Well I always knew making a Farstriders deck for Nevermaze was going to be a process of ups and downs, but that has never been more pronounced than my testing this month. If you haven’t seen the previous posts in this series and what to know how I got to this point, and just how bad this deck started out, check out part one and two.
I’ve been testing my deck in the online Warhammer Underworlds Vasal League. I have still won no matches and am frequently tabled in round 2 with this deck but to my surprise and great satisfaction I have been able to steal a few games in what’s been largely a competitive field.
[Treasure Hunters] and [Extraordinary Revelation] are the stand out contributors to a game going well and the amount of push, guard, and objective manipulation packed into this deck has been absolutely essential in making the glory flow. It takes a few lucky defence rolls but the potential to score 6 or 7 glory in the end phase of any round is huge.
I think there’s still a few improvements to be made in objectives and power but the biggest area for growth is well and truly the upgrades package. When I first started I was trying out a few interesting things that it’s now time to strip out and replace with pure power.
For objectives were going to finally take out [Shock Troops]. It was a card I really like the design of and I was tickled by the idea of a card that cared about objective number that might actually be good, but it’s doing some weird things to the upgrade deck that I’m not so keen on anymore. Despite the objectives starting face down the prevalence of [Sudden Revelation] and [Ever Downwards] means you get to see the number pretty regularly and I actually scored [Shock Troops] a lot, and mostly by its first condition, but this was due to the inclusion of a number of illusion upgrades that served very little purpose other than making shock troops work. It’s possible it would even still work without the illusions, or at least with less of them, but for now it’s the return of [Shadow Elimination] for being more easily scoreable in the first round.
Here’s where we’re really going to ramp up the power and the first upgrade is [Dark Inversion]. This card is right on the cusp of restriction for me. If you’re playing a hold objective deck, especially one that cares where the objectives are, then there’s no reason not to include it since it lets you essentially cheat with objective placement by putting your gloom hex where you want an objective and swapping it with one of your opponents placed objectives. It’s much lower impact if you’re being aggressive but it’s still very disruptive when used to deny an objective from your opponent and give them a gloom token instead. The downside is if both players are being aggressive this isn’t doing anything for anyone, and that potential to be a dead card might save it from restriction. It ticks all the boxes for us however and it’s not uncommon to end the game with all 5 objectives in enemy territory for the Farstriders to stand on.
The second card is more objective control in the form of [Symbiotes Call]. A frequent play pattern in objective focused games is to save all your push cards and fight over the objectives in the last power step and so I wanted to make sure I would always have a few safety nets to keep my fighters where I wanted them. I’ve already got [Cover of Darkness] and [Shadow Lure] in the deck but since I’m so all in on holding objectives there’s space for more.
I considered [Sidestep] and [Swarming Darkness] for a spot but decided that, while [Swarming Darkness] is very good for denying objectives from a few tiles away, it can only move them if they’re gloom side up, otherwise you’re forced to flip them, so you can’t reclaim an objective if you’re pushed off it after delving. [Sidestep] is more flexible since you don’t have to be around feature or cover hexes, but any pushes in this deck are going to be saved for a final power step push battle where [Symbiotes Call] has the extra ability to flip tokens. It doesn’t come up a lot but an extra flip, even if it’s not a delve, can count towards scoring [Sudden Revelation] in a pinch, as well as letting you deny an objective from an opponent if you don’t need the push..
Coming out for these two are the advances, [Elite Advance] and [Rangers, Advance]. It’s sad to see another hunter pay-off go but [Elite Advance] was just too situational and only useful once you’d achieved your goal of getting onto the objectives. [Rangers, Advance] had the opposite problem, that once you were on an objective it became a liability. Since there’s no option to push only one fighter, I frequently could push one fighter onto an objective, but only if I pushed a second fighter off one.
So let that be a lesson to you. Just because your warband’s in the card art, it doesn’t make the card good.
Finally upgrades. I knew going into this journey there would be two ways to build the Farstriders. The first would be an aggro deck, going to great lengths to upgrade the accuracy and damage of the Farstriders ranged attacks and trying to keep the opponent at range while you grind them down, and charge in for the occasional coup de grace. The second would be hopefully a passive style, trying to get onto objectives and score glory without rolling any dice. I was trying to build the latter, hoping that I could eliminate dice rolls almost entirely from my objective deck and through good deckbuilding and skillful play drown in glory without any prayers to Nuffle or lady luck. This did not happen.
It turns out with the deck I’ve built I’ve just traded attack rolls that have to go well, for defence rolls that have to go well, and I’m not doing much to make sure that happens. Guard is nice but its main purpose in the deck is to stop fighters being damaged and pushed off objectives, rather than stop them being damaged at all.
Good defensive upgrades however are pretty thin on the ground and even if I had them my inability to get any kills has made it very hard to disrupt my opponents plans, leaving me in a straight forward glory race that I would inevitably lose. It’s time to embrace, just a little bit, the old saying “the best defence is a good offence”. They can’t push you off an objective if they’re dead, so let’s get hunting.
I know I said I would be removing illusions, but for now only [Phantom Fists] is going to get cut. You should know though, I’ve got my eye on you [Phantom Darts]. The darts have been good, being pretty vital for pushing opponents off feature tokens or just punishing them for being in them, but the fists hit my discard pile a whole lot. I think I’ve attacked with phantom fists once in all my games, finding the need to be on an objective always trumps (and rarely coincides with) the need to get next to someone and punch them. It’s also only a very slight upgrade on the Farstrider’s existing melee attacks and usually a downgrade on their inspired side.
I’m also cutting [Swift Stride]. It’s one of the better faction upgrades but with two ‘fast’ plus movement gambits it was frequently overkill. The game plan is to stand still a lot anyway so leaning into the “kill an enemy with a ranged attack” half of [Winged Death] makes a lot more sense.
Finally [Silent Bracers] is a great example of the tendency to overreact to a few data points. I played one game against the Exiled Dead where they formed an impassable wall, and I added [Silent Bracers] to the deck the next day. I was never going to be blocked from the other side of the board again, and I wasn’t, because nobody else tried. The bracers ended up doing absolutely nothing in any of my future games and it’s got to go.
When it comes to adding upgrades there’s a lot to consider and I’d recommend this top 5 attack action upgrades post from Determined Effort for a really great rundown of the best upgrades available in Championship at the moment.
For this deck [Overcharged Boltstorm Pistol], [Cursed Cutlass], and [Shadow Spear] are all fantastic attack action upgrades that would be significant improvements on [Phantom Fists]. I could improve any of the three and solve an accuracy problem but none of them improve the damage output of any single attack. [Cursed Cutlass] is particularly interesting because it also improves [Brigade Strength] by making a fighter a Brawler and therefore able to benefit from the plus one dice part of the card. [Eagle-eye] also helps improve accuracy but only on ranged attacks. [Fighter’s Ferocity] is one of very few ways to get bonus damage on a ranged attack but requires a bit of luck and, thanks to an errata, doesn’t stack with the +1 damage on critical hit condition of Sanson’s Star Falcon anymore. The final honorary mention is [Silent Sword] which is worthy of considering because of it’s great accuracy and chance for 3 damage, but without a full silent relic package I think the others make for better options.
I enjoy the way [Cursed Cutlass] and [Fighter‘s Ferocity] interact together and with other cards in the deck so I’m going to go with them. I’m torn between [Overcharged Boltstorm Pistol] and [Eagle-eye] for the last card, but I think I’m going to go with the pistol. There’s arguments for any permutation of the above (the silent relic package specifically strikes me as really good, but would require 3-4 relics which would mean more cards being replaced) and if you’re building for the Farstriders and try these cards I’d love to know which you prefer.
This is probably going to be my last Farstriders update for a while. This deck is still by no means perfect but from now on will probably either only change in small incremental ways, or will shift in a completely new direction. I’ve talked to a few people over the course of my testing (shout to all the great people on the Underworlds Vassal Discord) and there’s definitely legs to a fully aggro build of Farstriders that would probably be more reliable than the enemy territory objectives core that I went with, but that’s not weird enough for my tastes so I’ll leave the exploration of that idea to you.
We’re due the release of Hexbane’s Hunters soon and you can read what we know about them so far in our reveal article. If they come with any cards that seem really good for Sanson and his buddies I may make one more update but I’m more likely to just start playing with them rather than a dusty old season one warband.
As always let me know if you’re been playing with the Farstriders, what you’ve been trying, and how successful its been. If making decks isn’t your bag maybe check out the ‘How to Win’ articles on the site, for top tips on using different warbands Rivals decks.
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