Warhammer Underworlds: Shadespire – Leaders Expansion Review

Now that the full spoilers for the new Warhammer Underworlds: Shadespire – Leaders expansion have been released, you’re no doubt wondering how they’re going to affect your game – are you going to turn up to a tournament this week only to get completely stomped by some new deck full of overpowered cards?

Well, fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on what side of the table you’re on), that probably won’t happen. The new expansion gives a lot of new tools to a wide range of decks, but none of them are the big game-changers that Great Concussion, Quick Thinker, Hidden Paths and so on are. Still, you’ll want to be prepared and so the Steel City team has put together a quick run-through of all 60 new cards so you know what’s hot and what’s not. And they say northerners are stingy…


A lot of these are too niche to be worth it in most decks. Existing options that score similar amounts of glory are easier to meet the requirements for and more versatile. There are still some nice options for a range of decks though.

Bold Advance (Universal)

Nice. This goes well with Planting a Standard and Swift Advance as passive objectives for aggressive decks to score on the way in. It is useless after turn 1 though.

Drawing Focus (Universal)

This can be an extra Ploymaster that also counts your opponent’s ploys, but it’s a bit more restricted in practice. I can see Skaven getting mileage out of this.

Fearless Leader (Universal)

Not great, but at least you can earn some glory when you’re stuck in a position you don’t want to be in.

Fervent Petition (Sepulchral Guard)

Really bad. Spend 3 actions (or 2 and a ploy) to get back the glory you lost when your petitioners died.

Great Slayer (Universal)

Too greedy. Pass.

Impervious (Universal)

In the current aggro-heavy one-shot-focused meta this isn’t good. Nice against Farstriders maybe?

Intervention (The Farstriders)

This isn’t bad as an extra score immediately option, but you probably have enough already and in an aggro-heavy meta you won’t be scoring it often.

Linchpin (Universal)

Too hard to set up consistently with the way most games play out.

Khorne’s Chosen (Magore’s Fiends)

No… just, no.

Krrk Now Leads! (Spiteclaw’s Swarm)

An okay back-up for aggro Skaven when things go wrong, but probably not enough glory to be worth it over other options.

Neutralize (Universal)

Good for mobile highly aggressive lists, like aggro Skaven. Becomes even better in an aggro mirror.

Pride of the Lodge (The Chosen Axes)

Fine as an extra Chosen Champion for defensive or defensive-hybrid Duardin lists.

Shining Example (Universal)

A nice passive objective, especially for warbands with easy or controllable inspiration criteria. Unfortunately at its worst in the deck that wants it most (defensive Champions).

Showin’ Off (Ironskull’s Boyz)

Worse version of the existing ‘kill 2 fighters’ objectives that other warbands have. Probably not worth it.

Slayer (Universal)

See Showin’ Off above as this is almost literally the same card. How imaginative.

Sufficient (Universal)

Not worth it for something that requires you to be pretty far behind.

The Stage is Set (Garrek’s Reavers)

Not great. Requires a lot of work to make it happen.

Tireless Commander (Universal)

Would have been okay in the Katophrane decks for turn 2-3. Now only Sepulchral Guard (and maybe Skaven) want this. Good turn 1 with March of the Dead.

Undefeated (Universal)

Pretty good in defensive decks although I generally don’t like single glory turn 3 objectives.

Well-Guarded (Universal)

Another good objective for defensive decks and hybrid decks.


The main problem here is that ploys are the best card type, and if you’re sticking to 20 cards (which you generally should be) then competition is extremely tight. Anything that is only situationally useful just isn’t going to make it.

Burden of Command (Universal)

An extra Invisible Walls against leader-focused warbands (hello Skaven), but not widely useful enough to make it.

Cautious Commander (Universal)

This is potentially good for warbands that want to score Change of Tactics but don’t have an existing guard ploy (e.g. Farstriders).

Commanding Reach (Universal)

Only take this if you’ve already taken all the pushes you have access to and still want something that acts like another one in one specific situation.

Coveted Trophy (Garrek’s Reavers)

Fine if you have a left-over ploy slot. You probably don’t.

Crippling Doubt (Universal)

Like Burden of Command this isn’t bad against aggressive decks that rely on their leader, but against everyone else its dead. Maybe if your local meta is predominantly Spiteclaw’s Swarm?

Final Duty (Universal)

I’d recommend taking one of the ploys that has a chance of saving your leader, rather than one that sometimes lets them attack again.

Great Cunning (Universal)

This is really cool, but unfortunately still won’t make the cut in most decks. Great when setting up for extra action ploys, or using a push then playing No Time to stop your opponent re-positioning.

Grimnir Commands (The Chosen Axes)

An extra Spectral Wings is nice, and helps contribute to the surprising mobility the stunties have. Maybe you could just be playing a faster warband tho?

Hidden Reserves (Universal)

Not sure there’s much demand for a second, weaker, Healing Potion.

Impress Da Boss (Ironskull’s Boyz)

Not good enough to make the cut in the majority of decks. Easy to disrupt.

Inspired Command (Universal)

Fantastic card. A push and a way of preparing for Change of Tactics in one card, with a downside that you can generally play around.

Look Out! (Universal)

Not great. There are already better options (On Your Feet, Last Chance) and unless you want a third you probably don’t need this.

No Retreat (Universal)

Situationally useful, which means that you probably aren’t going to take it.

Invulnerable (Steelheart’s Champions)

Meh. It’s not bad, but not high enough impact to spend a ploy slot on.

Premonition (Universal)

Not hugely exciting. It’s easy for your opponent to just do something else instead, and if they didn’t have big incentives to attack your leader then it probably doesn’t hurt them too much to do so.

Quick Advance (Universal)

This is great, as long as you remember to play around the downside (i.e. make sure you don’t need to push your leader with it). I would always take this over Sidestep and maybe equal with Inspired Command.

Quick Manoeuvre (Universal)

Good as another way of inspiring two Skaven at once, but most other decks probably don’t want a second, weaker, Confusion.

Raptor Strike (The Farstriders)

Are you playing Farstriders? Do you ever want to kill enemy models? If both of your answers are yes then you should always include this card. I think this is easily the strongest card in the set – I just wish that other factions got such strong cards.

Tyrant’s Command (Universal)

Nice with Quick Thinker or Hidden Paths, and decent the rest of the time. Another good tool to help aggro decks deal with defensive lists.


These are generally just okay, which to be honest is true of upgrades in general. Some of the effects are more cool than good, which may be okay spending an upgrade slot on whereas you wouldn’t want to waste a ploy?

Apex Predator (Universal)

Not worth it versus other glory-generating upgrades.

Commanding Presence (Universal)

Not terrible, but you should take other accuracy increasing upgrades ahead of this.

Commanding Shout (Universal)

Interesting effect, but too niche to be worth including in most decks.

Cursed Shield (Universal)

This is a worse Cursed Artifact (a card that works best on more expendable fighters like the Lurking Skaven) that only works on your leader. Sad.

Gory Visage (Magore’s Fiends)

Really nice. Definitely worth running in all but the most aggressive Fiends decks.

Hero’s Mantle (Universal)

Another nice card. A second A Destiny to Meet that doesn’t have the positioning requirements that The Formless Key does. Only working on your leader will hurt sometimes, but generally should be fine.

Irresistible Challenge (Universal)

This is really cool, but most of the time you want to be directing attacks away from your leader instead. Being an upgrade rather than a ploy makes it less good as your opponent can see it coming.

Katophrane’s Ring (Universal)

Just… lol. Why waste a slot in the expansion on this after nerfing the archetype into the ground (unfairly – we might cover this later)? No-one’s ever going to run this unless the beta rules are discarded.

Kingsbane (Universal)

Not accurate enough to be worth a slot.

Krrk the Clawchief (Spiteclaw’s Swarm)

This is really cool as an alternative to Skritch’s res action, but not as good and probably not worth running. I would have liked to see the Prince of Dust get this instead.

Loyal Defender (Universal)

Theoretically quite nice – it’s similar to Heroic Stride in that it can give you a lot of extra movement, but it can also wind up being completely useless.

Master of Tactics (Universal)

This is great. Using an upgrade slot for a limited but repeatable Rethink Strategy is a good deal. Especially nice for defensive decks where it does a lot to smooth out your activation usage.

Mighty Shove (Universal)

Like the other new actions this is potentially interesting, but the fact that it only works on adjacent enemies is limiting. Might have some niche uses, but generally you’ve got better things to do with your actions.

Rising to the Challenge (Universal)

Nice if your strategy doesn’t care whether or not your leader is alive. It’s a strong upgrade for another fighter.

Seize the Day (Universal)

I really like this. It helps aggro lists close with defensive ones (as long as they have spoils of battle or some passive glory), lets you move to an edge hex before using Hidden Paths, and gives you a free move while still scoring Perfect Planning.

Steelheart’s Second (Steelheart’s Champions)

Most Steelheart’s decks don’t have room for a limited 3rd copy of Great Strength, but for aggro builds this is fine.

Treacherous Second (Universal)

Not bad, but there are better ways to get glory out of your upgrade slots.

Trusted Second (Universal)

Like Commanding Presence, this is okay but you have better options for accuracy upgrades.

Tyrant’s Command (Universal)

A repeatable way of re-doing attacks is very strong, but 2 damage is a high cost (especially for Skaven, Reavers, or Guard) and you need to be adjacent to your leader. Probably not good enough for most decks.

Warden’s Call (Sepulchral Guard)

This is fine, if not hugely exciting.

Best New Cards


  1. Undefeated
  2. Well-Guarded
  3. Bold Advance
  4. Shining Example
  5. Pride of the Lodge


  1. Raptor Strike
  2. Quick Advance
  3. Inspiring Command
  4. Tyrant’s Command
  5. Grimnir Commands


  1. Hero’s Mantle
  2. Master of Tactics
  3. Seize the Day
  4. Gory Visage
  5. Rising to the Challenge

5 thoughts on “Warhammer Underworlds: Shadespire – Leaders Expansion Review

Add yours

  1. Nice article! Really interesting to read your thoughts on the new cards. I’ve had the feeling that there are some hidden gems in the new leader’s pack, but that I don’t quite grasp yet. So far I’ve just gone ahead and put Shining Example and the choose and push 2 friendlies in may Skaven deck (just so easy to inspire Skritch turn 1). But I’ve been thinking about a fun deck revolving around Krrk and extra actions.

    What if you put the upgrade that let Krrk summon rats adjacent to him, combine it with Momentary Boldness and Skaven courage + Ready for action and Time trap? Imagine this, charge with Krrk in support of Skritch (end adjacent). Time trap lets you take an action with Krrk, summon a dead rat adjacent to both of them. Play Skaven courage to attack with the best positioned/ deadly rat and/or charge afterwards with Skritch. Sounds fun right? 😀


    1. That’s a great idea! I hadn’t thought of using the new upgrade for Krrk as an enabler for the Skaven extra action cards, but it gives you a lot of flexibility with them. Very cool.


  2. I cannot help but think this expansion has read potential once you put the SECOND IN COMMAND upgrade card in your deck to make the build still viable if your leader gets taken out!


    1. That’s a good point – having a way to make sure you can still use the new ploys if your leader is killed is very useful. To be honest, I’d actually completely forgotten that card existed when writing this up as it didn’t really do much before.


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