Ok you guys know the drill, below you will find the ultimate, impartial and always objectively correct review on the latest universal cards. With Games Workshop being kind enough to spoil them all ahead of time, legitimately I like that they do this, I have been slaving over my Steel City type-writer as much as possible outside of work hours and definitely not adding to it at all at work when it is quiet. For anyone who is new to the blog, we are reviewing cards based on two main factors; 1. Competitive viability, skewing towards top level play and 2. How ubiquitous a card will be across all competitive decks. What 2 means is that a card like Distraction which is pretty much always good gets a higher rating then Savage Strength, even though in a lot of decks Savage Strength might actually be better, we are looking at how likely this card is to be in a given deck. If you want more nuance… then simply read the words written above the big number, I try to explain my reasoning.
I also want to point out that I am reviewing cards based on how good they are currently, so cards that rely on mechanics that are only half finished, like hunger, will automatically get a lower score because we don’t have all the interlocking pieces that make it strong yet. Remember when Beastgrave had just come out and Hunter was a bit of a useless keyword? Well look at how crazy strong it is now. It’s worth mentioning that I generally think Primacy doesn’t suffer from these issues as much as other keywords because it has inbuilt methods to gain it without having to rely on a ton of cards that are yet to be released. By default you should expect to see a Hunger card be at a 1 rating right now, anything above that means I think its already worth considering taking when we have a limited amount of support.
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, Path to Victory, 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.
Our review starts off with a fantastic objective for aggro warbands that love to force their way into the opponent’s territory. This absolutely screams Rippa’s to me and alongside Loaded with Plunder and Cruel Hunters they look to have a very strong objective deck going forwards. Other warbands that might want to experiment with this are Wurmspat, Krusha’s, Cursebreakers, Ironsoul’s Condemnors, Farstriders, basically any 3 fighter warband that plays aggressively should think about taking this objective.
With the spoilers so far for the future Direcasm warbands it looks like we are going to have a fair few 4 fighter warbands, and usually the latest warbands make up the bulk of any meta, so securing those two kills against such elite offerings might be tricky. Personally I’d only take this in Rippa’s but then I generally dislike the always charge across the board playstyle anyway, other players might find good value here.
I would look at this in the same vein as Path To Victory. Two glory end phase that isn’t super hard to score, but requires some set up. Like Path to Victory, you can score it round 1 if you play into it, but generally it is going to be much easier as the game progresses and getting that kill condition is a little easier. Personally I am not a huge fan of this card however, I think it is to niche to see any wide spread use, and has certain matchups, such as Wurmspat (or other 3 model factions) where it can brick you objectives quite hard. It would be given a 2 from me. – Oli
Bristling with Weapons
This is basically The Great Hunt, with an alternate way to score that will only happen if you are playing around with the combo mechanic. With Savage Strength and Speed out and being such incredibly strong cards, being a hunter is easier then ever and we are heavily incentivised to do so already. I have been putting the Great Hunt into all my recent Mollog decks and am very happy to double up with this objective. The biggest issue is that it can often brick in the first round, but after that it is very free.
While I agree that this is a strong objective, I’m less happy to double up on when it is so hard to score in the first round. I also think that the Great Hunt is objectively better (no pun intended) and therefore cant see this card seeing much play. I’d rate 2. – Oli
One of the biggest critiques of the Beastgrave meta was that aggro really struggled to find its place all season and one of the reasons touted as the cause of this issue was the lack of decent end phase objectives that supported the playstyle. Well I am now reviewing the second strong end phase objective for aggro in this expansion and I’m only on the 3rd card, something tells me GW took the criticism to heart, and I’m very happy they did. Clean kills is a wonderfully made card, because it works off the wound characteristic of the out of action fighters it’s suddenly not dead into the big bois like Mollog or Hrothogorn, and can even be got by killing a Krusha that put a single wound upgrade on. Into horde warbands this often reads score 2 kills but you have to be careful, if you are only farming the chaff you might need as many as three to fulfil the conditions.
I also absolutely love the counter play here, at top level play I have seen horde players run fighters over lethal hexes just to deny an easy primacy kill from an opponent, which in my eyes is fantastic skill expression, having more reasons to do that really allows the top players to flex their tactical muscles.
I’m going to be a bit conservative with the score here, I think the counterplay potential limits this a bit but even then, I suspect this might be a staple of aggro decks for the rest of the season.
I don’t think there is enough reliable Hunger generation that you can expect either your or your opponents entire warband to have a hunger counter at the end of an activation. With the pay-out being only 1 glory I’m even more out.
Some of the early previews for the Vampire warband seems to suggest this might be good on them so maybe it will find a place in future.
Hunger for Power
Now this is a Hunger objective I can get behind. Having 2 upgrades on a Wizard is fairly easy with warbands that have access to that keyword, especially for the Cursebreakers. The Hunger counter option is less likely but it’s certainly a nice backup condition if you are building it into your deck. For Cursebreakers I think this is not only an auto include but it actually helps their overall viability, for other wizard warbands it depends on how survivable your wizard is and how willing you are to place upgrades on them
There are a few B tier Lost Pages and FTB decks floating around, that heavily use mage leaders but struggle with some of the more reliable objectives. Cards like this could potentially start pushing some of these decks into a more serious contention. – Oli
Correct me if I am wrong but I think the only way to do this is with an upgrade that I will review later in this article. One trigger for an objective is not enough, even if you pack your deck full of card draw. Hopefully this signals that we will see more close ranged magic attacks this season as I do think it’s a fun design space. Rating 1
You’re wrong. This doesn’t require it to be a magical attack, one can club your enemy with a pointed stick to score this… Still not the best card though, but Cursebreakers will likely take it. Rating 2. – Oli
I’m an idiot.
Oli, in his infinite wisdom, has pointed out that the while the attack has to be range 1 or 2 it doesn’t actually have to be magical, just be made by a Wizard. This is probably an absolute staple for Cursebreakers and still rubbish for everyone else.
This is a bit of an underwhelming aggro surge. First we need the Hunter keyword, which honestly isn’t that hard to come by, but secondly we have to kill the enemies most defended fighter. The worst case for this card is that if you don’t have it in hand, then you are disincentivised from killing your opponent’s leader when you have an opportunity to do so, as you risk bricking a later objective hand. I’d only really consider taking this in a Hunter heavy aggro deck using the Grand Alliance format, it might be good enough for that.
I have the same issues with the second condition of Punctured Pride as I do with Prized kill in general, relying on killing your opponents leader is a harsh condition to fulfil. The first condition for Punctured Pride likewise has me scratching my head, you have to ensure that your opponent has the primacy token when one of their fighter’s dies. Feign Weakness probably helps that a bit but we have no other cards that fit the bill of giving the token up. This looks strongest in horde warbands that are expecting to give up Primacy but that also have powerful leaders who can secure kills back, I’m thinking Thorn’s of the Briar Queen and Grymwatch here. The problem is that this is competing against so many better surges that I cannot see a situation where you actually put this in a deck.
While I agree with the rating, I have a quite a fun aggro Amberbone Grymwatch deck that this might not be too bad in. You often give up primacy throwing your chaff forwards, and I already run underdog to because of this. I can also see this working in some surgical aggro decks, where the chances are, you will get counter killed. Maybe not top tier, but definitely worth considering in some of your more fun lists, or in an alliance format. – Oli
+1 to what Oli said, playable in aggro hordes that give up primacy. Run Feign Weakness for extra reliability. – Tom
Humm not bad. For warbands like Mollog or Krushas that thrive on primacy I can see this being a decent option, but like other surges in this review I don’t see how this finds a deck spot when other options are stronger. My Steel City ™ hunch is that the main use case for this card is with the new Ork warband as they have been spoiled a bit and it looks like they will have special warband ways of interacting with the primacy token. We also might see this become more useful for other warbands in the season as we get more reliable methods of securing primacy.
Also the double tapping Mollog might like this. (Cant believe I’m the one to have to say this….) – Oli
Run Feign Strength for extra reliability. – Tom
The Greater Hunt
An absolute auto-include in Grymwatch and a strong consideration for any warband with 3 or more hunters, hello Skaeth. I love one glory objectives that you don’t have to change your game plan in order to score, and this is of particular value early in a game before too many fighters have died. In fact there are enough warbands that don’t have any hunter’s that in some games you don’t even have to worry the majority of your hunter’s popping off a board and saying hello to the Grim Reaper.
Might even be convinced to rate this at four. Very strong for factions packed with hunters. – Oli
DONT FORGET DESPOILERS!!! – Tom
Ok I had to have a look at the FAQ here for a moment to fully understand how this card interacts with other cards like Victimise and Strength of Terror. When Victimise and Strength of Terror say +1 Dice what they are actually saying is ‘increase the dice characteristic by 1’, so if those cards are in effect during an activation that also has Abasoth’s Smothering then they don’t do anything. This means that Smothering is not only a way to reduce default accuracy, after all most attacks are a bit better then a single dice, but it can also counter all of the other accuracy cards in the game, well for a single activation.
Generally cards that deny accuracy are only good as reactions, when they are telegraphed in the power step your opponent has full information of what is going to happen and can simply choose to wait it out, not charging a fighter into a risky position. As most competitive games are best of 3’s to me this screams like a gotcha card that will only catch an opponent off guard for one of those games, when an aggro player is being greedy and drawing as many cards as possible before charging, for instance. If we had more powerful accuracy gambits like Haymaker that were staples I could see this being a solid way of teching against them, but right now all we have is Victimise and if you are absolutely desperate Sitting Target, that’s it.
Lets also not forget that at one focus a lvl 2 Wizard only has a 75% chance to actually cast the spell, meaning that in 1/4 games this card literally does nothing but take up space in your deck. With all the synergistic reasons for taking spells having rotated out with Nightvault (mostly spell objectives) we have to look at each spell as simply a ploy that can fail. Oh and if your only Wizard dies its also completely useless.
I’d love to be proved wrong here but I think its too weak right now.
An utterly compelling reason to be putting as many hunger cards into your deck as you possible can. This is basically The Earth Shakes as long as your target fighter has a hunger counter, except that if you are pushing your own fighters then it can also feed into the playstyle by adding even more tasty counters. I really want the rest of the set to be released so I can start properly playing around with all the hunger stuff that’s coming, cards like this make me very confident that it will be a strong playstyle in the future.
This with Hungry Advance, and possibly the next card, give a could starting point for a hold objective/control hunger deck – Oli
Healing in this game can be pretty strong, especially on fighter’s with lots of wounds. If you have reliable hunger generation then this is a reliable heal 2 gambit, effectively giving you 2 Great Fortitudes worth of wounds. Warbands with lots of low wound fighters will want to give this a miss, but large lads and big bois might find some good value here. Another card to add to the ever growing pile of reasons to be into hunger.
I am making an official Steel City community announcement, Feed the Beastgrave decks are now competitively viable. This was the last trigger needed for pretty much any warband to consider the playstyle, warbands that have their own cards to flip or destroy tokens just got even better at it. I don’t think you can build your entire strategy around destroying tokens right now but it can certainly work alongside other plans.
For hold objective decks, this is a great flexible card that can either act as a Sidestep equivalent in your own territory or as a disruption card for messing with tokens your opponent controls, making cards like Uncontested or Dominant Position much easier to score. I can see this card becoming a staple in decks that really care about objective tokens, this probably hurts flex players the most as I doubt they will invest the resources into taking this, giving more dedicated objective players another tool with which to dominate the power step.
Shafting Shifting Madness since 2021- Oli
Lost in reflection
I’m going to pretty much ignore the second condition on this card, its so niche that I expect it actually make a difference in less then 5% of games. The first condition is a doozy though. A strong deterrent to decks that rely on Primacy, especially the big boi’s who don’t really have backup fighters who can pick up the slack if their leader is out of action. Like Abasoth’s Smothering it’s only got a 1 round effect, but that is 1/12th of the game. This is an amazing card when Mollog and Hrothgorn are dominating the meta, and with some of the tasty upgrades I review below I think the big boi meta is here to stay, making this a solid tech choice for most decks.
Outside of big bois this is still an effective tool into elite warbands like Krusha’s or Wurmspat who might be using Primacy. If you are playing a horde warband and already using Underdog I think you should strongly consider this card, and if you do decide to take it then maybe Feign Weakness becomes good enough?
Aggro Horde with Feign Weakness, Underdog, Wrested Dominance and Punctured Pride….. DESPOILERS HERE WE GO BABY! – Tom
This is basically a copy of Spectral Wings. You can play it on (almost) any fighter in the game for an easy +2 move in the next activation, if you are taking quarry tech then this suddenly makes it all the more reliable while conversly cards that punish quarry, like Victimise or Hunting Bolt just went up a lot in value because this is going to be a staple. We already have 3 strong surge objectives that reward the ‘go fast’ cards, Gathered Momentum, Cover Ground and Winged Death, alongside an upgrade that is reviewed below that gives primacy for going fast. These movement effects are powerful on their own, letting you deploy out of range of your opponent’s fighters or charging into a protected backline target, with 2 of them we might even see warbands that have slower base movement stats (not Chosen Axes though lets be realistic) becoming a bit more viable.
Note that this card is choose a fighter. Not just a friendly fighter, any fighter. This means in a pinch, another niche use for this is card is to make an enemy a quarry and then use it to get the upside from cards like Victimise, if you really feel you need that extra power. – Oli
I’ve mentioned single focus spells reliability above so I’ll skip on repeating the rant, your reward here for a card that won’t work in 1/4 games is the ability to become a hunter and gaining Ensnare… for one round. Instead you could have an upgrade that makes you a Hunter and grants +1 damage on all range 1/2 attack actions for… literally the rest of the game.
If you want to force Hunger counters onto your opponent’s fighters, or stop a Hunger deck from being too powerful then here is an.. er ok card? It only affects one fighter but 3 counters seems like a lot. Really need to see the rest of the Hunger cards in this set before we know if this will be worth it, my gut feeling is that unless Hunger becomes the dominant playstyle in the meta that this will get passed over.
The Trap is Sprung
The current traps that we have are Slickrock, the above Starvation Snare and Hopesink which is pretty terrible. The only individually strong card out of that trio is Slickrock, which when it works already provides the effect that you want to take this card for. At worst this is Buried Instinct that requires another trigger and at best you can entirely deny a range 2+ attack. I am assuming here that the other traps all trigger off of movement actions, as all the ones already existing do. As mentioned in the intro the rating here is based on how viable the card currently is, but keep an eye on this one.
Here is the only trigger that currently exists for Martial Mage (I’m keeping my original comment here so all the world can see how dumb I am), while I am glad that they both came out in the same expansion you really should be skipping out on Martial Mage for the reasons I outlined above. Colossal Fist is a deceptively strong card though. It being Range 1 means that it benefits from upgrades like Great Strength, or even Sting of the Ur-Grub, powerful ways of enhancing attacks that were out of reach for most Spellcasters. It’s basic stats are a bit on the weak side, its effectively a range 1, 2 smash and 2 damage attack so you really do only want to take this if you have the aforementioned synergistic cards, but in those decks this can be a strong glue that holds your plan together.
Been over the Martial Mage confusion, but the fact regular attacks can score it doesn’t make this any better. However this is good for and cards that are for kills with spell attacks, as damage upgrades can really make this attack hurt. – Oli
We have seen this effect before with Archer’s Focus in Nightvault and that was a staple for decks/warbands that liked ranged attacks. Here we also get the benefit of becoming a hunter. Honestly any warband that has more then 2 of these type of attacks should probably be taking this in their decks, this is the type of card that might see Farstrider’s and Thundricks come back a bit in the meta. If we see a card like Gloryseeker get reprinted then the glory days really are back.
Not to be confused with any Farstrider Fighters. – Oli
Flight Before the Food
I love the name of this card.
Its effect however…
+1 move is generally a pretty weak effect, what we get in addition to that is immunity to any Hunger shenanigans that our opponents might want to use on our fighters, which right now is so uncommon its not worth caring about.
Its quarry tech that gives great speed. You might consider this over the likes of Hidden Presence in certain situations, if you need ways to make your fighters quarries. – Oli
Absolutely utterly insanely strong. Primacy/aggro Mollog just became the big daddy of the meta. Hrothgorn players can also rejoice here, alongside Krusha’s or any other warband that enjoys high wound fighters and primacy in combination. We have two different effects here, the first effect lets us get the primacy token if they target a certain fighter, for fighters that don’t die to one hit or already have wounds on them this is a great way to grab hold of that all important token. The second effect triggers if you have primacy, reduce the damage of the attack by 1 but lose the shiny token. For fighter’s with high amounts of wounds damage reduction is absolutely better then more wounds, if you are only going to die to multiple attacks then this effectively becomes +1 wound per attack that targets you. The loss of the primacy token does somewhat balance the secondary effect but there are some objectives that score off of you gaining said token, and they love it when you can grab it back again.
Remember how Toughened Hide had to be restricted for Hrothgorn? Well we now have a troll that has the same effective upgrade in a meta where Ferocious Resistance exists. Everyone needs a solid gameplan to deal with the big troll right now, with the ogre not far behind.
Shameless plug but for anyone who hasn’t yet I would highly recommend listening to the latest episode of our podcast, Big Bois are Bad for the Game, me and Tom discuss both sides of the issue on how warbands like Mollog and Hrothgorn warp the meta and come to some conclusions that might surprise our readers.
Bear in mind that the reaction in in the ‘deal damage’ step. This is before the ‘check if the target is taken out of action’ step (hence you can reduce the damage before the fighter dies) meaning you can use this to cheekily grab the Primacy token before you die and score some surges, even if you might just immediately be losing it again, if you got one shot. – Oli
If you get the Hunger counters to make this a 3 fury attack then this is a solid attack action upgrade, the attack profile being equal to inspired Hrothgorn’s ranged attack. I think needing 3 counters makes this a very tough ask right now, I love the implication that that many Hunger counters might be something you can expect to get later in the season. If you are having to fire this at one fury you should not be putting it into your deck, and alas right now that’s all it is.
Awakened Weapon that requires you to burn a Hunger counter for the re-roll, but with the upside that you only have to use the effect after you have seen the initial roll. Add this to the list of crazy powerful effects you can use if you have reliable Hunger Generation.
So much text for such a weak effect makes Mike a sad boy. For anyone scratching their head over this card, the easiest way to think about it is that be default you are moving onto objective 1, which if its occupied means this card literally does nothing, oh wait it actually stops you moving which is probably bad. The other clauses on this card come into effect if your upgraded fighter is already on an objective token, at which point read it all through and consult some arcane wizards to figure out where you go.
What this upgrade doesn’t do is let you move onto any free token. If your ‘target token’ is occupied you don’t automatically target the next one in the sequence, you simply don’t have a legal place to move, it literally says that you cannot make a move action.
The only warband I can see considering this are Harrows, with their plethora of pushes they can gurentee a free token and you are usually control the 2 on your board, this lets objectives like Swift Capture or Temporary Victory become more viable or even just makes Dominant Position a bit safer.
Bring back Faneway Crystal.
I think Mike is being generous here. This card is not reliable enough to be a competitive choice, and its potential down side far out ways the very restrictive move. – Oli
This is very very strong.
A reliable way to gain the primacy token as a reusable effect now exists in the game.
Primacy seems to have been balanced around the fact that it is a semi unreliable resource that you have to fight your opponent over. Being able to grab it for simple moving gets around those issues and lets you rely on it a lot more, making objectives like Swelling Pride a lot more powerful.
Remember that if the fighter with this upgrade dies then the negative part of this card doesn’t trigger, so if you run a low wound fighter through a lethal hex you don’t really have to worry about the downside, sneaky rats will enjoy this oh yes yes…
It’s also got +1 move bolted to it, I’ve mentioned that +1 move on it’s own isn’t that powerful and I stand by that statement, but it’s certainly a nice extra bonus as anyone who gets to the second power level on Deserved Confidence will tell you.
We are limited a bit here by the fact that we have to move 5 hexes further away from the starting position, just like Gathered Momentum, making it potentially put a fighter out of position. I think the best case use for this upgrade is on Hrothgorn, a fighter who likes but struggles with Primacy, one who also starts at 4 move and then hits the exact amount of movement needed to trigger the effect on this card with the +1 move it also gives. Hrothgorn players usually pack Gathered Momentum because Thrafnir starts at 5 move, well here is a backup way to score it if your pussy gets pounded too early.
For slow Warbands like Krusha’s I think you pass on this, yes you could take Spectral Wings etc alongside this but we are starting to burn a lot of resources here just to get primacy, how about making your attack more accurate instead? Notice that I haven’t mentioned Mollog yet, with his ability to move twice you would think that this card is a slam dunk but he only goes to 4 move with this upgrade, its the same issue as the Krusha’s with a potentially bigger upside using that double move.
Any warband or deck that is running on speed and has been flirting with primacy has suddenly become a lot stronger, this might become a meta defining card.
If you pack enough Hunter upgrades onto a fighter that has a range 1 attack then you get a bunch of re-rolls. I’m presuming that this counts itself which means that right away its similar in power to Awakened Weapon, only limited to range 1 attacks. Seems solid for warbands that rely on Range 1 attacks that are already packing Savage Strength/Speed.
This card is like sting of the Ur-Grub. Nice effect, that would normally work on 1 or 2 range but with additional upside. Honestly being a hunter is pretty good, but pretty much every aggro faction has to have hunters in already at this point. The re-roll is very spicy, and when you pair this with hunters talisman this combo gives plus 1 dice and 2 re-rolls (3 vs a quarry). I would rate this a 3, despite the 1 range restriction. – Oli
You know what would be nice?
I’ll tell you what.
A persisting gambit that grants the player who plays it a negative effect while it is active but then gives a positive effect for that same player once it is stopped. That would make a card like Voidsphere fun.
As it is you are kind of relying on your opponent playing cards that… no one is really playing.
The attack profile is ok?
But it is discarded after one use.
I can’t quite rate this as a one, the attack profile alone is better then that, but I do struggle to see a top deck effectively using it.
This card really wishes it was Shadeglass Darts. Its not. It disappears as soon as you attack with it. Chances are your going to miss too, cus never lucky. Bet mike would crit every attack though. – Oli
Got this out pretty fast, so if there are mistakes please be kind and message me so I can make an edit before all the world see’s and mocks me.
We should have a Steel City review on the new Seraphon warband once we get all the details, I might not be able to pump it out as this one but I’d expect it no later then 3 days after all the details are made public.