My copy of Shadespire arrived in the mail today, so I’ve opened it up for a quick look. No painting or gameplay time just yet, so these are just my first impressions of the box contents.

Shadespire box art

It’s a nice compact box – around half the footprint of big-box titles like Warhammer Quest: Silver Tower, which seems about right for a game aimed at quick casual matches and easy portability. The box is pretty solid, but the card insert is not – mine arrived already torn, but I’ll probably add some foam inserts to carry the miniatures as soon as they get painted.

There are two double-sided boards inside: enough for a couple of options in gameplay, but I was hoping to find more after reading early convention reviews about how there would be “lots of board options” available. Still, they’re high quality card and artwork, and the hinged fold helps to keep the whole game compact. There are also three sheets of card tokens: wound markers, victory points, objectives and that sort of thing.

Shadespire board and sprues

The cards are interesting – I like the way they’re packaged up into “open this first” and “open once you’ve played a few games,” helping to ease people in to the rules. Pre-made card decks for the two factions look good, and there are plenty of options to swap cards in or out once you figure out your preferred tactics.

I was disappointed with the quality of the cards, though: even straight from the packet they’re prone to getting nicks and scratches around the edges, and they won’t hold up very well to lots of shuffling. That said, they’re clearly designed with card sleeves in mind, and I picked up the Reaver and Liberator packs. Those are excellent: matte-finish designs on the backs, keeping the colour scheme of the two card decks, but adding faction symbols so you can easily tell which deck a given card has come from.

The dice are great – solid, weighty things that are engraved deeply enough that the symbols shouldn’t wear off after a dozen games, and easy to read in black and white. No surprises there: Games Workshop have been making custom dice for their games for decades, and they do it well.

As you’d expect from GW, the miniatures are also stunning. Highly detailed while still being easy to assemble, and the detailed bases are worth special attention on their own: these surpass even the Silver Tower figures for quality. I’m even thinking about painting them as-is, without feeling the urge to convert them into something unique – which is practically unheard of for me…

The rulebook gives some background to the Mirrored City, and seems to cover all the rules in a pretty straightforward fashion – gameplay will show whether it’s as clear as it looks. Bonus marks for containing alternative rules (matched play, capture the artefact and multiplayer games), a detailed glossary, and putting the reference sheet right on the back cover for easy access during games.

It’s a nicely presented book, though it’s a pity there are no photos of painted figures in it. Those are conspicuously absent from the whole game: there are painted versions of two models on the back of the box (with the usual “these models are sold unpainted” disclaimer), and some painted Orruk and Deathrattle figures on the sides of the box. Apart from that, it’s all red vs. blue in the photos and diagrams. Makes it easy to see who’s who, but the unpainted plastic doesn’t photograph well, and does a poor job of showing off all the lovely detail on those models.

Note: My Shadespire posts can all be found via the Shadespire category page on this blog – starting off with this card list.

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