Ritual Desecration: Khagra’s Ravagers

Coming soon to a desecrated store near you!

It’s been really nice to have our sketched out road map of the Direchasm season releases. This has led to a slower release of warbands, bringing new cards and a slightly different meta that will change slightly each month, rather than having four distinct longer periods each season. I really like this as it forces me to write an article every month adjust my decks and get excited about new cards. The original map we were presented was understandably slightly delayed, but we’ve now got the third warband releasing for Direchasm! I want to look at the warband, their playstyles and go through all the cards.

The Warband
From chaos to eternity…

Slaves to Darkness receives their second warband for Underworlds. In the past we saw the Godsworn Hunt bring us a specific side of this faction, but now we get the very iconic chaos warriors. I think these are really cool models. As always we get ‘hero’ style models in unique poses. I love the prominence of the 8-pointed star across the warband. It’s also wonderful to see the leader (and #2) of the warband be a pair of sisters. My wife and I are planning to use some Necromunda heads on the two armoured bros and have a full female warband.

Desecration

Seeing that I would normally jump into the fighters, I wanted to start with the Desecration rules that will be referenced a number of times. Effectively, objective tokens that have a Desecration token on them cannot be held. However, these can be removed by having the objective held by an enemy fighter at the end of a power step or by flipping the token. So, desecrating the token will prevent an enemy getting something like Temporary Victory or Swift Capture, but only for the one activation potentially. There’s definitely counter-play against these by ending up on the tokens; even something like Sidestep will be an almost immediate removal of a token. This mechanism however would never block Supremacy or Dominant Position for example, which I think is really good as the Objective surges are the more powerful and easier ones to score.

Do I think this is a very effective tool? Potentially. I think as per below, killing enemy fighters is the major way to gain these tokens, which is already denying the holding of an objective token. Having one of the beefcakes sit on an objective at the end of round is a way to shut it down, but ask the Chosen Axes how easy they find that to be. So, I think it might stop a surge or two, but usually only for an activation or two. I also think that having these stay on the board will be really hard to control. The objective cards that score off of this or inspiration will be a challenge.

Speaking of inspiration, the whole warband inspires when three Desecration tokens are on the board after an activation. Luckily, the warband doesn’t necessarily gain a ton off of inspiring, which is good to see with a challenging condition.

The Fighters

Starting off with the leader, Khagra the Usurper. Her stats are what we have come to expect from an Aggro leader. Four wounds, one block, three move and an attack profile on two smash with three damage. Interestingly enough, she’s got knockback 1 on the attack, which on 3 damage may be used occasionally but will generally be a killing blow. On inspiration, she gains very little. An extra defense die and an extra move. She’s definitely a major threat in this warband and should be taken into consideration when thinking about target priority.

She’s got the rules for Sacrifice, which every member of the warband has on them. If you get a kill, you can react and place a token on an objective that either the fighter or the enemy fighter is holding. Note that this is “after an activation”, so any gambits that give bonus attacks will not give Desecration tokens. As well, this being a reaction after your activation, it makes this blockable from your opponent by cards such as Vision of Glory. You also have to be very aware that you will need to balance your reaction windows. If you’re using the Mortis Relics or other reactions in the same vein, you will have to choose between those reactions and desecrating the token.

Zarshia is (in my mind) the most interesting wizard we’ve seen so far. A level two wizard with three wounds, three movement and one block is a very unique stat line as is, making her pretty squishy, but it’s her overall attack blocks that make her really unique. A staff that’s two smash and one damage and gains ensare on inspiration is pretty weak. It’s decent into hordes if you’ve got +1 damage to spare on her, but I’d honestly think it’ll barely be used. Spite-tongue Curse is a two channel magic attack that goes from one to two damage. But if it fails, she takes backlash. Wow, what a cool risk/reward. A very accurate attack, but with a severe downside. There are some decent cards that can go with this if you’re choosing to focus on your squishiest fighter. Any of the upgrades that prevent backlash are pretty valuable on her. There’s also Addicted to Power which is a two glory Warning Shot for her, but may be pretty risky to try for. I will also say that I think she is the main candidate for inspiration in the warband, as the extra ranged damage is the best bonus they gain.

Razek and Dour are the Zarkus and Gartok of this warband. Normal elite profiles here in general, with both of them gaining accuracy (in dice or cleave) and speed on inspiration. Also Razek gains a defence die. Honestly, like I said, the warband doesn’t need to inspire to unlock awesome stats. So, I want to camp out on the Despoil ability they both have. This is the passive way to gain desecration tokens. They will add a desecration token to an objective token they are holding at the end of an action phase. This is good from a stance of getting inspired or scoring objectives related to that mechanism, but I honestly think it makes this warband really weak in some matchups. With only two fighters (the sisters) able to actually hold objectives at the end of rounds (because if they are holding the objective, it becomes desecrated, meaning they can’t hold it), it means that they will have a very hard time stopping Dominant Position or its analogs. Also, I feel Uncontested is surprisingly strong against this team. I feel like the best strategy for them to actually prevent Objective decks from scoring is just to slaughter the opponent…

The Faction Specific Cards

As with any of my card reviews, I’ll be using a three attribute system to define the cards:
Playstyle: Aggro, Objective, Control (or a mix of styles) – How do they play?
Interactivity: Interactive, Neutral or Passive – How do they play with your opponent?
Viability: High, Medium, Low – How much play would I expect the cards to have?

Absolute Desecration:
Styles: Aggro
Interactivity: Interactive
Viability: Low

I’ve talked a bit about how easy I believe counter-play to remove the desecration tokens will be. I think ending the game with four of these out will be pretty hard unless you’ve killed the enemy. Take Annihilation instead because it’s what you’ll be needing to do anyway.

Brutal Desecration:
Styles: Aggro, Objective
Interactivity: Neutral
Viability: High

This is a pretty cool surge. At its worst, it’s scored by taking an enemy out of action while either your fighter or the enemy fighter is holding an objective. On its own, that would be a very cool positional Aggro surge. But this can be scored in a power step with two of their gambits. Or at the end of the action phase if Dour or Razek are holding an objective (meaning that you would draw another objective that you could potentially then score in the end phase). Take this. As much as you may not focus into Desecration, this is the main piece I’d expect in every Ravagers deck.

Dark Approval:
Styles: Aggro
Interactivity: Interactive
Viability: Low

A faction specific Victorious Duel. Pretty neat. If this was in Mollog’s Mob, I’d say it’ll be really good when the original rotates out. Khagra herself can be pretty deadly with a 3 damage attack, but she’s also pretty slow. If you’re really passionate about the objective, you’ll only ever take one (because you’ll need to have them both in hand at the same time to score both).

Desolate Domain:
Styles: Aggro, Objective
Interactivity: Neutral
Viability: Low

Once again, a cool surge built around Desecration. I think you can score it by being really thoughtful about your objective token placement, only putting one in your territory and one in no-person’s land. The opponent playing Treasure Hunter may sully those plans too. I think there are plenty of great surges right now, so leave this one at home.

Fierce Conquerors:
Styles: Aggro
Interactivity: Interactive
Viability: Low

I think this will be pretty hard to score consistently. If it was a hybrid, I’d say it’s a great card to take. But having to have three of your fighters in enemy territory and have desecration tokens on two objectives at the same time I think will split your resources and attention too much.

Glorious Slaughter:
Styles: Aggro
Interactivity: Interactive
Viability: Medium

I like this card. I think that it’ll be hard against elites (so probably won’t see a ton of play in this current meta), but when Objective warbands become more prevalent again, I’d expect this card to be a lynchpin in the Ravager strategy.

Hurricane of Violence:
Styles: Aggro
Interactivity: Interactive
Viability: Medium

Two glory end phase Aggro objectives will always be interesting. I think that this could see some play for that reason alone. Overall, though, this is a good card when playing into horde warbands as you’re likely to be able to kill two fighters in their territory against that matchup. As with the previous card, until the meta shifts again, I don’t see this being played much.

Malevolent Exploits:
Styles: Control
Interactivity: Passive
Viability: High

If Frantic Exchange sees play with 5 cards in a power step (usually 4 or 5 to the player with the surge), I would 100% expect this to see solid play. It’s more balanced that the restricted Unexpected Cunning but still definitely worth a slot.

On the Dark Road:
Styles: Aggro, Obective, Control
Interactivity: Passive
Viability: High

I think that The Great Hunt is kind of a limiting card on it’s own based on very few warbands having 3+ hunters. It just ends up mostly being an end phase Show of Force with a much harder secondary objective. Here though, is a very consistent card in rounds 2 and 3, because instead of needing 3+ hunters, you need your surviving fighters to each have an upgrade. Even if you’re a bit behind, you’re likely to have 2 fighters alive at the end of round 2 and the chances of them both having an upgrade are high (or one already having 3). I’d play this card for sure.

Power of Chaos:
Styles: Aggro
Interactivity: Interactive
Viability: Low

Objectives that count on one fighter are always really hard to plan around. And the surge pool is really strong right now. Putting your three wound fighter in range of the enemy and get a kill is a tall order honestly. Skip it.

Ravagers All:
Styles: Aggro, Objective
Interactivity: Neutral
Viability: Low

I’ve gone over my thoughts on inspiration above and how hard it is (compared to the gains). A one glory end phase is not enough bonus for this.

Razed Realm:
Styles: Aggro, Objective
Interactivity: Neutral
Viability: Medium

I think this is going to be the other Desecration objective that may see play. Overall, I think two tokens is an easier goal in mind. But with it being one glory, I think that there are still more consistent end phase objectives right now.

Eternal Vendetta:
Styles: Aggro
Interactivity: Interactive
Viability: Low

A one-die reroll isn’t the best accuracy boost that a ploy spot could give. It isn’t terrible, but I wouldn’t expect this to be taken much.

Eye of the Gods:
Styles: Aggro
Interactivity: Interactive
Viability: Medium

This is a neat card. I feel that if it would’ve been printed in an earlier season, it would have been a reaction to that kill, making it pretty much unplayable. As it stands, if an enemy leader is out of action at all, you can play this as a permanent boost to Khagra’s attack. I love the choice of modification that you gain. +1 dice if you need accuracy, +1 damage into elites, Cleave into elites, Ensnare into hordes (or Harrows). I like that it also boosts any weapon upgrades you throw on her. It’s silly, but I want to make her a giant combo machine with this card…

Flames of Spite:
Styles: Aggro
Interactivity: Interactive
Viability: Medium

This is a cool variation on Twist the Knife, a Season 1 card that was restricted and saw a ton of play, bringing that version to a surprise version of Fighter’s Ferocity. It’s not range restricted, so Zarshia might be able to get some 3 damage magic attacks off with this. It’s also not committed to use until after the dice are thrown, so it becomes more reliable to have trigger. The issue is rolling a crit, when most attack profiles for the warband are on two dice. Look to Dour (or Razek inspired) to be the ones using this the most. Although a lucky crit on a first turn charge with Khagra turning into 4 damage is really scary.

Mask of Darkness:
Styles: Aggro, Objective
Interactivity: Neutral
Viability: High

I think my overall stance would be to not take spells in this warband, with Zarshia being a very fragile fighter. However, the two faction specific spells this warband gets are pretty amazing. Hidden Paths (and Beast Trail I would guess) saw a ton of play for the ability for slow fighters to be teleported across the board. To transport one of your move 3 fighters onto an objective token in enemy territory (and in the power step!) is a massively strong effect. This can allow for late round desecration, positioning for Dark Approval, or a variety of other good effects. I’d take the card and always make sure Zarshia was farther back in my zone.

Power Reclaimed:
Styles: Control
Interactivity: Neutral
Viability: Low

I always like these cards where the second in command steps up and becomes the leader. But is Khagra going to die consistenly enough before Zarshia to make this gambit worth it? I think at best, it’s +1 wounds late game and probably +1 dice to one or two attacks. Personally, I think a restricted upgrade for Zarshia that gave her +1 wounds (bringing her level with the band) and then adding Leader and +1 wizard level if Khagra was out of action would be playable. I guess you might take this if you’re going with Dark Approval in your deck.

Ravaging Advance:
Styles: Aggro
Interactivity: Neutral
Viability: High

It’s really cool when push cards can become super unique and thematic to warbands. This is an Aggro player’s dream. The issue usually is getting into your opponent’s territory early game. And a ploy that can potentially push all four of your fighters is pretty great. I like the synergy with getting Razek and Dour on objectives this way as well.

Ritual Desecration:
Styles: Objective, Control
Interactivity: Passive
Viability: High

Desecrate a token that you’re standing on (potentially also scoring a surge) is a good effect. Add inspiring that fighter to the mix and you’ve got a massive card for this warband. This is a crazy strong version of Regal Vision that will definitely be in most Ravagers decks.

Spurred On:
Styles: Aggro, Objective, Control
Interactivity: Neutral
Viability: High

I like the way they worded this card to work with Power Reclaimed. Overall, getting a bonus move to get two fighters in position is good to get onto some objectives for desecration, but also is similar to Blindside or Countercharge to grant yourself support. Another really important card for this warband.

Whispers of Chaos:
Styles: Aggro, Control
Interactivity: Interactive
Viability: High

The second very strong spell that this warband has access to. I’m just going to describe it by other cards to make a point. Distraction and then you pick Transfixing Stare or Raptor Strike. WHAT?!?! All three of these cards are amazing cards and you’ve got all three of them together and you get to make all the choices. It’s only going to go off around 75% of the time, but Howling Vortex is the same casting roll. I’m taking this one for sure.

Wrack the Land:
Styles: Objective, Control
Interactivity: Passive
Viability: Medium

The second (and less amazing) desecration ploy. This one trades inspiration for not having to be on the token. It’s still good and if you’re looking to play Brutal Desecration probably take both.

Blashphemous Cuirass:
Styles: Control
Interactivity: Interactive
Viability: Medium

I like that as an upgrade, the warband gets a variation the Wurmspat’s innate ability. I don’t think it’s as good as Sickening Resilence or Inured to Pain but if you’re really worried about damage, it’s decent. It’s not as strong as it could be with the fact that most of these fighters only have one defence dice.

Blazing Runeshield:
Styles: Control
Interactivity: Interactive
Viability: Low

Unless Cursebreakers come back with a vengeance or another warband of multiple powerful wizards comes out, don’t take this.

Bolstered by Hate:
Styles: Control
Interactivity: Passive
Viability: High

+1 Wound. Nuff said.

Conqueror’s Cloak:
Styles: Aggro
Interactivity: Interactive
Viability: High

This is a great way to design with intent. +2 move upgrades aren’t uncommon in factions, but with a limitation to the boost unless a charge is being made shows how the designers want you to use that speed. On a move 3 warband, this should be in every deck.

Desecrator Gauntlets:
Styles: Aggro, Control
Interactivity: Interactive
Viability: Medium

A post-move action reaction to push an adjacent enemy fighter one hex. I like this card to maneuver a target onto an objective token to hopefully kill them and desecrate it. I also like removing support with it or just plainly bumping someone off a token near the end of a phase.

Gifted Sorcerer:
Styles: Aggro, Control
Interactivity: Neutral
Viability: Low

Overall, I think this is a very good upgrade. But I don’t think that Zarshia will be a focus so it’s hard to take a specific upgrade to her.

Grudging Defence:
Styles: Control
Interactivity: Passive
Viability: High

Hmm…I’m just on guard. Like all the time? Yes, please.

Hellfire Sword:
Styles: Aggro
Interactivity: Interactive
Viability: High

This is the kind of upgrade that Magore’s or Ironskull’s would have loved to have in faction. I like that it’s a ranged attack for a slow, beefy warband. It’s also a two damage ranged attack which makes it pretty unique. Even though only two of your fighters can use it, I’d probably just keep Razek back early, making Dour do any of my early charges.

Ruinous Might:
Styles: Aggro
Interactivity: Interactive
Viability: High

A faction Great Strength. Excellent. Right now, we have no shortage on +1 damage cards, but they can take two with no drawbacks in faction.

Unearthly Charisma:
Styles: Aggro
Interactivity: Interactive
Viability: Medium

I’m glad this is limited to range 1 or 2 attacks, because boosting Zarshia (or Razek with Hellfire Sword) to three dice early would be a really strong opening salvo. But overall, later in the game I think this is a really cool accuracy card. It’s also really good if the enemy is targeting your leader, to have the other fighters be more accurate for the counterattack.

The Verdict

Overall, I think this warband has some excellent stats. A total of 15 wounds over 4 fighters means that they have some staying power. They’ve got good attack profiles across the board. If there are any weaknesses, it’s in their defence (which is still better than a lot of warbands) and their speed. Inspiration is hard, but they don’t gain a ton from it, and they do have an in faction inspiration card.

I think the main way to play them will be in an Aggro style, with a strong Control secondary focus. This is the “horde killer” warband. The meta in Beastgrave would’ve been very different if they were out back then. They’ve got a lot of strength into warbands that are sitting on tokens. Against other Aggro, they can hold their own too. They don’t have the best elite-killing tools but they aren’t slouches.

I’d say they have super strong gambits and upgrades. I rated 10 of the 20 power cards as High viaibility, with super strong effects. You might not play all of them in each deck, but they aren’t going to rely on the universals a ton. It’s their objective card pool that is on the weaker side. They are going to need the universal surge pool to be strong for them to score well. And with any Aggro, they need dice to go their way.

How do they play in the current meta? I think they’ll be a bit of a jack of all trades warband honestly. They will be really good into a horde and have decent play into “Hold Two” warbands. I think against Mollog and Krushas it’s going to be a dice-fest in general. I could see them performing really well; focusing on any of the non-Zarshia fighters as their multi-upgrade fighter. And that brings me to a decklist.

The Deck

So, I built a basic deck (here’s a link if you want to play with it). It’s mostly an Aggro deck, with a lot of faction cards as they are very strong. The basic focus is on Primacy and killing your opponents models. To set up your objectives, try to end with only one in your territory to make Desolate Domain easy. Save the desecration ploys for scoring Brutal Desecration. Keep Zarshia back to start and move her up when you need to score Team Effort or cast Mask of Darkness. Early game, rush Razek and Dour in, trying to land on some objectives. If you’ve got only one in your territory, consider having them on hand to desecrate it, and then Whispers of Chaos can teleport them to the enemy. Other than that, hit the enemy hard, tool up your fighters and draw blood!

Ending Thoughts

I’m really happy that we’re getting this chaos warband. I think they’re going to have a good effect on the game and bring a really interesting Aggro warband with counter-Objective play into the meta. I’m not sure they have the fuel to de-throne Mollog on a regular basis (which is one of the goal posts right now), but I do think they will shine at certain points in the future.

I had originally intended to do my write up on the universal cards as a part of this article, but I’ve been honestly suffering from a ton of screen fatigue because of work. I’ve been doing some intense coding and website work lately along with a ton of video calls. I had five hours of meetings on the day I’m finishing this article. I started writing this when the cards dropped from GW around nine days prior, and it’s been a struggle to get in front of the computer for anything after hours. So, I’ll work on getting my thoughts on Universals up in the next week or so.

Overall, I’ve been playing Harrows in our local edited Vanguard league (only Direchasm universals, but any factions). I’ve also been playing in the Path to Glory team league, which has been a ton of fun so far. I played Rippa in the first match and will be playing Dread Pageant this round. What are you playing right now? If you have any questions or comments, please reach out to me at setthetempoblog@gmail.com or on the Underworlds Discord channels as Matt ~ Set The Tempo. Take care and set your own tempo!

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