After a number of quick teasers, we’ve finally seen the full box, and personally we’re pretty excited.
This boxed set features two new warbands. First up is Skittershank’s Clawpack, a group of 5 models from Skaven Clan Eshin. Facing them is the Shadeborn, a group of Morathi’s shadowy assassins.
Skittershank’s Clawpack features 5 fighters, with some really nice sculpts. It’s also been quite a while since we’ve seen Skaven in warhammer Underworlds (the last warband being Spiteclaw’s Swarm), so they’re a very welcome addition.
We’ve heard that the act of killing the enemy leader is the Inspire condition for the whole warband, which seems a very straightforward condition that forces your opponent to be more cautious with how they utilise their fighters.
The Shadeborn on the other hand feature 4 fighters, which is surprisingly low for an Aelf warband. We’d guess they’re going to have some really nice dodge stats. The model poses are super cool, but we can’t help but feel they’re a little too similar to the Khainite Shadowstalkers previously released for Warcry, and it wasn’t a huge amount of time ago that we saw Morgwaeth’s Blade Coven, who come from the same faction.
We’re told the fighters use the shade of cover to manoeuvre around their enemies, receiving buffs and ambushing unwary opponents. On top of that, the leader can even flitter between cover unseen. This means we could see some pretty interesting mechanics making use of gloom tokens.
The warband inspires if they attack an enemy fighter who is already wounded. A pretty easy inspire condition, but it means fighters will probably inspire individually, and you’ll have a harder time against horde warbands with low wound fighters.
Either way, they’re both pretty awesome looking warbands, so we’re excited to see how they play.
This is the first time we’ve seen a second boxed set in a single year, deviating from the usual one year cycle. From the look of it the box still includes the same tokens and visual style of boards as Harrowdeep, and features gloom tokens. It seems likely that the rules will be very similar to Harrowdeep, hopefully including some of the recent errata changes, which is good to know if you’ve only just got your head around the Harrowdeep rules.
Three cards were revealed in the video showing two new mechanics, and a new spell. The new mechanics will be familiar to you if you’ve played a lot of Underworlds and Direchasm specifically and in fact I’d argue that one of them isn’t new at all but looks like it’s going to be expanded upon.
The first mechanic is maps, upgrade cards that have the potential to gain you something should you meet a condition. We’ve already seen two of these in Harrowdeep, Waterlogged Map was in the seasons first starter set and the Liberated Map was given to Blackpowder’s Buccaneers, but I wouldn’t say either has seen much play. The first because it requires you to put your leader in danger and have them survive the game, and the second because it is restricted to Blackpowder’s Buccaneers. The new map however might pull these out of obscurity because it reaches its most powerful when other maps are in play.
The Detailed Map Fragment represents one nearly guaranteed spent glory if you’re willing to let your opponent play an upgrade for free (especially powerful if you can use it when they have no upgrades to play), or two glory if you can get to an objective with four equipped map upgrades. Not having to wait till the end of the phase, and with no restrictions, this is easily the most powerful of the three maps so far, and will probably represent the key reason to play the archetype.
If you’re wondering if a building sets mechanic like this might be powerful we’ve seen similar cards before, with keys, katophrane tomes, and katophrane relics all featuring in banned and restricted lists or getting errata in their seasons, so the potential for maps is high. There’s no reason to think maps will be as broken as any of those, but universal cards with strong synergies are great ways to give warbands with weaker faction cards an angle of attack and I’m excited to see where these go and which warbands they bring back into relevance.
The second mechanic is “Domain”, a mechanic that works very like Harrowdeeps “Waypoints”, the Wurmspat’s “Cycles”, or the Starblood Stalkers “Asterisms”. Creaking Ceiling collapses the roof on anyone driven back into an edge hex, or next to a blocked hex. Because the effect is symmetrical it will favour warbands with strong positioning tools, ranged attacks, or knockback, who can keep away from the walls themselves. I’ll be interested to see why these weren’t simply waypoints, but with Promise of Destruction still showing up in a few of my decks I won’t turn down more strong persist cards, especially ones I think will favour my beloved Farstriders.
The third card is a spell called Quintok’s Bubble. You can see before the cards fall into place that the effect is to apply a minus one to damage taken from attack actions, and give the targeted fighter flying, if you’re able to roll a single channel. Channel is the more common of the magic symbols so there’s a good chance you’re able to cast this even if you’re only rolling one dice, and it’s a fair bet if you’re rolling two. Persisting only until the fighter takes damage means you’re at most going to prevent one damage, and none if your opponent has one damage attacks, but you get flying thrown in. Spells have been a bit neglected in the last few seasons and this seems to continue a more defensive, and less damage focused direction for spell cards. The key beneficiary of any new spells will always be the Stormsire’s Cursebreakers and they like their spells easy to cast so they could get a bit of a boost from this one if they can find some glory to score, maybe even using maps. I can also see the Wurmspat going for a spell like this, and more control oriented builds of the Crimson Court, whos spellcasting credentials are often overlooked.
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