Skaeth’s Wild Hunt – An Early Look

Introduction

Beastgrave marks the introduction of an entirely new faction to the world of Age of Sigmar – the Ghyran Aelves (?) known as the Kurnothi . Skaeth’s Wild Hunt are the first models for this new faction, and they look pretty good – a mix of fauns and centaurs with an otherworldly grace drawing on design elements from the old WHFB Wood Elves. Also, they have a lion.

With all the cards for the new warband now revealed on the Warhammer Community site, lets have a look at what they bring to the table. If you’re interested in the other new warband from Beastgrave instead, or in badly photo-shopped pictures of Danny Devito (you know I’m not even going to try and argue this one – Mike), then check out Mike’s article from earlier this week.

Warband Mechanics

Inspire Mechanic

Wild Hunt fighters inspire at the end of any phase in which they have a charge token (so, outside of Bag of Tricks or Tome of Glories, when they’ve made a charge action). With high movement this should be fairly easy to pull off, but it does require you to put your fighters in harm’s way and then wait until the next round.

In a lot of ways this is similar to the Farstriders’ mechanic, in that you’ll never be inspired in the first round and can’t inspire in the third round, but at least it’s harder for your opponent to counter. Like other warbands with tricky inspire conditions, inspiration gambits/upgrades are going to be useful for unlocking your fighters’ full potential from the get-go.

Hunter Keyword

This is a new keyword in Beastgrave that allows certain upgrades and gambits to work with fighters that have it. From the cards we’ve seen so far, the upside to being a Hunter is pretty decent and there doesn’t seem to be anything (yet) that punishes it.

Fittingly, all of the Wild Hunt are Hunters, with the exception of Lighaen who I guess is actually just a big house-cat and doesn’t have the predatory instinct required.

Fighters

All your fighters have at least 4 movement and all have 5 after inspiring. They also all have either 2 defence or 1 with a re-roll after inspiring, and one of them (Karthaen) starts with 2. In general, you’ve got fairly accurate attacks with slightly lower damage.

Skaeth

Inspired, Skaeth has one of the most accurate Scything (attacks all adjacent enemies) attacks in the game at 3 fury. His javelin attack is a useful ranged option, with 3 smash when inspired and an extra damage on the charge. It can only be used once without his unique gambit, though.

Four wounds, 5 movement, and 2 block defence when inspired round out a pretty capable leader who you’ll want to use to make surgical attacks

Karthaen

Karthaen is a another solid all-round fighter, with a lot of useful abilities. His Hunting Horn action buffs the next friendly fighter’s attack, and with 2 dodge dice and a 3 damage attack after inspiring he’s pretty good at fighting himself. As a level 1 Wizard (inspiring to level 2) he’s also your only access to magic, so is likely to be a priority target for your opponent.

Sheoch

Sheoch is pretty average, with a decent attack that becomes very accurate when inspired – especially against opponent’s with block defence scores. They should be a good back-up fighter to support Karthaen and Skaeth, and a major threat to more heavily armoured warbands with some damage upgrades.

Althaen

Similar to the Guardians’ Ahnslaine, Althaen inspires from 7 to 8 threat range with a decently accurate attack. Gaining ensnare after inspiring is a big help against a lot of warbands, and with her unique upgrade (see below) and some way to increase her damage you should be able to machine-gun down lower health fighters with ease.

Lighaen

Lighaen is somewhere between Grawl and Riptooth in the rankings of Warhammer Underworlds pets – they’re fast, and quite accurate when inspired, but they don’t bring much in the way of damage. At 2 wounds this means they might end up filling the same role as sacrificial pawn, which they really don’t deserve…

Cards

As usual I’ll be rating these cards using the same 5 point scale we’ve used previously. For reference here’s the scale, with some arbitrary examples for each point (which you may or may not agree with).

  • RIP – Cards that were just too good for this world (Great Concussion, Extreme Flank, Quick Thinker)
  • 5 – Best in class effects that should go in basically every deck that can take them (Hidden Paths, Calculated Risk, Ready for Action)
  • 4 – Powerful or versatile effects that are extremely strong in a particular archetype or pretty good in any deck (Distraction, Faneway Crystal, Escalation)
  • 3 – Solid effects that will find a place in many decks (Great Fortitude, Master of War, Sidestep)
  • 2 – Limited effects that might be useful in some specialised decks (Earthquake, No Time)
  • 1 – Just plain bad cards (Headlong Charge, Our Powers Combined)

Because Shadespire universal cards will be rotating out with the release of Beastgrave, I’ll be also be rating the Wild Hunt cards in the context of the season 3 meta – no Change of Tactics, no Ready for Action, no Hidden Paths, etc (yes, I know I haven’t updated the reference cards in the list above).

Objectives

Aspects of Kurnoth

Better than Heroes All (although that’s no longer available) but worse than Fired Up (but at least it’s not restricted). At 1 glory this just isn’t a big enough scorer to include, especially as your inspire condition isn’t as easy or risk-free as many other warbands.

Rating: 2.0

Cry of the Wild

You’ll want to make use of Karthaen’s horn ability – both for Keep Them Guessing and just for the strength of the buff it gives – so this isn’t hard to score. Like Aspects of Kurnoth it’s only 1 glory though, so probably not going to make your 12 objectives.

Rating: 2.0

Gifts of Kurnoth

Another 1 glory end phase objective. My thoughts are pretty much the same as on the last two.

Rating: 2.0

Hunt’s End

This is a great end-phase objective. It may only have Our Only Way Out’s glory instead of Supremacy, but it has a backup condition so it’s not dead when you’re down to 2 fighters (or vice-versa if your opponent has no 4 health models). Hopefully we’ll see more flexible objectives like this in future.

Rating: 4.0

Kurnoth’s Snare

This surge objective isn’t too hard to set up even when you aren’t engaged with your opponent – especially now we get to place lethal hexes when setting up.

Rating 3.5

Purifying Rites

Reclaim the Lamentiri but with less support from objective destruction cards. Seems like it will be pretty swingy, but a decent pick for most builds.

Rating: 3.0

Ritual Kill

The conditions for this objective are pretty easy to meet – Faneway Crystal still exists, objective token strategies have got more popular since the last B&R list and we’re starting to see some good surge objectives that care about them in the Dreadfane and Beastgrave warbands. Works with Lethal Ward and Sphere of Azyr too.

Rating: 3.5

Run Down

This has been a solid objective since it was called Lightning Strikes. Sometimes it will force you to sequence your actions in awkward ways, but you generally shouldn’t have too much trouble scoring it against most opponents. You want to be charging to inspire anyway.

Rating: 3.5

Run Through

Skaeth is a strong aggressive fighter – and pretty resilient too – so this shouldn’t be too much trouble to score. It’ll need a bit more setup against higher health warbands, but should still be very achievable.

Rating: 3.0

Safety in Swiftness

Very easy to score, but once again 1 glory for an end-phase objective just isn’t strong enough.

Rating: 2.0

Slay the Corrupted

This is really nice against horde warbands, but against the popular 3-4 model ones it’s a lot worse. Very meta-dependant.

Rating: 2.0

Soulbinding

It’s Harness the Storm! Not quite as good here with only one wizard and no fighter card spells, but it’s still really easy to score and pretty much an auto-include.

Rating: 4.5

Gambits

Binding Wind

Basically Transfixing Stare as a spell, but with longer range. It’s a good way of protecting your fighters from being counter-attacked after charging, but relying on a 50% roll before inspiration or 75% after might be too risky for some.

Rating: 3.0

Fleet of Foot

Now that Ready for Action is no longer with us, warband-specific extra actions are a big boost to a warband’s power level. This one is pretty good, even if’s only a move action

Rating: 4.0

Healing Breeze

Healing cards are fairly niche, as most strategies are trying to kill your fighters in a single attack. Like the other spells, this also requires a focus to cast and so has a decent chance of flat-out doing nothing. Still, if you can get it off on a group of your fighters this could be a big swing against an opponent relying on ping damage from gambits.

Rating: 2.5

Hunt in Concert

Sidestep is a great card, and 2 Sidesteps is (almost) twice as good. It’s “up to two” as well, so it works even when you only have a single fighter left.

Rating: 4.0

Might of Kurnoth

Plus 1 damage that persists for an entire round is a powerful effect, and definitely worth the risk of failing to cast the spell. Combined with Skaeth’s Scything attack you can do a lot of damage with this.

Rating: 3.5

Pounce

This is almost an entire move action’s worth of push, and is easy to set up with ranged attacks or damaging ploys. Despite the name it’s not restricted to your kitty either.

Rating: 4.0

Retrieve Javelin

Skaeth’s javelin attack is good, but is it good enough to spend a gambit slot on getting to possibly make it a second time? Probably not.

Rating: 2.0

Song of Swiftness

Increasing your whole team’s speed for the rest of the round is pretty nice for a single card. If you go second you can potentially get the benefit for 4 whole activations (plus ploys like Fleet of Foot), which is really efficient.

Rating: 3.5

Strike in Concert

If you can get multiple fighters in place with your push gambits, this can be a big damage boost. Damage is the one thing your fighters need the most help with, so this is a nice option to have.

Rating: 3.0

Swift as the Wind

This sets up Longstrider or Burst of Speed, and can let you get a surprise charge out of a fighter that’s already moved (perhaps with Fleet of Foot…). I don’t think it’s necessarily strong enough to make the cut in most decks though.

Rating: 3.0

Upgrades

Battle Cry

Removing guard tokens doesn’t seem that useful with Change of Tactics gone, although this could be useful to disrupt objective control decks now that going on guard makes you immune to being driven back.

Raing: 2.0

Divine Strength

I don’t think knockback is quite good enough to be worth spending an entire card on, although there’s definitely some decent uses.

Rating: 2.0

Eye of Kurnoth

Always-on +1 Dice for one of your Hunters is a strong effect on it’s own, and ignoring dodge results if you’ve made your opponent into a Quarry is icing (eye-cing?) on the cake.

Rating: 4.0

Fast Shot

This may only work on one of your fighters, but there’s no limit to the number of times you can use it in a round so it has the potential to be pretty strong.

Rating: 3.5

Great Stride

+2 move upgrades are good for aggressive warbands, especially in a world without Hidden Paths or Spectral Wings. Now that Cover Ground is also no longer legal they do lose a lot of their appeal, though.

Rating: 3.0

Hale Charm

This effect is better than the typical +1 wound upgrade in most cases, and has almost no restrictions on who can use it unlike similar cards in other warbands. Decent, but unexciting.

Rating: 3.0

Hunting Aspect

These are a lot of buffs for your feline friend, making them a lot faster and harder to kill. Unfortunately this upgrade don’t help improve their damage, which is really the one area they are a bit lacking in.

Rating: 2.0

Kurnoth’s Mark

Trusted Defender that you can occasionally play for free is decent, especially on your leader, but it’s likely to be too narrow to make it in most decks – two of your fighters get the same benefit after inspiring anyway.

Rating: 2.5

Shield Smash

It’s a 3 damage attack, and helps make up for Skaeth’s relatively lower damage against single targets. I’d rather take an attack upgrade that could also be used by some of the other fighters too, though.

Rating: 3.0

Vicious Darts

A repeatable spell attack to trigger Soulbinding is nice, and it’s a decent attack too with Ensnare and the chance for an extra damage.

Rating: 3.5

Overview

Skaeth’s Wild Hunt have a great selection of gambits (although possibly a few too many spells for a warband with a single caster that isn’t hugely focused on magic), and some decent upgrades. Their warband objectives are pretty nice too, rewarding a flexible playstyle that focuses on surgical aggression.

They’re a good Keep Them Guessing warband – with a fighter card action, good range and mobility, and cards that grant extra actions – and 4 fighters that can claim objectives is enough to make objective token play a realistic strategy as well. And yes, you can also do the Martyred and calculated Risk stuff with Lighaen if you’re a monster.

The Kurnothi warband is quite similar to Ylthari’s Guardians in a lot of ways, with flexible fighters, a long threat range, and the ability to supplement it’s aggressive game with a secondary objective token strategy. My initial thoughts is that a deck similar to the following could work out, but we’ll have to wait until Beastgrave releases to see for sure – I’m certainly looking forward to it.

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

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