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Warhammer Underworlds Gnarlwood Review and Unboxing

The Gnarlwood is a dangerous place filled with carnivorous trees, dangerous beasts and the fabled remains of a Seraphon Void-Ship. But while warbands of fighters face off against each other in the undergrowth of the Gnarlwood, things are happening deep underground. In the tunnels made from the roots of the Gnarloaks, the survivors of Beastgrave fight each other in Warhammer Underworlds!

Warhammer Underworlds Gnarlwood, up for pre order today, is the boxed game of the latest season of WHU bringing with it rules changes, a different approach to card decks and 2 awesome new warbands! In this review we will be taking a look at the set, unboxing it and seeing just what has changed

Massive thanks to Games Workshop for sending us a free early review copy to have a look at and check out on the site. If you would like to support us then why not order your copy through our affiliate Element Games and save yourself money too!

I have also filmed a full unboxing which you can check out below or over on YouTube

So gather your warband and get ready to head into the twisted tunnels beneath the Gnarlwood.

Warhammer Underworlds Gnarlwood Review and Unboxing

If it seems like Warhammer Underworlds boxed games are coming out quickly at the moment then you are not wrong! Since the release of Beastgrave, Warhammer Underworlds has shifted to a 6 monthly season schedule – each opened up with a new boxed game and a wave of individual warband releases. Gnarlwood is the latest season and brings the combat to the tunnels underneath the Gnarlwood (the setting of Warcry) which is a really nice way of tying the various AOS universe games together.

Inside the box we get 2 double sided card sheets containing all the tokens, objectives and markers needed to play

Two new double sided game boards, with suitably spooky artwork for crawling through tunnels created by the roots of carnivorous trees!

A full set of attack, defence and magic dice in some nice new colours

The big appeal in these boxes are the two new warbands – And I have to say both of these are absolutely gorgeous!

First up we have the awesome new Grave Guard known as the Sons of Velmorn. These are simply stunning models and I really hope we one day get a Grave Guard kit that matches the style and detail of these models. Sadly, due to being in the middle of moving house I didn’t get chance to finish these – however, I’ll be cracking on with these as soon as I can and will update the post with painted images!

The other warband are the Gnarlspirit Pack, a group of Darkoath who have travelled into the Gnalwood and started worshipping animal spirits in shamanistic style. This is quite interesting as there’s the chance that these guys are no longer worshipping the chaos gods and perhaps something more savage and destructive such as Gorkamorka… The book doesnt outright say, however they have been forsaken by their Darkoath Kin. Again, these are ace models and I can’t wait to paint them up!

I’m also happy to report that while Nethermaze had some packing issues causing models to snap, Gnarlwood doesnt seem have this problem, which is great considering how pretty widespread the Nethermaze issue was

Also included in the box is the new Warhammer Underworlds Rulebook – While Underworlds has gone from season to season with relatively few changes and amendments, this time a few core things have been reworked and revised that will change the way you play underworlds.

First of all I have to shout out the awesome lore section – From a narrative point of view we pick up from the events of Beastgrave. The living mountain has been destroyed and the survivors of that carnage have fled into a series of tunnel networks created by the living trees of the Gnarlwood – and rumours say that elements of the crashed Seraphon spaceship may well be buried beneath the woods too… We also learn about the two new warbands and everything that has happened in Ghur since Beastgrave – What’s interesting is that we have sidestepped Ulgu for the time being, and I wonder if a future Age of Sigmar season may take us back there and with it advance the storyline for all the Age of Sigmar universe games.

I love that they are doing this, as it feels like we have a living, breathing world across the games with hints and foreshadowing of future events now possible across the different systems.

The rulebook itself is now set out in a much better way that makes it so much clearer to learn how to play the game both for newcomers and vets alike – rather than having separate chapters of the book for basic and advanced rules, they are now displayed together on the same page – so for example basic movement rules would be above the advanced movement rules, which makes it easier to graduate from the basics to the full rules without having to flick back and forth throughout the book.

From a new rules point of view we see the introduction of snare hexes that apply the stagger condition to fighters (removes guard and gives enemies a reroll against them) – and speaking of feature tiles, these are all flipped number side up at the start of the game meaning these can be interacted with without having to delve them first!

We also see changes to move and charge tokens. In the new edition of the game a fighter can be given multiple move actions! Previously you couldn’t do one while you had a move token on you, were now fighters can run laps around the board if they want to! This opens up new possibilities for warbands and cards as you are no longer limited by your move value in order to get to a critical location in a turn. You still cannot charge if you have a move token however.

And speaking of charging – previously if you had a charge token you could not do any other action – Now, if every member of your warband has a charge token you can make further actions with them (Though not another move or charge – you could attack or guard for example) This makes aggressive, low number warbands better as you can charge in with everything without giving up any activations!

If you have not played Underworlds before then this is a great set to jump in with and learn the game as the book is the cleanest yet to learn with.

Games Workshop have also switched up the way the decks of cards work in the box – rather than 2 pre made deck plus a set of cards that can be used to build advanced decks – this has been reworked into a rivals deck for each warband and then an additional two rivals decks that can be used with any warband. This seems to be the model for the game going forwards, and personally I think this is a great change – people who rather use a pre made rivals deck now have multiple different decks they can use to play – and those who rather build their own deck still have a wide pool of cards they can draw from in order to do so!

Let’s take a look at the new decks

Sons of Velmorn

The Sons of Velmorn are a warband with some great abilities – Firstly inspiring simply relies on rolling a critical hit for an attack or supporting an attack that rolled a crit. There’s also a way for the “grunts” of the warband to inspire by simply making it to the final power step of the round – one of the 3 will inspire each time!

The King also gets a command counter after his activation which makes him count as supporting his entire warband!

They have some pretty reliable weapons and lots of abilities that trigger on crits, which is great as you are fishing for these for your inspire condition too!

We get some nice abilities such as upgrades or ploys that allow you to raise your dead minions keeping you able to outnumber your opponent as much as possible. There’s also a number of cards that interact with Command counters in order to gain extra attack actions with more dice for example – there are also ways to increase the number of command counters on your leader. Upgrades have a lot of decent utility with pushes, rerolls and extra dice all on offer

Objectives are pretty straight forward – charge into enemy territory and kill things is order of the day with a card also included for raising a minion making for a pretty reliable if low scoring hand of cards.

The Gnarlspirit Pack

The Gnarlspirit Pack are an interesting warband with a playstyle that revolves around switching in and out of inspired state. Essentially each turn you can give your fighters a spirit token or remove a spirit token. While they have tokens they become beasts (limiting which upgrades they can have) but also unlocking new abilities such as additional movement, fly or extra defence. You can inspire a fighter by simply removing the spirit token, this generally gives them better combat stats and in some cases some rules that benefit beasts, however they gain the additional abilities the token gives them. If you give them the token they uninspire and switch back to their prior form. The creates a gameplay loop where you are managing this resource and switching in and out of inspire as you need it

The cards revolve around interactions with the Beast keyword, spirit token management and objective manipulation making these a little more cunning than the Grave Guard warband and quite a different playstyle.

Upgrades are all pretty good giving you a range of different benefits such as always counting as on guard if you dont have any charge or stagger tokens, making you immune to cleave and ensnare, or ignoring cover entirely

We get some really interesting objective cards where you can optionally reveal the card to your opponent and gain additional glory for achieving the objective if you do so! This is fun and add a little bit of a gambling element to your objectives as you obviously make things harder for yourself by showing your opponent what you are doing – but with the reward of extra glory!

Other objectives revolve around giving fighters upgrades, getting into enemy territory and interacting with objective tokens

Tooth and Claw

Tooth and Claw is a Rivals deck that unlocks some additional game rules – this revolves around managing the savage condition which can be activated by having Charge tokens, being staggered or having 2 or more wound tokens

This is a no nonsense aggressive deck keyed around the savage and beast keywords – we get lots of ways of staggering multiple fighters which while having a negative effect on you by allowing your enemy to reroll it also turns you savage. Upgrades generally trigger on this savage condition in order to unlock more rules and abilities

Unsurprisingly a lot of the objectives are all about getting your entire warband savage and going on an offensive killing spree, making this a nice easy to use deck for aggressive warbands.

Daring Delvers

Where the other deck as aggressive and straight forward, this deck is more for explorers who would rather delve deeper into the roots of the Gnarlwood than fight people straight on – The mechanic here is that certain conditions will increase or decrease your Exploration count – with this then triggering objectives and cards!

As you can imagine, a lot of the cards either dish out the Explorer keyword or interact with it in ways that gives bonuses. A particular favourite of mine is Significant Find which drops down an available feature token or instead simply increases your Exploration count

And again, as you would expect a lot of the objectives revolve around having a high Exploration count and interacting with objectives tokens, with some decently high scoring cards available such as Uncovered Secrets which triggers if you max your Exploration score


Gnarlwood is a great return to form for Warhammer Underworlds. While previous versions have had minor revisions and tweaks, I feel we are seeing bigger changes that go a long way towards refreshing the game and making it more accessible to a wider audience. This very much feels like the true introduction of Rivals as a “standard” format despite it existing for a couple of seasons, and the way the decks are split in the box makes this a great set to pick up for older lapsed players who want to get back into the game!

I’m still not entirely convinced on a 6 month season, and I’m interested to see what warbands follow these (Gobbos and followers of Be’lakor perhaps based on the deck icons on WarCom) and if the community embraces Rivals as a way of getting into the game.

Personally, I’d rather pick up a pre made deck and just get playing – while I know a lot of people enjoy the deck building aspect as much as playing the game. The great thing with this set is that whichever way you play there is something for you, and that is a brilliant selling point for what is for many people the entry path into the game.

Warhammer Underworlds Gnralwood is up for pre order today and is released 29th October

Games Workshop sent Sprues & Brews a free copy for review purposes

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