Reviewing the Universal cards from Khagra’s Ravagers

Intro

Unfortunately I lack Tom’s unique sense of humour (Thank God – Oli), so this article is going to be a completely straight faced and utterly objective, factual assessment of the universal cards found in the Khagars Ravagers expansion for Warhammer Underworlds. Without even the slightest hint of a poop joke. If you are after a breakdown of the warband contained within this expansion then pop over to this article, warning Tom wrote it.

If you are new to the blog; we look at the cards through a competitive and more specifically Championship format lens. That means we will be harsh on cards that aren’t good enough to see top level play but conversely we will be upfront with you about how absurdly powerful something is. If anyone can break it Steel City can.

For anyone wondering if there is any competitive scene to speak of during the great Nurgle plague, there was a 52 player online tournament a couple of weekends ago where I placed 3rd with the plucky underdog Mollog. Yes that’s a bit of a boast, but hopefully it lends some credence to the fact that I am still up to date with whatever the meta is right now.

Tom – Breaking News – Mike plays Mollog,

Rating System

5 – Best in class effects that should go in basically every deck that can take them (Hidden Purpose, Distraction)

4 – Powerful or versatile effects that are extremely strong in a particular archetype or pretty good in any deck (Great Strength, Gathered Momentum, Spectral Wings)

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 (Abundance of Caution, Winded)

1 – Just plain bad cards (Fractured Memories, No One is Safe)

All right, that’s all the boring stuff out of the way, let’s dive into the cards themselves.

Objectives

Arcane Cleansing

There is currently no spell in the game (championship format) that lets you actually score this card. The only way this see’s play is if we get 3, that’s usually the amount of triggers you need to rely on an objective scoring.

Rating 1

Magical Mark

A solid end phase for Cursebreakers that are focusing on objective token control, which is a fairly niche way to play them. For everyone else you only have a single wizard in your warband, as soon as your opponent see’s you score this in a game they are going to focus all of their disruption on stopping your wizard being on a token.

Rating 2

Oli – I’m gunna be a bit more lenient on this one, I thinks Magical Mark is a solid 3. There are several factions that just sort of have a caster now, and i feel that this might just be good enough for that number 12 objective card, when you are struggling. Not difficult to score, and will at the very least force some disruption from your opponent.

Pitiable Death

A solid aggro surge simply based on the starting hex condition. The hunger based condition definitely doesn’t have enough support right now, might become relevant later in the season.

Tom- Any Aggro warband running Energy Drain can score this a bit more reliably as you can spread hunger around.

Oli – Honestly there are just better take a fighter out of action surges. Its not awful, I just think there are 2 or 3 other cards that are taken ahead of this, especially if you have hunters.

Rating 2

Starvation

We absolutely do not have enough hunger support to run anything like this yet. I am interested in the hint this drops that forcing hunger counters onto your opponents fighters will be a viable strategy. But right now this is a hard pass.

Rating 1

The Hunt Advances

This card screams Rippas Snarlfangs, a warband with 3 hunters who can get into your opponents board very reliably. The problem is that if any of your fighters die this card suddenly bricks and in most games that will happen. I personally dislike the playstyle of blindly charging into your opponents board no matter what, sure sometimes its the right choice to make in a game, but when your objectives force you to do it you lose so much flexibility over how you play.

Tom – I actually think this card works well with aggro hordes containing hunters, Grymwatch and Despoilers spring to mind. Especially with cards like Beast Trail you can sneak hunters into enemy territory for cheeky end phase glory. Savage Speed and Savage Strength also lend ways to hunter up any fighter and make them count toward this objective.

Oli- I agree with Tom; but also Mike.

Rating 2

Turned Tables

The only warband I would even consider taking this for is the Dread Pageant, as they have an innate quarry, unfortunately the sex cow only does 2 damage off that bat so even then I don’t think this is worth it. I’m interested in the idea of a deck that focusing on your becoming a quarry and taking a bunch of objectives like this but even if you have 6 ways to become a quarry this card still requires a kill, something that’s hard to rely on. This objective has one too many hoops for me to want to jump through.

Oli – Chameleon Skink Quarry Confirmed?

Rating 2

Unafraid

Elite aggro that wants to dive into the enemy might take this card, I say might because everyone is packing Distraction type stuff into their decks now and if you don’t care about tokens then denying this objective is very possible with one of those gambits. The warbands that will like this the most are Rippa’s, Krushas and Wurmspat. I think a lot of aggro players will experiment with this card and eventually cut it as they decide it isn’t quite good enough.

Tom – A positioning based objective for aggro can tax your gambit slots, but honestly any aggro objective that isn’t dependant on dice is worth considering. Using this to tool up early is a huge boon. If you want to score this reliably however you will need to spend gambit slots on pushes to keep yourself close and personal.

Oli – I think this will slot nicely into a Rippa’s build, especially because you can score it with only one fighter alive. I feel that Krushas and Spat are a little too slow. I cant think of any other factions than Rippa’s I’d be confident to take this with. On the other hand Rippa’s have access to a lot of strong 2 glory end phase objectives already, so this might be hard to squeeze in.

Rating 2

Unassailable

This is a very solid card if you are building your deck around the primacy mechanic. The biggest issue here is when you come up against an opponent playing a similar style, only one of you can actually keep the token so objectives like this start to look a bit less reliable. I think this is a card you take in a fully tooled up all the way primacy deck, something like agro Mollog or Krushas but you probably leave alone otherwise.

The second condition is a nice backup plan but not something you can plan for.

Oli – Great for Hrothgorn too

Rating 3

Underdog

Ok so this is absolutely crazy. If you are a horde/hold objective warband like Thorns of the Briar Queen half of your fighters die in one hit, so you give up primacy easily. For those warbands this objective practically reads, score this unless your opponent has missed all their attacks. Even better, if you can manufacture a round where you take the second activation you can quite easily score this off its second condition, remember that the end step executes in sequence, one player at a time. The only downside I can see to this is that it forces the primacy rules into games that otherwise might not have it. Practically the games where primacy is a big downside will already see it in, as your opponent will include those cards, introducing primacy might let an opponent’s horde warband get some free end phase glory but it’s also possible that you snipe some of their fighters.

I can see some situations where two horde players face each other and are both trying to give the primacy token to their opponent, similar to the Martyred mind games that we used to have in the past.

For me this is an absolute staple for any warband with 7+ fighters with some other niche playstyles also grabbing the solid glory.

Rating 4

Wrested Dominance

A decent primacy surge that synergises excellently with a new power card that is reviewed below. Strangely this is a primacy card that actually doesn’t work that well on the big troll, you actually want to have a warband that gives primacy up through normal gameplay at least sometimes and Mollog generally doesn’t do that. I’m generally not a fan of objectives that your opponent has a lot of control over and right now there are enough match ups where this falls flat on its face that I don’t think it’s worth taking. 

If we get more cards like the one I’ve semi spoiled below or just the general card pool enables primacy for more playstyles then this might become a staple. Right now, I’d avoid it in favour of better surges.

Rating 2

Gambits

Beast Trail

Hidden Paths was an absolutely amazing card that helped define both season 1 and 2 of Warhammer Underworlds. The ability to ‘teleport’ a friendly fighter on an edge hex to any other edge hex on both boards is fantastically powerful. Yes the move token is a bit of a downside but lets be real, if that downside didn’t exist this card would be so powerful it would need forsaking.

The best use for this card is to deploy a powerful fighter in an aggressive focused deck/warband into prime position against a a more defensive orientated warband, letting you start attacking in the next activation. In other matchups, even aggro mirrors, the repositioning power of this card is still fantastic, there are many cases where this will either get you an attack you otherwise wouldn’t have made or to even save a powerful fighter who is at risk of dying. More defensively minded playstyles might also employ this to escape aggression, if every fighter in your opponent’s warband has closed in on you then simply teleport to the back of their board and laugh as they fail to attack your key piece, who could be wearing some Lost Pages…

The added cost to Beast Trail over Hidden Paths is the requirement of being a Hunter or, surprisingly, a Quarry. In Beastgrave this would have been a very strict requirement that only let some of the new warbands play around with this toy, but now we have universal upgrades like Savage Strength, Savage Speed or any of the new Soultooth Weapons, the ability to become a Hunter is easier then ever and the cards that enable it are good on their own. This is also an extra tool in the ‘reasons to become a Quarry’ playbook, that keyword is getting more valuable.

Practically, the best Warband for this is Hrothgorn, teleport the big boi into a backline and even if you opponent uses Distraction style effects to avoid his range 1 attacks, he still has a tasty range 3 one. In fact all the Distraction style cards just got even more powerful now Beast Trail is out, as if they needed it.

Rating 4

Oli – HONEY I’M HOME!!!!

Colossal Blow

In general Colossal Blow is worse then a ploy which gives +1 damage to an attack in the next activation, due to all the positioning requirements that are needed. In an ideal situation you can use the knockback 2 to put a fighter through a lethal hex and still get the extra damage if they cannot be driven back the full distance. That ideal situation is rarely going to occur and with the plethora of upgrades that grant +1 damage right now I don’t see this ploy as being worth taking.

Rating 2

Energy Drain

I absolutely love this card.

First off ignore all the hunger stuff, we still don’t have enough other cards that interact with the mechanic for that to be a consideration here. When we do get more hunger related stuff this is one of the cards that you should look back at.

What I am specifically excited about here is the ability to place a move token on an enemy fighter.

Transfixing Stare was restricted for a good reason, some dickhead used it to great effect when they won a Grand Clash with it using the totally balanced at the time Grymwatch. Move tokens stop enemy fighters from making charges and, depending on the range of their attacks, can completely shut that fighter down for an entire round. The restriction with energy drain is that it only works if the enemy fighter is on an objective token.

The decks this fits in are ones that pack a bunch of Distraction style push cards + Restless Prize + Mischievous Spirits, that might sound a bit like a tall order but that’s how a lot of the top decks are already built these days. Lady Harrow’s Mournflight specifically have issues dealing with hard aggro and already take all of these tools, they should love this. It’s honestly nice to see strong anti aggro tools still being made for this game, excited control noises intensify.

Tom – A brilliant card to draw into round two when powerful fighters may have charged onto objectives turn one. Also a great anti Mollog card, did he move onto an objective and you didnt have Sliprock? Just Energy Drain him and leave him immobile for the round. Also the synergy with Pitiable Death makes that surge slightly more consistent!

Oli -Be warned, when Mike says this fits deck with a lot of disruption, he means it. With the advent of Sliprock, aggro factions are increasingly more hesitant to go onto objectives, and its not like fighters start on them. Without reliable ways to get the objective under the enemies (what’s the world come too?) Energy Drain can be very dead.

Rating 3

Feign Strength

Right now the best use for this card is alongside the new surge Objective, Wrestled Dominance, alongside Surge of Aggression. The fact that it forces you to discard the Primacy token just before you would gain a spent glory form it is a legitimate cost. The big deal here is that we just don’t have enough reasons for having primacy during a round for this to be worth it. Like a lot of the hunger cards right now, when we get more support for the mechanic in future expansions this might be a good card to look back at.

Rating 2

Feign Weakness

Gaining 1 spent glory is really not worth it for a card, so like Feign Strength, Feign Weakness only works when we get more support for the primacy mechanic. In this case we want more incentives to give that token to our opponents, we already have one now with the objective Underdog, it will certainly be interesting if we get more. We might see ‘anti Primacy’ decks become a thing then. Until then I would skip this.

Oli – We have already seen several surges for gaining the Primacy Token, and if that trend continues I can see this being a staple aggro card. Kill, get Primacy, score Surge of Aggression, Feign Weakness to remove Primacy and get glory, Kill again, repeat. Off course as Mike suggested this requires good Primacy support in the future, as well as some assurance that you can get those kills!

Rating 2

Hopesink

Reducing an enemy fighters defence characteristic by one, to a minimum of 1, is never going to be a strong effect in this game because so many fighters only have a single defence dice anyway. This card is useless against all such opponents. If you really need a situational way to make someone a quarry then maybe you take this.

Rating 2

Hunter’s Aspect

One channel spells are our bread and butter easy to cast spells, but their value, as with all spells, has gone down in a post Nightvault rotation world. We no longer have objectives like Magical Mastery that specifically reward you for leaning into the playstyle, the synergies and interesting deck building elements that made spell heavy decks both powerful and fun to play have been broken. What we are left with is rating each individual spell based on how good it is vs a ploy, there are no extra benefits, in fact we have to deal with the fact even one channel spells still have a chance of failing.

Bearing all this in mind, Hunters Aspect has to compete against upgrades that give the Hunter keyword alongside incredible stat boosts like +1 damage on attacks or +2 speed, or vs ploys that make ALL fighters Quarries and Hunters. That’s just…bad. The re-rolls aren’t even relevant unless you can force quarry as well. Objectives like Master of Many Paths might make you want to give this a look but again, just take one of the other cards that do this job better.

Oli – This would have been the nuts for a Nightvault era Stormsire Build, but alas the good spell objectives are gone. Maybe sees play in Relic…… What ever that is.

Rating 1

Macabre Feast

Hunger is starting to gain traction in this season, with several good sources of it that are covered in this review. If we see a few more then I think Macabre Feast can find it’s way into ‘big boi’ decks like Mollog who basically want to make themselves completely unkillable with a combination of this and Ferocious Resistance. Like other Hunger cards its not quite there yet, but this one could be meta defining if more support comes.

Rating 2

Shocking Ferocity

I really should look up how this works in the rules, the problem is that the effect is bad enough that I wouldn’t ever take it no matter how it works. The way I think it works is that the friendly fighter being targeted has to still be alive for this reaction to be played, but even if they don’t have to be, it’s one damage as a reaction.

Tom -So i just got the rulebook out. There are two separate steps in the attack action if the attack suceeds. First the deal damage step THEN a check to see if the target is out of action. During the check step is when the fighter is actually taken out. This card triggers after the wound counters are placed but before they are counted to see if the fighter is killed. So you can play this even if the fighter would die.

To play it in that window you would have to have included the card in your deck though, and I wouldn’t recommend that.

Oli – This card is pretty…. Shocking. eh.

Rating 1

Storm of Foreboding

By default you have around a 44% chance of casting a 2 channel spell, so less then half the games you play with this card will see the upside. In this case the upside is nice, its a solid effect, but its not enough to justify the failure chance or conversely just how much you would have to build your deck to make this slightly more reliable. Remember that there are no universal innates now.

Side tangent:

I know I am beating the drum of magics death a bit in this article, so I think its worth trying to concisely explain my position. As many of you know, I think the deck building element of this game is its greatest strength and I loved the design that went into how magic decks worked during Nightvault/Beastgrave. I also think that the ‘uninteractive Cursebreaker’ decks were a bogeyman that barely existed, widely blown out of all proportion by the community and some other content creators. Cursebreakers were obviously strong in Nightvault, I’m not denying that, but their dominance has been vastly overstated, just go back through the Grand Clash wins and see how few the Cursebreakers actually won. On top of that every other warband, like the Ylthari’s or Eyes of the Nine, that wanted to focus on magic has suffered heavily from a heavy handed reaction of trying to stop Cursebreakers from being good again. At this point I am confident that being a level 2 Wizard is actually less of a benefit then being a Hunter and we are soon approaching the point where being a Quarry is better as well. Considering how integral the magic system is to the game, with its own unique rules and dice, I feel it is a waste to gut it and leave it by the wayside.

Ok rant over.

Rating 2

Upgrades

Charike Claws

Cleave on it’s own is a weak justification for an upgrade, Cleave alongside Quarry is a bit better. If we see a few more objectives like Ahead of the Hunt or just other power cards that reward you for being a Quarry then this could be a meta pick, something you take if you think there will be a lot of elite warbands. A few decks have already been taking Predator’s Trinket which is essentially the same effect.

Rating 2

Dominant Defender

Upgrades that give you guard are fantastic, with Survival Instincts and Tight Defence being restricted I think both Games Workshop and the competitive scene agree. Dominant Defender comes with the downside of only working when the equipped fighter is holding an objective token, which is a nasty but sensible limitation. The warbands that make the most use out of this are ones that have uninspired defence characteristics of 2 or more dice and that like to sit on tokens. Right now that makes this great for Harrows and Purifiers and I’d highly recommend it for both.

The Primacy upside will be really nice when it works, the downside part will hardly ever come up as you give up primacy if your fighter dies to a one shot and that’s most of the ways your fighter will die.

Oli – Lesson from a recent game. If you crit defend and still die who get the primacy, you or the killer? You both have a claim no? and you both would get it at the same time! Trick Trick question, You cant react if you dead. So if you crit defend and die too bad. Also guard is becoming increasingly busted with all the 2 defence fighters suddenly emerging, cards that give guard, are really worth a look at right now.

Mike – You can’t use an upgrade if you are dead, so the killer gets primacy.

Rating 3

Feral Symbiote

Crickey, another extra damage special for the range 1 fighters. So right now we have:

  • Great Strength
  • Savage Strength
  • Sting of the Ur-Grub
  • Gauntlets of Dominance – combined with another mortis relic
  • Feral Symbiote

That’s a lot of damage you can take if you want. The warbands and decks that will like this best are the fire and forget distributed aggro style, so Godsworn/Coven/Despoilers, it’s another way for Shond to bash your head in and we are starting to get enough of these that it might even be a legitimate choice at the top level of play. The Hunger counters are probably not a big deal, range 1 fighters generally don’t get to make that many attacks, they usually charge and are forgotten till the next round, the potential of it causing you a damage is even less of an issue, no one expects Shond to survive to round 3.

Oli – This is not good on fighters who you use for a lot of actions. This will kill Hrothgorn and Mollog.

Mike – I wouldn’t use an upgrade that only works on range 1 attacks with Mollog either way :-p

Rating 3

Geomancer’s Gauntlet

Heavy Breathing intensifies.

If anyone is wondering why I am so excited about this particular upgrade then you might want to read my article focusing on the viability of a strange objective called Feeding the Beastgrave. The TLDR for those of you who can only stand so much of my writing is that with Nightvault rotating out we needed at least 3 more ‘triggers’ to make this objective viable. I didn’t expect that we would get another trigger, alongside the already existing Lethal Snares, that would be re-usable and allow you to potentially flip more then one token for the cost of a single card.

Realistically I don’t think this is a viable playstyle yet, like Hunger and some of the other mechanics I have talked about in this article, its getting hot but isn’t quite at a boil. We also don’t know for sure if we will get more support for this strange objective destruction playstyle.

This is another card where I have to rate it as it is right now, which means its a hard pass, just keep an eye on it.

Rating 1

Mundane Razor

A very average statline alongside the strange ability to discard a persisting gambit. The vast majority of gambits played are one shot style affairs, so this is an obscure piece of tech that most of us will probably forget about, until one genius brings it to a Grand Clash in the Summer and upends the strange persisting gambit meta we find ourselves in.

Rating 2

Ravening Stone

What is a Metalith?

I really hope the keyword means more then Poison whose synergistic effect is a 1 glory end phase objective that’s pretty hard to score.

The effect on it’s own seems really powerful if you want to make a deck focusing around Hunger, this is one of those Hunger generators I was talking about earlier. The fact that you get the counter after an activation means it is useful for 2 thirds of the game, and very maybe in the final scoring if we see a bunch of objectives based around having hunger counters.

Rating 1 (until we see more Hunger then this might skyrocket harder then a meme stonk)

Rod of the Archmage

Eh.

It’s not awful.

The obvious upside here is getting the primacy token for kills against enemy fighters that have already suffer damage from previous attacks or in the power step. The big downside is that the powerful spell gambits that did damage, like Sphere of Aqshy, have now rotated out. Maybe this is a hint that more of those powerful spells are on the way? I really hope so, I missed those decks. Right now we have Hunter’s Bolt and that’s not enough to justify this upgrade on it’s own.

Rating 2

Scavenged Armour

The eternal arms race between wounds upgrades and damage upgrades see’s both sides escalating their efforts, for damage we had Feral Symbiot and for wounds we have Scavenged Armour. The extra upside of gaining a guard token is a really nice benefit, not only does it make you harder to hit but stopping drive back is a big deal, this lets you park a fighter onto an opponents objective token early in a game and suddenly they have a massive issue in getting it back, or even just charging next to a lethal hex and not having to worry so much about the damage, in that last case this upgrade is worth 2 wounds for the price of one.

On paper this thing is insanely strong, wound upgrades change the threshold for killing your fighters and in Warhammer Underworlds there is no real penalty for being wounded, you are either dead, alive or slightly easier to kill. The times this stops your fighter dying to one attack are absolute gold, that’s not only forcing extra actions out of your opponent but also challenging them to hit you more times as well, and we all know the dice gods can be a fickle mistress.

In practice, yes I have played with this card a fair bit already, the downside of only being able to equip it to a fighter in your opponents territory is a legitimate one that makes this hard to asses (Tom – I’m not going to correct the spelling, this card is hard to asses). Even playing a very aggressive Mollog build I found that there were situations where I wasn’t in my opponents board but I needed the survivability, literally making this entire card worthless.

On balance I think the upsides are so good that as long as your general gameplan is to be aggressive you should seriously consider taking this card, hold objective or control decks steer clear, this is a fighting man/woman’s card.

Rating 3

Oli – I like this for Rippas and Hrothgorn (or perhaps more specifically his Doggo). It allows for some safer more aggressive plays when drawn turn one, and is still very good in the rest of the game.

Soultooth Javelin

An upgrade that gives you Jagathra’s attack action, only it’s a lot more accurate and it makes you a hunter (Tom – Until you throw it). This is honestly amazing. Horde warbands that need attack actions should take this, and slow moving elite warbands that have limited range, like the Ravagers or Krushas should also seriously consider it.

Rating 3

I like it, but I’m not so sure. I think Jagathra’s attack was so good because you could throw it early, still be pretty safe, and get damage for the first kill. This allowed you to snowball. I think that requiring a glory to equip this makes it a a lot worse, and I’d likely prefer something like Amberbone Spear.

Terror Shield

Nope.

Tom – Double Nope.

Oli – Triple Nope, Served with a side of extra Nope.

Rating 1

Outtro

That finishes our coverage of the latest expansion, hopefully we will have some more content for you again soon. Maybe even a cheeky episode of Chatting Crit…

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