Nightvault Core Set Review: Universal

Stormsire’s Cursebreakers | Thorns of the Briar Queen | Universal

For the final part of this series, we’ll be looking at the new universal cards from the Warhammer Underworlds: Nightvault core set. There’s not that many new ones, with a number of reprints, and those that do exist are not particularly exciting – any changes to the meta with the new release are going to come from the warbands and boards, not from these options.


  • 5 – Best in class effects that should go in basically every deck that can take them (Great Concussion, Hidden Paths, Quick Thinker, Raptor Strike)
  • 4 – Powerful or versatile effects that are extremely strong in a particular archetype or pretty good in any deck (Distraction, Forceful Denial, Twist the Knife)
  • 3 – Solid effects that will find a place in many decks (Rebound, Sidestep)
  • 2 – Limited effects that might be useful in some specialised decks (Earthquake, No Time)
  • 1 – Just plain bad cards (Curious Inversion, Flickering Step)

Determined Effort

I don’t like effects that boost the first attack next activation (with the exception of Blood Offering due to the combo with My Turn), as they telegraph what you’re doing to your opponent and give them a chance to react and stop you from making good attacks. Sometimes things will line up and you’ll be in a good position to make an attack no matter what, but that’s not enough to justify taking up a gambit slot.

Rating: 2

Grinding Earth (Spell)

At it’s best, the lethal hex created by this stops a 1 health fighter from charging you or makes it less likely for your opponent to charge with a more healthy fighter. At it’s worst, you get pushed in with Distraction or even hit with two attacks by your opponent triggering My Turn on a charge. The difference between these 2 outcomes is not in your favour.

Rating: 1

Vital Surge (Spell)

This is also pretty dire. You need a level 2 wizard to cast it without upgrades or gambits boosting the casting roll, and you only have a ~44% chance of successfully casting it. Outside of objectives and inspire conditions based on casting spells you’re better off taking Healing Potion for a guaranteed heal 1 and a 50% chance of healing 2.

Rating: 1


  • 5 – Extremely powerful upgrades that have a place in nearly every deck (A Destiny to Meet, Great Fortitude)
  • 4 – Powerful upgrades that are very strong in particular types of deck, or are merely quite strong overall (Great Strength, Deathly Fortitude)
  • 3 – Dependable middle-of-the-road upgrades that are good for filling out the power deck (Shadeglass weapons, the Keys)
  • 2 – Upgrades with a very specific use case that otherwise aren’t worth including (Cursed Artifact)
  • 1 – You know the deal by now (Cursed Shield, post-nerf Katophrane Relics)

Escape Artist

The best thing about this upgrade is that it gives you a repeatable way of preventing your opponent from using failed attack reactions like Tireless Assault and The Necromancer Commands when you have priority (i.e. most of the times they’ll be attacking you). It also prevents follow-up attacks in the power phase from Time Trap or Ready for Action, so as a defensive option it’s not that bad – your opponent does need to miss you first though.

Rating: 2.5

Lucky Trinket

This is very lackluster as defence against spells – compare it to the Briar Queen specific Curse of Unbinding. You’ve got a less than 50% chance of succeeding, and the upgrade is lost either way. Spells are good, and upgrade slots have lower competition than gambits, but I don’t think this is good enough to take – focus on ways of killing your opponent’s wizards first.

Rating: 1


Not much here to really be excited about, unfortunately. As with season 1 we’ll probably see some stronger universal cards released with the future expansions, but as it is if you were running a particular decklist in Shadespire you can happily keep running it in Nightvault (unless you want to switch to one of the new warbands).

Outside of the stand-out cards for each of the new warbands we’ll likely still see the same universal staples in their lists too, meaning that new players who want to play competitively are going to have to buy older expansions (the Farstriders in particular) in order to do so.

It’s unfortunate that there weren’t reprints of the more powerful cards, instead of just the baseline ones, as this makes it a lot harder for new players to get into what’s billed as a competitive game first and foremost (Mike makes some good points about this in his overview article). Hopefully we’ll see a better answer and some sort of considered approach to rotation with season 3, or maybe part way through the new releases?

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