(and Dreadfane too)
For the final article in this series, we’ll be looking at the most popular cards in the Beastgrave and Dreadfane warbands at the January 2020 Warhammer World Grand Clash (see part 1 for overall stats, and part 2 for the Nightvault warbands).
With the exception of Ironsoul’s Condemners, all of the newer warbands had at least 5 submitted decklists so we can have a look at the data for all of them. Let’s get to it.
The Despoilers suffer from a lower power level than some of the other Beastgrave warbands, as well as a set of warband cards that don’t quite settle on a coherent playstyle. They were surprisingly popular at the Grand Clash, though, just making it over my arbitrary cut-off point with 7 submitted decklists.
The two most popular choices here are fairly straightforward – Survival of the Fittest can be scored regardless of if you’re winning or losing, while Despoilers is an unrestricted version of one of the best universal objectives in the game. The other warband objectives are a bit of a mixed bunch with only a couple being taken by more than half of the Beasts of Chaos players.
This confusion carries over into the universal objectives too, with only Opening Gambit and Path to Victory appearing in more than half of decks. There’s clearly much more variance between Despoilers lists than almost any other faction, possibly due to the lack of both clear mechanical focus and successful tournament lists to draw on when deckbuilding.
The warband’s power cards are a similar picture. Vile Invaders has obvious appeal as a better Two Steps Forward with no downside while Bloodcrazed provides an extra damage boost that’s pretty easy to trigger. The rest of the Despoilers’ gambits and upgrades either aren’t a clear improvement over universal options, or aren’t general enough to appear in both of the warband’s main archetypes.
Every Grashrak’s Despoilers list included Great Strength, and more than 70% included Snare and Potion of Rage. Beyond that there’s once again little consistency in card choice – some players focused on aggressive cards, others on the tricks required for hold objective play, and others something between the two.
Skaeth’s Wild Hunt
The other warband from the Beastgrave starter has a clearer vision and a slightly higher power level (most of which is concentrated in Skaeth himself), although it only had one more submitted deck than the Despoilers.
Unfortunately reliance on a single fighter is risky with the amount of damage most lists can put out, and aggro warbands have to work hard to compare with the glory that the objective control lists can score – even if they’re chopping through their weaker fighters.
The Kurnothi warband has access to quite a few aggressive surge objectives, which work well with its playstyle – especially against a field with a lot of horde warbands where its a lot more realistic to actually kill fighters with your attacks. Purifying Rites is also quite nice in a meta where most warbands want to set up objective tokens in their own territory and Restless Prize can push them in or out of your territory as required.
There was less consensus on neutral objectives, beyond Fired Up and a couple more aggressive surge cards. Some lists focused more on an objective control back-up plan, with cards like Path to Victory (and Swift Capture) while others went all in on end-phase pay-offs for their aggressive surge objectives and strategies – with Opening Gambit in first place, followed by Combination Strike, Keep Chopping, and others.
The Wild Hunt’s warband power cards offer a trio of powerful cards for improving its fighters mobility, accuracy, and survivability in Hunt in Concert, Eye of Kurnoth, and Hale Charm respectively. Other options like Fleet of Foot for an out of activation move or Fast Shot to boost Althaen’s ranged attacks weren’t quite as popular.
The common universal cards chosen by Wild Hunt players focus heavily on improving the warband’s fairly average damage and accuracy, as well as keeping key fighters like Skaeth alive. There are some very consistent choices here, with 9 different cards each appearing in at least 3/4 of decklists.
Alongside these boosts to the warband’s performance, Trophy Belt and Tome of Offerings help try to even up the glory disparity against hold objective strategies. They’ve got extremely high upside with Skaeth’s scything attack against warbands with multiple 2 wound fighters, although it’s not as easy to pull off as it might seem.
The Flesheater Courts warband is definitely one of the big players in the meta, joining the Thorns and Mournflight as one of the three most-played at the January Warhammer World Grand Clash.
As an extremely strong objective control warband with good counter-aggro options and an inspire condition that forces your opponent to come to you if they don’t want your fighters to suddenly become even stronger, the Grymwatch are definitely one of the lists to beat for any competitive player in the current meta.
In the Name of the King gives you a second copy of Temporary Victory and Shifting Madness is extremely strong unless you get unlucky with objective placement. The rest of the warband’s objectives are just okay – Pervasive Scheme is a good objective, but competes for a surge slot with objectives based around movement and holding objective tokens that work better with the ghouls’ playstyle.
Three more powerful objective token cards come in at the top of the universal objectives, followed by another easy-to-score surge card in Gathered Momentum and the standard surge pay-off of Combination Strike.
The Grymwatch don’t just have strong objectives – they also have a lot of strong power cards as well. From mobility tricks like Pack, Advance! (one of the most frequently misspelt cards in deck lists – it’s got an exclamation mark) to accuracy and damage upgrades and an extra push that’s easy to deploy using the bats.
Seized Weapon is particularly nice, essentially being a ping damage ploy in an upgrade slot and even letting you kill opposing fighters in the end phase, which is just plain rude.
Grymwatch decks turned to universal cards to add even more aggressive options as well as a suite of pushes, and other tricks to help take control of objective tokens. Between the universal and warband choices there is clearly a solid core to Grymwatch power decks, with a few flex choices for players to surprise opponents with.
The Snarlfangs are a versatile aggro warband with exceptional reach and speed, a native way of making multiple attacks per activation, and a good suite of supporting warband cards. Also, they have big dogs.
The average Rippa’s Snarlfangs deck included 5.8 warband objectives, making up almost half their objective deck (over 48%). The warband combines solid end-phase objectives like Cruel Hunters and Loaded with Plunder with aggressive surge objectives like Leading the Charge and No Mercy, giving aggro decks most of the tools they need to build an objective deck before even looking at Universal cards.
For the Snarlfangs’ most popular universal objectives, we see more easy to score surge objectives, making use of the warband’s mobility and aggression, plus the standard end-phase pay-offs of Combination Strike and Fired Up.
Warband cards made up almost half of the average Snarlfangs decklist, with 9 cards each appearing in more than half of decks. A lot of these are better or at least unrestricted versions of popular universal cards – Vindictive Attack is Haymaker without the downside, Bonded combines with Survival Instincts to make Rippa almost unkillable, and Furious Reprisal gives you an Aggressive Defense that you don’t have to give up your defense roll for.
To back up their already strong warband power cards, Snarlfangs players turned to universal cards that further boost the warband’s already strong damage, mobility, and defences, as well as gaining additional glory from Trophy Belt and/or Tome of Offerings.
Lady Harrow’s Mournflight
The Myrmourn Banshee warband is finally available outside the US and Germany, and has immediately become a popular choice. It was one of the three most-played warbands at the January 2020 Grand Clash, with about 13% of players and 15% of submitted decklists. The game’s second Nighthaunt warband has a wide range of tricks up it’s sleeve, supporting a flexible playstyle that can pivot between aggression and objective control with ease.
The Mournflight have solid and consistent warband objectives that (as we saw in the first part of this series, Mournflight decklists had almost twice as many warband cards as the average) so it’s no surprise that the top 5 cards here appeared in 80% of decks or more.
There were some quite consistent universal objective choices too, with the ubiquitous Fired Up and Opening Gambit appearing in more than 85% of lists. Gathered Momentum works well with the warband’s high mobility, and both of the Victory cards are good with surge objectives that care about holding objectives.
It’s slightly surprising that Temporary Victory was only included in just over half the Mournflight decks, given it’s power level and the warband’s reduced need for restricted cards, but it’s possibly too risky with just 4 fighters.
Just like with their warband objectives, the Myrmourn Banshees have strong warband power cards. 8 different cards were included in more than 50% of Mournflight decks and the top 5 include two push cards (Call of the Grave and Frightful Aspect) and an extra copy of Great Fortitude in Veil of Grief.
Restless Prize is (still) a great card and works well in a tricky deck with a strong hold objective component. Spectral Armour and Survival Instincts can both make your fighters extremely hard to kill, and Spectral Wings works well with a lot of your surge objectives as well as helping threaten defensive or hold objective lists.
Frenzied Search is also fantastic, more pushes from Distraction and Sidestep give you a lot more flexibility, and Blazing Soul is a good choice to bypass the warband’s sometimes-awkward inspire condition and get Lady Harrow to that important 3 damage earlier
That’s it for our series on the January Grand Clash metagame. Hopefully it’s been an interesting look at the cards people are playing in their decks in the current meta, and has given you some things to think about when building your own decks or preparing for your next tournament.
If we can access the decklists from BCP again, we’ll probably do the same thing with the UK Games Expo Grand Clash at the end of May. Most of us will be there too, so hopefully we’ll see you at the event. Until then, keep checking back for more quality Steel City content from the rest of the team – good luck and have fun!
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