What on Earth is going on?
Its spoiler season again for Warhammer Underworlds. With the two new expansions coming up (Ylthari’s Guardians and Thundrik’s Profiteers) there is a lot of new material to cover. Steel City will be doing our usual job of over analysing every last bit of info that GW gives us right up until we get the big reveal of all the cards included, and then we will rate every single card with our now (in)famous card review articles. For the warbands themselves we will be doing two initial impressions articles – like this one – based on the details that we get in in the early preview articles and then in a couple of weeks, once all cards have been revealed and our opinions have settled a bit, we will do a more in depth look at each of the new warbands.
So strap yourselves in, its hype time.
Note – all the images and useful information in this article is taken from this Warhammer Community article – if you want to get your info from the horses mouth or are less interested in our own analysis then you really should just use that.
The namesake of the warband boasts an impressive array of abilities. The first that stands out is her Wizard level, at a juicy 2 uninspired Ylthari joins the ranks of the best magic casters in Warhammer Underworlds, giving her warband access to all the gambit spells that exist if you build around it or just all the easy ones if you would prefer to dabble, both Abasoth spells would like to say hi here. We can also see a juicy 3 range spell attack action that when inspired goes to 2 damage, this puts Ylthari firmly in the Stormsire/ Vortimus territory when talking about fighter stats so lets compare.
Stormsire has an easier inspire condition (although not by as much as you might think, more on that later) with one extra wound and slightly better defensive characteristic when inspired, in exchange for that he has 2 less move when inspired. Two move is an insane difference and one that i would trade any day for 1 wound, Stormsire also has an extra range on his melee attack which is nice, meanwhile Ylthari can heal herself whenever she crits on a spell, meaning you can roll buckets of dice and not worry about her dying. Talking about buckets of dice, being at 3 wounds means that Challenge seeker is a solid upgrade on Ylthari, combine that with Well of Power and Archers Focus and you have an insanely accurate 2 damage attack that can hit from 8 hexes away. The only other fighter in the game with that threat range is Farstrider Inspired and experienced players already know to fear the power of the bird.
When comparing to Vortimus we get one more dodge when uninspired alongside 1 more move when inspired. The loss of one wound once again hurts but the biggest disparity is Ylthari’s inability to summon a blue horror, although it could be argued that this is less a strength of Vortimus and more just a weird way that the Eyes of the Nine work as a whole.
Stormsire and Vortimus are two of the best fighters in Warhammer Underworlds so Ylthari is entering on a big stage here, with her unique benefits potentially giving her an edge over those two stalwarts.
Did I say that Ylthari was tied with Inspired Farstrider for largest threat range in the game? Well enter Ahnslaine Inspired with a 4 hex range attack that is based on 2 smash instead of 3 fury. On there own 2 smash vs 3 fury are almost identical when making attacks but any effect that lets you re roll your attack dice (Archer’s Focus) or that adds an extra dice (Challenge Seeker/Total offence/Light Armour) becomes much more valuable as each smash dice is worth more then each fury dice. I may have already mentioned some of those upgrades when talking about Ylthari, you can absolutely build a solid strategy around these two powerhouses pinging damage at extreme range against your enemies, similar to how some Farstrider players play.
Two dodge when inspired is fairly solid as well, although again it comes at the expense of only being at 3 wounds. Its also worth noting that Ahnslaine gains a fair bit from inspiring, an extra dodge defence and more importantly a whole extra hex of threat range, 3 hexes is certainly nice but 4 hexes is the happy place that means you can drive opponents back after a hit and they need to have 4 move to be able to charge back – some fighters literally can’t even get to you. That reaction where you can shoot again if you kill a fighter with an attack is absolute gold as well, anything that gives you an extra action is extremely powerful in this game (see Ready for Action being in every deck) and if you get to use this reaction then it counts as an action on a fighter card for fulfilling Keep them Guessing, if you charge with your first attack then use this reaction as an attack then you can fulfil 3 of the conditions for Keep them Guessing in one activation.
Overall I think Ahnslaine is a very powerful fighter, sure she won’t be killing people up close but her extreme threat range and powerful reaction make her pretty great if you build around her.
Ok so far we have one level two wizard with a terrifying threat range for attacks and one archer with another terrifying threat range for attacks. Gallanghann is described as the ‘tank’ of the warband on the Warhammer Community article but I think its worth taking a minute to realise that his threat range (ok I need to find some other words to use for this now)is also a bit insane at 6 hexes. Six hexes is the danger distance (nailed it) that both of the ‘normal’ Farstriders have, so lets just get this clear, the warband tank can damage deploy (I think i’m stretching it now) with the same distance as some of the best archers in the game. Oh and he gets knockback when inspired, say hello to my lethal hexes.
Oh wait, he also does 2 damage.
I think some people miss this incredibly potent combination of stats because they simply look at Gallanghann’s defences and write him off as a ‘dangle tank’, a fighter to be used as bait for your opponents resources while the rest of your warband focuses on dealing damage. Although many of the upgrades that I have mentioned for the previous two fighters will not work with Gallanghann I think that his scary area (oh come on) supports a similar playstyle very well.
Oh and he also has 2 shields when uninspired and 4 wounds. So on average he is more tanky then a Stormcast Eternal.
Ok ok. Seems legit.
Oh and if he crits a defence roll then he deals one damage to his attacker.
Gallanghann seems pretty strong.
So we have a 4 fighter warband wherein the first three fighters are causing almost unprecedented levels of hype for me, at this point I am hoping that the final fighter is weak just for the sake of balance.
Skhathael is ok.
He is definitely the runt of the warband, with none of the damage vector (ok ok i’m stopping now) of the rest of the warband, his attack hits for an average 2 damage, when inspired he is your only source of cleave and becomes quite accurate at 3 smash. Four movement is nice but nothing special, 3 wounds is below average but again nothing to worry about, I actually think Skhathael’s biggest weakness is his one shield defence. While Gallanghann sits pretty with his double shield of not letting people pass, Skhathael’s one shield defence seems like it just deters you from taking last chance – a card that works excellently with Ylthari and Ahnslaine.
His accuracy when inspired alongside his ability to deal damage with a crit even if the target survives (I will give a shoutout to anyone who can tell me how this interacts with Last Chance and Soultrap etc) means that he is your reliable deterrent for anyone who comes too close to your ranged fighters. He also gives you a decent shot at taking What Armour? in your deck, although i’d want at least 2 other sources of cleave to make it reliable, especially considering you probably don’t want to spend your inspire resources on this guy.
I should probably start talking about that.
“A gambit, upgrade, action or reaction would remove one or more wound tokens from this fighter (even if they have no wound tokens)”
Well that’s a mouthful.
Breaking it down a bit we have to target a fighter with any effect that removes a wound in order to inspire them and the key is that this works even if it dosn’t actually physically remove a wound token. At first glance that seems really tough to pull off. Healing effects are not very plentiful in Warhammer Underworlds and where they exist are not exactly the strongest, however try to think about it another way. People take Inspiration Strikes in a lot of decks, in fact Inspiration Strikes is one of the most powerful non restricted cards in the game. What if Inspiration Strikes also had the power to remove some wound tokens? That would be pretty ridiculous right? Well every single healing card for Ylthari’s guardians works just like that.
Oh, that’s pretty powerful.
It’s especially powerful when you realise just how much each fighter gains when inspiring, just look at the stats on each side of those fighters cards and you can see that that inspiring is something you want to do pretty damn often with this warband.
There is a downside though.
Your going to have to invest resources in how you build your deck in order to access this power. I’ll pop an image album of all the cards that I think are worth considering for this below but exactly how many you take is going to be a tough call, every healing card you include means that you can’t take another powerful card. When building a deck for Ylthari’s guardians you should probably be thinking ‘how many Inspiration Strikes do I need with this deck’ and start from there.
Its worth noting that I expect not only some faction cards that will be good options for this mechanic but also a neutral card or two in these last expansions – talking of which.
There aren’t really enough cards spoiled with these previews to go over in detail (like that would normally stop us) but one of these is particularly relevant when talking of inspiring. Leech Power looks like a nice way to inspire, as well as giving you a second way to score Scorched Earth alongside Abasoth’s Unmaking.
I predict that the new most asked question asked across Warhammer Underworlds social media for the next month will be ‘can Tainted Vitality inspire the entire warband, the answer is no, well mostly. Tainted Vitality will only target your fighters in the first place if they have a wound token on them. It combo’s with Shardgale to inspire your entire warband but you really should not be relying on that, the odds of having both cards in your hand are very low, check out this article if you are interested in the exact odds. What Tainted Vitality can be used for is as a card that can inspire anyone in your warband who has run over a lethal hex, say on their way to charge an opponent. In those cases it is certainly reasonable and if you are taking Shardgale then once in a blue moon you will get the magic combo off, personally i prefer the options that I showed above as they are more reliable but if you can make it work then more power to you.
Thoughts on Playstyle
Long time readers of the blog will know that I played Farstriders for a long time, they were in fact the first warband that I found a lot of success with. Ylthari’s guardians feel like a more versatile version of the Stormcast Rangers with a level 2 wizard and tricks galore. Lets have a look at how i would build these tree elves (I have no idea about the lore please don’t hate me).
If you are interested in playing with this deck then you can use the link here.
The missing gambit is reserved for Leech Power and the missing upgrade is reserved for Well of Power. For the missing objectives I expect there to be 2 suitable candidates either from their own factions cards or from the new neutral cards we will be getting.
The whole purpose of this deck and play style is to use your incredible threat range (lets finish where we started) to turn any of your ranged attacks into a potentially one hit kill with the likes of Trap/Pit Trap and also gambits like Abasoth’s Withering/Encroaching Shadow/Shardgale. Upgrades are there to make you more accurate or to give a bit of depth to the deck. You can see that we have a fair bit of passive glory in the deck from Change of Tactics/Keep Them Guessing/Cover Ground that lets us play defensively by default, forcing aggressive decks to bring the fight to us. Against objective decks you should be ensuring that you attack in a controlled fashion, focusing your attacks on the fighters holding those all important tokens.
It’s worth noting one of the reasons that I would build the deck this way is that a key weakness of the Guardians is their lack of damage. If you are planning on killing enemy fighters then you are going to need to put a bunch of damage into your deck somehow.
That’s how I would play these guys, a flex of aggro with some defensive in there where you adapt your gameplan to whatever your opponent is doing.
Obviously I have no idea how competitive these guys n gals will be once people actually start playing them, a battle plan never survives contact with the enemy and no matter how much I roll the options over in my head nothing is going to compare to actually getting games in with this warband. Something tells me that the guardians are top tier though, my old Farstrider instincts are kicking in and I am very excited to put them through their paces.
The biggest issue I can see for the guardians is the Mollog match up, Mollog one shots any of your fighters when inspired and your low damage means that it is very hard to kill him. On the other hand, Mollog might not even hit a 2 shield or 2 dodge fighter in the first turn and you certainly have the ability to run past the troll to kill all his Squigs at the back, it will be interesting to see how it plays out in reality.
I’m tired and off to bed.
Seriously though, I’m hyped for this warband.
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