Posted in Steelheart's Champions, Warhammer Underworlds

Steelheart’s Champions: Holding the Pyramid

Welcome Trophy Hunters! As part of my Faction spotlight series I’ll be looking at Steelheart’s Champions today. All factions are capable of winning an Event and we’re in a really good place for Game Balance.

The warbands in the Bottom-Tier are warbands that I see as having a weakness that the loss of cards on the Banned & Restricted List has enhanced. 

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Steelheart’s Champions Weaknesses

From a purely on-card perspective Steelheart’s Champions should be strong, and in all honesty their buffed stats can carry them to victory and are very forgiving! However, their defensive playstyle has taken a huge hit from the BAR List, and their aggressive build has been neutered too. So currently they don’t excel at any one playstyle, and therefore must be hybrid style deck but a Defensive/Aggressive build is difficult to pull off as your Objective deck can end up with conflicting goals too easily.

Stormcast Eternals are Sigmar’s immortal warriors clad in sigmarite armor – his “vengeance made manifest”[ – and his final gambit against the forces of Chaos.

Steelheart’s Champions Inspire mechanic, whilst thematic of their armour, can be bit of a negative play experience (NPE) to their opponent when it triggers on a successful defence. Their popularity because of this pre-BAR List, in no small part, lead to the one-shot meta. Why let them get better when they could just get dead? That’s changed a little now and the 4 health statistic feels more survivable.

Steelheart’s Champions & The BAR List

The BAR List was ultimately a negative document for Steelheart’s Champions. Whilst they benefited from the restriction of hidden damage cards it also neutered their own offensive playstyle, and they lost their super-defensive tools in Quick Thinker & Great Concussion.

Restricted Objectives They Love

  • Change of Tactics
  • Defensive Strike
  • Escalation
  • Extreme Flank
  • Fired Up
  • Perfect Planning
  • Precise Use of Force

Restricted Gambits They Love

  • Illusory Fighter
  • My Turn
  • Ready for Action

Restricted Upgrades They Love

  • A Destiny to Meet
  • Slumbering Key
  • Soultrap
  • Tethered Spirit

Which Five Cards Would I Choose?

If I were playing Steelheart’s Champions I’d still be looking to play a Defensive deck at it’s heart with some counter-attacking options for later in the game. This is one of the factions that I believe the restricted objectives are the most important as they lean on their own and generic objectives more. Therefore I’d only take Extreme Flanks from the restricted list!

For the Gambits I’d likely take Ready for Action, and My Turn leaving TWO upgrade slots available!!! With which I’d be taking the Slumbering Key & Destiny to Meet. Why? Because a defensive deck tends to be focused on denying your glory whilst scoring a little themselves – so getting two more glory in the end game is so important!!

Related Article: Unbroken Wall (Steel City Underworlds Blog)

Steelheart’s Champions: Faction Cards

Steelheart’s Champions have some solid Objectives, Gambits & Upgrades. If you played them versus Garrek’s Reavers straight out the Shadespire Core Box then you felt the power gap!

Faction Objectives

Some really solid defensive style objectives in this faction make Steelhearts the leader of defensive play!

  • Consecrated Area: Score 1 for no enemy being adjacent. Easy score in any phase!
  • Sigmar’s Bulwark: Score 1 for taking no damage this turn. This has become a bit harder in the later turns but definitely a simple turn 1 score.
  • Eternals: Score 3 in the third end phase if your fighters are all alive. Given the reduced lethality and extra wounds around now this seems very doable when deploying board length.
  • Lightening Strikes: Kill an enemy model with a Charge Action. Score Immediately. Strong objective for counter-attacking later in the game.

Faction Gambits

Again, really powerful gambits for the defensive playstyle! With some duplicates of neutral gambits to allow you to double down on the gambit.

  • Heroic Guard: Put a fighter on Guard. Solid ability.
  • Peal of Thunder: Push an enemy fighter one hex. Just solid keep away tech. Duplicate of Distraction.
  • Invulnerable: Your Leader has +1 Defence in the next activation. Higher chance of Inspiring OR 3 Block defence is just not an inviting prospect!

Faction Upgrades

Another set of amazing in faction upgrades that rounds out the defensive playstyle!

  • Blessed by Sigmar: +1 wounds. Just solid defensive tech.
  • Righteous Strike: Do 2 damage to the opposing leader with Bright Shield. Confirmed by the designers commentary to allow a continuous loop until the attack succeeds. Stupid card is stupid good!

Steelheart’s Champions: Board Choice

When You Win the Roll

Choose the board above. Deploy in the hallway format and place your fighters on the three top most deployment hexes (the ones on the left of this image). This allows you to set up for Extreme Flank, Skirting Danger, and probably Consecrated Area. It also means that aggro warbands have to run the gauntlet of lethal hexes that you can push them through to make it easier to kill them when they arrive.

When You Lose the Roll

Regardless of orientation you have three hexes deep in your own territory to deploy on, and a bunch of blocked hexes to hide behind. You’ll have to make two Move actions to score Extreme Flank, and one to make Skirting Danger…this is if you don’t draw a push card!

Steelhearts Champions are fine. They definitely dropped from the top tier after the BAR List and the loss of Quick Thinker & Great Concussion. The defensive playstyle is more disruptable than ever! With Encroaching Shadow, Hidden Paths, Faneway Crystal, Spectral Wings, Potion of Grace available to all warbands it’s a difficult time to play solitaire. Will we see future cards promoting this playstyle dealt as harshly as Loner? Only time will tell!

What do you think? Should Steelheart’s Champions be higher in my rankings? Is aggro now the way to play? Let me know how you play them in the comments below!