The Chosen Axes Hammer (Online Edition)
The Chosen Axes
WU:Online - Universal Card Release 04
Greetings again, fellow dwarf player !
Some time ago, I shared with you two of my main Chosen Axes decks.
Both were called the Hammer because of their tendency to constantly crush their various enemies. The first Chosen Axes Hammer deck ended its carreer when the Season 1 Rotation occurred, with something like a 85 % win-rate. The second Chosen Axes Hammer deck, the one that I used during the most part of the current tabletop Season, is about to retire with the next Rotation and also has a very decent win-rate, around 70%... Rather unexpected, as I am clearly not a top player.
When the Chosen Axes were released in Warhammer Underworlds : Online, I was very curious to see how the Hammer approach would work in this version of the game. So I decided to make a test : playing a ton of games in a short period of time with the same deck and carefuly noting all my results.
And once again, it seems that our favourite finesse warband can work pretty well in this new meta - as always with a bit of training, a good deck and some very simple strategic guidelines in mind.
GOOD OLD CARDS, SAME PHILOSOPHY, SAME RESULT - Dwarves love gold and still don't want to share it
At that time, with this precise deck, I've played 100 games exactly, against all the existing warbands, and won 84.
In case you're curious (if not, simply skip it and move to the next part!), here are the detailed win-rates & results :
- Vs Sepulchral Guard : 100% (5-0-0)
- Vs Eyes of the Nince : 100% (4-0-0)
- Vs Chosen Axes : 88% (21-0-3)
- Vs Magore's Fiends : 83% (20-0-4)
- Vs Steelheart's Champions : 83% (5-0-1)
- Vs Ironskull's Boyz : 82% (9-0-2)
- Vs Farstriders : 80% (4-0-1)
- Vs Thorns of the Briar Queen : 77% (10-0-3)
- Vs Spiteclaw's Swarm : 75% (6-0-2)
So its appears that Chosen Axes, Magore's Fiends and Thorns of the Briar Queen were the warbands I faced the most. According to this game pool, with this deck, the best match-ups seem to be Eyes of the Nine, Sepulchral Guard, Chosen Axes and Magore's Fiends, and the less favorable (exactly as expected), Thorns of the Briar Queen and Spiteclaw's Swarm.
Again, something seems to be working here.
Let's find how !
(you can click the image for a deck builder link)
WUOnline Deck Code (If Applicable):
deck building guide
GENERAL STRATEGY - Fear the dwarven landslide
Exactly like the previous ones, this deck incarnates the qualities I've been praising in my various posts on Reddit and TGA : fluidity, reliability, versatility, adaptability and unpredictability (I know, that's a lot xD).
It's been built to make the warband flow better and have more fluid games, from the first activation to the last - which is one of the things Chosen Axes need the most imho. Using simple yet powerful cards and, above all, tools that are useful all the time (with almost nothing constraining or situational) will help you save ressources to pay a lot of attention to positioning, glory-denying, target-prioritizing and one-shooting.
This deck also works well regardless of the board roll result, which is really important : to win, you won't need to have 3 objectives on your side.
Finally, it's designed to quickly give you 4 mobile and unpredictable threats who will be chasing your opponent's fighters, one-shoting them one by one. See it as kind of dwarven landslide if you want, slowly but surely rushing towards the enemy, and delivering uppercuts and axe blows on its way. 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.
As always in my Hammer decks, you'll immediatly notice that the glory ceiling is not high, with a total of 16.
Having a majority of easy Objectives will help you put 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.
In this game, furtermore, you can't expect to outscore your opponent by just staying focused on your own objectives - you also need to cleverly kill his fighters and to prevent him from scoring his own objectives. And here, 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 Score Immediatly Objectives rewarding you for fighting (7) and more passive objectives (5) - which are :
- very easy to score,
- almost impossible to counter,
- scorable almost any Round,
- scorable by any of your fighters - with the exception of two of them, which are Fjul-Grimnir-dependant,
- perfectly coherent with your general strategy.
You'll also notice another strange thing : here, you'll find no trace of cards rewarding you for Holding Objectives. Which means no Supremacy, no Tactical Supremacy... Don't get me wrong, these can be really decent choices if you're an experienced player and take the right power cards to build your deck around them, but my deep conviction is that Chosen Axes can't afford to use that approach in a highly competitive context.
Many players tend to think this way : as Chosen Axes need to sit on Objectives in order to inspire, why not get most of your Glory at the same time ? I'm a firm believer that this idea is a trap, and one of the reasons many people tend to be quickly disappointed by fyreslayers when they try to play with them...
Unless you face a new player or a very kind opponent, scoring these Objectives will always be difficult with (at best) 4 slow fighters. And if you manage do to it, imho, it has a great chance to be detrimental in a way or another : as it will force you to make sub-optimal moves, as it will tend to isolate some of your fighters, as you won't pressure your opponent enough...
Anyway, here's the list :
SCORE IMMEDIATLY OBJECTIVES (7) :
Ferocious Charge / Scion of Grimnir - Super classic faction-specific aggro objectives - no need to add anything here.
Advancing Strike / Defensive Strike - Two strong objectives (that were both restricted in the tabletop game), giving you the possibility to adapt your gameplan to the match-up. Amazing.
Precise Use of Force - With the variety of damage your fighters do and with all the tools you have... you'll score this objective in all your games.
Crushing Force - A bit more situationnal, but very good in the worst match-ups you'll play, i.e. Thorns of the Briar Queen and Spiteclaw's Swarm with their hordes of 2 wounds fighters...
Victorious Duel - This one can be tricky to score in certain match-ups or against experienced opponents, but it simply pushes the needle so much with it's 2 glory reward... In general, it will save your day in the games where you and your opponent draw a lot of cards and wait for the good moment to strike.
PASSIVE OBJECTIVES (5) :
Master of War / Ploymaster - Very easy passive glory and classic Season 1 staples.
Escalation - I've never been found of this card, because I don't like its mechanic that much, but as we all know, it's really strong...
Alone in the Darkness - Another restricted card in the tabletop game - which leads to very interesting mind games. You'll just need to pay a little more attention to the board to score it in most of your games. And with all the pushes you have...
Unstoppable Advance - Unless you need to play very defensively (against Aggro Magore's Fiends for instance), you will score this one in all your games. Also great to punish defensive warbands from Round 1.
In any Hammer 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 (1)
Inspiration Strikes - Inspiring your Chosen Axes is paramount, so an instant inspiration tool is invaluable.
MOVE/PUSH PLOYS (5)
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.
Distraction - If you love simplicity as much I do (and if you want to win games in the current meta), also take Distraction. Of utmost importance to disrupt your opponent formation, to push him away from Objectives...
Spectral Wings - One of the most important ploys for your slow warband. Now the fear is spreading all over the board...
ACCURACY PLOYS (1)
Oathsworn - Your number one insurance policy - very useful, use it Round 1 to make sure you achieve that so important first kill or save it to win ton of Glory when you have the opportunity to score several Score Immediatly Objectives at the same time.
SPECIAL PLOYS (3)
Spoils of Battle - Great utility to help you to get ready Round 1. And a very good synergy with Ready for Action and Master of War.
Mischievous Spirits - A game changer, that you must save for the real important moments, and a very good counter to your worst match-ups (namely Thorns of the Briar Queen and Spiteclaw's Swarm).
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 used on. Again, here we'll seek some kind of balance - this time between accuracy, damage and speed.
ACCURACY UPGRADES (3)
Activated Runes / Awakaned Weapon - Having one dice re-roll is great, having two is fantastic. For obvious purposes - securing kills.
Helpful Whispers - This is the same idea. Really good on Maegrim and Tefk, because they both roll tons of dice.
DAMAGE BOOST UPGRADES (3)
Great Strenght / Incredible Strenght - With any of these in hand, 3 of your inspired dwarves can now kill 4-wound fighters... And Fjul can shut down 5-wounds tanks. So many possibilities. One of your main sources of adaptability.
Concelead Weapon - Great on Maegrim to turn him into a kind of light Fjul-Grimnir - or on Tefk, when you face any 5-wound fighter. Again, fear is spreading...
DEFENSIVE UPGRADES (1)
Great Fortitude - A discreet game changer.
MOVE UPGRADES (3)
Sprinter / Legendary Swiftness - Very often, with slow & strong warbands, increasing threat range can be decivise (bonus to the former for being best art for a card in the game).
Grimnir's Speed - The other exception to my nothing-situational principle... but this Upgrade moves the needle so much... And sometimes, I just use it to frighten my opponent. And it works.
This deck's playstyle and strategy are very similar to those of the other Hammer decks, which have already been exposed many times here and there**, so this last part may seem familiar to some of you :
As almost everyone I suppose, I begun my Chosen Axes career playing with Objectives like Hold Objective 1-5, Supremacy or A Claim Retaken, trying to make my warband work from this starting point. Because Objective n°3 will often be on the bad side of the board, because with Supremacy in hand, you'll frequently have only 2 dwarves left, or more simply because it's always harder to go after objectives and to have a good fight at the same time... You will very quickly find that the problem with the Hold-Objective approach is that most of the time you will have dead cards in your hands... Not good at all. Dwarves are slow and can't afford this.
When you have a closer look at the Chosen Axes fighter cards, a certain idea of polyvalence, or of finesse aggressiveness if you prefer, becomes quite logical :
- with accurate attacks and some pretty insane damage output, their stats want to fight, which means Aggro playstyle... even if it's obvious that they aren't fast enough to fully rely on it,
- their inspiration condition leads them towards holding Objectives, which means a more Passive approach... but again, they aren't fast enough to fully rely on it.
With Chosen Axes, imho, the best way to go is to play a mix of both approaches - which could be called Aggro / Flex. So in general, move forward while carefully playing around objectives and be as agressive as you think you can. This way, you'll score Glory for one-shot kills and passively, while strongly disrupting your opponent's plans. But at the same time, don't rush too early at the enemy, like a classic rush Aggro warband would, because...
Because when playing with Chosen Axes, one thing is of utmost importance : Inspiration. If you want to win, you must ensure that your dwarves get inspired as fast (or as efficiently) as possible.
So let's begin with setting-up :
SETTING-UP - The right distance for the right strategy
- First of all, and this could be my most important advice, be very careful about distances when you chose the Board itself : in order to set up multiple inspirations, use one that allow you to group your dwarves as much as possible. It's very helpful if you can reach at least 2 objectives with each fighter, and it's even better if it can be achieved by a single push... Imho, in that regard, the Mirror Well is the best possible choice and works well regardless of the board result.
- Then, don't lose too much time : with this deck, put your Objectives just in front of you and play as aggressivley as you think you can, the precise degree of agressiveness you'll show depending on your match-up.
- If you face Hold-Objective horde warbands such as Thorns of the Briar Queen or The Sepulchral Guard, everything will depend on the number of Objectives you'll have. With 2 objectives on your side, go straight forward and deliver your uppercuts as quickly as you can. With 3 objectives on your side, most of the time your opponent will have to come to you to score his hold-objective cards, so take your time. In any case, try to read and to disrupt their nasty scoring-passive-glory-plans. Here, remember that you can use your some of your fabulous ploys to achieve this, and that killing a fighter sitting on a Objective is worth twice the Glory...
- If you face Control / Flex warbands, magical bastards such as Eyes of the Nine, trouble masters such as Spiteclaw's Swarm – most of the time, agress them as fast you can... and don't let them dictate your path. But at the same time, don't give them too early / too many free targets for their ranged attacks if they have some... A fairly complex equation. These two warbands are both very dependent from their leader, so here, you'll have to be careful with Fjul - don't over-commit him early game - if you want to have a good chance of one-shooting them at the right time (i.e. with decent odds).
- Don't be affraid when you face Aggro warbands, as you will have some great advantage over your enemies : unlike them, your Inspiration condition will not rely on fights, which means that you will have a chance to be inspired before them. In that case, you can be a bit more defensive : avoid being in charge range of your opponent in the first activation if you can and let him come to you.
- Finally, if you face Defensive Stormcasts (try to read the hints in the board & objective placement steps), don't panic, just spend the early stages of the game preparing a highly effective mid/end game, inspiring Fjul, digging through your deck to find your best Score Immediatly Objectives and the power cards you need, and strike fast and hard when you're ready. If you choose your timing and target well, it should be enough most of the time to ensure you victory.
EARLY GAME - Get in motion and find Inspiration
- Whatever the match-up, Round 1, try to inspire as many dwarves as you can, using every single tool available to you : moves, your various push-ploys... For that reason, mulligan your first power cards hand if you don't have at least : Inspiration Strikes, Mischievous Spirits and/or several good push-ploys. Even if your first hand is good, consider drawing one card if your opponent does'nt threat you too much Round 1, in order to get momentum as early as possible.
- In general, unless you believe that your opponent will rush on the Obectives that are on your side, use mid-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 his tricks. If your opponent 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 be afraid : good things are coming.
- Of course, depending on your match-up, it can be relevant to make Round 1 attacks, to get the first kill, score early glory and lure your opponent while you inspire your fighters.
- In general, you'll end your 1st Round with 1 or 2 Inspired fighters and a total between 1 and 5 Glory points, which should be enough to launch your dwarven landslide successfully.
MID/LATE GAME - Go get that gold
- This leads us to one of the most important questions : timing. If you want to improve your odds of winning your Chosen Axes games, you need to use your fighters and their respective qualities (Fjul's damage output or Cleave ability for instance, or Tefk's accuracy) at the right time and in the best possible order. In order to achieve this myself, I use key concepts such as "Bait", "Early hitter", "Late hitter","Specific Counter" or "Objective Scorer". Very often, winning games will requiere a lot of patience. Unless you gain a decisive advantage, deny your opponent an important move or score tons of glory, never use your key fighters too early in a given round.
- 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)... In general, as he lacks accuracy, Vol is very unlikely to become your MVP, but can be quite useful right from the bat (use him as a bait, or for early attacks against low wound / defense fighters if needed, if the odds are good enough). Also note that his Driving Back ability when he's inspired can be useful sometimes.
- For your opponent, multiple threats are harder to counter - in your games, always remember that the deck is also built around this idea : use your 4 dwarves as a pack, hunting in concert within a 2-3 hexes range.
- When you finally reach the enemy, 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.
- Morale now. Of paramount importance in this game, as it is short and brutal. You have to be prepared for anything - and when this anything happens, you have to keep your fighting spirit... With Chosen Axes, that's not the hardest thing to do. 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.
- 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 with a lot of redundancy, so that surely won't be a problem.
** If you want to know more about Chosen Axes - feel free to take a look at my reddit posts here !
Chosen Axes are often seen as a kind of hard-mode warband... which is absolutely true. However, the current Warhammer Underworlds : Online meta seems pretty good for them.
The list above may not have the potential to beat everyone, but it's solid, balanced and very fun to play. It's also a good introduction to the core mechanics of the Chosen Axes unique playstyle.
Now you've reached the end of this short deck guide, I'll simply add one more important thing : may Grimnir bless your dice when you play the Online Hammer !
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