The title is a lie. Katophrane Relic decks are not easy to beat, and aren’t fun to play against.
Since I started playing Shadespire back at the release of Skaven I have wanted to play a Katophrane Relic deck, hence the name of the this very website AND if you’ve been following the blog I have largely been focussed on creating decks that don’t require dice rolls and reliance on things out of my control i.e. deck draw, dice and my opponent.
Fast forward to today and a Katophrane Deck has won the WHW Grand Clash 2 and has largely been hailed as ‘game breaking’. Now, from my experience in the gaming industry it is usually the vocal minority who are heard the loudest and in the echo chamber that is a Facebook Group it can look like the Katophranes are ‘broken’ to an outsider looking in from the outside looking in before they even try to play against them.
For the health of the competitive scene I hope that the GW playtesters and rules writers solve this as soon as possible or at the bare minimum announce they are aware of the problem and are looking into a solution.
The Katophrane Relics are powerful. No question there. Card Draw & 4 Glory per Action is probably a bit too much. Meta-defining? Yes-yes. The problem lies in:
- The ease of finding the Relics
- A severe lack of counter-play
- Glory Scored is too high
- The Grand Clash Tournament Ranking
Let’s go through and explain my thoughts. Solutions given are not cumulative but looked at in a vaccum!
The Ease of Finding the Relics
Relics are easy to find. If you keep your deck trim, then you need to ‘find’ 6/20 cards if you don’t draw any in Turn One and mulligan then you are looking for 6/15. The three cards available for card draw make this task very reliable (Duel of Wits, Improvisation, Trust to Luck). Coupled with Spoils of Battle you have a very easy time of clearing your hand before the end of the Turn. Finding the first four is the only challenge. Once you have 4 relics on someone you can very quickly discover the final two through just going on Guard repeatedly…because that ruling was ruled that way.
Solution: Make the 4+ relic benefit “Reaction: After this fighter’s Action, draw one power card”.
A Severe Lack of Counter-Play
There are two ‘hard counter’ ploys in the game that can shut down the relics. Shattershard & Frozen in Time – these both require a 50/50 dice roll to go in your favour, and for your opponent to not have Misdirection in their hand. In terms of a ‘soft counter’ we have Hidden Paths to teleport at the end of a turn in range of the Relic bearer to try and win initiative and kill them next turn.
HOWEVER! We also have a BUNCH of tech that keeps people alive for longer. Deathly Fortitude gives +2 wounds, Soultrap, Quick Thinker, On Your Feet & Tethered Spirit let you ignore death and with TS you can relocate on the board, Rebound for a clutch 33% chance of killing your Attacker, and finally Misdirection to bounce the two hard counters onto someone else.
If a ‘Scaredy Kat’ warband deploys the board longways you can be sure they have Hidden Paths to counter your Hidden Paths, and probably Illusory Fighter to bounce them back into safety.
Finally the best warbands to play this way with are the low model count defensive warbands as they 1) can deny you glory from kills 2) can achieve passive objectives easier 3) generally have high starting health and defence so can weather the storm IF you manage to reach them.
Solution: I don’t have one, and that worries me. However, when the other Solutions are put in place I don’t think this becomes as much of a problem…
The Amount of Glory Scored is Too Damn High!
12 or 16 Glory in the final turn is too high, coupled with the 5 or 6 Glory needed to equip the Relics. From all my games my average glory scored is around 12-13 per game, and I consider myself a good player. Being able to sit there and press the ‘Dispense 4 Glory’ button is too powerful and is the primary thing I would change on the Relics.
Solution 1: “6+ Relics Action: Gain 6 Glory, and this model gains a Charge Token”
Solution 2: “6+ Relics Action: Gain 2 Glory Points”
Solution 3: REMOVE THIS BROKEN MECHANIC!!
The Grand Clash Tournament Ranking
Bear with me, this one is a bit left field but if you’re unaware the Grand Clash is ranked as such
Tournament Points (highest)
Games Lost (lowest)
Glory Point Difference (highest)
Roll Off using standard roll off
The players are randomly paired in round one, and uses swiss to find the top two players after round X. There is then a cut to the top 2, who play for first and second.
Typically, these events run in a single day over four rounds before a cut to the top 2. The Grand Clashes draw in a large crowd. In our example we’ll say 80 turn up.
Round 1: 40 undefeated players
Round 2: 20 undefeated players
Round 3: 10 undefeated players
Round 4: 5 undefeated players
A cut to the top 2 leaves three players who won all their games outside of the bracket on equal TP scored. IF you lost a single game on the way then you can pretty much write yourself out of playing in the final as games lowest number of games lost is the first tie-breaker. Then we move onto Glory Point Difference – this promotes denying your opponent as much glory as possible, which the Katophranes do OH SO WELL!
I’d like to see these events move towards a cut to the top 8 from Round 4 and then a straight knock-out till there is a winner. It still gives you something to aim for with a loss in hand as you’re still likely to make the cut if you go 2-0 in your remaining games.
For the health of the competitive scene I hope that the GW playtesters and rules writers solve this as soon as possible or at the bare minimum announce they are aware of the problem and are looking into a solution. Numerous friends of mine have pretty much dropped playing competitively since these copyKat decks have begun springing up at every event.