephanyr, is a really sweet little centerpiece to the warband. It was the hardest mini to assemble, with an odd hoop at one point to push fit stuff through that actually broke. I had to glue it back on and repair.
All of the minis are the usual push-fit odd puzzle assembly; you’ll have a head that is attached to a really long stick that also attaches to the foot, etc. I can’t figure out precisely why they’re like this, but it’s been a thing since Shadespire. Sometimes it can make for an annoying join or push into a place that you think isn’t going to work.
I love Idoneth models, but the Thricefold Discord are even more inspired. Again, they have the themes that you’d expect for a Slaanesh warband present. One model is a snakey spellcaster, one is an indulgent harp guy, and one is a quick slashy assassin type. In particular, I really like the Vexmor mini. I think it would make a good addition to any Slaanesh army for Age of Sigmar as a herald or champion if you’re not using the warband’s warscroll.
Syll’Eske has actually tasked the Thricefold Discord with collecting 666 souls from Deathgorge as a sentence for their ‘constant irritation of everyone around them’, which is really quite thematic. They have been trying to one-up each other for so long that all the Slaanesh followers around them have are totally fed up with their actions.
This box set comes with everything two players will need to play the game of Underworlds. That includes the dice as well as all the tokens you’d ever need. As the game has moved from Shadespire to other settings they’ve gotten better with the graphics and art on all the different tokens.
Some of the cards will ask you to put out an Ice token – you can use some of the generic ones to show that.
The included play boards are gorgeous. Again, they’ve upped their game with every release and these boards just scream ‘ice filled caverns’ at you. Each board is different with deployment locations, lethal, cover, blocked, and snare hexes. As you play your warband you’ll figure out which one is best suited for the cards you’re using.
The updated rulebook is 63 pages and full of fantastic new art. The glossary at the back is just mega-useful and includes page references for everything. While Underworlds has grown more complex over the years, the rules lay it out in an effective fashion that builds your knowledge as you read. There are quick reference charts at the back you can have out when you play.
Cyreni’s Razors are made up of four models – two thralls, one tidecaster wizard, and one huge octopus.
Cyreni is the leader of her warband. She’s tough enough with four wounds and the shield defensive icon (to defend, you roll a defense die and look for that icon – the defense die has two shields and one dodge). She inspires at different times very much like the Idoneth tides in regular Age of Sigmar. When she inspires her spell attack gets better and she’s faster.
Hammertide (can’t touch this) is her special action she can do that will stagger enemies and do chip damage. Stagger is a condition that makes it so your fighters can re-roll one attack die against that enemy – there is a lot of stagger stuff in this warband.
Cephanyr is the octopus that flies around the board and does quite effective damage with his limbs. When he inspires he dodges better and does more damage. The reaction is very interesting, allowing him to fly to the middle of the board away from enemies.
The two thralls are tough, as they have the shield defense, dodge successfully when inspired, and also do better on their attacks with keywords.
I wanted to highlight a few of the cards that I really like from this warband. There are lots of defensive measures you can take to make this warband even harder to kill, like Creeping Mist and Voidchill. There are tons of ways to Stagger enemies in this deck, like Defensive Swarm, and you get rewarded for doing that with cards like Sensory Deprivation. Spiteful Riptide helps you stagger those dudes even better and also grants your guys flying, which allows you to move over enemies. Steed of Tides had to be included because of the amazing art.
The Thricefold Discord are three different models that do different things. Interestingly enough, and very on-theme, each model inspires when another one of the models biffs an attack or defense roll or is put out of action. They’re also each a locus of a different aspect of Slaanesh.
Lascivyr is basically a damage machine, very quick and not particularly tough. They count as having an additional supporting fighter, so they’re doing pretty awesome dependable damage. Vashtiss is a wizard and denies enemy support, which can be very powerful. She’s a dependable damager up close while still having a decent ranged attack in Lash of Slaanesh. Vexmor is my favorite, mostly because the mini is sweet. He’s slow but tougher, and if he manages to roll no success on his defense roll then the enemy’s damage is reduced by one. He’s going to be your tank holding objectives and moving upfield while the other two move around and do damage and fulfill objectives.
I really like how they themed the ploy, objective, and upgrade cards for this warband. Temptations allow your opponent to choose one of two outcomes – neither is usually good for them but in the current situation one might be less bad. False Gifts are cards upgrades that you give your opponents fighters that usually have a small boon but also a really bad aspect – the opposing player can choose to waste an action to break them, removing them from that fighter.
The Force of Frost rivals deck is all about Ice counters. I really like the cards that make your fighters tougher. I included Biting Wind because I think it’s important to know that there are still cards in the decks that score glory for you with pretty simple conditions. Falling Shards is interesting because it places a feature and hands out Ice to your own guys.
Breakneck Slaughter introduces an interesting mechanic called Impetus, where your fighters have momentum and move around the board – it’s a bonus in that you get +1 move, but it could be a negative if you Scatter away from where you wanted to go or you may stagger yourself. Breakneck Pace means your fighter will have +3 to their move when they activate next, which is huge. I included Fastest Around and Gale Force to again show that there are still simple scoring cards in the decks, even with the more complicated Impetus mechanic. Standing Start just has amazing art – look at that ghoul booty.
Final Thoughts & What’s Next
Overall this makes a great starter box or an awesome box to pick up to get back into Underworlds. Both warbands are made up of inspired minis and Deathgorge is a very cool ice and snow theme, providing some very cool basing options. As usual I think the Rivals decks will be more suited to different warbands – Breakneck Slaughter, for instance, will help out already mobile warbands to move around the board, while Force of Frost seems like it’ll help out tougher warbands to skew further. Force of Frost includes spell gambits while Breakneck Slaughter does not.
It’ll be interesting to see how good the warband warscrolls are for Age of Sigmar – I think players of either army would be happy to have them in their list just based on the aesthetic.
Skabbik’s Plaguepack is the latest warband released. On the roadmap above they are the Chaos warband listed in the Autumn slot. In Winter we’re looking at a new Destruction warband and Rivals deck – if I had to guess, the Destruction warband will be an Ogor theme – they’re the guys who actually created the Deathgorge by bringing in the Everwinter. If you’re reading this and you’re interested in where the game is right now, I’d definitely check out the Metawatch on WarCom here. As always if you have any questions or suggestions, drop us a line at Contact@Goonhammer.com.