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Card Review: Starblood Stalkers Universals

Hello my fellow reptilian enthusiasts. As we eagerly await the release of the Starblood Stalkers, I wanted to share my thoughts on the 30 new universal cards that will be added to the season.

In this article, I will be reviewing the 10 universal objectives, 10 universal gambits, and 10 universal upgrades that are included in the Starblood Stalkers expansion. Jonathan may also comment some of his thoughts on these cards in (Jonathan – italics).

Note: As per my previous articles, I’ll be using the following rating system.

  • A score of “A” means that the card is very powerful and should almost always be included in your deck builds.
  • “B” means that the card is strong and will usually be included, but not always.
  • A score of “C” means that card can be good in certain situations but will usually require extra support.
  • Lastly, a score of “D” means the card is on the weaker side of things. It doesn’t mean that it is inherently bad but perhaps can be considered hard to use or counter intuitive to your game plan.
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Universal Objectives:

The Greater Hunt: I believe this is an auto-score for the Grymwatch more often than not. Aside from them, Hunter based warbands should score this more often than not. I guess if you end up in a Hunter face off, the player tech’ed for aggro more should ideally score this. 

Rating: C

Swelling Pride: Finally, a way to reward yourself for continuously “gaining” the Primacy token. While I don’t see this slotting into decks immediately, unless you are playing hard aggro, I think this card will see more support when we get more Primacy cards. 

Rating: C

 

Punctured Pride: I like the theme of this card as you really are punishing the prideful. From a gameplay perspective, I think this is a neat form of anti-Primacy tech in your deck. Primacy is everywhere, it is really hard to avoid it. You might as well benefit from it when you can. The secondary condition is okay. It reminds me of Unexpected Pitfall. I don’t like the leader restriction. I have also found it harder to finish off fighters with lethal hexes recently due to the prevalence of Guard, whether induced through tokens or cards. Obviously Distraction / Nightmare in the Shadows like effects help. 

Rating: C

Prized Kill: This is an okay card for aggressive Hunter warbands who primarily score by eliminating enemy fighters. The challenge is enemy leaders tend to be well protected and the target of opposing upgrades. I think there are better surges around at the moment.

Rating: D

Clean Kills: A 2 glory end phase objective for aggro is always welcome. The challenge is that you have to ensure at least 3 enemy fighters (2 wounds each) are out of action without any other enemy taking a wound. I guess you could pile up on damage and run around one-shotting fighters. You could also take ping damage to finish off fighters who you aren’t able to take out via attacks. Ultimately, that feels inefficient. I’m a big believer that your objective deck should augment your strategy, not limit it. Furthermore, a canny opponent can play around by running a friendly fighter through a lethal hex. Too many variables for most warbands, even for Mollog. 

Rating: C

Jonathan – I disagree with Aman here: I think this is a great card! The game is all about one shotting fighters, and for 2 glory this card is completely worth working towards for aggro warbands, even if it is possible for an opponent to try and play around. It is true that sometimes you might need 3 kills, but you also might only need 1 or 2 depending on the matchup, and 2 glory for 3 kills is good anyway. If I compare this to warband cards like Butchering and Slay the Corrupted, I think it’s a bit better. I give it an A.

Bristling with Weapons: You’re probably never going to score this off the second condition. Effectively this is an end phase version of Show of Force if you are playing with Hunters. Passive glory is solid and this is great for any warband where the Hunter keyword applies. I think there is a lot of synergy with Rippa’s Snarlfangs and Loaded with Plunder, too. 

Rating: C

Bold Deeds: Now this is a nice aggro end phase score for 2 glory. Charge everyone up and take opponents down along the way? Sign me up. Just be careful and read the meta. If your opponent is the “beatdown”, you might never get all your fighters into enemy territory. Still, I like it for Wild Hunt, Godsworn, and Rippa’s. Amazing for Rippa’s if you prefer the aggressive variant. 

Rating: B

Martial Mage: Obviously this is great for Stormsire’s Cursebreakers, especially Rastus and Ammis. Stormsire does have a melee attack so he’s a reliable back up, too. Outside of that warband, if you’ve got a wizard who tends to get up close and personal then you might have room for this card. As of now, I don’t think it is reliable in any other warband. Prince Duvalle and Hedrakka (who have both had their cards previewed through Warhammer Community) look like solid options as well when they release. 

Jonathan – I think this is a neat card concept and like that it promotes aggro Cursebreakers play! We probably won’t see a ton of it otherwise.

Rating: A for Stormsire’s Cursebreakers. C for everyone else.

Hunger for Power: Another great card for magical warbands. If you are seeking to score off the first condition then Prince Duvalle seems like the easiest candidate. Otherwise you’ll need Hunger based support in your deck to get the glory. The second condition is fantastic. If you’ve got a wizard who you like to stack upgrades on or you like the Lost Pages style of play, this is an excellent option. 

Rating: A for Stormsire’s Cursebreakers. C for everyone else. 

Growing Hunger: As of now, I just don’t see this happening reliably. Even if you go full Hunger, I just don’t think it works even with the new additions below. I’d wait till more Hunger support comes out. 

Jonathan – Agreed, though for one glory, it probably won’t ever be a big deal. 

Rating: TBD

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Universal Gambits:

Living Land: A very cool card that gives you options. You can potentially stop your opponent from scoring objective based cards as long as the objectives they are in questions are 1-3. If they don’t have any anti-fip tech, which many don’t take, they can be out of luck. If you are looking to score off objectives then this is a poor man’s Restless Prize –  which means it is a great card. Interestingly I see this going into a lot of decks so your opponent may counter this card’s flipping ability with their own copy. Something to think about. 

Rating: A

Delicious Morsel: Heal tech is fun. I have a feeling the Crimson Court are going to love this card. But for now, the same thought applies as the card above. 

Rating: TBD

Compelling Hunger: Unfortunately, we just don’t have enough Hunger support at this time to give this card, and other primarily Hunger based cards, a fair rating. I will say, it is pretty situational as well. 

Rating: TBD

Abasoth’s Smothering: A spell made by the infamous Abasoth has been spotted again! Man I really hope we see him in the game one day. This spell is a fun piece of tech. You see that Briar Queen in the corner with 3 defense dice terrorizing your backline? Want to even the odds? Cast this beautiful spell. Throw in some accuracy and you’ve just countered your opponent’s defensive investment. While not game breaking, I love how this exists to throw a wrench in your enemy’s plans. 

Rating: C

Pride Before a Fall: If you are looking to get back at our Primacy overlords then this ping damage can be nice. It’s functionally a Snare which is a great card. Ultimately, it is hard to ensure you have this card in your hand and that your opponent has the Primacy token. If you are running Underdog though, then this could be neat. 

Rating: C

Jonathan – I think I might give this card a B or A for the larger warbands (Gitz, Grymwatch, etc.) that know they will be giving up Primacy over and over, and perhaps even the medium size warbands without (m)any hunters like GSH, Blade-Coven, and so on, as it’s basically just a slightly worse Snare (it also shares the same reaction window, so keep that in mind). 

Predatory Form: It’s a relatively easy to cast spell that can open up the Hunger keyword for you and give you Ensnare. Not sure if this is worth taking outside of Cursebreakers. Even then, you might just lean into ping damage, tech, or straight up good gambits. 

Rating: D

Outrun Death: Another copy of Spectral Wings! As you know, that card is pretty much an auto-include nowadays. Taking two copies means the speed package is even easier to score through than it is now. Your fighter does become a Quarry, but most of the time that is not a bad thing. 

Jonathan – The more quarry around the better if you ask me and my Victimise!

Rating: A

Lost in Reflection: If your opponent has the Primacy token, you can lock down one of their fighters. If they don’t, you can still play this card but then they get to choose which fighter gets locked down. While the latter option it can be crippling for smaller warbands, your opponent can just choose a fighter they don’t plan to activate. As such, you only use this card when your opponent has the Primacy token, or only one fighter left. Again the effect is super strong here. My concern is waiting for your opponent to gain the Primacy token. That might slow down this card’s use and efficiency. Of course you can take tech to ensure they gain the token but that isn’t efficient too efficient either. Your best best is to play this in a warband that is hoping to benefit off not having Primacy. Think Underdog

Rating: A

The Trap is Sprung: This would make Admiral Ackbar proud. If you are running a bunch of Trap cards then you could get some extra mileage out of it. The effects are neat and can be used effectively to improve board positioning. The Guard token is cool too but not as good as Buried Instinct. Does it make your 10 gambit deck? No, I don’t think it does. 

Rating: C

Starvation Snare: Smack 3 hunger on a fighter or take it away. Nice tech for both Hunger and anti-Hunger strategies. Again, we don’t have enough information to give this a fair rating. 

Rating: TBD

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Universal Upgrades:

Keen Hunger: Not. Enough. Hunger. Synergy. Yet. To. Give. A. Fair. Rating. 

Rating: TBD

Hungering Harpoon: If you are a fan of stacking Hunger counters, which I imagine there aren’t many out there at the moment, then this can be a fairly accurate ranged attack upgrade. As I implied, there are not enough reasons to build for Hunger, yet. 

Jonathan – I love the design of this card! When Hunger is a thing, I definitely plan to do some harpooning!

Rating: TBD

Haughty Resistance: If you’ve got a tanky fighter, this could be a decent alternative method to gaining the Primacy token if you can’t rely on gaining it through traditional means. If you already have the Primacy token, spending it for a damage reduction can be very powerful especially if you have means of getting it back quickly. As if Krushas needed more damage reduction!

Jonathan – Oh boy this one is scary on big fighters!

Rating: A

Flight Before Food: As of now, in this meta, this reads as +1 move. You all know how relevant Great Speed is in the game right now so need to to discuss further. I suppose an edge use case could be that it may be good to deny your opponent from benefitting from your fighters getting Hunger counters.

Rating: D

Voidsphere: If persisting gambits become very common, then the action this card offers can be a nice swing. Aside from that, the attack itself is fairly solid. You are crit-fishing though but it happens often enough on 3 fury. The challenge is that it is a one use attack and I don’t think that warrants a deck slot unless you are planning for persisting gambits. 

Rating: D

Savage Visage: Oh boy. With Hunters still being relevant and Savage Speed and Savage Strength running around everywhere this can make a fighter of your choosing extremely accurate with range 1 attacks. Obviously Hrothgorn loves this. Rippa, Crackmarrow, and Skaeth, too. Hell even if your fighter is not a Hunter, if you stack the right upgrades, this card is still super powerful. Keep in mind that this card counts for itself so you get the re-roll regardless. Hello, Awakened Weapon for range 1 fighters. 

Jonathan – Very strong! This card adds some much needed accuracy into the game right now, and I am very glad it’s only for Range 1, since that means you likely only get one use from it per round!

Rating: A

Proud Runner: +1 move by itself isn’t anything to write home about. Keep in mind this has to go on a fighter moving 4 or more. What I do find interesting is in the fact that an equipped fighter can gain the Primacy token by simply making a move action. That’s some pretty neat tech and can mess with your opponent’s Primacy synergies. Not to mention, you can also get a glory off of it if you time it right. Sure you lose the token too but if you’ve equipped this, your fighter will definitely be moving and/or charging.

Rating: B

Labyrinth Boots: I am genuinely impressed by how much they fit on this card. Essentially you change the way your fighter makes a move action. If all objectives are face up on the board and your fighter is either standing in a hex with no objective or, for this example’s sake, objective 5 then they get placed in objective 1. If you can’t place them on objective 1, then you can place them in objective 2. If you cannot place the fighter this way, they cannot make a move action. Keep in mind that the sequence in reference can change depending on what objectives are flipped or not. Now that we’ve explained how it works, I think this card can do quite well in certain strategies. Ravagers and desecrating certainly come to mind. Trying to fulfill the conditions for Feed the Beastgrave certainly works too. If you’ve got a particular game plan in mind, then this card can be key in executing it. Think like trying to score off holding certain numbered objectives. The downside is that if there are no eligible locations for your fighter to be placed in, they are literally chilling. Knowing where objective 1 is (or the first objective in the sequence) is paramount. 

Jonathan – This card can be powerful (I loved Faneway Crystal) but it is also very restrictive. It relies a lot on where the numbered objectives are placed, particularly objective number 1, and can be fairly easy to block if the opponent sees it coming.

Rating: C

Eagle-Eye: The Eagle-Eyed player equips Eagle-Eye with the card, Eagle-Eye. With that out of the way let’s talk about how welcome this card is. Archer’s Focus is back! Plus, you become a Hunter. This is an auto-include on warbands that like ranged fighters. 

Jonathan – Again some much needed accuracy to the game, and I love the range restriction. Powerful cards with specific use cases = probably balanced!

Rating: A 

Colossal Fist: There aren’t many melee wizards in the game right now and the ones that do exist may not be survivable enough to warrant this card’s inclusion. You could stick this on Stormsire / Myari / Zarshia but they are better off playing to their strengths by fighting at range. While I would love to see Ammis / Rastus use this, a 1 focus attack is not accurate enough for me. Furthermore, if your fighter is a melee wizard, their melee attack is probably good enough to do the job without this redundancy. 

Jonathan – Yeah, this card is a cool idea, but strangely worse than most of the attacks already on wizard’s cards.

Rating: D 

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Closing Thoughts:

Holistically, I find the cards in this particular expansion to be quite good. We’re starting to see some more powerful cards and synergies are starting to form, particularly with Hunger.

There are some additions to aggressive end phase scoring which is definitely nice to see. I think one of the biggest winners in this set are for magic based synergies. While Stormsire’s Cursebreakers naturally benefit the most, other wizards can still make use of them. The Hunter/Quarry is also still going strong. Some of the most powerful cards in the set are directly tied to them.

As I mentioned earlier, Hunger is starting to take form as well. While I think the the building blocks are starting to take shape, there isn’t a structure to the mechanic, yet. I do plan on doing a deep dive into Hunger as more cards release so stay tuned for an article dedicated to it.

Personally, my top objective in this set is Hunger for Power as it buffs magic play which has been a favorite of mine. My top gambit of the set goes to Living Land as it creates a bit of counter play and when timed right can swing rounds in your favor. Lastly, my top upgrade in the set goes to Savage Visage as it can compound into insane accuracy if you build for it..

Jonathan – I think this is a neat set of cards to be added to the universal pool. I think I’m still getting used to the one warband at a time trickle of cards that the Direchasm release schedule has allowed for, as it makes for a lot less impact on the meta that the previous system. I am not sure there will be any very big meta shakeups with this card release, instead it seems things may continue to move the direction they have been doing (primacy/aggro) with a few more cool cards to play with, and perhaps a few older warbands jumping back into the meta (hello, Cursebreakers?). Overall I think this is probably for the best, though I would still love a FAR to shake things up a bit!

Be on the lookout for additional coverage via this blog and our podcast as we review the Starblood Stalkers due for pre-order this Saturday. Be sure to head on down to your local Warhammer Store or FLGS to order yourself a set. If you prefer to shop online, check this out here on Saturday. I hope you enjoy your experimenting with these cards over the coming weeks.

As always, best of luck on YOUR Path to Glory.

Aman

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Aman

Blogger, Podcast Host

Competitive player who loves to attend events and theory craft. Always chasing the next piece of shade glass. 

Favorite Warband: skaeth's WIld Hunt

Jonathan

Blogger, Podcast Host

Loves to discuss all aspects of the game, especially events. Enjoys the data behind the game and is also competitively focused.

Favorite Warband: Spiteclaw's Swarm

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