GW’s Shadespire Pushes Into New Dimensions

We’ve been playing Shadespire and it is proof GW is pushing into new directions and genres of the tabletop industry.

We’ve been learning and playing Shadespire over the last few days and have to say – this is a very different type of game.  After a few test games and a GENCON50 DEMO with Phil Kelly – here’s what we think of the new game:

The first 4 launch factions (l to r): Steelhearts’s Chmpions, Garrek’s Reavers, Sepulchral Guard, Ironskull’s Boyz


A Very “un-GW” Game

Aside from the thematic setting of the Age of Sigmar, Shadespire is very different than almost any other Games Workshop game we’ve seen. It shares little to nothing in common with existing lines of products and feels like an entirely new beast.  Here’s some things the game includes:

  • Custom Dice
  • Lots of Counters
  • Very fast (@30 minute) gameplay
  • Tight clean rules
  • Small initial pricepoint, with “I need to collect them all” pricepoints and rules for all the expansions.


Sound like any other popular games out there?


I see 8 Warbands there – and the Age of Sigmar offers many more expansion opportunities.


Competitive From the Get-go

There are no “4+ it if you can’t figure it out” in these rules.  Shadespire’s ruleset is longer than 40K’s and is written with extreme precision. The rules read like what you would expect from Warmachine, or an FFG rules glossary from X-Wing, Armada, or Runewars.  There are no grey areas, and the gameplay is clean, and fast.  It is proof that when GW sets its mind to it, it can kick out a set of rules just as a clean an anyone in the industry.

There are rules for Matched Play and lengthy victory conditions to ensure almost no chances at a tie games.

GW has also promised competitive play support from the company right out of the gate.

You’ll be playing in an hour and hooked in 2.

Easy to Learn – But High Replay Value

An odd thing to say about the usually sprawling product lines and universes that GW makes – but Shadespire is different.  You will be up and playing your first game in about an hour. Your 2nd game should take 30 minutes and then you will be hooked.  While the warbands have a fixed size – it’s the deckbuilding machanic that will keep the game fresh.  With almost 100 power and objective cards coming in the  default set, and 60 more in EACH expansion warband pack, there will be almost infinite variety in the decks you construct to fight with.  Shadespire’s hybrid boardgame-skirmish-deckbuilder concept is what really sets it apart.

Very Low Barrier to Entry

Again, GW is staking out into the budget “buy and play” skirmish market. The game clocks in at $60 with two default warbands included.  The miniatures are attractive, color coded by faction (like the minis in FFG’s Imperial Assault), and quick assembly with no glue.  That means gamers who are not hobbyists can play Shadespire out of the box in minutes. Sure you’ll need some clippers to get the minis off the sprues, but that’s it. Like I said – a very different animal for GW.

Cross Faction Collectibility

The game offers generic cards usable by any warband in each expansion.  Just how X-wing gets players to buy ships from other factions to get new valuable upgrade cards – if you play Shadespire you will want to grab all the expansions to get all the cards you can to craft you deck.  Again – something becoming more common in the industry, that is new for GW.


Watch Us Play Shadespire


~Welcome to the new GW – moving into new genres and fighting for those skirmish dollars with the other big companies out there.  Are you thinking of picking up Shadespire?




  • Kritarion

    The game offers generic cards usable by any warband in each expansion.


  • Daniel Williams

    Really looking forward to this one and hoping it will be an even bigger hit my group than Gorechosen was.

  • Aaditya Rangan

    Speaking of the “3rd dimension”, I’m looking forward to building my own shadespire board with multiple levels and some terrain bits!

    • Carey_Mahoney

      Please share pics of the result with us.

  • KonstantinG

    Speaking of the “3rd dimension”, I’m looking forward to building my own shadespire board with multiple levels and some terrain bits!

  • michael

    Please share pics of the result with us.

  • Mike Tbone Green

    say what you will, but by the gods do i love seeing home painted models. not over the hill, too many details, airbrushed to hell and back, models. just some that are painted by gamers like me

    • euansmith

      Rattle Cans for the Rattle Can God! Washes for the Wash Throne!

      • Matthew Pomeroy

        thats just crazy talk 😀

    • ZeeLobby

      In many cases, when it comes to models, less can be much more.

      • Matthew Pomeroy

        THIS, its also one of the things that really irked me about so much of the newer gw models. too busy.

  • euansmith

    This sounds like it could be fun. Hopefully GW will settle on a few “specialty games” like this to promote rather than releasing wave after wave of thematically linked but incomparable games; like Betrayal At Calth and Burning of Prospero.

  • Luca Lacchini

    I’ll be picking up the game for sure, I want the minis.
    I’m a bit worried though, ’cause if the price tag of the extra factions/expansions is accessible, it’ll become another game addiction of sort.
    And I already have more than enough.

    • CloakingDonkey

      yeah same. Although I’m definitely gonna pick up the Ironjawz expansion either way, cause they’ll make great unit leaders for my AoS Ironjawz 😀

    • I_am_Alpharius

      I’d hazard the additional warbands will come in at £25-30 mark, which is not too horrendous.

      • Luca Lacchini

        Uhm, a single warband + cards at a 25%-40% discount compared to the base box (with 2 warbands, dice, tokens, 2 gameboards)… not really enticing, to be honest.
        Unless it comes with maybe an extra board thematic piece, which would be quite intriguing. Package bang-for-the-buck will be the key.

        • Wolfman UK

          I think each faction comes with its own double sided board piece

  • Rainthezangoose

    Do we have a price yet? Because that will be the BIGGEST deciding factor for me.

    • euansmith

      According to the article, “The game clocks in at $60 with two default warbands included.” What that translates in to in other currencies is in the hands of the GW Exchange Rate Goblins, and so is anyone’s guess.

      • Rainthezangoose

        That’s too true it hurts alittle. I was hoping for £35 just because gorechoosen. But if it’s £40 I’ll still definitely be picking it up. Lucky for me, a friend of mine are just based off the original AOS starter set, so the dull and predictable starter factions works well for me.

    • Luca Lacchini

      According to WD leaks seen so far £40, US$60, €50. Whatever that means.

      • erion

        I love how the pounds to dollars exchange is still $1.50 to every pound in GW land, but $1.30-$1.35 in the real world.

        • Luca Lacchini

          Don’t get me started on value exchange.
          US$60 equals about 51 €.
          £40 equals just above 45 €.
          Nice trick, uh?

          • ZeeLobby

            Yeah. It’s unfortunate.

  • I_am_Alpharius

    I’m certainly intrigued by the game. Will certainly need to have a “try before, I buy” go at it. It’s certainly reasonably priced at £40. I’d hazard the additional warbands will come in at £25-30 mark, which is not too horrendous either.

  • But… they haven’t even properly established or explored the 8 dimensions they made up for their IP.

    • Xodis

      Good. Not every corner needs to be explored. A little mystery goes a long way for some players. I hope they focus on a handful of the dimensions they can really expand and have fun on.

      • I can’t say I agree. “A little mystery” is all well and good, but Age of Sigmar is “A little content, mostly mystery and ill-defined hogwash”. As long as the setting remains as nebulous, boundless and inconsequential as it is now, there is little appeal to it.

        • Xodis

          I disagree, but to each their own. Now that the major 40K releases (that we know of) are out of the way, hopefully we see AoS dive deeper than just the surface content we have been getting.

          • ZeeLobby

            Yeah. Hope so. I mean I still really like the models, not the hugest fan of the game, but a solid setting would get me back into it.

          • Xodis

            I wont say the AoS setting was released perfectly by any means lol, but I think its better than some give it credit for. I have an advantage of not being tied to the Old World so I have a different perspective to AoS. I like the aesthetic and some of the directions things are moving though, so I hope they just get their BS together and start releasing some other factions.

          • ZeeLobby

            Yeah. It’s definitely hard to understand the sting of a loss if you never owned what others are losing. Still, AoS might be a great starting place for a new game. It’s just not what people who played GW fantasy games were used to, and might never be. It’s like building an epic tale for 30 years and then having someone else throw it in the trash and replace it with 4 pages. Sure you can eventually build it back up, but it’s tough, so I get that.

            But yes. GW needs to realize that their games suffer because of their favoritism. I’m not sure how that will ever be fixed, but it’s something they really need to try to do.

          • LordCastellan Vas

            As i just mentioned in response to a previous remark, I like the vagueness and fever-dream madness of AOS. Provides a rich soil to grow creative conversions, characters, and army ideas. I don’t like the marvel-universe style setting where the tabletop is always crawling with the setting’s signature characters and “historical” events. I want to make my own heros and stories.

          • LordCastellan Vas

            As an example, suppose I want to imagine a civilization of gentlemen necromancers, served and defended by undead riflemen in serried ranks and tricorn hats, battling an army of samaurai Orcs on the back of a continent-sized undead sea turtle hurtling through the void of space. That is perfectly reasonable in the Age of Sigmar setting. It has room for practically anything, no matter how bizzare. I think that constitutes a strength, not a weakness.

        • LordCastellan Vas

          To you, perhaps. I like the vagueness and fever-dream madness of AOS. Provides a rich soil to grow creative conversions, characters, and army ideas. I don’t like the marvel-universe style setting where the tabletop is always crawling with the setting’s signature characters and “historical” events. I want to make my own heros and stories.

    • Vicent Martín Bonet

      So…? You’re saying like this won’t contribute at all… specially since it’s something that’s been covered in other publications.

      • Woosh. I was making a joke based on the article’s title.

  • ZeeLobby

    Really wish they’d gone with something besides bloodblooders and sigmarines in the starter box. The skeletons look great, and it would have been refreshing to see them at least seem to be interested in releasing other factions.

    • Xodis

      This I agree with. I even play both Stormcast and Bloodbound and Im sick of their releases at this point

      • ZeeLobby

        Yeah. Would have been cool to bring another conflict to light. After all, it can’t just be Stormcast vs everything. Now they’ve basically stated that those two factions will be a primary focus, while the others receiving things will likely depend on how well their boxes sell.

        • Xodis

          Death vs Chaos that isn’t Khorne would be fine. Destruction vs other Destruction makes perfect sense. Literally everything works, so why not bring in some Order that ISNT Stormcast. I hear those Aelves could use a decent introduction.

          I think GW would be complete fools to keep Shadowspire models out of the primary game.

          • EnTyme

            How cool would a Seraphon warband be?

          • Xodis

            VERY cool lol. Im not on Team Seraphon, but I love seeing them on the table.

          • ZeeLobby

            Yeah, I’m A-OK with everything you said, I think it’d be great. Part of me just knows that you’ll see AoS characters brought into Shadespire though, along with their $25 price tag. I like the idea of a competitive arena game, and can even probably get behind the fluff of the smaller scale, but if suddenly I need to buy $25 single models to compete, that’ll be a real killer for me.

  • Xodis

    Looks fun, hope to see some more games like this….that HOPEFULLY are connected in some way.Still upset Gorechosen didnt get more than a WD upgrade with a couple included models.

  • tau4eva

    I played a demo at Gencon. It was fun but it’s so similar to so many other games from FFG, etc.

    • It does feel a LOT like an FFG game.
      I don’t say that as a complaint.

  • marxlives

    Man when I saw those unpainted minis, I thought it was a PP boardgame. I really think GW is too big to innovate anymore. Glad that they are just imitating what works out there and building an IP with a cool aesthetic.