It’s Clan Eshin Skaven vs. Khainite Shadowstalkers in Warhammer Underworlds Netzermaze, the new core set which heralds the second half of the Harrowdeep season. Two big box sets per season is a new concept for Warhammer Underworlds, and in this review of Nethermaze, we take a closer look at what you can expect from the new core box.

Harrowdeep changed the roadmap of Warhammer Underworlds releases. Gone is the yearly format of a core set plus 6 warband expansions. We’ve had Blackpowder’s Buccanneers in Q1 of 2022, now we’ll jump straight to a new core set – released alongside a new warband expansion, the Exiled Dead, and the Rivals of Harrowdeep box that contains both Stormcast Eternals and Kruleboyz warbands from the Harrowdeep (but without the boards, universal cards, tokens, and rules).

Warhammer Underworlds Nethermaze unboxing and review
This item was provided by Games Workshop. Thoughts and opinions are our own.

Features

The new Nethermaze core set follows the template of the previous box Harrowdeep to the letter. We have two new warbands, a rulebook, 11 dice, 114 tokens, two new double-sided boards, of course, plenty of cards. There are fighter cards and 32-card Rivals decks for each of the new warbands, 48 entirely new universal cards, and 36 Grand Alliance cards split evenly between Order, Chaos, Death, and Destruction. The cards all have the new design introduced in the Harrowdeep season and require sleeves with opaque backs in order to mix them with cards from the former four seasons.

Warhammer Underworlds Nethermaze Boards and Tokens
Boards and tokens

Skittershank’s Clawpack (Clan Eshin Skaven)

I’ll be honest: these new Skaven models really blew me away. Gutter Runners are some of the oldest models in the Skaven range and date back to Mordheim times. While we had a new Skaven Assassin in Warhammer Quest: Silver Tower, these new Eshin agents are a whole new level of miniature design.

Skittershank does a cool superhero landing pose, but even more spectacular are the running Kreep Kinwhisper, and especially the jumping Snyp Padpaw. The way he is held in the air by the fumes from his poisonous grenade is just fantastic. The other two clan rats are a bit more conventional, but still fit in well. The gutter design of the bases also matches nicely with Spiteclaw’s Swarm from the first season of Warhammer Underworlds Shadespire, which I painted a while ago. I can’t wait to paint Skittershank’s Clawpack in the same colour scheme, which would almost make me a complete warband for Warcry.

Here’s a look at the sprues. As usual, Warhammer Underworlds warbands are monopose models that snap together. The colour of the sprues is brown.

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Skittershank’s Clawpack and The Shadeborn sprues
The sprues

The Shadeborn (Khanite Shadowstalkers)

The Khainite Shadowstalkers are Morathi’s secret operatives and thus fit very well with the assassin vs assassin theme of Nethermaze. This faction was first introduced in Warcry, and I am very curious to see if they will also be included in the next Daughters of Khaine Battletome.

The leader of this 4 model warband is Shroud Queen Slythael. She wears a faceless mask and seems to float on her cloak while it is turning to smoke, an impressive feat of miniatures design. Be careful with her staff though, this is one of the thinnest pieces of plastic I’ve ever seen. The other Shroudblades are armed with a mixture of blades and a crossbow pistol, which should make for plenty of gameplay options.

Compared to the Warcry models, the Shadowborne don’t bring many new ideas, it’s really more of the same. Still, as a fan of anything with pointy ears I like the new models a lot. With only four models they are a nice little painting project, especially Slythael with her cloak and crystal weapons.

Fun factor

As for the rules and cards, I don’t want to go into too much detail, our friend John from Canyourollacrit can simply do that better. From what I’ve seen, with the exception of the introduction of Large Fighters, who are now worth 2 glory to kill, and two new keywords, Map and Domain, the rules stayed pretty much the same, so the more controversial changes in Harrowdeep like the loss of lethal hex placing still hasn’t been addressed.

Here are the fighter cards. Skittershank’s Clawpack inspire when the opponent’s leader model is either dead or has five or more wound tokens. This reminds me a lot of the classic assassination playstyle of Spiteclaw’s Swarm. With a movement value of 5 hexes, the Clawpack hast good premises to get at the enemy leader in a super fast aggro playstyle. The Shadowborne inspire when they attack a model with at least a single wound token. That’s not too bad, especially if you bring the right ploys, but requires the first round to setup. I feel they are more of a finesse warband.

For more details about both warbands click here for John’s review.

Value

After Harrowdeep received a significant price increase compared to the predecessor core sets, this time at least the price has remained the same, despite the price increase in May:  £65/80 €/$95. In addition, the box is available at our partner stores Wayland Games, Element Games, and Taschengelddieb with a decent discount of up to 20%, check it out and support us with this link:

Warhammer Underworlds used to be an entry-level game which could also appeal to a more casual board gamer target group. Now it’s at the same price level as all other Games Workshop products, and seems to be tailored more to tournament and core tabletop players, even though there is a new casual mode with the Rivals format. It seems the game has lost track of what it wants to be. The new release schedule that has to do without a steady stream of warband expansions and strange products like the Rivals of Harrowdeep set (which is only £17.50/17.50 € cheaper than the now-discontinued Harrowdeep but has only the two warbands plus their Rivals decks) do not exactly contribute to the health of this wonderful game system.

I am very curious to see what happens after the Harrowdeep/Nethermaze season. Something will definitely happen on Tale of Painters, check back next week for a review of the Exiled Dead, as well as painting tutorials for the two warbands from Nethermaze. Also, feel free to leave us a comment or discuss the latest releases with us on Discord.

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Pros

  • Two fantastic looking new Warbands
  • Component quality
  • Contains everything for two players to play

Cons

  • The Shadowborne models are very similar to their Warcry counterparts
  • Chances are if you didn't like the changes in Harrowdeep you won't be a fan of this either

Final Verdict

The second half of the Harrowdeep Season satisfies with two beautifully designed warbands, especially the Skaven are sculpted spectacularly. But do we really need more core sets?