Hello Trophy Hunters!
If you read my last article, you’ll have seen how I ranked the warbands based on my current experiences with them. This was met with both pitchforks and a general healthy discussion about people’s local meta. I’ll stress again there isn’t much between the tiers and the game is in a fantastic place from a game balance perspective. The new BAR List has shaken up the meta like nothing else!
Some of you have asked for me to discuss the tiers a bit more, and why I made my choices and I’m more than happy to oblige. I’ll try and look at a tier per article and starting off at the top we have Cursebreakers and Thorns of the Briar Queen.
The Overall Game State
Currently we’re in a state of flux. The meta has not settled yet, and we’re seeing defensive Orruks, aggressive Cursebreakers, objective Skeletons & mid-range Magore’s decks win Shadeglass. Anything goes at the moment.
With the BAR List changing so many of the top tier faction’s playstyle it’s difficult to predict what kind of meta your walking into at a tournament and do you have the tools to beat it? My Grand Clash winning Skaven deck had 18 of 32 cards restricted or banned aka it’s no longer viable. Whilst we’re in this flux you can either go jack-of-all-trades and hope you draw enough of your tech to prevent your opponent’s playstyle OR lean into an archetype and go HAM with it.
Why are Cursebreakers and Thorns doing so well now?
These two factions have full use of all the cards available to a warband, Objectives, Gambit Ploys, Gambit Spells, and Upgrades. So simply put they have more options than a season one warband. But what about Grots & Tzeetch they also have these spells available! Sure, but their base stats are trash. Anyway, more on them in a later article. With the BAR List we lost lethality in the game due to the three Damage Modifiers being restricted, but not Sudden Growth & Deathly Fortitude BUT warbands with wizards have Abasoth’s Withering which essentially is Trap and cannot truly be dispelled yet. This gives these warbands an upperhand over Season One warband as they can increase their lethality through Power Cards quicker.
TL:DR – Cursebreakers are reliable. Score quickly and consistently. Have full access to all the cards in the game. Great at setting the pace of the game.
The Cursebreakers have an easy Inspiration mechanic that is built into their player cards and profiles. This unlocks easy-to-score objectives such as Fired Up & Shining Example similarly the in-faction Score Immediately Objective Cards are some of the easiest to score in the game. Harness the Storm and Measured Strike (aka Precise Use of Force) both fit into your general game plan. There is a reason Precise Use of Force is on the Restricted List after-all, and this faction essentially gets to take six restricted cards. To push this strength the new Score Immediately cards released with Nightvault Strong Start, Sorcerous Scouring and What Armour? can all be used and abused by this warband. Now normally I wouldn’t recommend taking more than four Score Immediately objectives, but this faction can run 6 with Change of Tactics and comfortably score all of them due to how built-in to their playstyle it is.
What does this mean in the larger picture? Firstly, easier to score objectives means that you cycle through your Objective Deck quicker and can reach the six required for Superior Tactician to provide the end game boost of Glory. Secondly, it means you rarely spend an Activation discarding an Objective to draw a new one instead you can draw a power card. Finally, more in-turn glory scored allows you to equip upgrades that 1) makes it harder for your opponent to score glory, 2) makes it easier for you to score glory and 3) clears your power hand to draw into more cards at the end of the turn.
The Cursebreakers are blessed with the attack action ‘Fulmination’ this super-powerful Range 3 attack allows Averon to do nearly all the heavy lifting, allowing Rastus & Ammis to position themselves for Extreme Flanks and to rush in with Hidden Paths & Faneway once their opponent is suitably weakened. This allows them to determine the pace of play as moving Averon into range of two or more models at the end of the turn gives so many options to the Cursebreaker player.
Ultimately, the warband is a stand out in the current meta due to its consistency of scoring and ability to cycle efficiently through its deck, whilst still maintaining the lethality we knew from the previous meta. They’re not unbeatable by any stretch of the imagination, but they are reliable and in a best of three format reliability is key!
TL:DR – The Briar Queen is a hyper mobile super-solo that poses a lot of questions whilst your Chainrasps score passive glory & objectives.
Before we get into the nitty gritty of why I believe Thorns of the Briar Queen are a top tier warband it is important to know that I believe post-BAR that the Objective Hex Archetype is back with vengeance, and that aggro/defensive have taken a bit of a hit. So currently Objective play is in vouge and countering it is key.
The Thorns of the Briar Queen also utilise all the cards available in the game to the same level as the Cursebreakers, but they also have Great Concussions brother Howling Vortex. This allows the Thorns play an Objective Game themselves whilst having a powerful tool for disrupting their oppositions Objective play. In terms of their Objectives the Thorns of the Briar Queen can commit to the Objective Hex Archetype thanks to Varclav’s incredible action economy of moving five models for a single action. Supremacy and Our Only Way Out are trivial for this warband to set up and can easily be scored in any phase. Similarly, Extreme Flanks is similarly an incredibly easy score for them as is Keep Them Guessing due to Varclav. A turn of Guard – Varclav – Charge – Move isn’t a terrible one and scores a guaranteed two glory and can combo nicely for Change of Tactics. The warband also has one of the most insulting Score Immediately cards in Treacherous Foe where the warband simply makes a reaction. Top Gambits to trigger this are: Ready for Action, Duel of Wits, Maddening Cackle and Trap. The new Score Immediately Martyred is fantastic for this warband to maintain its glory race and set up the boss herself – The Briar Queen.
Much like Averon the Briar Queen is the super-solo of this warband. With Sudden Appearance, Illusory Fighter, Hidden Paths, Faneway Crystal and Inescapable Vengeance available to her the Queen can appear anywhere on the board and begin threatening anybody. With Gloryseeker or Great Strength she can one-shot anyone on the tabletop, and she provides the perfect distraction to keep your Chainrasps safe on objectives. When she is upgraded with Sudden Growth and Acrobatic the Queen becomes an unwelcome target for attacks herself. She reminds me of Skritch…with more mobility.
The Thorns of the Briar Queen have a high skill ceiling and may seem unassuming or even weak when used by an inexperienced player, but in the right hands they are punishing and pose many questions to the opposition. Almost opposite to the Cursebreakers in that sense, who instead have an answer for most questions.
What do you think?
There you have it, my reasons for putting Thorns and Cursebreakers top of the Pyramid. Next time I’ll be writing up why I believe Sepulchral Guard, Spiteclaw’s Swarm and Zarbag’s Gitz are upper-mid tier (and a follow up article on Chosen Axes and Magore’s).
What is proving to be the top tier factions in your local meta? Let me know in the comments below and sign up to the newsletter so you don’t miss out on any future articles!