The One-shot Axes
The Chosen Axes
WU:Online - Universal Card Release 04
At long last The Chosen Axes have arrived in the alternate-timeline of Warhammer Underworlds: Online!
I’ve been really looking forward to trying this warband out. I’ve never played them or even seen them in action on a tabletop and I’m not going to pay ebay scalpers the megabucks they want to change that - but now I don’t have to!
So why am I excited about the short angery ones? They’re generally regarded as one of the least competitive warbands going, a sort of Warhammer Underworlds “hard mode”.
Well, basically the answer is Fjul-Grimnir.
I mean, just look at that axe! Slung over his shoulder as if to say: “I don’t need my weapon at the ready. I may not be built for sprinting, but I’ll knock your face clean off faster than you can say ‘Ur-gold’!” It’s unfeasibly huge. So big that even Steelheart himself, the OG of over-compensating, must look at it and think, “Blimey, that’s a big chopper!”
Then there’s the stats: F-to-the-G inspires to do four damage with Cleave. Four! Killing anything currently in the game is trivial for the bearded one. Also, with upgrade support it turns out that, in spite of his earlier protestations, das Runefather actually IS built for sprinting...
(you can click the image for a deck builder link)
WUOnline Deck Code (If Applicable):
deck building guide
A quick disclaimer: This deck was built mainly for use in the Agents of Sigmar Warhammer Underworlds: Online League (AoSWU:OL) where they’ve recently introduced a FAR list. There’s a bunch of restricted cards (about 20) and you can only have five of them in the deck. So, not every card choice here is going to be optimal. That said, having played this a fair bit (maybe 30 games or so) I can’t say that there’s much that I’d look to change from the current version – I’ve got it to a state where it’s working pretty well for me.
My first attempt at a Chosen Axes deck was based on a couple of assumptions: I’d need to try and get as many fighters onto objectives as possible (and keep them there) so they’d inspire, and I’d need some easy-to-score objectives so that I could play some upgrades. Then I could get stuck in and kill stuff.
Compared to the tabletop version of the game, there aren’t so many reliably easy-to-score universals in WU:O. So, with limited other options, I decided to include Hold Objectives 1-5 in the deck. I figured since I wanted to be on objectives anyway, I might as well score some glory while I was at it. This, of course, goes directly against the very good advice provided by WathLab in the write up for his “Amber Edition” deck for tabletop – but I’ll excuse myself on the basis of a completely different card pool and meta in the online game.
As an aside, I’ve noticed that the very same WathLab is top of the Chosen Axes leaderboard in WU:O with roughly three times as many wins as I have total games. So, if you want to know how the pros do it you should probably just stop reading this and wait until he’s written a deck guide...
Anyway, that version of the deck actually worked pretty well but in some matchups I felt that my glory ceiling was too low to keep me in it without being aggressive right from the get-go (see: Thorns, Skaven). So to try and address that I had a bit of a tinker around and went full aggro. That didn’t work out so well. Maybe it’s the AoS FAR list nuking a lot of aggro staples from orbit but I just couldn’t score anything that way so I went back to the drawing-board.
The current, third, version of the deck went back to trying to score from objectives early – but this time with Supremacy and the two Tactical Supremacies to up the glory count a bit. I combined this with a couple of easy-to-score objectives worth two glory apiece (Escalation, Alone in the Darkness) and filled out the rest of the deck with objectives that reward me for hitting things or for doing things I wanted to do anyway (like Inspiring everyone).
I’ve really enjoyed this version of the deck and I think it strikes a nice balance between objective-grabbing in the early game and face-shoving in the late game.
The deck’s game plan is fairly rigid – sit back and inspire/score glory from objectives in the first round, then heel-turn and wreck face once your guys have powered up. It's a bit easier to pull this off successfully if you have three objectives and much easier if you’re facing an opponent that wants to get stuck in quickly and attack you (Fiends, Orks). If you don’t have three objectives though, it’s not all over. It turns out the Fireslayers can put on a surprising turn of speed when they need to – and that often catches people off-guard.
Board Selection, Objectives and Deployment
I only ever use one of the boards currently in the game: Katophrane’s Reliquary. I avoid any of the boards with blocked hexes because The Chosen Axes are slow and you absolutely don’t need anything else limiting your manoeuvrability. The other board with no blocked hexes on it – The Mirror Well – just doesn’t feel as good to me. I’m not sure I have a clear reason for that, although it does have fewer starting hexes on the edge, which means fewer options for Hidden Paths.
Most of the time, I want to deploy my fighters as close to the back of the board as possible. They’re very squishy before they get inspired, so I don’t want them in a fight until they’ve hulked up a bit. For the same reason, I try to deploy my objectives as far back as possible. However, I very rarely want to offset and I really never want to longboard. After all, I want to be able to hit things in Round 2!
As far as opening hands go, I want to see as many push cards as possible to make sure my fighters stay on objectives. If I’ve only got two objectives on my board, I’ll also be hoping to see one or more of Hidden Paths, Spectral Wings, Treasure-Lust. All of these cards present great options for getting a Fireslayer deep into enemy territory and onto an objective.
Round 1 is all about getting as many fighters inspired as possible. Against aggro opponents I would even prioritise that over scoring glory – chances are that they won’t be scoring much in round 1 either since they can’t get at you and you’ll fare much better than them in round two if you have 3 or 4 inspired fighters and they have none.
If you have to trick a fighter onto a third objective in enemy territory try to hold off doing that as long as possible so you don’t give your opponent a chance to respond. For this reason, I’d always choose to go second in round 1 if you have a choice and I’d look to finish deploying first if possible to make that more likely.
Against objective-holding opponents, things can be a little trickier. Sepulchral Guard, Thorns and Skaven all have fighters that can easily take out your uninspired fighters, so you want to be cautious about committing too early. On the other hand, you can’t just sit back and let them score points for a whole round. Fortunately, with Distraction, The Earth Shakes and Mischievous Spirits in the deck you have a good number of ways to disrupt their early game and if you have to yolo a fighter in at the last-second to stop them scoring supremacy, there are plenty of options to help you with that; Inspiration Strikes, Hidden Paths, Spectral Wings and even Treasure-Lust can help with this.
Mid and Late Game
If it’s all gone according to plan, you’ll have ended round 1 with 2-3 inspired fighters and 3-4 glory for some upgrades. From then on, it’s all about maximising the number of attacks that you can make and getting the most glory per kill that you can - for example, by making sure that you use Fjul-G to make some kills while you’re holding Scion of Grimnir. This will be helped a lot if you’ve managed to inspire Fjul and can stick Grimnir’s speed on him. Going from 2 move to 5 in an instant can really catch an opponent off guard!
Generally, I try not to commit anyone to a charge unless they can one-shot their target and, if Round 1 has gone well, that shouldn’t be hard to achieve. Fjul can one-shot almost anyone even without upgrades and he’s only a Great Strength away from being able to cleave Ironskull a new face-hole. Don’t sleep on Tefk either. Inspired, he’s a more reliable attacker than Fjul and does 3 damage – plenty against some warbands and, once again, only one upgrade away from being very scary indeed. It should go without saying that you also need those well-timed charges to hit, so try and be patient and wait until you’ve got the opportunity to play some accuracy upgrades like Helpful Whispers and Activated Runes.
The Chosen Axes have fast become my favourite warbands in Warhammer Underworlds: Online. I really enjoy being able to wallop even the biggest of fighters and the late-game speed of Fjul can really catch an opponent of guard. If you do decide to give this deck a try, or even if you don’t and you go a different path with your Duardin, I hope you enjoy playing the Fireslayers as much as I have!
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