Fester And Hunger v1.2
Tabletop - Post BAR4.0
[Version 1.2: Updated to BAR4.0]
F&H was borne from three things – a fondness for my old S1 warband, noticing a detail on a faction specific upgrade, and wanting to make something off-meta but still aggressively competitive. F&H requires a mindset which deviates quite sharply from the current approach – it can and often will involve the tactical suicide of your own fighters, as well as gently abusing certain mechanics and cards.
Version 1.1 Notes: Since the initial draft it's been piloted to great success by Desidus (a fellow Underworlds player from the underworlds discord) at a tournament, and by a number of other good folks in discord and even local gaming groups. I've taken a few suggestions on board from a few keen players, and here we are!
Version 1.2 Notes: Gosh frick it GW I publish the v1.1 and you go and torpedo the shit outta it the very next fricking day. That's bad enough but then you violated the Eyes too?! Monsters, absolute monsters. Anyway, this sort of game is always evolving, and I think we can survive this BAR. That's not to say that the BAR wasn't necessary or well judged, it was, it was just not delivered when it should've been. Oh well, onwards....
(you can click the image for a deck builder link)
WUOnline Deck Code (If Applicable):
deck building guide
So why play F&H? Well, it’s been designed to:
Be as awkward as possible to win points against.
Counter the emerging ranged/magic meta as far as is possible.
Alleviate some of the stress of using a Skritch-centric deck where a dead Skritch would mean game over.
Leverage the (almost) unique Skaven ability to retrieve upgraded fighters from beyond the veil, keep upgrading them and re-using them.
Surprisingly often, kill everything on the table.
It definitely does not:
Cheer up tournament organizers.
Work without an open PDF of the latest errata, commentary etc etc.
Survive BAR updates (grrrr)
So, F&H derives its name from Festering Skaven and Hungering Skaven, both of whom are really quite ferocious when upgraded.
Why them? What’s special about them?
It’s in the upgrades.
Hungering gets a restricted card called "Black Hunger". This card is his key upgrade, and it is one of the most powerful in the game. It grants him an area of affect attack, as well as scoring an extra point of damage. Think of it as Great Strength except massively better. It’s a bit unfortunate that it also targets skaven, but we’ll cover that later. Black Hunger should be paired with Nullstone Sword and Concealed Weapon.
Fester gets Festering Blades. It was when idly reading the text of Festering Blades that F&H as a concept started to take form – most folks will write it off as a restricted version of Concealed Weapon, but I noticed an interesting detail… it works for range 2 attacks. This means Fester should be given Festering Blades and Nullstone Spear.
That’s the basics – unless circumstances are beyond dire, Fester gets blades and spear, Hungering gets black hunger, concealed weapon and Nullstone Sword.
Then we’re onto the next most important upgrades in the game – Expendable and Crown of Avarice. This is how we poison the well and start to vex our opponent.
Expendable wins my award for being the most annoying upgrade in the game, bar none. A rat with expendable, when an attack is going to deal damage to it, can be removed from the battlefield by you and a point of damage is done to the attacker. So, what’s the significance of this? Well:
a) Your opponent did not take the rat out of action. You did. This means they can’t claim a glory for killing the rat. This also means they can’t score the majority of objectives, such as Advancing Strike or Precise use of Force.
b) The attack did no damage, which means the attack failed. This blocks Headshot and other cards which interact with attack success, while simultaneously scoring Miraculous Escape.
c) Your opponent did not take the rat out of action, and so they cannot claim additional glory for Tome of Offerings or Shacklegeist Chains.
Be aware though that it has counterplay – lethal hex damage will kill this rat normally, as well as gambit or reaction damage that isn’t administered via an additional attack. Also note that the rat still counts towards objectives like Pure Carnage and Martyred.
Crown of Avarice is less vexing, but more wide-spectrum. The recent FAQ states that you can claim the glory that your opponent claimed by killing your rodent – and this works for attacks, gambits and at any range – just not lethal hex damage. Be aware that you have several ways to suicide a rat (Whip Into a Frenzy, Black Hunger, Ghoulish Pact, Shattering Terrain), and CoA will work with those to score you a glory. This is a huge deal – it means that when YOUR guy dies, YOU get a VP. That’s a 2VP shift, which is equivalent to scoring escalation.
Well yes, this is all very lovely, but how do you score seed glory?
Two approaches. The ever-present passive objectives which don’t require taking skulls for the rat god, but also… suicide.
Let's do some quick maths using Lurking as our first example.
He is worth 1 VP to our opponent if he dies. He’s also worth another VP if he’s the victim of an Advancing Strike, and maybe another if that was a Precise Use of Force. Furthermore, our opponent might have the very popular Tome of Offerings. So he’s worth between 1 and 4 VP, realistically speaking, and completed objectives count towards the ever popular Superior Tactician, Combination Strike, Victory After Victory etc etc.
This isn’t news to any seasoned players. But what’s he worth to us if we off him ourselves?
Well, he starts at being worth nothing. However, if we play Sacrificial Pawn on him, he’s worth 1. At this point it’s a break even by the way – suicide the little sod if you want seed glory. However, we don’t just have Sacrificial Pawn. We have Martyred, and Calculated Risk. That brings his value to 3 VP. IF you can equip Crown of Avarice and suicide him with a ploy or Black Hunger, which is a big ask, that’s another potential VP.
I call this the Suicidal Four. You see enough of these cards in AP1, and one of your rats is suddenly gonna get all sad and start thinking about the big cheese factory in the sky.
Does it have to be Lurky?
Well, not exactly. See, in early versions of this deck I used to keep Lurky until such a time as killing him was worth more VP to me than the opponent, but after a few games I've started suiciding Fester and Hungering too. Death is an effective teleport, and with TAAM it's also a way to inspire your rat. Think carefully about which rat you want to throw away - sometimes throwing away your most powerful rat is the best play.
Still though, I’m not sure it’s the right thing to do?
Well, you’re unlikely to have more than one or two sources of suicide glory in hand, and scoring 2VP for the loss of a fighter might seem like a rough deal, but bear this in mind: once your less useful rat(s) is/are dead in a manner which does not disadvantage you from a score point of view, what rats are left?
Why, the ones which are worth negative glory (Crown of Avarice) or nothing (Expendable) or who are at the very back of the field ready to run to safety (Skritch). Once the upgrades are in place and the less useful rat(s) are dead, the well is poisoned.
But what if I don’t pull the desired combination(s) at the right time?
Calm down – nobody’s gonna pull a hand with Expendable, Nullstone Spear and Festering Blades and the ideal objectives. Every upgrade in this deck is included on the basis of being significant and worthwhile in its own right. Fester with his Blades and Great Strength is still the nearly the same as a re-usable Shadeglass Dagger; Hungering with Nullstone is still putting out the damage and dice of one of Magore’s bros, Fester with Nullstone Spear is knocking out 2 points of damage from relative safety. Hell, Concealed Weapon and Black Hunger is 2-4 HP hits.
Alright, I’ll give it a go. Any more comments?
Why yes narrator, let me give you a few thoughts on cards and why they’re included over other picks.
Note: Several of these cards have been dropped due to various BAR and meta shifts, and the advice of wiser and more experienced players than myself. However, I'm leaving the advice in here for even the dropped cards, because frankly the skaven perspective on cards is often very different to that of other factions (one of the things I find most appealing), and should the meta/BAR shift again, that advice may again be useful.
Branching Fates – 44% chance to score on a 3 dice attack, 16% on a 4 dice attack. An inspired Fester will roll 3 dice. A Hungering with Nullstone or Challenge Seeker will roll 3 dice. A fester with spear and challenge seeker will roll 3 dice. It’s pretty easy to score. Hungering with Haymaker too.
Nullstone Spear – Combines with Festering Blades to make a serious threat. With Sneaky Stab Stab will allow a 3 hex threat range without moving. All that AND a re-roll against filthy magic users? Super. Nullstone Spear with Great Strength or Whip into a Frenzy will dispatch the Guardian caster in one hit. It’s also really significant that it has a 2 hex range, because it removes supporting fighters from the equation and means targets must move to attack you. This costs them actions, or at least requires them to charge rather than simply attack.
Calculated Risk, Sacrificial Pawn, Martyred, Crown of Avarice – these should have you lookin sideways at your least favourite disposable rodent or (galaxybrain.gif) your most important rat that's in the wrong place to score big. AKA "The Suicidal Four".
Challenge Seeker – this is where a 2HP rodent is suddenly decidedly better at reliably hitting stuff than Skritch will ever be.
Concealed Weapon, Festering Blades – these need to go on the right rats. There are times when you want to put both on one rodent and YEET to victory, but this can be detrimental to your success if done improperly. As a general rule, stick to F gets Blades and H gets CW. Put both on Fester if you've got a Tomes Mollog and Haymayker :D
Ferocious Fighter - Pick a rat, any rat. Works with spear. Try to avoid going for overkill folks.
Crown of Avarice – amazed I don’t already see this in more tournament builds. It’s a solid pick for any warband which can predict which fighter is about to eat it, or any warband which can bring back fighters which the enemy are likely to try and kill a second time, because either of their threat profile or their scoring potential (Offerings or Glory). Love it.
Bear in mind the wording - "taken out of action by attack or ploy" - it neglects to mention who does the damage. This means you can use Shattering Terrain to finish your own rat and score a VP... as well as Martyred, Sacrifical Pawn, Calculated risk etc etc
I tend to put CoA on my most valuable rat which I think will be the greatest threat t the enemy, or the one I intend to suicide.
Expendable - Goes on my second most favoured rodent of F&H. CoA is the prize, and Expendable is the runner up. Note - do NOT put on Lurky in normal circumstances. You want it to sour the well for the enemy, not stop a single score.
Escalation – love it or hate it, it’s in the game. Here’s something though – if you suicide a rat for 1VP, and score 1 or 2 VP, then Escalation is basically scored in AP1. Some people might consider Escalation in AP1 a disadvantage, but if you’ve got one or more of the Suicidal Four, you can score it. With any luck your opponent mulliganned their Escalation! Also Ghoulish Pact means your required glory to score Escalation is lower than you think.
At Arm’s Length – requires Skritch or Nullstone Spear to score in normal play, however Shattering Terrain, when used to administer the final blow, will score AAL. Use your judgement regards Skritch. You can afford to lose him, but it’s still best not to as he’s your rodent retrieval rascal.
Countercharge – A seriously underestimated toolkit card, which has since been cut. Sorry. When a charge is declared, you can:
Move another rat to support the first rat, while inspiring the supporting rat
Move the charged rat to another hex still adjacent to the charger – this may get out out of pins or away from supports or lethal hexes etc – and inspire the charged rat.
Move the charged rat adjacent to the charger to counter ranged advantage. This breaks Death From Afar as well as inspiring the rat.
Be aware that the charger does not need to declare the target of the charge until after you have played Countercharge, but even so this is a heck of a card to slip out.
Shattering Terrain (credit to themiro) – Can be combined with Black Hunger to AoE damage on pushback, or can be used to suicide. When it is active with Sacrificial Pawn, a rat can move through a lethal hex (Calculated Risk) and then die to the ploy, scoring Martyred and claiming the glory with Crown of Avarice. This is a potential 3 direct glory, 2 objectives scored and the death glory stolen from the enemy for a total of 4 glory in ideal circumstances. This may not make you friends – familiarize yourself with the FAQ entries for Crown of Avarice and Shattering Terrain before attempting.
This can also score At Arms Length. In terms of sequencing, ST does damage _before_ lethal hex damage, so you can setup an attack to kill with weapon damage plus ST, or drive back to proc ST, or drive back into lethal to proc ST and lethal hex damage.
Shattering Terrain is a card where the "you suffer too" drawback is (if carefully managed) either irrelevant or useful, and it's almost unique to skaven in that regard.
Ghoulish Pact and Whip Into a Frenzy – be aware it does a point of damage. This isn’t a dealbreaker, in fact it often helps control where and how your rats will die, but bear in mind you can’t score Calculated Risk with a rat that has 1hp left. Obviously inspires rats, so it’s great for a fairly murderous surprise upgrade or charge. Also great for Branching Fates setup.
There Are Always More – it’s a free action, and an inspire, and a teleport all rolled into one. Seeing this in your hand should make you giggle a bit – you can go ham. You need to use this responsibilty cos you only get one and it needs to be brutal.
Black Hunger – You can use this to suicide a rat with Crown of Avarice and score Martyred into the process. When using it offensively, bear in mind the last target you attack is the one you’re most likely to hit, provided you opt to drive back or manage to kill the earlier targets. If a rat which Haymaker'd with CoA is hit by BH, well, that'd be a huuuge pity.
Nullstone Sword – Hot damn, 3 hammers is like 70% success against one shield. A re-roll is basically the same as a 4th dice, which means against mages with 1 shield or similar you’re looking at 70-80% chance to succeed. Manage to throw on Concealed Weapon and Black Hunger and suddenly you’ve got a Cursebreaker-breaker. From the point of view of Hungering, this is +1 dice and +1 damage relative to his base inspired attack. Worth.
Burst of Speed - Yeah it's super fuckin shady that GW "Restricted" Longstrider rather than the duplicate they added. Whatcha gonna do eh? Anyway, super easy to score. Either bring back a rat that moved or charged and move/charge again, or use RFA to move a rat with a token. Whatever. Far, far less attractive now it's R.
Keep Them Guessing - One of the most fun objective cards in my opinion. Also delightfully easy to achieve, especially with a rat deck that is gonna see Skritch's ability used a lot. Remember Hidden Paths counts towards the move condition, but Shadowed Step and Illusory Fighter do not. Musk of Fear does NOT count towards KtG.
Haymaker - worth mentioning this one folks. Upper Hand is objectively superior for almost every situation, bar that of a rat with CW/FB rolling dice for crits to one-shot a big bad. For this reason Haymaker didn't make the cut.
Also Haymaker means our rat can't defend himself from "accidental" attacks (Black hunger) or deliberate enemy action - so be sure to equip CoA if possible before use.
Shortcut - the new meta pick for Skaven in my opinion. It's childishly easy to achieve, and as noted in my PortaVorty guide, it's achieved outside of an action which means you can score it in a power phase very easily. When we consider that scoring this often going to put a rat into an advantageous position to strike, we suddenly see that you can potentially teleport a rat, inspire the rat, upgrade the rat (with the glory we earnt), and then Ready for Action the rat or just plain attack in your action phase.
Shortcut works incredibly well in Eyes of the Nine (Deceitful Step is amazing) and it's jsut as good here.
Hidden Paths - Nobody needs an introduction to this one. Use it to save skritch, initiate a fight, inspire a rat, score the Move for KtG, score shortcut, or confound someone with AitD. Or all 5 :D
Shadowed Step - Like Hidden Paths but slightly worse. Doesn't count towards AitD, does check for a Move token, BUT doesn't require an edge hex. If rats had Deceitful Step I'd drop SS for DS instantly. We don't, so muscle up.
Confusion - Season 1 rodent players will remember this one. Choose two fighters and swap them. Now this card is a bit dismal, until we consider that:
a) you can swap someone off an objective
b) it can inspire two rats
c) it can be used to move Skritch out of melee range
d) it scores shortcut without exposing a rat to danger
e) it's pure nostalgia baby yeah
f) you might find yourself with a tooled up Black Hunger skaven next to a group of gobbos and wouldn't it be nice if he was suddenly in the middle of them?
Catching Up - OK, I'm in a minority here, but I like this card a lot. You can normally score it if either you score up first or you score up second but are losing horribly. This is very much a "lose less" card, and when you have those godawful rounds where everything misses and what you thought was a good power hand actually has you pinned, this glory point is a godsend. Heck, it'll even help a lot with Master of War when you're having a nightmare round - you still need to upgrade before scoring MoW but you can do that with kill glory or suicide glory or Pact.
Anyway, I like it so give it a try once before you dismiss it. It's better at dealing with nightmare AP1 than Ploymaster, Solid Gains or Opening Gambit, at least in my experience.
Sneaky Stab-Stab - Like Duellist's Speed but a bajillion times better. Read the FAQ entries, cos they're significant.
Anyway, in this build you'll often wind up with an uberrat which is rolling 3-5 hammers and throwing out 3-7 damage depending on crits and so forth. SSS is attractive because it allows you massive efficiency gains when using this rat. Instead of attacking once (if you happen to activate next to someone) and then charging or moving and attacking, you can often attack, and then attack a different target the next time without picking up a charge token.
Fester with spear and blades can push, hit 2 hexes away, and then repeat that until you run out of activations or targets. That's a 3 hex range on an attack which (should, with any luck at all) be hitting harder than anything the profiteers can muster, and it lets you work your way around the board.
This is particularly important when you have something like Tome of Offerings. Once Tome of Offerings is applied to a rat, the action efficiency significance of that rat is of paramount importance. You need to keep attacking with that rat. Sure teleports help and so do deathports and suicides and enemies dumb or desperate enough to attack Crown of Avarice bearers, but you need to keep up the pressure with that rodent. SSS will almost always help you to that, except against the most spread out and low model count formations.
It also sets up Arms Length against adjacent targets and can suicide you in a lethal or with shattering terrain if you really want to for whatever reason.
Learn to love it.
Due to the evolving nature of the game and BAR list, half of the discussed cards above are now "alternative cards", cos they got dropped. However, they remain really viable. Musk of Fear (hey Chris) is a perfectly valid choice, as although it doesn't score part of KtG, it does set up Change of Tactics.
If you don't like three teleports to score shortcut, feel free to cut one, but I urge you to try them all at least once. Confusion isn't a favored card right now, but we made good use of it back in season 1. You young'uns should learn to love it too.
If you don't like Shortcut at all, then feel free to experiment. I've seen variants with Superior Tactician subbed in, and they look good too. Lots of folks don't like Catching Up, so feel free to change it up.
So, if you want to use this deck, feel free. I don’t consider it “my” deck, as it was co-created, rules checked and edited by the awesome people in the Underworlds discord. If you have a particularly amusing experience with it, or want to suggest something we’ve missed, or have questions, please feel free to pop by:
Also, on a personal note, I value all feedback on this deck (especially when backed up with anecdata from tournaments or other games) so please drop me a note on discord if something comes up.
If you found this guide useful, click the glory token to increase it's rating!