Today we review Warhammer Underworlds: Gnarlwood that kickstarts a new season of Warhammer Underworlds. Leaving the Nethermaze in the Realm of Shadows behind, two new warbands enter the living labyrinth hidden beneath the Gnarlwood in Ghur: the Darkoath Gnarlspirit Pack and the Deathrattle Sons of Velmorn. Find out more about these new warbands and the newly updated core rules in this unboxing and review.

Warhammer Underworlds: Gnarlwood will be available for preorder starting Saturday, October 20 2022, and be on sale one week after. The new core set will replace Warhammer Underworlds: Nethermaze (which we reviewed here) and mark the first entry of a new season of Warhammer Underworlds, which now only cover 6 months instead of 12.

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

Warhammer Underworlds: Gnarlwood unboxing

Gnarlwood is the 7th core box of Warhammer Underworlds, so you should know what to expect: Two new warbands, two new game boards, new decks, and an updated rulebook, tokens, and dice. However, there are some changes to the composition of the decks this time, and some core rules have been changed as well. More on that in a moment, but first let’s take a look at the two new warbands.

Sons of Velmorn review

The Sons of Velmorn are a five model warband based on Soulblight Gravelords’ Grave Guard, and thus the spiritual successors of the Sepulchral Guard. These Deathrattle champions have been completely redesigned over their current models, which date back to the World that was (i.e. the 7th edition of Warhammer Fantasy). The level of detail has been significantly increased and the style and poses fit very well with the new Skeleton Warriors that came out some time ago. Accordingly, they are also a head skull bigger than the old Grave Guard models, and Sir Jedran Falborn is even almost Ogroid-sized. Base sizes range from 28 mm to 32 and 40 mm for the big guy.

The Sons of Velmorn Sprue from Warhammer Underworlds: Gnarlwood review
Sons of Velmorn sprue

Like all Underworlds warbands, these models are monopose and spread over two small sprues. The colour of the plastic is bone.

All in all, this is a successful update of the Grave Guard, which creates anticipation for a new standalone kit. As the leader King Velmorn also makes an excellent alternative Witch King, I am sure this warband will be very popular with painters and collectors.

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Gnarlspirit Pack review

This four model warband is very interesting as it allows us to experience a new facet of the Darkoath society. The Gnarlspirit Pack are outcasts possessed by animalistic spirits, so they are forced to roam the Gnarlwood to satisfy their urges. They wear animal skulls and totems, and thus look not unlike the Untamed Beast.

Gnarlspirit Pack Sprue from Warhammer Underworlds: Gnarlwood review
The Gnarlspirit Pack sprue

Just like the Sons of Velmorn, the models are monopose and come on two small sprues. They are cast in dark brown plastic, and their base sizes are all 32 mm.

If you want to learn more about the playstyle and cards of these warbands, I recommend checking out John’s review over on Can you roll a Crit.

Warhammer Underworlds: Gnarlwood rules & decks review

The new rulebook for the Gnarlwood season is the biggest yet. It has some lore of the Gnarlwood setting we know from Warcry: Heart of Ghur (see our review here) and the two new warbands. The rules section has swollen to over 40 pages. Quite a lot for a 30 minutes board-game-like experience. At least some sections are clearly marked as advanced rules, and there is a helpful glossary and the inclusion of multiplayer rules.

For this season, some fundamental core rules have been changed in terms of movement and charge. Where previously each fighter could only move once, fighters can now move multiple times in an action phase (moving AND charging in a single phase is still not allowed). Also, fighters with charge tokens can activate again for an attack or guard action, if all of your models have charge tokens, which will help smaller warbands. From what I’ve heard from competitive players so far, the changes aren’t going down very well, as many find it removes a lot of the challenge of one of the key aspects of the game.

Warhammer Underworlds: Gnarlwood rulebook, tokens, game boards, decks and dice

Warhammer Underworlds: Gnarlwood continues the make the game more accessible to new players with its focus on the Rivals format. In addition to the two self-contained warband-specific decks, the included expansion cards are now also divided into two Rivals decks (Tooth & Claw and Daring Delvers, both available for all warbands). So you can either choose from the faction-specific decks, use one of the two generic Rivals decks (which can also be chosen by any other existing and upcoming warband), or mix and match and delve into deckbuilding.

There is even a new format called Nemesis, where you combine the card pool of a faction-specific deck and a single universal Rivals deck to build a custom deck. Now the question is if this will replace the Championship format, as four formats including Relic might be a bit too much.

Value

After the Warhammer Underworlds Core Sets have become more expensive with almost every season, this time the price has at least stayed the same compared to Nethermaze and Harrowdeep – £65 / 80 € / $95. I think that’s ok for the number of components and miniatures.

If you plan to enter the Gnarlwood for this new season of Warhammer Underworlds, I recommend our partner stores Wayland GamesElement Games, and Taschengelddieb, which offer discounts of up to 20% over RRP:

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7.5
Score

Pros

  • All new boards, cards, and warbands
  • Comes with multiplayer rules
  • Universal expansion cards can be used as standalone Rivals decks

Cons

  • Rule changes for the sake of changing

Final Verdict

We are already in the 7th (!) season of Warhammer Underworlds and return to the Realm of Beasts. The new warbands are cool, especially the Sons of Velmorn, and accessibility has been improved even further for people who don't want to get into deckbuilding. However, the rules section has become twice as long as it was in the first seasons, and the changes to the movement and charge rules are bound to cause controversy.