The Hunt Advances: Khagra’s Universal Cards

The song is in my head again…

I want to set the universals on fire, feel them burn tonight…not really, as they’re just made of paper. As I sit down to start writing this (the day before the cards will actually be in my hands) I’m left with a moment of sadness. I realize that I haven’t opened my physical Underworlds kit in around two months. Hopefully, I’ll get a chance to roll some dice again soon. I gotta play a web cam game so that I can just get some cards, dice and models out.

After finishing my Ravagers article (and rewarding myself by reading the Steel City article and starting the Path to Glory podcast on Ravagers), I found myself to be really excited to actually play the warband. In the article I’ve definitely thought of them to be Magore’s 2.0, and I think a really interesting faction to play. I can’t wait to put the models together and get some decks built.

But enough of the preamble. Let’s talk about the cards I didn’t get to in the previous article. You know, the ones that will help shape the next 4-6 weeks of play until the Starblood Stalkers come out and everyone plays dinosaurs…

The Universal Cards

Here’s a breakdown of the three factors I’ll be rating the cards on, before I jump straight into it:
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?

Arcane Cleansing:
Styles: Control
Interactivity: Neutral
Viability: Low

Before I looked at the current pool of spells, I was pretty sure there were only a couple of current ways to remove two counters at once. It turns out that currently in Championship format (sorry Vital Surge) there is only one. It’s a Wild Hunt faction spell, Healing Breeze. So, if you really want to play this objective, I guess play Wild Hunt? And have two wounded fighters adjacent to each other. And roll a focus (probably on one die). I expect there to be spells coming up that remove Hunger counters (or that you pay with using them), but right now I think I’m safe to say that this is the most unplayable card in the game.

Magical Mark:
Styles: Objective
Interactivity: Neutral
Viability: Medium

I like the idea of this card for a few warbands. Cursebreakers love a card that states “a friendly fighter holds an objective”. I also think this would be a good double up for Myari’s Purifying Light. That being said, a one glory objective that for most warbands will only be available to score with one fighter may be hard to find space for. Fecula and Vortemis and others could combo this with Bold Conquest. I’m just not sure it’s consistent or good enough to actually take very often.

Pitiable Death:
Styles: Aggro
Interactivity: Interactive
Viability: Low

I feel like the first couple releases have really focused on Primacy (see below) and not so much on Hunger. So, right now, we can’t really consistently access the first scoring option, since no one has Hunger counters. For the other condition, I want to like this more than I think I actually do. I think it seems better than it is. Using it into hordes might make this a very easy surge. But then I remember that Varclav exists. And scurry. And Pack Advance. There’s enough good Aggro surges right now, which is the true pity for this card.

Starvation:
Styles: Control
Interactivity: Interactive
Viability: Low

So, three or more Hunger counters, eh? And it has to be the enemy fighter? Cool. Maybe the next set would allow this to be scored. Maybe Arcane Cleansing isn’t the most unplayable card…

The Hunt Advances:
Styles: Aggro
Interactivity: Interactive
Viability: Low

I like a two glory end phase card that’s based on positioning. And once again, I think I want to like this more than I do. The Rippa in me wants to take it badly, but one fighter out of action means I can’t score it. I think that this is a consistent card for Wild Hunt honestly (just don’t charge Lighaen in!). It’s also a Dual to go with Set The Tempo. I could see Grymwatch potentially using this and sending dead ghouls to the enemy territory, but they have better two glory objectives. Most other warbands don’t have enough Hunters to score it, honestly.

Turned Tables:
Styles: Aggro
Interactivity: Interactive
Viability: Medium

I think this is an interesting one. The Dread Pageant like this because Slakeslash scores this anytime he makes a kill. We’ve seen the Quarry mechanism be very popular, so I do think it could work, due to the power of the cards. In fact, out of the twelve upgrades that make you a Quarry, three are restricted. Combo this with Strength of Terror to make it more consistent.

Unafraid:
Styles: Aggro
Interactivity: Interactive
Viability: Medium

I’m happy with this card, given the current meta. It’s a two glory end phase card that is really hard for Hrothgorn and Mollog to score as they’d have to put their weenies into a more dangerous position. The only thing that I think is hard with this card is that in some ways it would encourage missing attacks. Sure I made the kill that I really needed to, but now I’m not within two hexes of another enemy, so I can’t score this two glory card. I think highly positional warbands will be able to work with this better. I’d look for Dread Pageant, Harrows and Purifiers to take this card.

Unassailable:
Styles: Aggro
Interactivity: Interactive
Viability: High

The way that Primacy is unfolding this season is really cool. We’ve already got the initial one glory for just having the token along with Awesome Predator. If you’re really wanting to double down on this, here’s a hybrid card that can give you a glory for having Primacy or if your leader is the only surviving one. It’s like an end phase, less glory, less limiting Victorious Duel. I think that it’s a good one for decks that will focus on Primacy a lot.

Underdog:
Styles: Control
Interactivity: Interactive
Viability: Medium

This is a really cool card for factions that aren’t as good at Primacy. By taking the card, you do activate the rules, but if you’re going to be playing a horde right now, honestly, this is a pretty consistent end phase card for you. Do I think it’s worth it, potentially giving three glory to your opponent for two? Well, they’re probably going to be playing Primacy against you anyway, so you’re not really giving them anything that they wouldn’t be getting already. It’s also a great combo with Feign Weakness below. I wouldn’t necessarily expect the secondary score condition to come up a ton. In my mind, I like it in those opening hands where you only draw three end phase cards. Just make sure to go second.

Wrested Dominance:
Styles: Aggro, Objective
Interactivity: Interactive
Viability: Medium

I think that this might see some play, but I might be thinking it’s better than it is. It’s not a surge you can score on the first activation of the game. You have to make sure your opponent takes Primacy and then you take it back (I honestly like this with Feign Strength). I think if this will see play, it would be on the second effect. Confusion on round 2+ will just score you this card after the next activation. I think some warbands that I would put this into are Eyes of the Nine and Spiteclaw’s Swarm. You’re going to be giving up Primacy, and you have usually enough Control cards to get on an objective. Skaven even have access to a second swap in Nervous Scrabbling.

Beast Trail:
Styles: Aggro
Interactivity: Neutral
Viability: High

So, here we are. At the end of all things…
Just kidding, who’s happy that Hidden Paths is back? I like that it’s not just a straight reprint and it’s a very compelling reason to be playing into Hunter/Quarry. I think that this card is way too good for Hrothgorn honestly. At least Mollog has to get an upgrade before he can use it, and at that point, is there really a reason needed for the reposition? I think this will see a lot of play, but it’s not really going to help a lot of the move 3 warbands that relied on Hidden Paths in seasons one and two.

Colossal Blow:
Styles: Aggro
Interactivity: Interactive
Viability: Low

Gaining knockback on one attack isn’t a great reward from a ploy. And the potential of a damage if you can’t make use of the knockback is good and would be playable on an upgrade, but just take Snare, Collapse or Ferocious Blow if you’re desperate for this.

Energy Drain:
Styles: Control
Interactivity: Interactive
Viability: Medium

So, this is a really cool reworking of Transfixing Stare. It’s actually a really good way for a less-Aggro warband to shut down key fighters that had been trying to deny them Dominant Position by making charges onto tokens. I think it’s a really good round 2 card (after Bold Conquest is scored). There’s also the fun manipulation where you play Restless Prize or Michevious Spirits and get one under the scariest enemy fighter, so that you can paralyze them. The Hunger counter is a nice bonus to that effect and I believe that this card will be one of the first ways that will make these more prevalent.

Feign Strength:
Styles: Control
Interactivity: Neutral
Viability: Medium

This ploy can be played for good effect if you gave up Primacy to the opponent and couldn’t get it back. Play it in the last power step and make sure neither player gets the glory. I also like its interaction with Surge of Aggression, as it scores that card immediately. It’s always amazing to score a glory in the power step and I think it’ll see some play.

Feign Weakness:
Styles: Control
Interactivity: Neutral
Viability: Medium

This is kind of a fun card and I really see it working as a combo card mostly. It’s good right beside Feign Strength as you can take the token, and then give it away to gain an immediate glory. That works even better with Underdog as you’ll get three glory total between those two cards. The last main way I can see this working is early in an action phase where you have good confidence you can regain it by the end of the round (scoring Wrested Dominance too).

Hopesink:
Styles: Aggro
Interactivity: Interactive
Viability: High

The trap cards have been really interesting so far. The first being an anti-Objective card and this second being an anti-Control card. I think this is a great card as an accuracy ploy against a lot of warbands. It’s also got good synergy with Hunter’s Talisman, as it makes them a Quarry until they are out of action. It’s also really good into Hrothgorn, as you can put this on him early, even if he isn’t inspired, meaning he’ll only be on one block for the rest of the game.

Hunter’s Aspect:
Styles: Aggro
Interactivity: Neutral
Viability: Medium

One channel spells have been in short supply since Nightvault rotated out. This one isn’t amazing, but I think it does have its uses. This card is great for any wizard leaders, as you can score Master of Many Paths by just casting it in any round, which is neat because the Hunter effect doesn’t end until the caster is out of action. To take advantage of the Quarry reroll, play Hunting Season. Ooh, also would be cool to have Vortemis or Stormsire then use Beast Trail to become a turret in the opponent’s territory.

Macabre Feast:
Styles: Aggro
Interactivity: Interactive
Viability: Low

It’s a neat way to heal, which I’m not so happy that there is a second potentially multi-wound healing card for Mollog. The challenge for now will be getting the Hunger counters. I think the Crimson Court will like this one when they arrive.

Shocking Ferocity:
Styles: Control
Interactivity: Interactive
Viability: Medium

This card is a decent way to splash some ping damage for warbands needing that. I like it on Dread Pageant or Wurmspat. It’s important to note that this card triggers before the fighter is taken out of action; so it’s still useful if the fighter is taken out of action.

Storm of Foreboding:
Styles: Aggro
Interactivity: Passive
Viability: High

A double channel spell isn’t super reliable, but this is one of the most powerful spell effects we’ve seen. A permanent +1 dice to every attack your warband makes for the whole round is extremely good. It’s important that it says dice (not attack dice) so it makes scoring Rising Power almost trivial after this is cast. For anyone looking to play magic in the current meta, I’d absolutely take this one. I just think about how nuts this is on Cursebreakers. Ammis is suddenly on four smash dice with Stormsire on three dice. Ouch.

Charike Claws:
Styles: Aggro
Interactivity: Neutral
Viability: Medium

Becoming a Quarry is generally a decent effect, and cleave on range 1 or 2 attacks is pretty good right now with the current meta of block fighters. I like that being a Hunter means it grants it to all attacks. Some of my favourite uses on this would be any of the wizards along with a Hunter upgrade (Master of Many Paths, eh?) to boost their magic attacks. I also like it for the Beastgrave warbands that have had a harder time into the big bois. Skaeth’s javelin having cleave or Mean-Eye getting it (yes, the wolfbite too!) is a neat interaction.

Dominant Defender:
Styles: Objective, Control
Interactivity: Neutral
Viability: High

This. I’m so happy this card exists. It allows a really fun counterplay to Primacy. First of all, this card would be good enough if it was just the first part; being on guard if on an objective token. But let’s really breakdown the Primacy stuff. If you have a defence roll that has no successes, you lose the Primacy token. It means that this isn’t a great card to put on single die fighters (although there is something to say about having a two wound and one dodge fighter on a token being on guard). But the reaction is what sells this card. After an attack in which you rolled one or more crits, gain the Primacy token. First off, it’s an alternate, defensive way to gain Primacy. Second, even if your defence roll fails (as long as you aren’t taken out of action) you will still gain the token. Lastly, it does block the after the attack reaction window. I absolutely love this card. Harrows, Myari, Ylthari, Glissete, and anyone with Substance Siphon would be great with this.

Feral Symbiote:
Styles: Aggro
Interactivity: Interactive
Viability: Medium

Another +1 damage right now is kind of nuts. There are so many boosts, that it would be silly to play them all. The secondary effect with the Hunger counters I think would be a way that those that play Hunger will end up getting these counters on. I also like this card’s interaction with Macabre Feast from this set.

Geomancer’s Gauntlet:
Styles: Control
Interactivity: Neutral
Viability: Low

If you really set this up properly, you can flip a couple of tokens with this card. It does bring more viability to Feed the Beastgrave and I expect that strategy to be the one to take this card.

Mundane Razor:
Styles: Aggro
Interactivity: Interactive
Viability: Low

It’s an ok attack action, tied to a cool effect. I think that if persisting gambits become pretty in mode, I could see a use for running this.

Ravening Stone:
Styles: Control
Interactivity: Interactive
Viability: Low

What is a Metalith? I like unexplained keywords! Give or remove Hunger could be ok. There just needs to be better rewards for Hunger.

Rod of the Archmage:
Styles: Aggro
Interactivity: Interactive
Viability: Medium

Ok. Here’s the interesting boost that Magic needed in this season. You can now gain Primacy with your spell gambits as well as any magic attack (which usually caps out at 3 damage for Stormsire or Vortemis). I think Magic/Primacy is a cool combo that will be fun to explore in Direchasm.

Scavenged Armour:
Styles: Control
Interactivity: Interactive
Viability: High

I like it when GW prints cards that are for me. This is a really cool defensive card. It’s great post-charge to keep a key fighter alive. Not only will they be on guard for the rest of the round, they also get +1 wounds. The caveat to this super powerful upgrade is just that you need to be in enemy territory. It’s also great to help you score Treasure Hunter.

Soultooth Javelin:
Styles: Aggro
Interactivity: Interactive
Viability: High

Jagathra, eat your heart out. Now anyone can have your attack, but they become a Hunter and have a potential reroll. Honestly, I think this is really cool on Godsworn. Throw it on Ollo or Theddra, inspire them, and then throw a second javelin. Really neat design here.

Terror Shield:
Styles: Control
Interactivity: Interactive
Viability: High

The defensive options from this set keep coming. Another Quarry card with a significant defensive boost. If an enemy ends a move action adjacent, you’ve got a 50/50 roll to get +1 defence. Turning two dodge or two block into effectively 2.5 dice is great. It’s also a great combo with Dominant Defender.

The Breakdown
Khagra’s Universals Playstyle

We see the continued trend in Direchasm where Objective cards are getting a very small percentage of the card pool. Definitely this set of cards is focused strongly on Aggro and Control. Control saw a lot of good cards such as Dominant Defender, Scavenged Armour, Energy Drain and the Feign cards. Aggro (which usually will have a bigger slice anyway, due to weapon upgrades) really saw a number of objective cards tailored to them. I think the key for me is that the community at large had been asking for more two glory Aggro end phase cards and honestly Direchasm keeps on giving.

Khagra’s Universals Interactivity

This highly interactive trend continues with this set, in an even more skewed way. Where Beastgrave was around 50% Interactive (with the other styles splitting the rest of the pool), we see another case where two thirds of the card pool is Interactive. Where the core set of this season had been split between Passive and Neutral, we see a much higher skew towards Neutral. I think this is really healthy. I think I can say that everyone wants to feel like they are playing the game with their opponent (not just sitting back and unable to do anything). Interactive Control is a very compelling playstyle that I’m sure I will go into detail on at some point. It’s the ability to play cards to counter your opponents moves and to try to wrest board advantages, card advantages or defensive advantages. As opposed to some of the styles we’ve seen in the past where they just score high whether or not the opponent is near them. Out of the 12 Control cards in this pack, 7 of them are Interactive with the rest Neutral. I really like this trend and I hope it keeps up.

Khagra’s Universals Viability

We see what I would guess is going to be the trend for Direchasm (preparing to eat my words in a few months). I think we’re going to have a higher viability, but tougher to use set of cards that continues to make playstyles diverge. I like the amount of different and unique tech that continues to be put out. It’s so nice that cards have a decent amount of nuance that you can really invest in if that’s what you like about the game. I would also say that there’s good potential for that Low pool to spike up in effectiveness later in the season, if the Hunger mechanism gets boosted cards or rewards. That all being said, Poison never got any love in Beastgrave and honestly Hunter/Quarry didn’t really get it’s wings until this season.

Final Thoughts

This set of universals aren’t game changing for our current Direchasm meta. They do develop more options when focusing into your specific strategy. I really like the additions to Primacy, both the direct ones and the few indirect cards which show really cool design. Hunger is here, but needs development. We saw our first Javelin which is really neat (can’t believe we don’t have Amberbone Javelin…). This set also had a great pool of objective cards, which I think are mostly playable in the right decks. Overall, this is a small boost to all warbands, but doesn’t really mix up the meta a ton. I think the overwhelming number of players wanting to play with Seraphon in the next release will definitely give the meta a shift.

I’ve decided to get focused on playing more games lately and have been playing some Rippa’s, Harrows and Dread Pageant to name a few. It’s been fun to focus back into games and getting some practice in. I know that if I get out of the habit, I have a hard time getting back into it. I said in one of the Discord channels today that my hot take right now is that “I like Underworlds”. I’m feeling like there’s a good deal of balance right now, and even though some factions are better than others, there’s room for all. It’s an exciting time.

I also have to say that we have the best community of players. It’s so great to chat and interact with everyone. Hit me up on Discord if you want to get a game in! I really want to play more people and more warbands, so seriously PM me and we can set up a time to play! If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to 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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