I’m back at the wheel of Katophrane Relic once again. I burnt out at the end of Nightvault. The Mollog/Thundriks/Cursebreaker score immediately meta bored me. The rate at which my written content was becoming out of date hurt. I’d also set myself some unrealistic goals with regards to content frequency and I’d kinda lost sight of the aim of the blog. I use it to track my personal progress as a competitive player and now I have a higher calling than just winning another Grand Clash – the 2020 Grand Masters!
Beastgrave appears to be breaking the meta I hated, and with the rotation of Shadespire cards out I’m actually PUMPED to write some deck lists again. No longer will I immediately grab; Ready for Action, Escalation, Change of Tactics and something for flavour.
It also didn’t help that all the local players around me had moved on to other games, but I’m going to give running events another go at The Forge Manchester to see what sort of turn out I get.
If you want to stay in the loop of this veteran of the game’s opinion then sign up to the Katophrane Relic Newsletter below and never miss an article.
Hey Trophy Hunters! With the UK Grand Clash Season well and truly upon us, UK Grand Clash Winner, Bryce and I have been hammering out games ‘in the dojo’ in preparation for competing for the Grandest Glass available. We both believe that with the current BAR List in action (as of 28.05.19) that the Cursebreakers are the most competitive faction in the game.
Last time at the Warhammer Fest Grand Clash I used the Cursebreakers to great effect, losing only to the Champion (and tumbling down the rankings) resulting in a (presumed) 8th place finish out of around 92. We never got the final standings for this event – which sucks – but I got swag for Top 8 so I’m assuming 8th!
This time around I fancy something different and have been enjoying Thundrik’s Profiteers in our games of Lunchspire! Now, this time I’ve not been posting as frequently on the Facebook page as a few competitors at Warhammer Fest had pretty much figured out my playstyle through the mini reports, and I wanted an edge this time. As of May 20th my deck list was:
This gave me a good amount of Glory – 18 and the majority of it could be scored with minimal interaction with the opponent. Which is great for consistency. I’d be relying on a multi-tap to kill a four health fighter outright unless I was able to utilise Trap and Toxic Gasses (and lethal hexes). I was pretty happy with it for a first pass at the deck.
Week 1 – The Trees…They Move…
For reference it is 28th May whilst I writing this: I spent last week playing against Ylthari’s Guardians – due to a combination of days off, working from home and just being generally too busy Bryce and I only managed to get a few games in. The takeaway I got however was that Drakskewer was a great assassin once inspired and I should be using him more; with an effective threat range of 6 hexes and ignoring everything in his way allows him to hunt leaders and vulnerable fighters. This was my deck during that week.
My Objective deck felt quite confused as I kind of wanted to play keep back, but also wanted to commit. I was Passive Aggressive. But the aggressive objectives felt hard to accomplish. I decided to make some pretty important Objective changes:
Headshot (Out) – Cover Ground (In)
Death from Afar (Out) – Martyred (In)
Solid Gains (Out) – Combination Strike (In)
These changes increased my total glory to 18 and took my Objective deck more into my own control and away from dice, and I didn’t need to kill a single enemy fighter to score every single Objective. So long as Thundrik or Dead Eye Lund could score me What Armour? I’d be set. The change from Solid Gains to Combination Strike is on that I ummed and aaahhed on for a while but as more of the Score Immediately cards were now in my control (god bless lethal hexes) I felt confident in being able to score it, and with 6 score Immediately cards there is a good chance they’d come off!
The Gambits were pretty set. I am on the fence about Trap. It’s nice to have but I could get Illusory Fighter for more positional play and to play keep away from Mollog.
The Upgrades saw the most changes, as the deck became far more passive in it’s build:
Tome of Offerings (Out) – Potion of Grace (In)
Potion of Constitution (Out) – Warding Scroll (In)
Duellist’s Speed (Out) – Bag of Tricks (In)
Fighter’s Ferocity (Out) – Hero’s Mantle (In)
As I wasn’t killing fighters too frequently I swapped out Tome of Offerings as it was not helping me score my Objectives. I put in Potion of Grace as it can combo with Ready for Action and Seek the Sky Vessel to aid scoring Longstrider. Potion of Constitution wasn’t helping versus the magical chip damage that Ylthari or Curesbreakers hand out so I elected to go with Warding Scroll in an attempt to scupper their plans. As I wasn’t making Attack Actions frequently Duellist’s Speed wasn’t doing anything useful, the swap to Bag of Tricks gives Ironhail the ability to search for Ploys to score Objectives. Finally, with my lack of aggression I dropped Fighter’s Ferocity and included Hero’s Mantle as an end game glory boost. The new deck looked like this and I’m hoping to start playing it tomorrow.
25th May– Okay! Ready for two more games of Lunchspire before the Clash. After sleeping on the heavy changes I decided to drop Trap and include Illusory Fighter. I didn’t see the value in keeping Trap as I wasn’t trying to kill anyone and it was just a nice to have whilst Illusory Fighter will help score more objectives and deny take outs to my opponent.
Today I played versus Mollog & it was a super tight 19-19 draw!! Illusory Fighter felt better than Trap as I was able to keep Bjorgen somewhat safe. Mollog still turned him into jelly with the last swing of the game but the troggoth spent a lot of time lumping around the board to do it.
26 May & 27th May – I’ve been struck down by illness and have avoided playing anything as I just need to get better for the clash. Oh dear. I’m not expecting great things as my head is terribly foggy and I’m not sleeping great – I guess you’ll already know how I did assuming the results are published. Hopefully I’ll do myself proud and finish in a respectable place.
Following on from my In the Dojo article I was feeling a bit nervy heading into the Grand Clash. My Cursebreakers had spent the week being beaten by everything Bryce and I threw at it. Time has since passed since the event and details have become blurry. There are some definite stand out moments – specifically in my game versus Rafa in the final round.
Anyway, I travelled to the Richo Arena on my lonesome and leaving the house at 5.30AM after a night of drinking prior. Fortunately I was able to travel via montage, and was able to get there easily. I.e. It was a long boring journey with many changeovers that drained my will to live.
By the time I’d finally arrived there was only 30mins or so to prepare. I’d packed my bags the night before with a shot at the Grandest Glass in mind this includes:
3x 500ml bottles of water
Nurofen Express (fast acting headache tablets)
4 Rounds in a single day can take it’s toll on you mentally and physically. Staying hydrated should be a huge party of your daily routine anyway but at a convention it’s very easy to succumb to beer, soft drinks, energy drinks etc these make you groggy and can cause sugar spikes and crashes.
I was already nursing a hangover, so the Nurofen was keeping me ticking but I was being sparing with them as I’d likely need them going into the final round. The bananas are a great source of energy and helps stave off the desire to stuff your face with chocolate/crisps/vendor trash.
Nerds aren’t the cleanest of people. It’s a sad fact. I took the deodorant because I’m a decent human – conventions can be sweaty smelly places and keeping yourself fresh is a common courtesy to other attendees. Finally, I’ve been to enough cons in my time to know that I’ll end up shaking many hands or handling doors that might not be the cleanest. The number of attendees who don’t wash their hands after using the rest room is disgustingly high. The hand sanitiser is to keep the con crud at bay as best I can try!
If you’re going to a large convention or gaming event be considerate of your personal hygiene, and if you’re trying to win stick to water over beer. Anyway onto the games
Game 1 vs Ian (Magores)
I managed to win this set of games 2-0. Having played Aggro warbands for an extremely long time, and using Magores myself recently I knew how vital Magore tends to be as he can score What Armour & Show of Strength, and tends to have some Character Locked Upgrades too. Assassinating him tends to leave the deck in an awkward situation where you can draw into dead objective and power cards.
The cards and dice allowed me to do this in both my games…in Turn One. Through a combination of Attack Actions, Shardgale, Sphere of Aqshy, Cry of Thunder, and Abasoth’s Withering I was able to kill Magore before he got going. The games ended 15-3 and 18-2 respectively.
I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better start. No losses and +28 Glory Difference would put me near the top of the table and away from the sharks as previous Grand Clahses had ranked top of bracket with bottom of bracket. We’re not quite sure it was ran that way this time as in round 4 Aman (solely undefeated) was playing on Table 3 whilst both myself and Rafa on Table 2 had dropped a game :shrug:
Game 2 vs Miles (Eyes of the Nine)
Game 2 saw me against Miles. You may remember Miles from a previous blog where he piloted his Eyes of the Nine amazingly versus Michael Carlin. Well, seeing him over the table from me was a bit terrifying as I was hoping for a nice easy win. This would not be one.
Game 1 went about as well as I could have hoped and managed to take it quite comfortably. Game 2 was not. Vortemis got jacked up on upgrades and spells and was an absolute nightmare to deal with. I thought Stormsire had finally got him when I rolled a Crit and a Hit for Fulmination to finish off the Tzeetchian pest, but then Miles rolled Crit, Crit, Dodge to give Cursebreaker the middle finger and then proceeded to kill Rastus with an Unfocused Blast and take down Stormsire with a charge!
Our final game was an incredibly tight affair. I held a hand of upgrades and distraction as I had Alone in the Darkness and wanted to grab as much passive glory as possible before committing. I probably should have ditched them as I ended up bricking my hand a little but the game ended 15-15 after a flurry of action, and Rastus was sat on an objective to give me the win.
Game 3 vs Will (Mollog)
After dropping a game in the previous round I knew I’d need a big Glory Difference to put me back in the running for the final. I was already on +39 so was feeling decent and I was aiming to grab maybe +15 this round to push me to +54 before the final round which was likely to be against tougher opponents with less chance to get big wins. So when my opponent put Mollog down on the table I cried internally.
To give a brief rundown of the games they both went like this:
Mollog kills Ammis and Rastus
Stormsire uses Hidden Paths to reach Critters
Stormsire kills Critters
Mollog arrives to kill Stormsire
Stormsire uses Illusory Fighter to disappear
Mollog stomps his feet in anger
I managed to take the round 2-0 and with a whopping +16 Glory Difference! I’d managed to exceed my goal for the round and put myself in the best position possible to make the top tables and maybe the final!
Game 4 vs Rafa (Cursebreakers)
Much time has passed since this game. I’m currently writing this over a week from the event and some details may be a bit mixed – work and life have gotten in the way of the hobby.
So, as I sat down to wait for my final opponent of the day I was positioned on table two. To my left the top table was Mollog vs Thorns of the Briar queen, piloted by a Canadian and a Filipino, whilst to my right on table three was Magore vs Thundrik, piloted by an American and a Brit. In front of me sat down Rafa, a Spaniard. I consider it a huge success of Warhammer Fest and Warhammer Underworlds to draw in so many nationalities and to have them all compete at the highest calibre was fantastic.
Rafa pulled out his Cursebreakers, and I wasn’t feeling overly confident. In Bryce and my practice matches of Lunchspire the mirror match was very coin flippy and basically whoever assassinated Stormsire first was likely to win.
Game One saw Rafa win the board roll and I placed down the Arcane Nexus as it allows me to deploy deeply and force Rafa to run through Lethal Hexes, whilst Rafa did the same. An unfortunate Turn One bid to assassinate my Stormsire with Ammis left Rafa vulnerable to my Stormsire to go and kill his leader. Which happened. I was able to win this game 18-12, which is truly a testament to how good Cursebreakers are at scoring glory even without Stormsire!
Game Two – This one is reasonably clear in my head!
This time round I won board roll. Rafa chose the Arcane Nexus attempting to mimic the set up previously, whilst I chose the Amber Forbidden Chambers Board and at the maximum diagonal. Turn One saw us jockey for position with Rafa exclaiming that he cannot do anything as the Blocked Hex was making it difficult for Stormsire to target anyone without over committing and standing next to the Lethal Hexes was not an inviting offer.
In Turn One I was able to use Spoils of Battle to equip Stormsire with Tempest Might and Inspire thanks to Abasoth’s Unmaking. I also had Sphere of Aqshy and Illusory Fighter in hand. This was a god hand and I felt very confident that I’d be able to assassinate Rafa’s Stormsire before he Inspired. At the end of Turn One I charged with my Stormsire and failed to cast Fulmination. Damn. I cast Sphere of Aqshy on Stormsire to set up the kill next turn and used Illusory Fighter to return to my safe spot away from Rafa’s fighters.
Turn Two. I won initiative and passed priority to Rafa as I wanted the final activation as he would have to be the aggressor in this instance, as he knew I had more passive glory capability. I had drawn another God Hand. I had Ready for Action, Potion of Rage, Well of Power, Abasoth’s Withering and Great Fortitude. I had no unspent glory so would need a kill to trigger Ready for Action.
The cards and how Rafa’s Ammis & Cursbreaker resulted onthree wounds a piece may have been different but this is simple enough to explain by just using cards I had at my disposal.
Rafa knew he had to make a decision and charged with Ammis dealing three damage to my Ammis, but leaving his fighter in range of my Stormsire’s Fulmination. I cast Abasoth’s Withering. I attacked with Fulmination, and didn’t roll a hit. Rafa used Hidden Paths to put Rastus next to my Ammis and killed her. I rolled for Fulmination, and didn’t roll a hit. Rafa drew a card. I rolled for Fulmination, and Rafa blocked it. Rafa’s Stormsire moved up attack my Rastus and succeeded and Inspired. I charged Rafa’s Ammis with my Fulmination in range of his Stormsire for a kill, Ready for Action & Potion of Rage attack versus his Stormsire to try and kill two in one activation. I rolled my Fulmination, can you guess what happened?
Turn Three saw Rafa’s Ammis get upgraded with Great Strength and charge into my Stormsire – killing him. From there on out it was a case of his Stormsire mopping up. The game ended 3-15 to Rafa and kudos to him for making the best of a bad situation. Were I to play this game again with the same cards in hand I would do everything exactly the same again. I was frustrated that I had done everything correctly, forced Rafa to make difficult decisions whilst maintaining control over the game and still ended up losing.
This was the one for all the marbles. The top table were only on their second game and wouldn’t find time for a third and were getting heated as it was EXTREMELY close on Glory scored and Glory Diff.
I lost board rolls and decided to go a bit left field as Rafa now knew about the Amber Forbidden Board set up. I elected to go for the Penitent’s Throne whilst Rafa played what he knew and went with the Arcane Nexus again. I made some basic errors in this game and pretty much cost myself the win by standing Stormsire next to Ammis at the end of turn one stopping myself scoring Alone in the Darkness and delaying my glory generation. The game ended up 10-12 to Rafa, and had I not made that mistake the ‘butterfly effect’ of my card draw would have been so much smoother and inline with how I was playing. Que sera.
A frustrating end to the event, being undone by dice and then by my own mistake. Fortunately Rafa went on to win the final (sorry Aman) so I get to smugly say “I only lost to the winner of the event”. I finished in the top 8 and grabbed some more acrylic glory tokens, and I think I was 8th but there is honestly no public display of results…which kinda sucks.
The remaining swag I passed out amongst attendees who I saw collecting their stuff last or not at all. As I don’t need any more paraphernalia that isn’t acrylic and it’s nice to share the wealth. Speaking of wealth…Profiteers are looking promising eh? There is another Grand Clash on 31st May – so I’ll probably be back in the dojo and then out for another shot at glass.
Hey Trophy Hunters! Now that we’ve seen all the cards Season Two has to offer here are the Top 5 Cards I think will get Restricted.
5. Tome of Offerings
This needs little explanation. It’s a win-more card, but as it’s an upgrade you’re pretty stoked to apply. In the current Grand Clash ranking system seeing this card can make or break your tournament. Getting a large positive Glory Differential will see you rise above all the other undefeated players to secure a spot in the final. For factions that don’t focus on killing this is purely a negative experience as they won’t benefit the gain, but will suffer the losses.
4. Well of Power
The inspiration requirement is nice, it keeps Vortemis & Ylthari grounded with this Upgrade. Stormsire, however, abuses this Upgrade to high Hell! If I told you that you could upgrade your leader to have a Range 3, 3 Smash, 2DMG attack you’d play it. Inspiring him is easy with the number of good Gambit Spells in the pool, and this only makes them easier to cast once inspired! It also functions as an accuracy boost and the restricted list hasn’t looked too kindly on them in the past!
3. Sphere of Aqshy
Trap, Pit Trap and Twist the Knife are all Restricted for a reason. They are unavoidable damage cards. Sphere of Aqshy fits that bill if you ask me. Especially since it is cast on a single Channel, if this were a single Focus I’d be less aggrieved but as it is any level 2 wizard can cast this and expect it to go off around 90% of the time, deal 1 dmg from 4 hexes away and it Inspires Stormsire. OH this also counts for Sorcerous Scouring and Death From Afar if you can take a fighter out of action with it. Can they use any defensive tech? Can they heck, this is a Gambit Spell not some common Ploy or Attack Action…
On Your Feet,
Rebirth in Blood.
Your life saving efforts are no match for a hungry fireball.
2. Inspiration Strikes
Inspire Conditions are fun and push a warband to play in a certain way. Orruks want to get into a fight, Cursebreakers want to cast spells, Mollog needs to get angry. However, when you can subvert the designer’s requirements to Inspire and gain access to your upgraded abilities without a negative or ignoring a playstyle then the game can suddenly spiral out of control. Regal Vision still exists as a replacement but requires an objective hex which adds a much needed restriction to the freedom this card gives.
1. Calculated Risk
Just read it. Move actions are part of Charge Actions; you’ll score this immediately after the Move Action part wich allows you to draw a new objective before making your Attack Action. So you could draw into Strong Start, What Armour? or any of the score immediately objectives triggered off of an attack.
This is basically an unrestricted substitute for Change of Tactics that scores in an advantageous timing step. Hyper reliable and no interaction with the opponent is needed. Every deck except Thorns of the Briar Queen should run this objective.
Now, before we get into this let me preface it by saying that EVERY WARBAND CAN WIN ANY GIVEN GAME! However it is an undeniable fact that the warbands are not equal, and some have a far easier time on the competitive scene. I also enjoy tier lists as a topic of discussion so be sure to drop a comment below if you agree or disagree.
This tier ranking is based on the two factors listed below:
Personal Experience – I have won a Grand Clash, won multiple Store Events, play against a fellow Grand Clash winner almost daily, and have consumed so much content that I have a deep understanding of the game. My personal experience was my initial groundwork for ranking the warbands.
Best Coast Pairings – Upon initially writing the tier list I then reviewed it against the Best Coast Pairings data analysed by Wigglehammer; specifically the win percentage and games played. However, due to the recent influx of cards, and two new factions, I have had to weigh in more on my personal experience as the win rates mentioned in this article do not include the latest cards.
The win percentage on the whole for Warhammer Underworlds is incredibly tight and all bar Eyes of the Nine and Ironskull’s Boyz fall between 40-60%, which is damned good for a game with 16 factions, and further presses the point that ANY FACTION CAN WIN GAMES.
I will be revisiting this list after the two upcoming UK Grand Clashes, the final Banned and Restricted list is published, and maybe if we get to see the Dreadfane warbands too! Then we’ll get a well rounded view of the end of Season Two.
Stormsire’s Cursebreakers: This warband exists in a league of its own. With the full array of Gambit Spells available to them Stormsire’s Cursebreakers are the ultimate flex warband, able to be built to play aggressively. defensively, or relatively uniquely as a Magic heavy build. With on-card Magic Spells and some of the most powerful in-faction cards this warband stands head and shoulders above the rest. (55% win rate on Wigglehammer at time of writing).
Mollog’s Mob: This gigantic Mushroom has caused major ripples in the game. You cannot build your deck without this lumbering guffant in mind. He will steamroll you if you don’t have the tools to defeat him. An unapologetic aggro build that goes all-in on Mollog is the definitive way to play this warband. (55% win rate on Wigglehammer at time of writing).
Magore’s Fiends: A solid choice. They do what they do well and will kill you if you let them. With a strong aggro game, and a decent mid-range deck they can go on the defensive and score passively if they need to. With lots of in-faction damage reduction they can outlast all but the hardest hitting fighters. (47% win rate on Wigglehammer at time of writing ).
Thorns of the Briar Queen: These spooky bois can play a variety of styles; aggro with the Queen of Thorns is a strong front runner which is complimented by their in-faction objectives and strong Gambits. However they most recently claimed a Grand Clash win with a Hold Objective playstyle thanks to their efficiency in movement and flexible build style. They are also one of the only warbands that can run the dreaded Katophrane Relics effectively despite the two Glory cost. (49% win rate on Wigglehammer at time of writing ).
Zarbag’s Gitz: The greenskin horde! This may be a surprise for some players to see them so highly rated but they score Glory extremely consistently, and an aggressive Snirk Sourtounge can rip through fighters at an alarming rate. Their Katophrane Tome end-game is strong as is their ability to play with the Keys to rack up their end game Glory.. (51% win rate on Wigglehammer at time of writing ).
Thundrik’s Profiteers: The latest Duardin expedition to the Mirrored City brings a lot of powerful ranged firepower that gives them a truly unique play experience. With generally low health pools, until Promoted, the Profiteers can struggle into a high tempo aggro warband. I’m expecting these to be a popular choice at upcoming events. (No recorded data).
Ylthari’s Guardians: The first ever Aelves to grace Shadespire! With their strong in-faction Objectives, Gambits and Gambit Ppells they are a force to be reckoned with, however with their difficult Inspire condition they struggle to get all their warband at peak performance. (No recorded data).
Sanson’s Farstriders: The Farstriders have climbed highly in my estimation. They can play a very aggressive playstyle utilising their Gambits to do unavoidable damage and with the neutral objectives focussing on ranged attacks released with the final wave their deck building has become far easier. They miss out on A Rank as Mollog still has a field day against them and they don’t really have an answer for him bar a few corner case Gambits and combos. (41% win rate on Wigglehammer at time of writing ).
Godsworn Hunt: I wanted to put these higher in the ranking as I’ve piloted them to good success, but generally they are on the slightly weaker side due to their base stats and deck management can be difficult with them as Upgrades tend to have to go on certain fighters to score certain objectives. (49% win rate on Wigglehammer at time of writing ).
Steelheart’s Champions: The original boys (and girl) in blue have had a popular resurgence of late, but their main playstyle (Control/Defensive) seems to be being written out of the game, and whilst their Aggressive playstyle is decent there are simply far superior choices. (49% win rate on Wigglehammer at time of writing ).
Eyes of the Nine: No longer are these worshippers of Tzeentch condemned to the bottom rank! Their Librarian Blue Horror build is a decent (if predictable) end game, and with the full array of spells Vortemis can earn his keep. However, their let down is that Vortemis’ difficult Inspire Condition and a meagre single Dodge dice on his uninspired side doesn’t get you very far nowadays! (39% win rate on Wigglehammer at time of writing ).
Garrek’s Reavers: Having played with this faction extensively since Mollog was released they definitely have the ability to win games. With slightly outdated cards in-faction they struggle to keep up with the newer releases. This has been compounded by the most recent banned and restricted list hurting their ability to keep their fighters alive and relevant with both Sudden Growth and Deathly Fortitude being restricted. (46% win rate on Wigglehammer at time of writing ).
Spiteclaw’s Swarm: Skritch Spiteclaw himself is a force to be reckoned with. This faction gained a lot with the latest releases… however you know how everyone is equipping themselves with the tools to stop Mollog? Well, they also work on Skritch and if you’ve leant too heavily into aggro then you’ll be punished far and wide. If you’ve gone hold objective…there are warbands that do it better. Skritch is an unfortunate casualty of the Mollog meta. (43% win rate on Wigglehammer at time of writing ).
Sepulchral Guard: The Sepulchral Guard have a soft spot in my heart. They didn’t overly benefit from the most recent set of releases as they don’t typically deal well with ranged fighters, and there are now a plethora of ranged warbands in the game. Losing Extreme Flank to the banned list, Tome of Offerings existing, and the Warden being potentially the most vulnerable leader in the game yet also the linchpin of the warband leaves them in an odd spot competitively. (41% win rate on Wigglehammer at time of writing ).
Ironskull’s Boyz: Awful in-faction objectives, all but one upgrade is character locked, ploys are sub-par. Hakka and Basha are just bad fighters. Bonekutta is fine but feels like he should have Cleave printed on his card – just look at the size of that axe!! Gurzag needs to do most of the killing but you know that whole Mollog meta thing I mentioned earlier? Well it hurts Gurzag just as much. (36% win rate on Wigglehammer at time of writing ).
The Chosen Axes: The controversial one! There always has to be one! These chaps have fallen from grace. They seriously struggle against ranged warbands knocking them off objectives and we now have a LOT of ranged warbands. Grimnir’s still an absolute unit when Inspired..but the anti-Mollog tech is popular and it stops our naked loon too. (41% win rate on Wigglehammer at time of writing ).
The Ylthari’s Guardians Expansion was provided for review by Games Workshop Ltd. I’d like to take a moment to thank the entire team for affording us the opportunity to review these Aelves!
Ylthari’s Guardians Backstory
Ylthari and her Guardians grew from a soulpod grove in the Jade Embassy, which long ago stood on the verdant outskirts of Shadespire. The Sylvaneth of this enclave were envoys who spoke to the Katophranes on behalf of Alarielle, Queen of the Radiant Wood. They formed strong bonds with those who dwelt in and travelled through Shadespire, but all was sundered when Nagash cursed the city. In that instant, the Sylvaneth were cut down like wheat before the reaper’s scythe, and the soulpods that housed their spirits were imprisoned withing the Mirrored City. With the advent of the Necroquake, the Life magic of Alarielle has been able to seep through cracks in reality back into Shadespire. Some of the Sylvaneth trapped there have stirred once more, with Ylthari and her Guardians being the first to awaken. Imbued with bountiful vigour and wrath, the seek the lost soulpods of their fallen kin.
Ylthari’s Guardians Miniatures
Ylthari’s Guardians contain four fighters joining Magore’s Fiends and Mollog’s Mob as an elite warband. Four fighters provides you with an option for every activation, though you’ll likely want to make multiple activations with a key piece like Ahnslaine.
Assembling the miniatures was simple and the green colour is easily identifiable from the Orruks. My favourite miniature of the bunch is Gallanghann, they just look so imposing. Though if you’re a clumsy bugger like myself exercise extreme patience when building these models as there are many small leaves and twigs that can easily break off.
Ylthari’s Guardians The Fighters
Ylthari – As leaders go Ylthari will not be going toe-to-toe with the opponent preferring to attack from range instead, they remind me a little of Stormsire but with a Dodge characteristic. Whilst poor Vortemis weeps in the corner at being slower and less conscious of his own safety, he can summon a friend and has an extra wound, so he’s got that going for him still.
Ylthari can be called upon to finish off an enemy fighter when needed to, with Movement 4/5 and a reasonably accurate set of attacks. Their accuracy can be boosted substantially with upgrades like Challenge Seeker and Well of Power providing a Range 3 -Focus 4 – DMG 2 attack, and you don’t need to worry about hitting that double Crit as they’ll heal it back up with their on card reaction.
As a level 2 caster Ylthari has access to all the Gambit spells from the off, and with some tasty in-faction spells like Curse of the Binding they can easily control the most deadly of fighters. Mollog, Magore and Grimnir may need to consider Revoke if this faction turns out to be popular!
Gallanghann – The tank of the warband. This aelf is a tough nut to crack. With a whopping 4 Wounds and 2 Block from the get go you’ll be hard pressed to bring them down without Cleave or a handy upgrade. In essence they’re as tough as an Inspired Stormcast, and we’ve all dealt with that at some point! To add insult to injury if they roll a crit in their defence roll you’ll be taking a damage just for trying to attack them!
Gallanghann poses an interesting dilemma to foes of Ylthari’s Guardians. With Movement 4 and a Range 2 attack they are the perfect vanguard fighter to initiate a fight and will likely be the only option to make attacks against in the first turn. Their Inspired card doesn’t present much to be desired, an AoE attack and knockback are nice but you could quite happily not Inspire this aelf.
Skhathael – Okay. This is getting interesting now! Skhathael is the aelf you WANT inspired in turn one! Be sure to run Healing Potionor Healing Amphora to get this fighter their third Attack dice and Cleave! I love the idea of upgrading them with Concealed Weapon to provide a potential 5DMG attack.
3 Health leaves the option for Challenge Seeker open (this seems like a theme, no surprise it has one of Ylthari’s Guardians on the artwork!), and any dice boosting effect will be greatly sought after to ensure they land their attacks before being removed from the battlefield.
With 4 Movement we’re seeing that this Warband can hit hard, take a punch and will likely be making the initial engagement. I’m not certain how they deal with an aggressive Skritch early in Turn One but with their controlling cards it shouldn’t be too hard to manage.
Ahnslaine – Okay. I’m in. Range three hitting on hammers is fantastic, especially when coupled with anything that gives additional dice. When you get this aelf inspired that increases to a whopping Range 4! Equipping this fighter with Upgrades before committing them is vital in unlocking their full potential.
Challenge Seeker, Gloryseeker, and Fighter’s Ferocity are all worthy mentions. However, I love the idea of using a reliable weapon upgrade such as the Shadeglass Dagger. Their reaction is not restricted to their Revenant Bow, so utilising a powerful attack to Charge and kill someone, which will trigger the reaction to make an Attack action. Then use the bow and you’ve completed three of the four requirements for Keep Them Guessing.
Ylthari’s Guardians Faction Cards
The bit we’ve all been waiting for, and what you’ve probably skipped back to after checking out the Universal cards!
Giblin’s Top Pick
Strike Swiftly – Score Immediately when you kill with a Charge Action. Good, solid objective not more to say really.
Song of Hatred – Score Immediately for successfully casting a second or subsequent spell in this phase. I like it – on card spell from Ylthari and some tasty new spells in the Universal pool make it likely to come off whilst building into your main game plan!
Lithe Spirits – Score immediately for making a second or subsequent reaction. Well, they all have Reactions on their Fighter cards but triggering this from Potions and Gambits certainly seems the way to go! Ready for Action & Potion of Rage/Grace are a dream combo for this card!
Reclaim the Lamentiri – Make use of Abasoth’s Unmaking and Leech Power to ensure you get an easy two glory!
Show No Mercy – Not totally reliable to score in Turn One so I’m not a huge fan, but if you’re building a hyper-aggro deck it may be something to consider.
Glade’s Pride – A Third End phase card with three glory is pretty common but keeping all these Sylvaneth alive will be a tough ask!
Glade’s Last Hope – This isn’t as difficult as it looks. If one of your fighters die you will score this as when a fighter is taken out you remove their wound tokens. Or you can try to ACTUALLY heal but that seems like a lot of effort for one Glory.
Vengeful Revenants – Not a terrible card, but a bit too situational for my liking and difficult to pull off versus Mollog/Stormsire. Two glory is a nice uplift though…
Domain Denied – I wouldn’t trust my opponent to not sit on an objective at some point in the game as I have minimal control over it.
Giblin’s Top Pick
Last Guardians – This is a personal preference – I love ‘Guard Cards’ as they build into Change of Tactics and keep your fighters fresh.
Pangs of the Great Lack – 75% chance to cause one damage to a fighter upto five hexes away, and builds into Song of Hatred.
Healing Amphora – Inspiration Strikes Plus, it helps inspire your fighters and has the added benefit of being able to heal if you need it to!
Writhing Roots – A nice option to build into control, though Invisible Walls would be the first choice.
Curse of the Dwindling – I love it honestly, it shuts down any big hitter who relies on two dice Smash. Played in Turn One this can cripple an aggro warband for the entire game.
Springspeed Step – It’s a reaction and gives some nice mobility but with the requirement of ending up adjacent to the model that moved I’m not overly keen – though can see use to pull a fighter out of harm with the Archer during a Charge or to pull in support.
Leech Power – Nice to score Scorched Earth and Inspire Ylthari. I can see this getting played in a control deck.
Mesmerising Gaze – Removing a Guard Token feels minimal and if you’re placing a Move Token you’d be better served with Transfixing Stare to benefit from the increased range.
Strength of the Burgeoning – An easily cast gambit spell helps with Song of Anger and can catch an opponent off guard when Skathael is suddenly striking for 3 DMG and on a crit reaches 4.
Revenant Rage – +1 Dice is a common benefit. Fuelled by Fury and Haymaker are the go to choices before this one.
Giblin’s Top Pick
Constant Growth – Who doesn’t like more Wounds?
Pinning Shot – If you’re grouping up your fighters then Pinning shot provides support where you may not normally have it. This pairs beautifully with Ylthari to keep her rolling effectively shields and both can attack from range!
Warding Stance – Three Block Defence. Nuff said. Cry when Riptooth or Skirtch roll a Crit.
Unflinching Guardian – Okay, lots of small font here so for your benefit:
“Reaction: During an enemy fighter’s Attack action that targets a friendly fighter supported by this fighter, after the defence roll but before the Attack action succeeds or fails, you can re-roll one defence dice.”
I’m not overly sold but could combo well with Springspeed Step, Countercharge etc.
Menacing Step – Like Countercharge but with less Push, however it is an upgrade rather than a Gambit so might see some play!
Cage of Thorns – A new spell for Ylthari. Useful for locking down big targets with lots of wounds that might not like having Move Tokens place on them…
Spiteful Thorns – It’s Blessing of Argentine but with a random roll included.
Inescapable Grasp – Dodge Cleave for not your spells. I’m not a huge fan as I don’t feel Ylthari wants to be up close and personal.
Enrage Sprite – A cute upgrade that is functionally the same as Dark Darts but less accurate.
Vengeful Blow – An attack action that scales with how many of your fighters are out of action. An interesting bit of design space but to get it’s best value then you need to be a pretty dire position though a 5 Fury 4 DMG attack is pretty baller.
Ylthari’s Guardians Universal Cards
Giblin’s Top Pick
Lethal Repertoire – Score in an end phase when you equip an attack upgrade and make that attack action in the same phase! If you’re building for it then this is very doable!
Magical Storm – Cast four spells. Get two Glory. Cursebreakers rejoice!
Preserve their Knowledge – Knowledge is better shared than hoarded. Scored in any phase for having all surviving friendly fighters with tomes.
Remaining Universal Objectives
Keep Moving – Make four move actions in activations in the action phase. Charges count so maybe it’s not terrible for Godsworn Hunt and Ylthari’s Guardians.
One Fate – Roll three of the same dice face in an attack roll. I’ll leave this to Call it Shadespire to dissect, but it’s a real gamblers card.
Stand Firm – Put everyone on Guard for one Glory. Doesn’t seem worth it – though difficult to disrupt so might see play from some warbands.
Bloodless Skirmish – Third End Phase. Two Glory. Nobody is out of action. No thanks.
United – Bunch everything up so everyone is close by. This feels like Well Guarded but harder to score. You’re also at major risk of being a victim to Cry of Thunder.
Hold What We Have – It’s an unrestricted Perfect Planning.
Sorcerous Duel – Kill a wizard with a wizard. If Stormsires become even more popular this may be a consideration but probably a bit out there for the moment.
Preserve Life – Remove two wounds from surviving fighters. I quite like this one but getting wounded and not dying can be a bit difficult unless you like playing in Lethal Hexes.
Giblin’s Top Pick
Bolt of Inspiration – Get Stormsire Inspired and hopefully Ammis/Rastus too! I don’t see a reason to use it to Inspire an enemy fighter…but you could! Maybe because you have Cleave and they have dodge but that becomes Block when Inspired?
Entropic Curse – Cast this onto a fighter and watch them take damage at the start of each turn. This is great in turn one and useless in turn 3.
Noble Sacrifice – If you’re a large warband with bodies to spare then you can throw someone less valuable than the leader in the way to take the hit.
Remaining Universal Gambits
Felxible Strategy – Saves you an activation to dig your objective deck. Could be useful for Thundrik’s Profiteers to ensure they are promoted.
Lifesurge – It’s the same as Tainted Vitality.
Magical Damping – It’s a reaction spell (good for Sorcerous Riposte) that you cast during another spell that, if successful, reduces damage by 1 and not to a minimum of 1.
Which poses the interesting question: If an Attack succeeds but damage is reduced to zero and no damage is dealt. Is the Attack successful?
Terrifying Visage – It’s the same effect as Horrifying Armour but without the negative wounds. I think this has some major play for magic heavy Cursebreakers.
Strategic Sorcery – Double Focus but if you pull it off you can pull a discarded objective back into your hand. Keep in mind you can’t have more than three so you’ll have to discard an objective if you pull something back to a full hand.
Sphere of Ghyran – Double Channel to remove a single wound token. Vital Surge is a better choice if you’re going down this route.
Silence – …
Giblin’s Top Pick
Tome of Insight – Great for more Tomes on the Blue Horror but if you can spare the activation learning all your opponent’s power hand could be amazing if you’ve loaded up with counter play cards.
Scroll of Recall – Did you just cast Sphere of Aqshy or Abasoth’s Withering and want to do it again in the next power setp? On a 4+ you can do just that!
Nullstone Arrows – Range 4 is just solid for scoring some of those hard to come by objectives and lets you make funky charges. With Gloryseeker and a Trap/Pit Trap this gives you a commanding presence.
Remaining Universal Upgrades
Blessing of Ignax – I don’t know who or what an Ignax is but I want their blessing! +2 Damage to the next Range 1 or 2 attack action is stellar! Can you hear it? That sounds like Mollog shaking in his boots.
Duellist’s Speed – From a successful career piloting Spiteclaw’s Swarm I can tell you that pushes to and from combat are handy!
Fading Form – Ignore blocked/lethal/fighters but can’t end in an occupied or blocked hex. I’ve never found great use for these abilities.
Well of Power – Stormsire & Ylthari’s favourite new card. Votermis can sit and cry elsewhere. An additional magic die to their Spell Attacks is so-so good.
Spinning Defence – Reaction to a failed attack. No drive back but scatter 2 and determine a final position… okay.
Quick Learner – Enemy hurt you? Draw a card. I love this for Mollog!
Fated Blade – What a card! Decent Accuracy but totally unknown damage value it could be 5! It could be 0! It’s likely two!
However…that interesting question is back again: If an Attack succeeds but no damage is dealt. Is the Attack successful?
Ylthari’s Guardians Decklist
This deck allows for you to score a lot of passive glory Score Immediately Glory without really putting yourself in harms way but also building into a lot of end of phase glory. I imagine this will be a ‘long board’ or ‘diagonal’ deployment on the Amber Forbidden Chamber board.
Thanks for taking the time to read through – please let me know your thoughts in the comments below and how you’ll be building your deck for Ylthari’s Guardians.
We’ve had the Forbidden Chambers board pack out for a while now, and I’ve begun to realise something. Whenever I’ve won a board roll off 90% of the time I’m using this board…
…it has fantastic set up potential whether you’re the aggressor or the defender. For a well written article determining which role you should take check out this Magic the Gathering resource by Star City Games.
Let’s take a look at some of the common set ups that I’ve been using, and I’ve seen players using to good effect.
Aggressive Set Up
So, you’ve chosen to play an aggressive warband or deck – you’ve won the roll off and you’re opponent puts down a decent first board pick; the Soul Refractor. With three single blocked hexes and starting hexes generally pretty evenly spread it’s a good all-rounder. Then you whack out the Amber Forbidden Chambers Board aka Chasmatic Amphitheatre and set up like this…
…pow! You’ve got four fighters up in their grill and if you have speed 3 (sorry guard & dwarves) then you can reach all but two fighters in the opponent’s territory! You also have the bonus of starting someone on an edge hex to utilise hidden paths. If you’re the aggressor this board lets you flood into the opponent’s half fast!
Defensive Set Up
Okay. You’ve seen the one-dimensional set up for using the board aggressively, and it’s a good set up, but what I love this board for is it’s defensive uses. You can use it as a good long board OR diagonal deployment. Now, assuming your opponent is wise to your tricks and plays the Arcane Nexus to give themselves the best opportunity to get close to you in a long board deployment – well – let’s see how it fares up:
Yuck! If you want to safely traverse this board then it would take 7 hexes of movement just to get adjacent to an opposing model, assuming that they stand still and don’t push you back. Heck, even if your opponent is using a 7 model warband you’ll normally only have the option to hit a single model in turn one, unless you’re super fast! Okay – that’s pretty cool – I hear you say. But, this is not the boards BEST use if you need to sit back and hide…
Whilst the distance is less in this instance, only six hexes away – watch out for Riptooth with Spectral Wings or Skritch – this board lets you spread your fighters out forcing even more distance to be covered by the opponent if they want to go after your fighters. You deploy in a position where anyone can use Hidden Paths AND can score Skirting Danger if you’re after some passive glory. Or if you’re a larger seven model warband then you still only concede one model to be taken out in turn one!!
Is this a problem board?
If you take the time to get your boards out and lay them out in the diagonal layout, where you choose the orientation of the opponent’s board, there isn’t a bad line up for this amber board. The lack of a starting hex in the corner with the lethal hexes allows it to be used hyper defensively. Besides drawing spectral wings/hidden paths in turn one I’m not entirely sure how to go about initiating a fight in turn one if you’re playing as the aggressor and aren’t Mollog.
Have you been using this board?
Let me know in the comments if you’ve been using this board frequently or have had it used against you. Personally I feel that this board is getting an inordinate amount of play time and its definitely on my watch list of potential imbalance!