I wanted to take the time to write a little about the Rivals format through the eyes of an older warband. Specifically Thundrik’s Profiteers, one of the warbands released right back in Season 2 of Warhammer Underworlds.
The game has changed a lot since then, including the rise of the Rivals format, designed to make the game easier to pick up and play than ever. Unfortunately this puts warbands from Seasons 1 & 2 at a huge disadvantage – they were never given enough faction cards to form a Rivals Deck, so are limited to only using the Universal Rivals decks.
The pace of Rivals deck releases has increased massively since the release of Gnarlwood, so it hopefully won’t be an issue for much longer.
I’m no master with Thundrik’s Profiteers – in fact the warband is quite new to me. But I found it an interesting challenge to look into how to make them incredibly viable in the Rivals format. And it seems the answer may lie in the Fearsome Fortress deck.
Why Thundrik’s Profiteers struggle
Thundrik’s Profiteers are a pretty unique warband, but that means it’s hard for them to adapt to most decks.
To start with, they have ridiculously slow movement. With the exception of one fighter, the whole warband starts on 2 movement, moving to 3 once inspired. The final fighter Khazgan Drakkskewer has 4 movement, which still isn’t incredible, but does count as flying, meaning he can navigate obstacles a little easier.
As a result though, this means that generally you can’t chase down your opponent. You have to rely a little more on them coming to you.
One of the fun things about the Profiteers is they’re one of the very few warbands in the game who all have ranged attacks. This is fun, except for the fact that while uninspired those ranged attacks are all a measly 1 damage. Once again, good old Drakkskewer is your saviour here, with one of his extra attacks starting on 2 damage and improving to 3 once inspired.
So what does this mean in a game? Well basically you want to stay away from your opponent and ping away damage over time. You can’t really rely on taking enemies out of action as a means of scoring.
They rely heavily on two fighters
From the above, it’s clear that Drakkskewer is a key fighter, being your best bet in terms of both movement and damage output. But Bjorgen Thundrik himself is perhaps even more vital, due to his Promotion ability, which I’ll touch on in a moment. The problem is, that if one (or sigmar-forbid both) of these fighters are out of action, then your gameplan falls apart quickly. Any seasoned player is going to target this.
So what do Thundrik’s Profiteers have in their favour?
Well one of the big things Thundrik’s have going for them is their inspiration mechanic. Unlike most warbands, they don’t have an inspire condition. They simply can’t auto-inspire. Instead, they rely on Thundrik’s Promotion ability, which lets you choose and inspire any fighter each time you score an objective. Assuming he’s still alive to use that ability, of course.
If you have a deck with some good surge objectives, this can mean some real easy early-game inspiration.
Their wounds increase
Like all warbands, their fighters all get bonuses to the number of dice rolled and damage output. But what makes this warband even more special is that each of their fighters also gains +1 wounds, making them even more durable. The bump from 2 to 3 wounds for your weakest fighters makes them a little harder to immediately knock out. And the boost puts your leader up to a whopping 5 wounds (with two defence dice).
So why Fearsome Fortress?
Fearsome Fortress is a deck with a goal of moving within 1 hex of no-one’s territory (the divide where the two boards meet) and staying there. It’s an all-round defensive deck.
One of the issues we saw earlier was that Thundrik’s Profiteers just aren’t very killy. Good news! Only a few of the objective cards even care about you engaging with your opponent at all. The surge [Bold Sortie] asks you to make a charge that started on a feature token in your territory. In theory you could score all of them by taking out just one enemy fighter.
Their other big issue is movement. If you start as far forward as you can, most fighters should be within a few hexes of no-one’s territory (and you may even be able to start with one fighter already there). One card that will help get your other fighters into place is the upgrade [Bold Engineer]. This lets you give one of your fighters a much needed +2 move, as long as it isn’t a charge. There’s also an added bonus of it having a really useful reaction to move an adjacent token towards you. It simultaneously helps you get into the right place, while making the right place come to you!
The deck is maxed out with 6 surge objectives, meaning you have a high chance to fire off those Promotions for inspiration early in the game. Most of these are also incredibly easy to score, mostly caring about the positions of your fighters. [Earthworks] is a great example, requiring you to give someone a guard token while in the correct position (which you can do as a reaction with the [Siegemaster] upgrade). Another great surge, [Impregnable Defences] rewards you for being in the right place while your enemy fails an attack action against you.
If you win the initial roll off, always opt to choose the positions of the boards.
You’ll want to lay the boards out with the wide edges connected, with as many hexes connected as you possibly can. This will let you spread your objectives out and give you the best chance of moving into the right zone.
You ideally want to select a board with as many starting hexes near an edge as you can, and position your opponent so they’re further back if you can.
Playing on a long board, or with too much of a staggered board layout will slow down your gameplan, but not stop it completely.
In terms of model placement, it doesn’t matter too much who goes where as long as you place as far forward as possible to compensate for that low move. Just avoid making Thundrik too much of an open target. Drakkskewer can also be placed a little further away, as his higher movement should help get him into position.
Placing objective tokens
When placing tokens you should always be able to get at least two tokens into no-one’s territory, if not three, assuming your opponent doesn’t place in a way that blocks you. This depends a lot on who placed the boards initially and who gets to place the extra objective token as a result. Remember that you’ll need at least one objective in friendly territory. I like to place my first token as far to one side as possible, just inside my territory but still within one hex of no-one’s territory. Starting on one side makes it much easier to plan the distances for your next token.
If your opponent is insistent on blocking you and starts by placing an objective smack bang in the middle, then try to place your objectives as close as you can. There are a couple of cards that let you move objectives on the board. So a token that’s placed 2 hexes from no one’s territory can theoretically be moved to within 1 hex later on.
Don’t forget the Fearsome Fortress Plot card allows you to then place one additional token within 1 hex of no one’s territory. The card [Raise the Walls] will eventually need you to have 3 tokens in a row/group, so it’s a good idea to place this free token next to one of the ones you’ve already placed. That way you only have to worry about adding the third one during the actual game.
Your starting hand
Generally a lot of your cards will be scorable, but some are better to start with than others.
In order to inspire, you really want to have at least one surge objective in your hand. In fact, if you don’t then I’d probably say re-draw.
As well as surge objectives, there is one objective which is hugely helpful at the start of the game. That card being [Conquered Domain]. While it seems like a simple 1 glory card, it has the added benefit of giving you 1 extra glory for each other fighter on a glory token. So if you had 3 fighters in the right places, suddenly that’s 3 glory earned. This is an insane card to have, and what better time to have it than at the start of the game with all your fighters alive.
Obviously, if you’re playing on a long board and won’t be able to get all your fighters in place turn one, then it may not be as worth holding on to.
In terms of Power cards, it doesn’t really matter too much which ones make your draw, as long as they match up with the objective cards you’ve drawn. If you have one of the objectives requiring a fighter out of action, then the cards to deal additional damage or attack back like [Opportunistic Reprisal] are good to have. Or if you need to add feature tokens, try to get a card for that.
[Redeploy] and [Take Your Positions!] can both be great for getting into position in round 1.
Starting with a few upgrades is generally okay with this deck, as long as you have some of the scorable surges on hand.
As mentioned, with Thundrik’s Profiteers you get to choose the order you inspire your fighters as you score objectives. The best order will depend a lot on your individual game and positioning, and who it’s most beneficial to boost the survivability of.
If in doubt, inspire your leader so he can keep promoting the rest of the warband.
Things to watch out for
As a very positional deck, there are obviously some ways your opponent can make life hard work for you, and some ways you can accidentally screw yourself over. Here are a few things I’ve learned to look out for so far.
- Board and token placement is going to make a huge impact on your game, so try to think carefully.
- Your leader will be in danger, keep him safe and inspire him when you can- Another warband using the Fearsome Fortress deck will be a tough match up, as you’ll be fighting over the same tokens. Try to kill their weaker fighters so you they don’t end up outnumbering you.
- Remember your opponent can knock you back after an attack, off of an important objective. In some situations it may be better to place a guard token on a fighter so that they can’t be pushed.
- You don’t want your opponent in your face, or in your territory, so try to knock them back towards their territory after every attack. Use that range.
It’s a nice feeling to be able to go back to an old warband and make them viable in a format they were never designed for.
Both in theory and in my experience of the games I’ve had with this combination, Fearsome Fortress was exactly what Thundrik and his band of merry
men Duardin needed. In one game, I managed to score 11 of the 12 objective cards against a brand new warband (I would have scored the 12th, too if not for Thudrik’s last-minute demise).
Whether the deck will stand up over time against more aggressive warbands and repeated matchups remains to be seen. But I sincerely hope that this article has given some Thundrik’s Profiteers players (or new potential fans) something to think about.
Do you think there’s a deck which works better? Or is there a different warband you’re interested in reading about? Leave us a comment and let us know! If you enjoyed this article then be sure to check out the rest of our Underworlds content.
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