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Warband Review: Starblood Stalkers

Hello my fellow dino-thusiasts and welcome to the Starblood Stalkers faction review! I’ll cover the fighter cards and rate all the faction specific objectives, gambits, and upgrades. If you are interested in hearing our take on the Universal cards that come in this expansion, check this out. Thank you to Games Workshop for providing me a preview copy to review.

This is perhaps the most requested and awaited warband of all time and so without further ado, let’s get into it.

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.

 

Jurassic times call for Jurassic measures!

*roars in dinosaur*

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The Inspire:

I think the best way to understand a warband is to first understand how they function mechanically. As such, let’s start with the inspire that works for 5/6 fighters: “After an activation, your warband holds 3 or more objectives.” It’s interesting because you kind of have to think about this in the same vein that you would think about Temporary Victory. We all know how good that card is and the fact that you have “access” to this the moment the game starts means it is very powerful. Half the time, you’ll have 3 objectives in your territory which means you will be inspiring quit often. Even if you don’t, it’s fairly easy to get a fighter out onto the third one – especially with Beast Trail.

I find this inspire condition to be quite balanced. Due to this being a global inspire, inspiring for this warband will be quite swingy. That might make things more simple in terms of your game plan, which is nice. Again, this also means your opponent’s game plan may be equally as simple. They’ll be hotly contesting those points of interest in an effort to thwart your inspire.

There are a lot of things to think about prior to models even hitting the board and I just love that level of complexity. Your warband will live and die by how many objectives you hold. Klaq-Trok has his own inspire but we’ll get to his below.

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Kixi-Taka, the Diviner

Starting us off, we’ve got a skink leader. He’s a solid leader for this 6 fighter warband. The 3 wounds does limit him a bit, but he reminds me of a more control-y version of Zarbag. In terms of attacks, he’s got a range 2, 2 smash, 2 damage attack which seems pretty standard for leaders toting a staff. His ranged attack is pretty neat, too with a range 3, 2 smash attack that deals one damage. It’s great for pinging fighters from a distance and hopefully driving them back into lethals. The move characteristic of 4 seems fairly standard nowadays and makes sense. For defense, we’ve got 2 dodge which, as we all know by now, is great.

Despite looking like he may know magic, the Diviner is not a wizard. Not to worry though, he’s got a pretty cool action that provides some great utility. Picking between flipping a feature token within 3 hexes or dealing 1 damage to an enemy adjacent to said feature token once per round is pretty neat. While some may think flipping an objective might be counterintuitive, it really isn’t. Kixi-Taka can counter flip tech taken potentially stop the warband from inspiring and scoring. Additionally he can flip objectives that enemies may be on to help the warband score cards like Uncontested and Dominant Position. It’s a great utility piece. The damage is also a nice option that can help finish off enemy fighters.

Upon inspiring, his ranged attack becomes significantly more accurate.

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Klaq-Trok:

Now this is what you call a “stat-ball.” Klaq-Trok is a very good melee combatant that loves to get up and close with his opponents. His first attack action is a range 1, 2 smash, 3 damage attack! Anytime I see 3 damage on a fighter card, it makes me nervous. They are always one upgrade/gambit/lethal hex away from taking down 4 wound fighters. Incredibly, Klaq-Trok doesn’t even need those to finish off 4 wound fighters. You see, while his second attack, a range 1, 1 fury, 1 damage attack isn’t much the fact that it is a reaction make’s it terrifying. If this beat-stick rolls hot, or your opponent rolls poorly, we can see some very early takedowns. This will often make people upset due to the “Gristlewel effect.” Dice can be swingy and as such you can’t rely on it. However when it goes off, it will be devastating. 4 wounds, 3 move, and 1 block ensure that he sticks around long enough to make your opponent hurt.

Klaq-Trok is the hired muscle of the group and as such it makes sense that he inspires after making a successful attack action. As you can see from his attack profile, it’s something he is good at. Upon inspiring, the reaction attack bumps up to 2 fury and he gains a +1 on movement and defense. 2 block and 4 wounds is Stormsire level’s of power and I do not look forward to facing this creature in combat.

His role is fairly straightforward. He’s the initiator and the deterrent. While the skinks run around and hold objectives, Klaq-Trok is beating his foes’ faces in. If he happens to survive the game, which he may very well do because he’s a tank, he’ll have gotten 3 charges in which is really all you need. Maximizing him could be the key to victory.

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Huachi:

Huachi seems to be the sergeant of the rest of the skinks in the warband. As you’ll have noticed with Kixi-Taka, he carries the skink keyword. Unlike his commander, he is a Hunter which makes sense. He’s got 2 wounds which does seem on the low side of things however this does keep in line with “horde warband” (6+) characteristics. He’s got a shield hence why he is defending on a single block and he rounds out it out with 4 movement.

He’s got a range 1, 2 smash attack that deals damage – it is quite respectable. He’s also got a range 3 attack action which allows him to hurl his javelin at his opponents. It is on the weaker side of things with 2 fury and 1 damage. It is had not to compare this warband to Grashrak’s Despoilers in a way. He actually reminds me a lot of Murghoth.

Upon inspiring, he bumps up to 5 move and his ranged attack becomes fairly accurate at 3 fury, with Knockback. Unfortunately, we see no improvement to his defense. 1 block un-inspired is nice but 2 dodge inspired is better.

He also comes with a keyword called Skittish which allows him to react right after their power step. Being able to push this fighter 1 hex away from an enemy fighter within 2 hexes is quite powerful. The two other regular skinks also get this ability as well. The interesting thing about this is that you really have to be premeditated in the way you are positioning your fighters. You simply just can’t charge and then hope to jump on objectives, you have to be quite tactical about it. It does make it much harder for your opponent’s take keep wailing on you should they have the chance. This is going to be the X factor for this warband should you plan it right.

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Xepic & Tok:

Xepic is a skink hunter that has a movement of 4, 1 block, and 2 wounds. His attack action is range 1, 2 fury, and 1 damage which is nothing to write home about. Upon inspiring, he goes to 5 movement and his attack gets a nice boost as it hits on 3 fury and deals 2 damage. He also has the Skittish rule. Out of all the fighters we’ve seen so far, Xepic benefits the most out of the inspire. Obviously he isn’t a good fighter but that is not his role. He’s going to be camping back line objectives until you score what you need to and inspire. In a pinch, his inspired side can be a decent backup fighter.

Tok is the ranged fighter of the group who also sports the skink and Hunter keywords. His melee attack and core stats are identical to Xepic’s above. The only difference here is that he’s got a range 3 attack that hits on 2 fury for a single point of damage. He is also on a single dodge. When inspired, he gets a similar boost to his spawn bro with the 5 move. Unlike his fellow regular skinks, he seems to be the most defensible with 2 dodge. The ranged attack does also become more accurate. Again, we see a fairly weak fighter who’s core responsibility is to camp an objective.

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Otaptal:

Our last fighter, but certainly not the least, is a chameleon skink by the name of Otapatl. In addition to being a Hunter and a skink, he is the second fighter in this game to start with the Quarry keyword innately. This is great because this does make quarry based synergies significantly more viable for this warband. Due to his innate sneakiness we see him start with 2 dodge. 4 move and 2 wounds round out his core stats.

What makes this fighter very interesting is the fact that he is the first fighter in the game to hit on only critical successes – it is a range 3, 3 crit, 1 damage attack. While the attack is very hard to hit, if you do you are most likely getting through with Cleave and Ensnare. Your opponent can only stop you with their own critical success. If you do manage to break through your opponent’s defenses, it cripples them with a move token. That is extremely powerful and can potentially wreck your opponent’s plans. Again the nature of this feels swingy so this may create feel bad moments on both sides should the dice start getting hot one way or another.

When he inspires, he jumps to 3 dodge which is insane and his ranged attack also goes to 2 damage. Otatapatl is an amazing control piece that can do some crazy things when played right. He can shut down bigger fighters like Morgok, Mollog, and Hrothgorn and when inspired can mow down opposing horde fighters. If you can manage to get supports when attacking, or even defending, his stock flies through the roof. Just be mindful that you could potentially miss every attack you make with him so don’t rely on him too much.

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Faction Objectives:

Astromatrix Alignment: Pretty interesting card as technically your leader can score this for your quite easily. Objectives that are reliant on specific fighters, especially leaders, can be perilous at times. Him being 3 wounds does cause some concern. If you take this card, you probably need at least 1 gambit to also flip a card just in case. Also, if you want to play Feed the Beastgrave with these guys then this slots in quite well.

Rating: B

Balance the Equation: I like how this allows you to flex into either plays style. If you have Dominant Position, or are trying to inspire, then the latter condition slots in perfectly. If some early dice rolls end up going your way then even better as you can score this earlier than perhaps you may have intended. If you are thinking about taking a 1 glory end phase card in your deck, this is probably it.

Rating: B

Children of Azyr: I like this one. I generally don’t like cards that score off inspires but since this warband has a global inspire and they have the tools to get it done, I think it’s a solid pick. While Klaq-Trok does inspire on his own, he should hit by at least the 2nd round especially given the powerful gambits you should slot in. I like how the upgrades can be spread out as well as stacked on a single fighter. This card seems pretty doable and 2 glory is solid.

Rating: B

Formidable Focus: This pairs off Show of Force quite well but I don’t think you’ll be bounding into enemy territory much if you have 3 objectives on your side of the board. Furthermore Show of Force is just straight up better so that should go in before this card. I also think most of the objective based surge cards are better.

Rating: C

Heralds of Annihilation: I don’t like how you might have to hold off on making an optimal play and take out the enemy leader until you draw this card. It certainly is playable but not consistent enough for me. It feels quite inefficient.

Rating: D

Instinctive Tactics: Great card. This warband is full of fighters with reactions (4/6). When you add cards in your deck with reactions as well, it is their best faction surge and you’ll be taking it 99% of the time.

Rating: A

Perfect Warrior: I understand the idea behind this card, pretty favorable. I just don’t think it is worth the 1 glory especially since Klaq-Trok will be in the thick of it for the majority of the game.

Rating: C

Seeking the Heart: So you can tech into either condition and there are synergies with Bold Deeds and Treasure Hunters, respectively. I do find it counterintuitive to way I would play the warband. Seems like too much work.

Rating: C

Sotek’s Hunters: Hard to score this despite there being so much range in the warband because, aside from an inspired Otapatl, they are only doing 1 damage. You could equip a ranged attack action upgrade for redundancy but I think you could probably take better upgrades instead along with a better objective.

Rating: C

The Great Plan: I love this card. It reminds of Tactical Supremacy but it is better because it can be scored prior to the third end phase. You can easily fit Dual and Hybrid objectives that work perfectly with your strategy, especially for objective play. Also, you have 6 Surges in your deck so this is an excellent glory multiplier. This is going in my deck.

Rating: A

Vengeance of the Heavens: Basically eliminate half the enemy warband. I’m not really into cards like these for warbands who aren’t leaning into aggro heavily. That’s not to say this warband can’t play like that, they certainly can. I just think they are better at scoring off objectives and there are better objectives out there for that.

Rating: C

Will of the Slann: This is just Swift Capture but an end phase version for 2 glory. Great card, it’s fairly doable. The only reason I don’t give it top marks is because the ability for your opponent to counter play is higher.

Rating: B

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Faction Gambits:

Burst from the Shadows: This is a very, very strong card. Very similar in utility to Vile Invaders and we all know how good that is with Grashrak’s Despoilers. There is so much flexibility available here regardless of game plan.

Rating: A

Huachi’s Device: Most of the time, this card will function as an in-faction Distraction. That alone makes this card an extremely powerful too for this warband. The second option is what potentially makes this card insane if played right. Keep in mind the push can be in any direction so make sure you don’t accidentally put your fighters into charge range for the enemy. This could shut potentially shut down objective phase scoring for smaller warbands or for fighters who you weren’t able to get to. Very interesting card and one that probably has an extremely high skill cap.

Rating: A

Invisible Hunter: Very cool card. Effectively, you can make a risky play with Otapatl, maybe drop a move token, maybe inspire your warband, and then ensure he dips out to avoid retaliation. This could also just be a repositioning tool for the chameleon skink as well. My challenge is that Otapatl could go down early and this could end up as a dud in your hand. I want to play this but I’m confident this won’t make my final deck, or yours.

Rating: C

Light of the Stars: A very niche card but one that could be awesome given the right circumstances. It could deny a Rebound. Its a very meta dependent card and in this meta, I’m not sure if this is worth the slot. In the future this card could be gold.

Rating: C

Lords of Space and Time: With a name like that you knew this one was going to be good. Effectively you get to just teleport a dino-bro onto an objective in enemy territory which will then allow you do many things that benefit you. There will be some matchups where your opponent’s positioning can make it sub-optimal for you but eventually you’ll find the right window. Auto-include.

Rating: A

Sotek’s Venom: Seems very good to me. The fact that this warband has access to more than one way to lock down opposing fighters is fantastic. Just don’t rely on this too much as the attack could miss. I also feel like this competes with cards like Energy Drain and Bard-laden Net.

Rating: B

Tepok’s Mystery: While this seems like it could have some utility but because you are going in blind, you mind end up helping your opponent. Pass on it.

Rating: D

The Bulwark Celestial: Asterim cards are unique cards that function similarly to the way Cycle cards functioned for the Wurmspat. This card specifically is okay. The challenge is that if a majority of your fighters get hit, they probably won’t make it. Doesn’t matter if they can’t be driven back if they are dead.

Rating: D

The Great Drake: Now we know why some of the attack profiles above were sub-par. This card makes your warband’s accuracy go through the roof, especially Klaq-Trok’s main attack. Why play any other Asterism when you have this.

Rating: A

The Hunter’s Steed: This one seems cool but with your warband moving 4/5 and you most likely taking Spectral Wings and/or Outrun Death, this becomes redundant.

Rating: C

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Faction Upgrades:

Adaptive Camouflage: Non-range 1 attack actions become march harder to land on Otapatl. While this makes sense thematically, it doesn’t make sense mechanically to take a fighter restricted card on 2 wound fighter. Even without this upgrade, if Otapatl is inspired he already has great defensive stats via 3 dodge.

Rating: D

Astrolith Igniter: Now we know the purpose of the orb Kixi-Taka is holding. It is a fancy flashlight… I don’t think it is worth it to spend 1 glory point to just gain Cleave. I get how this can be good against certain warbands but this isn’t worth the upgrade spot.

Rating: D

Cloak of Feathers: +2 move is cool but Savage Speed, Outrun Death, Unhesitating, and Spectral Wings are all better options given that anyone can use them.

Rating: D

Heaven-Blessed Weapon: This is great with Klaq-trok and makes him so much more accurate. You could also place this on Huachi, Tok, and Xepic as a backup as well incase Klaq-Trok goes down early.

Rating: B

Herald of the Old Ones: Again we see Kixi-Taka as a force multiplier here. Making your objective holders more survivable is pretty powerful. Keep in mind this works on him as well so at its worst, this card is re-roll one die for your leader.

Rating: B

Selfless Sacrifice: You telegraph this pretty heavily and your skinks don’t really hit that hard. I see the idea behind it but I just don’t think it is worth the slot.

Rating: D

Spawning Bond: This warband is going to take a lot of pushes so there could be ways in which you could set up a series of pushes in your favor. I feel like it will probably be one use though given how fragile your skinks are.

Rating: C

Supreme Predator: Klaq-Trok is probably the first fighter you want to VOLTRON and this card is great for him because he’s more likely to hit. I also like how this opens up the Hunter mechanic for him. There might be better options that are more versatile but it’s still a great choice for your tankiest fighter.

Rating: A

 

Unfeeling Resilience: These kind of cards are historically great. It is an excellent candidate for Klaq-Trok or a Kixi-Taka who has been upgraded to 4 wounds. The earlier this card comes out, the more of a nuisance it is for your opponent. More often that not, the equipped fighter will survive on more attack action then they should have.

Rating: A

UnhesitatingGreat card and allows your warband to tap into the speed package. Its why you don’t need the card mentioned above restricted to Kixi-Taka. This probably slots in for Savage Speed since you half 3 fighters who can potentially defend on two dice.

Rating: B

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Closing Thoughts:

I find the Starblood Stalkers to be a very fun warband to play. They are a technical warband that forces you to think ahead in order to maximize your activations, cards, and control abilities. Kixi-Taka and Otapatl are great utility pieces that can shred your opponent’s game plan while creating creative ways for you to get ahead. The skink bros seem good enough given their role to play is holding objectives. Huachi seems like the best fighter to go into combat as a backup should it be required. And of course, there is Klaq-Trok. This guy is an alpha predator who will sometimes singlehandedly win you games.

I think the coolest thing about this warband is the fact that they have so many control tools. They have the ability to lock down fighters consistently given their faction tools and universal card pool. If they can reliably shutdown Mollog, Hrothgorn, and the Krushas then this warband might cause a major shift in the meta.

Furthermore, this warband has a lot of faction specific cards that are good, if not great. There’s plenty of choice, thought, and strategy that you can implement into your deck building which leads into multiple, viable avenues. They’ve got a great set of tools which will enable them to have a fair shot at competing in any game. When building a deck with them, I recommend teching into speed, objective play, and perhaps anti-Primacy shenanigans as well. Personally, I will be building around The Great Plan.

Ironically their worst matchup might be against other horde warbands since the objectives are so crucial to them. Of course they are also susceptible to above average rolls from an aggressive warband charging early but that is weakness of all larger warbands. Again placement and board setup are integral to them surviving into the later stages of the game.

I anticipate this warband to create waves in the meta. While they have clear weaknesses, they also got some obvious strengths. I truly believe that in the hands of a good player, they’ll be a force to be reckoned with.

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If you think this warband would make an excellent addition to your collection (they will), 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 getting some games in with this warband. 

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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