Neutral cards from the latest expansions

A Small Steel City Update

For anyone interested in following my ongoing competitive adventures I have now managed to bag a total of 13 shade glass trophies with a win at the Outpost on the 27th of April, beating out grand Clash winner Martin Collins in a tight final. I managed to secure my 12th trophy at Element Games on 20th of April, beating the incredible skilled player that is Bryce on my way to the glass (although admittedly he was not playing a ‘grand clash’ deck himself). Both times I was playing with my super secret deck which I plan to take to the Warhammer Fest Grand Clash on May 11th. Fret not if you want to know of my maniacal secrets, for I have been taking notes on every change I make to the deck alongside the reasons for doing so and plan to reveal all after Warhammer Fest with a juicy 2 part article. Part 1 will be detailing the process of how I built the deck and part 2 will be an old school style tournament report where I try to piece together how my games went from memory, hopefully I will do well enough to justify all the prep time I have spent.

Intro

It’s that time again, the time where Steel City review every single neutral card from the latest expansions. Each card is going to get a written breakdown along with our now (in)famous rating. It is a fact that our ratings are always correct and not subjective or arbitrary in any way shape or form. A couple of these cards were already covered in an earlier article we put out as they were spoiled ahead of time, for those I will be simply copy/pasting in the old content but I will pop an – old content tag next to the relevant bit so you can choose to skip it or not. Like all of our card review articles a lot of what I write will be referencing other cards that already exist, as this is going to be a long article I don’t have space to include pictures of everything I reference, so it might be worth opening a second tab with your favourite deck builder to check what I am talking about. I am going to try very hard not to use any .5 ratings this time as I’ve had feedback that people would prefer I stick to whole numbers, it’s a fair criticism, let’s see if I can address it.

I’m also going to add a section at the end where I talk about how I think the overall meta will change with these 2 expansions. So strap yourselves in, this is going to be a long one.

Rating system:

  • 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, Transfixing Stare)
  • 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 (Our Powers Combined, Interdiction)

Note – I tried to wait until all of the official images of the cards were out so that I could make the article look nicer, as is GW have updated their deckbuilder but missed images for some cards, almost entirely upgrades, so for those with missing official images you can be graced by my amazing camera work.

 

Objectives

Biding Your Time

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A new choice for the defensive playstyle but it is very restrictive. Most defensive decks still have to actually fight when the opponent gets close and that can happen turn 1 with Hidden Paths/Spectral Wings. One thing this card does is show the designers intention that defensive(control) decks are a legitimate part of the game that they make cards for,  players out there that hate ‘non interactive play’ will have to find ways to bring down their cowardly counterparts. 

Rating 2

 

Bloodless Skirmish

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Another card that seems to fit the defensive playstyle best. Bloodless Skirmish seems incredibly hard to score with only a small pay-out of 2 glory. If you are trying to keep all of your fighters alive then take Eternals instead.

Rating 1

 

Branching Fate

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According to the guy over at callitshadespire if you are rolling 3 dice on an attack action then you have a 44% chance to score this card. I think this is an autoinclude in Farstriders and something worth considering in any deck that is consistently making 3 dice attacks.

Rating 3

 

Building Momentum

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A reprint of Flawless Strategy from season 1. It’s a solid objective that can fit well into decks that are consistently scoring all their objectives. If your deck is taking any risks with its objectives, though, I would leave well enough alone.

Rating 3

 

Calculated Risk

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Oh boy.

Here we go.

This card is not only the best card in both expansions (spoilers) but it is probably the best card in the season. Expect everyone but Thorns of the Briar Queen players to be playing with Calculated Risk in their deck. I’m actually excited enough that I am going to bullet point all the ways that this card is insane:

  • There is pretty much no conceivable way that your opponent can stop you scoring this objective when you want to
  • It’s a score immediately so you get the glory in a normal turn with which to spend on upgrades, it also cycles into another objective that you can score
  • You can score it while doing something else i.e. charging over a lethal hex to try and kill an enemy fighter

Points 1 and 2 are the big ones for me. Lots of players put Spoils of Battle in their deck to make the turn 1 more reliable, until you get glory your upgrades just sit in your hand and are wasted deck space. Yet Spoils of Battle is almost always useless on turn 3 and rarely useful at all on turn 2, to still be considered for a ploy slot players must really value their first turn going smoothly to include it. Calculated Risk gives you an absolutely trivially easy way to get upgrades on your first turn (if it is in hand) along-side helping you score more glory to win the game and grabbing you yet another objective.

The only downside that I can see to this objective is that it can encourage players to take sub optimal boards just for the lethal hexes, it makes winning the board roll off better as you can see if your opponent has placed one with lethal hexes before committing to your own board. Outside of Thorns this card is also hard to score for Mollog, only the Spiteshroom (with 2 move) or Mollog himself can actually score it as the Batsquig ignores lethal terrain, most people are happy if Mollog hurts himself so troll players might give this one a miss.

Oh, Escalation just got better, with all this extra glory happening before the end phase, most players will be playing out upgrades more frequently, so if you can find a restricted slot for Escalation it might be a good take (it was already good).

I honestly expect Calculated Risk to hit the restricted list as soon as the next BAR update occurs, even then this might still be a 5.

It’s that good.

Rating 5

 

Death From Afar

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Another very solid score immediately card. Death from afar is obviously restricted to warbands that can deal damage at range. The fact that it dosn’t require an attack action means that you can score it with spells cast through your fighter like Cry of Thunder or a certain Sphere that I will talk about below. If you do have the range to score this card then you should almost certainly run it, Farstriders, Profiteers and Guardians are all prime candidates for this card and its existence only makes those warbands stronger. Cursebreakers also like this card, oh yes they do.

Rating 4

 

Every Trick in the Book

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In order to score this objective you have to not only ensure you use every gambit card in your hand, which with cards like Last-Chance might not even be an option, but also all of your upgrades. The difficulty of that is huge and it stops you from being able to carry over specific power cards that you want from one turn to another. All of that for one glory. Yikes.

Rating 1

 

Hold what we Have

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A more restrictive version of Perfect Planning that isn’t actually restricted. Now that Quick Thinker is banned defensive decks might want to play this, it’s not amazing but it could fill out an objective slot if you are struggling to find one. Unfortunately now that Calculated Risk exists this card precludes you scoring a much better objective. If Calculated Risk gets fully banned we might see this.

Rating 2

 

Keep Moving

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For all small sized warbands this is more restrictive then On Your Feet, a really nice card that doesn’t get much attention. For larger warbands its easier to score but it’s still asking a lot from every activation. Remember that you can score this with a charge.

Rating 2

 

Lethal Repertoire

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Playing an attack replacement upgrade and use it to attack seems like a pretty easy condition to trigger. Warbands like Sepulchral Guard/Spiteclaw’s Swarm/etc that already run attack action upgrades can consider running this but at the end of the day its still just 1 glory in an end phase. You definitely should not spent deck resources making this easier to score, only run it if your deck is already made in a way that makes this easy.

Rating 2

 

Magical Storm

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The middle child of Magical Mastery and Magical Supremacy (although the last one is a Cursebreaker special), Magical Storm seems like the best of the bunch. Realistically this will only be run in Cursebreakers, or at a stretch Eyes of the Nine/Guardians, its much better for the spell casting Stormcast Eternals because they can use actions in their turn to cast empower. If you run innate channel upgrades then you automatically cast empower every time, so you don’t actually need to put that many gambits in your deck to reliably get this. The only issue I see with running this in Cursebreakers is that it can conflict with Keep Them Guessing but even then you just pick which one to score and go for the other next turn.

Rating 4

 

Master of Mayhem

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Score this immediately if you have used Snirk 3 times in a turn. The overwhelming majority of scatter effects are really bad due to their random nature. Even if you are playing Gitz I would probably avoid this, using 3 activation’s on Snirk in a turn is quite restrictive when you could be doing other things.

Rating 2

 

One Fate

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The absolutely rubbish version of Branching Fate. One Fate is really unlikely to be scored through normal 3 dice attacks, the only way I can see of reliably getting it is to get to 3 dice with a spell attack action and then to use upgrades like Arcane Familier to convert certain dice rolls to channel symbols. The downside to this is that you will miss your attack because channels are not a success for any spell-caster…

The exception being one very specific upgrade for Vortimus (Piercing Bolt), I think its too many hoops to jump through to get this objective off but maybe Eyes of the Nine Players will make it work.

Rating 2

 

Patient Commander

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The much better version of Aggressive Commander. If you run a small warband you can often force your opponent to go first in the first turn and then most players will choose to go first in the 2nd/3rd turns for priority, making this a reasonably easy score. Of course in a best of 3 format this trick will only work once and it does mean deliberately giving up priority in later turns which you might really need. I’d only really expect to see Patient Commander in a best of 1 tournament where you can pull off silly tricks like this.

Rating 2

 

Preserve Life

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This is actually a really hard to score objective, your best way of scoring it is to run Shardgale with Tainted Vitality but your odds of having both in hand are pretty slim. The reward if you do find a way to score this objective is a paltry 1 glory in an end phase. Even in a Guardian deck that is focused around healing I would give this a miss.

Rating 1

 

Preserve Their Knowedge

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I was wondering if we would get another Tome synergy card in these expansions, Preserve Their Knowedge is an objective that you would not want to run alongside Acolyte of the Katophranes as they score a bit counter to each other. I think you would only want to run this objective in defensive decks with exactly 3 fighters where you are trying not to die, in that case it acts kind of like a delayed Escalation, its harder to score in one turn but easier over 2 or more. Unfortunately you need to be running at least 4 Tomes for this to be reliable and can you find space in your deck for 4 tomes for a measly 2 glory upgrade? Those same 4 Tomes could go on one fighter and score you 4 glory at the end of the game with Acolyte, if Preserve Their Knowedge was a bit easier to score then it might be taken, I’d be surprised to see it run right now.

Rating 2

 

Sorcerous Duel

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Readers of previous Steel City card review articles will know my opinion on objectives that can only be scored against certain warbands. Less then half of the warbands out right now have wizards and of those most only run 1. Don’t take this card unless you know the tournament you are going to has 90% Cursebreakers.

Rating 1

 

Stand Firm

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Score immediately cards that your opponent can’t really stop are something that I absolutely love. Stand Firm has the rather taxing restriction of requiring 3 activation’s to score though and that is a big ask. It can be made easier with cards like Inspired Command but wheather you can find room for them in your deck is another question. Steelheart’s Champion’s might like this, Angharod Brightsheild can take the upgrade Block which puts herself and all friendly fighters on guard for just one action. For everyone else I would probably avoid it but its certainly tempting.

Rating 2

 

Tactical Supremacy 2-5

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I’m not the biggest fan of the Tactical Supremacy cards due to their strict restrictions on how you score them. It is nice to have another set so that its harder for your opponent to guess what objectives are most important. Thorn’s of the Briar Queen are probably the only warband I would take these objectives with, their high mobility with the in faction cards like sudden appearance mean that they can reliably get anywhere on either board that they need to be.

Rating 2

 

Tireless Slayer

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Score this in an end phase if Mollog is on fire and killing everything. I don’t think any other warband will want to run this card but for the big troll its certainly doable, 3 kills are not the easiest but 3 glory is a big reward and it can be scored in any turn.

Rating 3

 

United

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A slightly easier to score version of Unbroken Wall which you can now run alongside United and Well Guarded to get a very easy 3 glory if you are standing around in a huddle. Another defensive/control special, I think we will most likely see United being run by the Steelheart’s style of defensive deck and I also think that they are probably just about good enough again to see play with this card.

Rating 3

 

Versatile Fighter

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One glory in an end phase for a pretty tricky to score objective. Farstriders like this best but even they probably don’t want this, even if you can score this in some games there are just so many better objectives that you can take.

Rating 2

 

Gambits

Aetherflux

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The only time I would consider running Aetherflux in my deck is if I was specifically trying to cast a 2 focus spell and had a deck/warband (Cursebreakers) that massively supported me already trying to play channel spells (Arcane Familiar, Eye of the Storm etc). So are there any 2 focus spells that are worth their salt? Both Sorcerous Insight and Strategic Sorcery have potential to be, one can let you cast double Shardgale while the other could let you score Magical Mastery twice in one game. This seems very janky, you are relying on drawing a specific card and on having the correct target in your discard pile. Bag of Tricks certainly helps but even so this is still going to clog up your hand for a while before you find the right casting opportunity. We might see this run in defensive Cursebreakers, I’m certainly interested to see if people can pull it off reliably, I have a suspicion that they can.

Rating 3

 

Amnesiac Backlash

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Spells that require a critical roll are not something that I would ever want to rely on, even in the crazy case that you have a Thredda rolling 4 spell dice you have less then a 50% chance to actually cast the card. Amnesiac Backlask also requires your opponent to be playing wizards, something that not everyone does, if you are worried about Cursebreakers (hint you probably should be) and want to tech against them then take Warding Scroll. Skip the Backlash.

Rating 1

 

Black-Powder Sphere

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Note the official image for this card is not out yet so I had to use my camera on my own copy.

The flavour and how that translates into gameplay mechanics make Black-Power Sphere a really fun card, its reliability makes it a pretty bad one. You reasonably would expect to deal 1 damage about 50% of the time to one target with this ploy, I much prefer cards like Encroaching Shadow or Lethal ward over this as despite their targeting restrictions they will always work. I am suspicious that the 50/50 roll was added late in playtesting as the card is maybe too good without it? Unfortunately I would pretty much never take it as is.

Rating 2

 

Bolt of Inspiration

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One channel spells are always super attractive, they are the bread and butter of anyone wanting to play spells as they are so easy to cast. Bolt of Inspiration is a bit rubbish despite that though, if you are successful then you have a random chance, based on a scatter roll, of inspiring a friendly fighter. If you want this effect just take Inspiration Strikes instead. For Cursebreakers this does have the tasty possibility of inspiring 2 fighters with just one card but your fighters are pretty easy to inspire anyway and that scatter roll puts me right off.

Rating 2

 

Empathic Exchange

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Another easy to cast 1 channel spell, Empathic Exchange unfortunately also looks a bit like a dud. Swapping 2 wounds from one fighter to another is already an effect I am not fussed about, add in the restriction of the fighters having to be adjacent and I am out. This can be used to help score objective cards involving removing wound tokens (e.g. Charmed Life) or even to inspire the Guardians but do you really want to put 2 wound tokens on the only wizard in your warband?

Rating 1

 

Entropic Curse

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A one focus spell can be a bit tricky to cast but we have methods of reliably getting there (through either Arcane Focus or just rolling lots of spell dice), you would be looking for a fairly strong effect if you wanted to include a risky spell like this in your deck. Entropic Curse is a source of constant and (mostly) unstoppable damage but the restrictions are steep. The damage only occurs at the beginning of each round, so at best you will get 2 damage out of this spell and at worst you draw it on turn 3 where it does nothing. If it happened at the end of each round I could potentially see this being taken in some decks that just want as much damage as possible but I think this card is cursed to not being played.

Rating 2

 

Flexible strategy

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A neutral version of the Mollog specific Follow Your Instincts. How many Mollog players do you see running the warband specific card? Well I don’t think that Flexible strategy is better for other warbands. If you want this effect in your deck then take Rethink Strategy instead, its much better. 

Rating 2

 

Lifesurge

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Another reprint, this time of a Neutral card, namely Tainted Vitality. I can certainly see this being useful in Guardians, as it allows you to inspire any fighter who has taken damage (for reference it does not inspire the tree loving elves unless they have at least one wound token on their fighter card already), which can be achieved by simply charging through a lethal hex. It also provides a hard counter to Shardgale, so if decks running that particularly nasty card become more popular then this might want to be a tech card that you consider.

Rating 3

 

Magical damping

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Easier to cast then Amnesiac Backlash but with a far weaker effect. Another card that is only useful if your opponent is playing magic, which is less than half of the current warbands, I can’t see this card being played.

Rating 1

 

Magical Dearth

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A ploy that only works if your opponent is using magic and then only for one power step. Further down I review Silence and get annoyed at how bad it is, while talking about better cards you can take. Magical Dearth is a fair bit worse then Silence. Don’t take it.

Rating 1

 

Noble Sacrifice

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A 50/50 to redirect an attack away from your leader onto another adjacent friendly fighter. For my money On Your Feet is a better card as it is a 50/50 to completely negate the attack. On Your Feet has never been run by a top deck to my knowledge and I am confident that neither will Noble sacrifice.

Rating 2

 

Piling On

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If this card was + 1 damage for every supporting fighter and did not discount the first one then I could see it being nice for Gitz, as is it’s too reliant on piling in a large chunk of fighters which is not something that’s always easy to do.

Rating 2

 

Shifting Reflection

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Aha a card that I am excited about. I was starting to get a bit down with all the chaff that I was having to review. Shifting Reflection is a tricksy card that has a very high potential. We all know how powerful cards like Hidden Paths and Sudden Appearance are so seeing another ‘teleport’ card certainly grabs my attention. The absolutely massive limiting factor on Shifting Reflection is its targeting restriction, not only do you have to have a fighter holding an objective token but so does your opponent, you will often be playing vs an aggro deck that just does not care about those exciting objectives. I had thought that this could be super powerful with Mollog due to the Stalagsquig being able to deploy right onto an objective token but alas he/she does not count as holding the objective and thus is not a viable target. You could take Shifting Reflection if you have enough push cards like Distraction or Irresistible Prize to make this card reliable but it’s only really worth it if you would take those cards anyways. I’m interested to see if people take Shifting Reflection in their decks, there is a certain upgrade that I will review below which makes it even more tempting.

Rating 3

 

Silence – old content

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Lets get the boring one out of the way first, Silence is simply not very good. Generally speaking your opponent will only cast one spell in the power phase and you have to go first with Silence in order to disrupt their plans as well as predicting that this is what they will do. It can be used as a reaction to your opponent playing something like Gather the Storm or to a lesser extent any of the Innate upgrades (like Eye of the Storm) which will probably stop your opponents plans. I say probably because the Innate effect will persist into the next activation phase and if not used into the power phase after that, where it can once again be freely used.

The best case scenario for Silence is that your opponent plays one of the above cards in the last power step of a turn and you react with silence. This shuts them down from using any spell gambit cards they had in hand until the next turn, which could stop them scoring big from an objective like Magical Mastery or just be used to stop them playing a powerful spell in its own right.

However, once your opponent see’s this trick they will play around it, so for a best of 3 it’s at best a good card in a set of very specific circumstances and that’s assuming that your opponent is taking a warband with magic in the first place. Gambit slots are hard to come by and I just can’t see Silence being good enough to take one. If you want to play good anti magic tech because you are worried about a lot of Cursebreakers showing up to ruin your tournament then I would advise taking the often forgotten No Time or Warding Scroll. No Time is a much more versatile effect that can be used against non magic warbands while Warding Scroll is a reaction that lets you pick your poison and stop that one spell you really don’t want cast from going through (including spell attack actions).

Rating 2

 

Sphere of Aqshy

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Other cards in this set have got my attention. Sphere of Aqshy has my hype. It’s basically Abasoth’s Withering that can score Sorcerous Scouring/Advancing Strike/Death From Afar and/or get an extra glory through Tome of Offerings. Oh and it works with Damning Pact. Abasoth’s Withering is pretty much an autoinclude in every single deck I run that wants to cast spells, this is not only better but lets you run both effects. The only downside I can see to this card are the same downsides that all spells have, if your only Wizard dies then it’s a dead card and Warding Scroll can stop it. The ability to inflict an extra damage with such few downsides is so powerful, if you can play Sphere of Aqshy then you should be.

Rating 5

 

Sphere of Ghyran

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Two channel spells are not the easiest to cast, often relying on some investment with upgrades like Arcane Familiar or Blessing of Vytrix, so again we hope for a nice effect here. What we get is the ability to remove one wound only if you have two adjacent fighters. If you want to remove wounds then take Healing Potion instead. I can only see this being played if you are running Guardians and you want multiple cards that can inspire your fighters, i.e. you are already taking Healing Potion.

Rating 2

 

Stand and Shoot

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It took me a few reads to full understand how this card works, basically if you have fighters with a ranged 3 (or more) attack and you get charged then you can shoot them once for free before your opponent gets to make the attack part of a charge. That’s pretty damn strong. To stop this card being broken they have made it so you can’t drive an opponent back with this attack, so if the charging fighter survives then it can still make an attack and Trap/Pit Trap won’t work with it. All that said it’s a free attack and there is a reasonable chance that you will kill whatever is charging you, not only netting you a kill but wasting your entire opponents activation. If you have ranged 3 (or more) fighters that do a decent amount of damage, either through upgrades or inbuilt stats, or if you are running a crazy deck with Shardgale etc to make your opponents low on wounds before they charge you, then Stand and Shoot is an insanely good card. Even if you are not playing specifically around all of the above, just having a range 3 (or more) attack might be good enough to take this card.

Rating 4

 

Strategic Sorcery

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An exciting but hard to cast spell. I mentioned above that Strategic Sorcery is one of the prime targets if you are running Aetherflux but there are other ways to skin the two focus cat. If you are looking to play multiple 2 focus spells then you could take Arcane Focus and just rely on your other spell dice to grab the one focus that you need, every spell dice you roll gives you a 50% chance of hitting that all important focus. So, unlike crit spells 2 focus ones are doable, they just require heavy investment. Is all that deck space worth it for this effect? I would say yes. It either lets you play an objective that you have already scored this game or lets you grab one that you had to do over from a nasty starting hand. The fact that you choose what you get makes this incredibly versatile. Need a quick glory for an upgrade? Grab Harness the Storm again. Need a stack of glory to close the game out? Grab Magical Mastery for the second time.  Decks running Strategic Sorcery have to be all in on the magic game but for those cases I can see it being a strong card.

Rating 3

 

Terrifying Visage

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A one focus special, Terrifying Visage has a pretty strong effect but it is limited to only being cast on fighters adjacent to your wizard. If you are running a high mobility deck with cards like Hidden Paths or Commanding Stride then I can see this having a place. It certainly makes Mollog a lot less scary. However against everything but Mollog your fighter is now out of position and able to be charged by everything else your opponent has. It also doesn’t do much if your opponent has Haymaker/Potion of Rage and just kills the pesky Wizard that has cursed their fighter.

Rating 2

I’m an idiot.

As many people have pointed out in comments I read this card wrong, for some reason I thought it affected a fighter adjacent to the Wizard when it is first cast and then that fighter was permanently nerfed. Instead you cast it whenever you want and whenever an opponents fighter tries to attack you at range 1 it loses one dice of accuracy. That’s actually really strong, it’s like the upgrade Horrifying Armour but without you losing a wound or having to spend a glory to get. 1 Focus can still be a little tricky to get but I actually quite like this card now, its a decent way of making a Wizard harder to hit.

Rating 3

 

Trading Up

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Everyone is sleeping on this card. They look at it and think, this is not worth a gambit slot. Mostly they are right. But some upgrades are worth more than others, some cost 2 glory to equip…

I am of course referring to the horror that is known as the Katophrane Relics, decks relying on equipping 6 of these bad boys and then pressing the ‘win’ button 4 times in the 3rd turn exist but find it clunky to get the required glory in time to assemble their proverbial Voltron. Trading Up can save them one glory. That’s actually really big. With Ghoulish Pact and Spoils of Battle both being out this means that you only need 7 glory before turn 3 to go off now. Fear it or embrace it, relic decks are back.

Rating 3

 

Upgrades

Blessing of Hydragos

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Mollog says hi. Actually while this card is obviously great on Mollog I think it’s better for warbands that are a bit leader focused but lack the ridiculas ability to charge twice in a turn. Chosen Axes, IronSkullz Boyz and Spiteclaws Swarm all benefit a lot from having a leader who can keep attacking in a turn without having to burn the all important charge. Of course you are relying on the attack being successful but that’s reasonable when the effect is so strong.  

Rating 3

 

Blessing of Ignax

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Take an action for +2 damage on the next attack. This one requires a bit of a think. Using one of your 12 activations for something that doesn’t directly impact the board seems bad, on the other hand +2 damage is a solid upside, we all know how powerful Great Strength is. It’s probably a good thing that there is a range restriction on this card, fighters with range 3 or more attacks would be terrifying with this upgrade, especially with Stand and Shoot existing. As is I think the best use for this card is to use the action and then equip an upgrade in your power step and use Ready for Action to get an attack out before your opponent can react. That requires 2 upgrades along with the glory to play them and the card Ready for Action in hand though. In normal use cases your opponent will simply kill the fighter before they get to make their special attack. Potentially its good in a deck that spams teleport effects. Overall I think Blessing of Ignax is the type of card that looks amazing on paper but once you play games against canny opponents you realise that it just doesn’t work often enough.

Rating 2

 

Crown of Avarice

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This is interesting. Stealing an opponent’s glory is a 2 point glory swing so if they are not scoring any extra objectives off killing your fighter then you actually come out on top. Unfortunately it only works if your opponent has unspent glory. In the vast majority of cases it is your opponent who decides if this upgrade has an effect or not and they will either avoid the fighter or judge that in spite of the upgrade the kill is still worth it. You can trigger Crown yourself by using a gambit but that seems like a lot of investment – especially since you will give your opponent 1 glory for your fighter dying anyway. Overall I don’t see Crown of Avarice being played but someone with more deckbuilding skills then I might find a use for it.

Rating 2

 

Duellist’s Speed

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Unlike Blessing of Hydragos, Duellist’s Speed does not require your attack to be successful, on the other hand it only gives you a push distance of 1. I think the shorter push distance limits this upgrade to warbands whose attacks are range 2 or more but it certainly seems solid in those cases. I’ve just had a thought, if you have either this or Blessing of Hydragos equipped then you can deny a charge with Stand and Shoot… that seems pretty strong. If you are running Stand and Shoot then maybe you should consider running both of those upgrades, they are good on their own and if you get that combo you can ruin your opponents day.

Rating 3

 

Earthing Stone

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This is the upgrade I was referring to when I wrote about Shifting Reflection up above. Imagine waiting until the last power step of a turn and then swapping a fighter with Earthing Stone on your side of the board with a fighter holding an objective on your opponent’s side of the board. Suddenly they can’t score any objectives which rely on Objective tokens e.g. Supremacy/Our Only Way out. This shuts down a whole archetype of deck. Right now objective decks are a bit thin around the edges, Tome of Offerings will do that, so I don’t think it’s worth taking for most people unless you expect a lot of Thorns/Gitz/Sepulchral Guard players at the event you are going to. Keep an eye on this card though, if we get cards that make objective play better in season 3 then this might become really good.

Rating 3

 

Fading Form

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For just one upgrade your fighter can move like a ghost. It’s a nice effect but there are so many better upgrades that I can’t see someone finding a space for this in their deck. Maybe if you had a specific plan around picking boards with blocked hexes? Even then I think Fading Form is probably not worth it.

Rating 2

 

Fated Blade

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From a fun standpoint this card is easily a 5, roll 5 dice and see what happens will appeal to a lot of players. Realistically you should expect this to do only 2 damage if it hits with its average attack characteristic of 2 smash. The variance in the damage could be good for warbands that struggle to deal much damage and might have to rely on a big roll to get them out of a hole. If you are looking to win then you should probably be taking other upgrades.

Rating 2

 

Hammer of Scorn

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Knockback is a nice ability to have as an extra. Pushing your opponent around the board is pretty sweet, especially when there are lethal hexes involved. Knockback 2 is even better for obvious reasons. Personally I don’t think that it’s something you should specifically be looking for in an attack. The attack characteristics of Hammer of Scorn on their own are distinctly average, 2 smash 2 damage and one range is about as standard as you can get in this game. Does the knockback 2 add enough to make this attack worthwhile? It’s hard to call, with advent of Calculated Risk we might start seeing more lethal hexes used, giving you a higher chance of using this weapon to its highest potential. Warbands with lots of ‘danglebros’ like Sepulchral Guard/Thorns/Gitz/Spiteclaw’s gain the most from upgrades like this, you are happy to get a new attack option when your main one is rubbish.

Rating 3

 

Hunter’s Tenacity

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Follow a fighter that you have just hit with a push. Instead you could take upgrades that help you kill the fighter with your attack like Great Strength/Gloryseeker or that help your attack to hit like Potion of Rage. Don’t take Hunter’s Tenacity, it’s really not worth it.

Rating 1

 

Nullstone Arrow’s

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Another attack action replacement upgrade. Range 4 attacks are pretty rare in this game and being able to hit from that far away is something your opponent will probably not expect. Put these on Hakka or Basha and watch your opponents brow furrow in confusement just before you pelt them with arrows. The accuracy is average and the damage is low, personally I think those costs are worth paying for such a long range. This might be very good in Guardians if you focus your build around the ranged attack of 2 of your fighters, suddenly your close range fighters now play the same way as the rest of your warband. I like it. You certainly need to have a plan if you are taking Nullstone Arrow’s though.

Rating 3

 

Nullstone Mace

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This is basically Hammer of Scorn without the knockback 2. Being able to reroll dice vs a Wizard is just not something you can count on, most warbands don’t have wizards and the vast majority of those that do only have 1. If you like the look of this card then take Hammer of Scorn or Mutating Maul instead.

Rating 2

 

Paradox Armour

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I would love to see the call it shadespire blog guy do a cardiology on this card. I’m reasonably confident that even if you have a dodge characteristic that this reduces your overall chances of successful defending against an attack. The loss of crit defence is just so bad that it is not worth taking. If you have dodge defence then consider Acrobatic or Ethereal Shield instead, they are both far better.

Rating 1

 

Quick Learner

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I really like all the design space that is being explored in season 2 of Warhammer Underworlds. Quick Learner has a cool effect but you are entirely reliant on your opponent to trigger it, to be fair it would be busted otherwise. Mollog obviously likes this best but even then I don’t think you can find a slot for this. People have learnt to only attack Mollog if they can actually kill him, many players will not attack the giant troll all game for fear of triggering My Turn/ Aggressive Defence and Quick Learner is something that they will be able to see you play in advance. Outside of Mollog it’s even worse, you could put it on a fighter that you don’t want to die as a disincentive for your opponent to attack it, but they will still attack if the situation demands it. Drawing 1 card in such an unreliable manner is not worth it in my eyes, despite how fun the idea is.

Rating 2

 

Reinforced Armour

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Another tech card that completely negates an entire playstyle. Due to the way this is worded, upgrades like Gloryseeker will not help a ranged attack that normally would deal 1 damage, they still disappear into the fancy armour. Anyone running a warband reliant on long range low damage attacks is going to be wiping their forehead nervously looking at this card. One interesting side affect of how the card works is that if the damage is reduced to 0 then the attack that hit you is not successful however it can still drive you back – I am taking all of this from the Last Chance entry in the FAQ – which means you can still play Trap/Pit Trap on the target. If for any reason we see the Guardians/Farstriders/Profiteers becoming dominant then this card acts as a way to for people to tailor their deck against them. Cursebreakers have been at the top of the pile for quite a while and no one is currently taking Warding Scroll (which does a similar job against them) so I doubt this will be a staple. Against most warbands this is a dead card.

Rating 3

 

Scroll of Recall

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I am writing this under the assumption that upgrades like Arcane Familiar/Tome of Incantations can not modify the dice roll for this upgrade, if that changes in a later FAQ or errata then this card suddenly becomes amazing. As it is I don’t think Scroll of Recall is reliable enough. It’s a 1/3 to get the effect and every other time it’s a wasted upgrade. Remember you have to pay a glory to equip this and then you find out if it is useful or not. The effect itself is pretty strong, especially if your deck is built around running some of the more powerful spells, so potentially it’s worth a shot. People play Rebound even though it’s only a 1/3 but then the effect is FAR more powerful there.

Edit – its a 1/2 not a 1/3 – I’m doing good so far.

Rating 2

 

Spinning Defence

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Spinning is a good trick.

This Card is not.

Rating 1

 

Tome of Healing

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In their wisdom Games Workshop did not put the bolded text of ‘Katophrane Tome’ onto this card so rules as written right now this card does not interact with Acolyte of the Katophranes or Preserve Their Knowedge. However I think the rules as intended are so in your face obvious that I am going to review this card as if it was a proper tome, I certainly expect the next FAQ/Errata update to correct the issue. The effect is pretty minimal, heal 1 damage at the cost of an action is really not worth it. Guardians might find use for it as it gives them an inspire and potentially a Mollog will be interested in healing, although for my money hitting people with Vampiric Weapon is better. Overall you should only take this if you are trying to score big from Acolyte of the Katophranes, which honestly in itself is enough to make this card worth including in some decks.

Rating 2

 

Tome of Insight

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This Tome is a bit more exciting. Again the cost is high but the reward is better, seeing your opponent’s power hand can be pretty strong. If you are running cards like No Time or Forceful Denial it can help you choose your moment to try and mess with your opponents plans. If you are not running the aforementioned cards then Insight is probably not worth the activation cost, like Tome of Healing though just the fact that is a Tome will make it worth including in some decks.

Rating 3

 

Voidsceptre

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Another tech card. However the amount of opponents playing persisting effects is pretty small.  The majority of persist effects come from spells and Warding Scroll does not require an action to stop them. Unless your opponent is playing more than one persisting effect this card has pretty much no use. Against most opponents who don’t play any of those cards this is completely useless.

Rating 1

 

Well of power – old content

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Spell dice. Spell dice everywhere.

Well of Power is an extremely powerful card for magic based warbands. Level 2 Wizards can start rolling 3 dice whenever they want to cast a spell, for Stormsire and Vortimus this not only means casting spell gambit cards but also improves the accuracy on their spell attacks, essentially going from 2 smash to 3. Some of the more difficult to cast spells, 2 focus ones, now become very odds on if you combine this with Arcane Focus.

It’s worth mentioning that the fighter has to be inspired to use this upgrade, which once again benefits the Cursebreakers over the Eyes of the Nine, as they have a much easier time inspiring. For any Cursebreaker deck I think this card is an autoinclude, for any other deck that can get over the inspired hurdle and would like a permanent extra spell dice, you should also include this card. Yes if you build for it then Thredda can be rolling 4 magic dice and that’s not counting re rolls.

Rating 4

 

Thoughts on the changing meta

Cursebreakers are the obvious big winners here. Magical Storm and Sphere of Aqshy are two of the best cards in the set and they help Stormsire’s intrepid trio more then anyone else. We also have a lot of support for ranged attacks, with Death from Afar and Stand and Shoot, I think Farstriders might actually be either top tier or close to it about now, especially because they also love Branching Fate. There are a lot of cards that are better on Mollog then other warbands but I’m not sure if space can be found in decks to fit them, they are all on the cusp of being good enough, I don’t think he actually gained anything from this round of cards.

The existence of Calculated Risk is a total game changer, expect to see the vast majority of boards being picked containing some lethal hexes now, push cards like Distraction got better because of this and decks that like to kill with ‘free damage’ cards like Shardgale are even more scary.  As already mentioned Escalation is also a better card due to all the in action phase glory this card will generate.

With the advent of 2 new tomes (well at least after the errata) we now have 7/8 tomes that can be put on a fighter to score massive with Acolyte of the Katophranes. I honestly expect warbands/decks that are built to abuse this mechanic to be really strong right now, a lot of players will not expect the ridiculas glory swing that they will get on turn 3.

Katophrane Relic decks are here and are strong. Trading Up and Calculated Risk just made getting enough glory to equip all 6 relics actually pretty easy, before it was tricky but doable, now you will reliably do it every game. I would give advice on how to play vs them but this article is already long enough as is, if you are serious about going to a big tournament then you should try and think about how to pick them apart.

So the general game right now in my opinion is to either play Cursebreakers or be built to kill them fast, Mollog/Guardians/Fiends/Farstrider’s can all be built to do that job damn well so they are all potentially top tier as well. I think that Thorns/Gitz players might drop down to tier 2, good objective players will always be terrifying with these warbands but the new cards just seemed to help everyone else but them. Relic and Tome decks are your wildcards, the majority of players don’t even know the builds exist and of those that do everyone is struggling to figure out a way to counter them without losing to the rest of the field.

I’m interested to see if the results of Warhammer Fest confirm or refute my predictions, I’m pretty confident about them right now.

If we do get an FAQ/BAR update soon then I will so another article on how I think the meta might change in response to that.

 

Final Words

I know that every other article I am apologising about the lack of content, ironically I am apologising for that now. Articles like this take a lot of effort to write, not only is there a giant wall of text that I had to type out but thinking about all of the interactions a specific card has takes a fair bit of time. In trying to put out higher quality content it makes it harder to put stuff out as regularly, on the other hand I think its worth spending that time to make something a bit better.

Don’t worry, Steel City isn’t going anywhere.

 

 

At Steel City we would love to have your feedback. If you have something to say about a specific article then feel free to comment below, if you want to get in touch about the blog in general, or just prefer to communicate privately then you can get in touch by emailing us at team@steelcityshadespire.com

 

8 thoughts on “Neutral cards from the latest expansions

Add yours

  1. Hi Michael, great write up mate- some cool interactions I hadn’t thought of here.

    Just a couple of points- Terrifying Visage is cast on the caster itself, not an adjacent enemy fighter. It then effects all enemy fighters adjacent to the caster from that point on. A decent spell I think!

    And scroll of recall is a 1/2, rather than a 1/3. I reckon you were right in your assessment of the card though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the feedback – you are totally right about Terrifying Visage I will do an edit tomorrow – with regards to scroll of recall for some reason I thought that without a crit it went down to 1/3 – my bad – my assessment of the card is the same though just like you.

      Like

  2. I really enjoyed the write-up and it gets me in the right mindset to evaluate cards and deck build. You mentioned Katophrane Relics when discussing Trading Up. The Errata states:

    ‘A player can only play this card by spending two glory points (instead of one) and applying the upgrade card to an eligible fighter.’

    Have there been any rulings or guidance or experience from Grand Clashes that make it definitive you can use this card as well as Spoils of Battle to apply at Katophran Relic?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There has been no definitive ruling on it – you are right that those cards could be interpreted to not work in that manner and it’s certainly a risk when going to a Grand Clash – i think it is worth an entry in the next FAQ – i’ll pop them an email. Also thanks for the feedback 🙂

      Like

  3. Hi,
    This article was lovely, loved reading it, thanks.
    Given your conclusion, who do you recon are the anti-cursebreakers and which warbands is most suited for a relic deck?
    Could i do both? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry for the late response Scott – I think the best two warbands for killing Cursebreakers are Mollog and Fiends. You need to be able to get to them fast and be able to one shot them early on. The new Guardians might also do the job but I have not seen or played with them enough to be sure.

      Liked by 1 person

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