Sanson’s Farstriders were one of the first warbands I played, and while they’ve often struggled to be competitive I’ve always found them to be an interesting strategic challenge. Essentially their mechanics don’t speak strongly to a particular strategy and their inspire condition specifically is conflicting with their other strengths. This means that no matter how you play them you’re going to need to be creative, and your options will entirely depend on the current card pool.
I built a rather strange deck that focused on objective control rather than aggro. Using push and movement cards to get onto the other players board and get onto feature tokens, and a package of guard cards to try and keep the team alive to flip those features into objectives for end of round glory.
It took me a couple of weeks after building the deck to actually play with it so by the time I was putting the Farstriders on the board I’d forgotten some key parts of the deck. This led to some obvious mistakes in my first game and after a few more games some things that are clearly not working.
Let’s start with some positives.
Okay well, frankly there weren’t a lot but I contend I had some pretty rough match ups. I chose to start this journey with the release of the new season but unfortunately the Exiled Dead released at the same time and they’ve proven popular. I don’t think there’s ever been a warband that can make a wall of bodies quite so easily, and they stopped my game plan dead in its tracks after the first activation. This is definitely going to effect the cards I put in the deck but I’ll need to be careful not to over react.
There were a few glimmers of hope. I did successfully get my fighters into enemy territory against warbands with a lower fighter count, and with a wide board placement. For the most part this was achieved just with aggressive set up, pushes, and normal movement. That said it was fairly inconsistent and too key to the gameplan to be unreliable so I’ll be trying to work on that.
With the guard and single support cards I was able to get into situations where every side of the defence dice was a success and it’s much more fun rolling dice when you know you can’t fail. This was usually something that happened for my last surviving fighter and as a result there was actually probably too much single support going around that didn’t stack. I can probably improve the upgrades a little by removing the redundancy.
The surge package was quite reliable. [Contest of Equals] and [Branching Fate] are obviously great but I wasn’t so confident with the other surge choices. I don’t think there’s any element of this deck that isn’t improvable but I think the surge cards need the least work.
So what went wrong? Well the biggest problem was that despite all the guard cards my fighters all died, and that’s a huge problem when you only have three of them. I got locked out of “have two fighters…” objectives pretty early in all my games and it made rounds two and three pretty bad for end phase glory. I knew this would be a problem but I’m going to need to look for some better solutions than putting in a bunch of guard cards. I wanted to try using the order alliance cards but I knew they weren’t a perfect fit for a warband of one to two shield defence fighters. The ability to not get driven back is the biggest benefit, and actually came up a lot, but to play [Desperate Caution] just for that is a big ask. I’ll keep some of the better guard cards for the time being but I’m sure there’s better ways to make my fighters more survivable.
Enemy fighters get in the way all the time. I was regularly blocked from the enemy board by walls of fighters and it’s not something I want to keep happening. There’s a few cards that will help, and should also help with getting opponents off feature tokens.
Finally, there’s probably too much reliance on hold 2 objectives for the Farstrider’s survivability, fighter count, and speed. I don’t want to give up on this just yet since the glory ceiling of these cards is really great and I don’t like to rely on attacks for my glory, but I’m going to be seriously considering diversifying the objectives for future build, likely with some more aggro cards. It’ll mean trading that glory ceiling for some more flexibility and would have the benefit of make getting into enemy territory less all or nothing.
I’m not going to mess with the objectives much. If I do I think it will require a fairly significant change of strategy that will mean a near complete deck overhaul so for now I’m still hoping that the [Treasure Hunter] dream can work out. [Find a Path] only scores one glory but removed some of the reliance on 2 fighters thanks to the Farstriders being hunters. It synergises well with [Beast Trail] but will conflict with the goal of getting everyone on feature tokens so I’m cautious about the change. It might signal a change away from holding objectives in the future.
[Winged Death] has always been a good card for the Farstriders since they’re mostly making ranged attacks but I was opting for pushes over +movement and wasn’t sure I could make the second condition work. It’s slightly less reliant than [Shadow Elimination] on a single fighter however, so I’m going to add more move cards and give it a go.
[Desperate Caution] and [Light of Truth] end up being too low impact to really be useful. A lot of the time I was using [Light of Truth] to only heal 1 health and that’s simply not worth it. It also doesn’t really support the decks glory generation. [Cautious Manoeuvre] interests me but was almost impossible to sequence. I might return to the card in the future but for now [Membranous Wings] is likely to be more reliably useful and help with the [Winged Death] plan.
I’m also going to try replacing [Swarming Advance] with the less conditional [Shadow Lure]. I was mostly using [Swarming Advance] to set up [Step Between Shadows] and now I should be able to do that without the careful set up.
[Beast Trail] seemed like an obvious choice for the first iteration of the deck but I was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to use it to get fighters onto objectives, which was so key to the game plan I left it out. With [Find a Path] now in the deck though, and pushes from [Shadow Lure] and [Cover of Darkness], I’ve decided it’s worth giving a go but I’ll be paying careful attention to how well it plays.
[Confusion] provides a much needed way to displace enemy fighters, either to take feature tokens off them or prevent your fighters being stuck behind a wall of enemy fighters and unable to move across the board.
I knew [Phantom Shield] wasn’t going to do much and was just in the deck to make up the upgrade count for [Shock Troops]. If I struggle to score [Shock Troops] without it I might look for new illusions to include but with the surges working well and the wealth of “chose a fighter” cards in my own deck I’m likely to try and move away from illusions all together.
I found [Shadow Seeker] to be the weakest of the cards giving single support because it’s so conditional so I’m also wanted to take it out.
I didn’t have direct replacements for these but I wanted to prioritise movement a little more in my upgrades deck. Specifically [Silent Bracers] gives the deck more ways to get past a wall of enemy fighters when playing against warbands like Zarbag’s Gitz and the Exiled Dead. If the Illusions come out in the future it will probably be for more silent relics but for now I’m happy with them. [Swift Stride] is fairly unexciting but is the reason the warband is good at scoring [Winged Death] so it makes sense to include.
This wasn’t a very targeted move for the deck, but rather a lot of small tweaks that I’m hoping will add up to an improvement, without having a huge impact on the overall game plan. It’ll take a few more tweaks and a lot more games before I’m ready to commit to any big shifts. I think it’s likely I move the deck away from hold 2 feature tokens, where the fighter count is proving a big problem, and into a more aggressive objective deck that wants to claim land and get kills, but there’s a few more options to eliminate before then.
You can find the final version 2.0 list, that I’ll be taking into the current Vassal league, here.
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