Lockdown in the Steel City

Disclaimer: I wrote this before the roadmap had been released. Apologies its not quite as topical.

Government Mandated Update

In a desperate bid to kick-start the economy, Rishi Sunak called our ‘offices’ directly last night, here is a short transcript of the call:

“I would like to speak to the head of Steel City Underworlds.”

“Er… Speaking?”

“In these unprecedented times it has become abundantly clear that the production and consumption of tiny toy soldiers is the only industry worth speaking of left in the UK. I am contacting anyone associated with the game Warhammer Underworlds to impress upon them the importance of maintaining and growing the community. The pandemic has slowed the release schedules and no one is playing in any physical tournaments, we need you to bolster interest and help boost the UK economy. If you do not do this then the consequences could be dire. We might have to make Grayling the head dev.”

“Well, that’s a lot to take in. Urm, you do know that Indomitus has been flying off shelves, right?”

“We are aware of the temporary success of the new 40k box set. Speaking frankly here, 40k is rubbish and everyone here in the government knows that Warhammer Underworlds is the future. You don’t have to paint the stupid models; hexes are objectively superior to rulers and you even get cool deck building elements thrown in as well. This countries future lies in Warhammer Underworlds and you need to help drive that forwards.”

“Did you just say cool?”


“Oli is that you-“ 

The call dropped after that, I wasn’t sure exactly what had happened but I was left with an overwhelming sense of patriotic duty to actually write an article for the blog. 

With nothing specific to focus on I decided to give our readers a general update on how we have been doing during the great lockdown. So this article is going to be a bit of an odds and sods coverage of a bunch of general topics. I’m praying to Sigmar that we get some actual content to talk about soon.

Note – a lot of this article is tongue in check, please don’t take it too seriously.

Online Tournaments

There have been 3 online tournaments that Steel City have participated in since the lockdown began. The first one was a bit of a failure and I’m not going to beat around the bush here, the fault lies entirely with Tom. He was the only one to enter the tournament and went 0-4 with the Reavers (I went 1-3 with the Reavers, sacrificing my warband to Khorne for the good of my opponents. I am a saint. – Tom) , showing that there is indeed a warband he is worse with than The Godsworn Hunt.

Ahem.. moving on.

The second online tournament went much better. Jimmy Molini had been doing some casual smack talking about how America seemed to be dominating these online events and that maybe the UK scene wasn’t so hot after all. Being the incredibly petty man that I am, this motivated me to bring out my A game, namely a giant Troll called Mollog. For those of you who have been living under a Stalagsquig (I know I have used this joke before, but these are desperate times after all) Mollog is the most finesse, highest skill cap warband in the game and the only one worthy of my 5d chess playing abilities. I managed to get into the final where I lost to, UK player, Benny Monahan playing a Tome Hrothgorn build. I was pretty happy with that result and definitely not salty that I lost. Tom also entered that tournament and managed to somewhat atone for his Rubbish Reavers by coming 3rd with the Wurmspat, losing in a tense semi-final to Benny.

So two Steel City players had entered and came 2nd and 3rd, pretty happy with that one.

The third tournament saw Tom coasting on his last result and choosing not to risk a bad showing, in his place we got his brother Oli, the ‘better_bond’, entering with Spiteclaws Swarm while I took a much lower skill expression warband in the form of Farstriders. Alas I only came 10th this time, entirely due to bad dice rolls and nothing to do with being outplayed by superior opponents and decks. Oli, on the other hand, only went and won the whole thing, beating Thomas Conboy, another UK player, using Thorn’s of the Briar Queen in a tense 4 game final.

For his first tournament win that was a pretty impressive one.

For reference the tournaments we are talking about here are all 40+ players, with one being 60+. The quality of the competition in them is incredible and I would personally rate them at about the same level as a ‘normal’ Grand Clash. In this case I am using normal to refer to non Warhammer World Grand Clashes as they are a cut above and in my mind and the absolute pinnacle of competitive events.

BCP Boasting

I honestly have no idea how the BCP rankings work. I’ve generally not paid much attention to them but now that we are doing well in them, they have become the ultimate arbiter of deciding who is best at the game. So, my stance right now is that these rankings are mathematically perfect and objectively true. 

It’s no surprise that Aman ‘The Machine’ Khusro is currently the worlds number one rated player. Serious tone for a moment, his consistent success at events is astonishing and if I had to make a personal top 10 list of players in the world he would easily make top 3, so seeing him at number 1 is no surprise. 

Not surprised to Mike give Aman top 3 here, he has to rate himself and his enormous ego in the 2 top spots, so third makes sense. – Oli

Skipping players that I do not recognise we see myself sitting pretty at number 3. As someone who has spent so long circling the edge of the top tables at events and never quite making it, it feels pretty amazing to finally be considered ‘up there’. For anyone reading this who has similar aspirations, don’t be put off by bad results, the number of events I have gone to where I have performed poorly or a bit above average did not deter me from trying again. I kept bashing my head against that brick wall, put the work in, and finally got there. If someone as dumb and Troll as me can make it then anyone can.

Hot on my heels is another member of the Steel City crew, Oli. Oli has had an even rougher time at events then myself, sometimes not making the top 16 cut at a Grand Clash because the judges didn’t know how to correctly report match results. Over the moon that he has done so well and is finally getting the recognition he deserves. Maybe if I heap enough praise on him he will finally write his article on his tournament winning Spiteclaw deck?

There are some other players on the list, they don’t matter.

Let’s take a quick look at the club rankings for a second.

What’s that? Steel City Underworlds are number 1 and by a lead of no less then 50 points? I honestly have no idea what the points really mean but 50 sounds like a lot so I’ll take it. We very explicitly do not stack the club with just our top members, anyone in Sheffield who practices locally with us uses the tag when they enter a BCP tournament, yes that includes a 12 year old (The Prince of Darkness) who went 3-1 at the last Warhammer World Grand Clash. I am honestly over the moon that our local group have done so well at events this past year, the feeling of community we get from practicing and attending events together really makes this hobby something else. The blog and the podcast are honestly just the public face of our group. Hopefully this pandemic will be over soon and when it is safe, we can all go back to our weekly practice session again.

Looking at the rest of this list, some random club from Reading? I guess our success as a club has to be tempered by the fact that the rest of the competitive scene don’t care about clubs as much as we do so our competition isn’t very fierce. For anyone who is building a community I would really recommending making a tag like this, it helps everyone feel involved. I know I sometimes get frustrated when I do bad at an event but being able to cheer on my fellow club members really helps with that.

The Necroquake hits the Steel City

Minor tragedy befell when my trophy shelf collapsed a month ago. 

It happened while I was at work and the above images are what I was greeted when I returned to my bedroom. At the time I was really gutted, I had spent a lot of time and effort earning all those trophies so to have a bunch of them smashed really hit me hard. Even my Grand Clash Trophy had not survived unscathed.

All told 7 of the smaller trophies had been smashed into various states while the other 7 small ones had survived intact. With the lack of physical tournaments happening this year its certainly going to be a challenge to replace them. I do have a cunning plan to turn this minor disaster into something positive, when it’s fully completed you can bet I will milk that for all it’s worth and pop the details into another article.

Ongoing Adventures

Currently myself, Tom and Oli have joined the Path to Glory Grand Alliance Team league, winning our first match against the team Straight out of Shadespire 3-0. For those who don’t know the Grand Alliance format does not allow you to share any cards between the 3 separate decks, creating a unique deck building challenge which often devolves into fighting over who gets Great Strength. The way teams arrange which warbands face off against each other in this league is done really well.

  • Both Captains roll off
  • The loser of the roll off picks two of their warbands as defenders
  • The winner then gets to pick the first match-up, selecting one of their warbands to play into one of the defenders
  • The team that lost the initial roll off then get to pick the remaining two match ups

I much prefer this system over the one used at the UKTC many ages ago where the winner of the roll off basically got to pick one perfect match up no matter what. This system gives both the winner and the loser of that initial roll off about the same amount of power, reducing a random element that really wasn’t needed in a competitive format.

The warbands we played with were Mollog (me), Spiteclaws Swarm (Oli) and the ever meta Grashraks Despoilers (who else but Tom?). Very excited to see how the league progresses and just out right enjoying playing a different format where we all feel like part of a unit.

The next big online tournament, with spaces for up to 128 players, is happening on July 25th. I’m planning on bringing my A game to that, fingers crossed I do well enough to knock Aman off the top spot on BCP but whatever happens I know it will be a fun event full of great people.

If you weren’t aware me and Tom finished the first season of our Podcast ‘Chatting Crit’ recently. We also recorded a special episode focusing on the big tournament that Oli won, with interviews from him and the other finalist Thomas Conboy. At this time we don’t have any plans for more special episodes, unlike the other podcasts we generally want to focus on a topic and then build a season around that. Whenever we start on season 2 you can bet that it will be plugged on both this site and all the social media crevices.

Closing Words

The game is still very much alive and well during the lock down. The lack of physical tournaments certainly hurts but the community have risen to the challenge and there are plenty of ways to still play and enjoy the game. As soon as some new content arrives you can bet that Steel City will be all over it like flies on… er.. ice cream. My backup plan for articles if we don’t get new expansions is to win the next big online tournament and write something about the deck I took.

My backup backup plan if that doesn’t work is to cry into the gaping hole that the destroyed trophies have left in my heart.

At Steel City we would love to have your feedback. If you have something to say about a specific article then feel free to comment below, if you want to get in touch about the blog in general, or just prefer to communicate privately then you can get in touch by emailing us at team@steelcityshadespire.com

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