Thundrik - the King of Swiss at GenCon
Tabletop - Post BAR4.0
This is the deck I took to the GenCon Grand Clash. It went 4-0 during Swiss but I was unable to play in the cut the next day as I was at GenCon primarily to judge other games. I primarily built this deck for my annual store event in mid July which it also won. I even took it apart following that event to start building Cursebreakers for GenCon as I had never played them, however the new BAR dropped a week before and suddenly the Cursebreakers had 11 or 12 restricted cards in it. Even if I crammed as many games in on Vassal as I could, I didn't feel comfortable modifying the deck to that great of a degree in a few days so I tweaked this deck instead.
I would like to thank the Underworlds Vassal community for allowing me to get enough games in and for the advice I got from some of the Thundrik's players as well.
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deck building guide
I am far from an expert with Thundrik as I only started playing him about a month before writing this but he seemed interesting and I had already won local events with my primary warbands so I starting building a deck. The initial versions were based on my experience vs them (minimal) and reviewing other successful builds. When I first build decks I tend to like the kitchen sink approach, throw everything in and see what works. As such this deck didn't really copy any specific deck although it definitely stole themes and ideas from others.
That said you don't have to be an expert to figure out that Thundrik is all about scoring objectives quickly and consistently. However these are all single point objectives which usually isn't enough to get you into the 16-20 glory range that I hope to achieve in a game. The deck has 8 score immediately, 3 end phase and 1 third end phase. The inclusion of Superior Tactician was tough but after a few games on Vassal where people were kind enough to allow me to start with it in my opening hand I determined that even with it in the opening hand it was a viable to score the entire deck fairly consistently. It also means a low mulligan rate, however when you do mulligan it sucks because at least a third of your glory potential is gone. On the topic of mullligans, drawing 3 of the four end phase cards is a mulligan as is drawing 2 and either shortcut or cover ground (without the supporting ploy cards) , everything else should be playable. This results in a mulligan rate of about 4-5% if my math is correct.
The power deck is where Thundrik really get interesting. There are a number of ways to build it, but I think there are two main objectives you need to consider. The first is that the dwarves don't do a lot of damage, especially when they aren't inspired and don't have access to common upgrades like Great Strength to deal extra. As a result cards like Encroaching Shadow, Lethal Ward, Shardgale and Toxic Gases are all attractive non-restricted cards and were all in the deck at one point or another. I ended up with only Encroaching Shadow on the gambit side as it is the most consistent of them. (Technically Shardgale is but dwarves are also fairly low on health until they inspire and even with shields tend to die quickly in my experience) While Gloryseeker and Fighter Ferocity are both good at increasing damage
The other is to support your objectives. Although they have a number of good score immediately cards there aren't enough to knot include some objective/power combos. For example cover ground is only scoreable if you have Draksweker + Augmented Buoyancy or Spectral Wings or a Faneway Crystal and Shortcut requires Shadow step or Hidden Path, Stand and Shoot helps with Keep Chopping, Archer's Focus helps with Steady Aim, Headshot and sometimes even Warning Shot. Potion of Rage helps with Headshot (but hurts Steady Aim). Empowered Aether shot helps with What Armour (although Get the Hence is what is really needed as inspired Lund and Thundrik already have cleave)
Finally there are the flex slots, I always find movement valuable so Seek the Skyvessel and Distraction earn slots as I like to have one way to reliably move an opponent and moving two of my guys for free is just too good to pass up. Finally Rebound is in there, it isn't consistent but the payoff is so big when it works that it is worth it now that people are often hitting with 3-4 damage per shot. The last cards on the upgrade side are extra wounds because having your fighters alive helps them to shoot effectively.
Depending on how you build your power deck I think there are two options to play Aggro and psuedo-aggro Aggro. No matter what if you aren't shooting your opponent you aren't going to win the game. The difference between the two is how badly you want to kill your opponent.
Obviously you want to eliminate threats but if you do so too quickly you don't have targets to shoot which, as stated above, is how you win the game. I think the only time I haven't qualified to score Superior Tactician is when the opponent was wiped out on turn two. Much is said about Underworlds being a game where you only get 13 activation so it can be counter intuitive to pass up a kill shot sometimes it is needed, if you replenish into Keep Chopping and Combo Strike it is a better play to shoot the opposing warrior that charged already with Allesen for 1 damage instead of Lund for 2, if 2 will kill him or put him at 1 with no other likely targets to finish chopping. That said killing stuff is good just make sure it isn't too much or be confident that the opponent will replace it. But this is also part of the reason I don't take lethal ward, toxic gas and shardgale.
Board placement is also important as you don't move particularly fast, even after getting the extra movement from inspiring. Iif I lose the roll, I will usually use a board with a fairly strong center position, the Cursed Obuliette is common. Winning the board roll is trickier as there are a couple nice setups where you can get two or even three fighters in range without moving but there is also a lot of value to putting lethal hexes out, especially those that have adjacent hexes so Ironhail can do the double knockback. But this really depends on your opponent, if you are confident they will be charging you, drop the lethal hexes, otherwise having fighters that don't need to charge to attack can be huge.
The nice thing about Thundriks is that you get to decide who inspires and luckily there is no correct order as it depends on your score immediately (sitting on Headshot, inspire Ironhail, sitting on Steady Aim, get Lund or Drakskewer up). Independent of objectives, my ideal order is Drakskewer for damage 3 and TR of 6), followed by Lund, Ironhail, Thundrik and finally Alyssen. However if anyone is in danger of getting killed before they they did their job they move up to the top of the list.
Overall I really have enjoyed the past month or so playing Thundrik's. They are fast and quick to play and require adapting to the opponent. In general they have positive matchups although warbands that are able to effectively deny them shots are tough, fortunately most everyone either has too many models to do that or wants to engage. I would love to hear feedback on this deck and thoughts about Thundrik's in general. The immediate change I would probably make is replacing the empowered aethershot or great fortitude with a knockback weapon to help score Get Thee Hence. Both upgrades are solid but losing Ironhail early can brick a hand fairly easily.
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