GW dropped a bomb on Facebook yesterday by revealing (almost) all of the cards from one of the two new expansions. Our top Steel City talent (I can’t say this with a straight face) have been hard at work pouring over every single detail on display in those images. This article is a hot take, first impression of the new warband, Mogok’s Krusha’s. I literally wrote this in a day, so if there are any mistakes please be kind and message me.
I won’t be talking about the universal cards here, instead saving that for the inevitable Steel City universal card review when the other expansions contents has been released. Hopefully my initial insights will help our loyal legions gain an edge over the unwashed hordes who read other, less inspired blogs 😉
Waaagh! – The Inspire Condition
“There are two or more Waaagh! counters on this card.”
“After this fighter’s activation in which they made one or more Attack Actions, place one Waaagh! counter on this card.”
What a beautifully synergistic mechanic, if your Ork’s are fighting then they will get inspired, which is thoroughly fitting for the green murder machines. On the surface it feels like this is a tricky to achieve inspire condition, one you can only get if you make an attack in the first two rounds of a game and only use in the third round. However we have several Warband specific cards that let you drop a Waaagh! counter onto a friendly fighter and, spoiler alert, some of those cards have great additional effects that make them very worth taking. So if you make a single charge with a fighter, whether you hit or not, you can inspire them with just one of those aforementioned cards afterwards becoming an effect you can expect to see often in games.
One drawback with having to spend cards this way is that you are only likely to inspire one or two of your fighters in a given game, there are only so many of those cards you are going to take in your deck. So we are going to have to look carefully at the inspired side on each of the fighters to see which ones become our chosen tools of destruction.
Even without cards, if another aggro warband wants to pile in for a big scrap then they might want to think twice as that likely means the entire warband for the Brutes will inspire by round 3. Giving these guys targets is not something you want to do.
After inspiring those Waaagh! counters don’t go away and each fighter has a unique way to spend them for a tasty one shot bonus. There is also at least one totally busted card that relies on you burning those Waaagh! counters, so management of this resource is going to be essential to success at top level play.
Getting Stuck in – The Fighters
Morgok is almost a carbon copy of one of the strongest fighters in the game, another greenskin from back in the Shadespire days, Gurzag. For those who played with Ironskull’s Boyz they will be intimately familiar with just how powerful Gurzag is, while not quite the one model army that is Mollog, Gurzag comes pretty close and is absolutely the best thing about that warband.
Looked at from a more modern perspective we do have to talk about that movement stat, three is a tricky number to play around with these days. It pretty much rules out Cover Ground as an objective but more generally makes playing into control style warbands, like Tome Hrthgorn or Lady Harrow’s, quite tricky. Into an aggro mirror or into a hold objective warband like Grymwatch you are probably fine though and this disadvantage won’t come up much.
The five wounds makes your leader very hard to kill and is absolutely the strongest aspect of Morgok’s fighter card, when playing into aggro they are going to have an absolute nightmare trying to score from kills (you will see this theme more and more as you keep reading) and any sort of flex that has some tools to deal with threats is going to struggle to come to grips with you.
We also shouldn’t underestimate the power of having an uninspired 3 damage attack, if you want to kill a Cursebreaker/Rippa/any of the other ‘elite’ warbands right away then you can with only a single damage card, meaning they can die to a single attack instead of multiple ones, completely changing the dynamic of how you play into those elite warbands. At least the attack is balanced around only being 2 smash, so it’s generally a 50/50 unless you invest other resources into it.
Of the different Waaagh! actions we see on fighter cards I think Morgok’s is the worst, it’s a neat trick that could be used to grab two objectives early but if used early it stops him from inspiring pretty much all game and it doesn’t synergise well with the aggro playstyle I see this warband adopting.
The inspired side is nice but not a massive boost to our esteemed leader. The attack suddenly becomes pretty accurate and the movement stat increases to 4, so basically Morgok’s biggest weaknesses go away but his strengths remain the same. In general I’d be looking to inspire Morgok second or third.
You know how I said 5 wounds coupled with a 3 damage attack makes for a super strong fighter? Well welcome to Warhammer Underworlds ‘Ardskull, who I’m going to make the bold claim of being the strongest ‘non leader’ fighter in the entire game. Uninspired ‘Ardskull is slightly worse then Morgok as his attack is less accurate and he is missing the niche action of being able to push the other two fighters in your warband.
However inspired is a different story.
‘Ardskull is going to be my number one choice to inspire against pretty much every type of opponent. He gains a 2 damage scything attack which is nuts into hordes, his main attack gets more accurate and there is a little ability he has to spend Waaagh! counters:
‘Remove any number of Waaagh! counters from this card before making the attack roll: the Attack action has +1 Damage for each counter you remove.”
This is how we kill big bois, like Hrthgorn/Mollog/honestly any member of this warband. If you can stack Waaagh! counters onto ‘Ardskull and give him an accuracy buff then he will be taking down the best fighter’s in the game very reliably, not bad for a second in command…
Note – the extra damage ability only works with his main ‘Gore-Basha’ attack, so you can’t boost the scything attack with it or do tricks with ranged attack upgrades like Nullstone Arrows.
The ‘runt’ of the Krusha’s because his main attack only deals 2 damage. Yes you did read his fighter card correctly, he still has 5 wounds, meaning every single fighter in this warband is absolutely hard as nails. The Waaagh! ability on his inspired side is pretty neat, making for a very accurate attack if you need it and creating a tough choice on who to inspire second in the warband. We could potentially see some people load up on one big dice attack to try and score Peerless Fighter… nah its still a bad objective.
With those incredible fighter stats the warband must be balanced around weak in faction cards, right? Well, errr…. read on…
Note – as usual I am going to cherry pick the best warband cards to talk about here, anything that is left out is because I don’t think it will see play.
Got It, Boss
A Surge for simply grabbing an objective token in your opponent’s territory, that’s pretty crazy. Swift Capture is a commonly played card at high level and for a good reason, this is almost twice as easy as that card. If you are planning on advancing into your opponent’s territory then why not grab an objective on your way past? The only downside I can see to this is that it necessitates the inclusion of push cards like Distraction in your deck so that you can free up tokens before a charge.
Might of the Orruk
So this pretty much reads ‘Score this if ‘Ardskull Inspired hits an attack’ with the additional advantage of working with Morgok who has equipped Great Strength/Glory Seeker/Sting of the Ur-Grub. This synergises exceptionally well with everything your warband wants to be doing, the only reason I can see it not making the cut in some decks is that it can brick on round 1.
If this was an objective for Grymwatch/Thorns etc it would be totally busted, with these guys it is still good but is tempered by the fact you might have to make sub-optimal plays to score it. I like Got It,Boss because going for a single objective on your way to smash an enemy isn’t much of an ask, grabbing two separate ones might start to take away from an aggressive game-plan of actually killing your opponents fighters. Still I can see a deck that takes this with Swift Capture/Got It, Boss as some sort of soft control style, I’m just suspicious that it won’t be the strongest way to play this warband.
We have seen how strong cards like this can be with Pervasive Delusion in the Grymwatch, an objective that you can score without having to actually do anything specific with your fighter’s is always solid, it being a surge is the cherry on top. The downside is that you could often find not enough ploys in your hand to trigger this, potentially bricking the objective. Still you are a three fighter warband, taking an activation to draw a card is your bread and butter, if you are really unsure about this you could also take Unnatural Truce to increase its reliability.
This is almost free when playing into a horde warband and having a good scrap. The times I can see this bricking is into a control or even into another elite aggro warband, so in a meta that has a bunch of those players you might want to give it a miss. The biggest issue this objective has is that your opponent might legitimately not be able to kill any of your fighters…
Excuse me what?
After playing Rippa’s for a longtime I am convinced that the main reason that warband is at all viable at top level play is because of Narrow Escape. Having a damage reduction card in your hand that works as a reaction completely changes the dynamic of so many matchups, most warbands/decks have to spend some resources to spike up to 4 damage in an attack, Narrow Escape not only denies the kill but also wastes all of those resources. Experienced players then have to deal with the mind games of whether or not their opponent has Narrow Escape in hand, do they play more conservatively just because of that cards existence or do they just hope the Rippa player doesn’t have it in hand?
Berserk Fortitude is Narrow Escape on a warband whose fighters are all 5 wounds. I said that a lot of decks have to expand resources to hit that magic 4 damage mark, well 5 is absolutely a lot harder to get to. You can spend multiple gambits/upgrades/glory on one big attack only to see your opponent drop this bomb and reduce the damage down, in a move that will almost certainly turn an entire game. The downside to this card over Narrow Escape is that it only works by expending Waaagh! counters, so it is possible to target the Krusha with no tokens, although that will likely mean overextending yourself. The upside is that this can reduce the damage by more then one…. Yup this is a pretty good card.
‘Ardskull Inspired’s action on a ploy that can work for any of your fighters. On paper this card is utterly amazing but lets take a step back and think through the actual use cases for this card. ‘Ardskull himself dosn’t get much from it as he can already do it once inspired, Thugg isn’t the best target as he wants to spend those Waaagh! counters on extra dice, so if you are including this card in your deck it’s mostly a Morgok special. So it’s limited to only one of your fighters, on the other hand if you have two counters on an Inspired Morgok then this card makes a 3 fury/1 re-roll/5 damage attack. That’s pretty mental. I think players will have to really get multiple sessions in with this card to asses whether the times it’s dead in your hand are made up for by the mega attacks your leader can be capable of delivering.
One to watch.
There are many and myriad uses for Waaagh! counters in this warband, from inspiring, to actions on fighters cards to crazy boosts from ploys in hand, so any extra source of these precious green tokens should be looked at carefully. That said, I don’t think Brawling is quite good enough, it requires a very specific situation to trigger and in natural play it’s not very common for friendly fighter’s to stay next to enemy ones for long. Usually you make a charge, grab a kill or push back the enemy so they can’t hit you back without making a charge. So this is a bit of a miss for me.
Two moderately strong effects that combined together make a very powerful card. One extra dice is a nice boost to accuracy, it’s not the biggest deal but it changes the odds a reasonable amount. The Waaagh! counter for doing something you already wanted to be doing is the sexy second half of this card. Remember that all of our fighter’s gain a counter after an activation which they made an attack? Well if you play this before on attack then a friendly fighter can go from 0 to 2 counters in one activation, inspiring them and giving them some of those precious resources to spend on all the crazy tricks this warband has. I see this being a staple of the warband.
This is a neat effect. You can make the power play of moving in between two enemy fighters, using this card as a reaction and then daring them to hit you back. Your opponent is then left with the dilemma of whether to take the ‘free attack’ next activation which probably won’t kill your fighter anyway, or to waste an activation running away. If your opponent dosn’t run away then you not only get two attacks
but you also get two Waaagh! counters, not a bad deal by any means.
Edit – It seems like these guys inspire condition and cards were made just to confuse people – this card does not give two Waaagh! counters as the attack happens after the move.
Into hordes this is incredible but into more elite warbands, like the Cursebreakers, it might end up being a wasted slot. Remember that your fighters are all range 1 (hey look they do have some actual downsides) so unless your opponent presents a nice bunch of fighter’s for you to move into then you are unlikely to have enough targets for this to work well. Another card to keep an eye on.
This is basically an in faction Aggressive Defence that is worded in a way that actually works. If Aggressive Defence was still legal and restricted it would be an auto include for this warband because it perfectly fits how they want to play the game.
This card isn’t restricted.
I honestly struggle to write down all the ways this is amazing because it’s just so obviously strong. If you are new to the game, free actions from cards are some of the most powerful effects you can get, if your opponent ever wants to try and kill your fighter’s then they need to attack you at some point. The fact that all your fighter’s are 5 wounds means it is very hard for them to kill you in one attack, so they will try to use multiple attacks, or combo into lethal hexes to get enough damage. This card dares your opponent to do it, it says ‘Hey look at this weak little 5 wound ork, you can totally kill him if you spend your entire power hand and multiple activation’s, oh wait that was a lie. Die instead.’
Oh it also gives you a Waaagh! counter because it happens in an activation.
Edit – I got confused by the inspire condition again – nothing to see here.
Cool cool cool.
Note – there is a legitimate downside to this card that I thought about on my first edit, namely that your fighter’s all only have range 1 attacks. Fighter’s like the Duke/Scritch or even Mollog will be able to attack you from range 2 and never fear triggering this ploy. I still think this is an autoinclude but it might be dead in some of those matchups.
Sidestep is a good card. Pushes are an often underestimated part of this game but they can do so much, from securing a charge, to denying one for your opponent, being able to make an attack without having to use a charge action, getting back onto an objective token for using a Cryptic Companion, making sure you are still in enemy territory for Show of Force … the list goes on. Sidestep that gives you a Waaagh! counter is an utterly amazing card that I expect to find it’s way into every deck piloting the Brutes.
What exactly is the value of a Waaagh! counter? It’s part of our inspire condition and allows us access to a bunch of abilities and warband specific card’s, which is all pretty nice but is it worth a power card just to put one on? Waaagh! Energy averages 1.5 counters if you play it when your entire warband is alive (so basically at any time) with the added downside of placing those counters randomly on your fighter’s instead of on the specific one of your choice. If we had a card that simply said ‘Place two Waaagh! counters on a friendly fighter.’ I would take it in a heartbeat and call it an autoinclude, this card is a much harder one to make a call for. I suspect it won’t make the cut in most decks but will see some niche play, another card that everyone is going to have to practice with before they decide on it’s viability.
Note – Did anyone else notice that I only missed two gambit cards from my list of cards worth talking about? Even those two are actually decent enough. This warband is stacked with options.
Accuracy is one of the biggest weaknesses of this warband. Brute Charge effectively ups the odds of an attack by as much as having a support for the fighter’s using Smash attack and by two supports for the ones using Fury. ‘Ardskull and Morgok Inspired are both fantastic targets for this upgrade. The only downside is that it’s limited to charge attacks but then we can’t have our cake and eat it, right?
Inured to Pain
When a fighter hits the magical threshold of 4 wounds or above I rate damage reduction as a better stat to have then extra wounds. So for instance I prefer Eldritch Ward on the Cursebreaker’s over Great Fortitude. The reason for this is that in the cases where an opponent need’s two attack actions to kill a fighter, e.g. a Thundrick player using Dead Eye Lund with Jealous Defence the damage reduction counts twice and makes your fighter very hard to take down. This argument becomes even more conclusive for fighters with 5 wounds as it’s much harder to one shot at that threshold. So Inured to Pain is for this warband is basically a better Great Fortitude that you can take alongside Great Fortitude and other wound enhancing upgrades. Absolutely an autoinclude.
What Impact will the Krusha’s have?
This is the new bar for aggro warbands. Just like Magore’s Fiends coming out at the end of Shadespire were an incredible array of stats that are incredible hard to fight, Morgok’s Krusha’s are aggro that beats other aggro. I’ve spent most of this article focusing on the strengths of this warband but lets have a look at their weaknesses:
- Below average mobility
- Only range 1 attacks
- No Hunters or Wizards
The first two points are going to make it hard for this warband to engage into the control play style and even open up the potential for objective based decks to out manoeuvre them. The third point means we miss access to some of the most powerful cards in this set like Tracking and Snare while a lack of Wizards restricts our access to ping damage or objective destruction.
I think this warband is going to be a bit one dimensional, it’s three incredible hulks charging across the boards trying to kill everything in sight. The stats,inspire mechanic and powerful warband cards are going to mean they win every straight up fight but is that enough in an environment where Grymwatch and Thorn’s still drown in glory for popping onto objective tokens?
The one meta change I am sure of coming with this warbands release is that the vast majority of aggro players will gravitate to playing this warband. Orks are already popular and these guys are obviously very strong. Even if we are not playing the Brutes we are going to all have to develop game plans for dealing with them.