FREE copy of Photoshoot when you spend £50+ with code: FREEGAMEFRIDAY

Menu

A mystery box filled with miniatures to enhance your RPG campaigns. All official miniatures and for a bargain price!

Buy Miniatures Box »

Not sure what game to buy next? Buy a premium mystery box for two to four great games to add to your collection!

Buy Premium Box »
Subscribe Now »

If you’re only interested in receiving the newest games this is the box for you; guaranteeing only the latest games!

Buy New Releases Box »
Subscribe Now »

Looking for the best bang for your buck? Purchase a mega box to receive at least 4 great games. You won’t find value like this anywhere else!

Buy Mega Box »
Subscribe Now »

Buy 3, get 3% off - use code ZATU3·Buy 5, get 5% off - use code ZATU5

Buy The Game

Awards

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • It's both a great game and quick to play, a hard combination to find
  • Easy to learn, hard to master
  • Part of a fantastic universe

Might Not Like

  • Might not appeal to gamers who want to be able to customise warbands or look for more scope and depth to their wargames
Find out more about our blog & how to become a member of the blogging team by clicking here

Gnarlwood – Warhammer Underworlds Review

underworlds Gnarlwood

Many moons ago I played a demo game of the original Warhammer Underworlds box, Shadespire. I remember thinking at the time that it was a really well made game that I could see myself getting into. Alas, life has its own plans and I never got the chance. Since then I've been a regular player in other GW games, especially skirmish scale ones such as Kill Team, but have always kept my eye on Underworlds, deciding when the time was right to jump back in. That time is now…

Underworlds Gnarlwood has a lot of appeal for new and returning players, and I'm glad I took the dive, but before we get into that let me give you a brief rundown of how Underworlds works. Two warbands from the Age of Sigmar universe are pitted against each other on 2 adjoined hex based boards (I do love a hex based board). There are 3 rounds and each round the players take turns activating a fighter (moving, fighting etc), rolling custom dice to determine what happens.

There are only 4 activations per round, so that's 12 in total for the whole game, making it quick to play, especially once you’ve got a feel for your warband. The goal is to gain glory points, which come from objectives you draw from a deck, the player with the most points at the end of the final round is the winner. There is also a power deck which lets you supplement your warbands' already impressive abilities. Using this deck effectively can often be the key to victory. Overall I'd say that it’s a well made game with approachable rules. At first you’ll be looking things up, sure, but you’ll get the hang of it quicker than most miniatures games, more like the time it takes to learn a medium sized board game.

Why This Set

So specifically Underworlds Gnarlwood? Well there are some givens right off the bat. The miniatures are of superb quality and can be easily push-fit together. I did end up using glue on a few bits just to make things more sturdy, but you can certainly go without. Personally I also really like the theme of the warbands, especially the Sons of Velmorn.

This is a cautious tale of a king wanting to live forever, only for his wish to be granted…cursing him and his sons to undeath. They are still family though and a lot of their abilities revolve around supporting each other, even the illegitimate son, Sir Jedran Falseborn. There are sibling rivalries too of course, but even they can come in handy.

The Gnarlspirit Pack are good too though. They are a band of warriors bound to animalistic spirits, their savage urges always calling to them, causing them to be shunned by their tribe. They have come to the Gnarlwood for one simple purpose, to hunt. The ability for them to transform between human and beast makes them extremely dangerous on the battlefield, but the right balance must be struck to achieve your goals. Luckily they have a few tricks to help them both in beast and normal forms.

The main thing that drew me back though is the Rivals format. If original Underworlds had a single flaw, and this is highly subjective, it was the deck building. That might be fine for some people, but personally I prefer decks to be built for me and to spend my time learning how best to use them. That's exactly what the Rivals decks are, pre-built decks for each warband that you can just pick up and play. It's a really approachable way to play the game.

Rivals isn't exactly new, it's been around for a few sets now, but it feels like it's really hit its stride, especially since Gnarlwood (and all future season boxes) come with an additional 2 universal rivals decks. These can be used with any warband you like, so it’s a great way to switch things up and gives you the ability to play older warbands that are kicking around. Again, just pick up and play, job done. From there you have the nemesis format, for those who want a bit of customisation but not too much. In this format you can mix one of the regular warband Rivals decks with one of the universal Rivals decks, to try and create the perfect combination. And if you want to go further still, the original Relic format lets you customise as you like (with some restrictions which I won’t go into here).

Sitting Down To Play

So what's the box to table time? This is a game which works just as well no matter how you treat it. Wargamers might want to prepare, to take their time and assess the rules in full, build and maybe even paint the models before playing. But you don't have to. Board gamers are more likely to want to pick it up and play asap, and it works just fine for that. You do need to spend a little bit of time putting the models together, but as they are push fit, so long as you have some clippers, that doesn't take long. If you have an afternoon to sit down with a partner or friend, you could easily get set up, figure out how to play and have a few games.

Would I recommend that for the best results...probably not. It's doable, but in my experience it's better if one of you spends an evening beforehand building up the models and reviewing the rules in preparation. Things will just go smoother that way.

What Then

So, you've fallen in love with Underworlds. I'm not surprised, it's a great game. You've played many games with the Gnarlspirit Pack and Sons of Velmorn and you want to diversify. What to buy next? Well honestly the (wargaming) world is your oyster. At any time there are usually half a dozen or more warbands from previous sets available to buy, usually with their own Rivals decks too if they are still being sold by GW or resellers. And if you've seen an older warband that really catches your eye, try eBay. Remember, you can use the Universal Rivals decks with any warband ever released, even the ones before Rivals decks were invented. You just need the models and their fighter cards. Enjoy!

That concludes our thoughts on Warhammer Underworlds Gnarlwood. Do you agree? Let us know your thoughts and tag us on social media @zatugames. To buy Warhammer Underworlds Gnarlwood today click here!

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • It's both a great game and quick to play, a hard combination to find
  • Easy to learn, hard to master
  • Part of a fantastic universe

Might not like

  • Might not appeal to gamers who want to be able to customise warbands or look for more scope and depth to their wargames

Zatu Blog

Find out more about our blog & how to become a member of the blogging team by clicking here

Join us today to receive exclusive discounts, get your hands on all the new releases and much more!