Speculation: Beyond the Nightvault
Updated: Apr 4, 2019
It has been quite an exciting time for the denizens of Shadespire and the Nightvault. We had a brand new starter set: Nightvault, which included Stormsire's Cursebreakers and the Thorns of the Briar Queen, debut last fall. Since then, we've also had the Eyes of the Nine, Zarbag's Gitz, Mollog's Mob, and the Godsworn Hunt warbands come out as well, respectively. Coming up, we can look forward to another four warbands entering the arena. Ylthari’s Guardians and the yet unnamed Kharadron Overlords warband should be releasing in late spring while Ironsoul's Condemners and Lady Harrow's Mournflight will come with the new box game: Dreadfane sometime, hopefully, this summer.
As you can see, its quite the exciting time to be an Underworlds player.
But, what comes next?
In this article, I am going to be going over what we know is coming out and what I speculate will come out for the rest of the year. An important thing to note is that much of this will be speculation. I will be making some educated guesses but at the end of the day, this is my opinion and I can be completely off the mark.
Still, like any tabletop miniatures players, one can only speculate and hope that the things we want to see individually, and even as a whole, come to fruition.
In this section, I will be covering some of the products and warbands we know are coming out. I'll even be taking a guess at what some of there characteristics might be too.
As I mentioned earlier, we know for a fact that they are the remaining warbands that are part of the Nightvault which is sometimes coined unofficially as Wave II by the community.
First up, as a part of the LVO preview, we have Ylthari’s Guardians. These guys are exciting for a multitude of reasons. First, these fighters are the first Sylvaneth warband to grace the Underworld and furthermore, they are the first Aelven warband as well. Unsurprisingly, I am a huge fan of high fantasy, particularly anything that resembles elves. When I played Warhammer Fantasy, I was a die-hard Dark Elf player and loved the lore around the three elven factions: High Elves, Dark Elves, and Wood Elves. My favorite bit was the lore surrounding the End Times Book III: Khaine. I'm really excited for this warband.
Other than the two photos above, nothing else had been mentioned about the warbands. Aside from the fact that the models are gorgeous, we can see that each fighter has a unique weapon they wield.
Please keep in mind that this is pure speculation.
I would assume that Ylthari, the namesake of the warband and its leader will be quite the potent spell caster. My hope is that, as an aelf, she will be the strongest wizard, at least after inspiring. If I had to take a guess, I would assume she would be a level three wizard post inspiration with some potent spells. This would also give her access to some of the harder to cast universal spells which require multiple success roles. I think this would really open up magic a bit more as well as bring in some new cards into the meta. From a melee perspective, she'll probably have some vine/tentacle attack which does decent damage and hit on fury. Ylthari might have three wounds, as if my guess is correct, she'll be prone to miscasting more than other wizards and probably use dodge. Let's hope she has four wounds!
The most imposing model, the sword wielder will probably hit on fury and deal two damage off the bat, maybe three when inspired. He'll probably be your main damage dealer and finisher. I'd assume he has three wounds too and has the dodge characteristic. He might even have knockback.
The tree revenant with the halberd, my favorite model of the bunch, will probably hit on two smash and have cleave, at least after inspiring. As he looks like the most sturdy of the troupe, I would assume he uses block as his defensive characteristic and might even have four wounds.
Lastly, we have our archer. He seems less imposing than his brethren so my guess is he'll have two wounds and roll dodges. Like the other archers in the current game, he'll probably hit on two to three fury. It would be cool if, upon inspiration, this tree revenant had different types of arrows he could choose from. I think that'd be tactically stimulating.
A cool thing that you immediately notice is that some of the models have woodland sprites and critters on them. It'd be nice to see some rules for them or even some attack actions.
For an inspiration mechanic, I am not really sure. Maybe Ylthari has to cast a powerful spell or the fighters have to be placed on guard in order to inspire. The latter seems a bit tough so its probably unlikely but I guess we'll see!
The Kharadron Overlords Warband (name pending):
These guys seem really exciting. As no details have been released about this warband at all, we don't really know how many of them will be comprise the group. I would assume that'd we'd learn more about them at Adepticon, which is right around the corner.
From the photo, we can see that five fighters are depicted however, as we learned from Zarbag's Gitz and the Godsworn Hunt promotional images, thats not a sure way to assume how many fighters truly do makeup the warband. For convenience sakes, let's assume they have five total fighters.
I'm not too familiar with the Kharadron Overlords from a lore perspective but I had a fellow player, James West, help me out with understanding them. Please excuse my ignorance on the warband or if I misspell any of their unit types.
The overlord are Duardin who fled into the skies during the Age of Chaos where they developed massive floating cities called sky ports and produced the sky fleets by harnessing aether gold. I think it was mentioned that they have sent teams into the city of Shadespire, and by extension the Nightvault, to recover/loot shade glass. (I mean, aren't we all 😉)
For an inspiration mechanic, I think it's safe to assume that these guys will inspire upon successfully hitting an enemy fighter with a ranged attack. Since they are pretty capitalistic lore wise, I wouldn't rule out something to do with objectives but I feel that would be too similar to their kin, the Chosen Axes. I think it's also safe to assume that these fighters will use the block characteristic for defense with the exception being the fellow with the jump pack, he'll probably use dodge as he seems quite agile. I assume that the warband will be pretty slow and hence have a movement characteristic of two. This is to offset the apparent ranged capability they harness. Also, the jump pack character might move three!
Their leader is almost certainly an Aether-Khemist, which is a scientist who works on aether gold, the substance that powers all their technology. As this faction does not have wizards, I think it's safe to assume that he will lack any magical capabilities. If on the chance that he is an Aetheric-Navigator, he might have an innate ability that could aid in the dispelling of spells. That'd be really cool. In Age of Sigmar, Aether-Khemists buff the number of attacks their units can dish out. The leader might also have an ability to buff the dice or damage of a weapon used by another member. He seems to armored with a ballistic weapon so he'll probably have a range three attack hitting on fury. Although, since they are a ranged faction in Age of Sigmar, it would be refreshing to see ballistics weapons hit innately on smash. Let's hope thats a thing!
The guy on the right, with the jump pack thing, is a Skywarden. He seems to be most melee centric of the group so he'll probably hit on fury and deal two damage. Since he is wielding a pistol, he might have a range two attack as well that hits on fury.
The guy in the front might be a Grundstock Thunderer, a highly trained marksman hired out by the Skyfleets. Here's to hoping he has a range four attack action. Maybe he might even gain cleave once inspired.
The other two seems to be part of the Arcanought Company, basic privateers on the Sky Fleets. They're also wielding ranged weapons that'll probably have a range of three that will either hit on fury, or hopefully, smash.
From a melee perspective, the majority of the group seems to be lacking. They'll probably be able to hit opponents with the butts of their guns, maybe even as a reaction. Like Zack and Gary from Magore's Fiends, the attack will probably hit on a fury.
This warband might the Mollog buster we've all been waiting for. I certainly think they might.
The next release that we know is Dreadfane, the new boxed game that exhibits a simpler rule set of Warhammer Underworlds as well as introduces a new mechanic that uses terrain and other happenings to affect the board state. I would assume that if the mechanic is well received, we can see it join the game in the eventual Wave III release due out this Fall.
The game seems pretty exciting and I'm always down for more mechanics that enhance the game positively. However, like most of us, I am mostly looking forward to playing with two more warbands!
Now although the miniatures have been around for a bit via east-to-build kits, I don't really mind. Again, more warbands in the game is a plus for me.
The first warband mentioned is Ironsoul's Condemners who are Stormcasts from the Sacrosanct Chamber. More specifically, they are Sequitors - the battle-line troop from this particular chamber.
Like the other three Stormcast Eternal warbands, there are three fighters and I think it safe to assume that each of the fighters will have four health and use block as their defensive characteristic of choice. Since this game is beginner friendly, I think the stats of the fighters will be a bit stronger off the bat. I'd be surprised if the fighters didn't have two block once inspired.
Now, since these guys are kind of like battle mages, their weapons will probably gain some ability upon inspiring. Maybe benefits like cleave and knockback since their attacks are magically charged. Since Sequitors are not true mages, I doubt they'll have any wizardly capabilities. Again, this is partly because this particular boxed is aimed at a newer crowd so the rules will be super simple, at least at first glance. Oh, and they'll probably hit on smashes too.
From the promotional photos, the game seems to be played on a single board so I am interested to see how they'll inspire. For now, I think it might be once they roll a crit of any kind. That may seem a random but this could give players a greater level of excitement when players eventually do roll crits.
I can't help but make comparisons to Steelheart's Champions. Perhaps the fighters could inspire upon successfully rolling a smash or a critical? Easy enough and can offset the negative experience of failing an attack roll despite rolling a success on the fighter's end.
The second warband included in the Dreadfane box set is Lady Harrow's Mournflight. These macabre troupe consists of four banshees, antagonized and miserable spirits who's wails and shrieks terrorize the living.
Off the bat, especially based off of the dynamism of the models, we can concur that the model will use dodges, probably two. Furthermore, I think a movement characteristic of three and maybe even four is not out of the question. Furthermore, like most dodge centric warbands, these deadly ladies will most likely be striking their opponents on fury.
I would also assume that they are ethereal which will allow them to treat lethal hexes as regular hexes and be able to move through blocked hexes as long as they end their movement on a regular one.
Furthermore, I am sure cleave will be on at least one of the models attack actions. They have to make it somewhat easier for the intended new audience to carve through that Stormcast armor! Additionally, I am guessing that since they'll be easier to hit then the Sequitors, the health characteristics will range between three and four. This way, the non-Stormcast warband isn't getting stomped repeatedly (shout out Reavers!).
In terms of an inspiration mechanic, the warband might inspire similarly to the Thorns of the Briar Queen. At the very least, to ensure there is a difference, they might inspire once they end or begin their movement within two to three hexes of an enemy fighter. This makes sense since they are all wielding daggers.
Lastly, I doubt any of the models will be wizards. Though it would be cool for at least one of the models to have a shriek ability that can lower a fighter's defensive or offensive capabilities.
In this section, I will speculating at what products might come out following the release of the products already slated in the pipeline. Again, I must stress that the following is all theoretical.
So, once all the warbands drop, including the two from Dreadfane, what might we see next?
First off, I think we might see an additional release of cards. Similar to the Leaders pack we saw at the tail-end of Shadespire, this card only release will feature cards that will further enhance the leaders of the Nightvault Warbands. It'll probably be titled 'Wizards.'
And yes, I know that Mollog isn't a wizard (although he should be considering the ease of which he carves through warbands is like magic) and that the Kharadron Overlords leader might not be a wizard as well but, it still makes sense to the title the product something along those lines. This release would not only create ploys and upgrades that would be wizard specific, it would also release a plethora of spells and magically inclined objectives as well. Furthermore, in order to cater to our non spell bending folk, it could also include cards that punish magic users.
I will say that if the cards are restricted to wizards, the Cursebreakers hold a mighty advantage here so in their specific regard, their faction cards might be bound solely to Stormsire (as if he needs them anyways).
Now while that might be the obvious choice, I think it would behoove the design team to perhaps release cards that would update some of the warbands that are currently performing below the 50% win-rate. Kind of like an update that could allow all of the warbands a bit more options while obviously giving stronger cards (like Raptor Strike) to lower performing warbands.
I know that is really hard to do but in a perfect world, you'd want all the warbands to perform within a couple percentages of each other. At the moment, warbands like Eyes of the Nine and Ironskull's Boyz have a single prevalent style of how they're played. The former are heavily reliant on Tome decks while the latter just don't hit hard enough.
This release of sorts could perhaps even include updated fighter cards that boost give a boost to certain warbands while perhaps even toning some fighters down. Imagine if Narvia and Turosh could do an extra damage or had an extra wound! I'd even like Hakka and Basha to do two damage off the bat rather than one.
From a business perspective, it's profitable too. As we all know but hate to admit, we'll always shell out a bit more cash if it means we get rules that make our miniatures stronger on the tabletop.
After that potential release, I would assume it would be the final one of Wave II. Later this year, towards the final quarter, I am sure the next starter set would release. The boxed set would probably include another Stormcast warband that would showcase models from a chamber we haven't seen yet. Probably the one that they've been hinting at with all this noise about the Storm Vaults opening and such. Furthermore, since we've already had starter sets that pits our golden boys and girls against factions from Chaos and Death, I would hope that GW would feature a Destruction faction as the second warband. This could perhaps be a new faction or sub-faction yet to announced.
And while some of you would hate to see a fifth Stormcast warband in the game, it makes sense from a business perspective. The new box set would be a launching point for any new players and Stormcasts are in every starter set. It only makes sense. Best way to explain it is to think of how Space Marines are used in 40K. The are instantly recognizable.
In addition to the, what I would, assume eight warbands being released with the third wave, there'd be another 400-500 cards released as well. That would mean that they'd be around 1400+ cards, including faction specific ones, available to players. That's a staggering amount and could be a barrier of entry to some of the newer or less dedicated players.
And 'easy' way to fix that would be to mark all of the cards from Wave I obsolete. This would mean that any universal card from the Shadespire collection would not be legal in official play however, the faction specific cards and warbands would still be allowed. Phasing out those cards will not only make it easier for players to keep up with meta and cards, but will still allow players to play their favorite Shadespire warbands well into the new season and beyond.
This practice of phasing out older cards is a similar practice used by other games that heavily involve cards. It's just easier for everyone and more importantly, opens up design space for the developers which helps keep the game fun and fresh. Popular games such as 'Magic: The Gathering' and 'Hearthstone' have used this strategy to great effect.
For example, I think we are all tired of seeing cards like Ready for Action and Change of Tactics and I think we'd be well beyond irritated if we were still using them a year from now.
And yes, the team could keep placing cards on the banned and restricted list but at what point does that list become too lengthy? Instead of up-keeping that, get rid of the old cards and allow us to come up with synergies using cards from the Wave II and Wave III. Then repeat the process when Wave IV comes out.
Now for the fun part - discussing the warbands that could potentially come out from Wave III. I won't get too detailed here, its mostly just making a wish list and hoping a small part of it comes true.
This is almost 100% going to happen for reason I have explained above. They'll be apart of the starter set.
If I had to guess, I think we're going to have a Destruction aligned warband in the next starter set. I think it would be really cool to see some Bonesplitterz represented in the game.
With two Khorne warbands in the mix and a Slaves to Darkness warband as well, it makes sense to include the followers of Nurgle. The models are going to be awesome and would hopefully include a blend of warriors and daemons.
First off, dinosaurs riding dinosaurs are cool. Seriously though, this faction is a fan favorite and would easily make for an aesthetically appealing warband. Imagine a Slaan, a hulking Kroxigor, a pair of agile skins, and a Saurus Warrior together. Cool, isn't it?
I have a feeling Slannesh is going to play a big role in the coming months and what better way then to add the fourth and final Chaos God into the action. The warband would be lightning fast and hit wicked hard.
Idoneth Deepkin Warband:
Where followers of Slannesh are, you are sure to find aelves trying to evade them. As a popular faction in Age of Sigmar, I think it would be really cool to see this warband represented in the game. Perhaps a poor group found their way into Shadespire through a whirlpool? The could even introduce mounted combatants as well!
Daughters of Khaine Warband:
More aelves! As an underrepresented race in the Mirrored City, I think it would be great to have some Witch-Aelves sacrificing their enemies to their war god. They've been in Age of Sigmar for some time and are quite popular as well.
Beastclaw Raiders Warband or Aelves (Shadow or Light) Warband:
The last warband I would like to see in the third season of Underworlds would be either Ogres of another Aelf faction. I've been holding off in Age of Sigmar as I have been anticipating the release of either aelves, from Hyish, led by Tyrion or aelves, from Ulgu, led by Malerion. Having a warband focused on one of them would be a great way to showcase the aesthetics of the faction as a whole while also being tons of fun to play with.
If not them, then who better then some good 'ole Ogres! Having a couple of Ogres with a Yeti running around would not only look sick but would be pretty beefy as well.
Any who, that concludes my wish list. While I think it would be cool to see the aforementioned ideas turn into real warbands, I doubt we'll see all of them. As Age of Sigmar evolves and grows, newer factions will be introduced and I think we'll see some of the newer guys as it makes sense with the business side of things.
I hope you guys liked my general musings. I'm really looking forward to release of the four warbands announced and am excited at the warbands and cards yet to be released.
Let me know if you agree or disagree with some of my speculations. Also, I'd love to hear what warbands you think we might see in the coming months and year.