As part of my Faction spotlight series I’ll be looking at Spiteclaw’s Swarm today.
Catch up here:
- Introduction: Jamie’s Faction Tier
- Article 1: Top Tier Factions
- Article 2: Mid Tier Factions: Sepulchral Guard
All factions are capable of winning an Event and we’re in a really good place for Game Balance. The warbands in the Mid-Tier are warbands that I see as having an inherent weakness but their strengths can overcompensate for this.
Why is Spiteclaw’s Swarm Mid-Tier?
TL:DR – They’re fast. There are always more. They have double dodge. They have good in faction ploys for Objective play. However, an aggressive warband will threaten Skritch early and deploy objective hexes close to the centre line. Thus negating their speed and leaves skaven vulnerable to attacks.
Prior to the BAR List I’d have put Spiteclaw’s Swarm into the Top Tier in a heartbeat. For those of you new to the blog I have been tracking my competitive Underworlds record since I began playing, it’s become a labour of love, and for the vast majority of that time I ‘mained’ Spiteclaw’s Swarm playing them in a variety of playstyles; Hold Objectives, Ratophrane Relics, and finally Passive-Aggressive. Throughout that time I’ve seen the warband compete at the highest level multiple times and rarely found them wanting in a competitive sense. However the BAR list hit my list hard, 3 cards were banned and 15 restricted – with such a big change the deck does not work the same and must revert to the Hold Objective playstyle.
Fortunately, this is absolutely fine for Spiteclaw’s Swarm! They were designed as an Objective holding faction! Speed 5, easiest Inspire condition in the game, double dodge dice, resurrection anywhere, strong faction cards for objective play, and Skritch Spiteclaw himself all make for a nightmare warband to play against!
The warband’s model count allows them to play the objective game whilst still having the capability to score some mid-turn glory through combat. Making a Statement is a fantastic objective that Skaven can take advantage of due to their resurrection mechanic not being limited to their own starting hex, and with their movement of 5, abundance of push cards, and effectively double Confusion means they can quickly grab lots of objectives!
Just like the Sepulchral Guard this faction gained a boost from the Nightvault Token system, able to move onto an objective, get killed, be resurrected and move back to the objective is HUGE! This genuinely used to be a real problem back in the early days but now it seems like the golden age of the Hold Objective archetype!
The reason I’ve NOT included these rats in the top tier is that they do have a predictable gameplan for the most part. With the effective loss of Shadeglass Dagger & Hammer the majority of their killing has to come solely from Skritch. Previously this was fine because that was the entire plan, but when you lean more into an objective game Skritch is vital to keep alive so you can ensure your rats get resurrected.
If a canny player can hunt down Skritch in Turn 1 or early Turn 2 then the game gets sour FAST for Spiteclaw’s Swarm. Similarly, a player who is well versed with (or against) the Skaven Objective grabbers will deploy their obejctives in such a way that they are so close together that the Skaven speed and ability to split up a foe is neutered. See example below:
Both the blue Objectives (deployed by the aggressor) are in the Skaven territory. Whilst this may seem like the incorrect play the Skaven player’s only way to set up Supremacy or Our Only Way Out is to move into range of your fighters. By not placing any objectives in your own territory you rob the Skaven player of the opportunity to score Making a Statement so they MUST put an objective in your territory.
You can push forward with two fighters (or more) into the Skaven territory and begin threatening multiple objectives; either by standing on them, to make the Skaven player use Ploys OR by moving next to an objective so the Skaven player has to move there safe in the knowledge that they will get attacked in the next activation.
The green circle is a starting hex which I like to a call ‘sweeper keeper’ starting position. It threatens three Objective hexes and is primarily there to deter the Skaven from resurrecting in your territory. After you’ve seen Making a Statement played in a previous game you may just want to go and stand on the objective to force a Confusion ploy.
Essentially Spiteclaw’s Swarm are damned good at what they do, possibly the best out there – I need more table time with the Grots to weigh that up. Skaven are good at Objective play regardless of the number of Objectives in their territory but they excel when they can split their opponent up. DO NOT LET THEM. DO NOT CHASE THE RATS.
Where do you rank Spiteclaw’s Swarm? Let me know in the comment section below & sign up to the mailing list so you don’t miss out on any future articles!