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Warhammer Underworlds: Online Early Access

Posted by GG Goblin On March - 6 - 2020

The tabletop game comes to Steam Early Access.

Back when I first started getting interested in Games Workshop’s Warhammer games, the massive armies were made up of cardboard counters rather than any lovingly painted miniatures. This was before the Warhammer 40,000 universe had appeared, and even before Games Workshop had a string of stores all across the country. Over time, the game evolved and a huge number of spin off tabletop games were spawned. I tried to keep up with them all, but over the years my interest changed to video games and painted miniatures were cast aside. Nowadays, I see a new Warhammer based video game turn up on Steam and see that it is a faithful recreation of the tabletop game and wonder at how much things have changed. The latest is Warhammer Underworlds: Online from Steel Sky Productions, a digital recreation of the apparently popular tabletop game Warhammer Underworlds. I have never played the tabletop game that this is based upon, but if it has Warhammer in the title, I am willing to jump in and give it a try.


Warhammer Underworlds: Online launched recently into Early Access on Steam, but it seems as though all of the core systems are in place. The game certainly runs smoothly from my experience, suggesting that the time spent in Early Access will be more about tweaks and polish than actually having to build a working game, which is great news for the players.

When it comes to actually playing the game, Warhammer Underworlds: Online was a totally new experience. Those familiar with the tabletop game will already know what it is all about, but for those new to the game, I will try to explain. Warhammer Underworlds is a game in which the player takes small warband onto a tight, hex-based battle arena and competes with another warband for Glory Points. The game is unbelievably tactical as the player not only has to think about potentially fighting with members of the opposing warband, but they also have to deal with the random nature of dice rolls, along with positioning their fighters for the best results, and the various cards they have in their hands. The game would have been moderately entertaining just allowing two warbands to fight it out in turn-based combat, but throwing in a deck of cards really expands the gameplay options. The cards in the players hands offer both ways to improve fighters and give them an edge in battle, and also objectives that will reward the player with Glory Points for completing. This means that completing the card assigned objectives can be more important than getting up close with the enemy and fighting. In fact, fighting the opposing warband is more about preventing them achieving their objectives than actual defeat in combat.


With dice rolls to contend with alongside the random nature of which cards are drawn in a given turn, there is a fair amount of luck involved in the game. That being said, there seems to be plenty of tactical choice for players and, when considering the positioning of units and choosing when to play certain cards, players are very much able to tip the randomness in their favour. Warhammer Underworlds: Online is actually a very complex game and may take complete newcomers some time to get accustomed to. Even in Early Access, the tutorials do a good job, although complete novices may benefit from checking them out more than once.

As already mentioned, this Early Access version of the game feels fairly complete. As it stands right now, there are only four warbands available representing the Stormcast Eternals, the Blood Warriors of Khorne, the Undead and Orcs. Each faction has their own cards which can be mixed with universal cards to create a playable deck. Universal cards are being added to the game for free on a regular basis, while further warbands and their associated cards will be offered up as DLC further down the line. More content will do nothing but make the game even better over time.

The developers only plan to keep Warhammer Underworlds: Online in Early Access for a short time, which makes sense as there isn’t that much to do. Visually, the game oozes Warhammer atmosphere and looks really nice. From a performance point of view, it wasn’t always totally smooth sailing, but there were no game breaking issues at all. I would like to see the game made more accessible for the new players, those who haven’t played the tabletop game. Right now, some things can be unclear and the UI doesn’t always make it easy to see the information that the player needs.


Enough players have said that Warhammer Underworlds: Online faithfully recreates the tabletop game that I believe them. As a newcomer, the game is tactically complex but very enjoyable, and has made me want to pick up the tabletop game. Warhammer Underworlds: Online is currently available on Steam Early Access and is supremely playable already. Fans of the tabletop game, strategy games, or Warhammer in general will enjoy the combination of card mechanics and strategy. Steel Sky Productions have already done a great job with this game, and with a bit more polish and content, Warhammer Underworlds: Online could become an essential title for tabletop fans. Check out the game on Steam now.


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