Fyreslayer and Skaven Shadespire Review: Neutral Cards

New sets, new models, and new strategies! An initial review of the new Shadespire cards with the Fyreslayers and Skaven release. Check the Tactics Corner for more great articles!

With the release of the Shadespire Fyreslayer and Skaven Warbands comes a whole new set of cards. 120 new cards on top of the new factions and their fighters means even existing decks and strategies will change quite a bit, and new decks will pop up for the current Warbands out there. I’m going to take some time to review the new set and give my initial impressions on the new cards. This article will be a bit text-heavy, but hopefully somebody finds it useful!

You can find all the new cards on the Warhammer Underworlds Card Library, where you can filter based on Warband, what box you get them in, and card type. Reference there alongside my review and give your own impressions! I don’t claim to be the end-all source of truth on power levels, so feel free to disagree, and likely I’ll change my own stance on it within a month, but this is a first impression article to just get some conversations going.

I’ll be rating cards on the following 1 to 5 scale:

  1. Cards with little to no value in a competitive setting. While there might be extreme situations where these cards are ok, they shouldn’t be your first pick.
  2. Low priority or Situational cards. Situations where these cards excel come up more often than a ranking of 1, but should be considered after all the other cards available to you.
  3. Reasonable pick cards. Neither majorly impactful nor terrible, I wouldn’t think twice about putting these in my deck – as long as I have a plan for them.
  4. Very strong cards, should be considered immediately for your decks. Perhaps not “auto-include”, but their power is such that you can easily justify them in any deck.
  5. Top tier card. If not auto-include, you should have a serious reason for not including these in your deck. Meta is built around them and counter cards are often included for them.

Today we’ll be looking at the Universal cards from the new set, which any Warband can take.


  • Alone in the Darkness – 3/5 in general, 2/5 for Skeletons
    • While the setup for this is difficult (you can’t force your opponent to separate or stay away), the ability to get 2 glory for playing carefully and spreading out is not negligible. Sepulchral Guard generally plays in one or two clusters, so this is fairly difficult even discounting trying to keep enemies at bay.
  • Asssassinate – 4/5 for Aggressive decks, 3/5 for Defensive or Objective decks
    • Killing the leader is generally a really solid plan, as they are usually the best fighter in the force or a linchpin of the strategy. This is a free point for doing something you’d already do, and there’s potential to double up this card in any Warband other than Skaven or Skeletons.
  • Butchery – 2/5 for Aggressive decks, 1/5 for Defensive or Objective decks
    • Killing 3 in a turn is a difficult task for most warbands, depending on matchup. If you’re Orruks against Skeletons/Skaven, it’s not impossible, but if you’re Stormcast against Fyreslayers, it’s a bit of a task. If you take it and pull it off, the swing will basically guarantee you the game, but you’ll score it in only a small amount of your games, I’d wager.
  • Cover Ground – 3.5/5 in general, 5/5 for Khorne or Skaven
    • It’s not overly difficult to get to 6 move. Sprint guarantees it other than uninspired/unupgraded Skeletons or Fyreslayers, and there are enough +Movement Upgrades in the game that it’s not impossible to pull off. For Khorne or Skaven, you only need a single +1 Move Upgrade to score it. The fact that it’s Score Immediately is huge, so you can zoom up someone like Saek Inspired and get a Glory for free, or burn Sprint to get into position and get a free Glory for your troubles. Great card, overall.
  • Dauntless – 1/5, maybe 2/5 for Aggressive Stormcast
    • Basically only able to be scored if you’re in a losing position. While 2 Glory can be a decent swing in those situations, in my book it’s too unreliable and not enough even if you do have it. The only Warband I’d consider it on is Stormcast, since you can get it relatively easily against Skeletons that are resurrecting, but other than that I think it’s skippable.
  • Escalation – 2.5/5
    • I’m not sure about this card. 3 Equips is possible, maybe even likely in a single Action Phase, and 2 Glory is solid for something that requires no dice rolls. The downside is that many Upgrades get played in the End Phase, and overall this is dependent on both yours and your opponent’s hands. It might be better than my estimation, but I would put it pretty low at the moment.

  • Honest Opponent – 1/5
    • Skipping Ploys is bad. The power you get from Ploys is generally enough to get Objectives or Kills anyway, so this is a trade that you don’t have to make. I’d pass.
  • Making a Statement – 3/5 for Aggressive decks, 1/5 for Defensive/Objective decks
    • I might be overestimating this card, but I think it’s very doable depending on your deck. If you’re playing Orruks, and you are charging in headlong, you might as well get to the objectives anyway. If you’re Skaven or Khorne and flying past the opponents, it’s very doable to get onto their objectives, especially if they only have 2 in their zone. 3 Glory is also a huge swing.
  • Master of War – 3/5
    • This isn’t impossible to get, so essentially getting an extra Glory for doing stuff you’d already do isn’t a bad idea. This could just be a free Glory, but there’s plenty of turns where you’ll only do two of the three requirements.
  • Miraculous Escape – 3/5
    • Every Warband has a 3 damage attack, and most are on 2 Hammers. It’s actually not unlikely that you will survive many of those attacks, especially if you’re using defensive tricks to keep alive. And it’s Immediate, which is always good.
  • No More Tricks – 4/5
    • Burning through your whole hand, especially on Turns 2 and 3, is very likely. Essentially this is “Gain and extra Glory for playing as hard as possible”, which is really good. However, it can also lead to awkward positions where you have a Ploy you want to hold on to, but you have to burn it for the Glory. Solid card overall, though.
  • No Remorse – 2/5 for Skaven or Skeletons, 3/5 for others
    • Depends heavily on your matchup. Will essentially never score this against Stormcast or Orruks, rarely against Fyreslayers, but it’s very possible against Skeletons, Khorne, or Skaven. It’s also Score Immediately, which is another bonus. It’s difficult to rank higher since it’s only really useful against half the Warbands, but it’s definitely a solid choice if you decide to put it in your Orruk or Stormcast deck. Even Khorne can use it quite well if you get Saek to charge a Petitioner on Round 1.
  • Overextended – 1/5
    • Neutral Claim the City. Impossible for half the Warbands, extremely unlikely for the rest. If you’re in this spot, you’re probably winning without this card.
  • Perfect Planning – 1/5
    • Eh, I could see using this card if you’re playing uber-passive things like Fortress Stormcast or Skeletons, but even then you generally want to move at least something. One Glory is not worth it.
  • Precise Use of Force – 4/5 for Aggressive, 3/5 for Defensive
    • Gains a point right off the bat for being Score Immediately, and otherwise isn’t that bad. You’ll often be killing 3 Wound characters with your 3 Damage weapons, or buffing weapons up to 4 Damage to fight Stormcast/Orruks. Not sure precisely how reliable it is, but it’s not bad by any stretch of the imagination.
  • Ready for a Challenge – 2/5
    • One Glory for something that requires your opponent to play a certain way, not amazing. It’s not the worst, especially certain Warbands that have good upgrades to spread out, but other Warbands will stack all upgrades on one Fighter, or have too many Fighters to all upgrade at once. Very situational, if it was two Glory I might rate it a bit higher.
  • Tactical Genius 1-3 and Tactical Genius 3-5 – 2/5
    • Even in Objective based decks, Tactical Supremacy 1-2 and Tactical Supremacy 3-4 are iffy picks due to the random nature of Objective placement. This is even more difficult. Maybe a really mobile army can play for it, but it doesn’t feel necessary. I wouldn’t run these and basic Supremacy in the same deck, and Supremacy is easier to get.
  • The Bigger They Are – 1/5 for Stormcast, 2/5 for the rest
    • Depends heavily on how many 1 Damage weapons you have and how reliable they are. Stormcast have none other than sometimes Shadeglass Darts. The rest have some potential to get it done with various attacks, with varying levels of reliability. The downside of course, being, you have to get the opponent to exactly 1 Wound remaining and then kill them with that attack, which is a real downside. It is Score Immediately, which is potentially nice, but very hard to set up.
  • Total Annihilation – 1/5
    • Table your opponent before the last round. Hilarious, but not really a great card.
  • Trapped – 2/5
    • Setting up ‘Trapped!’ situations isn’t impossible, but by golly it’s not really what I would consider a regular occurrence. You do Score Immediately, though, so that’s something to consider.
  • Unbroken Wall – 4/5 for Stormcast, 3/5 for Orruks or Fyreslayers, 1/5 for Khorne, Skeletons, or Skaven
    • Setting up a Phalanx is usually a solid option for the lower model count Warbands, especially Stormcast who like to Support each other and have cards like Sigmarite Wall that encourage them to stick together. It’s less likely to be a good strategy for the bigger Warbands, who want to spread out and get the most out of their number and/or mobility.


  • Blinding Flash – 1/5
    • Very situational. Currently the only 3 range attacks are a few upgrades, and they’re not gamebreaking enough to tech this in for. Might jump up in the future if the later Stormcast Vanguard Warband uses a lot of Ranged attacks.
  • Confused Priorities – 3/5
    • Swapping Objectives is great, Shardcaller is already an Upgrade that sees a good amount of play. The downside being that both have to be held, but it can lead to some tricky situations where you might not get onto an objective you need if you think your opponent will get on it. If you’re an Objective based deck playing against an Aggressive deck, though, the restriction might not be met enough to warrant it.
  • Curious Inversion – 5/5 for Khorne and Skeletons, 4/5 for Skaven, 2/5 for others
    • Very powerful card, though depends on the Warband. Shield Warbands don’t get much use out of it – there is some limited offensive potential and it can help if the opponent has Cleave, but otherwise it’s not that useful. For Khorne and Skeletons, though, they can use it defensively, but also can use it in conjunction with Karsus or The Harvester for some serious attacking power, especially against aforementioned Shield Warbands. Very flexible for those two, top tier.
  • Darkness Descends – 2/5
    • Too situational. Yes, you can get situations where you shut down Karsus, The Warden, or Skrtch, but overall it’s not that amazing. Again, might change when Vanguard comes out.
  • Death Throes – 3/5 for Khorne, Skeletons, or Skaven, 2/5 for others
    • Nice if you have relatively expendable pieces, as it can give you that last point of damage to pop an opponent or set up a counterstrike. Stormcast, Orruks, and Fyreslayers don’t necessarily want to build around losing dudes, though.
  • Desperate Gambit – 2/5
    • I can see the use in this, but it’s very random. It can shut down that pumped up attack that’s been all combo’d to get an extra dice, extra damage, and rerolls, but it can also do a whole lot of nothing. I tend to avoid those types of cards, though it can be really funny to drop after your opponent uses all their combo pieces and leave it up to chance.
  • Earthquake – 5/5
    • Extremely strong. This essentially denies Supremacy on the turn you play it, unless your opponent has it as well. It also has aggressive uses – if you use it to push towards your opponent’s back edge, it takes away that much space for them to hide, especially if you’re playing a very Aggro deck against something like Skeletons or Skaven. Highly consider, if for no reason than to counter your opponent’s Earthquake.

  • Fuelled by Fury – 4/5
    • Neutral reroll, but better than Tireless Assault or Necromancer Commands since it lets you keep the successful dice. Consider in any deck.
  • Last Chance – 4/5
    • Double save, top tier. If you’re a Shield defense with no Support, it’s essentially an extra dice. If you’re a Dodge defense with no support, it’s an even better save. If you’re Shields against Cleave, this is a literal lifesaver. Highly consider.
  • Legacy – 2/5
    • There are few upgrades that are worth passing off with this Ploy, and you have to be Adjacent to use it. I could see use for this in an Objective deck so you don’t lose Keys to a death, but it’s highly situational and not necessary for the most part.
  • Momentary Madness – 3/5
    • The effect on this card is strong. However, it’s weak in a Bo3 since your opponent can just spread out after they see it once, and it’s also a 50/50 card. Weigh the downsides against the powerful upside and make the call, I personally tend to avoid 50/50 cards but many people run them.
  • No Time – 4/5
    • Very powerful effect. Can be used to shut down a combo or block off opponent’s tricks. For instance, if you’re going last in a round, and you’re holding some Objectives, playing this in your last Power Phase prevents your opponent from using Earthquake or Distraction to get you off of an Objective. Forces your opponent into questionable decisions to play around it, which is great.
  • Ready For Action – 5/5
    • Free action for doing something you’re already doing. Kill something, equip, and run away to safety. Move up, equip, and attack without Charging. Or Charge, equip, and then attack again. Top tier card and will be everywhere.
  • Rebound – 3/5
    • Much like Momentary Madness, though harder to get off with an easier restriction. Again, I personally don’t like 50/50 cards, and 33/66 cards are even worse. But it can swing an Attack from losing to winning if you get the roll, so it can potentially be huge.
  • Rethink Strategy – 3/5
    • Not quite sure how to estimate this. We’ve all ended up with Objective hands we can’t do very well or at all, and this lets you cycle without using an Action, which is great. But it can also be a dead card itself if your Objectives are going well, and it’s not clear whether the effect is powerful enough to outshine other Ploys. Probably better for Objective based decks than Aggressive ones.
  • Sacrificial Pawn – 4/5
    • Likely better for the Dodge factions than the Shield ones, but in any Warband this is essentially creating a Glory Trade at worst, and forcing your opponent to completely reconsider an attack at best. Any Ploys that grant you Glory without a roll is solid, and even if it doesn’t it makes your opponent to change their game plan which can be just as impactful. Love this card.
  • Shattershard – 2/5
    • Another 50/50 card, though this one is less impactful. I don’t think there are any must-have Upgrades that make or break the game, though killing a Key might swing the Glory differential quite a bit. Additionally, you can potentially kill something like +1 Damage, which can be really powerful. But, it only works half the time and requires your opponent to have something worth breaking, so… I’m not a big fan.
  • Spoils of Battle – 4/5
    • Free upgrade. Amazing. The only reason this is not a 5/5 is that it isn’t always impactful depending on when you draw it – you might not have a good Upgrade in hand, you might have enough Glory to equip anyway, you might draw this last and it’s useless. Depends heavily on draws but when you draw it right and get +1 Damage on your first charge and one-shot a Stormcast, it’ll be amazing.
  • Tantalising Prize – 3/5
    • This is potentially quite good. It can give slower Warbands an extra bit of reach, or give you a strong retreat if you head towards an Objective. Combos well with Cover Ground, as well.
  • Trap – 4/5 for Aggressive decks, 3/5 otherwise
    • Highly consider in any deck. Getting that magical 4 Damage is great, and this can give a boost to any 3 Damage attack. Even if your attack fails, you can get 1 Damage from a push, which is better than nothing.


  • Acrobatic – 4/5 for Dodge armies, 2/5 for Shield armies
    • An extra Defense dice is always good, and without a downside like Cursed Artifact either. Granted you can’t use it on Shield armies that effectively, but for something like Khorne/Skaven/Skeletons it can be quite nice to keep certain targets alive. Maybe 3/5 for Stormcast, since they have so many ways to go on Guard so they can take advantage of it, but that’s a bit iffy.
  • Awakened Weapon – 4/5
    • Rerolls are good. Reliability is key when making attacks, and getting it on any good attack with 2 Hammer dice is a serious power move.
  • Ethereal Shield – 3/5 for Dodge Warbands only
    • Not much to say here – it’s a better save. Granted it can conflict with Curious Reversal or Acrobatic, but if you want it, there it is. I think the throughput of Acrobatic is better, but it’s another way to stack defenses if you want more sturdy upgrades.
  • Headlong Charge – 3/5
    • Getting extra distance is never a bad thing, especially for a crucial charge. Perhaps not as flexible as a straight +1 Move upgrade, but it is another way to get mobility in your deck if you’re looking for more.
  • Heroslayer – 3/5
    • Compare to Shadeglass Hammer and Daemonic Weapon. The other two are limited use (one use on the Hammer, take wounds from the Weapon), but have better hitting power. It depends on what you want to use them for – Heroslayer gives you multiple chances to swing and the ability to one shot any unupgraded Fighter other than Ironskull, which is a pretty good upside, but it’s low reliability.
  • Katophrane’s Hood/Katophrane’s Locket – 1/5
    • Katophrane’s Relic set is hilarious but still not quite good. Maybe once we have 6 of them and you can reliably get them early on, but at the moment I don’t think there’s a good reason to stack these in your deck other than laughs.
  • Light Armor – 2/5
    • Compare to Cursed Artifact. I would rather take the -1 Wound than miss out on Crits, since you can compensate with Great Fortitude on the former, but nothing can get you Crit Defense back. It could be useful if you’re just trying to stack defensive upgrades, but I rate it the lower of the two (and far lower than Acrobatic for Dodge Warbands).
  • Second In Command – 1/5
    • This basically only denies Assassination or like Objectives. The usefulness of this upgrade directly correlates to how reckless you’re being with your Leader and how likely they have two instances of Assassinate in their deck. Likely, this Upgrade will do very little all game.

  • Shadeglass Axe – 3/5
    • Very flexible weapon upgrade. Not as hard hitting as the Hammer, Heroslayer, or Daemonic Weapon, but the Ranged potential is pretty interesting. The chance to potentially do 3 Damage at a range is fairly insane, though the more likely 2 is still quite good. Will be a great upgrade for fast Objective armies like Reavers or Skaven, who will run to position and then chuck the Axe for good measure.
  • Shadeglass Hammer – 4/5
    • Already partially covered above with Heroslayer – it’s a good one-off upgrade that can net you a quick kill or turn your fodder units into power units, but consider the situations where it compars to Heroslayer or Daemonic weapon and decide which you’d rather have – I doubt I’d take all three in a single deck.
  • Shadestep – 2/5
    • Very cool effect and could be neat for sneaking past chokepoints to get behind the enemy, but overall it’s an upgrade with limited use. There are situations where it’s very powerful, but not common enough to consider over other options in my opinion.
  • Shifting Image – 2/5
    • Another neat mobility Upgrade, this one hampered by the need to roll crits. It’s potentially really powerful, allowing you to get into positions that your opponents don’t expect, but unreliable. For every time it creates a big play, there are three times it does nothing or goes off when you’re already in the position you want to be.
  • Solid Stance – 3/5
    • Immunity to Knockback can be quite interesting, especially for Objective decks that want to sit where they are and not get pushed off. Doesn’t prevent people from killing you, of course, but it has uses and is likely to gain you some Glory when your opponent can’t shift you.
  • Sprinter – 4/5
    • This is the third neutral +1 Move that’s been printed, meaning we’ll have some fast games in the future. You can easily make slow Warbands into surprisingly fast ones with very little issues. The flat +1 is always helpful, and you can even stack them to fly around the field with a powerful model.
  • The Blazing Key/The Fractured Key – 4/5 for Objective decks, 3/5 otherwise
    • We’re now in an interesting spot with the keys – you can make nearly half your Upgrade cards different Keys, but in many games you won’t get more than 2 of them to score at a time. There will of course be times where you can suddenly surprise and swing 8 Glory at the end off of Upgrades, but that’s fairly unlikely and you’re probably winning by that point.
      The consideration is how many is too many? You’re trading Upgrades that boost stats for ones that maybe give Glory. Glory wins games, but it doesn’t win fights. I would be tempted to put 3 in my deck (random ones, the numbering doesn’t particularly matter), but all 4 seems like too much. Depends heavily on the other Upgrades you’re considering.
  • Trickster’s Charm – 2/5
    • Neat effect, there are plenty of situations I can think of that might be useful for this. Take first and Sidestep to get in range without Charging. Take second and Distraction away the fighter your opponent was going to use. Pop something like Insensate or Khorne Calls before the first action. But, it’s very RNG dependent. You want to have it on your first turn, and upgrade it then, and have Ploys in your hands on top of turns 2 and 3 to actually play. Lots can go wrong with that.
  • Vampiric Weapon – 4/5 for Aggressive Warbands, 3/5 otherwise
    • A solid upgrade, especially for 4 Wound armies. Orruks can’t lose Inspiration, so if you can deal damage to them yourself and then heal it back, you’re in a really good spot. You can play really aggressive with a Stormcast model and then heal up as they wail on the enemy.

Overall, from these sets, I think the Ploys will be the most impactful, followed by the Upgrades. The Objectives bring some interesting options for your deck, but I don’t know if they are more useful than the Objectives that already exist in the game. Side-grades rather than Upgrades, so to speak. There are at least a few Ploys that will seriously be considered for new and existing decks, though, such as Earthquake or Ready for Battle.

That being said, though, I don’t think there’s “powercreep” in these sets. The Ploys you currently have can make a very powerful deck and I don’t think any of the cards introduced are “include in your deck or lose” level of power, despite the obvious power of some of the cards. If you aren’t planning on buying these sets, you can easily change up some of the cards you currently have and still be quite competitive, though if you want to stay fully on top of the meta it helps to have every card available.

Hope this review was useful for new and existing Shadespire players! Next time I’ll talk about the new cards for Fyreslayers and Skaven, as well as a brief overview of the Warbands themselves.


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3 Responses to “Fyreslayer and Skaven Shadespire Review: Neutral Cards”

  1. Ytook February 20, 2018 3:11 pm

    This was a fantastic read and really helpful, completely missed it when it was on the front page, thanks for this 🙂

    • Reecius
      Reecius February 20, 2018 3:25 pm

      Yeah, I was surprised there weren’t more comments, it is a really good article!

  2. Matt February 22, 2018 12:18 am

    Well written. Cant wait to play the skaven.