Warhammer Underworlds: Nightvault

Only the bravest warriors have a chance to escape the cursed city of Shadespire!

The Warhammer Underworlds system debuted last year with the Shadespire boxed set, and is now into a ‘season 2’ of sorts with the new core set Nightvault. Which is a bit confusing as everyone had gotten used to calling the game Shadespire, not Warhammer Underworlds. Oh well.

Luckily, the game is not confusing as confusing as the name; it’s fast and fun, has a small deckbuilding element, and is probably the most ‘modern’ game GW has put out for decades. That’s because it finally puts aside the old ‘roll to hit, roll to wound, roll to save’ system that features in almost every GW game and always strikes me as a millstone the company insists on carrying around their neck. Though I suppose there would be a huge uproar if GW changed the system in their main tabletop games (though they did manage to get away with destroying their venerable Old World setting and replacing it with Age of Sigmar, so big changes can be pulled off).

But back to Warhammer Underworlds. There’s a bit of Heroscape DNA here, but also some Dungeon Command, and it succeeds in being a snappy game of competitive warband grudge matches, livened by a deck of objectives (earning you glory points for the win) that raises the gameplay up from a simple ‘kill the other guy’ bash. The new Nightvault (where I bought in, though I ended up buying Shadespire as well) adds a bit of spellcasting to the proceedings. By the way, my summary is branded Nightvault as that’s the most recent and complete set of rules.

It’s great to see GW doing something different. The miniatures are, as always, stunning, and new generic cards in each set give you the extra impetus to buy the sets. I think it’s games like Warhammer Underworlds that will take the company into the future – after they’ve finished redoing every game in their own back catalog, that is.

Update Log

Date Version Changelog
Apr 2019 1.5 Fixed error about repeated ‘do-overs’ during setup
Oct 2018 1.4 Several big fixes and clarifications
Oct 2018 1.3 Clarified attack action success (target may be driven back)
Oct 2018 1.2 Typo in Power Step section fixed
Oct 2018 1.1 Minor typos fixed
Oct 2018 1 Original release


  • Kvamzi says:

    Nice! I’m glad you picked this one up and made another great summary 🙂

    Think I spotted some very minor oversights:
    Create the battlefield: and there (are) at least 3 hexes.
    Place objective tokens: (other than a starting hex, a blocked hex, (an edge hex (the outermost complete hexes around the edge of the battlefield)) or a lethal hex).
    Action Phase: Semicolon after the listing of available actions. And period missing after (do nothing).
    Attacking Multiple Targets: Missing capital letter in if.

  • Argh! Thankyou, I’ll fix those slip-ups right away.

  • SorryToBoot says:

    Typo in Power Step.

    “If a card allows you to make move or attack actions, you may do
    so even if the fighter would normally be able to”

    Should be:

    “If a card allows you to make move or attack actions, you may do
    so even if the fighter would normally not be able to”

  • LawdZarbag says:

    Hello, amazing work as usual!

    On behalf of BurlapNapkin on Reddit, they brought up an interesting correction:
    “This summary has missed something that I also missed while learning (and is critical to the standard flow of combat). The rules call out very clearly that a tied attack is unsuccessful but the target can be driven back, and this is included.

    What is missing is the offhand sentence fragment in the main rules that specify that when an attack is successful, the target may also be driven back. This dramatically modifies the value of many ploys/upgrades and the whole lethal-hex board type.”

  • Benimus says:

    Additional changes:
    Place objective tokens – they cannot be placed on edge hexes. Change to “facedown on any complete board hex (other than a starting hex, a blocked hex, an edge hex, or a lethal hex)”

    Move Actions – sentence needs an update as there is one too many instances of the word “is”, change “A push is not a move action and is a move token is not placed” to “A push is not a move action and a move token is not placed”

    Basics – there’s a very awkward sentence about dice modifiers in this section “Dice roll modifers apply to any re-rolls of those dice”. Also missing an important item about re-rolls “Unless specifically stated otherwise, you cannot re-roll a re-rolled dice”. Perhaps make a modifiers and rerolls section after the Critical Successes section?

    Territory – needs a definition of territory, e.g. “All hexes on your starting board are your territory. All hexes on other boards are enemy territory. Hexes made from half on your board and half on another board are no-ones territory”.

    • Thanks for the help. I actually played last night which certainly helped my comprehension of the rules (though it’s damn tough on the stormcast eternals with those starting decks)!

      • Benimus says:

        Thanks for your work on this document, it’s going to be a huge help to get more people into the game, I’ve already started sharing it!
        The starting decks are indeed pretty crap, but Steelhearts are an amazing warband with the right decks. I’m not a fan of the hugely defensive play that they are good at, I only ever play aggro with them, but even so I have had huge success with them.

  • Something wrong with the links in comments at the moment – let me try and sort it out.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.