The Chosen Axes Hammer
Tabletop - Post BAR4.0
Greetings, fellow dwarf player !
Before my Beastgrave-Championship-compatible Deck Guide for beginners lands, this first deck guide in my Chosen Axes series will be a special one.
Why is it special ?
First, as it was not made for real Competitive play. Partly because of some obscure aesthetic considerations, partly because where I live, there are no tournaments at all... However it works pretty well and will be very suitable for beginners.
Secondly, as it's only valid in Relic and Open modes. See it as the result of a two year determined search for glory. And also as a kind of homage to the happy times of the now gone Shadespire+Nightvault era...
Finally, as it's somehow a strange deck : you'll find no trace of prevailing Season 1 references like Escalation or Superior Tactician in it, but rather some quite old-school restricted cards like Earthquake or Awakaned Weapon. I'll explain why in the Deck Building Guide section.
WHY THIS DECK ?
I love this deck because it's so fluid and so simple. After playing dozens of games with Chosen Axes, I've found that it's the one that best fits my personnal playstyle. Until now and that welcomed card rotation of course... But no need to rush, we'll talk about this later.
Dwarves love gold and don't want to share it... This is also the deck I had the most success with in my casual games - in fact it was defeated only once - and achieved an unprecedented (for me) series of 14 victories in a row, to reach a final record of 17 victories and 1 loss : Magore's Fiends (4/4), Samson's Farstriders (1/1), Thorns of the Briar Queen (2/2), Zarbag's Gitz (7/8), Thundrik's Profiteers (2/2) and even Ironsoul's Condemnors (1/1) were all defeated by the Hammer.
With it, my Chosen Axes never scored less than 10 glory. Maybe a side effect of that dwarven gold lust. Or, more likely, is that because the deck is heavily focused on constancy. Hence its very small scoring amplitude - with a maximum of 15 glory in the best case...
A bit detrimental sometimes, that I fully admit, but very, very fun to play - by Grimnir !
(you can click the image for a deck builder link)
deck building guide
For me, this deck is the one that best incarnates the qualities I've been praising in my various posts on Reddit and TGA : fluidity, reliability, accuracy.
It is designed to quickly give you 4 mobile and unpredictable threats who will be agressively moving-forward into your opponent's territory. A thing that I don't see as a forced strategy, but rather as an extension of the natural Chosen Axes playstyle.
With this general game plan in mind, your Chosen Axes warband will be like a powerful and reliable war hammer, very predictable for you, and very unpredictable for your opponent... hence the name of the deck : the Hammer.
You'll immediatly notice that the deck has a very low glory ceiling. But what you lose in total glory, you compensate with the freedom of putting a lot of pressure on your opponent... I'd say almost instantly, which can be very surpriseful for someone facing dwarves. You'll also save time to play strong moves and impose him great mind games, which is where Warhammer Underworlds becomes so unique.
So let's face it... what we have here is a Glory Grand Total of 13 (!).
That's a first way to put yourself under positive pressure, which is great : you can't expect to outscore your opponent by just staying focused on your own objectives - you'll also need to cleverly kill his fighters and to prevent him from scoring his own objectives. And you can do this because the whole deck helps you to be free of doing whatever you want.
This first part of the deck is focused on balance between surge objectives rewarding you for fighting (6) and more passive objectives (6) - which are :
- very easy to score,
- almost impossible to counter,
- scorable any Round - with the exception of two of them, that you will in general score after Round 1,
- scorable by any of your fighters - with the exception of two of them, which are Fjul-Grimnir-dependant, and of two others that can only be scored by him and Tefk one a one hand, by Maegrim and Tefk on the other hand,
- perfectly coherent with your general strategy.
SURGE OBJECTIVES (6) :
Ferocious Charge / Scion of Grimnir - Super classic faction-specific aggro objectives - no need to add anything here.
Advancing Strike - Moving forward + kill is a magic combo when you play invasive Chosen Axes.
Strong Start - If you manage to get them inspired early, your dwarves are more durable than the average fighter - so if you play well, you'll score it in almost all your games.
What Armour ? / Branching Fate - Classic aggro objectives that don't require you to kill a fighter - very easy to score in general, and even more when you have 3 possible dice manipulation tools (see below).
PASSIVE OBJECTIVES (4) :
Shining Example / Fired Up - These are rewarding you for doing your full-time job - inspiring dwarves.
Master of War / Ploymaster - Very easy passive glory and classic Season 1 staples.
CONQUEST-LIKE OBJECTIVES (2) :
Unstoppable Advance / Swift Advance - Unless your warband is annihilated, you will score these two in all your games, and very often in Round 2. Also great to punish defensive warbands from Round 1.
Q: So why not Superior Tactician ? A: Because I like challenges and because to me, early glory is better glory. AND because I don't want any dead card in my hand : I see it as a kind of negative pressure - once again, I prefer the positive pressure of having to do my best without a great restricted third end phase card...
Q: And why not Escalation ? A: Because I don't like it (!). AND because it helps me starving my opponent (as I said, dwarves never want to share gold...). If you play well, your opponent will have to score it by himself alone, which can be quite difficult if he lacks momentum. One thing I noticed is that very often, if you're ahead and if both of you score Escalation, then you benefit less from scoring it than your opponent does, as it helps him to come back in the game. We dwarves don't want this!
Q: But again, why not taking these 2 great restricted objectives ? A: Because I prefer to buy nice tools, that help me to make more agile moves... Tools we will talk about now :
In this deck, the ploy selection focuses on 3 simple things : getting your dwarves inspired, helping them to be ready as soon as possible, increasing their unpredictability.
One word about accuracy boosts : I only use one ploy for that purpose. All the rest are upgrades, because I love the idea of my warband gathering power and being more and more dreadful as activations pass... Most of the time, Inspired Fjul with Cleave or Inspired Tefk will be accurate enough to launch your glory machine successfully.
INSPIRING PLOYS (2)
Inspiration Strikes - Inspiring your Chosen Axes is paramount, so an instant inspiration tool is invaluable.
Regal Vision - Mainly here for redundancy - and because having 2 dwarves inspired in early Round 1 is madness. Fjul and Tefk. Sorry, good game.
MOVE/PUSH PLOYS (4)
The Earth Shakes - A lot has already been said about the best push ploy in the game...
Treasure Lust - Pushing a fighter 3 hexes is almost unique out there - Treasure Lust is a great ploy that will help you to do so many things, from inspiration to attack.
Sidestep - If you love simplicity as much I do, just take Sidestep. A summary and an archetype of the deep aesthetic qualities of this game.
Hidden Path - Making you even more unpredictable, allowing you to attack your opponent's backline, helping you to move Vol in your quest for your Conquest-like objectives...
ACCURACY PLOYS (1)
Oathsworn - Your number one insurance policy - very useful Round 1 to make sure you achieve that so important first kill. Very nice synergy with Potion of Rage (see below).
SPECIAL PLOYS (3)
Spoils of Battle - Great utility to help you to get ready Round 1. A very good ploy, that's even better now we've got Blazing Soul...
Earthquake - A somehow outdated ploy that can be used for various purposes - to move towards the opponent's territory, to disrupt Hold Objectives warbands' end games, to punish Defensive warbands hiding behind lethal hexes - and sometimes as an additional push ploy. Yes, I know, this one is restricted. But : 1/ it's so dwarvish 2/ in theory, no one expects it these days !
Ready for Action - Do you know this one ? I only take it because there's an angry dwarf on it :)
In a Chosen Axes deck, when it comes to upgrades, I'm a firm believier that the simpler is the better. In other words, every single card has to be useful regardless of which round it is played, or of which dwarf it is I used on. Again, here we'll seek some kind of balance - this time between accuracy, damage and speed.
INSPIRING UPGRADES (1)
Blazing Soul - For your opponent, a sleeping dwarf that suddenly awakens Round 2 or 3 is scary... Also great Round 1 with Spoils of Battle in hand.
ACCURACY UPGRADES (3)
Activated Runes / Awakaned Weapon - Having one dice re-roll is great, having two is fantastic. For obvious purposes - securing kills and helping you score Branching Fate and What Armour ?
Potion of Rage - Unleash Grimnir's wrath. Then play Oathsworn - as everyone knows, the more dice you throw, the less crits you score...
DAMAGE BOOST UPGRADES (2)
Great Strenght - With this one in hand, 3 of your inspired dwarves can now kill 4-wound fighters... And Fjul can shut down 5-wounds tanks. So many possibilities.
Concelead Weapon - Great on Maegrim to turn him into a kind of light Fjul-Grimnir - or on Tefk, when you face Mollog or any 5-wound fighter. Fear is spreading...
DEFENSIVE UPGRADES (1)
Great Fortitude - A discreet game changer.
MOVE UPGRADES (3)
Sprinter - Very often, with slow & strong warbands, increasing threat range can be decivise (bonus for being best art for a card in the game).
Faneway Crystal - A great mobility card to increase your threat range and to help you to be even more unpredictable.
Shadeglass Axe - You read well - I've put this in the Move Upgrades section. Be unforeseeable. Move without moving. Throw axes everywhere.
This deck's playstyle and strategy have already been exposed here and there, so for this last part, we'll have a much simpler time :
- To play the deck well, always remember that as a Chosen Axes player, you have two major advantages : 1 / With your small number of high Wounds fighters, you don't have too much glory to give to your opponent, which is always good, especially when you face warbands that suffer from being starved Round 1, or more simply when you face aggro warbands. 2/ Most of the time, people won't know how to play against you or even what to expect... so play around it as much as you can. The deck allows you to do it - again, be unpredictable.
- While setting-up : be very careful about distances and group your dwarves as much as you can in order to set up multiple inspirations... It's very helpful if even with only two objectives on your side, you can reach at least 2 objectives with each dwarf... For instance, the Mirror Well, the Kathophrane Reliquary and the Cursed Oubliette are nice boards to achieve this,
- Don't lose too much time : with this deck, put your objectives in front of you and play as aggressivley as you think you can,
- Round 1, try to inspire as many dwarves as you can, using every single tool available to you : Inspiration Strikes, Regal Vision, moves, your various push-ploys... and sometimes Blazing Soul,
- For that reason, mulligan your first power cards hand if you don't have at least : Inspiration Strikes or Regal Vision or several good push ploys (not to mention this improbable Spoils of Battle / Blazing Soul combo),
- Even if your first hand is good, consider drawing one card if your opponent does'nt threat you too much, in order to get momentum as early as possible,
- In general, use late Round 1 move actions to reach the nearest objectives tokens with 2 or 3 of your dwarves and save your own push ploys in order to counter your opponent's tricks. If he doesn't do anything to ruin your plans, you can use these ploys to inspire additional fighters in last power phase of the round, or/and save the remaining ones to help you in the coming fights. When you play Chosen Axes, because inspiring your fighters is so important, it's very easy to feel upset when your opponent counters some of your Round 1 moves. Here, the key is to never be surprised or destabilized by anything. Don't panic : good cards are coming.
- During the fight, always remember that your warband is rock solid and that you have 4 good fighters : even if you lose two of them early, and even if Fjul or Tefk are one of them, don't panic, you still can win games, as the deck is built on the idea of using all your fighters.
- Because relying on Fjul only is risky (because he can die early, because he can't be everywhere at the same time, and because using him only is also a kind of telegraphed strategy), also use your other dwarves, especially Tefk (very strong and very reliable) and Maegrim (against low wounds warbands)... For your opponent, multiple threats are harder to counter - in your games, always remember that the deck is also built around this idea.
- When you finally reach your opponent, do not be misled by your own agressiveness. In particular, learn when to stop, and when to make strong and calm moves : very often, those are the hardest to counter for your opponent... Be that strong dwarven Hammer.
- One last advice : as always, be sure to know your deck by heart. Every single card and every effect... The Hammer deck is quite simple so that surely won't be a problem.
This list may not have the potential to beat everyone - but it's balanced and very fun to play. With it's low glory ceiling, it will also help you to make new friends. And this, even if you win most of the time !
Have a nice time with your new Chosen Axes Hammer.
And of course, as always : yell Khâzad Khâzad !
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