The last two warbands of Beastgrave have arrived. After a few months of delay caused by COVID19 orruks and witch elves are entering our tables. In this article we will take a look at the impact both warbands and their card packs might have on the meta. We will highlight the top cards from each pack - both faction and universals, give some opinion on the impact and strength of each band. And at the very last we will try to provide some initial reflection on the Beastgrave as a complete set.
First of let’s have a look at faction specific cards - I’ve selected top 5 faction cards for each of warbands.
Top 5 Mogrok Krusha’s Faction Cards
Got it, Boss - how to make an amazing objective? Take a great one and make it even easier. In this case we’re having Swift Capture made easier by removing the requirement to hold one objective in your own territory. Great card that fits all but the most passive playstyles orruks would like to employ.
Orruk Kunnin’ - another really solid in-faction surge card. It’s very easy, however it is also more reasonable than the similar objective Hrothgorn has. In this case we’re required to play 3 gambits, not power cards in general. This makes this card a bit more balanced. It is still a very reliable and easy way to gain glory.
Berserk Fortitude - I love defensive reaction ploys. I’ve endorsed their introduction before and I’m happy to see more of them. They make the game more dynamic and present meaningful choices to make for the players. The card itself has the powerful effect of reducing damage taken during an attack that would hit. For it to work your fighter will have to spend Waaagh! counters. For each counter spent fighter will take 1 less damage (but minimum of 1). I love the design of this card. It has a requirement - you need to have counters to spend in the first place for it to work. If you have an abundance of those counters you can turn a devastating attack into a moderate or even low damage one. But at the same time the attack will succeed, because it will deal at least 1 damage. This is an important point, as while you save your fighter your opponent will be able to score some of his surges that require him to land a hit. I think this is a step in the right direction - a defending player has a powerful defensive tool in his hand. At the same time the attacking player is not going to be completely wrecked by one card. I find this design to be vastly superior to cards like infamous Rebound or Last Chance.
Berserk Strength - when I saw this card it made me smile. Introduction of more reactive defenses I’ve applauded already. Now we’ve got a reactive offensive card. I really love this idea. It makes ordinary attacks more dangerous. More room for an aggressive player to surprise his opponent and turn 2 damage attacks into 4 damage attacks that suddenly can kill an important elite fighter. I was always a bit turned off by the huge telegraph players would make by stacking several offensive cards. This is usually leaving a lot of room for disruption and making all those cards being wasted. Not with Berserk Strength! This reaction is an opposite of Berserk Fortitude. It also requires Waaagh! Counters to fuel it, but instead of reducing damage taken it increases damage dealt by 1 for each counter spent. Brilliant card.
Inured to Pain - another damage reduction upgrade. It is incredibly powerful on high wound fighters. And since all orruks sit at 5 wounds this is going to give a lot of value to the warband. Coupled with Berserk Fortitude this makes orruks one of the best damage sponges in the game. It will probably see a restriction for the very same reason.
Top 5 Morgwaeth’s Blood-coven Faction Cards
Devoted Disciple - this is a really easy card to score. While most of your fighters are paper thin this can be easily achieved using lethal hex (and maybe scoring Calculated Risk while at it). The difference between 1 and 2 wounds isn’t that meaningful, so this is one thing to consider.
Catechism of Murder - in faction Inspiration Strikes. Everyone loved Inspiration Strikes. I’m a bit on a fence if I like seeing another auto-inspire ploy being added while things like Blazing Soul are seeing the restriction. But I guess it’s quite okay when it cannot target Mollog or Hrothgorn and make them the scary juggernauts they turn into when inspired. Coven is also impacted by having pretty rough inspiration mechanics, so every little bit helps them.
Fanatical Faith - elven version of Duardin Resilience. It’s a really strong card that when played well can stop some of the key attacks.
Headlong Fury - this is a fantastic mobility tool. Your inspired fighter can make a free move action that doesn’t put a counter on her. It’s key to stand on an objective or to make sure you’re able to threaten with a charge anyone on the table.
Victor of a Thousand Duels - Morgwaeth or Khyrae can be turned into tanks fairly easily. If you add this on one of them (especially Morgwaeth) you can get a fighter that is a very undesirable target. Hard to hit and with 50% chance to retaliate? Many will go look for better targets.
There it is - our top 5 cards for each of the factions. Now let’s have a look at the warbands themselves.
Mogrok Krusha’s - they are what Gurzag and his band always wanted to be. Elite, durable, accurate team with enough damage to make anyone take them seriously. They’re marketed as a premier aggro warband. And while they can be built into a solid aggressive team that can get a decent success… they really thrive as a control warband. They’ve got enough passive objectives to just hang back and voltron one of their 5HP fighters into something scary that will then give a solid glory boost in 3rd end phase. Tomes and/or Avatar are amazing for them. Killing stacked orruk with their defensive tech on board is a task only a few warbands have a decent chance to pull off. Their control build is easily A-S tier and will be something any aspiring list will have to beat in order to succeed at the tournaments.
Morgwaeth’s Blood Coven - the situation for Daughters of Khaine isn’t so obvious as it is the case with orruks. This warband is very fragile and yet they have potential to stand up solid defenses for their key fighters while dishing out respectable damage. They offer a playstyle that blends objective holding with aggro. There are firs lists that are offering the promise of being competitive and I think they will be a solid upper-middle part of the pack. With a potential to go higher when people will innovate the best way of playing them. They are going to be solid, their main issue is being released at the same time as Krusha’s. It is a hard task to not be overshadowed by these three powerful brutes.
Top 20 Universal Cards
Since we’re looking at two expansion packs at once I’ve taken the liberty to select the top 20 best/most interesting cards in those sets. Initially I’ve just selected the 20 cards I liked the most from that pool. Later it occurred to me that I’ve inadvertently selected 10 from each of the expansions. I think this is a great thing - distribution of strong and interesting cards is quite even between the boxes.
Most of the cards are strongest from ones available, however a few of them are the cards that I’ve found to be particularly interesting. Without further ado let’s jump into the cards.
Absolute Stillness - this is a situational card, as in most cases it will require some tech to become a quarry. However if you can put Survival Instinct or similar thing on your fighter it is becoming to be an easy 2 glory. It’s another strong card for hold objective play and only the quarry requirement helps offset it a bit. It’s not a free score, as you need to make some calls--like placing a suboptimal upgrade on a backline fighter to make him a quarry. You also have to plan ahead to get around the no-token requirement. Overall a fun card.
Feed the Beastgrave - I love this card. This might not be the best card in the set. It is hard to pull off and might never reach the reliability level required for a competitive level… but this card makes me want to try. It’s a fun approach for a control deck - you don’t need to kill other fighters (it never hurts to kill them though!), you don’t want to hold those objectives. You want to wander around the board and destroy them. There’s 8-9 glory to be had from flipping/removing those tokens currently (4-5 objectives). So it might be worth a shot - more fresh approach and with good payout. Given the prevalence of holding objectives in many warbands this can be pretty devastating to their game plan as well.
Hidden Purpose - universal version of Focal Formation (just without fighter restriction - thanks Wiggle!). Another 1 glory surge for holding 2 objectives. Very easy and synergises well with heaps of other hold oriented cards. This should see a restriction. The amount of synergies in hold objective play is through the roof.
Show of Force - this is a great surge for voltron warbands (this is a common strategy recently). It is also a great card for aggressive warbands who are eager to go deep into enemy territory. This often can be autoscored later in the game. Easy glory.
Test of Courage - so… this card is not for everyone. Ghosts (in both shapes) are natural candidates for this card. But this also can be nicely scored by warbands like Mollog, TP, Hrothgorn etc. They have models that either don’t take damage from lethals or are fine being left in one at the back. Some warbands can also help themselves by pushes or flipping the tokens. This can be a quite reliable 2 glory end phase objective - something that is severely lacking in this game.
The Avatar Risen - this is the new cool kid on the block. It’s a twist on Lost Page/Tomes. The difference is that this can work on anyone, there are only 3 Ur-Grub upgrades and are more useful than most pages or tomes. And once voltroned they bring a lot of value. You can also score this in any end phase - no need to wait for round 3 if you’re lucky. Overall a very solid 3 glory end phase. It will be seen very often and I’m afraid it might get hit with some restrictions as a result. And the story about lack of proper end phase scoring for non-hold warbands will continue.
Blind Hunger - easy spell to cast with no range restrictions in place? With a chance to hurt your opponent by removing a key power card? Yes please. With a bit of luck this can shut Avatar down without any effort. Or take that key push ploy away from the ghouls. Very good spell and first instance of offensive discard in this game.
Glorious Triumph - a great card for anyone who has a kill pressure and flexes into hold objective. It’s also a very nice tool to offset having only 2 objectives on your side of the board. Any holding warband should consider having it.
Go to Ground - this is an interesting take on Illusory Fighter. Very flexible if your fighter is a quarry. It will help get away to safety, score Shortcut and hold objectives - your quarry can teleport directly onto a token. Has token limitations which is a good thing to balance it out.
Hunting Bolt - a new Sphere of Aqhy that is more difficult to cast, but has a bonus in the shape of being able to deal 2 damage to a quarry. It will probably land in any magic build - especially after S2 rotates.
Malkyn Grace - so this is essentially another Spectral Wings for a warband that has no hunters or quarries in their ranks. Very solid card for mobility impaired warbands. -1 wound penalty has to be played around, so most likely this will receive Haymaker treatment and will be played as close to the end of the round as possible.
Quick Search - 3rd great draw ploy in Beastgrave. Pack all 3 and you can draw 7 cards during the game. The impact of having card advantage in WHU has been discussed before in various places. My experience is that it is valuable - especially if you’re running some combos that are card dependent. This card is also very strong as currently To the End and Digging Deep are prevalent in the meta. And this card makes scoring them even easier. In many cases it will replace Unnatural Truce not to give the opponent extra power card for free. I can also see some of the draw or To the End seeing a restriction in near future.
Victimize - I love this card. Usually it will give you an extra dice, which is not bad, but also not amazing. But if you’re a hunter and you expect to see some quarries (or you’re a Hrothgorn) this becomes an amazing accuracy card. Extra dice and full reroll support? Yes please. I wish the reroll unlock was a bit less restrictive so more warbands could unlock the full potential of this card.
Amberbone Mace - this is a one of two of the best amberbone weapons. 2 damage, 2 hammers attack profile is decent. But the fact that you can reroll the dice is amazing. It scales really well with any accuracy cards you would use. If you don’t use any you’d probably be better with a sword though.
Amberbone Sword - second of the best of the amberbone weapons. Doesn’t offer rerolls like the mace, but instead gives a flat 3 hammer attack profile. So if you don’t plan to rely on +dice cards this is the upgrade for you. I can see decks running both as an alternative to having the Trophy Belt.
Cursed Blade - if you have an expendable fighter then why not give him 3 damage attacks to make before he goes? If you have fighters that can come back… put that weapon on them, maybe add Crown of Avarice for good measure too. And start being the pain in your opponent’s side. I applaud the design - a fun card that has its own niche where it can shine.
Hunter’s Talisman - great accuracy card for a hunter. Amazing for Hrothgorn. Really strong upgrade for any hunter. Makes Hrothgorn and Rippa happy.
Prescient Blow - while the whole idea of the card is fun… this card should be forsaken. It can create an infinite loop and its interaction with Duellist Speed is just broken. I’m a little surprised this has slipped through the playtesting. It’s a major bug in the game.
Strength of Terror - put this on Mollog or Hrothgorn and you’ll truly be a terror on the board. Hrothgorn with SoT and Hunter’s Talisman goes to a whooping 5 dice attack with a reroll. A force you don’t want in your face.
Warding Companion - this is a very nice defensive upgrade. I really like it. It is not as strong as Survival Instinct, but in many cases brings in similar value.
And that’s it when it comes to universal cards. I think the recurring theme is a strong support for hold objective related gameplay. Beastgrave is a season largely focused on holding objectives. This playstyle is so strong and so well supported that even the aggro teams are being repurposed to stand on those tokens and score decent glory. Krusha’s and Blood Coven have brought a host of new cards that do support this playstyle.There are some very nice tools for aggro warbands, but control/passive/hold playstyle got so many tools that it will continue to dominate the boards. It is the sad state of affairs when an aggro oriented element of the game like Avatar ends up strengthening passive teams. Sure - it will help aggro teams get some decent end phase glory. But because of how well it works with passive builds it will probably get targeted by restrictions.
Overall this season has been dictated by hold objective warbands and by control warbands - those are the ones that have dominated Grand Clashes and other more meaningful tournaments. We’ve seen a promise to bring more interactive play back in Beastgrave. Where interaction and positioning would matter again. What we’ve got is a strengthening of passive play. Even latest warbands, that are meant to be aggressive, are having most of their interesting objectives being either hold or control ones.
There are some staples in the currently well established decks:
Draw glory (To the End/Digging Deep + draw cards)
With the last FAR things got a lot healthier. They were still heavily skewed towards passive play, but we’ve seen more aggressive warbands reemerge. This newest card drop will give some tools to both of them. But in the end not rolling dice for glory is more reliable than rolling dice for glory and we will remain in the meta where passive play is the way to go. The biggest winners of the last releases are: Hrothgorn (he’s got some great tools, both for aggro and for more passive play) and Krusha’s (those got released and will rock the tables). Aggro will not disappear. It will most likely adapt to being more flexible into the holding/passive game until the new FAR comes. Hopefully Season 4 will shake things up a bit more. GW is not afraid to do a solid shakeup - latest FAR was a great proof of that. I hope they’ll do that - the health of the game needs that. Guaranteed, passive glory has to go down. Solid (worth it and doable) end phase objectives should be available for all playstyles. The super control builds that win the game unless you manage to get through the entire board and kill a beefy fighter should go away. Those big guys should be forced to enter the fray and be at risk - that will make the game exciting. For example, The Avatar Risen should require your avatar fighter to be in enemy territory to score it.
Overall there are a lot of solid cards introduced in this expansion. They’ll be serving as a decent base for deck building once season 4 drops. The meta after the FAR was very healthy - probably best ever. With this update, it will probably take the hit and will be less diverse, but there still should be a lot of warbands in play. It’s just that most of them will play the same things. So - season 4 has a lot of work ahead of itself. I hope it will bring more dynamic gameplay. Some experiments--like combat reaction ploys--were introduced in S3 and I have a firm belief that they are a right way to go. That and culling the super passive gameplay that has emerged so strong again.
How will the meta react to these new tools? Were our predictions accurate? We will update you in near future.