Superior Skulkers: Cover, Gloom and Defensive Math

I’ve been thinking about the state of the game and how hold objective play has changed with the new rules of the Harrowdeep season. There’s been a lot of worry about how the tokens starting out on the Gloom side makes the playstyle weaker. As I was thinking about the effect of Cover and Gloom, I realized that there’s some really interesting boosts that holding objectives can give you this season. Let’s break down the structure and the math of Cover.

Objectives, Gloom and Delving

So, with the Harrowdeep tokens, they start on the Gloom side (providing Cover) and with a player able to Delve a token (flip it over) instead of playing a card. Each token can be delved once per player per token, meaning that you have the ability to affect the board during every power step. Even in the last step, you’ve always got the ability to flip tokens back to objectives.

So, what does this mean? Well, with cover, you’ll count as having double supports on defence. As most of the surge Objectives have now rotated out, there are very few reasons to be on an objective token (other than synergies with power cards) through most of the round. And that’s where the boost and the math comes in.

Say you’ve got a chainrasp holding a feature token. A two hammer attack is swung at your fighter. Odds wise, you’ve got a 41% chance to defend against the attack. That’s the difference between living and dying. Now, by being in Cover instead of an Objective, you’ll change your odds to 46% (13% higher chance to defend). Now on two dodge, you’re going from 53% chance to survive that attack to 61% (15% higher chance to defend). Let’s take Glissete, with the great attribute of two guard dice to start. On that same two hammer attack, there’s a 68% chance to defend. With the support, it raises to a 74% chance.

What does this mean for the game as a whole? Well, on a simple level, it means that for any fighter holding a token you should consider their defence at one higher level than previous. Dodge effectively becomes Block. And Block gets a boost.

There’s one case that really will come up through your games though, which is the first activation of rounds two and three. In these cases, fighters will be on objectives, instead of cover until the power step. An Aggro warband will want to go first to take advantage of weaker defenses. The warband with fighters on the tokens will want to go first so they have a chance to get those tokens flipped before the enemy can attack them. I think what this does is make the roll off into rounds two and three just that more important. I’m not sure I love that, since I think those rolls can be decently prescriptive, especially when the game comes down to a couple of strong fighters trying to hit the other one first. A well times Guard action to start a round, a successful attack or just running away can be the difference between a win and a loss. Now, these completely random rolls are more crucial to each player’s strategy.

The Final Power Step

I don’t really think there’s a ton more to say, so I’ll keep it short. I know that when I play, I’m planning to keep tokens on the Gloom side as much as possible. Getting that boost to your defensive stat will always be a boon. Also, remember that by charging onto a Gloom token, you can’t be Slickrocked off! I’ll be really interested to see how the mechanism develops and the cards interact. I think it would be cool to see a No Time style card making it impossible to Delve in a certain power step. That would really mean that you’ve got more to think about when to be Delving to make sure you can score your end phase objectives.

What’s your thoughts? Where do you sit on the mechanism? If you have any questions or comments, please reach out to me at or on the Underworlds Discord channels as Matt ~ Set The Tempo. Take care and set your own tempo!

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