Shadespire: First Impressions & Why I’ll Keep Playing

We’re a few days removed from the launch of Shadespire, and I can only say that it has absolutely lived up to the hype around it. I’ve been able to get a few games in, play with some deck building aspects, and prime the minis for painting (as we’re in October and I’m located in New England, they may be the last thing I’m able to prime until the spring).

My first two games were as the valiant Stormcast Eternals taking on the vile Khorne Bloodbound, and both games were against the same opponent using the default decks provided. Our first game around was very much a learning experience; while I had been devouring demos of the game online and looking into it, my opponent had only known and seen what I had showed him. The second game was a more even match, though a misunderstanding of game length by my opponent may have been his undoing.

Set Up:
But before I delve into the epic encounters, first I had to assemble the miniatures! As you can see in our unboxing video, there are 8 push fit minis in colored plastic. Now, I’m already used to assembling Games-Workshop miniatures so I wasn’t expecting this to be a challenge, but I also wasn’t expecting how easy it would be. Most of the Khorne Bloodbound were 3 pieces, while the Stormcast were about 5 or 6, including the base. I literally built the first mini in under a minute!

I went through them pretty quickly and was done in no time at all. As a matter of fact, I only ran into two small issues while I was building. The first was Karsus the Chained’s head didn’t want to stay on, but after twisting it a bit it stayed. The second was holding Angharad’s arm and head in place on the back of her torso while trying to connect the top. Even with these two pit stops, my forces were assembled quickly and I was ready to play!

As a note I want to comment on the quality of the minis. Both factions look awesome. The Stormcast are valiant and stoic, while the Bloodbound look savage and fierce. There are some great details on these guys without them being too daunting for a first time painter who may be introduced to the hobby via Shadespire. However, some of the gap lines, specifically those on Severin and Angharad, were pretty noticeable even after I glued them. I was able to mend them a bit with some Green Stuff, but I’m not the best with it and I wasn’t able to completely remedy the models. Which is fine for, because they’re going to be tabletop quality, not display, but I thought it would be a good thing for you to know.

Now, onto the games!

Game 1:
Once we popped out all the tokens and decided which board we would take (as another note, these boards feels really nice and durable), my opponent decided he wanted to play as Garrek and his men. He’s actually looking forward to the Sepulchral Guard as he used to play Tomb Kings way back in Warhammer Fantasy, so undead hold a special place in his heart. Also, he may just like the idea of having a bunch of models on the board instead of a few strong ones.

We skipped over the quick play instructions as I was confident reading through and explaining the full rules. We went through the steps pretty slowly at first, double checking some rules and clarifying amongst ourselves. We did have to check the rules a few times, but the errors were minimal. Unfortunately for my opponent, the dice were on my side and I was able to table him at the cost of Obryn only.

In 7 attacks I took out all 5 of his men- one of which was a miss, and it took two to take down Garrek. He eschewed the hold objectives for a charge and kill strategy, which in this case played against him. I drew the Annihilation objective in my third turn, and won the game 16 honor to 4. Despite the onslaught, he really enjoyed the game (though maybe less than I did) and looked forward to our second bout.

Game 2:
My opponent and I fought our second battle using the same armies; he was hellbent on spilling blood for the blood god, and though I wanted to try my hand at Garrek and his crew, I was content to lead Steelheart and his band to victory once more.

With a different map set up and a better idea of what we were doing, he once again rushed headlong into me. He made Arnulf charge directly at Angharad for the first activation of the game, only to miss and be taken out on my activation. However, this was part of the plan- Arnulf had failed him in our last battle and he purposely sacrificed the man to play the Final Blow ploy to deal one wound to Angharad. As the rest of the turn went on, she would be taken out by an attack dealing the remaining 3 wounds she had, meaning my opponent’s plan had worked.

We played out the rest of the battle, this time much closer, and by round 3 I was down to a nicely equipped Steelheart facing off against Garrek and one other bloodbound. I had the honor advantage at 4-2, and all I needed to do was end the round on objective 5, and manage to not take any damage. This is where my opponent faultered- he mistakenly thought that the game lasted 4 rounds, not 3, and so spent his third round gathering power cards to take me out later rather than objectives that could put him ahead now. I ended up scoring both objectives, while he captured another hold objective for 1 honor, meaning we ended in a 6-3 victory in favor of the Stormcast.

Deck Building & Conclusion:
After that game we spent some time thumbing through the non-basic cards that we could use to modify our decks. He is stalwart in wanting the charge and kill strategy to work for the Khorne Bloodbound, and so took out the Hold Objective cards in favor of others, and modified his power deck accordingly. Meanwhile I changed some of my equipment to cards that could be applied to any of my models, as I always would pull cards for the dead Stormcast when I needed it least. My objective deck stayed fairly intact, swapping out only 1-2 cards. We’ve yet to play a game with these decks, as I opted to prime my minis prior to our last encounter.

Primed the Stormcast in Wolf Gray (from Army Painter) and the Khorne Bloodbound in black!

Between the quick gameplay, deck building options, and strategic element, Shadespire is a huge win in my book. I hope a local community pops up around me where I can competitively play as Games-Workshop has already teased some swag for it. I’m very excited for both the Orruks and Undead coming out soon- two weeks after launch!- and how they will change the meta.

Speaking of the meta, I will be posting a video shortly of how I foresee the meta will change with each release, based on what we know of the future of the game today. Will I be right? Will I be horribly off the mark? Only way to know is to watch!

What has YOUR experience with Shadespire been? Have the forces of chaos had more luck in your games, or has Steelheart stood victorious more times than not? Let us know in the comments or across our social media!

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