Breaking the Bulwark
Hi again! Now I’ve had time to sit back down I’m going to go over ploys I think are beneficial for aggro decks against defensive decks. There are so many tasty ploys that help you when you’re slugging it out at the centre of the board with a like minded dice-happy opponent. It’s worth just being aware that a lot of these ploys are far less effective against a warband designed to keep you out of the fight. Upgrades tend to be a bit more generic, but there are still some adaptations you can make to help improve your odds against the long board menace.
There are some generic rules for designing a power deck. For starters your ploys are a means to an end – the end being your objectives. As an aggro deck some of those objectives will be taking enemy fighters out of action, but not all of them. Make sure your ploys provide the pieces to solve the puzzle your objectives provide. I tend to advocate a 20 card deck in most situations, but there are good reasons for going over. That’s a debate for another time however. For now just make sure you pick ploys that score you points, not just ploys that are ‘strong’ or ‘cool’ or ‘have good flavour text’ (god damn it I wish I could justify using scrag ‘em).
These are the most commonly (at least in my experience) overlooked ploys. Even against other aggro decks, movement ploys allow you to deploy further back and choose engagements yourself. Being able to either force the enemy to come to you and expose themselves, or dash across the board to an enemy who thinks he is safe, will give you the edge in combat. Here are a few worth considering.
- Hidden Paths: I feel this has now become a staple for most decks, as it is the only ploy which for all intents and purposes allows you to teleport. Simply deploy a dangerous model on an edge hex, wait till their power step, and then fling them across the board. As it can no longer be Quick Thinkered, push cards are the only ways to dodge these kinds of attacks. Just be wary of overextending with this card, as a lot of defensive decks will run pushes. This card can allow you a pseudo Kunnin’ but Brutal effect – allowing you to “charge” with only a move token next to your model. This card does take a bit of practice to get right but i personally find this one invaluable.
- Spectral Wings: Extending a charge by two hexes can really catch out opponents who though their models were safe. Even if you don’t fully close with the enemy, this card effectively nullifies the distance generated by Great Concussion. If you’re running a warband with 3 base move, this can really help extend your threat range.
- Tantalising Prize: Just worth mentioning as a more restrictive version of Spectral Wings you could potentially run alongside it. If flying isn’t giving you enough distance and your enemy is adjacent to an objective, you can let the greed fuel your journey to bloodshed.
- Sidestep and Flickering Step: Push cards like this can help surprise your opponent, or chase after one who has pushed you away/Quick Thinkered away. They can help you get a supporting model into a fight, or even just be an easy tick on the Ploymaster tally. It can also help move you onto an edge hex if you need to hidden paths away. Sidestep is more reliable but flickering step lets you roll 8 dice. Surely at least one will crit…right…?
- Quick Advance: From the new leader expansion, this card is a double sidestep which cannot affect your leader. If you read the above bullet point twice, that’s what Quick Advance can do. Just remember that not only can this card not move your leader, it also can’t be used if your leader is out of action.
- Tyrants Command: Another card from the expansion which can help you trek across the board. This card not only allows you two move actions with the same fighter, it also combo’s well with Quick Thinker and Hidden Paths. Just be mindful again of the leader restrictions. Additionally this card has the potential to massively overextend one model into the belly of the beast. Be wary of the danger you’re exposing your plastic Usain Bolt to as he unquestioningly hurls himself into the enemy.
- Inspired Command: This serves as a free go On Guard action (for Change of Tactics) or as a sidestep, with the same restrictions as the other leader cards. More often that not however, you’ll want to pick this one over sidestep if you’re only going to have one of them. All the extra Sidestep-esque ploys in this expansion do make running supremacy more appealing to me, and so it might be worth considering these ploys in combination with that objective.
Denying the Enemy
Defensive decks already run a low glory cap, so if you can deny them the little glory they depend on scoring you can really turn the tide of battle and force their hand into finding glory elsewhere. There are a couple of ploys that can really ruin a defensive objective decks flow.
- Distraction: Distraction is a chronically underused card in my opinion, as it can perform a huge variety of functions. Need to deny Unbroken Wall or Skirting Danger? Need to get in range of an enemy to charge? Need to get out of contact with an enemy about to kill you? Need to score Alone in the Darkness/Ploymaster? Need to move an enemy off of an edge hex so they don’t Hidden Paths to other motherf****** side of the board just as you made it across? Need help wiping your bum? All of this and more can be achieved with this deceptively simple little ploy.
- Great Concussion: Distractions bigger, louder and more indiscriminate brother. Great concussion can pretty much guarantee you alone in the dark, deny positional objectives similarly to distraction, it can completely disrupt objective decks and sometimes be carefully engineered to get one of your fighters closer to the enemy. However, in an aggro deck this card will separate the majority of your warband from the enemy. If the enemy is also running GC (they will be) then half your warband will need binoculars to spot the opposition. It does completely shaft objective warbands, but in theory aggro warbands already do well in those matchups. I have run this card before, but I feel that you need to be certain your running this because it helps you score objectives and not just because everyone says its broken. It is pretty strong though.
- Shardgale: How do you accelerate the pace of a game? Well you bring everyone down into one shot range!! Against defensive decks this can prevent Bloodless, Sigmars Bulwark and Brave but Cautious. It also means even if you don’t have the right combination of ploys and upgrades you will be able to make the one hit you get in after trekking across the board count. The damage from Shardgale can also be combo’d with my turn. This 1 damage is unavoidable; you play it, they take it. This can also be combo’d with the objectives I mentioned in my last article to reap in some glory too. However this card makes you just as vulnerable as the enemy, so timing is imperative in playing this. I’d say its definitely worth experimenting with and I personally have had a lot of success running this + Rivers of Blood in my fiends deck. I have also been trounced every time i try and take the damn thing out.
- All the movement ploys mentioned above: If you get a charge off and the enemy Quick Thinkers away from you then they can’t score perfect planning – #Denied
- Daylight Robbery: when you already have a low glory cap, it hurts to lose what you do get hold of.
- Anticipation: Defensive stormcast in particular have somewhat predictable objectives, if you don’t want to include much passive glory, might as well score off of theirs.
- No Time: This is a card i have mostly been thinking about and never been able to fit into my deck to test. In theory you can stop an enemy Quick Thinkering a crucial charge, you can prevent an aggro opponent using Twist the Knife to one shot you, and you can deny a final turn Hidden Paths away. It all depends on timing, the potential high’s of this card are brilliant, but it can equally be a complete waste of a ploy slot if you misjudge when to use it. If anyone makes it work please let me know.
Obviously still whack in the Trap/Twist the Knifes’s, the My Turn’s, the Ready for Action’s and all the other fun aggro ploys you know and love. These ploys just need balancing with the more utility based ploys. The aggro game should be split into two parts; how you engage, and how you fight. Even against other aggro decks the how you engage can be especially important to get the upper hand from the get go.
Warband Specific Ploys
Disclaimer: Some warbands I have no bloody clue about, so I’m mostly just going with my gut.
- Furious Inspiration (Magore’s Fiends): So many free stats for inspiring, including extra permanent movement. Yay!
- Rangers Advance (The Farstriders): Whats better than one Sidestep, a double Sidestep! Double Yay!
- Musk of Fear (Skaven): If youre going to be sprinting into the depths of the enemy board theres a chance your opponent may take exception and start trying to exterminate your vermin. This gives you a bit of staying power as you advance, along with the free inspire.
- The Earth Shakes (Fyreslayers): Distraction or Sidestep, whatever you need it to be! A brilliant card that not only works for closing on enemies but helps you stay on objectives for the inspiration.
- The Necromancer Commands (Sepulchral Guard): Once you’ve finally made it to the enemy, you sure as hell don’t want to miss.
- Kunnin’ but Brutal (Ironskulls Boyz): Even if your charge misses, this card lets you to continue bashin’ skullz until they break.
- Blood Offering (Garreks Bloodreavers): Apart from the obvious effect of making your attack oodles more accurate (despite what I assume is a significant amount of blood loss), this card also denies Bloodless. It also serves as a neat way to activate my turn too. Who knew going into shock could be so beneficial?
- Tireless Assault (Steelhearts Champions): Same as for the Skele’s, you need your attacks to connect as your opponent will do everything in their power to stop you making them. This card lets you go in for round two.
My upgrade advice is again pretty generic. The +1 damage upgrades are brilliant, upgrades that increase accuracy should go in too. Soultrap and Tethered spirit are always solid choices. The only specific upgrades I’d mention are:
- Sprinter: Just one movement upgrade can help the poor bloke left lagging at the back of the fight get involved later on. Combo this with something like Dark/Shadeglass Darts to really boost that threat range. You can pick any of the +1 move cards. I choose Sprinter because the dwarf arouses me.
- A Destiny to Meet: Its going to be difficult to get your entire warband into the fray against a deck designed to keep you at bay. The chap left browsing facebook in the backlines might as well get a glory for it.
- Cleave Upgrades: If you’ve got one in your warband whack it in. Cleave is a godsend, especially when you’re up against double defence dice with shields. Suddenly they need a crit to defend any successes you make. Cleave is good. Magore is a babe.
- Seize the Day: This upgrade is tyrants command for your leader. However (at least this is how i read the card) it cannot be activated after hidden paths. Be sure to play appropriate background music as the day is gloriously seized by your surprisingly athletic boss man.
- Hero’s Mantle: Every glory counts. Win a game off of being the best dressed.
Warband Specific Upgrades
- Trophy Hunter (Magore’s Fiends): You’re going to be going in for the kill with Magore, and you’re going to have time to get some upgrades on him. You need to try and get the maximum amount of points out of any kill you can get and this card can help you do that.
- Swift Stride (The Farstriders): The Farstriders have a huge number of great upgrades (including a bucketload of cleave), but I’m trying to focus on beating up on the defensive decks, and if you can get an extra 2 move out of an upgrade it’s hard not to point it out.
- Skitter Scurry (Skaven): This card combined with Sneaky Stab-Stab can turn Skritch into a furry Tony Hawk, skating through the enemy ranks dealing pointy death to all who oppose him.
- Grimnir’s Speed (Fyreslayers): I have been on the receiving end of an inspired 5 move Fjul-Grimnir. I still have to clench and run when I feel a bowel movement.
- Frightening Speed (Sepulchral Guard): There’s a theme developing here – if you need to get places, +2 move is good.
- Crush and Cleave (Ironskulls Boyz): Cleave on an inspired Gurzag makes it very difficult for him to fail attacks against armoured foes. Don’t fret though, the big green lunk will still manage it. I hate dice.
- Whirlwind of Death (Garreks Bloodreavers): The Bloodreavers have surprisingly few upgrades to get them into the fray, but you might as well give the guy with the longest threat range (and an AoE attack when inspired) a bit more damage.
- Righteous Strike (Steelhearts Champions): Cause it can’t miss and I enjoy that. God it’s too hot to write anymore. (P.S Steelhearts have a cleave upgrade i like too). (P.P.S it can miss if the enemy has a reaction to a failed attack as they get priority).
That’s All Folks
Again, I hope that this has at least given people a reason to perhaps consider cards they hadn’t before. The trick is including enough to deal with defensive decks without losing the ability to fight Aggro. I’m considering writing a part 4 about how to fight versus aggro when you’ve finished making mincemeat of your own beautifully aggressive deck.
Remember the deck should be constructed to score you glory and/or deny the enemies glory. You don’t have to always kill every last model, just focus on how you get more cardboard coins next to your deck than they have next to theirs. If you can slaughter them whilst doing that, well, it would be rude not too!
That pretty much covers my power deck advice, part 3 will focus on the on board strategy against defensive decks. This is the most crucial element and i still get impatient and screw this up!
I had some great feedback on my last article and I haven’t had the time i wanted to make this as pretty as it can be, but be grateful someone else volunteered to do the picture for me (thanks Curt!). As always take the advice that makes sense to you and ignore the rest. I probably shouldn’t be trusted.