Spirit of Gorkamorka: A Guide to the Madmob Featuring Compak

Welcome to another Very Special™ article from Set The Tempo. I’m really excited to have Graham Schwikkard aka Compak on the blog this week. I met Graham originally at the final table of Vassal Clash III, where he was playing Thorns of the Briar Queen against my Rippa’s Snarlfangs. I’ve described the match as my most memorable set of games. It was an amazing set with both of us tired after two days of play, and I barely took the set with a 2-1 win and a glory differential of +2. What I loved about the set was that we had a really competitive set while at the same time being extremely sporting. Graham is a great player and wonderful member of the community, as he runs some of the Thursday Community events. And a wonderful painter too! I’ve gotten the chance to deckbuild back and forth with him many times over the last year. As such, I’m excited to introduce him to the blog where he’ll be talking about Madmob. Take it away, Graham! – Matt

Intro – About Me and Why Madmob?

First of all, I don’t play Aggro. Ever since I started Underworlds (end of Nightvault) Objective or Flex have been my focus. I like styles where you can sit back, score, power up, and then engage. However, after a while you really need to explore all the playstyles if you want to become a better player. My most recent exploration of this was doing a ton of reps with Harrows and Objective/Control. So I’d been on the lookout for a good Aggro warband when these beautiful, snake whispering, Primacy dominating sons of bitches came out.

I liked the MadMob immediately from their models. Shaman with a snake! Shredded arrow boy! Freakin’ wolverine wannabe! You know these guys fuck (yes I know nerds, Orcs don’t procreate that way) I found out today that they’re like fungus… – Matt. They’re much better than some emo vampires. But beyond their ripped abs, I was also intrigued by their free round 1 push and ability to get the Primacy off any kill. The free push has a lot of applications although my initial thought was that it would be great versus Control specifically (which if dear reader you have read Matt’s blog fastidiously you will know it is a usual weakness of Aggro). And dominating Primacy blocks a lot of your opponent’s objectives, whilst giving you almost 3 additional glory to any deck.

There haven’t been any tournaments for me to really prove the warband, but I have played the MadMob throughout the knock-out stages of Season 8 of the Vassal League where I went to win the whole shebang, and so far in season 9 I’ve gone 5-1 with the MadMob. But yes, sadly no opportunity to put these beautiful boys on the table. Thanks Covid.

Alright, much like an online recipe that has 2 pages on their relationship with their mother, I’ve probably written too much about my story. You’re here to learn about playing the MadMob, so channel your inner slytherin and let’s converse with Mr Fangs (Also the title of my favourite one man show; Conversations with Mr Fangs – Matt).

Mechanics

Primal Surge is on every fighter except Dakko. Every time you kill a fighter with an attack action, you get the Primacy. This bypasses the usual one shot need for primacy, but doesn’t allow you to get the Primacy with gambit or upgrade attacks (e.g. Jealous Defense). Still, it’s very useful and a key feature of the MadMob that makes a lot of objectives more scoreable.

Tireless Trackers is on Toofdaggas card but applies to Dakko and Wollop – giving them a free push after the roll off for going first. It must be towards the enemy leader. In most cases you still get to choose which hex but stay aware of where it might prevent you pushing where you want. I love this mechanic and it can effectively give you 4 movement for those fighters. Inspire them and you get another extra move so it’s very hard to hide from Wollop. With the cards I’m taking you’ll see that the warband is surprisingly mobile for 3 base move. 

Primal Portent is your inspiration mechanic. If you gain the primacy, choose a fighter to inspire. Note that Hedkrakka must be alive to use this, so keep him relatively safe and avoid early charges with him (he still wants to smash after all). I think you should only expect to inspire one fighter a turn (starting with Toofdagga most of the time) and really only need to inspire one a turn. If you inspire more than one because you lost it, then great but I wouldn’t actively look to discard the Primacy. I do include some Primacy discard tech but I generally only use those cards if I’m very confident of getting the Primacy back or if I really need to discard it to allow another attack (from a gambit or an upgrade) to kill a dangerous fighter or score a specific objective. That’s because I want the Primacy at the end of EVERY round. It’s 3 extra glory and enables a lot of objective scoring in the deck. 

Playstyle

There are, at least in theory, three ways you can play this warband

  1. Lost Pages: Load up the leader and try keep him alive. Not a terrible idea, might work in a skirmish but I don’t think they have enough related surges to make it happen, and he’s not the most survivable fighter.
  2. Hold two: Run Path to Victory, Hunt the World Spirit, and Dominant Position. Again, I think there could be some play here but there are warbands that could do it better and you’re pretty low on defense to stay on the objectives.
  3. Aggro: Well of course, this is the obvious way to play the warband and in my opinion the best way to play them. Yes it’s blatantly clear what you are going to try to do, but that never stopped Rippa from winning Grand Clashes. Aggro just makes the most sense because of the free push you get, the cards this warband has access to, and your ability to dominate the Primacy game. You have three rather versatile fighters which are a bit of a toolbox (or at least as much as orcs can be) and you can make them work in any matchup.
Weaknesses
  • Your defense ain’t great. Yes 4 wounds helps but with punching up and all the +1 damage upgrades out there your fighters are vulnerable, especially as they have to charge in all the time. This is fine though, you will lose fighters, I’ve won games with no fighters left. Just keep Hedkrakka safe in the first rounds, he can do a lot near the end.
  • 3 move can be painful but the free push does help A LOT. You must take speed cards and push cards, but otherwise once you’ve inspired you’re ok here.
  • As I’ve said, it’s obvious what you want to do. That doesn’t mean you can’t use this to your advantage. There are tricks to include and make the Aggro oppressive. Put the fear in the enemy that if they don’t stop you, you will kill them.
  • You’re also not the most accurate fighters. There’s no 3 smash fighter. But you can compensate for that with your cards, and early on you just need a few attacks to go your way. You’ll notice that my deck doesn’t rely on any kills for the surges.
  • Underdog is basically an auto-score against you. But in any case it’s also a pretty reliable objective versus any Aggro, so here you don’t have to bother working around it. Just accept that if your opponent has it, they will score it.
Fighters

Hedkrakka inspired is, in my view, one of the best fighters in the game. He basically has a range 1, 2 and 3 attack with the range 1 being 2 smash, 3 damage. Makes Bold Conquest an easy score and often a good attack to have made. Furthermore, pop Gloryseeker on him and he can do 4 damage close up, or 3 damage on his 2 range attack. Yes, he can’t use Great Strength on the 3 range attack which is a big limitation, but it’s still an excellent profile. Two dodge is a pretty decent defense too. Oh and did you notice he’s a level two wizard (suck it vamps)! This opens up a few spell options. The most important in this meta is Hunting Bolt.

At first glance Dakko seems kind of useless. An inaccurate attack and one dodge defense. Should spend more time practicing his shooting and less time getting those gains…

However taking a closer look, his Tireless Tracker ability shapes the setup of most of your and your opponents fighters. Move onto an objective hex in enemy territory with no enemy fighter within 2 and get the Primacy. With your free push, it’s quite easy to reach an objective and that can score you Surge of Aggression, inspire a fighter, and unlock a few gambits or upgrades. Way to go Dakko. But what if they put a fighter near that objective? Great! Charge that fighter with any other one of your fighters. You should be placing your lethal behind any starting hex by that token as well to discourage that, or to boost your damage.

Once the opponent sees that you care a lot about Dakko and where he is running too, you’ll see how they change their setup. And just like that you’ve changed any preconceived deployment plans they had and moved the focus off your other fighters.

Also, just throw in a weapon to your deck. Because most people ignore him, he’s often alive and in a good position in round 2. And if they’ve targeted him that’s fine too because it’s kept another fighter alive. My favourite choices for this are Bloody Axe (because of course I would) and Wicked Lash – Matt

Toofdagga is in most games, your best fighter. Inspire him and you have just over a 50% chance of rolling a crit for a 3 damage base attack. He goes to two dodge and so you can slap Scavenged Armour on him to put him on guard and 5 wounds. There’s not a lot of nuance here, throw wolverine in where you need him, but try to get the timing right because your opponent will target him.

Wollop is often used best as a threat. He gets the free push, and if your opponent knows you’re running snare and speed cards, they’ll want to hide an important 4 wound fighter at the back. That opens options for you to attack smaller fighters and run Dakko up. Two smash really does miss a fair bit of the time, so don’t rely on him hitting without any buffs. I’ll only inspire him if I really need the cleave, or that extra movement so he can reach the other side of the board (unsurprisingly, you get longboarded a fair bit once opponents realise what a threat your fighters are). Sometimes it’s worth throwing Soultooth Dagger on Wollop if you face 3 wound fighters. It’s technically more accurate and gives you a chance of getting to 3 damage without using up your Great Strength.

My Current Championship Deck

Here’s my latest deck with the MadMob. Overall the strategy is to do whatever you have to to score Set the Tempo (wink wink Matt), get the Primacy, and kill as much as you can on the way.

All the surges are fairly easy and note that every single objective is a Hybrid or Dual so I’ve often scored Set The Tempo by round 2. It is probably a bit greedy on the end phase but so far it’s working for me. Although you are trying to kill a lot of the time, only 2 objectives rely on kills – Smash ‘Em and Clean Kills. The others that involve primacy don’t actually need a kill and can be scored with Dakko, a gambit (Primal Brutality), or an upgrade (Proud Runner).

A lot of people ask about Bold Deeds and I just prefer Clean Kills because I’m already running Dominant Display and don’t want to feel too much pressure to move into enemy territory if I need to defend an objective or reach an enemy fighter sitting on my side. I have considered ditching Clean Kills for a simple 1 glory card (e.g. Awesome Predator) if only because you can get in trouble if you draw Clean Kills, Dominant Display, and Set the Tempo first up. But even in that case, Dominant Display is very doable round 1 so you could keep the hand.

Total glory is 17, but you should aim for the Primacy for each round and so it’s more like 20, plus any kills you get. There’s a lot of glory and I’ve not struggled to outscore horde decks.

Without going into each card, the gambits and upgrades try to balance more accuracy, more damage and a touch of survivability. There’s also a couple of cards for discarding Primacy which can help with regaining it to inspire another fighter. However, as I’ve written before, you don’t have to be hyper-focused on inspiring everyone. One in the first round is good, two is great, and the rest will happen over the course of the game.

Key Cards

For restricted I’ve gone with

  • Show of Force: You want easy objectives and this one can be scored first round or later with upgrades
  • Surge of Aggression: Super easy with this warband
  • Proud Runner: You really want Primacy and can’t always rely on a kill or Dakko, this is the only universal card in the game guaranteed to get it

Other good choices would be Rebound (which scores Bring It On, helps get more kills, messes with opponents heads), or Hunter’s Talisman.

On the gambit side, I’ve included both Snare and Hunting Bolt. As there’s only two +1 damage upgrades this extra damage helps a lot and I prefer them to upgrades for the surprise factor. Snare won’t get you the primacy, but I think the kill is often more worth it (and as I keep saying, you have other ways to get the Primacy). Hunting Bolt is great because there’s so much Quarry right now that you often do 2 damage (bye bye Otapatl). Moreover, it opens up your deck for more upgrades, and in the current meta I think there are so many good upgrades I’d rather not use all of them on damage upgrades.

I’ve also taken Spectral Wings and Outrun Death to help score Gathered Momentum but also just so you can get across the board and ruin your opponents plans for staying outside of charge range. Da Great Stomp is an amazing card for this too! Push all your fighters! There aren’t many cards like that. Opponents think they have you figured out even with the free push and then you drop this and all their plans change.

Finally, I need to speak about Primal Brutality. Get the Primacy for free. No stipulations. You don’t even have to have a fighter alive. If you hold onto this card in the third phase, even if you have no fighters left, you can score Unnassailable, Surge of Aggression and Smash ‘Em (if you’ve killed two fighters), and get a glory for the Primacy itself. It might even trigger Set the Tempo. If you are trailing, hold on to this card. It can be very tempting to use it early and inspire, but I will often hold on to it and go for a kill to get Primacy first. Then even if I lose Primacy I know I can get it back and score my end phase objectives that need it. It’s such a good card.

On the upgrades, Lucky Bone is a favorite of mine. Put on Toofdagga or Hedkrakka because they are rolling the most dice on attack and defense. You choose to use it AFTER the roll too so you never waste this card. Amazing.

Primal Lunge is also brilliant. Normally on Hedkrakka because of his range 2 (which means you’re more likely to be in range and use it) but you can also use it for a pseudo-scything attack with the others, or just a ‘try again’ if you miss your first. However, a very important caveat to this card is that you can’t get Primacy if you kill something with the attack you make. That can stop some of your objectives if you discard the Primacy to trigger it, so I use it only if I really need a kill or have a way to regain Primacy. Lastly, don’t forget you can make a move action with it, and if you have Proud Runner, it means you get the Primacy right back. That move could put you on their side for Dominant Display, or just in range of an attack.

Probably worth noting is that I’m only running Great Strength and Gloryseeker. As I’ve mentioned, you will rely on gambits to boost your damage, and on landing multiple attacks. That’s probably quite different to how most play these days (one shot has often been the goal), but I’ve found it unnecessary so far to include an extra one, and you can get primacy without one-shotting. However, I think there is a good case to include Feral Symbiote or Berserk Might in the deck. I think it’s a good shout that you don’t have to worry about playing into the “one-shot” meta with them, since they can gain Primacy off any of their attacks (well, other than Dakko’s) – Matt

Cards I Didn’t Take
  • Mighty Swing is a great option. I just don’t like that in some matchups or game states I can’t really use it. And I’m only running one push so you can’t manipulate the board state to use it better.
  • Spirit of the Beast is pretty neat. However, I don’t like that it has no benefit if you don’t have the Primacy. As much as you will dominate Primacy, I don’t like it being dead at times and there are so many good upgrades to choose from that are good with or without the Primacy. That said, I do plan on trying it out some more because the effects are powerful.
  • Berserk Might has the same issue as Spirit of the Beast, although it at least comes with knockback when you don’t have the Primacy. You’ll see it makes my Vanguard deck.
  • Unnatural Truce would also make sense. Helps get more damage cards out. I just find too often that when my opponent plays it, it gives me the card I really need. Pre-FAR I was running Frenzied Search and it’s also a great option (especially as you can use your free push onto an objective round 1).
Favourite Boards

The board selection is pretty straightforward – you want clear ones (i.e. few blocked or lethals) with good options for placing aggressively.

Winning board roll off, you always give the opponent objectives and basically throw every objective you can on their side with Bold Conquest and Dakko in mind. Ideally you don’t want any objectives on your side of the board. Boards: Abandoned Lair, Mirror Well, Hive of Sacrifice.

Losing board roll off, you basically want to limit the damage of an offset or longboard. The options below provide decent options. If your cards come out right, you can make it across but be ready to discard your opening hands. I often put Dakko and Wollop further back, because they get the free push. Boards: Cursed Oubliette, Mirror Well, Ravaged Hall.

My Vanguard Deck

I haven’t had a lot of practice with Vanguard but here is the deck I have used. I think it’s actually pretty decent as the main weakness with Vanguard is easy surges and all of these are pretty doable. In fact, I quite like this as a Championship deck and I think it shows what they are capable of when rotation comes and there is no Set the Tempo. Again, might be a bit greedy on the end phase so I might make changes there if I play it more.

Overall, it’s a bit more focused on gaining and retaining the Primacy, whilst killing as much as you can. There’s Claim to Domination to help with that, which I don’t include in my main deck because it’s a bit situational but is still a good card for them. Berserk Might synergises more in this deck and so makes sense. I’ve taken the Silent Ring to help with reactions (plus card draw is great as there isn’t any gambit card draw), and Silent Sword because it can trigger the +1 dice on Silent Ring whilst still being a really good weapon upgrade in place of Soultooth Dagger. I think Everything to Prove could also fit into the deck, I just didn’t like only having 3 Quarry triggers and couldn’t find space for another Quarry upgrade.

Warpaint Ward is something I’ve really considered for my main deck. It can really mess up your opponents plans and the 50% chance of going off is pretty decent. At the very least the reaction window is uses prevents the drive back into a lethal.

Other than that it’s quite similar to the other deck in gambits and upgrades but does sadly lack the damage gambits. Acidic Strike can at least help knock off wound upgrades to help, and Hypnotic Buzz can give you that extra push into a lethal. You don’t have many other pushes so this deck does require you to be smart with objective placement and charges to try slow down opponent scoring cards like Dominant Position. I do find for the most part though, you won’t stop their scoring but you have so much glory in your own deck, and when you add some kills, you don’t have to worry about them scoring those cards.

Outro

I hope you’ve found this guide useful and inspires you to Waaagh. I also hope you see the potential of this warband (*cough* def higher than C tier Path to Glory *cough*). If you like it, let me know and I could write a whole lot more about board setup, objective placement, and matchups. Or just write about another warband. I’m next looking for a good 3 fighter warband because I’ve never mainlined one. Nurgle perhaps? I have already painted the models…or maybe try out those gobbos on doggos. I’m no expert, but they are my best paint job yet:

If nothing else, this warband is a lot of fun to play with so give them a go. And don’t forget about Dakko.

That Weird Part of the End Phase Where You Score Primacy…

Thanks again to Graham for writing this article. I think it’s a wonderful snapshot of the warband and has some great tips. Personally, I played them a half a dozen times and I’m not sure I won a game… I know I went 0-3 in a Skirmish event. Have you been playing them? What’s your style with them? Why will you start remembering Dakko more? Graham can be found to help answer these questions as Compak on the Discords. If you do have any other 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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