Card Review - WUOnline - Initial Launch - Universal Gambits (Ploys)

Updated: Apr 25, 2020

WiggleFish here with my initial card review of the Universal Gambits that are currently available in the initial launch of Warhammer Underworlds Online!

In case you are wondering what a "Gambit" is, Gambits are the name for power cards in Warhammer Underworlds that are either Ploys or Spells. Spells are not in the online game at the moment, but it's probably worth using the correct term for if/when they get added.

You can see my reviews of the Universal Objectives and Upgrades here:

For each card, I plan to give it a general rating, and explain what I like or dislike about the card.

My rating system is as follows:

4 - A rating of four means that I would take this card in almost every deck I make.

3 - A rating of three means I would take this card in decks of a certain play-style.

2 - A rating of two means that I might use this card in some very specific decks.

1 - A rating of one means that I cannot think of a deck I would play this card in.

It's not perfect, and it's likely that you could bump a given card up or down a rating based on your preference, but it's how I think about things.

When I think about the Gambits I want to include in my deck, I am usually looking for cards that do some or all of the following:

  1. Help me score glory by killing fighters or complete objectives.

  2. Make my opponent's plan harder to accomplish.

  3. Make up for the weakness of my warband.

  4. Lean into the strengths of my warbands.

The better a gambit is at these things, and the more of these criteria it meets, the more likely I am to use it. Versatility (being useful in many situations) and redundancy (having multiple cards that do similar things) are also important concepts to think about when you look at gambits and build decks, so I consider those concepts as well.

You may also notice that I tend to rate mobility and push cards very highly, and the reason for this is that mobility and positioning is extremely important in this game, and is a great way to avoid attacks (you survive 100% of the attacks you are out of charge range for, and so on), make charges, or secure objectives.

Damage ploys are also rated very highly, as reaching the "sweet spot" of 4 damage to one-shot important enemy fighters point with your attacks is extremely powerful because it saves you activations and doesn't give you opponent a chance to heal or reposition a wounded fighter.

For more in-depth resources on deck building, I recommend searching the Web Content Library for more that topic.

A lot of my opinions are based on my experience with the tabletop game, so if you think I’ve missed anything, let me know!

Gambits (Ploys):

I've separated the cards by my rankings, but within ranking they are in alphabetical order.

Ratings of 4:

  • Distraction - “Choose an enemy fighter and push them one hex.” - Movement is so important in Underworlds, and a single push can frequently mean being able to make an attack action instead of a charge action, denying an enemy objective like Supremacy, or pushing a dangerous fighter out of charge range. A very easy card to find room for in almost any deck.

  • Fuelled by Fury - “You can re-roll any attack dice for the first friendly fighter's Attack action in the next activation.” - One of the best accuracy ploys in the game, this card gets better the more dice you have, and goes especially well with abilities that trigger on critical hits like Farstrider’s Star Falcon attack action.

  • Hidden Paths - “Choose a friendly fighter that hasn't made a Move action this phase and is on any edge hex. Place them on any other edge hex. They are considered to have made a Move action.” - A great teleport card for many uses. It is an excellent way to close distances against defensive warbands, sneak onto far away objectives, or escape from dangerous enemy fighters. It’s main counter when used offensively is Distraction to push your fighter away once you teleport in, so it can be worth holding on to a Sidestep or distraction of your own in order to push them back again. Also counts towards cards like March of the Dead.

  • Sidestep - “Choose a friendly fighter and push them one hex.” - A simple but great card for basically all warbands. Positioning is so important in this game, and one hex can make massive differences in so many situations like stopping or making charges, holding objectives, blocking objectives, or securing positioning cards like Conquest.

  • Trap - “Reaction: Play this during a friendly fighter's Attack action that drives an enemy fighter back. The enemy fighter suffers 1 damage.” - A great way to secure a kill, and do that last point of damage needed. It also works on ranged attacks, which is great. It’s only potential downside is that it does not count as the fighter making the kill for cards like Victorious Duel, and it is not an attack action for cards like Precise Use of Force. As long as you keep this in mind when you use it, though, it’s a wonderful card for almost any warband. It was restricted (one of a number of great cards you could only take a limited number of) in the tabletop version for a reason.

  • Twist the Knife - “Reaction: Play this during a friendly fighter's Attack action that has a Range of 1 and will succeed. It has +1 Damage for that Attack action.” - Very similar to Trap in that it is a great way to secure kills, but limited to range one attacks, making it less useful for warbands that prefer to make ranged attacks, but still probably worth including in most of those due to it’s power. Unlike Trap, the damage does count as coming from the attack action, meaning it can help score cards like Precise Use of Force and Victorious Duel. This card was also restricted in the tabletop game.

Ratings of 3:

  • Confusion - “Choose two fighters that are adjacent to each other and switch them.” - A good way to steal objectives that are being held by enemy fighters, and situationally useful in other situations as a mobility or disruption card. Very good for Spiteclaw’s Swarm as it can inspire two adjacent friendly fighters at once.

  • Duel of Wits - “Reaction: Play this when an opponent plays a ploy. Draw two power cards.” - A nice card draw card that effectively gives you 6 cards the round you draw it in. When you take this card, just remember that you are effectively making your ploy deck smaller, meaning you are more likely to see more of your cards as the game progresses, but have a slightly higher chance of drawing upgrades than gambits. Good for decks that want to play a lot of cards at once at the cost of possibly having less cards in the long run. I like this card in aggro warbands that rely less on gambits to accomplish objectives like Supremacy.

  • Healing Potion - “Choose a friendly fighter and roll a defence dice. On a roll of Block or Critical remove up to two wound tokens from them. Otherwise remove one wound token from them.” - Although players will usually try to one shot your fighters if they can, that is not always possible, and this card can help mitigate damage taken and force more actions spent on attacks, especially early in the game. Best for warbands with high health fighters like Stormcast warbands, and least effective against warbands that are good at one-shotting fighters like Steelheart’s and Skaven.

  • Mighty Swing - “Your first Attack action with a Range characteristic of 1 in the next activation targets all adjacent enemy fighters. Roll for each.” - A very powerful card if you can set up the attack for it, which can be somewhat situational and match-up based. Great for the smaller, hard hitting, accurate warbands, and the more effective vs the larger warbands with lots of fighters close together.

  • Second Wind - “Choose a friendly fighter that has one or more Charge tokens. In the next activation, treat the chosen fighter as if they had one fewer Charge tokens than they have, and one more Move token than they have.” - This card can be very powerful when you set up for it, as it allows a fighter the opponent thought was done for the round make an additional attack, or more rarely, go on guard or use another action. It can also allow The Warden or Skritch to bring a fighter back after charging, which can also occasionally be worth doing. Best for powerful fighters with range like Skritch, and works well in combination with push cards to get targets into range.

  • Spectral Wings - “The first fighter to make a Move action in the next activation has +2 Move.” - A great card for all but the fastest or most defensive warbands. Suddenly increasing a charge threat range by 2 hexes, or being able to reach a far off objective is very powerful.

  • Spoils of Battle - “Play an upgrade card. This doesn't cost a glory point.” - Trading a ploy in to apply an upgrade can be very useful, especially in the early rounds when you may not have any glory and your fighters need a boost of some kind. Better for aggressive warbands that want a strong early game to get the glory flowing.

Ratings of 2:

  • Confused Priorities - “Switch two objectives that are currently being held.” - A feasible card decks that rely on holding specific objectives, but does rely on both objectives being held, so can be situationally reliant on your opponent/useless.

  • Cruel Taunt - “Choose an enemy fighter and roll an attack dice. On a roll of Smash or Critical they are no longer Inspired, and cannot be Inspired this game.” - A situational card that is best in a meta where warbands with very powerful leaders are popular. Especially good vs leaders that gain defence dice or damage when they inspire like Stormcast. If/when Mollog’s Mob is added to the game, it is a very effective card vs Mollog.

  • Flickering Step - “Roll eight dice. Choose a friendly fighter and push them up to a number of hexes equal to the number of Criticals rolled.” - A push card with somewhat swingy results. You have about a 77% chance to roll one or more crits, and a 23% chance to roll none. It’s not the first push card you should take, but it might be the third or fourth.

  • Invisible Walls - “All fighters' Move characteristics are reduced to 1 for the next activation.” - A nice control card that can force your opponent to make a subpar activation in some situations, cause them to waste gambits like Fuelled by Fury, and generally slow the opponent down. It is slightly countered by mobility buffs like Spectral Wings, and less effective against fighters with ranged attacks.

  • Lethal Strike - “If the first Attack action in the next activation is a critical hit, double its Damage characteristic for that Attack action.” - A fun card that gets more powerful the more dice you roll, and the more re-rolls you have. Be aware that Underworlds applies multipliers first, then addition, so this will only ever double the base damage of an attack, and then add any extra damage modifiers like Great Strength on top of it (or, if you crit with Farstrider’s Star Falcon, for example, this card makes the base damage 2, then adds the +1 for the crit).

  • On Your Feet - “Reaction: Play this during an Attack action or ploy that would take a friendly fighter out of action, when there is a friendly fighter adjacent to them. Roll a defence dice. On a roll of Block or Critical the fighter does not suffer damage and is not taken out of action.” - A very powerful effect when it works, but does it require some setup, and takes up a valuable ploy slot. You have to make sure you have your fighters adjacent to one another, and then hope to make the roll, which can be too many moving pieces to be very reliable. Best for the smaller warbands who's fighters are more valuable.

  • Reflected Injury - “Choose a friendly fighter with at least one wound token, and an adjacent enemy fighter. The enemy fighter suffers 1 damage.” - A decent way to do one damage card, but requires some set up in order to trigger it. You probably only take this card after taking Trap and Twist the Knife. This card does get a lot more reliable if/when Shardgale is added to the card pool.

  • Rethink Strategy - “Discard any number of objective cards and draw that number of objective cards.” - This card is a cool card for decks with lots of high glory end phase cards that might not always be scorable at a given time. You don’t want to throw away too many cards with this, but sometimes swapping out 1-2 cards in the later rounds can win you games.

  • Shardfall - “Place a Shardfall token in an unoccupied hex. That hex is blocked until the end of the phase.” - This is one of those cards that is situationally amazing, but rarely makes the cut for me. It can be used to block an objective, deny a charge, or or trap an enemy fighter for an upcoming attack. In practice, I find push cards like Distraction to be similar but more versatile, but it’s worth keeping in mind.

  • Shifting Shards - “Move an un-held objective one hex. You cannot move it into a hex that already contains an objective.” - Because it only works on un-held objectives, this card is mostly useful for objective warbands that don’t want to spend a move action getting onto an objective, or to counter an enemy playing Distraction to move them off of an objective. It does this job well, but I would take cards like Sidestep first.

  • Sprint - “Double the move characteristic of the first friendly fighter to make a Move action in the next activation. They may not make a Charge action. Once they have moved, they cannot be activated again in this phase.” - Situationally powerful for high move fighters, especially in the last activation of a round when the downside of not being able to activate isn’t important, but this card competes in many ways with Spectral Wings, which is generally much more versatile.

  • Teamwork - “Reaction: Play this card during a friendly fighter's Attack action, before rolling any dice. Push another friendly fighter one hex.” - I like this card in aggressive and objective style decks, as the push can be very useful for moving closer to enemy fighters, or onto an objective. You probably only take this after Sidestep, though, and it doesn’t counter Distraction in the final power step of a round in the same way as Sidestep or Shifting Shards does for holding objectives.

Ratings of 1:

  • Dual Strike - “One fighter supporting the first Attack action in the next activation is considered to be two supporting fighters.” - A very minor effect, and very situational. For most attacks, the difference between single support and double support tends to be about +10% to an already 60% or better chance to hit. This isn’t terrible, but because you have to already have a supporting fighter, it can be hard to set up.

  • Fortify - “Friendly fighters holding objectives have +1 Defence for the next activation.” - Because you have to play this card in the power step before you are attacked, the enemy can frequently ignore it by simply attacking another fighter. Perhaps something you could take in a very defensive build for a small warband, but I have trouble seeing it make the cut.

  • Scavenge - “Reaction: Play this after a friendly fighter's Attack action that takes an adjacent enemy fighter with an upgrade out of action. Gain an additional glory point.” - An okay effect, but can force you to target a sub-optimal fighter, and is a bit of a “win-more” card since it doesn’t help you get kills, just rewards you for getting one, and can brick your hand while you wait for a chance to use it.

  • Stumble - “Reaction: Play this after a friendly fighter's Attack action drives an enemy fighter back. They are driven back an additional hex in the same direction.” - It’s very rare that you would want to do this, let alone spend a ploy slot in your deck for this effect.

  • Tainted Vitality - “Remove one wound token from each fighter who has at least one wound token.” - Rarely worth taking, as Healing Potion tends to be more useful in more situations. In theory this card counters Shardgale if that card is added to the pool, but in reality a good Shardgale will kill it’s most important targets, meaning this card can show up too late to help. It actually works the best played right after your own Shardgale is played to kill one or more important enemy fighters and then reset the wounds of your own fighters, but this is a hard combo to pull off.

  • Triumphant Roar - “Reaction: Play this after a friendly fighter's Attack action that takes an enemy fighter out of action. You can push each enemy fighter adjacent to the friendly fighter one hex.” - A fairly weak effect tied to the very situational requirement of needing an enemy fighter kill and an additional adjacent enemy fighter.

  • Trust to Luck - “Discard any number of power cards and draw up to that number of power cards from your deck.” - A very expensive way to draw more cards since you spend this card and the number you discard. Just take Duel of Wits if you want to draw cards.

That’s it for the gambits (ploys)! If you liked this article, great! If you think I missed anything, or made any errors, let me know in the comments.

Want more? You can read my reviews of the Universal Objectives and Upgrades here:

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