I’ve spent some time going over playstyles in many articles and I think it’s clear that most warbands have a default playstyle that is the most synergistic with the warband’s cards and stats. A lot of the factors that make warbands strong in a given meta are a combination of the natural strengths of a warband along with the power of the universals in a given season. We saw Objective play very strong in Beastgrave, and thusly Thorns and Grymwatch, two of the strongest Objective-focused warbands were at the top of the meta for most of Season 3.
There’s definitely warbands that can realistically play only one or two playstyles. I think that it’s obvious that Mollog, Hrothgorn and Rippa will more than likely be playing Aggro. It’s hard to see three-fighter warbands focus heavily into objectives. Mollog’s Mob can only ever innately hold one objective for example. Gitz probably will have a hard time playing Control, due to the sheer amount of models.
But there’s one warband that can consistently be played in any of the styles. And that’s Lady Harrow’s Mournflight. I’m wanting to go through the aspects that make them so variable, no matter how they decide to play. I’ve also got decklists to share that I’ve built as examples of each style (from the pre-Ravagers card pool, as I started writing this before they were released).
As the warband has been out for a year and a half, I’m not going to spend the time to go through each fighter and each card. I really want to talk through some general stats and abilities that are core to their flexibiity.
The stats of the warband are a large reason that they are viable in all the playstyles. All fighters start on two dodge, which means that they are more defensible when they are brawling, they are amazing when on guard (and we’ve seen a ton of those effects in Season 3) and it’s a better starting defense characteristic than a lot of Objective bands have. They all start on 4 move and inspire to 5 move, meaning they’ve got a lot of options with positioning. Not only that, they’ve got a faction specific +2 move card in Swooping Dash. These factors allow them to play the standard fast aggro package (Cover Ground, Gathered Momentum, Winged Death) but also allow them to reach objective tokens that would normally be out of their reach. It also allows them to deploy farther back and not worry so much about being able to reach the opponent. The other factor within their speed is that they can move through blocked and occupied hexes, meaning they can always move or charge by a direct route. The Widow (if she can inspire) can also teleport to any hex, to escape or to hold a token across the board.
Overall, they have decent wound characteristics, starting on 4,3,3,2 and inspiring to 4,4,3,3. It’s not the strength of warbands like Magore’s or Thundrik’s, which have a large amount of wounds, but still more wounds than Myari’s Purifiers or Ylthari’s Guardians (when inspired). Really, it’s Widow starting on two wounds that is the major liability early on, but she’s usually deployed as far back as possible.
Attack-wise, they’ve got a slew of strong attacks. Each fighter starts on 2 damage (Widow on 3). The early game weakness here is their poor accuracy. Other than Lady Harrow, they’re all on two fury to begin. But when inspired, they are a force to be reckoned with. Lady Harrow with her 3 fury 3 damage attack with cleave, and the ability to push closer to enemy fighters when they attack targets other than her. The Anguished One’s frustrating ability to ignore critical defenses on her attacks. The Maiden’s 4 fury attack with +1 damage on a crit.
I think that if I had to point to something that was un-ideal for this warband, it’s the inspire condition. It’s really hard to focus on this when playing as Objectives or Control, as you’re more than likely wanting to be farther from the enemy. In Aggro, it’s a lot easier to move through the opponent, but not usually before the first attack. Due to the way that inspiration works, you won’t necessarily reap many benefits from it in rounds one or two. So, while they get a really good boost when inspired, it’s not super easy for them.
Harrow’s has a very strong faction specific card pool. They’re one of the few warbands with their cards on the restricted list. The last couple of high ranking competitive Harrow decks were playing 11 and 9 faction specific cards, respectively. Let’s go over some of these cards that have some great play.
In general, I would describe their strong objective cards as pretty Passive for scoring. For One Will (the only restricted card), it’s the one Objective surge that you can score in a power step (instead of after an activation). It’s also an only slightly harder version of Hidden Purpose and is imminently scoreable. Cards like Inescapable Hunger and Fleeting Memories are all around board and objective token positioning and both very easy to score. Frozen in Place is an Interactive card that only requires an opponent to have a guard token. With Buried Instinct popular, it can be scored, but isn’t very controllable.
I’d say that the other strongest cards they have are Nexus of Terror, Ghostly Torment and Dominion of Death. Nexus of Terror is Dominant Position (before that was cool), which combos a lot with their gambits as I will speak to below. With Ghostly Torment, there’s definitely some counterplay, but honestly right now it’s a really good card into Dread Pageant. Dominion of Death is most reminiscent of Superior Tactician from the Shadespire season. It’s a three glory objective that rewards this warband for simply scoring more objective cards than the opponent. It’s almost trivial to score if you go first in the final round and with the amount of easily scoreable objectives.
The other thing I wanted to mention is that in their objective pool, they’ve got 5 Dual cards. It means that they can easily score Meticulous Strategy or build into some easy Hybrid cards and play Set The Tempo. Between these end game objectives and the rest of their easier end phase glory, it gives the warband really high glory ceilings in most of their decks.
In their gambits, they are the largest set of Control cards in one warband. They’ve got two enemy pushes, Frightful Aspect being a straight copy of Distraction and Call to the Grave being a crazy two hex push towards any friendly fighter (not the closest). I once charged Thundrik in the first activation, dealt two damage, and used these two cards to rake him through a lethal for two more damage. With the ability to have three or four pushes like this, it’s quite hard to sit on tokens as the enemy. Defensive cards like Dissipate and Shared Agony are good ways to keep them alive. And Chilling Scream is an insanely good version of No Time. Where No Time has the limitation of ending all power card plays, Chilling Scream still allows the Harrow’s player to continue to play cards. It’s pretty mean against horde warbands, as you can then play your enemy pushes and they cannot play cards as counterplay.
Their upgrades are weaker by comparison, but they’ve got some strong cards here. Hollow Hatred and Maddening Hunger are both decent accuracy boosts. Swooping Dash gives an amazing +2 move and they’ve also got a +1 wound in Veil of Grief. I personally like Spirit Blade as it can give any of your fighters the same attack profile as Lady Harrow, as long as you’ve already made a kill. Debilitating Aura is a good way to reduce your opponent’s accuracy.
With the Aggro deck here, the objectives are focused around a few different packages. You’ve got the speed package of Gathered Momentum, Cover Ground and Winged Death (along with three triggers in your power deck). Primacy within Surge of Aggression and Awesome Predator. The other surges (Inescapable Hunger and Bold Conquest) both are also rewards for making charges. Literally 5 of 6 surges here can be scored without ever hitting an attack. The rest of your objectives are around dealing damage and inspiring. Lastly, I included Set the Tempo because this deck has four Hybrids and 4 Dual cards, meaning it’s a trivial card to score, even in the second round. Sixteen glory is a decent amount for an Aggro deck, with the fact that you’ll also be making kills.
In the gambits and upgrades, the focus is accuracy and damage upgrades. Thrill of the Hunt is there to aid in gaining Primacy. Shared Agony is poor for Primacy, however it makes Ghostly Torment easier to score. I would probably switch out Euphoric Dust for the new trap Hopesink as it can be reactionary and lasts the whole game. Spirit Blade allows for a decently accurate attack with higher damage after you make a first kill. Even against Mollog, you’ve got the speed to get to a squig and hopefully make an early kill. Again, I would probably switch out Savage Strength for Feral Symbiote as all the attacks are range 1 in the warband and you’re unlikely to make more than three attacks with a fighter over the course of the game.
Overall strategy-wise you want to make sure you’re making meaningful charges to score your surges. Use your speed and maneuverability to strike the opponent hard. Each move should ideally inspire a fighter early on. The main weakness with this deck is that all attacks are range one, meaning that you’ve got to be adjacent whenever you attack.
The release of Dreadfane had the first Objective surges we had seen, within Fleeting Memories and One Will. The scoring of this deck relies on the “Hold Two” strategy with a focus of leveraging their defensive traits to stay on the tokens. There’s a lot of glory in the end phase, with the understanding that some games you may not be able to score Uncontested or Treasure Hunter. There are four Dual cards, all pretty easy so Meticulous Strategy makes the cut.
In power, I focused heavily into defensive cards and pushes. I wanted a number of ways to be on guard and to prevent pushes off the tokens. There’s a lot of defensiveness in Control cards to aid in the scoring of your objectives. I’d say this one is pretty standard. Thinking about changes, I might run Dominant Defender instead of Grim Tenacity as they both have a similar purpose, but the new card is more defensive.
You’ll want to make sure there are tokens in your territory (3 hexes from each other) as well as ensuring that two tokens end up in the enemy’s territory. Restless Prize will help in case there are issues in the original placement. Overall, don’t die and make sure you’ve got more tokens than the enemy.
I’d say this Control deck is a bit of a hybrid of the other two (as you’ll notice by card choices). It’s differentiated in a few ways. I’ve got some card draw (probably not enough I’m realizing; Rebound should be changed out for Quick Search) for To The End. The Mortis Relics are a big part of controlling the board. The Avatar Risen is a potentially heavy reward for you.
The main Control elements are in having very defensive cards along with three pushes. Focus on getting your easy surges scored. Draw through your cards and try to deny your opponent from scoring. Offset the boards and leverage your speed. You should have two defensive objectives to be scoring Fleeting Memories. If the opponent gets in, inspire and kill as you can.
I think that there’s definitely some hybridization apparent in all of these decks, but overall I think I’ve shown a few ways to make this warband work. Really, one of their advantages is that your opponent won’t necessarily know what style you are playing when they first come up against you. Leverage that fact in game one. You’ve got strong defence, so hopefully your dice will keep you alive long enough to execute your core strategy.
There’s very few warbands that can execute all three playstyles with such grace and ease as Harrow’s. And that’s really the point. Sometimes players try out different styles with certain warbands to try to go counter-meta like Objective Magores and Control Mollog. A lot of these styles take significant investment into their decks and aren’t necessarily the best warband choice to synergize with that style. I think this warband plays in some really interesting design space and I hope we see more of this. Direchasm so far has given us a warband that could be described very similarly in Myari’s Purifiers (and Dread Pageant to some extent too). That’s really exciting for the future of the game as being able to play the warband you want in the style you want (and be effective) is the core of player expression.
Thanks for reading! I’m hoping to be able to talk about the Seraphon in my next article, but it might be far enough out that I’ll have another article out before then.
If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at email@example.com or on the Underworlds Discord channels as Matt ~ Set The Tempo. Take care and set your own tempo!