Neutral Cards from Snarlfangs and the Giftset

Intro

Alas Steel City do not enjoy the same early access powers that other content creators have so we are a little late at reviewing the new content. In this article I’m going to lump together all the neutral cards from both the gift pack and the Snarlfangs expansion, most of the cards from the gift pack have been seen before but I think it will be useful to rate them against the other Beastgrave/Nightvault cards. At the end I’ll talk about my initial thoughts on how this new set of cards and warband affect the meta but as always its very early days looking at these cards so take any of my conclusions with heaps of salt. If you are looking for a detailed breakdown on the Snarlfang warband themselves we should have an article up soon for you.

Rating System

  • 5 – Best in class effects that should go in basically every deck that can take them (Calculated Risk)
  • 4 – Powerful or versatile effects that are extremely strong in a particular archetype or pretty good in any deck (Tome of Offerings, Great Strength, Potion of Rage)
  • 3 – Solid effects that will find a place in many decks (Great Fortitude, Supremacy, Sidestep)
  • 2 – Limited effects that might be useful in some specialised decks (Imbue with Life, Regal Vision)
  • 1 – Just plain bad cards (Headlong Charge, Our Powers Combined)

Neutral Objectives

Beyond Mortal

Score this if you are Mollog and have either an extra wound upgrade or are about to lose the game. This seems like a super niche card that even the big troll probably won’t take and he is the only warband I can see this working for currently.

Rating 2

Bold Conquest

A nice card for aggro players that encourages you to charge earlier rather than later. If you try to hold this in your hand and set up for the perfect situation before charging in the 4th activation of a round then you can find yourself in a position where all your opponents’ fighters are already on every token on their board. This works best if you have ranged attacks as you can almost guarantee a target for that charge.

Rating 3

Brought to Bay

If you are playing agro with Hunters then this card is an auto include. Aggro was lacking some tools and this set is going to have a bunch. It’s honestly a shame that this is limited to Hunters, overall I like the Hunter/Quarry mechanic but so far with Beastgrave it feels like 80% of the fighters are Hunters and with objectives like this it limits the viability of older warbands. If you are playing something like Grymwatch where you have hunters but are playing a more control style then you still might want to consider this, it’s really good.

Rating 4

Committed

This is an interesting card. Generally you only put your fighters next to your opponent’s if you are gunning for a kill so it’s rare to end a round with many of them adjacent. Honestly I don’t see aggro decks running this despite how it initially looks. The best warbands for this are Spiteclaws/Eyes/Grymwatch as they all have ways to ‘summon’ fighters across the boards, even then you will have to pack a bunch of push cards into your deck to rely on this but those cards are good anyway and this is two glory. A nice card that could see play in very specific situations.

Rating 2

Concerted Attack

A surge objective for wasting a bunch of activations targeting the same fighter. Generally if I am making an attack I want to kill the target, if I have spent three attacks on one target it feels like something has gone wrong. Not a fan.

Rating 1

Cover Ground

A slightly reworded Cover Ground that now no longer works with Faneway Crystal or Inescapable Vengence. This is still an incredibly easy to score objective if you either have the fighters or the cards to do it. For aggro players you want to be able to move fast so you can choose your targets so this synergises with what you want to do anyway. Even hold objective decks might take this as you sometimes need to sprint into your opponents territory to grab a token.

Rating 4

Duck and Parry

Surge objectives that you can score from incidental play can be very powerful but I don’t think this one is reliable enough. If it worked with Survival Instincts then maybe but generally your opponent commits to attacks that are odds on and just ignores the fighter that you have put on guard. If we see a bunch of powerful gambits for placing fighters on guard or another objective like Change of Tactics which heavily rewards you for having that token then this suddenly might see play.

Rating 2

Finders of the Way

For those not in the know all the reprinted keys come with the Cursed Key keyword printed on them, this means that retroactively all keys are now Cursed Keys. Unfortunately that doesn’t make this objective worth taking, even if I am taking a deck full of keys (which I would almost never do) this is effectively a 2 glory 3rd end phase card that isn’t super reliable.

Rating 1

Gathered Momentum

If your warband can play this card then it should. It obviously benefits aggro play the most but honestly even just flexing into aggro a tiny bit makes this worth taking. I’d put this into my Grymwatch deck in a heartbeat as the bats can score it without needing any extra cards or inspiring. The fact that we do have mobility cards in this set as well mean that you have a backup plan if your one specific fighter who can score this dies early. For warbands with multiple fighters who can score this you are laughing, Spiteclaw Swarm players rejoice. Oh it also has a second way of scoring that will happen in some games, this card is nuts.

Rating 4 

Guardians of the Way

Only one glory for a really unreliable objective. I can’t see this being played.

Rating 1

Plant a Standard

Fairly solid for aggro and gives you an incentive to place 4 tokens into your opponents half then fight over all of them. I like cards that make aggro care about objective tokens. This isn’t going to turn the meta on its head but some people will run it.

Rating 2

Run Ragged

Nope.

Rating 1

Steadfast Defender

This doesn’t seem too likely to come off. If you are playing objectives then you can maybe count on this working once in a round due to the sheer number of attacks an opponent is going to throw at your fighters on objective tokens. Maybe worth a look with Gitz and their 2 dodge tricks.

Rating 2

Steady Assault

There are two warbands that I really like this with, Mollog and Snarlfangs. Snarlfangs have a bunch of ways to set this up, from scything to Furious Reprisal while Mollog can either score this from 3 normal attacks in a round or his own inbuilt scything option. Honestly this is good enough for both of those warbands that it raises their power levels a bit. Ranged warbands like the Farstriders can potentially use this but I don’t think it’s quite good enough. 

Rating 3

Tactical Genius

If you want a big payout for hold objective play then Dug In is the far superior option. These are just too unreliable.

Rating 1.

Tactical Supremacy

This is a bit more like it. The Tactical Supremacy cards might be one glory less than their Genius counterparts but they are so much easier to score. You can legitimately play pure hold objective decks now that don’t flex into aggro and with the keys being out as well it seems reasonably strong.

Rating 2

Temporary Victory

What.

The.

Insert expletive of choice.

During Nightvault the playerbase bemoaned the neglect that hold objective play seem to receive, it was very hard to make the playstyle work and it didn’t generally win any of the Grand Clashes. The designers have definitely heard our feedback and created a whole bunch of cards that rewards objective play. This has to be the absolute jewel in the crown though. The fact that the Despoilers and Grymwatch can effectively take this twice means you desperately never want to give them tokens. The fact that Thorns, Gitz and Sepulchral Guard can score this in one activation is also terrifying. 

For those of you are scratching their head a bit at how highly I’m speaking of this card; the two traditional ways to disrupt objective play are to either kill the fighters near objective tokens or to disrupt them at the end of a round with push cards like Distraction. Distraction is much weaker vs surge objectives because you often don’t get a window to use it, if Varclav makes a push in his activation you aren’t stopping it, heck if a Grymwatch player uses Pack Advance in the power step and you can see this objective coming so you play Distraction, they simply use their next activation to move onto token. Aggro still has ways to interact with this but early in the game it will be hard-pressed to stop the high scoring.

I like that we have a different meta to previous seasons and cards like this are the driving factor in that. I think this card is too strong though and I desperately hope it gets restricted before the January Grand Clash or I think we will have Thorns and Grymwatch on top again just like the last one. Heck even if its restricted you auto include it in objective decks and it still makes that archetype much stronger, it’s that good.

Rating 5

Veteran Survivors

A third end phase card for two glory needs to be super reliable to be considered. This isn’t. Even Grymwatch have bad games where your opponent kills a bunch of your fighters and this is useless in the early rounds. Not a fan.

Rating 1

Victorious Duel

This one’s a classic. I really like the thematic implications of your leader gunning all out for your opponents. Yes this isn’t the most reliable surge around but its two glory and there are decks that are built to do this.

Rating 3

Gambits

Dangerous Prize

A more balanced version of Lethal Ward, unfortunately that makes it a lot worse. It’s essentially a way to deal an extra damage in your next activation but under strict circumstances. I always prefer reactions that only trigger if I make my attack so Pit Trap and Snare are much better options if you can take them.

Rating 2

Daylight Robbery

I’m not a fan of effects gated behind 50/50 dice rolls, however there are a bunch of players who are. This is a pretty strong effect if it goes off so if you are looking to gamble then you can give it a shot.

Rating 2

Distraction

The old staple is back. This is not only a powerful repositioning tool that can get you a free attack, it’s also a way to deny any end of phase objectives that require you to hold objective tokens and it’s a way to deal damage to an enemy fighter from across the board by pushing them into a lethal hex. Sidestep is a good card, this is Sidestep on steroids.

Rating 4

Downwind

There aren’t really many bonuses for making enemy fighters Quarry so this just seems like a worse Sidestep. If we get enough in future then my assessment of this card almost certainly changes.

Rating 2

Forward Planning

So this is a new card for the gift set and is far far worse than the Spoils of Battle that we had back in Shadespire. I don’t honestly think Spoils of Battle needed to be nerfed, it was certainly a good card but not a problem. The fact that we have much easier surge cards these days means you are likely to get early glory for upgrades anyway. The restrictions on this card are far too high for the limited benefit it gives. If you are playing the Wild Hunt then the charge counter might actually be a benefit to you so its potentially worth considering in that Warband.

Rating 2

Harnessed Power

Potentially a nice trick for Guardians, outside of that its only really a way to combat ping damage and with Shardgale gone that doesn’t seem quite prevalent enough to warrant a pick.

Rating 2

Hostile Ground

Another fun card to play around with. Ping damage is a strong effect in this game and Hostile Ground is fairly reliable card to trigger it. This probably only see’s play in decks that are trying to hide a bit, a really nasty tool for Thorns as they don’t have to worry about where the lethal hexes are located.

Rating 3

Hunting Band

Guard is much more useful in Beastgrave now that it denies drive back and the ability to put multiple fighters on guard with a single gambit is reasonably powerful. You do lose the token after you charge but conversely you could hold onto this card until you have charged and then pop that token on your now exposed fighter. This can also score you Stand Firm but it’s probably not reliably enough with just one main trigger. I’m interested to see if we get more interactions based on being on guard in this season, a Haymaker style effect that only works if you are on guard could be really interesting. Right now it’s a neat trick but it doesn’t quite do enough.

Rating 2

Invert Terrain

I much prefer the design of flipping tokens to completely removing them from the game. There is not only more counter play as your opponent can flip them back but the lethal hexes it creates are interesting to play around. Another very strong card for Thorn’s in particular as they can either use this aggressively or defensively against someone else flipping one of their tokens.

Rating 3

Jealous defence

Well well well. Ready for Action was too good for this world so instead of reprinting it we have this much better designed card. The limits are fairly obvious but the effect is strong enough that it is worth taking if you care about objective tokens and have fighters on them that are worth making an attack with. Works best when combining upgrades like Larval Lance with a lonely git holding a token.

Rating 3

Mischievous Spirits

This is now the best single card for disrupting the hold objective playstyle in the game. Restless prize comes a close second but this definitely takes the biscuit. The issue I have with this card is that it does almost nothing against aggro or the Tome control style decks that are knocking around. It’s also probably a bit weak vs hold objective flex where they take the surge cards and then play like aggro. If you think your opponent is running the Tactical Supremacy cards, Dug In or Supremacy itself then this will do work, otherwise its a waste.

Rating 3

Misdirection

A neat effect that suffers from the fact that the rest of your warband often aren’t in range to be legal targets vs the cards you desperately want to avoid, Transfixing Stare I’m looking at you.

Rating 2

No Time

For a detailed breakdown on this card I recommend popping over to one of my favourite blogs here. The effect here is strong, especially in game 1, but you have to be really good at the game to get the most use out of it and personally I prefer proactive cards. Still you will underestimate the power of this until someone has used it against you to deny your entire plan for a round.

Rating 3

Overkill

This card has two reasons to be taken. 

  1. You are playing Mollog
  2. You expect the meta to have a lot of ‘horde’ warbands with low wound fighters

Considering my constant praise for Grmwatch and Thorns already in this article I think it’s fair to say that I expect condition 2 to be happening right now. I’m not sure sacrificing a gambit slot for an extra glory is ever going to be worth it though, especially if you are not Mollog and know this can brick vs certain warbands. Honestly I’d need to playtest a bunch with this card to get a firm grip on it; right now it’s an option for aggro if you have the room to slot it in.

Rating 2

Rebound

I personally hate this card. It is the most high variance card in the entire game. It’s the closest the game has come to a 1/3 dice roll to decide the outcome of the entire thing and when it goes off against you it feels like you didn’t need to bother playing in the first place. For all the Facebook warriors who love to point out that this game already involves RNG, yes it does but not to this extent and not in this uninteractive a way. If I want to counter Rebound all I can do is play forceful denial… oh wait that card is out, whelp I guess I can just not attack. There are warbands who don’t suffer as much from this, it almost seems that the Snarlfangs entire design is to be an aggro warband that doesn’t die to rebound, but for those that do this cards existence makes winning a big tournament a lot harder.

Mollog players have to dodge opponents with this card or automatically lose 1/3 of their games being forced to stomp the other two hard enough that they get through, not a pleasant prospect.

So yeh, two more years of this.

Enjoy.

Rating 3

Spectral Wings

The grand daddy of aggro mobility cards. The power of cards like this is that you can deploy out of your opponents charge range and then pounce on a prime target in the last activation of a round. Or you could use it to get to the back of a formation and kill a tricky leader like Duke Crackmarrow. The versatility of this card is incredibly, especially now we have two specific objectives that synergise perfectly with it.

Rating 4

Spinetoad Toxin

The next poison card in the set is a little lacklustre. It’s certainly effective vs warbands with one main fighter, poor Mollog, but outside of that it’s a very limited ping damage option. Remember that in order to play this you need an adjacent fighter; the target can just kill that fighter back without moving which doesn’t seem like a good trade. Unless we get something in future that synergises with poison this is not worth taking.

Rating 2

Tracking

Spectral Wings if you are a Hunter. With Gathered Momentum and Cover Ground both now available aggro now not only has the tools to engage deep into an opponent’s backline but also to score guaranteed glory. Unfortunately this one is pretty limited to Hunters, there are niche cases that you will take this without Hunters, like Spiteclaw’s Swarm players wanting to score Covered Ground but overall this one is for newer warbands only.

Rating 3

Unexpected Peril

A way for non Wizard warbands to interact with flipped tokens. If you are playing Supremacy/Dug In then this is probably a must take, if you are going for surge hold objectives and flexing then I think you can skip it.

Rating 2

Upgrades

Amberbone Hammer

I’m a little at odds with all my practice partners in not liking the Amberbone upgrades. The effect is really nice but I just don’t find them accurate enough to rely on. Even if you manage to stack accuracy buffs like Haymaker/Potion of Rage you still need a low wound target to trigger the effect. Yes right now most people are playing warbands with some low wound targets but I hate cards that are dead in some matchups and these unfortunately fall into that category. If you want glory generation from your upgrades take Tome of Offerings/Trophy belt instead.

Rating 2

Avatar of the Ur-Grub

This is really fun card. I love that this exists even if I am a little perturbed that we will have to wait until future expansions to actually use it. The most obvious candidate for this card is Mollog but the issue is that at least one of the components, Sting of the Ur-Grub is really bad on the big troll. I’m also not sure that this combination of stats is actually much better than 3 separate powerful upgrades on one fighter anyway. We know that the sting upgrade is really solid on its own, I rate it down below, so it’s safe to assume that the other two upgrades are decent as well. Maybe you end up taking this just because the three components are all good enough on their own? Personally I would rather a more feast and famine style approach where the components are weaker but the final assembled version is a really powerful effect to work towards.

It’s pretty much impossible to rate this card until we see the other components, not that that will stop me. Remember this card is not actually part of your deck, play the mind games of having it face up in your play area in a tournament without any of the components in your deck.

Rating 3

Grim Tenacity

This is Survival Instincts but it doesn’t also boost your defence stats. If your opponent is running cards like Pit Trap and Snare I can see some uses for this but if you are relying on your opponent taking specific cards for an upgrade to be useful you should probably reconsider your choice.

Rating 2

Guardian Glaive

Oh I like this. The base stat line on the card is fairly solid, add in the ability to get rerolls on an objective and I think this is a winner in objective decks. Only worth consider in warbands with lots of fighters that have bad inbuilt attacks but that’s a common mantra when it comes to attack action upgrades.

Rating 3

Hidden Presence

Sometimes I get tired of talking about Mollog, he is just such a weird outlier warband and there are a bunch of cards that are only good for him. If the rumours that we will get an Ogor warband are true then maybe we will finally have another target for these cards. As is this is great if you have a specific fighter that your opponent wants to target above all else, otherwise you put this on one fighter and they just pick another target. So the giant mushroom quite likes this as an option but probably no other warband.

Rating 2

Hungry Realmstone

A card that takes time to power up and costs glory? I’m only taking this card if I am trying to win a tournament with the worst deck possible.

Rating 1

Iara’s Instant Shield

The second lost page. This seems fairly strong on Stormsire and a decent option on the Queen, Vortimus and Ylylthari. For the dodge based fighters it’s hard to justify this over the other fantastic defensive upgrade options you can take but it does combine amazingly with them if you start stacking them.

Rating 3

Inescapable Blow

Oh more interesting mechanics. The way combo seems to work is that if an attack action has the keyword ‘Combo’ then you can use another attack action like Inescapable Blow to follow up. The stats on Inescapable Blow are fairly solid themselves, especially with cleave and ensnare built in. This is similar to how the Snarlfangs work but the second attack can be modified with effects like Great Strength so you can really make one ultra fighter. If we get enough of these effects this season I can see it being a powerful combination for warbands with disposable fighters that can be resurrected, so Sepulchral Guard, Spiteclaws Swarm and Grymwatch players might tech into this. Right now you can’t take this with only one trigger but I think this might be good later.

Rating 1

Lender’s Lockbox

A neat piece of design space that just doesn’t do enough to justify its inclusion in your deck.

Rating 1

Lethal Snares

Another way to flip tokens, this time on a repeatable upgrade. Nasty if you use Duellist Speed or Blessing of Hydagos to push/kill an opponent’s fighter off a token and then push yourself on in the same charge. Also nice for objective decks to potentially reclaim their flipped tokens so they can score from them. I still think we need an objective based around tokens flipping before this becomes ‘good’ but its certainly a nice effect.

Rating 2

Opening Strike

This is the only attack action with combo currently available in the set and thus the only one that works with Inescapable Blow. Three fury and one damage is a weak set of stats to go with but obviously you have to factor in the potential for a 2 damage attack to follow it up. I’d like this to be a bit more accurate myself as you need this attack to be successful in order to use Inescapable Blow, it seems a bit risky to invest two upgrades into a fighter when this first one relies on a 50/50 roll. 

Rating 1

Repeating Mirror

When I first read this card I got incredibly excited. I didn’t see the word ‘enemy’ on it and thought it would be a way to cast a spell twice. Ah well, that would probably be busted. This is another piece of anti-spellcasting tech that only works if your opponent is playing spells. It’s a neat card but I’m not going to rely on those Wizards being in my games.

Rating 1

Shardcaller

Only play this if you are running either the Tactical Supremacy cards or keys, or both. It’s a dead card if you draw it in round 3 but it has some decent power earlier on if you do care about the specific numbers on those objective tokens.

Rating 2

Sting of the Ur-Grub

Great Strength but it only works at range 1. This is a really nice option for warbands that want to pack a bit more of a punch and it’s great to see some sort of downside to the super powerful range 2 fighters. This generally benefits Shadespire warbands the most as they didn’t have access to as many ranged attacks as we do these days and honestly that’s a really cool thing. Love this card.

Rating 3

The Keys

I’m happy these got a reprint as they were some of the most interesting cards from Shadespire, seem totally balanced and enable a specific style of play. I don’t think these are as good in Beastgrave as they once were due to the fact that the upgrade slot is so much more contested these days (i.e. we have more powerful upgrades to choose from). If you are taking these then you are giving up a lot of early tempo in a desperate bid to swing a ton of glory at the end of the game.

I love that the playstyle exists but I’m skeptical that it’s good enough at the top level.

Rating 2

The Formless Key

I’m rating this beauty separately because I think its a bit better then the numbered keys. This is an upgrade that you can just pop as a one of into your warband and pretty reliably use it to grab an extra glory at the end of the game. It’s not fancy but glory wins games and this does it solidly from the upgrade slot.

Rating 3

Closing thoughts

I have to take a moment to criticise Games Workshop for the gift pack. The fact that it combines old cards from Shadespire with a few new cards means that people wanting to collect all the cards, which is how this game is built, will feel compelled to buy the pack even if there are only about 7 cards that they actually get out of it. That honestly feels very bad as a consumer and I am very concerned for the game going forwards if this becomes common. It already costs a reasonable amount to keep up with the hobby, I’m not fussed about the slight increase in cost this year for the separate expansions/core set as I realise that has to happen sometime but if these gift packs become common then my wallet is not going to be happy.

The way to assess whether you think the pack is worth buying is if you think you get enough value from Warhammer Underworlds over a year to justify the yearly cost, its better to look at it like this then per the individual products as you are generally all in or not in at all. Personally for me the game is in the best state it has ever been, the new warbands and cards are really well designed and the game is much more fun without all the staples of Shadespire like Escalation or Ready for Action, I was actually terrified that cards along those lines would be included in the gift back so it seems like we rebounded a bullet there at least.

We have a bunch of super powerful cards that people can play with from these sets combined and I think aggro now has the proper tools to compete at the top level again but that flex is the strongest archetype right now due to Temporary Victory. That card on its own is going to define the meta we are now in and I am a bit scared of Thorns and Grymwatch going forwards.

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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