The Underworlds Expansion Guide
Updated: May 7, 2019
A common question I have received as of late is whether or not a player, especially a newer one, should purchase all of the warbands available for Underworlds. And more specifically, what are the 'best' warbands to buy first.
Now, I recommend buying every single warband. This is not only because you get a whole bunch of universal cards that can be used with every warband, but also because you get to experience all of the different factions and play styles each warband brings.
I understand that everybody is seeking something different from the game. Some players want to play casually over a pint with their friends while others, like myself, want to play at competitive levels. Others might just be collectors who want to have everything.
For the purposes of this article, I have decided to create a buying order for the warbands. There will be two different buying orders. Both lists will assume that the player already owns the Nightvault starter set and nothing else.
The first list will recommend a buying order based on playing warbands that offer different styles of play in order to learn. Naturally we will start with some of the more forgiving warbands and hop around until we cover the rest. The point here is to allow players the chance to experience different tactics while also learning the nuances of the game, whether basic or advanced.
The second list will be based off of card priority. I have taken the liberty of notating every universal card that goes in every expansion. If you want to get the 'best' cards as fast as you can, then this is the list for you.
Remember, these are my opinions. The only experience I have other than my own is that I run a beginner's league in my local area. In addition to running demo games, I actively attempt to recruit new players. This often involves recommending which warbands players should buy next as well. Again, these are my opinions - you may not agree.
The First List:
This list is based on creating a varied Underworlds experience where a player, especially a newer one, can play warbands with differing styles of play in order to understand the basics while also developing advanced tactics as well.
Now I don't think there is a possible way to create a true specific warband order so, I will be loosely numbering them.
Again, these are just my opinions. Feel free to pick and choose all around the list.
1 - Magore's Fiends & Zarbag's Gitz
Both of these warbands are fairly powerful and help teach you the basics of their respective play styles. Even more importantly, they can be forgiving too.
These Blood Warriors of Khorne are a fantastic warband to begin with outside of the Nightvault starter set. With this warband, a player can learn the basics of aggro play while also not being punished too hard. They're a sturdy warband and can be quite forgiving while you figure out when the right time to strike is and whether or not you are overcommitting.
I recommend these goblins for a couple of reasons. First of all, they are the largest warband in the game currently and will help you understand placement as well as effective activation management. Furthermore, they aren't very tough and force you to really think out the best course of action. These guys tend to play defensive and love objectives. They'll help you grasp these concepts well while you balance defense and aggression. Plus, the fanatic is a hoot!
2 - Mollog's Mob
Next up is the big man himself. Mollog has certainly made waves in the current meta. This warband provides a very unique style of gameplay that revolves around one powerful fighter. Maximizing his activations while also not ignoring your supporting cast is paramount. Whether you are a fan or not, the best way to understand Mollog, and even beat him, is to play him yourself. Figure out his strengths and his weaknesses and use them to your advantage.
3 - The Farstriders & Thundrik's Profiteers
The Farstriders are the original ranged warband and to this day, they still do it quite well. Playing with these guys will help you truly understand the importance of placement, threat ranges, and blocked hexes. And to be honest, that Star Falcon is a real treat to play with.
These sky faring duardin take ranged combat to a whole different level. Placement, board selection, and range management will be key with this warband while you navigate between controlling and aggressive strategies. If done right, those ranged cleave attacks can carve right through heavily armored warbands.
4 - Eyes of the Nine & Ylthari's Guardians
Eyes of the Nine:
This warband is pretty difficult to play well and that's why they hold a spot near the middle of this list. They love ranged attacks, don't hit hard, and aren't very tough either. While this warband may frustrate you a lot, especially because you'll probably lose a bit, don't stress; some of the best lessons are learned when you don't win. The Blue Horror mechanic is also pretty unique and Vortemis is no slouch either.
Aelves! Seriously though, these guys are great fun to play with. Every single fighter has a reaction that aids in their game plan which is neat because every single fighter is quite good at what they are intended to do. However, because each member is quite specialized it can sometimes be difficult to adapt your game plan on the fly. Still, you'll learn loads about reactions and their specific ordering. Oh and the magical capabilities are insane!
5 - Spiteclaw's Swarm & Godsworn Hunt
At one point, before the inception of banned and restricted cards, these were the top dogs in the house. Now, although a shadow of their former glory, they can still tango with the best of them. The warband relies heavily on their commander, Skritch, to do most of the damage. Balancing between him and the rest of your warband can be tactically stimulating. Furthermore, three of their fighters can be returned to the board once eliminated, should you desire.
I am a big fan of this warband. They are a true jack of all trades warband and can excel in a plethora of play styles. Working on making the most of your activations while also adapting with a hybrid strategy will pay dividends towards your comprehension of the game. Whether you want to play aggro or focus on objectives, I think you're going to have fun with them - they hit hard and fast.
6 - Sepulchral Guard & The Chosen Axes
The original objective based warband, this macabre troupe of skeletons is a lot of fun. Their leader, the Warden, has some really cool actions that can move fighters around and even resurrect them. More often than not, you'll be playing defensively with them. Utilizing your weaker fighters is key to victory with them.
The Chosen Axes:
Although very slow, this warband starts kicking once their fighters get inspired. Fjul Griminir, their leader, is perhaps the strongest fighter in the game - other than Mollog of course. These guys love holding objectives, at least initially, and can easily one shot fighters once they've got some upgrades going. These guys exemplify the midrange strategy and will help further reinforce placement and setup.
7 - Steelheart's Champions, Garrek's Reavers, & Ironskull's Boyz
This last section includes the final three remaining warbands. The reason they aren't high on the priority list is because there are other warbands currently out there who do the same thing these guys do but better. It doesn't mean these warbands are bad. In fact, I genuinely believe you can win with any warband.
Sometime's its fun to go back to the basics and there is no other warband that exemplifies that best than the Champions. After playing a bunch of warbands that rely on dodge, playing with these guys will be quite welcome. They have two block on defense post inspiration! They are tough, sturdy, and fairly balanced.
This warband is one of my favorites and hits hard and fast. They play very similarly to an aggressive version of the Godsworn Hunt but have some fantastic ploy cards that take them in a unique direction. They are poor on defense so make you sure you grab a couple skulls with them before they go down.
The boyz!! This warband plays similarly to the skaven and Mollog in that they rely heavily on their boss, Gurzag. Although they're fairly tough, only two of the members in the warband hit hard. Furthermore, they have a wonky inspiration mechanic that can create a negative play experience at times. Still, they're loads of fun to play.
The Second List:
This list focuses on buying warbands that will get you some of the better cards faster. Again, I believe you need to buy every warband in order to be able to create the best list. Still, if you're wanting to go in piece by piece or on a budget, this is my recommended order.
As I have previously stated, this is my opinion. You may disagree.
1 - Spiteclaw's Swarm
The cards in this set are bonkers. Although a few of the best ones are restricted, it's alright. Having more options to chose from is always nice, plus cards like Escalation, Master of War, and even Rebound are staples. If you are running a warband that uses dodge, Last Chance and Acrobatic are essential.
Universal Objectives: Alone in the Darkness, Butchery, Cover Ground, Escalation, Master of War, Miraculous Escape, No More Tricks, Overextended, Ready for a Challenge, Tactical Genius 3-5, The Bigger They Are
Universal Ploys: Blinding Flash, Curious Inversion, Desperate Gambit, Last Chance, Momentary Madness, Rebound, Rethink Strategy, Sacrificial Pawn, Shattershard, Spoils of Battle
Universal Upgrades: Acrobatic, Awakened Weapon, Ethereal Shield, Heroslayer, Katophrane’s Hood, Shadeglass Hammer, Shadestep, Sprinter, The Fractured Key, Trickster’s Charm
2 - Zarbag's Gitz
This set is full of cards that can be utilized by almost any warband. Potion of Rage, Pit Trap, Mirror Move, and Faneway Crystal are all amazing cards. If this set wasn't weaker on the objectives, it would've been my first choice.
Universal Objectives: Arcane Torrent, Catching Up, Extreme Flank, Interdiction, Keep Them Guessing, Magical Void, Master of Terrain, Nowhere to Go, Solid Gains, Sorcerous Scouring, With Our Bare Hands
Universal Spells: Abasoth's Unmaking, Arcane Shield, Healing Pulse, Infinite Riches, Levitation, Sphere of Shyish
Universal Ploys: Encroaching Shadow, Mirror Move, One Step Ahead, Pit Trap
Universal Upgrades: Chained Spite, Faneway Crystal, Fighter's Ferocity, Low Cunning, Mutating Maul, Nullstone Axe, Parrying Blade, Potion of Rage, Spiteful Charm, Tome of Incantations
3 - The Farstriders
Another set with a fantastic selection of cards. Many are restricted but are worth their weight in gold if you plan on running them - Advancing Strike, Change of Tactics, and Twist the Knife. Furthermore, Frozen in Time, Inspiration Strikes, Spectral Wings, and Concealed Weapon are all top tier cards that are often used in most decks.
Universal Objectives: Advancing Strike, Balance of Power, Change of Tactics, Complete Victory, Concerted Attack, Defensive Strike, Fearless, Heroes All, Our Only Way Out, Skirting Danger, Unstoppable
Universal Ploys: Ephemeral Shield, Frozen in Time, Great Concussion, Improvisation, Inspiration Strikes, Lethal Strike, Quick Thinking, Shardgale, Spectral wings, Twist the Knife
Universal Upgrades: A Destiny to Meet, Concealed Weapon, Incredible Strength, Katophrane’s Boots, Opportunist, Regeneration, Shadeglass Spear, Superior Agility, The Hallowed Key, Zealous Defender
4 - Magore's Fiends
Fiends take a surprisingly fourth spot on this list. Hidden Paths and Mischievous Spirits are some fantastic tech cards. Furthermore, some of the restricted cards here are ace: My Turn, Deathly Fortitude, and Shadeglass Dagger.
Universal Objectives: Accept Inevitability, Chosen Champion, Heroic Feat, Killing Ground, Massive Assault, Masterstroke, Multiple Fronts, Poised to Strike, Pure Carnage, Victory After Victory, War of Attrition
Universal Ploys: Flickering Step, Grapple, Hidden Paths, Invisible Walls, Mischievous Spirits, My Turn, Reflected Injury, Second Wind, Tainted Vitality, Teamwork
Universal Upgrades: Dark Darts, Deathly Fortitude, Ghostblade, Katophrane’s Gloves, Shadeglass Dagger, Tethered Spirit, The Formless Key, Trusted Defender, Unparalleled Strike, War Cry
5 - Thundrik's Profiteers
This expansion is brimming with some powerful cards that are considered meta-defining. Plus, if you like to shoot stuff, this has some solid cards for that too!
Universal Objectives: Bidding Your Time, Branching Fate, Building Momentum, Calculated Risk, Death from Afar, Every Trick in the Book, Master of Mayhem, Patient Commander, Tactical Supremacy 2-5, Tireless Slayer, Versatile Fighter
Universal Ploys: Aetherflux, Amnesiac Backlash, Black-Powder Sphere, Empathic Exchange, Magical Dearth, Piling On, Shifting Reflection, Sphere of Aqshy, Stand and Shoot, Trading Up
Universal Upgrades: Blessing of Hydragos, Crown of Avarice, Earthing Stone, Hammer of Scorn, Hunter's Tenacity, Nullstone Mace, Paradox Armour, Reinforced Armour, Tome of Healing, Void Sceptre
6 - Mollog's Mob
A wild troggoth appears! This set is packed to brim with awesome cards. Commanding Stride, Bag of Tricks and Transfixing Stare alone make this expansion worth it.
Universal Objectives: Didn’t Even Want It, Digging Deep, Disdain for Knowledge, Envious Acquisition, Frugal, Get Thee Hence, Giant-Slayer, Heroic Effort, Keep Chopping, Massive Overkill, Press the Advantage
Universal Spells: Quintok’s Gamble, Sorcerous Riposte, Sphere of Chamon
Universal Ploys: Commanding Stride, Fearful Visage, Grievous Riposte, Shadowed Step, Taunting Challenge, Transfixing Stare, Whip into a Frenzy
Universal Upgrades: Bag of Tricks, Blessing of Vytix, Challenge Seeker, Envoy’s Prerogative, Loathe Stone, Nullstone Dagger, Possessed Weapon, Tome of Vitality, Unstoppable Force, Warding Scroll
7 - Eyes of the Nine
Another expansion with solid tech cards. What Armour?, Abasoth's Withering, and Countercharge are all powerful non-restricted cards. Sudden Growth and Fired Up are also two great restricted cards.
Universal Objectives: Acolyte of the Katophranes, Charmed Life, Finish Them, Fired Up, Great Gains, Loner, On a Roll, Sorcerous Retort, Tactical Supremacy 1-4, Tempting Target, What Armour?
Universal Spells: Abasoth’s Withering, Arcane Smothering, Imbue with Life, Sorcerous Insight, Soul Drain, Sphere of Azyr
Universal Power Cards: Confusing Reflection, Countercharge, Irresistible Prize, Power Surge
Universal Upgrades: Arcane Familiar, Binding Shard, Gallant’s Courage, Nullstone Hammer, Portion of Clarity, Ritual Dagger, Seeking Stones, Shifting Map, Sudden Growth, Tome of Diseases
8 - Garrek's Reavers
The Nightvault version of the Reavers houses some solid cards that can upgrade any deck you are building. Martyred, Aggressive Defense, Center of Attention, Gloryseeker, and Slumbering Key are all fantastic. If you already own this warband, you can always pick up the Echoes of Glory deck which includes cards from this warband and Steelheart's Champions.
Universal Objectives: All or Nothing, Arcane Explosion, Cornered, Dashed Hopes, Girded for Battle, Grand Melee, Martyred, Neck and Neck, No Heroes, Opening Gambit, Trash to Treasure
Universal Spells: Sphere of Ulgu
Universal Power Cards: Aggressive Defense, Centre of Attention, Damning Pact, Dancing with Death, Ghoulish Pact, Instinctive Denial, Revoke, Spiked Surface, Sudden Paranoia
Universal Upgrades: Butcher’s Eye, Dirty Fighting, Enchanted Greaves, Gloryseeker, Nullstone Sword, Potion of Constitution, Slumbering Key, Tome of Warfare, Touch of Death
9 - Steelheart's Champions
Just like the expansion before this, Steelheart's Champions houses a bunch of cards that further enhance your deck builds but don't make or break them. Haymaker, Lethal Ward, and Champion's Fortitude are all cards that have recently gained popularity. Again, if you already own this warband, you can buy the Echoes of Glory deck. It contains cards for both this warband and Garrek's Reavers.
Universal Objectives: Brute Force, Combination Strike, Ganging Up, Hale and Whole, No Openings, Quick on Your Feet, Singled Out, Strong Start, Swift Beheading, Total Dominance, With-Slayer
Universal Spells: Rend the Earth, Sphere of Hysh
Universal Ploys: Baffling Illusion, Emboldened, Haymaker, Lethal Ward, Quick Exchange, Regal Vision, Unchecked Energy, Vertigo
Universal Upgrades: Champion’s Fortitude, Circlet of Companionship, Cloak of Shadows, Horrifying Armour, Mirror of Spite, Nullstone Darts, Potion of Grace, Ready for the Flight, Seeking Blade, Tome of Glories
10 - The Chosen Axes
You get a pretty nice selection of restricted cards here: Ready for Action (the best card in the game), Earthquake, and Trap. Other than that, the cards are fairly average to the lower end of things.
Universal Objectives: Assassinate, Dauntless, Honest Opponent, Making a Statement, No Remorse, Perfect Planning, Precise Use of Force, Tactical Genius 1-3, Total Annihilation, Trapped, Unbroken Wall
Universal Ploys: Confused Priorities, Darkness Descends, Death Throes, Earthquake, Fueled by Fury, Legacy, No Time, Ready for Action, Tantalizing Prize, Trap
Universal Upgrades: Headlong Charge, Katophrane’s Locket, Light Armour, Light-footed, Second-in-Command, Shadeglass Axe, Shifting Image, Solid Stance, The Blazing Key, Vampiric Weapon
11 - Ironskull's Boyz
Only one restricted card here: Superior Tactician! This expansion also holds a bunch of cards that are seeing a bit of resurgence: Cruel Taunt and Misdirection.
Universal Objectives: Blooded, Brawl, Contained, Divide and Conquer, Endless Slaughter, Geared for War, Ploymaster, Scent of Victory, Superior Tactician, Twilight Conquerer, Victorious Duel
Universal Ploys: Anticipation, Cruel Taunt, Daylight Robbery, Distraction, Dual Strike, Dual of Wits, Misdirection, On Your Feet, Parry, Shifting Shards
Universal Upgrades: Cursed Artifact, Daemonic Weapon, Flickering Image, Katophrane’s Belt, Legendary Swiftness, Low Blow, Shadeglass Darts, Shardcaller, Swift Strike, The Shadowed Key
12 - Godsworn Hunt
Although loads of fun to play with, the number of high value cards featured in this expansion aren't too high. Still, Longstrider, Scorched Earth, and Tome of Offerings are pretty good.
Universal Objectives: Aggressive Commander, Devastation, Hoarder, Indomitable Defender, Longstrider, Magical Mystery, Our Powers Combined, Peerless Fighter, Scorched Earth, Seize the Initiative, Thin Their Ranks
Universal Spells: Arcane Recall, Arcane Transposition, Razormaw Swarm, Sphere of Ghur, Unfocused Blast
Universal Ploys: Death Frenzy, Death Grip, Ephemeral Form, Incredible Leap, Spirit Sacrifice
Universal Upgrades: Arcane Focus, Arcane Savant, Archer’s Focus, Blessing of Argentine, Distracting Blow, Disturbing Presence, Nullstone Spear, Regenerative Charm, Strong-arm, Tome of Offerings
13 - Ylthari's Guardians
I am a big fan of this warband but the universal cards here aren't game breaking. Certain cards like Well of Power and even Duelist's Speed are nice to have but not having them won't be detrimental to your game plan.
Universal Objectives: Bloodless Skirmish, Hold What We Have, Keep Moving, Lethal Repertoire, Magical Storm, One Fate, Preserve Life, Preserve Their Knowledge, Sorcerous Duel, Stand Firm, United
Universal Ploys: Bolt of Inspiration, Entropic Curse, Flexible Strategy, Lifesurge, Magical Damping, Noble Sacrifice, Silence, Sphere of Ghyran, Strategic Sorcery, Terrifying Visage
Universal Upgrades: Blessing of Ignax, Duelist's Speed, Fading Form, Fated Blade, Nullstone Arrows, Quick Learner, Scroll of Recall, Spinning Defense, Tome of Insight, Well of Power
12 - Sepulchral Guard
This expansion has some great cards for objective based decks, other than that - the cards won't make or break your deck. Like some of the other expansions on the bottom end of the list, they can enhance your decks but aren't 100% necessary.
Universal Objectives: Bloodless, Crushing Force, Determined Defender, Flawless Strategy, Plant a Standard, Reaper, Stymied, Swift Advance, Tactical Supremacy 1-2, Tactical Supremacy 3-4, The Harvest Begins
Universal Ploys: Forceful Denial, Fortify, Illusory Fighter, Mighty Swing, Scavenge, Shattering Terrain, Stumble, Time Trap, Triumphant Roar, Trust to Luck
Universal Upgrades: Army of One, Blessed Armour, Coordinated Attack, Cunning Duelist, Helpful Whispers, Katophrane’s Plate, Shadeglass Sword, Sixth Sense, Soultrap, The Dazzling Key
Well, there you have it. This is my recommended buying order for the warbands based on either trying new warbands/strategies or universal card power. While some of you may not agree with me, this is the standard I have been using when working with the newer players in the local league I have been running.
Again, I always recommend that you buy every single warband. However, if you are gunning for a particular strategy or want to try a particular warband, feel free to hop around. At the end of the day, its your hobby (and money).
I hope this provides some guidance on how to go about collecting your Underworlds expansions, especially if you are a newer player.