Games Workshop have kindly sent me an early release copy of Harrowdeep for review purposes. This set goes up for preorder on the 16th October 2021 and is available to buy in store and online from the 23rd October 2021. There is a price increase this year. Its predecessor Dire Chasm was £50 and Harrowdeep is £65.
I played a lot of Shadespire and Nightvault, so I’m excited to dive back into the depths with Harrowdeep. In this post I’ll share my thoughts on the minis and my experience playing the new game with my wife Jo and her experience as an absolute beginner.
- 9 Citadel miniuatres
- 114 Tokens
- 52 Page rulebook
- 2 Double sided game boards
- 9 Fighter cards
- 32 Truthseeker cards
- 32 Da Kunnin’ Krew cards
- 48 universal power and objective cards
- 36 Grand Alliance power and objective cards
- 11 Harrowdeep dice
This new Underworlds game is set under the seas of Ulgu in labyrinthine mazes. The game boards do a great job of capturing the feel of dark, dank areas of the shadowsea. The models aren’t heavily nautical in appearance which is a missed opportunity. There are subtle nods though, including Mannok’s head cage which is diving bell-like, Shank is armed with a net and probably the most seafaring visual cue of all is Stormrider’s “parrot”, ok it’s an Aetherwing but it still counts. Mannok da Kunnin actually has a bird on his shoulder in true pirate fashion.
I’ve assembled all the push fit models in around 90 mins. The sculpts are really nice. Xandiers’ Truth Seekers are wearing the new Thunderstrike armour with the addition of hooded capes. The models go together really nicely with a lot of join lines hidden. Some areas like Taros’ belly and Xandire’s shoulders will need some greenstuff to fix gaps but it’s minimal.
As with all Underworlds miniatures they are dripping with character. I love the Hobgrot with all his bags of treasure and the shoulder pads of the Stormcast each feature animals. Xandire and Stormrider have birds whilst Dhoraz has a Warthog. These are going to be great miniatures to paint.
To see how fun the game is, I challenged my wife Jo to a game once our little one had to gone to bed. The box estimates the game should take 30 minutes to play but it took us double that due to checking rules. After a few more games I think we could get it down to 45 minutes. 30 minutes seems a bit of a stretch.
We started the game by working through the rulebook, deciding who would place the game board first, dealt objectives, set up models etc. I haven’t played Underwords since Night Vault and my wife has only ever played once before. So we were both going into this as complete novices.
The first turn saw the Kruleboyz attempt to sneak into the Stormcast territory but poor Gikkit was smashed to a pulp by Dhoraz’s massive hammer. Torka Tuffskul and his leader Mannok sought revenge and dispatched Dhoraz by tag teaming and getting those all important supporting attacks. It took a few activations to send Dhoraz back to Azyr and during which he was left with a single wound and became Vunverable scoring glory with Stubborn Yet objective. With Dhoraz gone his companions become inspired and score the Stalwart Few objective. The Kruleboyz score Born Survivors for having 1 friendly fighter out of action on turn 1.
Turn 2 saw the warbands meet in the middle with the Xandire’s Truthseekers showing how tough they are by suffering lots of damage but not falling in return they focussed their efforts on Mannok and gave him 4 damage leaving him with one left. The Kruleboyz Boyz start to take the lead with 6 Glory to the Stormcasts’ 5 Glory.
Turn 3 was brutal (and not kunnin) for the Kruleboyz with Xandire dispatching Mannok and Stormrider busting into enemy territory with Taros to score We Suffice. Shank is also dispatched and without those supporting dice Torka Tuffskul just could not land a blow on Xandire. The Stormcast claim many of their objective cards giving them 11 glory whilst the Kruleboyz do the walk of shame back to the swamps with 7 Glory.
But was it fun? Yes in parts. The thing that wasn’t fun was the terminology. We felt like lawyers at times looking up the definitions. That kind of sucked the fun out of the first game having to stop to work out how to score a glory after two subsequent reactions have been played in the same phase. I swear it use to be clearer in Shadespire and just say score a glory point for playing two ploy cards. By the end of our first game some of the terminology was starting to sink in like Vulnerable meaning a fighter left with 1 wound. Jo commented on the game saying “it’s not a good game for beginners, it’s too confusing” and I would agree with her. If you are a beginner I recommend you start reading the rulebook at the back with the Glossary first. All the keywords, terminology and jargon is there. Read this first to familiarise yourself with the language, it’ll help you decipher the rules easier.
Value is an interesting one. When Shadespire came out it was £35 and the Warbands were £17.50. Harrowdeep is £65 and the current Warbands released during Direchasm as £25. It makes me wonder if the Harrowdeep season of Warbands price will increase to £30+. Suffice to say the price feels a bit high which matches the higher level gameplay. Shadespire felt entry level and open to everyone. Harrowdeep has leaned into its title of “The Ultimate Competitive Miniatures Game” and is aimed at tournament players. Newbies are in for a steep learning curve to get started and would probably be better off buying the £40 Warhammer Underworlds Starter Set first with it’s stripped back rules.
As an investment this game is heavily supported with expansions and a new season every year. It’s easy to find tournaments and people to play. It’s not a 5 minute wonder, it’ll have you hooked collecting the warbands and cards as you seek to build the ultimate deck.
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