Shadespire has been met with generally positive reviews within the gaming community. I decided to take the plunge and bought the core set.
GW has already released two expansions, Ironjawz and Spechuair, and more coming for 2018. These releases include Fyreslayers, Skaven, Bloodwarriors, and more Stormcast (of course). It seems like GW is all in on this bad boy and the community, for the most part, is just fine with that. This is my experience after purchasing the core set from my local FLGS.
First Impressions: For $60, you get eight miniatures that are some of the best-looking foot soldier troop type models GW has produced. Hate on the Khorne Bloodborne and Stormcast Eternals all you want, but these miniatures are cool looking with unique poses and can be easily distinguished from their lame counterparts (Liberators and Bloodreavers). Personally, I like the core set with Stormcast and Khorne Bloodborne as they can easily combine with the Age of Sigmar starter set, which remains a fantastic value. Next, the cardboard is easy to punch out and all the artwork is well done along with the layout on the cards.
The fact that they even provide little baggies for everything is even better! It did get my hopes up for card sleeves but, of course, those are not included. The card sleeves are sold those separately, well played GW. After that, you have the dice with five attack dice and three defense dice that are black and white and made me think fondly back to Hero’s Quest as a kid. Finally, you have the cards with the lovely artwork and flavor text as well as icons easily designating what kind of card it is. My one grip is that on the character cards there is not words above or below the numbers, so for example you would not know the number in the lower left is the movement stat just by looking.
The Rules: They are easy to follow with “I take a turn and you take a turn mechanics”. GW made it easy to get the basics of the game. I take a turn and perform some sort of action with one of my models, we roll dice (if required), and then we play cards and it becomes your opponent’s turn. Rinse and repeat 4 times for each person and then you score objectives and get new and or more cards. Do these rounds three times and then the game is over with the person with the most glory points being the winner.
Easy enough to follow, but on our first and second play through there was a couple of things GW could have explained better. First, supporting and how it works, in that is it based on the attacking model, the target, or both? *Author’s Note* It is both in that an attacker is consider support if a friendly model is adjacent to the target, while a defender gets support if a friendly model is adjacent to the defender. The other is the special attack rules such as cleave and knock back that do something beyond just the regular attack. However, after the second game we got into a groove and could finish a match in about 40 minutes or so with very little cross referencing the rules.
Miniatures: As stated earlier, these are highly detailed miniatures that are unique versions of their battle line counterparts in Age of Sigmar. The models are very well done and are easily distinguished from one another. Mold lines are generally hidden from view, and the details come out enough to be picked up easily with a brush yet easy enough for a beginner to get a decent paint job with only a couple of paints and basic brushwork. If painting is not your thing, the blue and red plastic make it even easier to tell the difference between the opposing forces.
The Bloodreavers themselves are what you come to expect from Bloodreavers, lots of scars, big axes, and no shirts (yet one still wears a helmet for some reason?), and they don’t disappoint. It is the Stormcast that GW could have gone a step further with, beyond the leader who has his helmet off and is carrying a giant sword, they are a little plain. Starting with the female Stormcast, yes female which is awesome, they decided to use a standard Stormcast helmet but could have gone so much further by giving you a non-helmet version (see Neave Blacktalon). Then you have the guy with a big hammer who just looks like a liberator with a big hammer, and nothing special about him. Really, they could have beefed up his hammer a little bit more and added some touches that you might see on a small raiding party of Stormcast.
First Game: I put this game to the ultimate test and played a match with someone who has never war gamed before and who generally likes to play games like Ticket to Ride, Settlers of Catan, etc. (nothing wrong with those BTW): My wife….. Her first words after playing through our first game which took an hour and 30 minutes was “I don’t hate it” and then “let’s get a beer and try it again”. So, I took that as a win! Against a buddy who plays Age of Sigmar, he had a harder time getting away from some AoS mechanics and needed to figure out that it should be treated as a board game and not an extension of AoS.
Once he got through that he grasped the game quickly and we were able to get through the first game in a little over an hour, and the second in about 40 minutes. Both my wife and my friend agreed to watch a “how to play” after the first game and that really helped clarify some rules. Now that everyone has a grasp of the mechanics and a solid understanding of the game we can knock a match out in 40 minutes or so along with using customized decks.
Overall: I would say great value for $60, even if you are not a competitive wargamer. The models can be used unpainted and are of good quality, with the game being a solid competitive two player game. I do highly suggest that you find one of the many YouTube videos of a play through and have anyone who has not played before watch that before sitting down at the table. It will really help get the turns moving quickly as well as give them some understanding of what is going on. Also, using the starter decks for the first couple games is a must, otherwise you might overload the game with options and take up a lot more time than someone who is new to the game wants to spend. After that you can talk about customizing decks or playing some of the advanced scenarios. Finally, these models can be used in AoS and have functional war scrolls, see my write up here, so if your friend wants to try it out you can easily combine it with a starter set to get things going.
There you go! Shapespire gets an approval from your old pal Trav as a game you can play with both wargamers and non-wargamers and still have a good time. With two expansions out already, it seems like GW is going to be supporting this with quite a bit of material, so I would expect new boards armies, and cards consistently throughout the next year.