Warhammer Underworlds is Games Workshop's competitive skirmish game that blends wargaming with card game elements. Arena Mortis is a new expansion that moves away from the competitive 1 on 1 playstyle and adds a multiplayer element for 3 to 6 players. But it's not just for players who want to add more players to their games, there are also new cards that can be used in the standard games of Underworlds.
Arena Mortis was originally a game mode detailed in the July 2019 issue of White Dwarf, Games Workshop's monthly hobby magazine. This release of Arena Mortis updates those rules and also adds in some other components to make running the games easier, along with being a normal expansion update with new cards and game boards.
Warhammer Underworlds Arena Mortis contains:
- Arena Mortis Rulebook - Detailing the rules for 3 to 6 players
- 6 Initative Cards - Used to determine the player order each turn
- 1 Double-Sided Game Board - Optmized for Arena Mortis Games, but is available to select in normal games
- 6 Mortis Lens tokens - New objective tokens each with their own unique effects
- 40 Warhammer Underworlds Cards - 20 Gambit / 20 Upgrade - For use in all game modes
- 30 Large Wound Tokens - To make it easier in multiplayer games to see remaining wounds on all fighters
- 6 Raise Tokens - To mark fighters returned to combat. Some Arena Mortis Gambit and Upgrade cards make use of these tokens
- An updated Sepulchral Warden and Restless Dead faction gambit card - These make use of the new Raise Tokens
Multiplayer games of Warhammer Underworlds, using the Arena Mortis rules are very different to those most players will be used to. Games play on a single game board, each player only controls a single fighter and there is no objective deck. Players can select from any fighter released for Warhammer Underworlds, which gives players a huge amount of choice across the current 26 warbands.
To balance out the different between fighters, players get a number of free upgrades at the start of the game depending on the wound count of their chosen fighter. There are stil some high tier characters who stand out, especially in a multiplayer environment, any effective attacks with range and scything are quite potent, but it does really help to even the odds between even the lowiest of charaters, especially if you build your upgrade deck with a specific purpose in mind.
For players not interested in the multiplayer element, Arena Mortis gives them access to 40 new cards, and a new game board, along with updating the leader of the Sepulchral Guard, the undead warband from Shadespire, the 1st Season of Warhammer Underworlds. Outside of Arena Mortis, the Sepulchral Guard can make fantastic use of some of the upgrade and gambit cards, as only they can use Raise counters away from multiplayer games.
Most of the Arena Mortis cards are designed to be used in Arena Mortis, but some will almost certainly find use in the more competitive arena. At Any Cost is my personal favorite. It costs 3 glory points but allows you to make a charge with a fighter without a move/charge counter. Great for large warbands, or for setting up an early attack in the subsequent round. Desperate Swing is also a great upgrade card. It's a 4 dice, 2 damage attack when you're behind on Glory Points.
For Sepulchral Guard players, Arena Mortis is an essential purchase. Along with the updated fighter and Restless Dead gambit, there are several cards that play into the raise tokens. Invigorating Return is one example, letting you move a fighter 2 hexes after you place a raise token on them.
Arena Mortis games are a blast to play, while not as balanced competitively as normal 1v1 games (getting stuck in the middle between 2 aggro fighters really puts a dampner on your day), they capture the feel of Underworlds in a multiplayer environment. It also opens up Warhammer Underworlds to those who haven't bought into it yet, as players with a complete set can easily make up several decks for multiple players to try. Outside of being an essential purchase for Sepulchral Guard players, there's some useful content for players beyond he multiplayer aspect.
Arena Mortis only requires a single copy of a Warhammer Underworlds starter set to play, either Shadespire, Nightvault or Beastgrave. Players can also join in with a single warband purchase, as long as one player has a copy of a starter set and Arena Mortis. To be truly competitive though, players will need to purchase various warband packs to get the cards they need.
The copy of Warhammer Underworlds Arena Mortis used to produce this preview was provided by Games Workshop.