Warhammer Underworlds Beastgrave: Arena Mortis Unboxing and Review
Warhammer Underworlds Direchasm may be on the horizon, and all the Beastgrave warbands have now been released but things are not yet over for the 3rd season of Warhammer Underworlds! Today Warhammer Underworlds Arena Mortis is up for pre order, and we were very lucky to get sent an early copy from Games Workshop to unbox, review and show to you guys!
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Arena Mortis is a brand new way to play games of Warhammer Underworlds. Rather than controlling a warband you will control a single fighter from any Underworlds set and take part in brutal blood-drenched fast paced games with 3-6 players!
Within the set you get the Arena Mortis rulebook giving you all the info you need to play this variant
A punch out sheet of tokens containing the new Mortis Lens tiles, new Wound Markers to crack any upgraded health pools, raise tokens to show when a character has returned from death and an additional activation token
You can play games of Arena Mortis with any of your existing Warhammer Underworlds game boards, however Arena Mortis also comes with one that can be used in any Underworlds games including an interesting side with blocked tiles in the corners and a deadly one in the centre!
6 Initiative cards are included that are used to determine the turn order in games of Arena Mortis, and in a really cool move you are not allowed to disclose which number you get until it’s your turn. This makes games really tense and exciting by the fact you can never be sure who will be acting both before and after you! As going first or last also has pros and cons associated with them, there is also an additional rule stated on the card for players in that position.
The set also contains 20 brand new universal upgrade cards and 20 new universal gambits! While these are perfect for use in games of Arena Mortis, they are actually standard power cards that can be used by any warband in standard games of Warhammer Underworlds. This will be a big draw for players wanting to round out their Beastgrave collection with the final cards from that series and there’s some really cool stuff in there!
Finally we get 2 new cards to replace The Sepulcheral Warden and the Restless Dead gambit which have both had the new Raise Counters added to them. If you use the Sepulcheral Guard then you will want to pick up this set for the replacement cards (And the Raise Counters to use with them)!
To me this seems a really good collection of goodies to expand your existing Warhammer Underworlds collection, and that’s before we even go into the main attraction of Arena Mortis itself!
Arena Mortis Review
As you would imagine, games of Arena Mortis are a little different due to the fact that you are commanding a single warrior rather than an entire warband! It’s worth mentioning that you only have that character too, even if you would normally be able to add models back to the board – so no summoning shenanigans allowed! Also, you can also take models that would not normally be allowed to be placed under the normal rules for setting up fighters – so if you want to take Gobbaluk to your games of Underworlds then go ahead!
Deck building is also very different in games of Arena Mortis – you do not have an objective deck and your power cards are split into two separate decks of at least 10 cards each, one for upgrades and one for gambits.
You might want to pop a few more cards into your upgrade deck however, as you will be getting and attaching an upgrade card every single round! As a 3 player game lasts for 9 rounds then you are going to have an absolute truck load of upgrades on your hero by the end of the game! This is great fun and makes the power of all players increase as the game goes, not just the few players that are in the lead.
To add an additional element of thought when deck building, there is a new mechanic to your upgrades and how they interact with those of other players. Whenever you place an upgrade on your fighter any other fighter with the same upgrade immediately loses theirs! This can lead to some brilliant moments when a rival gets a great upgrade card that you know will be turning up in your deck soon – but just watch out that no one else has it to knock it off your fighter too! I really like this mechanic and I think it will lead to us seeing some really varied and fun decks for games of Arena Mortis.
Each player only gets a single activation each round, with a power step each side of it as usual. This makes things a lot quicker than a standard game, even with the additional players, as there’s just a single warrior and activation to manage. Your rivals still get a chance to play a reaction to your power cards, however there is a priority to this with the player to the left being able to react first then proceeding clockwise until a reaction has been played or everyone has passed.
There’s also a cool mechanic to make sure that the winning player is under a little more pressure, if you take out a fighter from the player who has the most glory you get to steal one of their glory tokens! This is in addition to the glory that you get for killing a fighter, leading to really aggressive games where having the lead is not necessarily a good thing! In counter to this there is also a rule where if you somehow manage to get your own fighter killed on your own turn then you have to return a point of glory to the pool – however as whenever your fighter dies it loses all persistent effects then it may be worth taking the glory hit in order to clear it! There are also some cards that have abilities that trigger on placing a “Raise” counter, so a sneaky player may want to use that to their advantage.
Finally, to add an additional random element and allow for some variety in your games, a single Mortis Lens is added to the board at set up that add some additional rules and abilities. All of these Lenses offer glory to the fighter holding it, so make a cool focus point of the game. These additional rules range from a Lens that adds 1 damage to attack actions of the fighter holding it, to one that deals damage to every fighter not holding it! I do wonder if we will see this expanded to regular games of Underworlds in the next season, as these seem like they would be really fun to use as “Special” objective tokens.
So what do I think of Warhammer Underworlds: Arena Mortis? This is a great little set that not only adds 40 new power cards for any warband and an ace new tile, but also an excellent game variant which will be perfect for both introducing people to Warhammer Underworlds and a fun quick game to end a game night with! When local gaming clubs and even Bugman’s start to reopen I can see people getting a couple of quick games in on their lunches or after work.
Underworlds has been a great game system, and its brilliant to see it expanded with variants and additional game modes such as this. I’d say this is well worth picking up, and I cant wait to see what is in store in the next season!
Warhammer Underworlds Beastgrave: Arena Mortis is available to order now
Games Workshop provided Sprues & Brews a copy of Arena Mortis for review purposes.