Shadespire: Phases Of The Game

  • Posted by
  • at

Shadespire is a tightly-woven arena-style board game with a competitive ruleset. From some fairly simple rules, we get a fairly complex game. Check it out.

Shadespire is coming out soon–we’re pretty excited about this. The game has some well-written rules, probably GW’s tightest ruleset to date, which break down a session of Shadespire into a few easy-to-understand phases. You’ll need to wring every last drop out of each step of the game though; every session of Shadespire has a built in time limit–you’ll only ever have access to a limited number of activations, so you’ve really got to make each turn matter.

Let’s walk through the phases of the game so you can see what a game looks like.

Set up is pretty self-explanatory. You set up the game, draw a hand of cards consisting of objectives to try and complete and bonus actions/upgrades you can take during play to help you score those objectives or kill your opponents. Got it? Good, moving on.

A set of Shadespire takes place over three rounds of play. Each round consists of an action phase and an end phase, during which you activate models, play action/upgrade cards, fight your enemy, and in general score the points you’ll need to win the game. Scoring happens in the end phase, fighting happens in the action phase, and it’s all kept fairly discrete.

Action Phase

The action phase is fairly straightforward in concept, but here’s where you make all of the tactical decisions to try and beat your opponent. Each action phase consists of eight activations (four for each player) which alternate between the players. So player 1 activates a model, then player 2 activates a model, and so on. Although you always have the option to use one of your activations to draw a card–more on that in a moment.

Every fighter can only make one move or charge action in each action phase, and gets a token to show that they’ve done it. Once you’ve gone, you can’t go again. The actions themselves are again, pretty straightforward. There’s the move action, which lets you move a number of hexes equal to your Move characteristic. The attack action lets you make an attack, though there’s no generic attack action, each fighter has an attack that’s specific to them. And charge is basically move and attack combined.

Steelheart, for instance has his Sigmarite Broadsword which is fairly accurate (there are more hammers than not on the attack dice), and does two damage if it hits. Some of the other factions, like Ironskull’s Boyz, have more powerful but much less accurate attacks. And some attacks will let you do other things, like push a fighter backwards when you hit, and so on.

And some upgrades, like the ones shown above, will grant you extra abilities or actions that your fighters can take on their activation. That Block one is a good example of how actions and activations are separate. You can use one activation to affect multiple models, putting them on Guard (which Stormcasts love to do, because it helps power them up). And once you’re in combat, we get into things like, having supporting fighters nearby, driving your opponent back on an attack, making critical hits, and so on.

After each activation comes the Power Step–this is important, because it gives you an opportunity to disrupt the flow of the game. You can play a power card, or apply an upgrade card to a fighter at any point during the power step, so an opponent your fighter was positioning to attack might be suddenly tougher, or hit harder or the like. But even this has a risk–in the power step, you either play a card or pass, and then your opponent gets to do the same thing until both of you pass. So they may have surprises as well.

Basically, in between each activation you (and your opponent, the blighter) have a chance to alter the state of the board as you roll into the next activation. Takes some of the sting out of going second. And as you can see above, one of those cards gives you a reaction–these are immediate actions that happen right after the triggering condition. So, if you’ve got Stormforged Tactics in play when your opponent activates one of his blood reavers, and they fail (as is their wont), you can get more of your forces into the fray. Which is good–as we talked about, each player is struggling to get the most out of their four activations.

End Phase

Once all the activations are done, we hit the end phase. This is where you score objectives and do general upkeep–you can swap out your hand of power cards, refresh your objective cards, earn glory points (which you’ll want both to win the game, and also to buy certain upgrades, etc.), apply upgrades to your fighters, and get ready for the next round of the game. Lather, rinse, repeat until you’ve had three rounds of play.

At the end, whoever has the most glory points (spent or not), wins.

All in all, it’s pretty straightforward–we’ve found in general that if you have questions, the answer is usually read the rules again until it makes sense (twice at most). It’s a ton of fun to play, so check it out when it comes out.

And of course, be sure and keep an eye out for more Warbands, we know they’re around the corner as well.

  • m3g4tr0n

    Looks good so far. I cannot wait to get this to the table.

  • Marco

    Long live Warhammer Fantasy and the Old World! Long live Mordheim!

    • Motski

      Long live AoS and the mortal realms! Down with trolls and haters!

    • D. B.

      True, but I wanna see what this has to offer, too. Cherishing good past things is no excuse to be blinded for what the present has in stock.

      • Lyca Atteneder

        Absolutely

    • Lyca Atteneder

      Mordheim was really cool that’s absolutely true.
      But to Old World was starting to get a little lame and stagnant. There was no room for anything special to happen anymore.

      • Malisteen

        There was plenty of room for cool new stuff to happen, the writers & game designers simply failed to employ it. There was a huge boost of interest in the early stages of the end times, simply because stuff was happening, and it was happening within the context of the game and setting that already existed. The End Times could have transitioned into a sort of post-apocalyptic 9th edition that explored the fallout of changes to the world, familiar but new. I’m not saying it should have, or that what they’ve done with AoS instead is inherently terrible, but it certainly wasn’t the only option available.

        • Lyca Atteneder

          If they had done that it might have been gorgeous. A post-apoc fantasy setting would sound really interesting. But unfortunately it didn’t happen…

          • Malisteen

            Again, I don’t mean to hate on what they did do. There’s plenty of room to criticize for those who want to, sure, and I’ve done so myself, but I really don’t have any malice for it. I just want to emphasize that there’s plenty else they could have done with the old world. It needed a shake up, sure, it needed some exciting developments to get people to care, but had they wanted to they could have provided such without doing away with the setting entirely.

      • GreyPanthers

        Yeah, I heard Creative Assembly might snag the old world IP. I hope it works out for them, ya know, since the old world setting is lame and stagnant and all…

        • Lyca Atteneder

          I would be happy if it works out… Maybe their version of the same thing will be more interesting than the original. Would be nice actually.

        • frank

          I don’t think GW would sell the rights to the Old World fully to another company and selling the rights to make video games is a source of revenue that GW has used for years. Unless Creative assembly has enough money to make the sale of the Old World incredibly lucrative for GW they not going to part with their rights to the Old World IP why would they? plus be really hard to sell that IP without giving up partial rights to things like Sigmar and the chaos Gods. A lot of the content of the IP of the Old World is still in the AOS game so be pretty hard to separate the two.

          • GreyPanthers

            You’re right, they wouldn’t flat out let go of the Old world IP. They have licensed it out to CA to make the Total War: Warhammer series. I guess the first game was successful enough to spawn several DLC’s and a sequel. Who would have guessed?

          • frank

            still i don’t see how success in making a video game in the old world with massive unit combat would equal success on the table top? been playing for 15 years and still think the games cost are the problem that they are experiencing with the old worlds appeal to players 250$ used to get you a whole army in plastic and metal and i thought that was spendy then but not unreasonable. don’t think fantasy would have appealed to me at all if i was told 60$ will get me one unit of 10 plastic witch elves who will be ranked up in a block unit. that has a really small amount of individuality to the minis in the squad and the guys behind the first rank are practically just unit fillers but that is just me i guess maybe 120 bucks for 20 wouldn’t have sounded that bad as a young gamer who had nothing invested into the setting starting out.

          • GreyPanthers

            My comment was aimed at the fact that the OP was implying that the old world setting was “lame and stagnant.” If that were the case, then CA would have had another generic historical game on their hands.

          • frank

            its Not historical just nostalgic haha.

          • Lyca Atteneder

            That’s not completely correct good sir. I said it was ‘starting to get’. That’s a little different…

      • frank

        I 100% do not agree considering its based off of roughly historical nation equivalents and events they had a ton of places they could go with the IP. What the AOS game setting has that the old world did not is that its not generic, look at 9th age for example they provide links for a ton of manufactures that could be used to fill out all the lines for the game. Might be cynical to say but the biggest problem with the old world is that their are so many other companies that could provide you with roughly the same minis needed for the game. no companies currently make really good subs for minis like Kharadon overlords or the Stormcast ranges, it allows them to do whatever they like with the range with little to no issue of another company having minis that fit the new range. Seems to be more of a financial thing than the story going stagnant to me.

        • Lyca Atteneder

          That’s exactly the point. They COULD have but didn’t. The old World had a really great history and I loved to read about it in various Army Books etc. But from 4th Edition (when I started) up to the End Times in 8th Edition nothing ever happened. The old World allways was on the edge of a great Chaos Invasion led by Archaon. There were a few execptions of course that made the world a little bigger / more populated: The Splitting of Undead into Vampire Counts and Khemri, the Ogrekingdoms,… which was fine, please don’t get me wrong but it did nothing to progress the storyline. Those things only added up to the history of the Old World. There also have been big campaign settings alike the recent Fate of Konor, but they never had any impact to speak of. ie Albion granted a few meh magical items to certain armies, the big campaign when Archaon finally attacked Middenheim never really happened. It was played and reset… wow.
          There was no story progression at all until the End Times… please correct me if I’m wrong.
          Thats why I like AoS a lot more, as strange as the fluff and the Mortal Realms might be. And believe me it took me some time to get used to it.

          • frank

            you are correct the reset was ridicules but they could have advanced the story had they wished to they missed their opportunities to fix the issues years before the end times.

          • Lyca Atteneder

            Thats true, sadly.
            Although I’m just not really sure if they could have done much of a story progression… they made it rather clear in the background that the last Invasion (End Times) was going to be an even greater incursion than the ‘Great war against Chaos’. And considering the fact that the whole world really struggled back then. Well… I think the chances for the Old World were pretty low.

          • frank

            sadly true the forces of chaos would inevitably crush the old world at some point.

          • Lyca Atteneder

            which I personally think was a the big mistake they made, from a storytelling point of view. If they hadn’t made Chaos that a great threat, there would have been much more opportunities to go in different directions with the whole world and still it would have been cool.

          • frank

            I actually found that part of Age of Sigmar interesting because it was a lot like the idea of champions of order fighting against champions of chaos which was one of the original themes for warhammer that seemed to die out in the old world chaos were always bigger and better than the forces of good. like Im not huge into Stormcasts but they feel like the forces of order actually could oppose chaos in a non-hopeless fashion.

          • Lyca Atteneder

            Your are not alone there. That’s what they are about it guess… not a huge Stormcast-Fan myself but yeah, they surely are opposing Chaos. As are more and more factions as time progresses it seems. Which is actually a really nice change. Chaos defending their hold on the mortal realms? Haven’t had that before in the old world… it’s hilarious. I like it.

          • frank

            Its odd if you put it in the context of the Old World but, I have to say I like the concept of chaos gods actually having something they fear as well.

          • Lyca Atteneder

            Especially if you consider that one of the original four Chaos Gods is missing now. As Slaanesh was betrayed by Tzeentch and captured (?). So they’re not the ominous Monstrosities that cannot be harmed anymore. Like pretty much all of the other deities as well.

          • frank

            its interesting to see the gods as mortals and active players in the story always felt like the gods of chaos were way more involved in their followers lives in war hammer than any of the gods of order. Its a lot different from a world where Sigmar stays quiet to his priests when Valten disappears. in a way its less grim but holds some real possibilities for the stories.

          • Lyca Atteneder

            THIS!!!
            Absolutely right, you are.

    • frank

      Mordheim was a lot of fun but if it were brought back it would probably be a sub realm or something in the Age of Sigmar though they could do something like they did with Bloodbowl which could be fun, either way this game is not Mordheim and certainly isn’t its replacement.

  • I’m not really a CCG kind of guy.