Every time an expansion comes out we at Steel City do a fairly in depth review of all the neutral cards wherein we talk about each card in detail and give it a rating from 1 to 5. These ratings are obviously just our opinion on how powerful the cards are but I thought it would be a useful exercise to check back at some of the old ratings and see if they stand the test of time. This should give you an idea of how accurate our reviews are in future and hopefully be a useful exercise for myself to help me improve the process going forwards.
I am going to be using stats from the underworldsdb for how often a card is included in tournament decks since the Febuary BAR list. The site only takes decks that finish in the top echelons of tournaments and generally only includes data from Grand Clashes so it is skewed towards the ultra competitive scene which is good because that’s the lens with which we try to review cards. I’ll include that stat at the top of the card as ‘Pick Rate’, if you see ‘N/A’ in that area then it means the card wasn’t included in any of those decks and its fair to say its hot trash.
As we get a fresh look at these cards I will also give an updated rating for how I would rate the card now. Its worth noting that if there is a discrepancy in the original rating and the updated rating that doesn’t necessarily mean the original review was bad, we have a lot more cards and warbands now then when the reviews were made so the environment is totally different.
For reference this is a guide to our rating system:
- 5 – Best in class effects that should go in basically every deck that can take them (Ready for Action, Hidden Paths, Tome of Offerings)
- 4 – Powerful or versatile effects that are extremely strong in a particular archetype or pretty good in any deck (Abasoth’s Withering, Deathly Fortitude, Spectral Wings)
- 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)
Ok that’s enough waffle, I’m sure you will figure it out as you go along,
Lets do this.
This is for cards that I am confident we got the review spot on for the first time around, not for necessarily for solid cards you would want to put into your deck.
Lucky Trinket – Pick Rate N/A
What we wrote: This is very lacklustre as a defence against spells – compare it to the Briar Queen specific Curse of Unbinding. You’ve got a less than 50% chance of succeeding, and the upgrade is lost either way. Spells are good, and upgrade slots have lower competition than gambits, but I don’t think this is good enough to take – focus on ways of killing your opponent’s wizards first.
Judgement: An upgrade card from the Nightvault core set that I think most people have forgotten about now. Lucky Trinket is a card whose entire existence is based around stopping spells and right now with all the main expansions from Nightvault released spells have never been more powerful. People still aren’t playing Lucky Trinket though, I’ve literally never seen it in one deck and I play a stupid amount of games. Pretty happy with our assessment here.
Updated rating 1
Acolyte of the Katophrane – Pick Rate 8%
What we wrote: This card smells of potential. Will Katophrane Tomes be the new dreaded artefacts of Nightvault? I’m not sure but if we see any more cards like this its certainly a possibility. Most likely they will be a healthy alternative deck strategy. Its hard to rate this card right now because we will certainly be seeing more tomes in the future, if you manage to get 3 tomes on one fighter then this is looking very tasty and this synergises well with Chosen Champion and Singled Out.
Judgement: Regular readers of the blog will know that I absolutely love this objective. Its such a strong finisher and unlike the other ‘good’ finisher Superior Tactician it doesn’t use up a precious restricted slot. Yes it requires you to take a lot of resources out of your upgrades but they are the weakest cards in your power deck. This is on the cusp of going up a number but I think its still just a bit too build around to be included in most decks.
Updated rating 3
Tactical Supremacy 1-4 Pick Rate 6%
What we wrote: Another Tactical supremacy card, bringing their total to 3 now. Solid objectives for objective based decks, the existence of this card makes judging which token combinations are scary or not a tad more difficult. I have a suspicion that pure objective decks won’t see much play with all the free damage cards we are getting now but if they do then this could be a staple.
Judgement: I am super happy with my review of this card. Not only do I give what I think is the exact right rating for the time but I make a prediction about the future meta of the game that turned out to be absolutely spot on. Objective based decks have been dying a slow death throughout Nightvault and even the Thorns/Gitz who usually run very optimised flex objective decks are starting to fall out of favour. For reference ‘free damage’ cards are ones like Shardgale/Lethal Ward/Cry of Thunder/Encroaching Shadow where you can kill low wound fighters from across the board without having to hit an attack. I must say that I think there are other factors(see below) that have caused objective decks demise but this was certainly one of many that has made them so hard to play.
Updated rating 2
Abasoth’s Withering – Pick Rate 21%
What we wrote: Abasoth seems to be the poster boy for easy to cast yet useful spells. This is Rapter Strike in spell form, its very powerful. The only thing keeping me from giving this a 5 is my doubt about whether this can score kill objectives. If a 4 wound fighter has 3 wounds on it and you cast this spell can you score Sorcerous Scouring? If you can then this spell gets a 5.
Rating 4/5 – depending on how it works
Judgement: Did I say that I would give this card a 5 if it ended up being able to score kill objectives? Did I also recently just rate Sphere of Aqshy 5? Are both of those cards being played by the majority of top decks running magic spells? How many rhetorical questions can I ask in one paragraph? Wait that last one wasn’t rhetorical, damn.
I’m pretty damn pleased with this one but to be fair it’s fairly obvious from just one look just how powerful this spell would be. If I had got this one wrong then I would be hanging my head in shame right now.
Updated rating 4
Arcane Implosion – Pick Rate N/A
What we wrote: A nice idea and definitely a thematic card, but most warbands are not going to have a caster. At the moment there are four warbands with wizards out of 12 available warbands. The Steel City money is that the Kharadron Overlords will not have a wizard, nor will the Troggoth. Which means that at the end of the Nightvault Season only 6 of 16 warbands will have a wizard for you to kill, then you need to be able to engineer a miscast, when the wizard is on one wound.
Judgement: Oh my, did we correctly predict exactly which warbands would and wouldn’t have magic in the set? It seems fairly obvious now for neither of those warbands to have casters but at the time I remember a lot of people talking about the Kharadron Overlords having an Aether-chemist who would be a wizard and even some people thinking that the toad in Mollog’s hand could be a wizard. This one was written by hobbit instead of myself, I’d give him a raise for this one but he has been slacking at writing articles recently.
Updated Rating 1
Pit Trap – Pick Rate 10%
What we wrote: Ok so its time to chat about ‘extra damage’ cards. The standard for extra damage are cards like Great/Incredible strength, both of which are staples in any deck that is trying to kill fighters. Pit Trap falls into the same category as Twist the Knife and Trap, in that you don’t have to use the card in a gamble before you roll attack dice, you can wait for the attack to hit and then play the reaction. The fact that Twist the Knife, Trap and Pit Trap can all be played from the same attack (note Pit Traps trigger is AFTER an attack unlike Trap which is DURING) means that you can now 1 shot 4 hp models with a 1 damage attack. This is huge. Both Twist the Knife and Trap just got better because Pit Trap exists. Add onto this all the other cards that give damage in the power step, Raptors Strike/Shardgale/Encroaching Darkness and suddenly every fighter on the board has the potential to assassinate any other. Can you hear that? Its the sound of the meta shifting, adapt or die.
Judgement: Well well well. There was a brief window in Warhammer Underworlds life when Blood and Glory came out where we had Twist the Knife, Trap and Pit Trap available but before the first BAR list dropped there were no restrictions on any of these cards. I’ve said before that we rate cards during the environment they are released in and before Pit Trap was restricted it was pretty crazy. In fact one of the big reasons for the first BAR list was the preponderance of these ‘extra damage’ cards that meant having a high wound stat almost didn’t mean anything. A 10% pick rate means that despite its restriction the card still see’s play in a reasonable amount of decks. Pretty happy with our assessment on this one.
Updated rating 3
Sudden Growth – Pick Rate 16%
What we wrote: Talking about Deathly Fortitude here is its twin brother. I already rated Deathly Fortitude as one of the best defensive upgrades, going from 4 wounds to 6 wounds suddenly means they need multiple attack actions to kill you, now that you can take 2 they both become better. Having both in your deck not only gives you reliable odds of drawing one but you can double stack them to make 8 wound fighters. The movement restriction is also becoming less of a downside with upgrades like Faneway Crystal and ploys like Hidden Paths. I’ll be taking this in a lot of decks.
Judgement: Another pre BAR special, Steel City were a little bit ahead of the curve on stacking these powerful defensive upgrades. To be fair we often shy away from full aggro play so the loss of your movement stat hurts our decks a little less then everyone else. I am actually really surprised that this card is seen more then Pit Trap, generally people don’t have the space for restricted upgrades in their decks. In the age of Tomes I think upgrades like this and Deathly Fortitude have even more uses, making your Tome Bearer unkillable is a pretty solid way of winning any game.
Updated rating 3
Tome of Offerings – Pick Rate 80%
What we wrote: 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.
Judgement: How is this card not restricted yet? It’s got a pick rate of 80%, that’s insane(I feel like I use this word a lot, I blame Tom’s influence on my lack of sanity). Only Ready for Action is more prevalent. Of all the factors that have lead to the drop off in objective decks I think this one card stands head and shoulders above the rest, it doesn’t matter how much glory you score off keys if this one upgrade earns Mollog an extra 4 glory in a game. If anyone from GW is listening then please please restrict this card.
Updated rating 5
This category is for cards that we got wrong the first time around for one reason or another but by a reasonable margin, remember the cards themselves could be good its whether our review itself was bad.
Aggressive Defense – Pick Rate 21%
What we wrote: I like the idea of this, it’s a nice thematic card, but it opens up a can of worms regarding reaction windows. There can only be one reaction to a particular trigger. This is a reaction that takes place before the dice are rolled, all gravy so far. “After the attack action, if the friendly fighter survives, immediately make an attack action.” This is where it all falls down – what reactions can be played within the window between the attack failing and the immediate attack? Can Brightshield Tireless Assault if she has made the failed attack? What about is she was the one attacked? Could she Furious Parry before making the attack from Aggressive Defense? I do not think that this card is good enough to see competitive play, My Turn does the same job better, but I can see it causing arguments in casual until it gets FAQ’d.
Judgement: We underrated this card fairly hard. In our (aggressive)defence it is overall a lot worse then My Turn and we rated it before the BAR list had restricted that card. The fact that you can double up on the effect by taking both in your deck and that it blocks Trap/Pit Trap for further damaging your target fighter are both factors that we either underestimated or just flat out didn’t notice. If Mollog was out at the time of this cards review then we would have been criminally incompetent, as is it’s a staple of the scene and a fair bit better then we thought.
Updated rating 3
Sphere of Ghur – Pick Rate 8%
What we wrote: 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.
Judgement: In most ways I was right in my assessment of Sphere of Ghur, everything that I said still stands up but I’m missing/underrated some interactions. It’s still a spell so casting it can inspire a Cursebreaker and count towards the plethora of objectives that you can get for casting spells. Admittedly we didn’t have quite as many spell objectives when this card was rated but its fair to say that the power in this card is the multiple of effects that you get all together. I think that a lot of Cursebreaker players should seriously consider this in their decks, special shout-out to Dan Smedly from the Ready 4 Action podcast who showed me the true power of this card.
Updated rating 3
Transfixing Stare – Pick Rate 35%
What we wrote: 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.
Judgement: Ouch. This one was a bit off. A card that was given the exact same rating as Tome of Offerings but only see’s 35% of play. 35% is still a solid number showing that the card is rated highly by the community but this is another case of us getting too excited with our review. I actually think the biggest reason for this cards lack of uptake is the increase in ranged attacks that have come with warbands released since we did this review, pop transfixing stare onto Dead Eye Lund and watch your opponent’s brows furrow in confusion just before he shoots you anyway. Phew I have a get out of jail free card there. I don’t think anything that was said in the review here is strictly wrong but even when we rated this card there were enough ranged attacks that against some warbands this card is a bit of a dead draw.
Updated rating 3
Well well well. I did say in the introduction that I was going to be honest in this article didn’t I? Here are the reviews that went horrible wrong, lets see if i can figure out why.
Keep Them Guessing – Pick Rate 40%
What we wrote: You really have to waste your whole turn in order to score this one objective and 2 glory just isn’t good enough. Its a shame that this don’t count tokens as then the various ploys that can grant guard tokens could make this worthwhile. As is it’s borderline unplayable.
This was my original rating for the card – it’s worth mentioning that I edited the article with a new assessment based on approximately 500 players telling me I was wrong but for the sake of this article only my initial review counts.
Judgement: Oh god. I got this one hideously wrong. For warbands that can trigger the ‘action on a fighter card’ part of this objective its an insanely solid way of getting 2 glory. The only way your opponent can stop it is by killing all of your fighters or by being out of charge/attack range. Generally this is seen as one of the most reliable objectives in the game. When rating this card I underestimated the fact that you can be working towards other objectives while still scoring Keep Them Guessing. Generally it only actually taxes you about 2 sub-optimal actions over a whole turn and you’ll take an action for one glory pretty much any day. Now that the FAQ has ruled that reactions on fighter cards count as ‘an action on a fighter card’ this objective has skyrocketed in value. I actually think that the pick rate is deceptive here, some warbands can’t really play this card but for others its absolutely a must have.
In future when looking at objectives I’m really going to have to get better at pinning down reliability and action economy over glory gained. I think that’s the rough formula you should use when looking at the cards you need to win the game.
Updated rating 4
Warding Scroll – Pick Rate 3%
What we wrote: 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.
Judgement:I really wanted Warding Scroll to be good. Magic decks, especially Cursebreakers, seem like such a strong way to play the game that it was nice to see some hate put in to curb their dominance. The big problem with Warding Scroll is that you don’t know what spells your opponent has in hand. Do you use it to stop an empower cast only to be undone by an Abasoth’s Unmaking straight after? Or do you hold it for that one spell that you cannot have them play only to find out after the game that it either wasn’t in their deck or they just didn’t draw it. I still think that this card can see use if you somehow find a spare upgrade slot in your deck but that’s becoming harder and harder these days with the amount of good upgrades we have.
Updated Rating 2
Damning Pact – Pick Rate N/A
What we wrote: If you are running attack spells, this is good. If you have spells like Cry of Thunder that damage multiple fighters at once, this is fantastic.
Judgement: So we gave this card the same score as Tome of Offerings … for myself I cannot remember the last time I played against someone using Damning Pact at a tournament. I know exactly why we rated this card incorrectly, it’s because both myself and Vanadis were running it in our decks at the time and it was doing work for us. Weirdly I think that Pact has suffered from the increase in spells that can do damage from across the board. Why take Damning Pact when you could include Sphere of Aqshy/Abasoth’s Withering instead? Damning Pact relies on another card to trigger it and puts a wound on your all important wizard. I still think it can see play in decks built around the effect but it is far from the powerhouse we thought it was at the time.
Updated rating 2
There are some right stinkers in there. I will say that it was much easier to find ‘good’ previous reviews then it was to find bad and I included everything that I would consider ‘ugly’ into this article. I could have written about 20 times as much as I did in the good section but that would be a bit boring so I just cherry picked some particularly ripe examples. Again if you doubt what I am saying then feel free to have a look at those previous articles and see if you can spot any abnormalities that I missed, pop a comment on the article and I’ll have a look.
For reference the previous articles:
I think the big takeaway is that I (and occasionally the other mystery ghosts who sometimes write an article for the blog) need to get a bit less excited over some cards, particularly over ones that fit our own play-style. Conversely I think that we sometimes underestimate the power of cards that don’t fit into our way of playing the game. Overall though, when going through those past article I think we are generally spot on.
With Forbidden Power coming out soon expect to see another set of Steel City articles reviewing the cards contained within. Take what we say with a grain of salt but we are on the money a lot more often then not.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org