A new underworlds warband has arrived at last, Hexbane’s Hunters. The first thing you’ll notice is that this is the first human warband in grand alliance… OH MY GODKING THERE’S DOGS IN IT! Oh look at them. They’re such good boys! Okay let’s start again.
Hexbane’s Hunters is a warband with a staggering 2 dogs, and 4 other models who I guess have interesting headwear or something. Grotbiter and Ratspike are the real stars! They’re loyal companions of ‘Mister Dark and Brooding’; Quiet Pock, who presumably hunt down the forces of chaos in pursuit of ear scritches and belly rubs from their master. The good news for dog fans is, they have a few keywords that interact with rarely used and interesting card, so let’s have some fun and look at a deck I’m calling, “One Man and his Dogs”.
Obviously the first priority is to increase the goodness of the good good boys, and both Grotbiter and Ratspike are beasts, meaning they can’t hold objectives and can’t have attack action upgrades, but can benefit from a few cards specifically looking for the beast keyword.
This is a neat little package of one objective, one gambit, and one upgrade, that all mention beasts. They reward aggressive play, helping you get close to the enemy and improving the accuracy of attacks. While obviously nobody would be cruel enough to kill the dogs, these cards traditionally suffer from the tendency of animal models to be easy kills in the first few turns of battle. Fortunately however all of these cards benefit from not being restricted to beasts, but improved if used with beasts, meaning even if your pups need a little nap these cards can be scored/played, albeit for slightly weaker effects. [Ferocious Bite] is the best of the three, in fact I expect the easier scoring condition for [On the Scent] is the second meaning no beasts are required, and [Sic ’em] requiring you move towards enemies means there’s probably better push options out there, since all things going to plan these adorable fur balls are going to be stood next to an enemy for most of the game anyway.
Attacking isn’t necessarily the dogs biggest strength though. As well as being beasts both Ratpike and Grotbiter are companions of Silent Pock, which lets them make use of a few useful support cards.
[Honed Instinct] is an exceptional card. As well as providing a guaranteed single support to range one attack actions, it also gives you the attack damage boost of a [Great Strength] when played on a companion. Unlike great strength it doesn’t provide a bonus to range two attacks, but since these dogs have short necks and can’t hold swords that means nothing to them. [Brave Companion] is very like [Countercharge] but rather than pushing three hexes it can only push two, with the added benefit that a companion can run from anywhere on the board to support their master.
By focusing on pushing the dogs around these cards give a hint to what I think is their main strength, providing support. Both dogs have the reaction ‘Loyal Hound’ and with a movement of four they should be able to provide both unconditional love and support to their human friends in just about every attack they make. They really are man’s best friend.
If you’re going to have support a lot you might as well get some extra glory from it, and I don’t see [Orchestrated Kill] being difficult to score. The gambits both provide extra damage and accuracy to supported attacks which should hopefully be fairly accurate anyway. That could be key given the warbands tendency for low damage, and helpfully neither is range restricted, so Pock can benefit even from three hexes away.
Getting all that support is going to require someone being close to people though, and while that provides a lot of dangers, it also comes with a lot of opportunities.
Some of these are genuinely good cards and this is likely to be the glory engine of the deck. They benefit from the dogs reaction, but are further supported by the pushes in the deck that force you towards enemy fighters. [Shared Glory] in particular is exciting to me and I’m eager to try it out even in a less dog focused list. It has the possibility to be a [Trophy Belt] for every fighter in the warband, at the expense of painting a target on your dogs head. The pay off could be huge.
If you do find the need to attack with the dogs there’s a few interesting ways to make small fighters more dangerous.
There’s only two one wound fighters in Warhammer Underworlds, Spinefin, and the Brimstone Horrors, so Grotbiter and Ratspike are going to be the lowest, or tied for lowest, wound fighters on most Underworlds boards. There is some debate about whether the dogs who “can’t be Hunters” can benefit from [Punching Up] at all since it would have to make them hunters to fully resolve, but for now it’s a theoretically nice temporary damage boost for them. [Leeched Strength] is less controversial. Even inspired the dogs only hit for one damage, but with their reaction letting them move around they should frequently find themselves next to someone stronger who they can wrestle the weapon from and start hitting with it.
The remaining cards aren’t as interesting but provide a lot of small synergies to make Grotty and Ratty shine. [Silent Armour] and [Outrun Death] both have the potential to trigger for multiple move actions made with the ‘Loyal Hound’ reaction, and there’s a few more silent relics to support them. The Hexbane’s Hunter upgrade all help to make the dogs and their master more survivable, and [Winged Death] simply fills out the surge objective allowance (with the expectation it’ll score on a ranged kill). [Underdog] was of course compulsory.
For those of you dog mad enough to try this deck you can find it on Underworlds DB here. I don’t expect it’ll be a competitive deck, but there might be a few cards that make there way into more serious lists and hopefully it will be fun at least.
If you enjoy this article check out this series where I build a more serious deck for Sanson’s Farstriders. If you want to support the site you could always tip us a bit of change for new card sleeves and binders, or get some great deals on wargaming and table top gaming products through our Element Games referral link. They have great deals on warbands and a wide range of Warhammer and accessories. Make sure you’re following us on Instagram to stay up to date and get involved in our community by sharing pictures of your projects with us!