NOVA Open Thundrik's
Tabletop - Post BAR4.0
This is the deck I recently got 1st place with at the 2019 NOVA Grand Clash.
This deck went through a number of iterations to get to the point where I felt it was ready for a large event like Nova. My experience playing with Thundrk's Profiteers was limited because I had been playing a lot of Ylthari's Guardians in the lead up to ATC, and a lot of Godsworn Hunt before that, but I had played against them a fair amount and felt like I had a good grasp of their strengths and weaknesses.
I initially tried to build a mostly aggro deck similar to the ones that John and Aman brought to recent Grand Clashes, but in my test games I felt like I didn't have enough answers to defensive play and relied too much on being in range of the other player's fighters and dice rolls going my way. Due to this, I ended up moving a bit closer to something like what Wojtek brought to the July two-day Grand Clash, modified for the BAR4.0 and what i expected the NOVA meta to look like. I am very thankful to all three of those players for helping provide me the foundation I needed to make a deck I felt worked for me.
(you can click the image for a deck builder link)
deck building guide
The goal for my objective deck was to have a high number of cards that were easy to score that do not rely too heavily on kills or attack actions, since starving the profiteers by hiding from them early on is typically the best way to counter their aggressive score immediately game-play. I wanted a deck that could survive being starved out for a turn when it had to, but also be able to pack a punch if it had to go aggro vs objective decks, or defend against aggro. It also has the ability to score or work towards scoring a number of objectives in the power step, which ends up being very powerful when you combine it with how much the warband gains from inspiration.
Change of Tactics and Calculated Risk are very difficult to stop me from scoring, especially early in the game. Change of Tactics can also sometimes double up as helping to achieve Keep Them Guessing.
Cover Ground can be scored off of Faneway Crystal, or with Drakkskewer via Augmented Buoyancy or Spectral Wings. Shortcut can be scored with Hidden Paths and Shadowed Step. Bag of Tricks helps you score these two if/when you don't have the right card options in hand.
What Armour? and Headshot do require me to roll attack dice, but are fairly reliable with two sources of cleave for What Armour?, and Ironhail's 3-4 attack dice, Rapid Reload, Potion of Rage, and crits in general for Headshot.
If things are going well for me it is very difficult not to score Master of War or Escalation, and Live by the Code is practically free glory.
Superior Tactician was an easy choice, due to the number of easy to score objectives I have in my deck.
Death from Afar is possibly the weakest objective in the deck as it does rely on kills, and simply won't be possible to score all the time due to positioning and what fighter's you have available to attack. I considered changing it out for Martyred or Steady Aim, but ultimately decided to stick with Death from Afar since it is still fairly under your control unlike Steady Aim, and Martyred can be a dead card or make you do strange things in the later rounds.
There are so many good ploys in the game right now that it was very difficult cutting it down the 10 ploys. I do sometimes run decks at 11 ploys, but because I am relying on combo cards like Shortcut and Cover Ground, I wanted the deck to be as small as possible so as to make my chances of seeing those cards higher (for more info on Combos check out this article on CYRAC). It's worth noting that I think relying on combos can be risky, as there will be times the right card doesn't show up when you need it, but they are so powerful that i felt it was worth trying to build a deck around.
With that in mind, each ploy in the deck serves as many purposes as possible:
Distraction helps me: Push enemy fighters into lethal hexes, onto objectives (for Lethal Ward), off of objectives to disrupt their scoring, in to trapped positions to ensure my attack go through, and to push fighters closer or farther way for Death from Afar.
Hidden Paths helps me: Score Shortcut, count as a move for Keep Them Guessing, counter the other player's Hidden Paths, set up kills for Death from Afar, and generally close or create distance when I need it to.
Ready for Action helps me: Try again if I miss an attack for Headshot, What Armour?, or Death from Afar, count as an attack or a move for Keep them Guessing, move a fighter into or out of range of an enemy fighter, or score Calculated Risk or Cover Ground (via Faneway Crystal or Augmented Buoyancy) in the power step.
Shardgale is a powerful but dangerous card that can win or lose you games, so I think it's worth talking about in some depth.
It helps make up for the lack of damage elsewhere with no damage cards like Trap, Pit Trap, Toxic Gasses, Encroaching Shadow, other than Lethal Ward.
It has amazing synergy with Ironhail's Rapid Reload upgrade against low health warbands, goes great with Lethal Ward, and can help soften up a fighter for Death From Afar.
It also has interesting synergy with Crown of Avarice, which can make losing on of your own fighters when you play Shardgale much less of a bad thing.
It can also be used to kill your own fighter on purpose, which can sometimes be the right move if it denies your opponent scoring cards like Worthy Kill or Victorious Duel.
In my opinion, the key to using Shardgale is patience, because using it at the wrong time can soften up your fighters too much, and could lead to the momentum of the game swinging in your opponent's favor. Even if you draw Shardgale in your starting hand, you should save it until you know that using it will be so devastating for the other player that you would have a very hard time losing after that. This can mean holding it until the end of a game, or even just not playing it all.
Spectral Wings helps you: Score Cover Ground, and generally make up for the low / medium movement of the warband.
Seek the Skyvessel helps you: Score Cover Ground (via Faneway Crystal or Augmented Buoyancy) and Calculated Risk in the power step with fighters that may already have move or charge tokens, make dangerous charges and then back out afterwards, counter enemy plays like Hidden Paths, move into a position where you can make attacks instead of just charging, and count as a move for Keep them Guessing.
Lethal Ward helps you: Soften up fighters for Shardgale kills or Ironhail attacks, kill your own fighter on purpose to deny your opponent scoring cards like Worthy Kill or Victorious Duel and even gain glory from Crown of Avarice. I took this card over Toxic Gasses because it is not avoidable and works better vs Thorns of the Briar Queen and Warbands that don't need to have a lot of lethal hexes for Calculated Risk. I took it over Encroaching Shadow because of how annoying it can be for objective warbands, and my priority was more to deny enemy scoring than to actually kill their fighters. Against non-objective warbands it is still fairly useful if they use Faneway Crystal or are trying to secure the tiebreaker.
One Step Ahead is a very interesting card that can sometimes be very annoying for the other player:
In the best of three format, it can be very good at stopping big 3rd end phase cards like Superior Tactician, Oath of Conquest, Pure Carnage.
It can also be very annoying in the first and second rounds if you can stop end phase cards that people typically telegraph to you like Keep them Guessing, Escalation, or Oath of Murder, Supremacy, Our Only Way Out, and so on.
Although stopping the big third end phase cards is ideal, when you stop a high glory end phase card in the first or second round, the other player has to choose to either hold that end phase card into the next round and try to score it again (which can be hard to do for cards like Supremacy, Keep Them Guessing, etc) or drop it draw more objective cards. Either way it can slow down the other player's glory train and overall plan.
Shadowed Step helps me: Score Shortcut, set up kills for Death from Afar, generally close or create distance when I need it to, and counter cards like Hidden Paths, Sudden Appearance, and so on.
Duardin Resilience doesn't help me score any particular objective, but is such a powerful tool for stalling out the other player's turn that I think it's an auto include for any deck, and am honestly pretty amazed the card exists for a warband as powerful and durable as the Profiteers. I think about this card in a very similar to the banned card Time Trap, because if you play it at the right time (when the other player wants to charge or attack you), you effectively make them have a bad turn either moving, drawing cards, or attacking for one damage, and then it is your turn again. If you can wait for them to play a card like Haymaker first, then all the better. The weakness to be aware of for this card is that unlike the similar Reaver's card Insensate, it only reduces the first source of damage in the next activation, so any extra damage from another source during that activation (lethal hexes, Trap) will still hurt you. Also, because reactions that happen after an attack (if it's the last action of an activation) are not considered to be during that activation per the FAQ, damage from abilities like Lighting Whip, Pit Trap, and anything that happens during the power step will still get around Duardin Resilience.
The upgrades in the deck are there to support the objectives, help you make the most of your actions, and stall out the other player.
Augmented Buoyancy is there for Cover Ground, but also makes Drakkskewer very scary as there is pretty much nowhere to hide from him.
Rapid Reload turns Ironhail into a real monster, especially when you combine it with Fighter's Ferocity and/or Gloryseeker. The attack reaction from it also counts as an attack for Keep them Guessing, so using it with a charge can be very efficient as well.
Crown of Avarice is a great way to make killing a fighter less desirable. I will typically put this on Ironhail because he is actually the most important fighter in most games, or on any fighter the opponent has already invested activations and cards on applying damage to.
Faneway Crystal helps score Cover Ground, and close or create distance.
Fighter's Ferocity and Gloryseeker nice damage boosters for when you do need things to die.
Potion of Rage helps to make sure an attack goes through for What Armour?, Headshot, and Death from Afar, and I would generally try not use it unless I was trying to score these, or absolutely had to kill a particular fighter.
Great Fortitude and Tome of Vitality (I would change this to Ancestral Fortitude just to have another faction card, but I forgot about it lol) are great for making your fighters even harder to kill (6-7 health on Thundrik, Ironhail at 4+, Lund/Drakkskewer at 5+ all get very tough to chew through) and helps to make up for Shardgale damage.
Lastly, Bag of Tricks helps give this deck the flexibility it needs to always have the right tool for the job it is trying to do at the time. In many situations, spending a glory to equip it and an activation to draw a card like Spectral Wings, Distraction, Shardgale, Lethal Ward, Shadowed Step, Hidden Paths, or Ready for Action can be worth much more than any other action one of your fighter's could have done. Your opponent does know what card you drew, but in many situations you can just play it right after you draw it, or there just won't be anything they can do to stop something like like Spectral Wings into Cover Ground on the next activation. One thing to note is that this card does have some negative synergy with Keep them Guessing, but that is mitigated by all of the ways this deck has to do actions outside of the four activations each round (Hidden paths, Rapid Reload, Seek The Skyvessel, Ready for Action).
I think of Thundrik's Profiteers (or this version of them) as a toolbox Warband, by which I mean they have answers to most of the situations they end up in, and can adapt to counter the play-style of the enemy.
General Fighter Priority:
The importance of your fighters will vary depending on the matchup and the objectives you have in hand, or have already scored.
- Thundrik - Important before you have your fighters inspired and generally useful for scoring What Armour? and fighting warbands with block defense characteristics. Once you have everyone inspired you can play him pretty aggressively, as the rest of the fighters are as good or better offensively, and he can soak up quite a lot of damage with 5 wounds and double defense dice.
- Lund - A great fighter, but also the least important fighter other than Alensen when it comes to scoring your objectives. Once What Armour? has scored, keeping him alive isn't that important if it means keeping other fighters alive. He's good at fighting block warbands, and fairly accurate.
- Drakkskewer - Important for cover ground, and the big damage dealer of the bunch. Once Cover Ground is scored, he's the main answer to big targets like Mollog and most Stormcast.
- Ironhail - Probably the best of the Warband, this deck is actually partially built around making him less important by choosing not to include Get Thee Hence, as killing him is already a really big priority. He is great for scoring Headshot, and once he has Rapid Reload, Gloryseeker, and/or Fighter's Ferocity, he can be a very potent source of damage and is very scary for larger warbands in combination with Shardgale. Rapid Reload is also great for helping with Keep them Guessing and letting you use another activation on a charge instead of the attack.
- Alensen - The prime candidate for scoring Calculated Risk and holding on to Bag of Tricks.
Because any fighter can score most of your objectives, and the other player doesn't know what objectives and power cards you have in hand there isn't really a great order for your opponent to try and kill your fighters in to slow down the scoring, although Drakkskewer and Alensen are probably the best choices.
Against Aggro warbands, you want to force them to attack hard to kill fighters like Lund and Thundrik, or waste resources on killing useless Alensen while you score cards and kill what you can. If they make powerful moves like Hidden Paths to get in on your fighters, use cards like Ready for Action, Seek the Skyvessel, Shadowed Step, Duardin Resilience, or your own Hidden Paths to counter it. If they blow big power cards like Haymaker, use Duardin Resilience to negate the damage, or Seek the Skyvessel to pull back out of range. Between Crown of Avarice, Spectral Wings, Hidden Paths, seek the Skyvessel, and Shadowed Step, it can actually be quite hard to keep up with this deck's mobility. Inspiring the right fighter at the right time, plus giving them the health upgrades when they are in danger can also get your fighters out of one shot range and help shift the enemy's priority away from the fighters you want to stay alive.
Against Control warbands, you should have passive scoring you don't need too much enemy interaction for, and the ability to move up with into range and quickly score a few objectives when you needed by drawing cards and then playing them in the last activation. This deck can also afford to have a slow turn if the enemy is hiding, scoring easy cards like Live by the Code and Calculated Risk to inspire a few fighters and set up for a big second round with a lot of scoring. Because the deck can score so many cards in the power step, it's very possible to only score 1-2 cards in the first round and still be able to score through the whole objective deck, so be patient and follow the plan.
Against Hold Objective warbands, you mostly have to go aggro while scoring your objectives. Focus on killing objective holders, and avoid or kill enemy fighters that can kill yours. Keep in mind where the objectives are, which numbers are valuable for the Tactical Supremacy X-X (1-2, 3-4, 3-5, 2-5) cards, which keys the player has equipped, and focus your target priority accordingly. Save cards like Distraction, Lethal Ward, and Shardgale for turns when they might score cards like Supremacy and so on.
Because of the limited movement of the uninspired fighters, this deck is slightly limited in what boards you want to choose.
The Ruptured Seal and The Animus Forge are good boards for when you win the roll off, positioning the lethal hexes at the back.
If you lose boards, the Arcane Nexus and the Shattered Refactor are good choices, as you should be able to position for Calculated Risk while keeping your important fighters in the back of the board.
All of these boards will allow you to set up Ironhail in the back, put Alensen next to a lethal hex, set up Lund in the front, and put Drakkskewer and Thundrik in the middle.
Your opening hand can be very important. Ideally, you will have some combination of shortcut, cover ground, and easy score immediately cards to quickly get your fighters going, along with the power cards to help you score them.
If you don't draw your perfect objective hand, consider keeping it anyway and stalling out the first turn. It can be okay in some match-ups to score only Live by the Code and Keep them Guessing if you don't lose anyone important and it gets you into a good position for the next round. Once you do draw the score immediately cards you need, they typically score very quickly because you can score them in both the power step and the activations with the right power cards.
You should be more willing to mulligan your power cards if you do not have (m)any of your key combo cards for Shortcut and Cover Ground. It is even fine to ditch cards like Faneway Crystal or Augmented Buoyancy if you don't have Cover Ground in hand since you know you will get closer to drawing Spectral Wings later, and you are very likely to draw into more useful cards sooner.
In the end phases, be aware of what cards you have scored already, and how important it is that you draw into particular cards in the next round when you are choosing what cards to keep into the next round, as it can frequently be worthwhile to discard less useful cards for a higher chance of drawing the cards you need for the next round, especially if you have an objective like Shortcut already in hand.
Be careful of using a card like Hidden Paths too early in the game without scoring Shortcut, as you don't know how soon you will see Shadowed Step or Bag of Tricks, and don't want your deck to brick. If you have both triggers in your hand, then it's fine to spend one, but spending the only trigger can be a bad move unless you know you will gain a lot from doing so.
As you plan your activations, remember that you have Keep them Guessing in your deck, and are fairly likely to draw into it as you score other cards. Because of this, try avoid drawing power cards and changing out objectives needlessly, and remember what actions you have already done, and what actions you can do with cards.
If you can score an objective in the power step, I would generally recommend doing so, as it gives you another objective to work with, and inspires your fighters for the next activation.
When you can, you will usually want to go second in order to play power cards and upgrades before your activation rather than after it, and it is usually better to have the final activation of the round to disrupt enemy positioning, especially against Hold Objective warbands. Although going second is generally better, there will also be situations where going first to kill a dangerous fighter or score an important objective will also be the right move, especially if you have Duardin Resilience in hand to help stall the opponent's first activation. Just think about what the opponent is likely to do in their first activation without the help of a power step before it, think about what they might do in the power step after their activation, look at the cards you have in hand, and decide according.
To sum up, the purpose of this deck is reliability and flexibility. The goal of the deck is primarily to survive long enough to score through your deck while doing the most you can do deny the other player's scoring, regardless of how they want to do that.
I hope you found this guide helpful. If you try the deck, let me know how goes, and if you made any changes you like. I'm not actually sure I would change anything about the deck after the fact, but I will likely retire the warband now that it has won me an event.
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