[Note from WiggleFish: I am happy have added Gorah as a regular author to the Well Of Power blog feed! This is his second article, and I look forward to many more in the future. Thanks, Gorah!]
Welcome to a slightly different take on a product review. Since there are already a number of great card by card reviews on the internet already (which you can find here!), this article will take a slightly different approach.
Below you will find our top picks for what will be some of the most impactful cards from the November 23rd Gift Pack and Rippa’s Snarlfang’s releases and our take on how those might influence the overall meta. We’ve separated it into two sections: first, cards from the new warband, and then universals. Adding a new warband to the game is frequently one of the biggest shifts to the meta there is, and access to new universal cards can also have a big influence on the meta and card selection - both because you might want to include them in your decks, and you’ll have to deal with them during your games.
So, without further delay - let’s jump to…
Top 5 Rippa’s Snarlfangs Cards To Watch Out For
Loaded With Plunder - This is an excellent card. In general your game plan is to stack Rippa with upgrades and turn him into a juggernaut he can become. Put two upgrades and he inspires. Put three and get extra 2 glory. How awesome is that? Low risk, high reward and goes seamlessly with your game plan.
The power from this card comes from the fact that if your opponent wants to stop it, they will need to try to kill Rippa. And by doing so they are going to inspire the rest of your warband. It is also flexible; you don’t have to stack Rippa--any of your fighters can be a target of those upgrades. And, since you can load them at the end of last activation in the round, it is generally difficult to prevent. So you can choose to either go for a surprise 2 glory or try to bait some attacks aimed at Rippa.
Defensive Maneuvre - I love the design and value you get from this card. It is a somewhat limited Sidestep that allows you only to move away from enemy fighter, but it also gives you a guard token for free, which is a massive durability boost for an inspired Snarlfang, and a great way to avoid damage from lethal hexes or cards like Snare. It is an excellent disengage tool and essentially 2 ploys in one in terms of effects value. Keep in mind that the push is optional (“up to 1 hex”) if you like your spot and just want to go on guard.
Furious Reprisal - Another amazing ploy. This time around we get a bit more limited Aggressive Defense as you can be pushed back (but you still can defend!) combined with Fuelled by Fury. Awesome. Great value, powerful effect but with fun little twist. Having this in your hand can also turn your fighter into a bomb. Go aggressively and your opponent might want to respect the fact of that card existence and not try keeping your fighter in place after an attack. No-one wants to risk suffering 2 damage out of the blue. Having Narrow Escape helps mitigate the risk to your fighter. Should you have also Aggressive Defense in your hand, this can make your opponent truly regret attacking you as you have the potential to return 2 attacks for one aimed at your fighter. This can be fairly devastating and will make people think twice before they’ll try to attack your fighters. What is the counter-play? Range 2+ attacks, one-shotting or driving back. In Aggressive Defense scenario it is only range 2+ and one-shot that can save from a flurry of counterattacks. While the combo is a bit tricky to pull off, it is potent enough to instill fear.
Narrow Escape - This is a surprise trick to keep your fighter alive from a calculated attack. Might be a really nice trick to foil your opponents plans by making that just fine attack too weak after all. It is a perfect companion for Aggressive Defence making the cost of playing it a bit lower. Similarly, it can reduce the impact of playing an early Haymaker (if for some reason you’ve decided to run it instead of Vindictive Attack). It should be an auto include for any Snarlfang player.
From an attacker perspective it is good to bait it via an attack that deals 2+1 damage from lethal hex or via some solid 3+ damage hit that has been dealt early in the game. Two damage without any additional threats isn’t that scary, but the prospect of losing a wolf early into the game is not something a Snarlfang player wants to risk. Making a 2+1 attack seems to be the most effective way to bait this card, as it potentially would leave the target at 1HP - leaving it extremely vulnerable and past the window when Escape can help them, especially if they think you might have cards like Snare or Pit Trap.
Bonded - An in-faction Spirit Bond, but better! Its effect is especially good because your goblins are sporting 2 dodges and the Snarlfang Jaws attacks benefit from supports upgrade to improve their accuracy. This is particularly valuable since not many things can improve the wolf bites. Only drawback is that it works only for an adjacent fighters. So attacks from a range are a good way to bypass its defensive buffs. It’s fairly difficult to stop it’s offensive power though.
Overall Rippa’s Snarlfangs have a host of excellent in faction objectives and power cards that flow well with the warband’s tactics and have very solid effects. Choosing 5 of them was tough and I’ve actually intentionally skipped some of the very powerful--but simple--ones in favor of more interesting cards. I like the general direction of faction cards being strong and a defining factor for a warband. Gone are the days where faction cards were often a weaker version of a universal card. May they never come back.
Rippa’s Snarlfangs offers a solid option for an aggro play, and are especially suited for fighting the larger, lower health warbands. Since they only have three fighters, the wolf riding grots’ play-style will be more surgical in execution than other warbands’, but once they get some glory they have a host of options to improve their defensive capabilities and survive the counter attack. With a flexibility of power cards and very nice objectives they should be a solid pick in the current meta and offer very fun game-play and some interesting tactical choices.
10 Universals To Watch Out For:
Moving on to my favorite part of the article - the most impactful universal cards from both expansions! Note that these 15 cards are not ordered in any particular way other than grouping per card type and expansion.
Rippa’s Snarlfangs Expansion Pack
Brought to Bay - An excellent objective for aggro play-style. This is basically an Advancing Strike reprint that is not restricted, but is limited to hunters. A very solid card, but it is a shame older aggressive warbands are barred from using it.
Gathered Momentum - This is a bit more of a flex objective, however most often you’ll want to score it by making a charge. This is another good support for aggro play-style and can support non-hunters which is a welcomed addition.
Temporary Victory - Oh my… Have you been jealous about Despoilers and In the Name of The King? Now you can have your own version of it. Or a second copy if you are a Beastmen or Ghoul player. Objective control and flex warbands are opening the champagne over this. I wouldn’t be too surprised if this is Restricted very soon, not that it would stop seeing play after that happened. It’s just that good. What is scary with this card is the potential glory that can be scored with a little effort during the action phase. What is the counter-play? You have to make sure that you are pushing enemy fighters from objectives as soon as possible, and saving disruption tech for when they try to score. This can be scored anytime during the round, so you have to be very sharp with those objectives, as hold objective players very likely have the power cards needed to set this up in the power step before their activation.
Invert Terrain - An excellent anti objective tech. It’s a bit harder to cast than Abasoth’s Unmaking, but has a longer range and can produce a lethal hex. A great tool for caster warbands. Gives great value while feeding casting objectives.
Tracking - Beastgrave version of Spectral Wings. Almost anyone would like to have that. Especially aggressive warbands. It is only partially limited to Hunters, which I feel is a better design than full restriction. Getting half the effect sucks, but it is better than not being able to use the card at all.
Avatar of the Ur-Grub - This one is an interesting one. I’m not sure if becoming an Avatar is a buff for your fighter or a hindrance. At first glance card gives some sweet stats. But reading Stinger makes you realise that you’ll lose its benefit when upgrades transform into Avatar. So the real value of this card remains to be seen. Perhaps it will be great if this will be a key to unlock some other cool upgrades or objectives. If not it will be a disappointment. For now it is intriguing, even if not thrilling stat wise.
Iara's Instant Shield - I actually really like that upgrade. It is a fun little gimmick that can help you defend from an attack, but also feeds your spell powered engine while at it. And you can re-use it since it is an upgrade. Really cool card. Primary effect might not be very strong if you rock one defense dice wizard. It is however becoming significantly more powerful with 2+ dice defences. Which means pretty much any wizard leader. Strong rerolls and successful spell cast for objectives? Yes, please.
Sting of the Ur-Grub - Giant strength cousin. It is limited to only range 1 attacks, but is not restricted. This is actually pretty good news for some warbands that could use any damage boost they can get. It is also having an extra feature of triggering Avatar of the Ur-Grub transformation. It is not clear however if this is going to be a beneficial effect or a hindrance instead. We might have to wait for a few more expansions to be able to decide on this. For now it is an excellent power booster for aggro. But keep in mind it only works on range 1 attacks. This makes it a bit less feasible for some of the fighters like Stabbit who cannot benefit from it at all as he has range 2 attack and Snarlfang cannot benefit from it either.
Beastgrave Gift Pack
Bold Conquest - This is actually a pretty cool card. Make a charge with leader and make sure it ends on an objective to score one glory? Yes, please. Might not be great for everyone, but it is nice for some aggro chaps - kill someone, block an objective and get extra glory for that? Yes please. Might not be easiest to pull off, but still nice. Any warband with a leader who has a range of 3 should consider this for an easy glory. You need only a charge - hitting an attack is not necessary. And getting a charge with them is fairly easy.
Cover Ground - An old classic returning. This is an excellent card granting an easy and reliable glory with little or no setup required. Very solid card.
Distraction - Another classic card returning. It has a plethora of uses, but especially now - in hold objective meta it is extra valuable. Good for any play-style, it is probably an auto include in most decks.
Jealous Defense - A fantastic card for anyone who wants to or simply can hold an objective. Extra attacks are always very valuable in this game. Getting an extra attack for the fact that you’re standing on an objective is really sweet. It’s especially huge for fighters with a range 2+ attacks - it gives them a lot of flexibility in which objective to choose. Thundriks will love it.
Mischievous Spirits - I think the best anti hold objective card there is right now. It has the potential to throw a wrench in your opponents plans and do it big time. Really solid disruption option. It should see good amount of play seeing how good hold objective warbands are right now. Make sure you pack a lot of push cards if you want to counter it.
Spectral Wings - The boss is back. This card is what every aggro player was asking for. It lets you get to those pesky defensive warbands easier. It also helps you score Cover Ground and Gathered Momentum. A really solid card and I’m happy to see it back. Sure - there are more interesting cards that help with movement like Desperate Flight - but Wings is super reliable and that’s something aggro needs.
Guardian Glaive - A really fun upgrade. It is especially good if you’re holding an objective. It edges on being overall a better pick than Larval Lance. Lance has better stats in its apex form. But Glaive is solid from round 1. And if you manage to use it while holding an objective it is super accurate. I like the idea of holding an objective being a trigger to some additional effects other than glory gain from Supremacy/Temporary Victory.
Rebound - In my opinion, this card shouldn’t have had returned. In general it is a badly designed card. Sure - it can provide tons of emotions when it goes off, but overall it is way too swingy and its impact on the game is way too large. It’s a fun card for some casual games, but I do question it’s place in a highly competitive setting. It can be too punishing when it goes off and hurts especially elite warbands or really stacked attacks. In my opinion, it is not healthy when the stacking of power cards to minimize variance for a critical attack is completely overturned by a single, very random ploy. Not only it kills any preparations made at a very low cost, but it also can severely punish players for making that investment. It has a very flashy effect, but I think the game was better without it.
Overall these two expansions bring a host of a very solid cards that are supporting a wider spectrum of game styles. Aggro is starting to get some very nice tools and Rippa looks like a very strong and aggressive warband. This is a good direction. Hold objective based gameplay is enjoying another boost with some very strong cards flowing in. Having hold objectives being a reliable and strong game plan is great, though I do worry if the trend is not going too far. The amount of glory that can be scored with relative ease from various hold objective surge cards may be a problem for some decks--the ramp up those warbands can benefit from can completely stop more aggressive teams in their tracks and prove the glory difference very hard to nullify.
All the new tools are exciting, but I do wonder if there’s a risk of cementing the meta in a fairly passive and boring state of hold objective play everywhere. Flex warbands like Thorns are also having a festival right now, as they benefit from both sides of the arms race and are really scary as a result. However, I believe Rippa and some of the anti-objective tech cards are bringing the hope that more aggressive play will be a viable response, and am very excited to watch the meta develop.