It’s been a while since Steel City have done a group article, what better way to dive back in than a recap of our adventures at a 110 player Grand Clash. Somehow Tom manages to flip the script and subvert everyone’s expectations by going undefeated with the Godsworn Hunt. Maybe he should write for Game of Thrones?
My photoshop skills continue to bedazzle the internet. From what orifice of the internet did you plunder that picture of me from Mike?!
On pure sex appeal alone we were leading the field.
Michael Carlin: Ylthari’s Guardians Deck
Fresh off my victory over Jay Clare at Boards and Swords in Derby, I had decided to put my Troll Tomes Mollog deck back on the shelf and bring Ylthari’s Guardians to this Grand Clash. The deck I built shares some fairly large similarities with the Mollog deck I built, using 5 tomes and Acolyte of the Katophrane’s as a big end game scorer. The Guardian’s present some unique challenges when deck building as they have an inspire condition that requires specific cards and very low damage on their attacks. My power deck was built to pack extra damage and accuracy so that I could strike and kill a specific target. The objective deck supported this in that it usually only required one kill to score Strong Start/Advancing Strike which could then combo into a tun of other objectives, Opening Gambit/Master of War/Solid Gains/Victory after Victory/even Escalation.
My general play style was to deploy far back against aggro and use my superior danger distance to pick a target off at the end of a turn with all those lovely damage/accuracy ploys. This play style works really well against low mobility opponents like Thundricks but it is a bit dependent on winning board roll off. If I lose boards then the game is mostly your standard aggro fest, at least I have the cards to support that.
One thing that makes the deck a bit different to how other people play Guardians is that I have only one card that relies on my leader, namely Shining Example. Skilled players will often assassinate Ylthari as soon as possible because the normal ‘build’ that guardian players run is to put a bunch of magic gambits in as well as Well of Power to turn her into a late game monster. In fact in our final at Boards and Swords Jay Clare was often killing her in turn 1. Don’t get me wrong, it hurts to lose Ylthari if it happens but its not the end of the world for me, the other fighters can pick up the slack.
I present to you my newest invention: Book shElves:
Tom: I came up with BookshElves and I’ve never been more proud of anything, Mike promised me credit Mike: for clarification Tom came up with the NAME not the actual deck list – cheeky beggar Tom: The name is the best bit!!!
Eagle eyed readers will notice that I have taken Tome of Diseases over Tome of Healing, certainly an odd choice for this warband. More details on that later.
Tom Bond: Godsworn Hunt Deck
I turned my back on the Godsworn Hunt at the last Grand Clash in favour of Magore’s Fiends. The chaos pantheon saw fit to punish my lack of faith in my 3 wound Godsworn models, and Magore’s Fiends only just scraped through that tournament with a hard fought 2-2 run. After my mediocre showing, I begged my beautiful punk-rock party to take me back. I even put paint on Grawl! Frotunately I was forgiven, and after a bit of practice I felt I had a Godsworn Hunt deck tight enough to challenge the meta. More importantly perhaps, I had a warband I genuinely enjoyed playing with every time I put my models on the board.
To do justice to the evolution of this deck I’m going to write a more
long and boring in-depth article on why I play Godsworn the way I do. The core principles of this deck are flexibility and reliability. I have avoided cards that shoe-horn me into playing exclusive aggro or control, allowing me to make decisions based on the game. The aim was to never be forced into sub-optimal decisions because of my objective hand.
The Godsworn NEED upgrades turn one. The sooner the better. The Godsworn also need to trade fighters with the enemy. Its absolutely fine to lose members of your warband, as long as your 4 damage kamikaze bullets are bringing enemy fighters down with them. Pick your moments to go in making certain you pick off key opposing models. If you can’t get a kill, hang back, score the passive glory, and wait for an unsuspecting enemy to wander into your path. Only A Worthy Deed requires a kill in this deck. Three of the score immediately objectives don’t even require an attack (Grawl will happily bound into a fiery lethal hex if you ask him – many a good boi has been martyred during the making of this deck). A good draw can see you putting away Victory after Victory in turn one without ever having engaged the enemy, and suddenly you are out-scoring your opponent passively. Your enemy than has to come at you just as you begin putting tasty upgrades on every man and his dog. Concealed weapon Grawl is not something you tend to want to walk towards. He exclusively crits. Don’t try this at home.
The gambits are their to boost reliability. Accuracy cards make certain your key attacks connect (hopefully with crits), mobility helps take out Thundrick, Stormsire, Varclav and other key models lurking at the back of your opponents board. Distraction has always been a staple, and it is even more essential now lethal hexes are covering everyone’s boards. Improvisation allows me to burn my entire hand then dig for 3 more cards without using an activation. Nothing feels better than finding Ready for Action with Improvisation just after someone Hidden Paths next to Theddra.
The upgrades in your deck are crucial for selecting out your MVPs for each game. Without upgrades your fighters are barely worth activating, but once inspired everyone can contribute to a win. Theddra and Grundanns inspire allows them to hit the crucial four damage threshold the instant you hit them with Great Strength or Gloryseeker. Once these cards placed however, that fighter becomes a huge target for the enemy. Playing with and against Godsworn revolves around working out which fighters need inspiring at which time, and not wasting upgrade cards overbuffing one fighter whilst the rest of your band sits uselessly watching. You are squishy, and whilst overloading one fighter may sometimes be the right call, more often than not you want to take advantage of the myriad of threats this warband can bring to bear. Also don’t use Great Speed, use Sprinter. You know why.
This deck has been adapted to my particular playstyle. Cards like Oath of Conquest, Rebound, Nullstone Spear, Advancing Strike, and many others all have a place. When i have more space to write I’ll go through why these cards made the cut, but if I write any more Mike will get upset about how much he has to scroll up and down the article.
Tournament Issues at big Grand Clashes
Mike: Remember when I mentioned the oddity of not including Tome of Healing into my deck where instead I took Tome of Diseases? Well the reason for this is that Tome of Healing and Tome of Insight were not ruled as ‘Katophrane Tomes’ for this event – the reason being that their is a misprint on the cards so they do not include this text. This ruling is the exact opposite to the one used at the Warhammer Fest Grand Clash earlier in the month, where they were ruled as tomes…
Luckily I had anticipated this potential ‘issue’ and brought Diseases and a second list as a backup in case. It would have been nice to know how the cards work before the event, even if you rule that they are not Tomes (which is stupid) then it would be somewhat ok if that was consistent with rulings at other Grand Clashes. Players should not have to guess how cards interact at events, some of us spend a fair bit of effort preparing these decks and it sucks to have a bunch of that work undone due to incompetence that is out of our control.
Ok rant over – back to the article proper.
Mike’s Book shElves on the day
My first match of the day was the meta warband that everyone fears, played in the way that most people say is broken and needs to be banned, defensive Cursebreakers. Of course I’m not most people. I score glory by collecting books made from the same material as my fighters. In the first game the dice were with me and I rode out a solid victory. The second was much closer where I killed Amis and Rastis but my opponent killed everyone bar my leader. We ended the game with 16 glory apiece, both scoring 4 in the 3rd end phase but I won on tiebreakers because I had a fighter on an objective. So the game where my luck was mostly equal i got pushed to the limit. I had even grabbed a spare glory off of Tome of Glories in the 3rd turn, it was that tight. Never underestimate the ability of defensive Cursebreakers to score passive glory while simultaneously having scary threats with the crazy stats of their inspired fighters. It’s worth mentioning that my opponent was running rebound and that it went off in one of the games, which is about average luck. I was super glad that I wasn’t running my Mollog deck as rebound would probably have meant a loss for the big troll, whereas in this case it didn’t even reflect enough damage to kill my fighter.
Still as close as it was that meant I was 2-0 up at the end of round one. Sure I only had +10 glory but I had played against defensive Cursebreakers and my opponent (sorry I cant remember his name) was a solid player, I’ll take that result and smile all the way.
For Match 2 I went into the mirror vs another Ylthari player by the name of Carl. Carl is another regular at tournaments at Board and Swords but I don’t think I have ever played vs him myself. Game 1 went much like game 1 in the first match, the dice went my way and I piloted a fairly solid win out of it. To give you an idea on how kind the dice were, Gallangham crit defended 3 times in a row, not only meaning he took no damage but he dealt 3 damage back with his reaction. Ouch. Game 2 the dice turned against me a bit but nothing super dramatic. Carl was also playing rebound and it went off in this game, fortunately again I was not doing enough damage to kill myself (almost as if the deck is built for this) but it was a big tempo swing. The game ended with only Ahnslaine surviving on my side while Carl had 2 fighters remaining. I loaded up 4 Tomes onto the deft archer and scored enough to edge the win by a couple of glory.
Rare picture of a Sylvaneth loaded with Katophrane Tomes roaming the halls of the Nightvault.
Phew. Another tight end to the match but a 2-0 victory. I think I only ended up about 7 glory over both of those games so my glory tiebreakers were pretty bad, but I knew if I didn’t drop a game that I would be odds on to make the final. Lets see if I could continue my run all the way this time.
My next opponent was Vanadis.
Vanadis was also undefeated at this point in the day and was rocking her own brand of defensive Cursebreakers. We had played some practice games the night before where I had gotten thoroughly thrashed so I was expecting to lose this one. Sometimes when you play Warhammer Underworlds you will play a particular series of games that are more tense then most, where every single activation matters and you almost agonise over each dice roll. This series was that turned up to 11. I won game 1 by a single glory. Jay popped past to see how we were doing during game 2 and I said we were 1-1 because I assumed that I had already lost the game. I was down 4 glory and had had to do over Acolyte of the Katophranes in my opening hand. Somehow I managed to turn the game into a tie by killing Vanadis’s Tome bearer in the last activation of turn 3. For game 3 I managed a more solid showing where I killed key targets early and pulled a half decent glory differential. Did I mention that I won boards every single game? Vanadis was on a completely other level to the defensive Cursebreaker player I had faced in the first match of the day, but fate had decided that I was going to be the one carrying the Steel City Torch forwards on this day.
Wait that meant that I had not dropped a single game after 3 rounds (they don’t care about individual tied games). Yes my glory differential was bad but if I took another 2 – 0 win then I was almost certainly in the final. Still my next opponent would likely have a similar record, this was definitely not a gimme.
My final opponent was Dan Jones of the Ready 4 Action podcast. He is a top bloke who I have played a couple of times before and happens to be a longstanding nemesis of Tom as they often butt heads at tournaments. We have a bit of friendly rivalry with the Ready 4 Action team, Dan Smedley (or ‘other’ Dan) had beaten me in the January Warhammer World tournament so I was looking to even the score.
Jones smashed me 2 -0.
Luck was certainly against me but Dan was playing a solid deck (aggro Cursebreakers) and he was playing it well. I’ve mentioned before how my deck works by scoring the odd score immediately card and then comboing all the other objectives off that. Well that only works if you actually make the kills in the first place. Dan played it perfectly and didn’t give me the lee way to try and make it back into either game. Just like Rich at the last Grand Clash he bought me a drink after. Seriously this community is pretty amazing.
After the dust settled and the results were read out I was placed at 13th again. This was an identical result to the Warhammer Fest Grand Clash but I rate it a fair bit higher, in that tournament my loss was in round 3 not round 4 and this tournament had 20 extra people attending. Its actually frustrating that the final standings don’t care when your losses/wins occured, just how many rounds + games you dropped in total. A good friend of the blog, Martin Collins (defending champion at this Grand Clash from last year) got placed into 8th despite losing the first round. Don’t get me wrong, he obviously had a cracking day where he didn’t drop any other games and his glory differential was better than me, but a loss in the first round means you face easier opponents.
Ah well, I should probably stop being salty and let my co-authors regale you with their stories of the day.
Seriously I’m fairly happy with my result, It’s just frustrating to always be so close.
The Godsworn’s Punt
Given that Thundriks Profiteers were the most well represented warband on the day (even more so than Cursebreakers!) it wasn’t a surprise to run into them in my first matchup. My opponent was Mirko Bonazza, an absolute gentleman and a very challenging opponent. Godsworn have to be careful playing into the Profiteers. Sprinting full pelt into a gunline with 2-3 wound models is about as intelligent as it sounds. Fortunately, most of the Profiteers glory (and by extension their inspiration) focuses on score immediately cards. These cards tend to require attacks. That meant if I was careful and drew the right objectives, the duardin would have to come to me to score and begin to inspire. Therefore the plan was to hang back, ordering surgical strikes from Shond and Grundann, with Jagathra attempting to stunty-punt the 2 wound fighters to their graves early doors. Scoring my passive glory and ensuring every kill I attempted had dice buffs set up helped guarantee successful attacks. Making sure each attack was scoring an objective/Tome of Offerings meant that even when trading fighters I managed to come out ahead on glory. Jagathra did her best Neo impression and bullet timed her way around Thundriks attempted Headshots, meaning that particular duardin objective unfortunately ended up clogging Mirko’s hand both games. I managed a 2-0 victory when the dust settled, the first game being incredibly tight, and the second involving a copious amount of Godsworn crits. I thoroughly enjoyed playing against Mirko, congratulations to him on a top 20 finish at the end of the day!
“I’ve never seen anyone move that fast,” – Theddra 2019.
Spooky ghosts materialised before me in my second set, much to my dismay. The abundance of double dodge dice terrified me as Godsworn need to make every attack count. In addition The Briar Queen, Varclav, The Ever-Hanged and even a few of the Chainrasps can easily enter one-shot territory of my 2 wound fighters. Fortunately ranged attacks help when trying to disrupt objective play. James played an objective focus, tooling up the Briar Queen as an incredibly deadly distraction from Varclavs back-board machinations. If I focused on bringing the queen down, Varclav and his chainrasps farmed glory from their three objectives. If I focused the Chainrasps, the Briar Queen had a field day. Somehow in game one I managed to disrupt the objective play enough that Superior Tactician pushed me to a 1 glory victory. After a bit of calming down, we moved to game two. For this game my objectives fell like a dream. Martyred drew into Change of Tactics which drew into Calculated Risk. Victory after Victory and Master of War sat in my hand. With only one attack made I had opened with 6 Glory. The early lead snowballed as my accuracy upgrades landed, but even then with some sneaky objective play James almost scored his was back into the game. Objective warbands with keys have an irritating tendency to pull 8 glory out of the proverbial hat in turn 3, so I almost never feel safe playing into them! Even so I edged out a 2-0 victory. Getting 2 wins with the Godsworn was what I wanted from the day, but 3 was what I had really hoped for! A familiar face who had previously defeated me was not what I needed to see in Round 3.
The Spooky Ghosts returned in Round 3, this time piloted by Tim. I had fallen prey to Tim’s ghosts back when I was trying desperately to make a Zarbags Gitz deck, and I wasn’t looking forward to playing them again. Even as he sipped his beer Tim racked up both Tactical Supremacy’s and regular Supremacys in every end phase. The odd critical defence ruined any meagre chance I had to come back in game 1. Once more the Briar Queen served as a devastating disruptive tool while Varclav pulled the strings from the back. The Chainrasps racked up a huge glory total on the objectives while Theddra was swinging ineffectually at the Briar Queen, still trying to work out which end of her Darkoath wand was the sharp end. Game 1 was my first loss of the day.
Theddra doing her best Stormtrooper impression Game 1
Game 2 started off with another high scoring opener from Tim, but this time my objective hand was a little more forgiving and I kept up. My mind now focused on which combinations of objectives translated into Tactical Supremacy objectives, I tried to desperately calculate which Chainrasps had to die, and which could be left until later. Distraction was held in my hand to be used only if an attack action failed, or sidestep-esque cards were played to return ghosts to their respective objective tokens. Game 2 was a close fought thing, but after the Queen went down, I picked my way through the Chainrasps and came out ahead. Game 3 saw my first game into the Thorns that day where they didn’t get three objectives on their board. Hanging back, I focused mainly on killing Chainrasps with ranged attacks when they ventured close to objective tokens. The Ghosts being forced to float gracefully towards the Godsworn to score glory made Game 3 a lot more difficult for Tim, and his objective hand was not kind to him at all. After the furious defence of my objective hexes had come to a close, I managed to take game 3. Three wins with Godsworn! Absolutely over the moon, I settled in for round four! Across from me sat a familiar warband, running what transpired to be a very familiar deck.
A fellow Tom placed his Gitz in front of me, having yet to drop a single game the entire day! Snirk eyed my low health models greedily, and I once again “won” boards, and watched 3 objectives drop into my adversaries territory. Between the Squigs, Zarbag, Drizgit and Sourtongue, the Gitz have plenty of ways to trade fighters with me should the game get bloody. Unfortunately for me, the rest of the grotz tend to enjoy capturing objective tokens at the same time. Game 1 was cagey, with me employing a similar snipe the objective holders strategy to my previous games. The difference in this set was instead of a Briar Queen, I had 2 squigs and a herder to contend with. Fortunately I managed to distract Snirk after he used Hidden Paths, moving him into a non-threatening position. Snirk didn’t get to be a factor in episode one of Tom Vs Tom. The climax of the game involved a Shond Faneway Crystal move into the depths of Grot territory to score Cover Ground, followed by brutal fisticuffs between Grundann, Shond, Zarbag and a Mutating Maul wielding Grot archer. Both mine and Toms Last chances were triggered, but me having both Potion of Rage, Fuelled by Fury and a supporting fighter on my side meant I landed every strike in the melee. Carving through the remaining Grotz lead me to a Game 1 victory, and when Game 2 opened with me 5 glory ahead, I had hoped the 2-0 was in sight. Tom was not convinced however, a few Keys being played and a cheeky Supremacy scored set the stage for a turn 3 glory splurge. In Turn 3 I was unable to make a key wielding Dibbz budge off his objective with an arrow from Ollo. I sat back knowing I was still far enough ahead to weather the storm of glory from Tom’s Keys. However with an activation now no longer needed to move Dibbz back onto his objective, Snirk worked his magic. Sidestepping back to an edge hex after I Distracted him off it, Snirk spun through his Hidden Paths to skirt a wall and kill Grundann, scoring Obliterated. He then held firm and successfully rebounded Shonds Tome of Offerings counter kill. My opponent then scored a bucket-load of glory in the third end phase. Tom had played his absolute socks off to come back from what I was sure was going to be a win for me, hats off to a brilliant opponent not tilting and playing every move perfectly. As our first two games had taken a significant amount of time and caused an exponential deterioration in both our life-expectancies, we agreed to just play the first round of game 3. I drew Change of Tactics, Calculated Risk and Cover Ground. I had Spectral Wings, Tome of Offerings and Spoils of Battle in my hand. I scored the objectives, drew two more 1 point cards I could score and got a Tome of Offerings kill. Toms cards weren’t as stupendous, and even then Turn 1 closed out with me only ahead 7-5. The final set finished 2-1 and I was utterly spent.
(For those interested, Tom’s deck seemed to play reasonably similarly to the one I run in this report, but included a few new cards)
This set reached stress levels I usually reserve for playing against Dan Jones of Ready 4 Action fame, and after walking away from the table I couldn’t quite believe I’d made it out the other side. Having spent weeks practising into Mollog, Cursebreakes and Yltharis Guardians, I faced completely different opponents and playstyles! Fortunately, Grawl and the gang pulled through and earned me a monumental sixth place finish! Mad respect for every opponent I played today, I had to be switched on for every game. Not only that, each opponent I played was a gentleman and an absolute pleasure to meet.
Take home messages
- The Godsworn Hunt are brilliant
- Grawl is the Goodest Boi
- Nobody remembers Grundann inspires to 5 move
Closing Thoughts with some Comments on the Meta
Mike: All in all it was a a good showing from Steel City, especially from Tom. I’m a bit frustrated that I didn’t do better but at least I am consistently near the very top. If you are interested in a detailed breakdown of the meta at the UKGE then I would recommend this article from Wigglehammer. I was expecting to see a lot of Thundricks Profiteers and the data shows that I was spot on with that call, my deck is very happy to face the Aerial Achondroplastic’s, pity I didn’t actually match vs any. The fact that the Thundricks had trouble breaking into the top ranks with so many attending shows that other players have cottoned onto the tricks needed to beat them. For my money, right now the top two Warbands are Guardians and Cursebreakers. Both of these warbands exist in a tier of their own with everyone else trailing the pack.
However Tom has shown what can be done with a ‘weaker’ warband if you are willing to put the effort into learning all their tricks.
Tom: After an absolutely incredible day and an unexpectedly successful showing for the Godsworn, my thoughts on the meta have somewhat warped. I honestly don’t think much has changed for a very long time.
Flex is strong. Flex has always been strong. Newer warbands are better at flexing.
Cursebreakers, Guardians and Profiteers lend themselves to a flexible playstyle naturally, therefore players often gravitate to a more consistent style of play when building decks for them, helping them be more successful. A lot of older warbands struggle to be as multi-faceted, which I think is why Magores Fiends (historically the most all-round aggro warband) have begun to fall closer to their other one dimensional aggro bretheren, becoming less competitive. Scoring without commiting is key. Being able to choose to hang back or go ham and still score glory is crucial. And having options to disrupt enemy plans with disrupting your own is yet another marker of a good warband.
Whatever warband you play, make sure you can adapt to multiple styles of opponent and you’ll be able to be successful. The alternative is play a deck that cares so little about what your opponent does that you don’t have to adapt!
Either way, play what you enjoy and you’ll find a way to make it work!
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