CARDS & DECK BUILDING - Official Guide Part Three


Along with your choice of warband, your choice of cards that you take into battle is very important. In Warhammer Underworlds deck-building is highly encouraged as you add specific cards to your deck to maximise your potential on the battlefield. There are two styles of card available to players when creating a deck: Universal Cards and Faction Cards.

Universal Cards

Universal Cards are identified with the universal symbol shown above. These cards can be used in any warband deck and can be filtered in the deck editor by selecting the symbol at the top as shown.

Faction Cards

Faction Cards are identified by the faction symbol of the warband and only that warband can use that card. The example above shows the Ironskull’s Boyz symbol and can be filtered in the deck editor by selecting the symbol at the top as shown.

Players may choose to hold any number of Universal or Faction Cards in their Power Card and Objective Card decks.


Gambit Cards are either Ploys or Spells and are recognisable by the symbol in the top-left hand corner. Ploys generally give the player the chance to change their situation with a burst of speed, an extra attack or a cunning trick, and Spells speak for themeselves and can have all manner of strange effects.

In the example above a Ploy is shown with a red arrow on the left and a Spell is shown with a red arrow on the right.

Each Gambit has a name and an effect, which is usually short-lived, and usually played in the Power Step. In the example above the Ploy called Aetherwing Stance gives friendly fighters +1 Defence for the next Attack Action in the next Activation. When played in the player’s Power Step, the game remembers that the card has been played and will give the player an extra defence dice, should they be attacked in the next Activation.


Gambit Cards may have restrictions that indicate a fighter that should be on the battlefield in order for that card to be played. The restrictions can be one or more fighter names and are usually shown at the base of the card.


Gambit Spells can only be played when there is a friendly wizard on the battlefield. Each time you play a Gambit Spell, you must choose a friendly wizard to attempt to cast it. Spells have a casting value and can only be played by a wizard of at least that level or above as it relates to how many dice are rolled.

Spells are also denoted with either a Channel symbol (lightening bolt) or a Focus symbol (swirly vortex), which are the symbols the wizard needs to roll on the magic dice in order to cast the spell.

When you attempt to cast a spell you must roll the magic dice – this is called a casting roll. The number of dice your roll is equal to the wizard level of the wizard casting the spell. The magic dice contains more Channel symbols than Focus symbols so there is a higher chance to roll a Channel symbol than a Focus symbol.

If there are two or more critical symbols rolled, the wizard suffers backlash and they are dealt 1 damage, as the magical forces they are channeling threaten to overwhelm them.If this damage takes the wizard out of action, the spell fails. If they survive, or the wizard does not suffer backlash, the number of successes on the roll are counted. If the wizard rolls at least as many successes as the casting value, the spell has been cast. If the wizard does not roll enough successes, the spell fails and the Gambit Card is discarded.

The "next" event

Some Gambit Cards refer to the next event of some kind – the next Activation, Attack Action, or so on. These should be always played in the Power Step prior to the Activation where the player wants to make use of their effects. This means the player must play a Ploy that gives them +1 damage in the next Activation during the Power Step following the opponent’s Activation.

Note: A common mistake made by new players of Warhammer Underworlds is not understanding when to play Ploy Cards that affect the next Activation or next Attack Action. If played during the wrong Power Step, they can inadvertently give their opponent a distinct advantage on their turn!


Some Gambit Cards say that they persist – these cards have an ongoing effect. They are not discarded until they specifiy that they are, or another card specifies that they are. If a card that persists specifies more than one event that it persists until, it persists until the first of those (e.g. if a card said ‘this persists until the next Attack action or the end of the round’, it would persist until the first of these events occurs).


In some situations in a game of Warhammer Underworlds, you can use a reaction. Reactions are found usually on a Gambit Card, Upgrade Card, and even certain fighters have reactions themselves. Gambit Card reactions take place when a situation described on a card matches what is happening in the game – it does not cost you an Activation to do so, and you do not need to wait for the Power Step.

If you are holding a reaction in your hand and an event occurs where the reaction could come into play, Warhammer Underworlds: Shadespire Edition will automatically pull the card out of your hand and ask you if you would like to use it. You can choose to play the reaction by dragging the card forward or Pass, at which point the card will return to your hand.

Some reactions can be used because another reaction has created a situation in which they can be used, before play continues. When this happens, rather than precedence going to the player whose activation would be next, precedence instead goes to the opponent of the last player to use a reaction. The game automatically takes care of this.

Additional actions

Some Gambit Cards allow you to make additional actions with your fighters (such as reactions above). These additional actions do not cost you an Activation and can allow you to make actions with fighters who normally would not be allowed to make those actions.

When a Gambit Card specifies an action, or actions, a fighter can make those actions even if the rules of the game would normally not allow it. A Move Action would be allowed even though that fighter has already moved in a previous Activation is a good example.

When a Gambit Card allows a fighter to make an action, but does not specify which action, the fighter cannot make an action that would not normally be allowed by the rules. A Move Action would NOT be allowed if the fighter had already moved or charged in a previous Activation for example.


Upgrade Cards are recognisable by the gears/cogs symbol in the top-left hand corner. They are used to give permanent boosts to a player’s fighters.

Upgrade Cards are held in a player’s hand until they are played in the Power Step or during the End Phase. To play an Upgrade Card you must have at least 1 unspent Glory Token and if the card is restricted, that fighter must be on the battlefield. You then drag the card upwards, which is then revealed to your opponent, and must select a fighter on the battlefield to complete the upgrade.

Warhammer Underworlds: Shadespire Edition will prompt which cards are available to upgrade by raising them slightly higher than other cards in the hand during the Power Step.

In the example above, Heroic Might, a restricted Upgrade Card has been played by the player. This can be applied to either Obryn or Severin because both fighters are present, and the player has 1 unspent Glory Token.

Once a Glory Token has been spent upgrading a fighter, the Glory Token will flip over displaying a greyed-out version of the token. Note: Both spent and unspent Glory count towards your final Glory count at the end of the match, so do not be afraid to upgrade when you can!

Once a fighter has been upgraded, when selecting that fighter a small icon icon will appear alongside the fighter card displaying the upgrade. If you move the mouse pointer over the icon a tooltip will appear explaining this upgrade. Players are able to look at opponent’s upgrades by also selecting their fighters.

In some instances upgrades are new Attack Actions. When a player attaches these kinds of upgrades they will appear as an additional red Attack Action icon that can be selected in the same way as a base Attack Action. Be aware that some weapon upgrades are temporary and can only be used once.


Objective Cards are identified by the Glory point symbol in the top-left corner. Each objective has a name and a condition. If you meet the condition specified on the card, you score the number of Glory points shown at the bottom of the card. A player can only ever hold a maximum of three Objective Cards in their hand during a match.

Scoring in the End Phase vs scoring in the third End Phase

Most Objective Cards are scored in the End Phase (which takes place after the second player’s fourth Activation and subsequent Power Step). If a card states “Score this in an end phase…” then assuming the conditions are met, the player will score the relevant Glory points. However some cards state “Score this in the third end phase…” and it’s important to remember that those Glory points can only be scored if the conditions are met in the End Phase after Round 3.

Surge Objective Cards

While most Objective Cards are scored in the End Phase, some are scored ‘immediately’ – for example after an action or gambit – as long as the conditions are met. These Objective Cards are called Surge Objective Cards.

If the condition is met during an Activation, the player scores that card after that Activation. If the condition is met during a superaction not made during an Activation, the player score that card after that superaction. If the condition is met during an action not made during an Activation or superaction, the player scores that card after that action.

When a player scores any Surge Objective Card, the game will automatically draw another Objective Card, assuming there are any left in the deck.

Hybrid Objective Cards

Some Objective Cards have two different conditions on them seperated by the word ‘or’. When you satisfy either or both of these conditions, you score that Objective Card.

Dual Objective Cards

Some Objective Cards have two different conditions on them seperated by the word ‘and’. Players must satisfy both of these conditions to score that Objective Card.


Deck-building is a significant part of Warhammer Underworlds: Shadespire Edition, but it’s a bit challenging until you’ve played a few games and are familiar with how everything works! When creating a new deck, we have included a selection of templates (designed by community members as well as our team) to help you create a base deck that you can then tweak to suit your play style and strategy.

There are many ways to play each warband in Warhammer Underworlds: Shadespire Edition and the templates should give you an indication on how best to play that deck with that faction. The best way to learn new strategies is to play! Make sure to face off against bots before jumping online to learn your deck and try out different plays.

Using the Deck-Builder

Once you have selected a deck template, you can then examine the cards in your deck. The deck-builder is split into five categories: Fighter Cards, Objective Cards, Gambit Cards, Upgrade Cards, and Cosmetics. There is a search bar at the top, which can be used to track down that elusive card, as well as a filter that allows you to show just Universal Cards, Faction Cards, or both.

Fighter Cards

The fighter cards give you a breakdown of each fighter in your warband and highlights their stats (movement range, defence value, and wounds), Attack Actions, as well as any additional abilities they have, unique to them.

To view the inspired condition of the fighter, simply click the card to flip it over. Any new actions or abilities attached to that inspired condition will also appear.

Objective Cards, Gambit Cards, and Upgrade Cards

When building your deck, you must follow the following restrictions:

  1. The power deck must include at least 20 Power Cards. It can include any number of additional cards, but no more than half of the deck can be Gambits!
  2. The objective deck must include exactly 12 Objective Cards.
  3. No more than five Restricted cards (see below).
  4. No more than six Surge cards (see below).

The Warhammer Underworlds: Shadespire Edition deck-builder keeps track of the cards that have been added to your deck and will notify you when your deck is “illegal for an online match” based on the restrictions above. You will need to remove and add cards until you meet the restrictions.

To help work out where you have too many restricted cards, select the white arrow near the deck name to see a breakdown of your deck’s statistics. Surge and Restricted cards are also highlighted with a lightening bolt and a red lock symbol respectively. Note: Surge cards can be restricted cards too!

Be aware that the design team will regularly update which cards are restricted in Warhammer Underworlds: Shadespire Edition. This is maintain a fair playing field for all players as new Universal Cards are introduced to the meta.


Cosmetics are special visual items that can be attached to your decks. These items include:

  1. Card Backs
  2. Player Titles
  3. Player Portraits

Some cosmetic items are unlocked in the warband progression track when you play online matches. Other cosmetic items are unlocked through “special events”, such as the Skulls for the Skull Throne event that runs once a year, and some will be available to purchase in the future.