Steel City are doing our usual trifecta of articles covering all you need to know about the newly released expansions for Warhammer Underworlds.
As you can probably guess from its title, this article is going to focus on reviewing the neutral cards found in both newly released expansions. I will be reviewing every single neutral card, taking into account not just its own inherent power but how it might affect the overall meta and what warbands like/hate this card the most.
Each card is going to get an overall rating from 1- 5 using the following criteria (those of you who are familiar with the blog may notice that the example cards on this list have changed)
- 5 – Best in class effects that should go in basically every deck that can take them (Ready for Action, Hidden Paths, Faneway Crystal)
- 4 – Powerful or versatile effects that are extremely strong in a particular archetype or pretty good in any deck (Abasoth’s Withering, Deathly Fortitude, Extreme Flank)
- 3 – Solid effects that will find a place in many decks (Haymaker, Sidestep, Strong Start)
- 2 – Limited effects that might be useful in some specialised decks (Earthquake, No Time, Grand Melee)
- 1 – Just plain bad cards (Curious Inversion, Interdiction)
The article is aimed at people who are trying to play the game competitively and so will assume a fair bit of knowledge, for example I assume you know what Cleave and Knockback do as well as what a Relic Deck is (the horror). Even if you are an experienced player it might be worth having your favourite deck builder open in another tab as I will constantly be referring to older cards and no one is expected to memorise what every single card in the game does (well no human anyway, Jay Clare might).
Two glory that you can only score in the third end phase already makes this card hard to consider, the fact that it is very easy for your opponent to stop you scoring this makes it even worse. This is a rare example of a card that’s much better in a best of one then a best of 3, before your opponent knows you have it then they can’t play around it, so aggro decks might like it for that format. Of course if you find yourself playing against another aggro deck that wants to take the initiative then you may find your opponent denying this card just out of the way they want to play the game. Some aggro warbands also like to go second on the first turn so they can use the last activation in the turn or play power cards to buff their attack before they go in, this card really has a narrow set of conditions to allow it to work.
This almost seems like a win more card. Taking 3 enemy fighters out of action already almost guarantees you victory against a lot of warbands. Only against the hordes of Gitz/Thorns/Speulchra Guard will the extra glory from this really make any difference. Of course actually killing 3 enemy fighters is also fairly hard, the only warband that I would rely on to kill lots of fighters is a full magic damage combo Cursebreaker list and once again that’s only if playing against the horde warbands.
Didn’t Even Want It
Its frustrating to start off this article with so many bad cards, don’t worry there is some amazing stuff later. Didn’t Even Want It is a much less reliable form of Hold Objective 1, Hold Objective 1 can work if you have lots of mobility to threaten all the objectives on the board, this card only works if your opponent is playing for objective tokens and happens to go onto the one that you want. You can make this more solid through some ploys/upgrades like Confused Priorities/Shardcaller but it is certainly not worth using those slots for a one glory objective.
Digging Deep is certainly an interesting card, this design space has never been touched before in Warhammer Underworlds. For the vast majority of decks I don’t think this objective passes muster but defensive lists will often spend their whole turn just drawing cards. It is these defensive lists that are most likely to use Digging Deep, Objectives that your opponent can’t stop are always very strong in those lists, being at one glory does limit the power of this card even in those lists somewhat though. Aggro decks that like to power up a bit before going in, like Fiends, might also find use for this card as score immediately objectives also each count as a draw for Digging Deep’s condition. The cards Rethink Strategy and Improvisation also make this very easy to score if you are running them, although generally i would advise against doing that. Also worth mentioning that this objective is scoreable with all of your fighters dead.
Disdain for Knowledge
I hold nothing but disdain for this card. Your opponent has to be playing Tome’s, which would have to become so popular that the Tomes would likely be banned for this to be good. I don’t think anyone wants an objective card that they can’t score in their deck. The only reason this card is even worth contemplating is because of a certain Tome that will be reviewed later in the article. Of course if future expansions contain even better Tomes then this rating is subject to change.
This card is a reprint of A Claim Retaken but its now no longer warband Specific. No one playing Chosen Axes seriously put A Claim Retaken in their deck, its potentially better now that you can double up on the effect (making it better to build around) but you are still relying on your opponent actually caring about being on objective tokens and that’s often not the case. Even then you have to work hard to score this card and its only one glory. I don’t think any lists will be acquiring this card.
My initial take on Frugal was that it was strictly rubbish. Not spending glory on your upgrades just seems like a super bad way to play the game. But then I realised that this works if you score three glory with your other two end phase objectives, you can then score Frugal and proceed to use that glory to play upgrades at the next stage of the end step. Suddenly this card looks very similar to Solid Gains, a card that I am actually running in a lot of in my main decks. The discrepancy between the two is that Solid Gains also counts the glory from any kills/score immediatelys that you did use the glory from for upgrades, whereas Frugal can also be scored from accumulated glory over multiple turns (as long as it is unspent). Overall I definitely prefer Solid Gains but I can see a case for Frugal. Specifically Katophrane relic lists that are not running Escalation might see this card as another easy objective to grab a glory from.
Get Thee Hence
The first truly exciting card of the set. Warband’s that have easy access to cleave already know how good an Objective What Armour is, well here is its counterpart, sort of. Get Thee Hence is noticeable worse then its counterpart because it requires the target to survive in order to be driven back the two hexes. This also makes it much harder to set up a multi activation kill with cards like Ready for Action because your target is now two whole hexes away. Even with all of those extra restrictions I still think that this is a solid card that a lot of decks should run, I’m a sucker for reliable objectives and this is very easy to score. A whole bunch of the free damage cards (like Encroaching Shadow/Pit Trap) or even lethal hexes can be used in combination with this card to still score you a kill and ensure that you meet its condition. For those of you who were following my mid range Fiend deck, this card should slot right in. The warbands that have access to both Cleave and Knockback, being Fiends/Cursebreakers/Sepulchra Guard could potentially take both this with What Armour and use Mutating Maul as a backup way of scoring when your fighter with the key ability is out of action. This card on its own shifts the meta towards those warbands with Knockback and makes the ability far more useful.
Gurzag is not a happy Ork. No he is not. Fjul is also slightly put out at the naming of this card considering he is one of the prime targets for it. Outside of the warbands with specific 5 wound fighters, Giant Slayer can also see use against everyone running the dreaded wound upgrade cards Deathly Fortitude/Sudden Growth, which is just about everyone and their mum at this point. The downside to Giant Slayer is that sometimes the best way to deal with the aforementioned wound boosters is to just ignore the fighter they are equipped to, after all their movement gets reduced by two which often means they can’t get to any other fighters of yours. It’s also not a good card on turn one, before upgrades have started happening or before Fjul has inspired. Still, its two glory on a score immediately. This will see play.
One glory at an end phase for using your whole turn on one fighter? Even Mollog thinks that’s bonkers and he is the only fighter I can see you wanting to do this one. Sure you can activate Varclav four times in a turn or Ammis/Rastus but then you can’t score Keep Them guessing or you know, have a productive turn.
Hoarder is like a turbocharged Frugal. It triples the glory your score but also triples the amount you need unspent AND its only scoreable on turn three. At this point we really are talking about a win more card. Again this might be useful in Relic decks that want to truly drown in glory but outside of that specific case I can’t see a use for it.
Two glory scoring in the end phase if you are a lucky git. Mollog is the most likely warband to use this card and even then, he should die in two attacks let alone three. If you stack every wound upgrade under the sun onto him then it becomes, possible. Realistically you are relying on your opponent not hitting those attacks instead of having the wounds to survive them and aggro decks literally have ways to make themselves accurate, their whole job is making sure the attack connects. Sure this effect will happen in games but they are the type of game where the opponent with those misses is desperately trying not to flip the table over, you can’t plan for this effect so its useless to include it.
This is a tough card to evaluate. At first glance its a Keep Them Guessing but for agrro. Making 4 attacks in one turn is totally doable and ranged warbands like Farstriders have no problem hitting that target. Splitting those same attacks to one per an activation suddenly makes this much much harder to score. Ready for Action no longer counts as that’s in the Power Step, the Brimstone’s horror reaction attack only counts as one for the purpose of scoring this card. The only real way to score this is to plan around 3 attack actions over separate activation’s and hope you can use My Turn/Aggressive Defence on your opponents activation. I was initially wrong when I rated Keep Them Guessing (if you want a laugh you can see that in this article here) so I might be wrong again but I can’t see Keep Choppin seeing play in top decks. If you are in a situation where you make 4 attacks over 4 separate activation’s then either your opponent is playing brain dead or they are also playing aggro, so I guess in an aggro heavy meta this card might be worth it. I wish we didn’t have the limitation of 4 activation’s on this card, I really do, with it Keep Chopping just doesn’t seem good enough.
This is nice. An autoinclude in Mollog’s mob and very very tempting for everyone else. People already run Ready for Action, which makes this card easy to score if it’s in hand, and Potion of Grace is already close to being good enough to make lists. Mollog now has a very strong score immediately objective that he can always play and everyone else has a new tool to build around if they want.
Rating 3 – 5 if your Mollog
A pimped out version of the Stormsire specific Magical Supremacy, Magical Mastery triples the glory given but also triples the requirement of the Cursebreaker objective. Three glory at any end phase is big, its competing with staples like Supremacy so the real question is, can you actually rely on casting six spells in one turn? Realistically this is only viable on Cursebreakers, they are the only warband (so far) to have a spell action that they can activate over and over again, if they can do that four times then you only need to cast two spell cards from your hand in order to successfully get this objective. Expecting to cast empower four times in a row is really tempting fate though and I think Ammis/Rastus should have one of the four upgrades that let them automatically cast Empower before you can count on this – that’s Arcane Familiar/ Tome of Incantations/ Eye of the Storm / something secret below – which makes it harder to score in turn one but not impossible, especially if you stack your deck with score immediately objectives like Change of Tactics/Harness the Storm. A big potential problem with Magical Mastery is that it doesn’t seem to gel with Keep Them Guessing, using all 4 of your activation’s on Empower means that you have missed your opportunity to score another objective that could be in your hand. Its certainly not impossible to score them both, especially if you use Stormsire to make a charge and his spell attack action hits, again though its hard to count on that happening. Maybe if you pack Haymaker and Potion of Rage in your deck this starts to get more likely? There is a point at which you can build around a card too much even if its effect is good, you don’t want to bend your deck to breaking point for three glory. Right now running through all of the possibilities, I don’t think Magical Mastery is quite worth it, if we get some spells that draw new cards or let you grab spell cards from the discard pile (and are actually reliable) then this might suddenly shoot up in value and make defensive Cursebreakers a very nasty deck.
Rating 2 – 3 if your Cursebreakers
Score this immediately if you hit a git/skeleton/ghost, this card is fantastic for aggro vs those types of warbands but completely useless vs warbands with fighters all at 4 wounds. You might have noticed that I hate objectives that I can’t score against a whole bunch of warbands and that holds true here.
Our Powers Combined
The award for best named card in the set goes to Our Powers Combined. Unfortunately even Captain Planet couldn’t make this objective actually good. It requires you to have a supporting fighter (or Helpful Whispers) and to get a highly unlikely set of dice on a result. Not for me.
Like Our Powers combined, Peerless Fighter requires a highly unlikely dice roll to occur. Unlike Our Powers combined this card does not need a supporting fighter. It’s also two glory on a score immediately. Hmmm… I can see this potentially working in a ‘crit fishing’ deck where you build around rolling as many dice as possible (through cards like Haymaker/Potion of Rage) and hope to get some crits for extra effects (like concealed weapon). Its not out of this world to see this result if your building around it, I still don’t like it but if you can score this then you are laughing.
Press the Advantage
Almost the definition of a win more card, the one situation where Press the Advantage seems strong is if you are a 3 fighter warband and you force your opponent to go second in the first turn, any glory you score in the end phase means you almost certainly score Press the Advantage. This does mean going first in the first activation though which is generally not optimal play, overall I think this card is marginally worse then Catching up (although of course with slightly different uses) and that card never really see’s play.
Hello, now this objective has my interest. I currently think Abasoth’s Unmaking is a criminally underrated card that shuts down objective play when cast and Scorched Earth heavily rewards you for playing it. The problem is that its hard to run an Objective that only works off of one card, if only there was some sort of tutoring effect in Warhammer Underworlds…Due to a specific upgrade card that I will be talking about later on in this article you actually have two chances to draw Abasoth’s and with the way people churn through cards in Warhammer Underworlds that’s good odds. Reavers and Orks also have warband specific ploys that let them destroy objectives but they require you to get a fighter onto said objective, instead of just being within 4 hexes like Abasoth’s. A score immediately that I can reasonably reliably score, that my opponent can do very little about is something I love. Only take if you are using Abasoth’s Unmaking but you should seriously consider taking that anyway.
Seize the Initiative
I may have belaboured the point that I dislike objectives that rely on highly unlikely dice rolls to score. Well meet the poster child for that type of card. Not only do you need to roll 3 crits on 4 dice but you also have to beat your opponents score, imagine rolling those 3 crits, having this card in hand and seeing your opponent beat your roll. I think seize the Initiative might just be the worst card in the set.
Thin Their Ranks
I’d love to see this card being two glory. At one it just doesn’t seem quite good enough for the restriction. Another objective that is great vs horde warbands but almost useless (or at best a win more card) vs the smaller warbands. If your meta is swarming with hordes then consider taking this, otherwise I’d give it a miss.
The effect on Arcane Recall is great and could potentially make scoring Magical Mastery a feasible plan. Needing a crit to cast the spell is just not good enough though, there is a limited amount of spell dice you can throw at this and your chances for getting a crit are not good enough even when building around that. If we see a method of getting an innate spell crit in the future then this card becomes amazing (also spellcasting becomes bonkers), right now it’s a pass.
One channel spells always have a soft spot in my heart, they are the easiest of all spells to cast and this can be great for scoring certain objectives or for inspiring Cursebreakers in the power step. Arcane transposition is basically Confusion but without ‘choosing’ any fighters so it’s definitely worse for Spiteclaw’s Swarm and you have the inherent risk of casting a spell, even if it is an easy one. Right now I think the only lists running Confusion are Skaven based ones, the effect is not worth it enough in other warbands and despite Arcane Transposition being easy enough to cast I don’t think that you should consider taking it.
In almost every way this is a worse version of Arcane Recall. The only benefit is that you can use it to return ploys and upgrades to your hand if you are running a magic deck and somehow want them instead, however this comes at the cost of it being entirely random what you do get. If it didn’t require a crit to cast then I would consider the shuffle downside potentially worth it, as is nope.
Ok we are seeing a lot of spells that require critical successes to cast now. At this point I think it’s fair to guess that there is about a 50% chance we will see some way to get an innate critical on spells in future expansions, if we do it would have to come with some big downside though, potentially a ploy that does it or even a spell you have to cast in order to get the innate crit. If we do get that then Razormaw Swarm looks very nice, the damage potential is obvious here and you will likely be running it in a deck that also packs a bunch of other ‘free damage’ cards like Shardgale/Abasoth’s Withering/Enchroaching Shadow in order to kill enemy fighters without having to actually attack them. Right now I feel like a broken record but I hate relying on a crit to cast a spell.
A spell reaction that works very nicely with an inspired Stormsire (he is hard to hit with two shield dice) or even one of the many dodge Wizards that has a Last Chance in their deck. At two channels you want to be fairly heavily invested into magic to try and cast this but the effect is solid and you can Sorcerous Retort very easily off of this and also potentially Sorcerous Scouring. Again this card will find its home in decks that are focused around doing all of their damage in the power step, it’s not something you take just to ping someone for two damage with, rather you take it to finish them off after they have already been hit by a bunch of spells/ploys. A solid card that has to be in the right deck to shine.
Sphere of Chamon
Another tasty one channel spell, Sphere of Chamon actually has a fairly powerful effect. Changing Snirks defence characteristic from 3 dodge to one shield suddenly makes him much easier to hit, and the same can be said for any character being hit by Rastus’s cleave attack if they have even one dodge defence dice. It’s a good effect for range two attackers like the Briar Queen who can trap opponents, generally speaking only crits can save you on defence if you are trapped so making sure the defender only rolls one dice is tasty. A lot of players, especially Thorns players, also rely on Last Chance to get them out of Jail, if you use Sphere of Chamon before you attack then you suddenly make Last Chance much less likely to succeed. Overall I like this spell, its reliable and has a neat effect.
Sphere of Ghur
Another Sphere at one channel, this one I’m not so fond of. Haymaker exists and gives you +2 dice without having a miscast risk, sure there is a downside but its negligible if you play around it. Likewise Potion of Rage or even Total Offence can give a greater accuracy boost but from an upgrade card, which are generally less powerful. I’d avoid Sphere of Ghur unless you are playing an aggro form of Cursebreakers and really want to inspire/cast spells for objectives.
A damage spell that only requires one channel sounds like it is going to go in every magic deck ever. Certainly I feel like Abasoth’s Withering should and that’s effectively the same. Abasoth seems to have the better end of the deal here over Unfocused Blast though, for one it has a 4 hex range and secondly it doesn’t have the added random element of scatter. Scatter one performed three times gives you around a 70% chance to deal one damage a specific target if you point the hammer symbol at them. Those odds are, ok but not brilliant for a gambit slot. I think where unfocused blast shines is if you get your wizard surrounded by enemy fighters, at this point it almost doesn’t matter where you scatter as you still hit your opponents fighters. Combine this with a Damning Pat/Rend the Earth combo and suddenly you could be putting the hurt onto to a lot of fighters in the power step. The Briar Queen might work best when trying to do that combo as the Thorns come with a whole host of ways to teleport her around the battlefield, of course she packs a mean punch as well that can be used to finish off any stragglers.
Still with me? Good, there is a ton of cards yet to get through and some of the stuff reviewed below is truly exciting.
Standing at the vanguard of new ploys we see something that feels like it could have come from the Leaders expansion. Pushes are very powerful and often underrated in this game, seeing a card that lets you push for three hexes at once is a good way to grab my attention. Commanding Stride does come with two significant downsides to balance its powerful effect:
- It can only be used on your leader. This limits Commanding Stride to use with warbands whoose leaders can be expected to fight and whom you can mostly rely on to stay alive.
- The push must end the leader in a starting hex, meaning your opponent can somewhat try to play around this effect and limiting the use this card has for objective play.
I think that Commanding stride will see the most use with warbands who hit condition number one but also who are desperately trying to pack as many movement effects as possible, so Mollog/Chosen Axes primarily and maybe also Ork/Steel Hearts.
Using a ploy slot for a chance to deal one damage if you are lucky seems ridiculous to me. The best case scenario for Death Frenzy is that your fighter is surrounded by three or more enemy fighters and you get lucky on the dice, even then you are only doing at maximum one damage to each of them. Considering how rare it will be to pull off that move and that it is dependent on the fickleness of the dice gods I don’t think many people will be taking Death Frenzy.
Well here is an odd one. I got the Nightvault rule book out to check if Death Grip would fulfil the conditions required to trap an enemy model, thereby making your attacks much more accurate, but alas the rules for trapped specify that it only works if the condition is caused by blocked or occupied hexes stopping a drive back. As it is then I can only see Death Grip being really useful to deny specific positional based objectives like Supremacy or Extreme Flank, stopping your opponent from using Sidestep in the last power step of a turn and thus potentially stopping them from scoring those objectives. Why not just take Distraction or about 10 other cards that are much better instead though?
Potentially useful for a shield defence warband that wants to make cleave less scary, bonus points if you play this after equipping Acrobatic to a fighter. Realistically though this is not a strong effect, Last Chance gives you better odds even with a shield.
A ploy that gave -1 attack dice to the next attack action with no restrictions would be just about playable, one with the restrictions that Fearful Visage has just isn’t.
If you play this card then it will be sitting in your hand all game until you roll a crit defence, at which point you will be rewarded with 2 damage. If you want a similar effect take Rebound, it might only have a 1/3 chance of succeeding but it avaerages a lot more damage and once used its gone, letting you draw more power cards at the end of turns.
For just the cost of one gambit slot you too can pretend to be a ghost for a turn! If you pick boards that have lots of blocked hexes then you might catch your opponent off guard with Incredible Leap, conversely you could take Spectral Wings and have a ploy that works in far more situations.
Thank god. I was starting to bash my head against the wall trying to find useful text to write about the last set of cards that wasn’t just ‘this card is bad’, now I have a truly powerful card to review. Hidden Paths is arguably the most powerful unrestricted ploy in the game right now, I am writing this article the night before the Warhammer World Grand clash and I’ll put money on nine out of ten of the top decks having Hidden Paths in it. Teleport effects are very powerful, they allow you to attack from angles that your opponent can’t see coming. So to properly asses the power of Shadowed Step I think we have to compare it to Hidden Paths. The first point of comparison is that you are far more limited in your choice of hexes that you ‘move’ to then with Hidden Paths, no ones territory can only consist of 3 hexes in some games. The second point of comparison is that you are not required to be on an edge hex in order to play Shadowed Step, your fighter can be anywhere on the boards. Overall I think the downside of the first point outweighs the upsides of the second, making Shadowed Step the little brother of Hidden Paths. There are some decks that might prefer it, seeing it as an unrestricted Illusory Fighter that they can use to run away from an opponents Hidden Paths, with so many amazing cards competing for those gambit slots I think you need to have a specific plan in mind to take Shadowed Step and thus it will be seen but only occasionally.
Another pact type card where you pay the cost of one damage to a friendly fighter in order to get the positive effect of the ploy. Rolling an extra spell dice is a nice effect, especially if you are trying to cast some of the more difficult spells, but you can get almost the same effect from an upgrade, namely Potion of Clarity. Obviously this is meant for a play style that is heavily invested into casting spells, you could also synergise this card with My Turn if you wanted. Overall I just don’t feel like this effect is quite good enough for a gambit slot, its certainly close though.
In a specific set of situations this card is decent. Your opponent has to be playing a warband whose fighters gain a lot from inspiring and you have to have two friendly fighters adjacent when your opponent charges you, oh and your opponent really has to want to hit the other one. I just don’t see that chain of events being something to build around.
Transfixing stare is subtly powerful in a lot of ways. An aggressive deck can charge into the enemy board, kill their target fighter and then play Transfixing Stare on the only opponent that they are afraid of charging back. A defensive deck can preempt an opponents charge by playing this ploy and not having to worry for an entire turn. This card is going to be more effective the better a player you are as you don’t want to waste the power of this card on the wrong fighter or at the wrong time. There is no doubt in my mind that this card will see play and depending on just how much it is taken it could make friendly push cards, like Commanding Stride, much more valuable. Just running through the crazy things you can do with this card, your opponent plays Spectral Wings, you play Hidden Paths/Illusory Fighter/Shadowed Step and teleport near to their only threat in range, they pass in confusion, you play Transfixing Stare. They cry. One interesting interaction is that this card doesn’t stop your opponent playing Hidden Paths, nice to see that it has some limits. We might see Potion of Grace start to see play if this card becomes too ubiquitous, as it is I am struggling to see why I wouldn’t give this card a rating of five. My gut tells me that this isn’t quite at auto-include in every deck status but its bloody close.
Whip into a Frenzy
Another My Turn trigger, this time with an effect that decks running My Turn are more likely to want to build around. One extra damage is always a nice effect, its obviously much more powerful as a reaction like Twist the Knife but those type of cards are all restricted for a reason. If you are playing aggro and running Precise use of Force with Twist the Knife already then I think you have to find a spot for this in your deck. As already stated this works great with My Turn, so aggro decks running that should also consider Whip into a Frenzy, for everyone else it doesn’t seem quite good enough.
Phew, we’re nearly there and luckily I have saved the best till last(just like the correct way to eat a Sunday dinner). There are some absolutely insane upgrades down below that will change how the game is played, you should find space for some of these bad boys in your decks.
While the actual spells themselves might not have been too exciting in these expansions it seems like the magic play style is getting some good cards in the form of upgrades. With Arcane Focus we see the first way to get an innate focus, suddenly Sorcerous Insight looks like a very viable spell to cast and oh god that means all sorts of potential madness. When I reviewed Sorcerous Insight I talked about the horror some warbands will feel at a potential double Shardgale, well now that possibility is a reality. Arcane Focus does have a legitimate downside though, it requires you to not only pay the glory to equip it but to also use an action from the fighter with it to gain the positive effect. For me this almost rules it out of any aggressive magic focused style of play and pushes it strictly into the sit at the back defensive/control territory. Looking through the list of spells that currently exist I can’t see anything else with double focus symbols really being worth the effort of building around. Of course with Arcane Focus you could now take some of the single focus spells and be 100% sure of casting them, and some of those are tasty. I think we are at the tipping point for defensive Cursebreakers being a fully legitimate deck, as I am writing this part of the article aggressive Cursebreakers just won the Warhammer World grand clash and I think they will always be viable but now the ‘other’ method of playing the warband looks to be getting just as strong.
Darkoath can get a level three wizard, finally we see a faction that can do magic in a way that rivals the power of the Cursebreakers. Of course the only other faction that might take Arcane Savant besides the Godsworn Hunt are Stormsire’s lightning wielding armour clad zombies, if the big bearded guy goes down early in a game you now have a way to get a back-up level two wizard with which to start slinging spells. Obviously your milage out of this upgrade will depend on how much and how hard to cast the magic in your deck is. Unfortunately even at level three Ritual Dagger is still not very good (I mean its ok), really wish they had made that at least three damage.
There is a good reason that Awakened Weapon is restricted, making attacks something that you can start to rely on is an extremely potent effect in this game. Re-rolling an attack dice is a more powerful effect the more successes that you have on your dice, so crossed swords are not as good as hammers for this effect. Given that, note that Archer’s Focus doesn’t say that the dice being re-rolled have to be attack dice, yup this thing works with spell attack actions. Spell dice (if you are looking for focus) are just as accurate as hammers (ignoring support stuff) meaning that Archer’s Focus is ironically better on the likes of Stormsire and Vortimus then on actual archers like Farstrider and chums. Still its certainly viable with normal archers and if they can manage to get a supporting fighter to help with their attack action while Archer’s Focus is equipped then you could bet your right arm that you will hit the attack (seriously don’t do that).
Bag of Tricks
I am having to take slow deep breaths and force myself to be calm. When I first read the text on Bag of Tricks my eyes lit up and my mind started immediately racing with all the possibilities it contained. We finally have a tutor effect in Warhammer Underworlds, for those unfamiliar with Magic the Gathering terminology tutor effects are those that let you search your deck for a specific card and add it to your hand. Defensive and objective decks that run specific answers, e.g. Forceful Denial,/Last Chance/Deathly Fortitude/Abasoth’s Unmaking, to certain situations will absolutely love this card and suddenly become much much more reliable. Relic decks will bend over backwards to include this card in their decks, its another way to draw Spoils of Battle/Ghoulish Pact without having to go through your entire deck. Even some aggro decks might be interested in all the tricks on offer here, Chosen axes players will happily use an activation on Mad Maegrim to draw Inspiration Strikes. Ok, ok, calm down, deep breaths. There are some legitimate limits built into Bag of Tricks that stop it from being ridiculously powerful.
- It is an upgrade and thus requires a glory to play, the draw whatever card you want effect is most useful in the first turn, at which point it is hardest to play.
- It requires you to activate a fighter that will get a charge token placed next to them, so you either need a spare fighter that you are fine with not being able to attack/move for a turn or you need to have a deck that doesn’t want to attack much anyway. This can also potentially stop you scoring Keep them Guessing.
- You show the card that you are drawing to your opponent, no sneaky tricks here. Bonus points if you search for Rebound, show it to your opponent and watch them sweat.
I have spoken to many good players in excitement about this card recently and been met with mixed responses. Some are just like me, kids at Christmas time, while others can respect that it looks reasonable but are not sold on it. I’m confident that Bag of Tricks will see a lot of play and will be something you see a lot of in the future.
Blessing of Argentine
In the vast majority of situations Blessing of Argentine looks very weak, however in the right deck I can certainly see it pulling it’s weight. Mollog might enjoy seeing hordes of low wound fighters slowly kill themselves on him and any of the free damage decks like Cursebreakers or even Farstriders will love to see an extra source of automatic damage, even if the source is a bit less controllable. The biggest downside to Blessing of Argentine is that it requires your fighter to survive the attack, most of the time players only attack each other if they can actually kill your fighter in that one attack, still Deathly Fortitude/Sudden Growth exist, its certainly not unfeasible to see this netting a couple of damage over a game.
Blessing of Vytrix
Here we have the fourth upgrade that I alluded to above which gives you an automatic channel result for spells. Its worth noting that if you have multiple sources of Innate that you can only pick one, so if you are taking Eye of the Storm in your Cursebreakers already then this might not be worth it. Every other warband now has access to three different channel upgrades which is probably the limit of what you would put in your upgrade deck, but hey it helps you to reliable cast those two channel spells and if that’s what your after its pretty good.
Glory seeker but for low wound warbands. Reavers/Godsworn Hunt will both love this and I expect it to be a staple for those warbands. Challenge Seeker even works on ranged attacks so it is extremely versatile. More aggressive Gitz players might want to pack this as a handy source of extra damage as well. For everyone else, I don’t think that you can rely on your opponent playing Deathy Fortitude/Sudden Growth at a point when you have Challenge Seeker in hand, its just not worth the risk of it being a dead card.
With the other sections it took about this long to get to a good card. Now with upgrades we see the first bad card of the set. Distracting Blow requires your opponent to be playing Wizards or it’s useless. It requires your fighter to be adjacent to a Wizard as they cast a spell or its useless. Your opponent can see what upgrades your fighters have on them and choose weather or not to cast a spell…Distracting Blow is useless.
Very very niche. Disturbing Presence certainly has its uses, forcing an opponent to attack a specific fighter instead of going for one at the back, or on an objective. I can see this potentially being used in Objective decks with lots of dongle bros, where you send a pawn forwards and try to stop your opponent from charging your important fighters at the back, remember they can just kill this fighter and charge afterwards though. It seems like a very narrow set of conditions will make Disturbing Presence good.
Envoy’s Prerogative is very mildly better then the default action of discard an objective card and then draw one, instead letting you see your new option first and then deciding what to discard. This mild improvement is not worth an upgrade slot, not at all.
Slightly better then Distracting Blow, but that’s a low bar to compare to. So far the anti magic cards have been very lacklustre, I wonder if any of the upgrades left in this review will change that?
Finally we see the Nullstone version of one of the most powerful Shadeglass weapons. Nullstone dagger deals one less damage normally then its counterpart and has a less powerful on crit effect, trading an extra damage for cleave. Being able to re roll an attack dice vs Wizards is nice but honestly not likely to come up too often. What really gives the nullstone weapons a potential edge is that you don’t discard them after use, once you equip someone with this bad boy they are upgraded for the rest of the game. I still personally much prefer Shadeglass Dagger but hey its restricted and this isn’t, if your warband has a lot of dangle bros in it then you might want to consider this upgrade.
I think that Nullstone Spear might just be my favourite of all the different Nullstone upgrades we have seen so far. It has average accuracy, average damage but it has range two. Range two is a very powerful trick to pull out of an upgrade, your opponent will often position perfectly to avoid your charges and equipping Nullstone Spear can act as a damage/accuracy boost alongside Sidestep all rolled into one, if you are running an aggro warband with low mobility then you might want to find space for this spear. Range two also helps you to apply the trapped condition to enemy fighters with your attack, something that massively boosts your accuracy.
I love the design of Possessed Weapon, its another Great/Incredible Strength card but unlike the latter is not restricted, instead coming with the downside of taking a damage after every attack. I feel like I don’t need to talk about the upsides of a plus one damage upgrade, anyone playing aggro is running Great Strength and Incredible Strength is restricted for a good reason, and of course the general deck building rule of the more of one effect you can include in your deck the more reliable it becomes. The downside is legitimate though, taking a wound after every attack can see you putting your fighter into easy one shot range after a single attack, I think the warbands that will like this the most are the Godsworn Hunt and the Reavers, their fighters usually die in one hit anyway and your happy to trade one for one vs other aggressive warbands. Of course Gurzag and crew are also very happy about this card, I think it works best on the danglebros of Hakka and Basha, I’ve never been a fan of hurting Gurzag to inspire him as I feel like five wounds is his biggest strength, however you now have a fairly easy way of making your danglebros into legitimate threats which is really nice. With both Possessed Weapon and Challenge Seeker coming out together it’s fair to say that we are drifting back into the ‘one shot’ meta we had before the BAR came out, only now we have enough upgrades to reliably do it instead of using the reaction ploys like Twist the Knife/Trap/Pit Trap, warbands that like to rely on their high wounds as a way to survive are going to start feeling the pain.
A reprint of Regeneration which no one played because it wasn’t very good. Why play an upgrade that will only start to have a benefit at the beginning of the next action phase? If you have just charged in and got a kill then its much better to put extra wound upgrades on your new vulnerable champion like Sudden Growth/Deathly Fortitude to stop your opponent from being able to kill them back. At best Regenerative Charm gets you two wounds back, slowly over the course of the game. At worst you draw it turn three and its literally useless. At average its pretty damn bad as well.
Push effects are very strong in Warhammer Underworlds, push effects that require you to be adjacent to an enemy fighter, take an action and require you to play an upgrade are not so good. Why take an action to push an enemy fighter when you can just kill them? Even if you don’t have the damage to kill them. your attack can drive them back, achieving the same result as Strong-arm only without having to waste an upgrade. I can see some edge cases where this might be useful, playing it on the Bat Squig potentially, but even then you need to get your fighter close with a move action and then play this card and use another action… it just doesn’t seem worth it.
Tome of Offerings
Here we go. I’ve been talking your ear off with all these stupid tricks that defensive decks can pull out of their bags and all the silly spells that magic warbands can now cast with their shiny new upgrades, well here is the tasty card that gives aggro a massive boost. Tome of Offerings is insane. Anyone playing either of the Khornite warbands knows the power of an extra default glory per kill from an upgrade, the problem that the Khorne versions had was that both of those upgrades were fighter specific, so if your leader dies then they are completely useless. Tome of Offerings has no fighter restrictions so its relevant at all points in the game. A Destiny to Meet is restricted because extra glory effects that you don’t have to work for are incredibly powerful, who knew that scoring more glory was a good way to win games? Tome of Offerings merely requires that you get a kill with it equipped, if you are playing aggressive decks then that’s kind of what you want to be doing anyway. Tome also gives you the glory within the turn, letting you spend it on upgrades before the game ends is great and helping you score certain objectives like Solid Gains. The potential glory ceiling for Tome of Glories is much higher as well, if you equip it turn one then its possible to grab three glory from a charge per turn, combining it with mighty swing effects, extra attacks from My Turn/Ready for Action or even just placing it on a leader with more then one range on attack who can potentially keep attacking without charging…. there are a lot of ways that you could stack glory out of this upgrade. Ok lets dial this back a little bit, if you put Tome in your deck then you should realistically expect just one extra glory from the turn you equip/charge in with it, with anything else being a happy extra. At just that one extra glory this is absolutely worth a slot. If you do get more out of it then you will probably not only win the game but start to feel very confident about glory being used as a tiebreaker. As I have already hinted at above I feel like warbands with range 2 fighters that can dish out damage are going to be the best with this, so Spiteclaw/Thorns/Mollog, oh god yes Mollog will be scary with this on him. However I will reiterate that any warband that is trying to kill enemy fighters should run this card, strict defensive or objective based warbands will pass on this but if you are flex and try to kill even occasionally then I would find space for Tome of Offerings.
Tome of Vitality
Great fortitude it fairly good. Here it is again but with a different name as well as all the associated triggers that being a tome generates. If we see another objective like Acolyte of the Katophranes then tome decks might start to become a thing, right now I don’t think the synergy is quite good enough. So rate Tome of Vitality on its own, its plus one wound with no downside that you can play alongside Great Fortitude, a strong effect. I think the biggest problem that Tome of Vitality has is that upgrade slots are starting to become more highly contested then ever before, gone are the days where you spend eight hours carefully trimming down your gambits to just the ten best, while spending five minutes on just picking the obvious best upgrades for your deck. Now every upgrade slot has some insane potential power to compete with, Faneway/Bag/Offerings are starting to show us the true potential of upgrades, merely strong effects like Tome of Vitality almost feel like they are being left behind.
The only reason I can see to include Unstoppable Force in your deck is as a backup plan to score Get Thee Hence when your main source of Knockback is dead. Even then Unstoppable Force dosn’t come with any other upsides, Knockback itself is a fairly weak ability and I just don’t see this being worth an upgrade slot.
Finally. We are at the end of our long journey. We also have a legitimately strong anti magic card. Warding Scroll is a reaction so you can choose when to use. Simple put it on the fighter that is least likely to die and save it for that one spell you really don’t want your opponent to cast. It always works. There is no chance of Warding Scroll failing and there is no limit on the range it can work, your fighter can be any distance from the caster. I’ve said in the past that I dislike taking cards that only work against certain warbands as they are dead in other match-ups, Warding Scroll feels like an exception to that rule because it does its job so well. Its one upgrade slot that you sacrifice in some situations for that time when you come up against spells and just utterly ruin their day. The value of Warding Scroll will of course depend on how many people are actually playing spells, as of writing this article Cursebreakers are the most likely target for this but Thorns will often run the ever dreaded Howling Vortex and some crazy people are still trying to make Eyes of the Nine work. With the Godsworn Hunt being released the potential targets for Warding Scroll just went up. Whether you include this card in your deck will depend a bit on your read of the meta, if you don’t see many people playing the magic warbands then skip it, otherwise rub your hands with glee as you slot it in. Conversely, if we see enough people taking Warding Scroll in their decks then some of the warbands that might have been tempted to take just one or two spells might be dissuaded from doing so entirely, instead switching their gambit deck to all ploys. I love cards like this, it makes the deck building game more fun and people now have a way of stopping the crazy free damage Cursebreakers if they really want to.
I wanted to spend a bit of time here talking about how I think all of the powerful cards contained in these two expansions will change the meta but honestly this post is already massive. Congratulations to everyone who made it this far.
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