Posted in Spiteclaw's Swarm, Warhammer Underworlds

Spiteclaw’s Swarm: Mid-Tier Faction

As part of my Faction spotlight series I’ll be looking at Spiteclaw’s Swarm today.

Catch up here:


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.

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Welcome back Objective Play! We all missed you!

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:

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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!

Posted in Event Review, Spiteclaw's Swarm, Warhammer Underworlds

Rebel Base Gaming – Event Review

Another event at the amazing Rebel Base Gaming and because the owner being a tip-top guy, he even came to pick me up and drive me to venue! 5/7 Perfect Owner. Would recommend. My last competitive event saw Skritch take first place at FanBoy 3 alas the event was not a Glass Trophy Tournament so I left Q2 without taking a Glass Trophy!

This was Skritch’s time to shine – at this point I’d just surpassed 100 Competitive Games with my Skaven (stats for nerds below). I’m determined to get a glass trophy with Skritch because I fell in love with the warband’s playstyle on launch and have never truly looked away since getting my hands on them.

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If you’re interested in seeing my decklist for the Skaven Warband then it is available to view on this blog. Without further ado lets delve into the Event Review.

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Game 1 vs Stormcast (Simon)

I was randomly drawn against Simon. I was a little nervous to see Stormcast in the first round as the Passive Build can be detrimental to my playstyle, if I don’t draw the cards I need early. Simon said he’d been following the game since it’s launch but hadn’t managed to find much time to play, so had pulled a deck list from the internet. This got me a little worried as it could well have been the Stallcast deck that is doing the rounds.

Fortunately it was an aggressive build which works well for my playstyle. Round 1 saw Krrk charge at Brightshield to do 2DMG and leaving himself vulnerable for a Steelheart counter charge. I took the gamble and Krrk remained alive but was driven away from Brightshield. Through good use of card combos and correct target priority an Inspired Skritch’s activation saw a dead Brightshield and Steelheart. A charge against Brightshield and a Ready for Action/Great Strength Attack against Steelheart earned me Victorious Duel, Precise Use of Force, and with Spoils of Battle I was able to grab Escalation, Ploymaster and Shining Example for a total of 9 Glory in Turn One, whilst Simon was able to score Plant a Standard for controlling an objective in my territory. Turn Two saw a Shadeglass Dagger wielding rat charge and kill Obryn to seal the deal – the remaining activations were spent cycling cards and moving models in to the Stormcast Board to prevent Denial.

Round 2 was a much closer affair but I was still able to make use of my Passive objectives to score Glory whilst Simon didn’t and the fight going into the final turn was heavily in my favour due to my upgrades. Simon was a fantastic player who revealed at the end of the game that he did not have the cards from Skaven/Dwarves onwards – I was shocked to see him come second overall without any of the ‘auto’ take cards from the last two waves of releases. I fully expect to see Simon challenging for Tournament wins at upcoming events very soon!

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Game 2 vs Farstriders (Oli)

This would be a tough one! I find a well piloted Farstrider list to be very challenging for Skaven. Oli was playing them as the aggresive kind so would be looking to get into my board half to Inspire – I had to not let him do that. Without any access to meaningful Cleave Skaven can struggle to break two shield defence dice. Again, the Great Horned Rat smiled upon me and provided favourable Objectives – mainly Skritch is the Greatest yes-yes, and Change of Tactics which allowed me to use Lurking Skaven to get a Glory from CoT and Upgrade Skritch with Incredible Strength to being one-shotting folks in Turn One.

Both games ended up with Skritch hulking out and dominating the play. Until the final turn of our second Round when the entire swarm of rats left the fight to safely score Shining Example and Chosen Champion which unlocked Superior Tactician and, and flee into the far corner of the Farstrider Territory to stop Denial. This secured me my second Game win. Just one more Game till I could finally claim Shadeglass after so long!

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Game 3 vs Sepulchral Guard (Paul)

Here it is. The Glass Trophy Match. If Skritch wins this he can hang up his Warpstone and take a well earned rest. But first, his old nemesis from the Objective Deck days awaits him. The Warden.

Paul was my final opponent for the day and had been running riot with Overextended & Claim the City scored multiple times throughout the day. Madness. I questioned him on it before the game and he explained that against Stallcast he wanted the option to surprise them with claiming all five and dumping big glory.

As I knew Paul would be playing heavy objectives I opted to take the Hazardous Hex Fire Board and placed my objectives on them. This would deter the skeletons from moving onto them as I had left Krrk out of their charge range but in range to play sweeper keeper and kill anyone who tries to take my objectives.

Skritch ran rampant in these two games. I think he totalled a body count of around 14 over both games gleefully killing every skeleton in sight. I’ve had great experience against Sepulchral Guard through my regular opponent, Harry, who played them at their highest level at Grand Clashes when he was competing frequently so I feel I have this match-up in the bag – most times. Fortunately that experience shone through and I was able to take victory! Glass at last!

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Hero’s Mantle

Skritch can now take his place alongside Sevrin on the Hero’s Mantle. The only question now is who do I play at The Forge Glass Trophy Event on September 29th? I feel that the Skeletons may be rising to take the day!

Posted in Spiteclaw's Swarm, Warhammer Underworlds

Spiteclaw’s Swarm – Deck List

The Leader Pack has been out for nearly two months now. We’ve seen it’s impact on the competitive scene and bar a few outliers *cough*Falcon Strike*cough* the dust has mostly settled and we’ve not truly seen a meta shift. Farstriders are probably the top tier faction in my opinion as their playstyle can flow perfectly between passive and aggressive depending on their opponent.

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“I hate that bird. Look at it’s stupid smug face.”

I’m still sticking it out with my Skaven however, and will be taking them to the events I attend in September. If you’re UK based and fancy a chance at Glass why not visit The Forge in Manchester on September 29th.

If you’ve been following along then the deck has not changed particularly since it’s last iteration however for those who may be new to the game or this blog; the deck focuses on utilising the overpowering strength of Skritch (he is the greatest yes-yes) to kill, mane, mutilate and generally cause chaos wherever he goes.

Whilst skaven are seen as a primarily hold objective warband there are just too many cards around now that prevent this from being a viable competitive play option. So by utilising Shadeglass Weapons and incredibly fast models the warband is able to pick apart it’s foe. Another surprising benefit is that because of the warband’s Dodge defence characterisitic it nullifies all the Cleave upgrades and abilities that are inherently built in to other aggro factions.

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“Double Dodge is legit!”

Enough ramble. Here’s the net deck.

Objectives:

Victorious Duel (305)
Change of Tactics (243)
Precise Use of Force (284)
Chosen Champion (244)
Master of War (272)
Shining Example (L24)
Ploymaster (282)
Alone in the Darkness (235)
Advancing Strike (234)
Superior Tactician (291)
Skritch is the Greatest, yes-yes (154)
Escalation (257)

Ploys:

Quick Thinker (347)
Great Concussion (329)
Time Trap (368)
Musk of Fear (159)
Illusory Fighter (332)
Sidestep (360)
Hidden Paths (331)
Ready for Action (348)
Trap (369)
Spoils of Battle (362)

Upgrades:

Awakened Weapon (376)
Shadeglass Hammer (412)
Shadeglass Dagger (410)
Helpful Whispers (393)
Great Strength (391)
Incredible Strength (395)
Acrobatic (374)
A Destiny to Meet (373)
Tethered Spirit (424)
Deathly Fortitude (384)

I’m still drawn back to objective play but I just can’t bring myself to do it, who knows maybe I’ll wildcard it at an event.

Posted in Spiteclaw's Swarm, Warhammer Underworlds

Competitive Skaven – Update

Just a quick blog entry with my latest results inputted into the spreadsheet of doom. I’m extremely happy with my Overall Win Percentage of 74%. What started as a little side project has truly developed into a passion for tracking results – especially with my Skaven!

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I’ve been tracking my competitive play with Skaven since their release in Wave 3, and I’ve noticed my playstyle has changed drastically with them since Wave 4 and the introduction of Great Concussion – which essentially nuked competitive objective play.

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I’m nearing 100 competitive games with my Skaven now and I’m excited for them to reach their century, and hopefully bag their first Shadeglass Trophy (something I’ve only managed with Aggrocast) I’ll be competing for it at Just Play Games in Liverpool tomorrow. Maybe I’ll strike glass – who knows? There are some cracking players attending so I’m not overly confident but I’d be disappointed to not podium given my run of placement at events…

 

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I’ll report back on the event next week! Wish me luck!!

Posted in Spiteclaw's Swarm, Warhammer Underworlds

RATophrane Relics

brilliant

With the release of Magore’s Fiends and The Farstriders we have been blessed/cursed with the final two Katophrane Relics. For those who don’t know, the Katophrane Relics are Upgrade cards that have cumulative abilities the more you stack onto one model. When you get the full set of 6 onto a model it allows you to spend an Action to generate 4 Glory. 4 GLORY!

I’ve been theorying the Katophrane Relic Deck since I first started playing Shadespire as it isn’t actually that hard to find all 6 cards in your deck of 20. ESPECIALLY when you include the card cycle abilities in your ploys, and once you have 4 relics it’s VERY easy to get through the deck.

The faction I always theorized this deck working on was Objective Skeletons as they can generate the 5 Glory required to equip the relics before spaffing their final turn on scoring 16/12 Glory, but also because they can resurrect the wearer of the Katophranes so that a canny player cannot remove them from play.

However, once I began playing I soon found that Skaven were just as good (if not a bit better) and an unusual suspect claimed the Katophrane for himself. Skritch became my Katophrane Caddy. With his easy inspiration mechanic, good defensive stats and access to alternative actions he actually became my top choice.

 


The Deck List

deck

Objectives:

Hold 1-5: Easy access to glory. Very achievable

Supremacy: If it comes off then equipping the relics is simple.

Escalation: The game plan revolves around equipping the Relics this plays into that perfectly.

Master of War: A staple in my objectives super easy to achieve.

Ploymaster: The Ploys are all very easy to use and this is a Glory that can be scored without interacting with my opponent.

Chosen Champion: A new objective that I think will be quite a popular one – requires one guy with 3+ upgrades…I’m gunning for 6 on one person.

Precise Use of Force & Skritch is the Greatest: These small Score Immediately cards allow the Objective Deck to cycle quicker and give a little glory boost mid-turn.


Ploys

Illusory Fighter: Inspires & keeps Skritch safe

Spoils of Battle: Reduces the Glory required to equip the full set.

Duel of Wits: Card cycle is key!!

Rebound: If someone came after Skritch in game 1 knowing I have this card sows that seed of doubt.

Confusion: Inspires two skaven and helps take objectives.

Misdirection: Shattershard & Frozen in Time can truly spoil this build Misdirection is a reliable forceful denial.

Sacrificial Pawn: Inspires & helps gets Glory if the opponent kills that model

Trust to Luck: BIG card draw if the Relics are hidden at the bottom of the deck

There are always more: Inspires & always good to save an action that could be used to draw a card

Second Wind: Incredible use to catch opponents unaware

Ready for Action: You’ll be equipping plenty of upgrades so might as well get the most out of them.

Improvisation: Again, more card draw if you burn through your hand.


Upgrades:

Katophrane Relics 1-6: It’s a Katophrane Deck…

Deathly Fortitude: Skaven are plenty fast as it is, giving Skritch 2 extra heath pushes him out of 1s shot range

Soultrap: Another chance to save the bearer of the relics

A destiny to meet: Free Glory for being alive!

Expendable: Prevent the opponent scoring glory and cause a bit of chip damage too

Incredible Strength: Put Skritch to DMG 4 and start one-shotting fighty warbands

Great Fortitude: 7 Health makes a truly untempting target to deal with

Posted in Spiteclaw's Swarm, Warhammer Underworlds

How to Play Turn One

This is a follow-on article to How to Deploy Skaven

I’ve been playing Skaven since their release last month and have had a good string of success with them. Placing 1st, 2nd, 2nd at a local events and 10th at the March Grand Clash. In all my games I’ve always found myself making the same few starting moves regardless of opponent, and then I have to adapt my plan based on their set-up, objective placement and opening moves.

I can’t help you adapt your plans but if you follow my Top 5 Tips for Competitive Play you’ll be on the right track. Hand on heart, the best way to get better is to play lots of practice games against a variety of opponents and decks. Try and get to a local scramble near you. Lots of Gaming Stores run 1 day events that cost less than a ten bob note to enter.

Turn One Checklist:

  • Hold all the Objectives in your Territory
  • Get Skritch Inspired
  • Score at least One Glory!
  • Try and hold three Objectives 

IF YOU HAVE 3 OBJECTIVES

 

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This is a nice and easy first turn. You’ll be looking to put Krrk on a ‘safe’ objective (Activation One) and two minnow rats onto the remaining two objectives (Activations Two and Three). If you can use ploys to achieve this  then use your remaining activations to either 1) move Skritch to safety 2) cycle your Objectives for something to Score.

If you have drawn Supremacy – Great, you might get to score 3 Glory & any additional Hold Objective X cards you drew,
If you haven’t drawn Supremacy – Don’t Panic! You can still score it in Turn 2, and if you’re lucky you might draw out your opponent’s Earthquake if they think YOU have Supremacy in hand.

IF YOU HAVE 2 OBJECTIVES

 

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Again, you’ll want to put Krrk on a ‘safe’ objective (Activation One) and one of the minnows onto the other (Activation Two). Unlike with three objectives you’ll need to be aggressive to grab the third (if required). The best way I have found to do this is to allow one of your rats to get killed (red glow), conceding a Glory to the opponent but allowing you to resurrect the sneaky rat in the opponent’s territory (Activation Three) and go grab an objective (Activation 4). You’ll need to make sure you haven’t moved before biting the dust as you cannot Move again!

 

Posted in Spiteclaw's Swarm, Warhammer Underworlds

How to Deploy Skaven

HOW TO DEPLY

Element Games - Wargaming Webstore

In my previous article I was asked by a reader “How do you deploy the Skaven Warband and Objectives?” and it got my brain whirring. In all my games with Skaven I’ve only ever used one board facing and regardless of which way it is flipped I’ve never felt on the back-foot – unlike slower warbands which can have a bad Turn 1 due to the lack of combat.

I’m not going to go through every board layout as that would be heck of a long read, instead I’ll go over the basic principles I use when I deploy the board first, and when I go second. To see my most recent deck list click here and that will give you some insight into why I make my choices.

SET UP

Skaven rats are squishy. You don’t want to be going toe-to-toe with anyone in Turn 1 and my deck rewards non-engagement with it’s heavy focus on Objectives. If they can’t kill you for Glory, then they need to score Objectives themselves – the Skaven deck is tailored to win this particular battle.

Scenario 1: You control the placement of the Game Board

Placing Boards
Place the board so none, or just one, of your rats are in range to be charged. This provides complete denial to your opponent of potential glory to be scored other than Objectives.

Placing Objectives
You only have two Objectives to deploy, whilst not ideal, these should be deployed at the back of your board – see the diagram below for my most common placement.

Placing Fighters
Ensure Skritch & Krrk are as far back as possible. Then your minnow rats can be deployed on the remaining spaces. Every Objective is in range of at least two rats.

If you have Supremacy in hand then you want to get a minnow rat killed before it moves so leave one in range of their models to be charged and killed. Then you can resurrect it into your opponent’s territory and claim a third Objective.

Setup 1

Scenario 2: You don’t control the placement of the Game Board…but you get three Objectives

Placing Boards
Choose the same board in Scenario One, this offers you a lot of flex in your set up. It is likely that your opponent will choose the board edge with the closest hexes, as such it’s the setup I’ll show you.

Placing Objectives
I’ll provide my most common set up below – it focuses on denying your opponent access to your rats and the Objectives. The dream is a Turn One Supremacy to begin throwing out upgrades. They will always be able to reach one and you can assume it will die, but this is fine you now get to resurrect it in their territory.

Placing Fighters
Just like in Scenario 1 you always want to deploy Skritch and Krrk as far away from the action as possible whilst leaving only one, or none, of your minnow rats in range to be charged.

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If you follow my Top 5 Tips for Competitive Play and put these set ups to use then you too can feel the Glory flowing through your ratty fingertips yes-yes.

I’ll be following this article up with another showing my typical Turn 1 tactics.

Element Games - Wargaming Webstore

Posted in Event Review, Spiteclaw's Swarm

Always the Bridesmaid…

2nd

Element Games - Wargaming Webstore

This weekend I attended two events, the first at my LGS Element Games and the second at JustPlay Games in Liverpool. In both events I managed to place Second Overall which was fantastic but being so close to gold both times has spurred me on to continue with Skaven and keep honing my deck. I’m getting close readers. I can feel it in my bones.

Tweaks to the deck:

Below is pretty much the deck I took to the event, except swap Ethereal Shield Upgrade (Convert Dodge to Shield) for Acrobatics (+1 Def with Dodge).

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Changes I’m going to be trialing at the next few events will be to swap out:

  • Ploymaster for Tactical Supremacy 3-4
  • Shadeglass Darts for Sneaky Stab-Stab

Reasons for the changes are that 1) Push the Objective Game even harder, 2) Sneaky Stab-Stab is not only a great name, but allows some much greater mobility especially when paired with Skitter-Skurry to allow Skritch to effectively have a reach of 3 Hexes on his attacks.

WARNING!
NERDY STATS AHEAD!!

I’ve been to five events in total now and have 32 competitive games under my Katophrane Belt. The data is starting to take shape but the numbers are still a bit low to provide anything conclusive except for one thing…Skaven are a bad match up for Orruks.

My competitive record as a whole:

totals

Obviously Skaven are my go-to faction and the data speaks for itself, a win rate of 78% with a faction is pretty damn good. If I dig into the data a little further and look at my Skaven match ups we can determine that nearly half my games have been vs Orruks and since I know that deck and it’s capabilities reasonably well it’s difficult to determine wether it’s a) a good match up for Skaven on the whole, b) I know what their likely plans are and how best to counter it, or c) a compound of both which skews my win % highly versus them:

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Whilst I do have win % of 100 and 0 in this list, the sample sizes are far too small to draw anything accurate. For example, the two Skeleton games were a 10-10 draw (lost on objectives held) and a 10-11 loss due to untimely Earthquakes. Whilst I know for a fact that I won two of the Stormcast games because their dice were vindictive cubes of hate that wanted me to win the game.

I’ll be continuing to track my competitive record and hope to play more factions at events so I can get a wider variety of results and we can really dig into the nitty gritty of the game.

Element Games - Wargaming Webstore

Posted in Spiteclaw's Swarm, Warhammer Underworlds

Skaven Deck Re-worked

If you read my previous blog post about how I got on at the recent Warhammer World Grand Clash then you’ll know I favoured an Objective focused Skaven deck but had some flex slots that I felt could be improved upon. I’m heading to two local scrambles this weekend and will be putting my reworked deck through it’s paces.

After the two events this weekend I’ll be doing a write up on how the games went, and whether I feel these changes were worth it or if it’s back to the drawing board.


OBJECTIVES

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The Objective Deck has changed slightly to push the Hold Objective plan – I replaced Denial with Tactical Supremecy 1-2. Denial simply wasn’t achievable at the Grand Clash with so many Aggrocast and Orruks it was a shock to the system as my local meta is quite defensive.

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Arm’s Length is swapped out for Determined Defender. Arm’s Length required no support in combat so was left to the heart of the dice, which I’m not a fan off and was not enjoying drawing this objective card. It’s been replaced by Determined Defender which is a bit slower but I realised I was doing this anyway so why not score glory for it!

Element Games - Wargaming Webstore

PLOYS

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After the Grand Clash I felt that Healing Potion was a bit of a waste due to either being one-hit killed or left alone, this has been swapped out for Nervous Scrabbling (aka Skaven Confusion) to allow for more objective grabbing and keeping the Skaven Inspiration requirements under my control.

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Momentary Boldness is a card that is brilliant when it comes off but can be quite telegraphed and easily disrupted, in my playtest games I found a switched-on opponent would counter it effectively.  This was replaced with Illusory Fighter to allow an over-extended Skritch to return to the safety of my territory.

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Finally, the ploy that I have enjoyed the most since it’s inclusion has been Rethink Strategy (replacing Misdirection) – this has allowed me to cycle through my objectives quicker to find Supremacy and Making a Statement.


UPGRADES

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Bodyguard for a Price IS a good card, however I wasn’t finding myself using it to the best of it’s ability so I swapped it out for Ethereal Shield to give Skritch Shields on defence rather than relying on Dodge.

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Updated Deck List


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DO YOU AGREE WITH MY CHANGES? WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY? LET ME KNOW: