Warhammer Underworlds is a ‘skirmish’ game where players battle against each other with small warbands of fighters. As these warbands are pre-built, with set statlines and abilities, which means that choosing your warband is one of the biggest factors in how your game of Underworlds plays out.
The good news is that right now there are a load of warbands available, and the list is constantly growing. While some warbands may be a little more competitive than others, you can have a really fun time with basically any warband.
As you get deeper into Underworlds you’ll probably end up buying a number of warbands to play with. Unfortunately there are now so many different warbands out there that it’s not really feasible to ‘collect’ them all. So you want to pick the ones you’re going to have the most fun with.
So where do you start? Here are a few things to consider.
There are a number of different game modes available in Underworlds. We’ve got a brilliant breakdown here if you’re completely new to the game, but the main game modes are Championship format, Rivals format and Relic Format.
If you’re planning on playing Championship format or Relic format then every warband is usable.
If you’re playing Rivals format however there’s a slight caveat. All warbands are legal, but warbands from seasons 1 & 2 (Shadespire & Nightvault) are limited to only using pre-built decks and can’t use their faction cards.
This shouldn’t put you off of older warbands completely, but is something to bear in mind if your group are looking to play the Rivals format.
Older Warbands Are Harder To Find
Warhammer Underworlds is a constantly evolving system, with loads of new warbands released each year. Unfortunately Games Workshop can’t keep older warbands on sale forever.
On the official Games Workshop site they tend to stock warbands from the last 2 years. As a result, some of the older warbands can be harder to find. When choosing a warband it’s probably having a quick search to check you can still find the models (with cards) available to buy, and might save you a headache to just stick with a newer warband.
When picking a warband, the best place to start is usually to ask yourself “Who do I like the look of?”. It sounds stupidly simple, but to be honest you’re probably going to have far more fun if you like the theme or style of the warband.
This is especially true if you’re planning on painting the warband. You want to make sure they’re going to be something you’re excited to paint.
There are a lot of things that can factor in here. If you’re already involved in Warhammer Age of Sigmar then perhaps a good starting point might be a warbands from a faction you already collect (so you can also use them in AoS games). Or perhaps it’s a good opportunity for you to try out a faction you’ve always admired from afar.
Even if this is your first experience of Warhammer, most people will have certain fantasy tropes they prefer, like Vampires or Goblins. There are plenty of great choices.
Model Count (Horde vs Elite)
If you’re more concerned with how the warband plays, then the amount of models in the warband can tell you a lot.
If a warband has a smaller model count (e.g 3 or 4 fighters), then you’ll usually find your models are a little more resilient, and each fighter can pack more of a punch. Take Morgok’s Krushas for example. There are 3 fighters, but each have a massive 5 wounds. The flipside however is that you have to consider your action economy a little more. As each phase in Warhammer Underworlds consists of 4 activations, having 4 or less fighters means you have to be very intentional with your game plan.
A slight variation on this are warbands which have one main, tougher fighter and a few smaller supporting fighters. Mollog’s Mob are the perfect example of this, as well as others such as Blackpower’s Buccaneers and Kainan’s Reapers. With a warband like this your game will be based around maximising the use of that main fighter.
5 or 6 model warbands usually have a mix of strong and weak fighters, which is often a little more forgiving. You can afford to lose one or two fighters and be confident that your remakning fighters can still pull off whatever game plan you’re aiming for.
Larger warbands are considered ‘horde’ warbands, and usually have about 7-9 models. This larger number does however mean that each fighter is fairly weak. With a horde warband, you’ll end up finding ways to makemultiple actions at once, and find success by swarming opponents and being able to cover far more of the board than your opponents.
Play Style (Obj / Aggro / Flex / Control etc)
Although every warband has different stats and abilities and plays slightly differently, there are a few repeating ‘styles’ of play which you’ll see, based on what the warband’s main goal is for scoring glory.
There’s no official categorisation for play styles, so you’ll have to take a look at the cards to understand them for yourself.
Objective warbands are those who aim to score glory primarily by holding objectives.
Aggro warbands on the other hand aim to score glory by being aggressive and killing your opponent’s fighters.
Control warbands are a little less common, but is the term given to warbands who have unique ways of controlling the battle, such as pushing fighters or denying your opponent’s gameplan.
Flex warbands is a bit of a catch-all term for warbands which blend styles a little. It often refers to warbands which want to claim objectives while remaining very aggressive at the same time.
These aren’t strict categories. Often you’ll end up blending styles, and if you’re playing a game format with deck building you can completely change how a warband plays. But if you know there’s a certain way you want to play, then that will help guide your decision a little more.
Picking a warband can feel like a daunting prospect, but it shouldn’t be. Warhammer Underworlds is designed for you to play with whatever warband you like the look of, and new warbands are being released all the time, so if one warband isn’t really working for you, then you can easily just try another. Hopefully this article has at least given you a few ideas on how to narrow down your list of potential choices.
Did you enjoy this article? You could always tip the author with a coffee (or something stronger). When you’ve decided on a warband, check out Element Games. They have great deals on warbands and a wide range of Warhammer and accessories. Finally, make sure you’re following us on Instagram to stay up to date and get involved in our community!